POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 11/29

Democratic Majority Narrows in Senate Today

Mark Kirk (R-IL) becomes the newest senator today when he’s sworn in by Vice President Biden (D) at 5:30 p.m. ET.

Politico: “His arrival will narrow Democrats’ majority in the Senate to 58-42, meaning they’ll now need at least two Republicans to reach the 60-vote threshold to move forward on legislation, from a limited extension of Bush-era tax cuts to a repeal of the Pentagon’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.”

New WikiLeaks Cache Released

“A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at back-room bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats,” the New York Times reports.

“They show officials managing relations with a China on the rise and a Russia retreating from democracy. They document years of effort to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon — and of worry about a possible Israeli strike on Iran with the same goal.”

Washington Post: “The documents suggest U.S. diplomats were ordered to engage in low-level spying by obtaining foreign diplomats’ personal information, such as frequent-flier and credit card numbers, presumably to better track their movements.”

The Guardian: “They do not contain evidence of assassination plots, CIA bribery or such criminal enterprises as the Iran-Contra scandal.”

Quote of the Day

“When I make my announcement, I want to get some press on it. If I make it now, then I don’t get any press.”

— Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ), quoted by Roll Call, refusing to say whether he’ll run for re-election in 2012.

 

Palin’s Shrewd Media Strategy

As the old-school media mocks Sarah Palin for her “swaggering reality-show antics and chatty tweets,” Howard Kurtz says she “is executing a shrewd strategy that has catapulted her past potential rivals, co-opting the same media establishment she loves to denigrate. Even her recent hints about running for president — if indeed she’s willing to subject herself to constant journalistic scrutiny — are designed to stoke interest in her now that midterm madness has faded.”

McCain Compares Palin to Reagan

Sen. John McCain helped catapult Sarah Palin to the national stage and in an interview on CNN he equated her to former President Ronald Reagan.

Said McCain: “I think anybody that has the visibility that Sarah has is obviously going to have some divisiveness. I remember that a guy named Ronald Reagan used to be viewed by some as divisive.”

The Fix: “Where Reagan differs from Palin, though, is the so-called ‘Reagan Democrats.’ Even in his darkest days, about 20 percent of Democrats supported the former president. Palin hasn’t gotten anywhere close to that; there are basically no Palin Democrats.”

Recount Begins in Minnesota

A hand recount of 2.1 million ballots begins today in the Minnesota governor’s race, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

“Election workers across the state will open the boxes holding ballots and sort them according to candidates as observers from both sides keep watch. Disputed ballots will be set aside for counting later. Local election officials must finish the recount by Dec. 7. The Canvassing Board convenes the next day and is expected to certify a winner by Dec. 14.”

Although the 2008 U.S. Senate recount took many months, a protracted battle seems unlikely this time around as Mark Dayton’s (D) lead over Tom Emmer (R) is nearly 9,000 votes and Minnesota altered some of its election rules to make it more difficult for either side to challenge ballots.

Talent May Challenge McCaskill

Former Sen. Jim Talent (R), who lost re-election to Claire McCaskill (D) by less than 50,000 votes in the 2006 U.S. Senate race, may run again, the AP reports.

Said Talent: “I am seriously considering it. I do feel like this is a time where everybody has to think about what they can do to help the country. This is an obvious possibility for me. I have done it before, and I think I could put on a strong race.”

Democrats Lose Last Grip on South

“After suffering a historic rout — in which nearly every white Deep South Democrat in the U.S. House was defeated and Republicans took over or gained seats in legislatures across the region — the party’s ranks in Dixie have thinned even further,”Politico reports.

“In Georgia, Louisiana and Alabama, Democratic state legislators have become Republicans, concluding that there is no future in the party that once dominated the so-called Solid South.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“You keep asking these presentist questions Bob. As the immortal Marisa Tomei said in My Cousin Vinny, ‘that’s a bullshit question!’ because you cannot pluck people out of the past and expect them to comment on what’s happening today.”

— Colonel Roosevelt author Edmund Morris, in an interview on Face the Nation, when asked what he thought Theodore Roosevelt would make of today’s politics.

Quote of the Day

“We had the greatest generation — I think this is the greediest generation.”

— Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY), quoted by the Casper Star Tribune, on Americans saying they’re concerned about the federal budget deficit but unwilling to make sacrifices to reduce it.

Palin Keeps Iowa Guessing

During an unscheduled autograph and photo session after an Iowa book signing event, Sarah Palin deflected when asked by the Des Moines Register when she planned to decide whether she will run in 2012.

“Oh my goodness,” she said, and turned to a woman who asked to have her book signed. “Thank you for changing the subject for me.”

Murray May Head Senate Campaign Effort

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) “has emerged as a leading candidate to take the pivotal job of running the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the 2011-12 cycle and will decide as early as next week,” Politico reports.

“Nothing has been finalized yet, these Democratic sources cautioned. But Murray is seriously considering the offer, having spent recent days talking with colleagues and her family about whether she should become chairwoman of a committee that faces the challenge of defending the seats of 21 Democrats and two independents in a presidential election year.”

Political Pros Still Handled Money in Anti-Incumbent Year

“Anti-incumbent anger and ‘tea party’ conservatives may have set the tone for this year’s midterm elections, but it was mostly experienced political operatives — not fervent newcomers — who managed the money,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“While billions of dollars were spent on campaign ads and other efforts to gin up discontent with Washington, much of the spending was handled by veteran political consultants at a few longtime media firms — many in Washington.”

Key findings: 15 firms raked in more than $400 million just from the candidates, party committees and outside groups that advertised in federal elections.

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