POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 1/5

White House Shake Up Could Come Soon

CNN reports President Obama “now wants to move quickly on naming the next full-time White House chief of staff and has narrowed the list down to a two-man race between current interim boss Pete Rouse and former Clinton Commerce Secretary William Daley.”

That and other staff moves could be announced as early as Friday.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“What does it mean to be qualified to be president? She is born in this country and she’s the right age. Those are the qualifications.”

— Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), in an interview with National Journal, on whether Sarah Palin is qualified to be president.

Obama Mulls Major Staff Changes

President Obama “is weighing a major reshuffling of his staff that could see as many as eight people playing new key roles in the weeks ahead,” the Washington Postreports.

A new chief of staff “is only part of a potentially much larger reorganization that encompasses almost the entire West Wing hierarchy, including those who have had the most influence over the administration’s direction in its first two years.”

“Among the biggest changes could be the departure of press secretary Robert Gibbs , who is said to be exploring the possibility of leaving the White House altogether, perhaps to set up his own consulting shop and play a leading role in the 2012 campaign, two Democrats said. That move could happen in the coming weeks.”

Judge Says Rahm Can Stay on Ballot

A judge ruled that Rahm Emanuel meets the residency requirement to run for Chicago mayor and will remain on the Feb. 22 primary ballot, the Chicago Sun Times reports.

The judge upheld an earlier 3-0 ruling by the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners that Emanuel, despite having lived in Washington, D.C., for the past two years to serve as President Obama’s chief of staff, is eligible to run.

 

Obama the Comeback Kid?

In an amusing sketch, Jon Stewart ridicules the media’s notion that President Obama’s presidency was essentially dead, followed by their declaration that Obama came back from the dead by having a productive lame-duck session.

“You were the only ones who said he was dead. You know, the media is like the world’s worst paramedics: They declare people dead when they’re napping. So of course, waking up must be a miracle.”

“Obama is not the comeback kid. That’s just a trite way of looking at it. He’s Luke Skywalker.”

See more…

House Democrats Tap Fresh Faces

House Democratic leadership has promoted some younger caucus members to high-level leadership posts, The Hill reports.

Key moves: 44-year-old Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and 55-year-old Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) were named co-vice chairmen of the Democrats’ Steering and Policy Committee.

Outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Steny Hoyer and Rep. James Clyburn — who are all at least 70 years old — will remain in the top three party posts.

Nebraska May End Unorthodox Electoral Vote System

The Lincoln Journal-Star reports that an intense battle may be looming to eliminate Nebraska’s unorthodox method of giving two electoral votes to the statewide winner and one electoral vote to the winner of each of the state’s three congressional districts.

“Nebraska is one of only two states that award some of their presidential electoral votes by congressional districts. Two go to the statewide winner in Nebraska, one to the winner in each of the three congressional districts. In 2008, Barack Obama won metropolitan Omaha’s 2nd District electoral vote. Nebraska Republicans did not like that, so there may be a very partisan battle in the Legislature to wipe out the congressional district electoral votes and return to the earlier system of handing all five of Nebraska’s votes to the statewide winner.”

Good point by Dave Catanese: A switch to winner-takes-all would have far-reaching effects on Nebraska’s U.S. Senate race by “making it less likely the president would campaign in the state and help rally Democrats towards embattled Sen. Ben Nelson.”

Is Huckabee the Best Bet for Republicans?

Tom Jensen: “Huckabee’s the only one of the top Republicans who has the combination of electability and base appeal it’s going to take to beat Barack Obama. Romney has the electability but not the base appeal, Palin has the base appeal but not the electability, and Gingrich sort of falls in the middle on both counts. A lot will change over the course of 2011 but at least based on the information we have so far Huckabee looks like the GOP’s best bet.”

Lieberman Says He Can Win in 2012

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told WFSB-TV that he thinks he can win reelection, though he acknowledged the difficult path ahead. Lieberman also said “it will likely be as an independent, although he said some of his Democratic colleagues in the senate have been encouraging him to run as a Democrat.”

Reagan at 100

Coming soon: My Father at 100 by Ron Reagan.

From the book jacket: “February 6, 2011, is the one hundredth anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth. To mark the occasion, Ron Reagan has written an intimate look at the life of his father-one of the most popular presidents in American history-told from the perspective of someone who knew Ronald Reagan better than any adviser, friend, or colleague.”

The Most Important Races of 2011

The Houston Chronicle has a list of the 11 most important races in the off-year 2011 election cycle.

Among the top contests are for Chicago mayor, three races for governor and the Iowa Republican presidential straw poll set for August 14.

Scalia Says Women Shouldn’t Look to Constitution

In an interview with California Lawyer, Justice Antonin Scalia said that the U.S. Constitution does not protect women from discrimination.

Said Scalia: “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don’t need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box. You don’t like the death penalty anymore, that’s fine. You want a right to abortion? There’s nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn’t mean you cannot prohibit it. Persuade your fellow citizens it’s a good idea and pass a law. That’s what democracy is all about. It’s not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.”

DeMint Keeps Political Operation Ready

The Hotline notes an email Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) sent to supporters is a sign he’s keeping his political supporters engaged this year.

“DeMint also seemed to indicate that his political operation will remain fully functional in 2011 after having a major influence on getting Tea Party conservatives through Republican primaries in 2010.”

Quote of the Day

“I think that there’s gonna be politics, that’s what happens in Washington. They are going to play to their base for a certain period of time. But I’m pretty confident that they’re going to recognize that our job is to govern and make sure that we are delivering jobs for the American people and that we are creating a competitive economy for the 21st Century. Not just for this generation but for the next one. And so my expectation, my hope is that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell will realize that there will be plenty of time to campaign for 2012 in 2012.”

— President Obama, on what he expects from Republicans as he returns from his vacation.

Biden Loses Top Staffer

Ron Klain, Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff, is leaving his post at the end of the month, the New York Times reports.

Klain had been mentioned as a possibility to replace Rahm Emanuel as President Obama’s chief of staff. But the president is now in talks with former Clinton administration Commerce Secretary William Daley.

Nelson Was Most Likely to Vote Against His Party

The Omaha World Herald reports Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) supported his fellow Democrats last year on just 54% of “party unity” votes — those in which a majority of Democrats opposed a majority of Republicans.

“Nelson’s score easily put him atop the party disloyalty list for senators from either side. The runner-up, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) still voted with his party 68% of the time.”

Chief Justice Will Swear In Boehner’s Staff

Politico reports incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) asked Chief Justice John Roberts to “preside over the staff ceremony, which may be a first in congressional history. Aides in Boehner’s Washington and district offices are expected to take the oath in the Capitol in a private, low-key event with no press coverage.”

The Mighty Nine

The Washington Post profiles the “nine lonely Democrats who will be sworn in as House members on Wednesday. They defied last fall’s Republican landslide — winning mainly in strong Democratic districts — to become the smallest freshman class either party has put forth since at least 1915.”

Pence Looks Like a Candidate for Indiana Governor

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) is scheduling Republican Lincoln Days Dinner all over Indiana, Howey Politics Indiana reports.

“It is the best clue yet that he is preparing to launch a 2012 Indiana gubernatorial campaign, as opposed to seeking the presidency.”

Sperling Expected to Replace Summers

Mike Allen reports that Gene Sperling “is expected to be named in the next 10 days as Larry Summers’ successor as Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council. The president may have changed his mind on vacation. But the last time he discussed the topic at 1600, he seemed inclined to go Sperling. Sperling helped himself with his marathon negotiations on the tax-cut extension, and is viewed internally as someone who would fight for Democratic priorities. Sperling is also attuned to the importance of the economic message/narrative, and that’s seen as another key strength.”

Daley Thought Obama Overreached on Health Care

As President Obama reportedly considers William Daley as his next chief of staff, theNew York Times digs up a quote from Daley in which he suggests the president and Democratic leaders in Congress overreached on some of their priorities in the last two years.

Said Daley: “They miscalculated on health care. The election of ’08 sent a message that after 30 years of center-right governing, we had moved to center left — not left.”

Politics as War

The Atlantic: “Mitch McConnell is a master manipulator and strategist — the unheralded architect of the Republican resurgence. Now that his relentless tactics have made his party victorious, he is poised to take down the president and win the Senate majority he covets — if he can fend off the Tea Party and keep his own caucus together.”

“American politics over the next two years will be far less preoccupied with legislation and much more focused on a great clash of social visions about the efficacy and desirability of government. For the past two years, McConnell has been winning the argument that Obama and the Democrats have essentially ceded, about the value and meaning of the policies they fought so hard to pass… Someone with McConnell’s distinct talents and willingness to go to extremes ought to thrive in these circumstances. The legislative imperative has been subordinated to the larger task of shaping the public’s opinion of the opposition in advance of the presidential election.”

“Politics as war: that’s what will occupy McConnell, and all of Washington, in 2011.”

Slow Redistricting Could Delay Ohio Primary

Ohio’s 2012 presidential primary might have to be moved to later in the year if state lawmakers are slow to draw new congressional districts this year, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

“Under state law passed last year, candidacy petitions must be filed 90 days before an election, meaning the filing deadline for the 2012 primary is Dec. 7, 2011… new congressional districts must be drawn by then – and preferably much earlier – so that candidates know the boundaries of the new districts, and county election boards have time to prepare.”

National Debt Tops $14 Trillion

The U.S. Treasury reported that as of the last day of 2010 the national debt stood at $14,025,215,218,708.52.

CBS News: “It took just 7 months for the National Debt to increase from $13 trillion on June 1, 2010 to $14 trillion on Dec. 31. It also means the debt is fast approaching the statutory ceiling $14.294 trillion set by Congress and signed into law by President Obama last February.”

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