POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 1/20

Huckabee Adviser Takes Another Job

While Mike Huckabee insists that he’s thinking seriously about running for president again, Jonathan Martin notes he’s “doing little to put together the sort of organization needed to mount a campaign. The latest evidence: Chip Saltsman, his campaign manager in 2008 and one of his closest confidantes, has accepted a job as Chief of Staff for freshman Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN).”

More Don’t Trust Fox News

A year ago a plurality of Americans said they trusted Fox News. Now a plurality of them don’t, according to a new Public Policy Polling survey.

Key finding: Overall, 46% trust Fox News while 42% do not.

“Conservatives haven’t moved all that much — 75% said they trusted it last year and 72% still do this time around. But moderates and liberals have both had a strong increase in their level of distrust for the network — a 12 point gain from 48% to 60% for moderates and a 16 point gain from 66% to 82% for liberals.”

McConnell Promises Vote to Repeal Health Care Law

After the House voted to repeal the new health care law, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released a video in which he promised a Senate vote on the legislation, despite Democrats’ opposition to holding such a vote.

Said McConnell: “I want to congratulate our colleagues in the House on this important first step. I hope the Senate will soon follow suit with a vote of its own. The Democratic leadership in the Senate doesn’t want to vote on this bill. But I assure you, we will.”

See more…

Another Poll Shows Surge in Obama Support

The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds President Obama riding a surge of public support into next week’s State of the Union address, with 53% saying they approve of the job he’s doing as president — up eight points since last month.

Key finding: Among political independents, positive views of Obama’s job performance surpassed negative views for the first time since August 2009.

The president’s rising approval numbers track optimism about the economy. This month, 40% said they believe the economy will improve over the next year, up from 32% in December. Only 17% said it would get worse, down from 24%.

House Votes to Repeal Health Care Law

The House of Representatives voted to repeal the new health care law, 245 to 189, CNN reports.

However, the legislation “is unlikely to make it past the Democratic-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he won’t bring it to the floor for a vote.”

Klein Says It’s Not Him

Joe Klein on the anonymous author of O: A Presidential Novel: “Quite naturally, because of Primary Colors, I’ve been asked if I’m the author… Here’s what I’ve said: I didn’t write the book, but that’s what I said last time and that’s what I expect whomever wrote it will say this time.”

Bentley Apologizes

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) “apologized to anyone he may have offended with his inaugural day comments that non-Christians were not his brothers and sisters,” the Birmingham News reports.

Said Bentley: “What I would like to do is apologize. Should anyone who heard those words and felt disenfranchised, I want to say, ‘I’m sorry.’ If you’re not a person who can say you are sorry, you’re not a very good leader.”

Americans Split on Health Care Repeal

The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds Americans split evenly — 39% to 39% — on whether the new health care law is a good idea. However, that marks a change from the height of the debate in the fall of 2009 and the winter of 2010, when more people opposed the reform bill than supported it.

The survey also shows 46% are either “strongly” or “not so strongly” oppose the repeal of the law, compared with 45% who either “strongly” or “not so strongly” favor its elimination.

The Speech

Coming soon: The Speech by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

“On Friday, December 10, 2010, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders walked on to the floor of the United States Senate and began speaking. It turned out to be a very long speech, lasting over eight and a half hours. And it hit a nerve.”

Kasich Cabinet Lacks Diveristy

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) “is on pace to be the first Ohio governor since 1962 to have an entire Cabinet without any racial diversity. Every one of Kasich’s 20 full-time agency director hires so far has been a white person,” the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Said Kasich: “I don’t look at things from the standpoint of any of these sort of metrics that people tend to focus on, race or age, or any of those things. It’s not the way I look at those things. I want the best possible team I can get, and hopefully we will be in a position that we are fully diverse as we go forward.”

Nelson Will Seek Re-Election in Florida

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) says he’ll seek a third term in the U.S. Senate, the APreports.

Obama Tweaks Huntsman About Possible Bid

NBC News notes President Obama was asked about rumors his China ambassador Jon Huntsman (R) might run for president in 2012.

Obama prasied Huntsman saying he has “done an outstanding job” as ambassador and then deadpanned: “I’m sure he’ll be successful in whatever endeavors he chooses. And I’m sure him working so closely with me will be an asset in any Republican primary.”

GOP Windfall Unlikely from Redistricting

Stu Rothenberg: “My own state-by-state assessment suggests redistricting alone won’t net many more seats for the GOP than the party now has… But even though Republicans aren’t likely to add 15 to 20 new seats to their existing majority, redistricting across the country could well make it considerably more difficult for Democrats to reverse the results of the 2010 elections in 2012. In that sense, at least, redistricting could be a serious setback for Democrats.”

McCain Pushes Lieberman for Defense Secretary

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) tells CNN he believes Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) would make a good defense secretary for President Obama, calling him “one of the most informed members of the Senate on national security issues and homeland security issues.”

Said McCain: “You know its funny you mention it. I really hope that the president would consider him. I hadn’t thought about it but I sure hope, whatever happens, he will play a major role on national security issues.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I’m going to go back to Washington tomorrow and meet with the president of China. He is a dictator. He can do a lot of things through the form of government they have.”

— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in an interview with Jon Ralston.

Reid quickly tried to take back his words saying, “Maybe I shouldn’t have said ‘dictator.’ But they have a different type of government than we have and that’s an understatement.”

Obama Hopes to be at Super Bowl

President Obama declared that he’s heading to the Super Bowl if the Chicago Bears make it to the game, CNN reports.

Said Obama: “If the Bears win, I’m going no doubt.”

Should Obama follow through on his pledge, the Chicago Tribune notes it would be the first time a sitting president ever attended the big game.

The Future of Power

In the mail: The Future of Power by Joseph S. Nye, Jr.

“In the era of Kennedy and Khrushchev, power was expressed in terms of nuclear missiles, industrial capacity, numbers of men under arms, and tanks lined up ready to cross the plains of Eastern Europe. By 2010, none of these factors confer power in the same way: industrial capacity seems an almost Victorian virtue, and cyber threats are wielded by non-state actors. Politics changed, and the nature of power — defined as the ability to affect others to obtain the outcomes you want — had changed dramatically. Power is not static; its story is of shifts and innovations, technologies and relationships.”

Wu Loses Staffers Over Complaints About His Behavior

Since the November election, Rep. David Wu (D-OR) “has lost at least six staffers plus the leadership of a veteran campaign team that guided him to a seventh term amid complaints about his public behavior,” the Portland Oregonian reports.

The departures come amid questions about Wu’s “bursts of puzzling public behavior” during the campaign. Wu may be dealing with personal problems as he has recently disclosed that he has separated from his wife and stopped drinking last summer.

“Political professionals at all levels noticed the stress, especially the fact that Wu did not hold a single public event on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before the election. Wu did not resurface until after 10 on election night.”

Lieberman Exits

Steve Kornacki: “So this is what it’s come to for Joe Lieberman. Faced with meager poll numbers across the board, the man who once came within a few hundred accidental Buchanan votes of the vice presidency, seems set to announce his retirement from the Senate after four terms later today.”

“Like any proud politician, he’ll probably frame his departure as a voluntary act and insist that he could have won if he’d toughed it out. But make no mistake: When it came to his reelection prospects in 2012, Lieberman — just like his longtime colleague Chris Dodd last year — was simply out of options. He could run as a Democrat, he could run as Republican, he could run as an independent, but each path led to the same glum place. So he’s hanging it up instead.”

Issa Goes Mainstream

In an interview with Hugh HewittNew Yorker writer Ryan Lizza talks about his recent profile of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA).

Ben Smith picks out an interesting segment: “Several times while I was interviewing Congressman Issa, he said look, I’ll be very honest with you. The reason I’m talking to the New Yorker is because I need to reach beyond the conservative base. For the last two years, I’ve been in the minority, my job was a little bit different then. I was really concentrating on conservative constituents, conservative media. And now I want to broaden that out. And at one point, he said I need to move from the right to the center. And so I think that largely drove their decision to talk to a sort of general interest magazine like the New Yorker.”

How Health Care Reform Could Be Repealed

Jonathan Cohn says advocates of health care reform should be worried about the law’s court challenges because “judges don’t operate within the same constraints as politicians.”

“And this is where the health-care repeal litigation is fundamentally more threatening than attempts to repeal the law through Congress. Experts I’ve interviewed aren’t by any means convinced that the repeal lawsuits will succeed, but they also are not dismissing them out of hand. It’s easy to see why. Conservatives have spent decades populating the federal bench with judges who, although hardly monochromatic, share a suspicion of government intrusions into the economy.”

Morry Taylor on Herman Cain

Dave Weigel asked 1996 presidential candidate Morry Taylor (R) — made famous by Michael Lewis in the wonderful book Losers — whether pizza tycoon Herman Cain (R) has a chance in his own presidential bid.

Said Taylor: “Heck yeah. It depends on how he promotes himself. You can’t get anywhere until you have name recognition. He’s got to get his name recognition up, and generally you do that through going on television. If you’re not on talk shows you’ve got no chance.”

Boehner a No Show

President Obama is holding a state dinner tonight for Chinese President Hu but House Speaker John Boehner isn’t attending.

First Read: “The move has raised eyebrows for some, especially after Boehnerturned down a ride on Air Force One to go to Tucson, and after Republican congressional leaders wanted a later date for their post-election meeting with Obama. In fairness, Boehner will meet with Hu to have a substantive meeting this week on Capitol Hill, according to Boehner aide Michael Steel. On turning down the ride on Air Force One, Boehner was tending to duties as speaker — a bipartisan prayer service, for example — that kept him from jumping on that flight. And it’s also true that Boehner rarely, if ever, attends state dinners. But the question becomes whether the speaker, who’s second in line in presidential succession, has a greater responsibility to appear at these kind of events.”

Aren’t Running Mates Supposed to be Uncontroversial?

Our friend Walter Shapiro reminds us that the last three unsuccessful vice presidential nominees have been Sarah Palin, John Edwards, and Joe Lieberman. Discuss.

 

A New Economic Team

Peter Baker has an interesting piece in the New York Times Magazine on President Obama’s economic team, noting they “never embraced the no-drama-Obama ethos.”

“Over the last two months, I interviewed nearly all of the team’s main figures, past and present, and when we talked about their relations with one another, it was like picking through the wreckage of a messy divorce. With Geithner as its anchor, a new economic team is being built around Bill Clinton-era figures like William Daley, Gene Sperling and Jack Lew, a group assembled to joust with Republicans instead of one another.”

 

Conrad Walks Away for a Second Time

Sen. Kent Conrad’s (D-ND) retirement announcement was not a first, the Bismarck Tribune reports.

Conrad announced in April 1992 that he would step down after promising during his first campaign to “not seek re-election if the federal deficit was not under control by the end of his first term. Speculation was high that he would go back on the promise, but he never did run for that Senate seat again.”

“However, Conrad would run again, very soon after his announcement that he wasn’t seeking re-election, for a different Senate seat. When Sen. Quentin Burdick (D-ND) died on Sept. 8, 1992, Conrad was an immediately considered the Democratic frontrunner to replace his colleague.”

 

Clinton Hasn’t Committed to Serving Second Term

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told NBC News she hasn’t committed to serving a second term in the Obama administration.

Said Clinton: “I am very pleased to be working in this position now, but I’ve said on many different occasions that I’m looking forward to returning to private life. I do look forward to having a little more spare time, and a few more hours to take just a spare breath.”

 

Palin Unfavorable Rating at New High

More confirmation Sarah Palin would have a tough time running for president: A newCNN/Opinion Research poll finds 56% of all Americans have an unfavorable view of Palin, an all-time high for the former Alaska governor and up seven points from just before the midterm elections.

Christian Heinze has a demographic breakdown and notes a big education gap. “Palin has better numbers among those with no college under their belt (-8%) than those who’ve attended some college (-25%).”

McCain Aide Behind New Novel?

Page Six is “hearing buzz” that Mark Salter, Sen. John McCain’s closest aide and speechwriter on the 2008 campaign, is the ghostwriter of O: A Presidential Novel.

It’s not a bad guess since after reading much of the book last night I think it’s clear the writer understands presidential campaigns but is probably not an Obama confidant.

Ben Smith read the book and notes “the author has a real grasp of campaigns — but mostly as far as campaigns’ relations with the press go, which suggests the author’s either a political reporter or a press staffer of some sort.”

Washington Post review says the book is “not as bad as you feared.”

 

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