POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/1
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) spun a possible problem with his resume into a positive if he decides to run for president, the Naples Daily News reports.
RNC Chairman Chairman Reince Priebus announced the party has about $23 million in debt as it prepares for the 2012 election cycle, the Washington Post reports.
The committee’s year-end financial report will show $21 million in debt through year end, but a more up-to-date total is closer to $23 million. That’s about $8 million higher than previously reported.
The latest Gallup Daily tracking finds no change in President Obama’s job approval rating after his State of the Union address. However, his 50% average approval rating for the week matches the prior week’s rating, which was his highest since May.
U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman (R) sent a resignation letter to President Obama today “and now is likely to explore a Republican presidential bid,” Politicoreports.
The letter says that “he wants to return to the United States by May, the associate said. The letter thanks Obama for the opportunity to serve the country and praises the U.S. embassy staff in Beijing.”
President Obama’s health care reform legislation was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge, Bloomberg reports.
Key section of ruling: “In the final analysis, this Act has been analogized to a finely crafted watch, and that seems to fit. It has approximately 450 separate pieces, but one essential piece (the individual mandate) is defective and must be removed. It cannot function as originally designed. … I must conclude that the individual mandate and the remaining provisions are all inextricably bound together in purpose and must stand or fall as a single unit. The individual mandate cannot be severed.”
The Hotline reports that a small, but well-connected conservative group that supported Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) in 2010 will actively support a primary challenge against him in 2012.
Why it may not matter: “The PAC spent about $95,000 on independent expenditure ads on Brown’s behalf in the run-up to the January 2010 special election. That’s a fraction of the amount other groups, like the Republican and Democratic senatorial committees, spent on the race… The $7 million he has in the bank already will give him a leg up, as well.”
Why it may hurt him: “The threat of a primary challenge can’t make him happy. Brown will already have a difficult general election campaign, given the Bay State’s liberal nature and the roster of Democrats lining up to challenge him, and spending any time placating a Republican base won’t help his chances.”
House Ethics committee Chairman Jo Bonner (R-AL) told the Mobile Press-Register that the “vast majority” of House members “privately wish to end the Office of Congressional Ethics, a controversial independent watchdog agency put in place by House Democrats in 2008 to monitor Congress.”
But Bonner notes “political realities” prevented Republicans from disbanding the office when they took power.
Said Bonner: “If he had disbanded OCE, he would have instantly become the target of criticism, from both the far left and the far right, that he was not serious when he said that we were going to have zero tolerance on ethical violations.”
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) “loaned his campaign $1 million in the last quarter of 2010, seemingly putting to rest speculation that he may retire instead of seeking re-election next year,” The Hotline reports.
“Kohl, who will be 77 years old on Election Day next year, had been the subject of retirement rumors because of his age and near empty war chest. He finished the third quarter of 2010 with less than $26,000 in his campaign account.”
Failed Nevada U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R) made an appearance last week at a makeup convention where she shared “her beauty and makeup challenges during the campaign and how she overcame them!”
While unrest in Egypt continues to dominate the headlines, First Read notes that “the White House has quickly pivoted to jobs after the president’s State of the Union,” keeping the focus on domestic politics.
“This week, the Obama administration will be holding several events tied to Obama’s call for innovation. And today, the White House is launching what it calls ‘Startup America’ — an effort to promote entrepreneurship across the country.”
Meanwhile, congressional Republicans may be missing the mark according to theAP, “using their new House majority to push for a repeal of President Obama’s health care law and for restrictions on abortions, and to highlight other social issues important to their most conservative supporters.”
At a speech in Nevada, the Daily Beast notes how Palin made some “boilerplate comments” about how “local government is the most responsive and responsible to the will of the people.”
She then paused for a moment and stared out across the ballroom. And then came this: “that’s why I think every president should have a run at gaining experience by being a councilmember, a mayor, a governor, a VP candidate, a commercial fisherman, a hockey mom.”
A Smart Politics analysis of orally delivered State of the Union addresses since Franklin Roosevelt’s first address in 1934 finds President Obama’s 2011 speech recorded the second largest percentage of first-personal plural pronouns (e.g. we, us, our) out of nearly 70 such addresses during these 75+ years.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) told the Jersey Journal he believes his recent low-approval ratings are the result of representing a “tough state” in a tough media market.
Said Menendez: “It’s very hard everyday, no matter how much work we do in communicating my work, my views, my visions, to penetrate, and until you do television or radio advertising to talk about what you’ve done, what you believe in, we’re not going to see those numbers change.”
The New York Times reports that the Tea Party movement has begun organizing primary challenges to establishment Republicans early on, signaling an ability to learn from the mistakes of 2008, “when several Tea Party candidates split the vote in Republican Senate primaries, allowing the most establishment of the candidates to win with less than 40 percent.”
“Leaders of more than 70 Tea Party groups in Indiana gathered last weekend to sign a proclamation saying they would all support one candidate — as yet undetermined — in a primary challenge to Senator Richard G. Lugar… In Maine, there is already one candidate running on a Tea Party platform against Senator Olympia J. Snowe. Supporters there are seeking others to run, declaring that they, too, will back the person they view as the strongest candidate to avoid splitting their vote. In Utah, the same people who ousted Senator Robert F. Bennett at the state’s Republican convention last spring are now looking at a challenge to Senator Orrin G. Hatch.”
Said Daley: “It’s also good to see Jon Huntsman, our ambassador to China. ‘Or as we call him around the White House: the Manchurian Candidate. I want Jon to know that the president has no hard feelings. In fact, he just did an interview with the Tea Party Express saying how integral he has been to the success of the Obama administration.'”
It was nearly two years ago when President Obama used Cairo to push the Muslim world to embrace democracy.
Said Obama: “Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. Government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power. You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion.”
First Read: “Cairo was in lock down during the president’s visit; in hindsight, one wonders if it was almost suppression like to prevent any organized protests at the time.”
Said Daniels: “I think I have got to make up my mind fairly soon. I don’t think that I’ve waited too long, but I believe I should come to some decision. There are a lot of people waiting and I owe them an answer. The country is facing survival-level problems.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) conceded to Fox News that Republicans ultimately will have to agree to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
Said Boehner: “That would be a financial disaster not only for our country, but for the worldwide economy. Remember, the American people on Election Day said we want to cut spending and we want to create jobs. You can’t create jobs if you default on the federal debt… I don’t think it’s a question that is even on the table.”
In case you missed it, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton completed the full Ginsburg yesterday.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) is now calling wealthy Republicans to ask them to “keep their powder dry” until he decides whether he will run for president, the Wall Street Journal reports.
In addition to the most active possible candidates — Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty — Newt Gingrich, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and former Sen. Rick Santorum “also have stepped up their conversations recently with potential donors, according to Republican operatives and fund-raisers.”
In an interview with USA Today, Obama adviser David Axelrod said he had no idea who the Republicans might nominate to run against President Obama in 2012.
Said Axelrod: “This is the most unfathomable Republican field in my lifetime. I don’t think anybody in the media or in either party can tell you with any degree of certainty who the Republican nominee will be.”
But he also managed to “thank” one potential rival, Mitt Romney, who “did some interesting things there on health care, you know. We got some good ideas from him.”