POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/2

Another Southern Party Switch

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell (D) will be “the next switcheroo from the Blues to the Reds,” according to Bayou Buzz.

The rumored party switch is “now certain but it is a question of time and place.”

The Daily Kingfish says the switch will take place this week.

Kennedy Miniseries Back On

After Caroline Kennedy played hardball and knocked it off the History Channel, The Kennedys miniseries has found a new home, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The controversial miniseries starring Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes will premiere on April 3 on the ReelzChannel.

Webb Fundraising Raises Questions About Re-Election

Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-VA) campaign-finance report for the last quarter of 2010 shows he raised just $12,000, finishing the year with $440,000 in his bank account, USA Today reports.

He’s up for re-election in 2012.

Dave Catanese: “Webb presented the chattering class with 12,000 tea leaves Tuesday to think he’s not running. But as Sen. Kent Conrad proved — launching radio ads a week before announcing his retirement — sometimes the color of the leaves can be deceiving.”

Kyl Appears Safe for Re-Election

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Arizona finds Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) leads all tested challengers by 10-21 points if he decides to seek another term in 2012.

Reid Scolds Tardy Senator

Freshman Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) “got dressed down” by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for being late to preside over the day’s session, the Washington Times reports.

“You can’t do this,” Reid said in a stern whisper. “I need you here.”

“The duty of presiding over the Senate is usually shared by junior senators from the majority party, and it’s boring work, often involving hours of sitting on the dais staring out at the empty chamber — but the one requirement is that they’re there on time, freeing up more senior colleagues to do the behind-the-scenes negotiations and deal-making that make the Senate operate.”

Inouye Announces Earmark Ban

Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye, (D-HI) announced a two-year moratorium on earmarks, The Hill reports.

Said Inouye: “I continue to support the Constitutional right of members of Congress to direct investments to their states and districts under the fiscally responsible and transparent earmarking process that we have established. However, the handwriting is clearly on the wall. The president has stated unequivocally that he will veto any legislation containing earmarks, and the House will not pass any bills that contain them.”

Huntsman’s Historical Example

Jon Huntsman’s (R) much rumored presidential bid isn’t without historical precedent.

History News Network: “A precedent exists for a Republican ambassador to an Asian nation challenging an incumbent Democratic president–the 1964 bid of Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., who served as U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam while he covertly ran a ‘grassroots’ campaign for the Republican nomination. Quite unlike Huntsman, who’s a longshot for 2012, Lodge led in Republican polling for several months before losing the penultimate Oregon primary.”

Must listen to audio recording: President Lyndon Johnson discusses with National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy his strategy for dealing with the Lodge threat.

See more…

Coleman Will Not Challenge Klobuchar

Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) told ABC News he has ruled out challenging Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in 2012.

Said Coleman: “I’m not going to run against Amy Klobuchar. I’ve said in other forums that I haven’t ruled out public service — my heart’s in public service. At some point, but not in 2012. I love what I do now, and that is developing center-right policy.”

Courage to Stand, but Why?

David Bernstein has an excellent review of  Tim Pawlenty’s new memoir.

“What a fascinating character this ‘Tim Pawlenty’ is, so dissociated from his self that he declares it is ‘anyone’s guess’ why he believes what he believes — and believes very, very strongly.”

“We never get close, in Courage to Stand, to understanding why Pawlenty believes the check-list of conservative policy positions he holds. Instead, we get a sense that his bedrock principle is remaining unwaveringly loyal to those positions, whatever they may be and whatever mysterious process led him to them. He repeatedly tells us of the importance of standing firm, not wavering, never bending — certainly not to political winds of change.”

Romney Says He Answered Too Many Questions

In an interview on The View, Mitt Romney suggested the problem with his 2008 presidential bid was that he wasn’t selective about answering questions.

Said Romney: “The challenge that you have coming from the private sector as I did is when someone asks you a question, you answer it… the challenge I had last time was I answered every question, and sometimes, you need to say: you know, let me quickly answer that question and then get on to what’s really important.”

Christian Heinze: “It’s the political equivalent of an interviewee saying his weakness is that he works too hard.”

Quote of the Day

“If I ran for office, I would be a proud younger brother of George W. Bush and a proud son of George H.W. Bush.”

—  Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), quoted by the Las Vegas Sun.

How John Edwards Confessed

David Perel, former editor of the National Enquirer, tells a fascinating story of how the tabloid finally got John Edwards to admit to his extramarital affair.

“He cracked. Not knowing what else the Enquirer possessed and faced with his world crumbling, Edwards, as the profiler predicted, came forward to partially confess… Our sources told us Edwards thought he could survive the affair admission personally and politically. At the time, it was good enough for everyone at the Enquirer. The articles, the investigation, the nearly two years of work, had been vindicated and instead of an expensive yawn-inducing tale no one believed, we had a great political scoop.”

Democrats Pick Charlotte for Convention

Democrats have picked Charlotte, North Carolina as the site of their 2012 nominating convention.

First Read: “By selecting Charlotte — which beat out St. Louis, MO; Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN; and Cleveland, OH — Obama and his political advisers will try to repeat their success in 2008, when they used the convention as an organizing tool to win the state in the general election. (In 2008, Denver hosted the Democratic convention, and Obama went on the win Colorado, 54%-45%, the first time a Dem presidential nominee had carried it since 1992.)”

Democratic Grip on Senate is Slipping

After the announcement that Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) is planning a challenge to Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), Alex Burns notes that there are now four 2012 races where Democratic incumbents face “high-profile, formally announced challengers,” the exact number that Republicans must win to reclaim the Senate.

The four: “Montana, Missouri (former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman), Nebraska (state Attorney General Jon Bruning) and Virginia (former Sen. George Allen).”

Kicker: “That’s not to mention the open Senate seat in North Dakota, where Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad’s retirement gives Republicans a strong pickup opportunity, and Florida, where several solid candidates are circling the race against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.”

Senate Moves Forward with Ensign Probe

The U.S. Senate ethics committee announced the appointment today of a special counsel to look into the scandal surrounding Sen.John Ensign (R-NV).

Lawmakers Introduce Mandate to Buy Guns

“Five South Dakota lawmakers have introduced legislation that would require any adult 21 or older to buy a firearm “sufficient to provide for their ordinary self-defense,” the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports.

The bill would give people six months to acquire a firearm — “suitable to their temperament, physical capacity, and preference” — after turning 21.

Rep. Hal Wick (R) “is sponsoring the bill and knows it will be killed. But he said he is introducing it to prove a point that the federal health care reform mandate passed last year is unconstitutional.”

Activating the Grassroots

Mike Allen: “President Obama’s political operation is quietly using the afterglow of his State of the Union address to begin activating grassroots supporters as the start of a continuous wave of engagement that will culminate when he stands for reelection on Nov. 6, 2012…. One lesson Obama aides learned from his 2008 campaign was that grassroots organizing was in itself a selling point – that press coverage of local activity reinforced his appeal. So look for Obama’s reelection campaign to draw early attention to individual supporters and registration drives in key states.”

No Apology for RomneyCare

On the kick off to his No Apology book tour, Mitt Romney “is on message — refusing to apologize for the Massachusetts health care law that, like President Obama’s federal legislation, requires citizens to buy health insurance,” ABC News reports.

Said Romney: “I’m not apologizing for it, I’m indicating that we went in one direction and there are other possible directions. I’d like to see states pursue their own ideas, see which ideas work best.”

“That stand seems to reject the advice of Karl Rove and others who say that Romney can’t get the GOP nomination in 2012 unless he finds a way to distance himself from Romneycare, but he did concede that his Massachusetts plan is imperfect.”

The Partisan Courts

First Read: “The most striking conclusion from the court rulings on the health-care law is that some of the country’s federal courts are almost as partisan as the halls of Congress. So far, two federal judges — appointed by a Democratic president — have found the law’s individual mandate constitutional, while two other judges — appointed by Republicans — have disagreed… If the Supreme Court strikes down the law, it will be hard to escape the conclusion that elections have few consequences other than who a president puts on the bench.”

Middle East Unrest Spreads

Jordan King Abdullah “fired his government in a surprise move on Tuesday, in the face of a wave of demands of public accountability sweeping the Arab world and bringing throngs of demonstrators in the streets of Egypt,” the New York Times reports.

“Recent demonstrations in Jordan marked the first serious challenge to the decade-old rule of King Abdullah, a critical American ally in the region who is contending with his country’s worst economic crisis in years.”

First Read: “Does this simply buy the King time, or will this have to be the first in a series of moves? And who’s next? Yemen? Saudi Arabia? Syria?”

White House Gives Up on Mubarak

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, “seeking to salvage his 29-year rule, made his first offer to discuss reforms with opposition groups, as protesters gathered for a massive march to force him to resign and his Western allies discussed plans for his exit,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Participants in a private meeting Monday morning at the White House’s Roosevelt Room said a long discussion of Mr. Mubarak’s future left them with the understanding that the White House sees no scenario in which Mr. Mubarak remains in power for long. White House officials said they made no explicit predictions about Mr. Mubarak’s future.”

As the Daily Beast comments, “We’ll look forward to reading the behind-the-scenes account on WikiLeaks one day.”

Whitman Spent $178 Million

The Sacramento Bee reports failed California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s (R) spent a record-breaking $178.5 million spent on her campaign — $43.25 for each of her votes in the general election — which she lost to Jerry Brown (D) by 13 percentage points.

Bush Daughter Backs Same Sex Marriage

Ben Smith: “Here’s a pretty vivid illustration of the generation divide playing out inside the Republican Party. George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign played same-sex marriage against John Kerry; his daughter’s now a spokeswoman for the cause.”

See more…

Tester Gets a Tough Challenger

Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) will announce this weekend he is challenging Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), Roll Call reports.

“Rehberg’s status as a well-known at-large Congressman immediately pushes the matchup between the two Big Sky State politicians to among the most competitive Senate races in the country. Recent polling conducted for the Rehberg campaign bears that out.”

An operative “offered some internal Rehberg polling numbers showing the Montana Republican in a statistical tie with Tester in a prospective 2012 matchup.”

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