POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/15

Gillibrand Gets Stronger Heading into Re-Election

A new Siena poll finds Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is enjoying her highest approval rating since first being elected to the U.S. Senate.

Key findings: 57% of New Yorkers approve of her job compared to a mere 18% who disapprove. 52% say that they are going to support her re-election efforts in 2012 while only 29% would ‘prefer someone else.

Combative First Lady

Coming next month: Pat Nixon: Embattled First Lady by Mary C. Brennan.

Washington Post: “Pat Nixon was long regarded as the subservient political wife who wanted only to help her husband President Richard Nixon achieve his goals for the nation. But a new biography portrays the first lady as willful and combative in her relationship with her husband and his top advisers… Chief among her adversaries was chief of staff H.R. Haldeman, who saw it as his job to build a wall around the president, leaving Pat Nixon and many others excluded.”

Rangel Files for Re-Election

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), the 80-year-old congressman who faced an ethics scandal last year, has filed for re-election to a 22nd term, despite his floating the names of possible successors, Roll Call reports.

“Rangel, who first took office in 1971, had been evoking his age in recent interviews, leading some to speculate that his tenure in Congress was coming to an end. Last fall, he faced his most difficult re-election campaign in decades after being found guilty of various ethics violations. He was ultimately censured by the House.”

Romney Way Ahead in New Hampshire

A new WMUR Granite State Poll finds Mitt Romney way ahead in a Republican New Hampshire primary with 40%, followed by Rudy Giuliani at 10%, Mike Huckabee at 7%, Tim Pawlenty at 7%, Sarah Palin at 6%, Newt Gingrich at 6% and Ron Paul at 5%.

 

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“Purity is not a winner in politics.”

— Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), in an interview with Human Events, saying Republicans must be united to defeat President Obama in 2012.

Patrick Eyed for DNC Chairman?

With DNC Chairman Tim Kaine being pressured to run for the U.S. Senate from Virginia, Reid Wilson speculates that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) — author of the forthcoming A Reason to Believe — is “ramping up his national profile for a reason, and it’s not just for his health.”

“Patrick is close with Pres. Obama, and he’s certainly a short-lister if and when certain Cabinet positions open up… But maybe there’s a more immediate position coming open in which Patrick might be interested: Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.”

Reform Opponent Gets Free Public Health Care

Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), who opted out of the health care plan available to members of Congress and opposes the new health care reform law over cost concerns — gets free, taxpayer-funded health care at the state level, the Courier-Post reports.

“Lance receives family health coverage that is free except for co-pays… The former state senator, assemblyman and Kean administration official qualified for retirement in 2006, his 25th year of service. He retired in January 2009, when he moved on to Washington, and enrolled in the state’s free health plan for retirees.”

How to Spend $3.7 Trillion

The New York Times has a fantastic interactive chart that lets you explore how the $3.7 trillion requested in President Obama’s budget proposal is spent.

Braun Defends Hitler Comments

Chicago mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun defended comparing rival Rahm Emanuel — who is Jewish — to Adolf Hitler, Fox Chicago reports.

Braun attempted to play off of a joke from the Mel Brooks comedy The Producers. In it, there’s a character who loved Adolf Hitler because he believed Hitler was kind and gentle.

Explained Braun: “I was not comparing him to Adolf Hitler; print that. I was trying to say… the kind, gentle concern for the public that is being portrayed in these ads does not square with the record.”

Cuomo Enjoying Honeymoon

After six weeks in office, a new Siena poll finds New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) with his highest favorability rating yet: 77% of approve of the job the governor is doing.

Birther Debate Alive and Well

Politico: “Lawmakers in at least 10 states have introduced bills requiring presidential candidates to provide some form of proof that they are natural-born citizens, a ballot qualification rule designed to address widespread rumors on the right that Obama was not born in the United States.”

Obama Has Strong Support of Latinos

A new impreMedia/Latino Decisions poll shows President Obama’s approval rating among Latino voters increased to 70% after decreasing last year.

However, all is not yet lost for Republicans among the demographic group as just 43% of Latino voters say they are sure they will vote for Obama next year.

Barbour Heads to Iowa

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) has been sounding like a presidential candidate lately and, according to Politico, he’ll visit Iowa next month.

Barbour to the Des Moines Register: “If I run for president, I will run hard in Iowa…. I come from a big rural state where agriculture is important and has a lot in common with Iowa.”

Meanwhile, Mother Jones notes his biggest advantage over other prospective GOP 2012 presidential candidates: No one can match his fat Rolodex and fundraising prowess.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I don’t know whether he has earned the, you know, the right to criticize someone for winning an election, because I don’t know how many elections he’s won so far.”

— Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) on CNN, in response to Donald Trump’s comments at CPAC.

Sharing the Future

Greg Mankiw: “More troublesome to me as an economist, though, is that calling on Americans to ‘win the future’ misleads us about the nature of the policy choices ahead. Achieving economic prosperity is not like winning a game, and guiding an economy is not like managing a sports team… Listening to the president, you might think that competition from China and other rapidly growing nations was one of the larger threats facing the United States. But the essence of economic exchange belies that description. Other nations are best viewed not as our competitors but as our trading partners. Partners are to be welcomed, not feared. As a general matter, their prosperity does not come at our expense.”

Of course, as Ben Smith notes, a new DNC video makes it clear that Obama’s “winning the future” message is probably more about defining Republicans as the party of the past.

China Overtakes Japan as 2nd Largest Economy

“Japan’s economy contracted in the fourth quarter of 2010, ceding its spot as the world’s second-largest economy on an annual basis to China,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Interestingly, a new Gallup Poll shows that 52% of Americans wrongly characterize China as the world’s “leading economic power.” By comparison, only 32% give the United States that same title.

Barbour’s Amnesty Problem

Swampland notes that while Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), a potential Republican presidential candidate, may be embracing his past lobbying career, one of his clients from 2001 may prove fatal in a Republican primary: the government of Mexico.

“At the time, Mexico was seeking an extension of a provision that allowed undocumented immigrants living in the United States to receive legal visas or green cards without returning to their country of origin, provided they pay an additional fine… At the time of Barbour’s lobbying, the 245(i) effort was referred to as ‘mini-amnesty’ in conservative circles.”

See more…

What the Budget Says About Obama

Politico looks at President Obama’s budget proposal — to be unveiled this morning — and notes that “the numbers read less like a budget than a soldier deciding what he must carry and what will weigh him too much down jumping into a hot LZ.”

“Obama’s new budget and the House CR can be seen as opening ploys in a longer process which many hope will bring both sides to the table this spring on a larger deficit reduction plan. In the same light, Obama’s emphasis on education serves not only his agenda but drives a wedge between traditional Republicans and the tea party newcomers. At the same time, the GOP’s single-minded devotion to appropriations cuts puts pressure on the White House — from Democrats — to come up with alternative savings from mandatory benefit programs or new revenues.”

First Read: “Presidential budgets are more political documents than anything else, and this budget is by someone who wants to win re-election. Now we wait for the GOP’s counter-offer.”

Kirk Gets “Candy Desk”

Sen. Mark Kirk’s (R-IL) new seat assignment in the Senate chamber is the historic “Candy Desk” which he’ll use to promote Illinois candy companies, the Chicago Daily Herald reports.

Obama Would Crush Jeb Bush

While many Republicans continue to hope that Jeb Bush will throw his name into the 2012 presidential race, a new Fox News poll finds that Bush wouldn’t fare so well in a general election.

President Obama leads Bush 54% to 34% in the poll, reflecting a much wider lead for Obama than their last poll matchup in September, when he only was ahead of Bush by eight points.

Quote of the Day

“Not a lot of people are willing to say they’re sorry. But I will.”

— Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), quoted by the Daily Caller, on voting for the 2008 bank bailout.

Flake Will Run for Senate

The Arizona Republic reports Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) will run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ).

Flake “has long expressed interest in running for the Senate” and his decision “is sure to rev up Republican competition for his GOP-heavy congressional district. He’s also expected to have plenty of competition in the Senate primary.”

Also testing the waters: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

 

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