POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/4
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told the Wall Street Journal that he’s “determined to offer a budget this spring that curbs Social Security and Medicare, despite the political risks, and that Republicans will try to persuade voters that sacrifices are needed.” (BUT, only if you make less than $250,000 /yr.)
Said Boehner: “People in Washington assume that Americans understand how big the problem is, but most Americans don’t have a clue… Once they understand how big the problem is, I think people will be more receptive to what the possible solutions may be.”
“Boehner also spoke forcefully in favor of raising the government’s debt limit, a move strongly opposed by many conservative House Republicans. He reiterated that the action would have to be coupled with significant spending cuts.”
Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White (R) was charges with seven felony counts, including voter fraud, perjury and theft, the Indianapolis Star reports.
“Huntsman’s too liberal, comes with the tarnish of having accepted the appointment from Obama. He’s never said anything really conservative in his life. How’s he going to win in a conservative primary? He can’t. Huntsman is, in my opinion, a non-player.”
— Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu (R), quoted by RealClearPolitics, on U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman running for president.
The White House is having trouble filling key financial posts in the administration “as a combination of Senate opposition and candidates’ reluctance to join up leaves critical positions empty,” the Financial Times reports.
“Regulatory reforms passed by Congress last year created two positions, heading the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the new Office of Financial Research, but both these and existing jobs remain unfilled.”
“Those approached have given different reasons for declining to pursue the job. Some are put off by the six-year commitment; some by Washington turf wars. One said it was a difficult job because ‘it seems to need some kind of intellectual who thinks about bubbles’, and ‘it seemed to take a tough-guy-like attorney’ to enforce new data-gathering powers on the banks.”
“Eliot Spitzer’s resurrection — from the disgraced governor better known as Client 9to CNN talk-show host — has the political class buzzing about him running for mayor in 2013,” the Charlie Gasparino reports.
“The idea is that Spitzer, the son of a near-billionaire real-estate magnate, would run as as a self-financed independent, a la Mike Bloomberg. But he’s got baggage that Bloomberg, for all his crass temperament, didn’t have in 2001 — starting with his record in state politics.”
Adding to the intrigue: Former New York Stock Exchange chief Dick Grasso — one of Spitzer’s highest-profile targets on Wall Street — “has quietly been telling friends that he’s leaning toward challenging Spitzer as a Republican.”
The Hotline notes that James Broadwater (R) filed this week to run for governor in Mississippi. He ran for Congress in 2004 and 2008 but was more prominently featured on an episode of British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s Da Ali G Show.
A new Pew Research survey finds a continuing rise in support for same-sex marriage over the last several years.
Currently, 45% say they favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally while 46% are opposed. In Pew Research surveys conducted in 2010, 42% favored and 48% opposed gay marriage and in 2009, just 37% backed same-sex marriage while 54% were opposed.
Charles Franklin notes that the consistency of the trends since 2005 “all but guarantee support will exceed opposition within the year.”
Last night on Fox News, Mike Huckabee continued his attacks on President Obama’s American-ness, saying “This is not a kid who grew up, you know, going to Boy Scout meetings and playing Little League baseball in a small town.”
Dan Amira: “If the absence of Little League or Scout meetings is really so disconcerting to Huckabee, we wonder what he would say about Ronald Reagan, who also never participated in either of those things… In fact, out of all our presidents, only George W. Bush is a former Little Leaguer, and only John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, and Bush were in the Boy Scouts. All of our other presidents, we guess, had an exotic, un-American upbringing, and a skewed worldview.”
The New York Times says new White House chief of staff Bill Daley and political adviser David Plouffe “are bringing a new order and a different management style for different times, say people within the West Wing and others who deal with them. The White House is more disciplined and less personality driven, more focused on long-term strategic goals and less consumed by the daily messaging skirmishes with Republicans — even when that means absorbing hits and pulling punches for now.”
More detail: “Staff members describe a happier workplace with clearer lines of authority and less fear of being chided by the often brusque Mr. Emanuel. Responsibility for communications and messaging has been consolidated. Cabinet members often overlooked in the past say they are more in the loop. With Mr. Daley taking the lead, there is more outreach to Republicans and business groups.”
Newt Gingrich will take his first official step toward a 2012 presidential bid by launching a website called NewtExplore2012.com.
Update: For those wondering how Gingrich got so many flag waving Americans to appear on the site, it’s actually just a stock photo that anyone can buy.
ThinkProgress notes the same photo was used on website for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA).
“The people didn’t send me here to compromise… If we stick together on everything our leadership is screwed.”
— Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL)
“We need to get back to where we can talk about compromise. It’s a word that people have kind of demonized.”
— Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL)
The two freshmen representatives were quoted by Time in a profile highlighting the “very different philosophies” held by House Republicans getting ready to work with or do battle against Senate Democrats and President Obama.
Pigeon O’Brien writes for the Huffington Post about how she first told the National Enquirer that John Edwards was having an extramarital affair with her friend, Rielle Hunter.
“Rielle probably wanted me to think everything I had observed was somehow not true. But you’d have to drink super-powerful Kool-Aid to not be troubled by it all. It had to end, it was definitely going to. The question was just when and how much of the election — and his family — it would take with it. I’m still haunted by the faces of the people who happily made contributions to Edwards they could not afford. The dim morality I’d accepted was now a blind alley. The truth, it became clear, was the one light to find a way out of the hideous mess. Stop saving Rielle, I thought. Save yourself.”
Coming this fall: Stephen King’s latest novel, 11/22/63, in which an English teacher travels back in time to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Christian Heinze notes Rick Santorum will visit Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, making him the first potential 2012 presidential candidate to visit all three of the early voting states in a single week.
The Los Angeles Times has a great piece on how Newt Gingrich “is courting evangelical Christians as he lays the groundwork for a possible presidential campaign, hoping to find favor among a group that will play a pivotal role in picking the 2012 Republican nominee.”
“In recent years, Gingrich has met privately with pastors best known nationally for their campaigns against same-sex marriage, sharing deeply personal details about his marital history as he expresses contrition for his past actions.”
With Republicans vigorously pushing spending cuts — and winning the short term battles with Democrats, First Read notes the new NBC/WSJ poll finds the Americans who are most concerned about spending cuts are core Republicans and conservatives, not independents or swing voters.
Said GOP pollster Bill McInturff: “It may be hard to understand why a person might jump off a cliff, unless you understand they’re being chased by a tiger. That tiger is the Tea Party.”
Key findings: “33% of Tea Party supporters, 34% of Republicans, and 35% of McCain voters list deficit/spending as the top issue the federal government should address, compared with 23% of independents, 24% of suburban women, 19% of seniors, and 19% of those ages 18 to 34 who say that. By contrast, 35% of seniors, 39% of 18- to 34-year-olds, 40% of independents, and 41% of suburban women believe job creation/economic growth is nation’s top issue.”
A new Quinnipiac poll finds that 74% of American voters like President Obama, but 51% disapprove of his policies.
Obama gets a split 46% to 46% job approval rating and voters split 45% to 47% on whether they think he deserves a second term.
Said pollster Peter Brown: “This combination of personal appeal and skepticism about his policies explains why his overall approval numbers seem to be stuck in the middle. The question over the next two years will be whether personality or policies will prevail. Clearly the president is a good deal more popular personally than are his policies. It is not good for his rating that a majority of voters think he is likely to raise taxes too much and cut spending too little.”
“I love collective bargaining.”
— New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), quoted by the Newark Star Ledger, taking a very different position than his Republican counterparts in other states. Christie suggested “let’s get rid of civil service and let everything be collectively bargained.”
With Newt Gingrich poised to be the first serious Republican to announce a presidential bid later today, Politico notes that this could provide Gingrich with “first-mover advantage in a slow-forming GOP field.”
“He’ll have to answer questions about his record in office and, perhaps more importantly, his three marriages. By getting into the race first, Gingrich would have extra time and space to explain all that, set his political house in order and refashion himself as a candidate for the first time since the 1990s.”
While the protests and political brouhaha over public sector unions’ bargaining rights in Wisconsin have received most of the attention, Ohio is poised to pass legislation doing something very similar, reports the New York Times.
“The battle in Ohio has unfolded over the past month along with similar confrontations in Wisconsin and Indiana. Unlike in the other states, where Democrats are needed for a quorum, in Ohio, Republicans make a quorum on their own.”
The Hotline concludes that Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) owes a debt of gratitude to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who has taken up most of the media coverage and created the political space for the Ohio bill to fly mostly under the radar.
With a government shutdown now delayed for at least two weeks, the White House invited congressional leaders to sit down with Vice President Joe Biden, Chief of Staff William Daley, and budget director Jack Lew to hammer out a deal, the Washington Post reports.
The meeting was called after House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters “that Republicans would go no further until Senate Democrats offered a counter-proposal to the $61 billion package of cuts that the House approved in late February.”
Ezra Klein: “The White House has taken ownership over the process, and they will get much of the credit or much of the blame for whether it works and what it produces.”
Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel admitted to the Chicago Sun Times “that there were times, after a long day on the campaign trail, that he would read the profane diatribes of his alter-ego on @MayorEmanuel and think to himself, “My sentiments exactly!”
Emanuel made good on a promise, handing a check for $5,000 over to Dan Sinker — “a donation to an after-school program. It was a reward for Sinker unmasking himself as the author of the MayorEmanuel Twitter feed, which quoted a version of Emanuel cussing all over the campaign trail while the real Emanuel kept his tart tongue in check.”
Sirhan Sirhan, convicted of killing Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, was denied parole for the 14th time, the New York Times reports.
“Mr. Sirhan, who assassinated Mr. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in 1968, had originally been sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted when the State Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional.”
Senate ethics investigators have interviewed Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) about his friend Sen. John Ensign’s (R-NV) ongoing scandal involving an affair with the wife of a former top aide, “the latest sign that the Senate ethics inquiry into the Nevada Republican is intensifying,” Politico reports.
“It is unclear precisely what Coburn told Senate investigators and whether the information could further implicate Ensign, but sources say the scope of the ethics committee’s investigation into the Nevada Republican is widening and that more information that could be harmful to him could emerge just as Ensign gears up to run for another term in 2012, a race Democrats privately hope he continues to wage. Coburn lived with Ensign at a Capitol Hill home, known as the C Street house, run by a Christian fellowship during the period of Ensign’s extramarital affair.”
Late last year, the Justice Department ended its own inquiry that could have landed the Nevada senator in prison.