POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/11

DeMint Builds Campaign Machine

Having played a kingmaker role in many of the most competitive Republican primaries of 2010, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is now setting up his own campaign machine for the 2012 elections that could rival the National Republican Senatorial Committee, according to Politico.

“The buildup is the latest sign that DeMint has become the pre-eminent conservative political activist in the Senate, and he plans to push candidates whose ideological views align with his and the tea party movement’s — even if it sets up a major clash with the NRSC, which always looks for the most electable prospect.”

Wisconsin Passes Bill to Strip Unions

After police carried demonstrators out of the state Assembly, Republicans entered the chamber and approved Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) bill repealing most collective bargaining by public employee unions, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.

This is the first step in what may prove to be a massive political battle consuming most of the year.

Brewer Left Speechless Again

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) looked lost when her teleprompter failed during a recent speech. She just stopped talking and later had to let the audience in on what happened.

The episode brought back memories of her painful reaction during a gubernatorial debate last year.

See more…

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“We probably should have invited him here today to receive the Mobilizer of the Year Award.”

— AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, quoted by Politico, referring to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and his push to strip state public employees of collective bargaining rights.

 

Utah the Latest to Threaten Primary Calendar

Politico reports that Utah may disrupt the 2012 primary calendar because its primary is scheduled for Feb. 7, one day after first-in-the-nation Iowa’s caucuses.

“That date is in violation of rules set by both national parties stipulating that no states other than Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada can hold nominating contests before March. With Florida also threatening to hold a primary even earlier, chances are increasing that the Hawkeye State will have to push up its own timetable just to keep its first-in-line status. After the close of the legislative session, the date of the state-funded primary can only be changed with the consent of both political parties.”

Other states whose primary dates could disrupt the calendar: Florida and Minnesota.

Ben Smith: “Utah, like Minnesota, is likely a favorite-son gimme state, and thus less likely to produce hysteria in Des Moines — though Huntsman-Romney competition could complicate that. And if Utah is early, how can the RNC persuade Florida to wait? And if Florida moves up, Iowa and New Hampshire surely will too. But while few are even paying attention, the parties’ dream of starting the contest next February really does appear to be near collapse. Christmas in Iowa, here we come.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“He’s one of the great hucksters, and I say that admiringly. He’s using this idea of running, milking it, for all it’s worth — and it’s worth a lot. It keeps his name out there, which he is very happy to do. There’s nothing wrong with it, nothing immoral. But he’s not running. He knows it. Everyone else knows it.”

— Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, quoted by ABC News, on the presidential flirtations of Donald Trump.

Palin Upside Down

A striking finding from the new Bloomberg poll: The spread between Sarah Palin’s favorable and unfavorable numbers is an astonishing 32 points, 28% to 60%.

Why There Will Not be a Government Shutdown, Take 2

John Dickerson is carrying over his previous prediction that there wouldn’t be a government shutdown to make the same argument once again, noting that the White House and House Republicans will agree on another short-term continuing resolution before the government runs out of money on March 18.

“Coming to an agreement now… means President Obama can take his trip to Brazil on March 18 without looking like he’s skipping town while a shutdown looms… Republicans were preparing a new funding mechanism that would keep operations open for two to three more weeks with cuts of about $2 billion per week. At three weeks, that nicely matches the $6.5 billion the White House has already suggested cutting.”

But what about next time: “The next debate will be more contentious. The president recognizes that these mini-funding mechanisms simply allow Republicans to get what they want in installments. If they continue, nearly $60 billion will be cut, and a big stretch of time will have been wasted.”

Q&A with Ted Nesi on Rhode Island Politics

A few questions for WPRI-TV’s Ted Nesi:

Is Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) finding it tough to govern as an independent in one of the most solidly Democratic states in the union?

Not at all, or at least not for that reason — Democrats are now Chafee’s base. He was the liberal candidate in last November’s four-way gubernatorial race, and Democrats were the only group that gave him an approval rating above 50 percent in last month’s PPP poll. Chafee’s first two months help explain why: prior to Tuesday’s budget address, his most publicized moves were revoking an executive order that targeted illegal immigrants and pushing to legalize gay marriage. Chafee’s bigger problem so far has been the difficulty he has describing his own positions.

Might Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) be tapped by President Obama to replace Robert Gates as Defense Secretary?

Reed and his aides have been pushing back hard against that idea for years, but no matter what they say his name stays on the short list. They’ve managed to convince me, at least, that Reed genuinely doesn’t want the job. And why should he? He’s by far the most popular politician in Rhode Island, and he loves the job. Defense isn’t his only policy passion, either; he played a key role in shaping Dodd-Frank from his seat on the Banking Committee and is a respected voice on housing issues, too.

Still, if President Obama went to him and said, “Jack, your country needs you and I need you at the Pentagon,” I think he’d have trouble saying no.

See more…

Quote of the Day

“Senator Lugar remains a Hoosier in the eyes of the law.”

— Sen. Richard Lugar’s (R-IN) campaign, quoted by the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, responding to charges that he has been voting absentee by using the address of an Indianapolis house he no longer owns.

Christie’s Blunt Talk Not Always Straight

The New York Times notes New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) “would hardly be the first politician to indulge in hyperbole or gloss over facts. But his misstatements, exaggerations and carefully constructed claims belie the national image he has built as a blunt talker who gives straight answers to hard questions, especially about budgets and labor relations. Candor is central to Mr. Christie’s appeal, and a review of his public statements over the past year shows some of them do not hold up to scrutiny.”

Why Romney is the Frontrunner

Steve Kornacki: “When you look back at other competitive nominating contests in the modern era, the reality is that the GOP tends to nominate candidates who began the campaign with potentially severe problems with the base. John McCain, who was championing a Ted Kennedy-backed immigration reform plan when the ’08 process began (and immigration was hardly his only problem), is the extreme example. Bob Dole, once dubbed ‘the tax collector for the welfare state’ by Newt Gingrich, was hardly a perfect fit for the rabidly anti-government Republican Party of 1996. Nor was George H.W. Bush the ideal option for conservatives in 1988, even if he was Ronald Reagan’s vice president.”

“All three of these apostates survived, even though there were elite-approved alternatives challenging them.”

Insiders Warm on Daniels, Cool on Palin

The latest Political Insiders poll finds that Mitch Daniels’ nomination prospects have risen the most of any possible GOP contender among insiders from both parties.

One-fourth of GOP insiders and 22% of Democratic insiders said Daniels’ political stock rose the most, followed by Tim Pawlenty with 25% of Republicans and 18% of Democrats.

The possible GOP candidate whose stock dropped the most among insiders: Sarah Palin, said a whopping 42% of Republicans and 53% of Democrats.

A Political Analysis of Gubernatorial Portraits

Smart Politics analyzed the official portraits of the nation’s 50 governors “and found that Republicans were more likely to pose with a state or U.S. flag than Democrats and more than eight times as likely to decorate their suit with a lapel flag pin.”

“Republicans were also three times as likely to choose a red tie over a blue tie, whereas the red-vs.-blue tie selection was virtually split down the middle among Democratic governors.”

Political Campaigns Go Viral

Karl Rove: “Cutting-edge campaigns have quickly grasped how the Web makes it easier and less expensive to transmit information. But campaigns are only starting to understand how to use the Web and social-networking tools to make video and other data go viral — moving not just to those on a campaign’s email list but to the broader public.”

“It took decades for the changes inaugurated by the ‘We Like Ike’ TV ads to fully take hold. It will likewise take time for political practitioners to figure out what works and what doesn’t work on the Internet. But we are seeing a version of Joseph Schumpeter’s “creative destruction” fundamentally alter the landscape of American politics. It will have huge implications on how campaigns are run, who we elect, and what kind of country we become.”

Jindal Raises More Money

Despite having no announced challengers, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) “is making a whirlwind fundraising trip through Texas to raise campaign cash for his fall re-election bid,” the AP reports.

Jindal reported last month that he has more than $9 million for his campaign.

Very Little Confidence in Economic Recovery

A new Bloomberg poll finds only 1 American in 7 has faith a lasting economic recovery has taken hold and a plurality say they are personally worse off than they were two years ago.

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