POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/17

Michelle Obama Signs Book Deal

First Lady Michelle Obama planted her spring kitchen garden and announced she will author a book about healthy eating and locally grown food, the Chicago Sun Times reports.

Mrs. Obama accepted no advance for the book and the proceeds will go to charity. The book is scheduled for publication in Spring, 2012.

Sunshine Award Event Postponed for Unspecified Reasons

President Obama was due to accept an award from a coalition of good government groups recognizing “his deep commitment to an open and transparent government” in conjunction with Sunshine Week, the UPI reports.

However, reporters were told the event was postponed “due to changes to the President’s schedule.” No other reason was given.

The Republican Trap

Jonathan Bernstein: “When Democrats win, as they did in 1992 and 2008, apparently the first reaction of a lot of people is to become very, very easy marks for “conservative” scam artists. So ratings for talk shows skyrocket, and the best-seller lists fill up with anti-Obama and anti-Clinton and anti-liberal books. There’s a lot of money to be made! At least, there’s a lot of money to be made if you’re willing to traffic in wild rumors, apocalyptic comparisons, and extremism of all varieties. But extremism (yes, including in 1994 and 2010) doesn’t help politicians get elected.”

“The problem, of course, is that to the extent that politicians are self-interested, they face a major incentive to join in the gravy train and cash in by appealing to those easy marks rather than try to appeal to a majority of the electorate.”

 

Interview of the Day

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was very clear about her political future in an interview with CNN:

Q: If the president is reelected, do you want to serve a second term as secretary of state?

No

Q: Would you like to serve as secretary of defense?

No

Q: Would you like to be vice president of the United States?

No

Q: Would you like to be president of the United States?

No

Haley Barbour’s Google Problem

Rick Santorum isn’t the only GOP presidential hopeful with a Google problem.

Salon notes that when doing a search for “Haley Barbour” a “whopping seven of the nine results center on race-related flaps that Barbour has been involved in over the years.”

Angle to Run for House Seat

Jon Ralston confirms that Sharron Angle (R) will run for the seat of Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV), who is running for U.S. Senate.

He notes the GOP primary “will be something else.”

Update: Angle made the announcement with a video.

Quote of the Day

“What’s happened in the Republican Party right now, you are having a deck-clearing. So [the nominee won’t be] somebody who has been around for so long [that] it is … their turn. A longer primary is going to be better for Republicans. A primary based upon ideas is going to better for Republicans.”

— Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), in an interview with the Christian Science Monitor.

Gingrich Helped Defeat Iowa Justices

Newt Gingrich “quietly lined up $150,000 to help defeat Iowa justices who threw out a ban on same-sex marriage, routing the money to conservative groups through an aide’s political committee,” the AP reports.

“The financial transfers appear to comply with campaign finance laws and are likely to endear Gingrich to social conservatives who drive the caucuses. But some voters might question whether an outsider should be raising money for a contentious ideological fight confined to one state.”

As Ben Smith notes, “This sounds like money well spent, politically speaking.”

Brown Looks Better for Re-Election in Ohio

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds there’s been a fundamental shift in the Ohio political landscape over the last three months and it looks like the biggest beneficiary of that could be Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

In December Brown looked extremely vulnerable for reelection, now his leads against six different Republicans range from 15 to 19 points.

Palin Losing Ground Among Republicans

The latest Washington Post-ABC News Poll finds Sarah Palin’s ratings within the Republican Party are slumping with 37% having a unfavorable impression of the former Alaska governor.

Her favorable rating is now just 58%, down from a stratospheric 88% in the days after the 2008 Republican National Convention and 70% as recently as October.

Christian Heinze notes Palin has been struggling of late but counters that “she’s also more well-known, and thus, it’s understandable that more would have an opinion on her.”

Barbour Gets Key Aide in New Hampshire

Michael Dennehy, “the man who steered John McCain through two New Hampshire Primary victories,” told WMUR that he would help Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s (R) presidential campaign in New Hampshire.

Republicans Unanimous in Denying Climate Change

House Republicans rejected amendments offered by Democrats “that called on Congress to accept the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring, it is caused in large part by human activity and it is a threat to human health,” The Hil lreports.

Not a single on of the 31 Republicans on the House Energy And Commerce Committee voted to support the idea climate change exists.

Haley’s Job Application Showed Inflated Salary

Then-state Rep. Nikki Haley (R) reported on an application for a hospital job that she earned $125,000 a year — more than five times the amount that Haley, now South Carolina’s governor, said she earned on her federal tax returns, the Charleston Post and Courier reports.

Haley’s staff insists she didn’t fill out the job application, according to the Columbia State, but the hospital says only applicants are allowed to complete the forms and that Haley had hand-signed them authorizing a background check.

Wide Open Field, Except for Palin

At a speech in Idaho, former Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said he had never seen such a “wide-open field” as now exists among prospective Republican presidential candidates, the Idaho Mountain Express reports.

However, he said he did not include Sarah Palin among those who have a reasonable shot at getting elected.

Said Fleischer: “I cannot see any way, shape or form that she can win the Republican primary.”

RNC Considers Selling Broadcast Rights to Debates

The RNC “is considering sanctioning the GOP presidential primary debates and then selling the broadcast rights to news outlets,” CNN reports.

However, it is unclear “if it is legal for the RNC to sell the broadcasting rights or whether it would constitute a prohibited political contribution in the eyes of federal law.”

What Bayh’s Post-Retirement Says About Washington

Ezra Klein takes former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) to task for his post-Senate career path, noting the rapid emergence and disappearance of the near-retiree version of Bayh that launched “a precise and devastating broadside against the institution in which he and his father had served.”

“Instead of merely condemning the bitter partisanship of the place, he proposed to close the loopholes that had enabled polarization to metastasize in paralysis… He then went after money in politics… For a United States senator to explain his retirement by saying, ‘I want to be engaged in an honorable line of work,’ was the single most persuasive and devastating critique I’d ever seen of the Senate as an institution.”

“But Bayh did not return to Indiana to teach. He did not, as he said he was thinking of doing, join a foundation. Rather, he went to the massive law firm McGuire Woods… He followed that up by signing on as a senior adviser to Apollo Management Group, a giant public-equity firm. And, finally, this week, he joined Fox News as a contributor. It’s as if he’s systematically ticking off every poison he identified in the body politic and rushing to dump more of it into the water supply… In our last interview, Bayh complained of the poor opinion the public had of him and his colleagues. ‘They look at us like we’re worse than used-car salesmen.’ Yes. They do. And this is why.”

Gingrich: Many Books, One Tie

Dave Weigel points out that the paperback versions of all three of Newt Gingrich’s (R) books show him “wearing the same shirt and tie in every photo. He won the future, and it stayed won.”

Weigel’s frustration: “I’ve been reading Newt Gingrich’s collected nonfiction in preparation for his 2012 run, but twice I’ve grabbed the wrong book as I’ve headed out the door.”

Wisconsin Democrat Looks to Ban Future Quorum Breaks

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Wisconsin state Sen. Tim Cullen (D) announced that he will introduce an amendment to the state constitution that would prevent future senators from blocking budget legislation by fleeing the state.

Said Cullen, “The main point I want to make is that what we did we had every legal right to do. It was an extraordinary step against an extraordinary bill… the institution of the Senate is not well-served going forward by having this particular avenue available.”

The process of amending the Wisconsin constitution takes at least two years, requiring approval in two consecutive legislative sessions and then a statewide referendum.

Democrats Eye Strickland for DNC Chairman

Jonathan Martin reports that former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D), who lost his re-election campaign to John Kasich (R) in November, is a strong contender for becoming the leader of the DNC should Tim Kaine leave to run for Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-VA) seat.

“The Ohioan has emerged as a contender because he has an array of strengths that will be important to the party going into President Obama’s reelection. He hails from one of the most pivotal swing states on the presidential map, has raised millions over two gubernatorial runs and a 12-year career in Congress, and is comfortable in front of the camera as a surrogate.”

Miami Mayor Ousted in Voters’ Revolt

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez was removed in a recall election as voters punished him for raising property taxes and increasing the salaries of his closest aides, the Miami Herald reports.

The vote was stunningly lopsided: Nearly nine of every 10 voted to remove Alvarez from office.

First Read: “This recall embodies all of the frustration Americans are feeling right now — over the economy (which is not very good in South Florida) and how government works (Alvarez gave big pay raises to his staff). It’s a Petri dish for the country’s views on politicians. Everyone’s on a very short leash.”

Barbour Breaks With Primary Field on Afghanistan

Politico reports that likely Republican presidential candidate Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) has called for the United States to reduce our presence in Afghanistan.

Said Barbour: “What is our mission? How many Al Qaeda are in Afghanistan… Is that a 100,000-man Army mission?”

Joe Klein: “No details about how many and when, of course–and, in the end, Barbour’s timetable may not be all that different from Obama’s, which, I expect will have lots of troops coming home next year. But this is Haley Barbour, folks–and we know two things about him: he’s not the world’s boldest policy thinker and he’s probably the smartest political strategist in the field. When Barbour decides that Afghanistan is a loser, you can bet that more than a few Republicans are heading that way”

Bloomberg Approval Tanks to Lowest in 8 Years

A new Quinnipiac poll in New York City finds voters disapprove of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 51% to 39%, his lowest score since 2003.

Said pollster Maurice Carroll: “Is it the snow, the third-term blahs, the weekends away, the presidential chatter? Whatever the explanation, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s once-upon-a-time stretch of 70-plus job approval numbers has gone south. This is his first negative number since 2003.”

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