POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/22

Guatemala First Lady Seeks to Succeed Husband

Guatemala’s constitution prohibits members of a president’s extended family from running for the presidency, the BBC reports, so the country’s first lady is ending her eight-year marriage so she can seek to succeed her husband as president.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I think I probably have more experience of anybody… I dealt with Gaddafi. I rented him a piece of land. He paid me more for one night than the land was worth for two years, and then I didn’t let him use the land. That’s what we should be doing. I don’t want to use the word ‘screwed’, but I screwed him.”

— Donald Trump, in an interview on Fox & Friends.

Mini-Series Coming on Cheney

HBO is developing a mini-series about the political life of former Vice President Dick Cheney “emphasizing his decades-long effort to give more power to the executive branch of government,” the New York Times reports.

The untitled project is based on two nonfiction sources, the Frontline documentary The Dark Side and the best-selling book Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency, by Barton Gellman.

One Year Later, Americans Still Split on Health Care

A new Gallup poll about one year after the health care bill’s passage shows that Americans are still split about whether it was a good thing or a bad thing for Congress to pass, with 46% saying it was a good thing and 44% saying it was a bad thing.

Additionally, a plurality of Americans — 44% — say the law will make medical care worse, versus 39% who say the law will improve medical care. An additional 12% say the law will make no difference.

 

Life in the Office without Giffords

Roll Call has a nice piece on a day in the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ (D-AZ) staff ever since she was seriously wounded in the Tucson shooting in January.

“After the shock and the confusion, Giffords’ office has found its new normal. Employees have settled into a rhythm, carrying on much like they did before the shooting. But sometimes the staffers have to step in for the boss.”

Said her chief of staff, Pia Carusone: “As a staffer, it’s just not in my DNA to be in the spotlight, but you get over that really quickly when you realize it’s what she’d want, and when you realize that we still have a lot of ability to help people.”

Obama’s Perilous Political Course on Libya

Chris Cillizza argues that the first Gulf War “was, politically at least, the best guide post for what President Obama has to hope happens in Libya. Public support for the war started high and stayed there; in mid January 1991, 76 percent of people approved of the U.S. going to war in Iraq and by late February 1991 that support number had soared to 84 percent.”

“The secret to that political success? The war was short — military actions lasted less than a month — and the U.S. was widely perceived to be at the head of a broad international coalition that soundly defeated Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Not so in Afghanistan and the second Iraq war; each conflict has been drawn out over years and the international coalition built in advance of those two wars was not only smaller but has also faded considerably since military action began.”

“Given that history, it’s no surprise that President Obama is focusing almost entirely on the planned brevity of the U.S.’s military involvement and the near-unanimity of the international community in support of the actions taken against Libya.”

Obama Approval on Economy Hits New Low

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll shows that a bare majority of Americans — 51% — approve of President Obama’s job performance, virtually unchanged from a week ago when his approval was 50%. His approval rating remains slightly down from its 12-month high of 55% in January.

However, 60% of those surveyed disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy, with 39% approving, the largest level of disapproval on the issue in his presidency.

McCaskill’s Plane Turns Into Big Liability

Sen. Claire McCaskill’s (D-MO) airplane “has landed on even more political trouble,” the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports.

Politico first reported that McCaskill had to repay the U.S. Treasury more than $88,000 for nearly 90 flights on the plane. However, today the senator admitted that her personal liability in unpaid property taxes was even higher — $287,273.

She also said she has instructed her husband — a wealthy developer — to “sell the damn plane.”

Bush Explains Friendship with Clinton

In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, former President George H.W. Bush explained his friendship with Bill Clinton, the man who beat him in the 1992 presidential election.

Said Bush: “First, let me explain that just because you run against someone in an election, it doesn’t mean you hate the guy. We have to get rid of that notion. But it also would be true that you don’t exactly become best friends either… Our friendship grew out of a shared belief you have to try to help whenever and wherever you can. So we have become quite close.”

“In fact, we just had a 2 1/2 hour lunch, just the two of us, when Bill was in Houston a few weeks ago, just catching up. I do think our friendship has sent a message around the world that just because you disagree on something doesn’t mean you can’t work together.”

Quote of the Day

“I don’t know how many people have died as we wait to do something. Thank God for strong women in the Obama administration.”

— Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), quoted by NBC News, on how it was President Obama’s female advisers that prevailed in arguments to take military action in Libya.

How Dumb are We?

Newsweek recently asked 1,000 U.S. citizens to take America’s official citizenship test and found 29% couldn’t name the vice president, 73% couldn’t correctly say why we fought the Cold War, 44% were unable to define the Bill of Rights and 6% couldn’t even circle Independence Day on a calendar.

White House Image Problem

First Read says “it was striking and a bit odd to receive breaking news alerts and see pictures on television of an active war that the U.S. has significant involvement in — and the president was in Brazil talking mainly about other issues.”

“And it was unusual to see that it was French President Sarkozy out front to announce the start — not the American president… Then again, it’s what the White House preferred when dealing with a war in a third Arab nation. Further complicating the public relations problem for the White House — some front pages in Brazil featured chummy pictures of Obama with Brazilian President Rousseff flanked by dramatic scenes of explosions in Libya (here, here, and here). On this trip, the president went to Brazil to talk trade, economy, and jobs, but once again — predictably — the message was stepped on by outside events.”

Gingrich Says Obama Hides Behind Golf

In an interview on Fox News, Newt Gingrich continued to paint President Obama as an absent leader.

Said Gingrich: “It strikes me that the more difficult it gets, the more the president golfs and the more the president hides. That’s why, quite frankly, I was critical last week of his coming up with his Final Four for basketball… This is a serious job and requires a serious approach.”   (UH, EXCUSE ME NEWT, BUT MARRIAGE IS A SERIOUS JOB TOO!)

Daniels No Closer to Bid

Cheri Daniels suggested to the Indianapolis Star her husband Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) is no closer to announcing a presidential bid.

Said Mrs. Daniels: “At this point, I guess I’m still thinking it’s awfully early to have any real strong opinion about it. But I think it’s obviously a great honor to have people even talking about you for that position. Again, we just have an awful lot to think about.”

She notes the impact on the Daniels family would “definitely be a reason” if the governor decides not to run. “It would not be the sole reason. I mean, there’s so many things to consider that I think most people don’t even think about.”

Manchin Goes Rogue Again

Less than two weeks after he delivered a maiden floor speech denouncing President Obama’s “failure to lead” on cutting deficit spending, Politico reports Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is taking his argument home this week to his West Virginia constituents.

“Facing a tough battle for a full term in the Senate, Manchin is making clear efforts to distance himself from what he sees as dithering on the national debt, coming from Democrats and from Washington as a whole… Manchin has also ‘gone rogue’ in his efforts to get reelected, meeting with Senate Republican leaders to discourage them from pouring cash into his 2012 race and hinting that he might not vote for Obama next year.”

Mississippi Taxpayers Funded Barbour’s Travels

Mississippi taxpayers “forked over more than $18,602 for Gov. Haley Barbour’s trip to Las Vegas for a ‘project meeting’ last March — a trip in which he hobnobbed with potential donors and powerplayers,” the Clarion-Ledger reports.

“The state also paid for Barbour’s bodyguards’ to stay in $858-a-night hotel rooms during a trip to New York last June.”

“From those trips to others across the country, Barbour and his bodyguards racked up more than $300,000 in out-of-state travel expenses in 2010, according to documents obtained by The Clarion-Ledger through public records requests.”

Pawlenty Makes it Official

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) will announce today that he will form an exploratory committee, sources tell the CBS News.

Pawlenty will make the announcement on his Facebook page at 3:00 p.m. ET. Only those who have elected to “like” Pawlenty on Facebook will have access to the message

The Des Moines Register notes Pawlenty “is also expected this week to name staff to lead his preparations for Iowa’s caucuses.”

Tester in Very Close Re-Election Race

A new Billings Gazette State Poll in Montana finds Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) and challenger Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) in a virtual dead heat for U.S. Senate, 46% to 45% with 9% undecided.

Said pollster Brad Coker: “Grass-roots organization and working on the ground will certainly be important. It’s one of the few races you’ll see where both candidates already have a built-in statewide organization.”

Barbour Nabs Former Romney Campaign Aide

The Miami Herald reports that Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) may be “ready to go from potential presidential contender to candidate” after signing veteran Florida political strategist Sally Bradshaw, who served as the top political adviser to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and an adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Said Bradshaw: “If he becomes a presidential candidate I’ll work for him here.”

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush emails Mike Allen: “Don’t know what I am going to do, but Haley is fortunate to have Sally Bradshaw working for him should he decide if runs for President.”

Flashback Quote of the Day

“I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That is why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.”

— President Obama, in a speech accepting his Nobel Peace Prize.

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