POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES -3/30

Syrian Leader Stages His Own Coup

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad “is attempting a new survival tactic in this Arab Spring — organizing what looks like a coup against his own government. Over the next 48 hours, it should become clear whether he has the political muscle and dexterity to pull off this unusual maneuver,” the Washington Post reports.

“Assad dismissed his cabinet ministers Tuesday, and his backers encouraged massive public demonstrations of support in Damascus, Aleppo and other Syrian cities… In their effort to turn the tables on protesters, the regime used Facebook as one of its tools to summon demonstrators. The social networking site was officially approved in Syria less than two month ago.”

Bachmann Files for Re-Election

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) may says she’s considering a run for president, but she’s also quietly laying the groundwork for a reelection campaign, Dave Catanese reports.

Bachmann filed statement of candidacy forms with the Federal Election Commission earlier today.

Swiftboater is Back

Coming in May: Where’s the Birth Certificate? The Case that Barack Obama is Not Eligible to Be President by Jerome Corsi, who led the Swiftboating of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) during the 2004 presidential election.

Louisiana Democrat Says Republicans “Eat Their Young”

Former Louisiana lieutenant governor candidate Caroline Fayard (D) is coming under fire for a recent speech where she compared Republicans to animals that eat their own young, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

The Bogalusa Daily News reported that Fayard said: “I hate Republicans. I hate Republicans. They are cruel and destructive. They eat their young. They don’t think. They don’t allow people to think. They are bullies.”

She qualified that statement, however, saying she wasn’t necessarily bashing conservatives: “I don’t hate conservatives. I am very conservative. I go to church on Sunday. I’m Catholic. I’m pro life.”

Dave Catanese notes that Fayard “has been mentioned as a potential candidate to challenge GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal, who remains without an opponent seven months before the election.”

 

Bonus Quote of the Day

“If I was head of DNC, I would be quietly rooting for it. I know who’s going to get blamed — we’ve been down this road before.”

— Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean, quoted by National Journal, on a looming government shutdown.

Romney Adviser Says RomneyCare Led to ObamaCare

MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, who advised Mitt Romney when developing health care legislation in Massachusetts, told Jennifer Rubin that it is “sad” that the likely presidential candidate is running away from his health care plan, a plan that Gruber says “gave birth to one of the greatest pieces of social legislation in our history,” namely President Obama’s 2010 health-care reform legislation.

Despite Romney’s recent attempts to rewrite history, Gruber insisted that Romney “championed the individual mandate, overriding concerns about personal freedom” and that the Massachusetts plan today “is pretty much the same as what Romney signed into law.”

When Senators Forget the Mute Button

Moments before a conference call with reporters and “apparently unaware that many of the reporters were already on the line,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) “began to instruct fellow senators on how to talk to reporters about the contentious budget process,” the New York Times reports.

Schumer told them to portray House Speaker John Boehner (D-OH) “as painted into a box by the Tea Party, and to decry the spending cuts that he wants as extreme.”

Said Schumer: “I always use the word extreme. That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week.”

“A minute or two into the talking-points tutorial, though, someone apparently figured out that reporters were listening, and silence fell.”

Trumps Tries Again

Donald Trump “learned the hard way this week that if you’re going to call on the president to release his official birth certificate, you’d better do the same,” ABC News reports.

After releasing what was found to be a “hospital certificate of birth” and not an official birth certificate, Trump finally corrected the problem today.

No Honeymoon for Scott in Florida

After a few months in office, a new Public Policy Polling survey finds Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) approval rate is just 32% while 55% of voters in the state are unhappy with his work so far.

Key finding: “Only 57% of Republicans approve of the job he’s doing to 27% who disapprove. To put those numbers into some context his counterparts in the Midwest who are having their own popularity problems at least are doing far better within their own parties- Wisconsin’s Scott Walker stands at 86% with Republicans, Ohio’s John Kasich is at 71%, and Michigan’s Rick Snyder has a 68% approval with GOP voters.”

Consensus Emerges on “Obama Doctrine”

A consensus seems to be emerging on the foreign policy doctrine that President Obama laid out in his speech on intervention in Libya, even if Ben Smith and Aaron David Miller can’t agree on what, exactly, that doctrine is.

First Read: “This, as we’ve said before, is the Obama Doctrine: The U.S. will take military action to avert a humanitarian crisis if its scope is limited and if it has the backing of the world community.”

The Fix: “Obama pushed back on the notion that the United States should police the world, but also left the door open to getting involved when American interests — or even values (a much lower standard) — are at stake. The key to Obama’s remarks, though, was the idea that the United States should act in concert with allies.”

Mark Thompson: “This is less a repudiation of Powell than a shift in emphasis, a push toward multilateralism and a willingness to hand off command (and responsibility) to others. Obama, he made clear Monday night, is willing to invest less in world hot spots in exchange for assuming a lesser risk.”

Huntsman Could Skip Iowa

The Daily Caller reports that the initial strategy for Jon Huntsman’s campaign-in-waiting is to “avoid focusing resources to campaign in the nation’s first caucus and socially-conservative state of Iowa.”

Said an adviser: “We haven’t ruled out playing in Iowa, but we have a huge disadvantage when it comes to the infrastructure, money, and time other candidates have spent in Iowa.”

A Murder Foretold

In a must-read piece, David Grann unravels the ultimate political conspiracy.

“Rodrigo Rosenberg knew that he was about to die. It wasn’t because he was approaching old age — he was only forty-eight. Nor had he been diagnosed with a fatal illness; an avid bike rider, he was in perfect health. Rather, Rosenberg, a highly respected corporate attorney in Guatemala, was certain that he was going to be assassinated.”

Inside the West Wing

National Journal has a fantastic interactive map of the White House.

Quote of the Day

“If we can, if there’s a moral case, if we have allies, and if we can transition out and not get stuck, we’ll move to help. The Obama doctrine is the ‘hedge your bets and make sure you have a way out’ doctrine. He learned from Afghanistan and Iraq.”

— Former State Department official Aaron David Miller, quoted by the New York Times.

In contrast, Ben Smith argues “the doctrine is there is no doctrine.”

Religious Split in the GOP

A new Pew Research poll finds Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney leading the Republican field of presidential hopefuls, each with around one-fifth of Republicans naming them as their top choice. But there is a religious split among GOP voters, with 29% of white evangelicals favoring Huckabee and only 15% picking Romney.

Huntsman’s Brother Says Maybe Not 2012

Peter Huntsman confirmed to Bloomberg that his brother, U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman (R), is “interested at some point” in running for president but “that’s not necessarily in 2012.”

He added: “There is a real need in this country for a politician who can have a focus on economic progress and economic development and deficit reduction.”

Of course, Huntsman’s political action committee is a bit more optimistic that it’s 2012.

Barbour Woos Huckabee

Mike Huckabee hasn’t publicly declared whether he’ll run for president, but Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is already moving to court the former Arkansas governor, Politico reports.

“Both were in Mississippi on Monday, but aides to both Republicans were cagey and declined to confirm whether the pair sat down together… It’s a delicate topic for the two prospective candidates. Barbour wants to be respectful of Huckabee’s decision-making process and not be seen as pressuring the 2008 winner of the Iowa caucuses. And Huckabee, despite doing little of what he himself has said would be necessary to mount a campaign, wants to keep the possibility of running open and isn’t quite ready to play kingmaker.”

That said, Huckabee has previously stated that he owes “alot of his political life to Haley.”

Rubio Rules Out Presidential Bid

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) gave his first national interview since being elected to ABC News and was asked if he might run for president in 2012.

Said Rubio: “I think the problem is: I just got elected three months ago, and so how can I be a full-time United Sates Senator if my eyes are already on running for something else? … Even speculating about it is problematic, because when you speculate about it, what you’re basically saying is: I’m thinking about something other than the job right now.”

See more…

Wisconsin Democrats on Fundraising Tear

The Wisconsin Democratic Party raised $1.4 million in the last two months — about $250,000 more than the party did in all of last year, Milwaukee Public Radio reports.

“The Democrats have been fundraising aggressively to support efforts to recall eight Republican state senators who voted for GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair law, which takes away most collective bargaining rights for most public workers.”

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Walker’s (R) administration “no longer is collecting dues on behalf of state unions” and “is charging employees more for their pensions and health care, even though nonpartisan legislative attorneys say the changes are not yet law.”

The law was published last week despite a judge’s restraining order.

Budget Negotiations Breaking Down

“Talks between congressional leaders and the White House on a deal to fund the government for the rest of the year appear to have slowed, with Democrats and Republicans loudly bickering over the fate of their negotiations,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Failure to reach a deal by April 8, a milestone that appears increasingly difficult to achieve, would result in a government shutdown.”

Ezra Klein: “And if I were a betting man, that’s where my money would be right now: the negotiations have become too acrimonious, the issues at their heart too numerous and personal to the parties, to make a deal likely even in normal circumstances. But in circumstances in which newly elected Republicans are trying to prove to their base that they won’t catch Beltway fever and compromise while Democrats are trying to prove they won’t get pushed around by a party that controls a minority of the federal government? A deal seems near impossible.”

Huntsman Gets Ready in New Hampshire

John DiStaso reports that the PAC that’s expected to eventually become the presidential campaign for Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman (R) “is gearing up in New Hampshire with the hiring of two prominent local Republican strategists.”

Obama Finalizes Re-Election Plans

President Obama “is fewer than three weeks away from formally announcing his reelection campaign, and will make it public with an online video his aides will post on his new campaign website,” National Journal reports.

“Obama’s team will try to keep the exact date and time a surprise, letting supporters know first by text message and e-mail… But a major Democratic National Committee fundraiser is set for April 14 in Chicago, and Democratic donors are being told that it will coincide with the announcement. Obama will attend the event.”

Is Mitt Romney the GOP Frontrunner?

Nate Silver: “It’s very difficult to estimate exactly how harmful the health care debate might be to Mr. Romney. Perhaps I’m not applying a significant enough penalty for it. But the fact that he has these two distinct paths to the nomination — ‘quick strike field-clearing wins in early states or a ‘long haul’ through the primary season, requiring money and organizational strength’ — leads me to view him as a reasonably good bet at 3:1 odds against.”

Jonathan Chait responds: “To me, this really misses the point. The point, I’d say, is that Romney has caught himself on the wrong side of the emotional hot button issue for the Republican Party. What’s more, he’s there all by himself. There is no Republican split on this issue. No reppublicans voted for the Affordable Care Act. Within the party the bill is viewed, without significant dissent, as the greatest assault on freedom in memory, and possibly ever. Meanwhile, Romney’s response is pathetic and weak. On top of all that, the flip-flops he had to undergo to run for president the last time around leave him in no position to flip flop again.”

Benghazi and Charlotte

If you watched President Obama’s address to the nation on the military intervention in Libya, you might have noticed one line in particular that stood out.

Said Obama, “We knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi — a city nearly the size of Charlotte — could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”

Bill Kristol explains: “When American presidents want to justify foreign interventions, and are worried the American people aren’t quite with them, they often reach for a strained analogy or comparison that will bring the situation abroad home to their fellow Americans watching on the tube. Obama’s awkward interjection explaining that Benghazi is ‘a city nearly the size of Charlotte’ is a classic of the genre. As Obama said it, I recalled Reagan explaining Nicaragua was as near to Texas as Texas to Washington, D.C., or some such thing.”

 

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