POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 4/5
Mother Jones: “There’s a Mike Huckabee mystery that won’t go away. Send a public records request seeking documents from his 12-year stint as Arkansas governor, as Mother Jones did recently, and an eyebrow-raising reply will come back: The records are unavailable, and the computer hard drives that once contained them were erased and physically destroyed by the Huckabee administration as the governor prepared to leave office and launch a presidential bid.”
CBS News reports that authorities intercepted a parcel this morning addressed to Rep. Peter King (R-NY) “containing a bloody pig’s foot and a derogatory message.”
“Last month, King held hearings on radicalization in the Muslim-American community that critics suggested unfairly targeted Muslims, though it’s not known whether this incident is related to those hearings. Muslims are forbidden from eating pork products.”
“Here’s a president who 18 months before the election is going to use his office to extort contributions on a scale we’ve never seen before. He’s in effect trying to create a Chicago-style machine for the whole country with a billion dollars.”
A new study from political scientists Seth Masket and Steve Greene finds that Democrats “paid a substantial price for party unity in the 111th House of Representatives” and that the vote on health care reform was the most costly vote to the party — bigger than the economic stimulus package, the bank bailout or cap and trade.
Their analysis found backers of the health care reform bill typically ran 6% to 8% behind their opponents and that 13 of them lost their seats because they voted ‘yes’ on health care.
“Most potent Republican against the Democrats now is Mike Huckabee.”
— Bill Clinton, quoted by the New York Post, on the GOP presidential field.
Michael Scherer notes the most interesting quote from President Obama’s re-election launch video comes from the southern white guy: “I don’t agree with Obama on everything. But I respect him and I trust him.”
“Consider what an extraordinary line this is for a video meant to recruit volunteers to organize for a presidential campaign. Have you ever met a campaign organizer that goes door-to-door or works the phones for a candidate that they admit they don’t agree with? The reasoning behind this line can be found in a recent Associated Press poll. As of late March, 53% of the country approved of the way Obama was doing his job as president. But 59% said they had a favorable view of Obama, 59% said Obama ‘cares about people like’ them, and 84% said he was a likable person. Obama would rather make his pitch to 84% of the country than from 53% of the country. That white guy from North Carolina represents the gap between.”
Jeffrey Toobin argues that the the logic of Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision “suggests that in the future the Court will allow corporations to skip the third parties and give money directly to the candidates. It also implies that any limit on the size of contributions, by individuals or corporations, may now be held to be unconstitutional.”
“It is customary to point out that Citizens United also frees labor unions to make unlimited expenditures. Because unions generally favor Democrats, this observation is supposed to lend a gloss of bipartisanship to the Court’s reworking of a century of laws. But, these days especially, any notion of an equivalency of means between unions and corporations is, to put it mildly, far-fetched. So the vulgar truth about Citizens United, the doomed Arizona law, and related future cases remains: the five Justices appointed by Republicans are thrashing the four appointed by Democrats — to the enormous advantage of the G.O.P.”
With President Obama announcing his re-election campaign today, First Read takes a look at the battleground map for the 2012 election. It shows Democrats with 232 electoral votes either in the solid, likely, or lean column, and it has Republicans with 191 electoral votes. There are 115 electoral votes in the Toss-up column.
Solid Dem: DC, DE, HI, MD, MA, NY, RI, VT (67 electoral votes)
Likely Dem: CA, CT, IL, ME, WA, OR (105)
Lean Dem: MI, MN, NJ, PA (60)
Toss-up: CO, FL, IA, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, VA, WI (115)
Lean GOP: AZ, GA, MO, MT, NE (one EV) (41)
Likely GOP: AL, AR, IN, LA, MS, NE (four EVs), ND, SC, SD, TX (97)
Solid GOP: AK, ID, KS, KY, OK, TN, UT, WV, WY (53)
Key states to watch: AZ, GA, and TX. “All three are long shots, but all three showed significant population gains for minorities in the last 10 years. And the campaign is going to attempt to at least experiment with organizing in these three states to see if any of them are worth truly battling for when the calendar turns from 2011 to 2012.”
After their “shellacking” in the 2010 midterm elections, Politico reports that House Democrats are looking to turn the tables on Republicans and retake the House majority in 2012.
“As part of the effort to win back the House majority, Democrats are eyeing dozens of districts that have tell-tale political signs of Republican incumbents who might be ripe for takedown… among the targets is a special subset of seats that, at the moment at least, seems especially promising for 2012 — the so-called Kerry-Obama districts… Without winning a good portion of those 14 seats — essentially the lowest-hanging fruit — there’s little chance of a change in House control.”
Just two weeks after reports found that Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) owed back taxes on her plane, Missouri’s Lt. Governor and likely gubernatorial candidate Peter Kinder (R) finds himself in trouble for “staying at luxury hotels in St. Louis — and letting taxpayers pick up the tab,” according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
“Even with a discounted government rate, Kinder has charged taxpayers a total of $35,050 for at least 329 nights at hotels in St. Louis and St. Louis County.”
Ninety-nine problems: “Kinder’s taxpayer-funded hotel stays dwarf his predecessor’s, and they are far above those of other statewide elected officials. Kinder billed the state for hotel stays and meals when he came to St. Louis to attend society balls, baseball games and political events, even though Missouri guidelines state that taxpayer-funded travel must be ‘essential’ for state business. Kinder often listed no official reason on his expense reports for billing taxpayers for nights at the Chase or Four Seasons.”
The AP reports that the “West Wing of the White House is vanishing… The front door and the Marine who guards it have disappeared behind a high green-and-white plywood fence. From Pennsylvania Avenue, all that’s visible is a sliver of second-floor roofline. For years to come, the front yard at 1600 Pennsylvania will remain a noisy building site, say officials in charge of the White House’s ‘Big Dig.'”
“The White House describes the job as an overdue upgrade of underground utilities. That includes water and sewer lines, electrical conduits, pipes for chilled and hot water and steam heat systems, and storm sewers… A mysterious tunnel is being built, too… Inevitably, the work has fueled speculation that what’s really being built is some secret, new underground lair.”
“Didn’t seem to hurt him, did it? I think it’s interesting people want to complain about it, but, you know, Lincoln was elected with two years of experience as a congressman 15 years before he ran for president.”
— Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), quoted by Radio Iowa, dismissing the idea he’s too inexperienced to run for president.
Minnesota Public Radio reports that Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) political action committee has hired Wes Enos, the Iowa political director for Mike Huckabee when he ran for president four years ago.
“Indeed, the specter of a Boehner- Cantor split over a budget deal was the talk of Washington last week, fueled by the majority leader’s conspicuous efforts to put space between himself and the speaker… Now, it’s not inconceivable that what was happening here was a classic bit of good cop, bad cop. But given the overt pressure already coming from the tea party and the freshmen, it’s not as if another snarling law dog was needed on the beat. A more Machiavellian–and, to my mind, more plausible–explanation is that Cantor is seeking to bolster his credentials with the tea party as a replacement for Boehner should an insurrection arise against him.”
Meanwhile, The Hill notes that each of the 87 House Republican freshmen “has been caught between party leadership nudging it toward compromise on one end and anti-spending activists clamoring for a clash on the other… Yet the past weeks have also exposed splinters in the freshman class, showing that the notion of a cohesive bloc is a myth.”
“Today, we are filing papers to launch our 2012 campaign. We’re doing this now because the politics we believe in does not start with expensive TV ads or extravaganzas, but with you — with people organizing block-by-block, talking to neighbors, co-workers, and friends. And that kind of campaign takes time to build. So even though I’m focused on the job you elected me to do, and the race may not reach full speed for a year or more, the work of laying the foundation for our campaign must start today. … This will be my final campaign, at least as a candidate. But the cause of making a lasting difference for our families, our communities, and our country has never been about one person. And it will succeed only if we work together.”
Marc Ambinder: “Assuming that roughly 80 percent of the electorate will vote for their party, Obama’s reelection targets can be broken down by demography, propensity to vote and ideology. He can win if he replicates the coalition of young voters, blacks, Latinos, single women, and suburbanites that accepted his nebulous but optimistic message of change. He will have to peel back into the Democratic fold older voters who deserted the Democrats in 2010, and though the growth of minorities in key states can cushion the blow of defecting working class white voters, he needs to construct a floor underneath that constituency. A blowback over Republican efforts to deinstitutionalize labor might help him here.”
Despite his family name, made-for-media position and national profile as a former member of President Clinton’s Cabinet, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has “neither taken a single trip out of New York nor appeared on any talk shows. And while other governors make national headlines for their battles over labor unions, budget deficits and illegal immigration, Mr. Cuomo is virtually invisible outside his home state,” according to the New York Times.
“He is keenly aware that unless he can deliver on promises to rein in spending, tighten ethics laws and cap property taxes, his future prospects on the national stage will dim… Mr. Cuomo rarely publicly discusses issues beyond those he has chosen in advance to tackle — a discipline that has helped him avoid the kind of gaffes, off-color jokes and minicontroversies that occasionally vex Mr. Bloomberg.”
Contrasting neighbors: Like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), Cuomo “has sought to rein in spending on schools, pension benefits and health care. But while Mr. Christie…has taken to dressing down teachers and state workers at town hall meetings — and posting videos of himself doing so on YouTube — Mr. Cuomo has kept his clashes behind the negotiating room door.”
The Hill lists 10 crucial things to look for in the showdown between Democrats and Republicans over the federal budget and a possible government shutdown.
“With less than a week to go before the April 8 government shutdown deadline, the Obama administration and House Republican leaders have indicated a deal is within reach. But details are scarce as both sides haven’t publicly agreed on how much funding should be cut for the remainder of the fiscal year. More importantly, it’s unclear which controversial policy riders will be included in a final deal.”
Nate Silver makes the case that “contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, national polls of primary voters — even this far out from the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary — do have a reasonable amount of predictive power in informing us as to the identity of the eventual nominee. That doesn’t mean that these polls are the only thing you should look at, or even necessarily the first thing, but they are a perfectly valid way to do some initial handicapping.”
Mike Huckabee won a presidential straw poll in South Carolina over the weekend, despite showing few signs of wanting to mount another bid for the nation’s highest executive office, CNN reports.
Huckabee got 23% of the vote in the straw poll. Following him were Newt Gingrich with 11% support and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) with 10%.