POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 4/18

Why Sarah Palin is Running for President

Human Events: “Too often, those who cover Palin do not listen to her words or read her statements, Facebook postings, or tweets. As a result, conventional wisdom holds that Palin is setting herself up to be an entertainer, a conservative money maker, or a right-wing flame thrower who seeks only to rouse up the conservative base and get rich quick off of it. If those who proffer these theories had listened to and read her words closely, they would know that Palin has been telling everyone that she is running for president in 2012.”

Geithner Says Congress Will Raise Debt Limit

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told ABC News that he is certain that Congress will raise the debt ceiling, saying leaders are “not going to play around with it” and risk the “catastrophic” consequences of defaulting on the nation’s debt obligations.

Congressional leaders made that clear when meeting with President Obama at the White House last week.

Said Geithner: “I sat there with them, and they said, we recognize we have to do this. And we’re not going to play around with it. We know that the risk would be catastrophic.”

Taxes Reach Historic Low

The Orange County Register notes that statistics “consistently show that federal taxes are at a historic low.”

“For the past two years, a family of four earning the median income has paid less in federal income taxes than at any time since at least 1955, according to the Tax Policy Center. All federal, state and local taxes combined are a lower percentage of per-capita income than at any time since the 1960s, according to the Tax Foundation. The highest income-tax bracket is its lowest since 1992. At 35 percent, it’s well below the 50 percent mark of much of the 1980s and the 70 percent bracket of the 1970s.”

Beshear Holds Double-Digit Lead in Kentucky

A new Courier-Journal/WHAS11 Bluegrass Poll finds David Williams (R) with a commanding lead over his two rivals in the GOP primary race for Kentucky governor. The election is in five weeks.

However, the poll also found that Gov. Steve Beshear (D) would defeat Williams by 12 points if the general election were held today, 51% to 39%.

Simpson Says Tax Increases are Necessary

At a panel discussion in Denver on reducing the nation’s debt, former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) said tax increases were needed to help balance the budget, according to the Colorado Statesman.

Said Simpson: “We’ve never had a war with no tax to support it, including the Revolution. People are told in Congress if they raise taxes by a nickel, they’ll be strung up by their heels in the town square.”

Simpson also recounted how he confronted anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist and they exchanged words over the legacy of Ronald Reagan, claimed by both as their personal hero. When Reagan was president, he raised taxes 11 times, Simpson said, a bit of history that made Norquist squirm.

Cartoon of the Day

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Quote of the Day

“I wish I didn’t have to do it.”

— Donald Trump, quoted by the Washington Post, regarding a potential presidential bid.

Trump Suggests Obama Didn’t Write His Book

Donald Trump has embraced another anti-Obama conspiracy, namely, that the president’s first book Dreams From My Father was actually written by former Weatherman Bill Ayers, Gawker reports.

Said Trump: “Barack Obama wouldn’t be president — and, you know, I wrote many best sellers, and also, number one bestsellers including The Art of the Deal. So I know something about writing. And I want to tell you, the guy that wrote the first book didn’t write the second book. Obama made a big mistake when he wrote the second book. Because the second book was not Ernest Hemingway, it was about 37 classes below. So, the first book is Ernest Hemingway-plus. The second book was written by somebody that was much more average.”

Vulnerable House Members Struggle to Fundraise

The Hotline notes that some vulnerable members the House of Representatives are showing weak fundraising numbers, where “At least three targeted Republican freshmen raised less than $100,000 for the quarter, and ten raised less than $150,000 — a Mendoza line for House fundraising.”

“By contrast, the worst performance among targeted House Democrats when they held the majority last cycle was that of former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.), who only raised $130,000 at this point in 2009.”

Weakness on both sides: “The weakest totals came from Rep. Dan Webster (R-FL), who raised a paltry $30,000 — a total less than the inactive account of the congressman he defeated, Alan Grayson (D-FL). Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY) raised just $65,000. Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), currently representing one of the most Democratic seats held by a Republican, raised just $106,000… In North Carolina, the four Democrats likely to see their districts drawn to their disadvantage all raised less than $150,000. Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC) raised just $77,000, Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) brought in just $33,000, Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) raised $140,000, and Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC) raised just under $150,000.”

Palin Book Sales Spike

Sarah Palin’s America By Heart popped back up on the Washington Post‘s political besteller list which “seems to defy the notion, popping up in scores of articles lately, that her influence is waning and she’s less of a force than she once was.”

More Candidates Than Voters

A Republican straw poll in Orangeburg County, SC featured 30 names on the ballot but only 25 Republicans attended the convention, CNN reports.

Top Democrat Says Vote Will Cost GOP House Control

DCCC chair Steve Israel (D-NY) predicted to Greg Sargent that today’s vote to pass Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget blueprint would ultimately cost Republicans control of the House.

Said Israel: “When we win back the majority, people will look back at this vote as a defining one that secured the majority for Democrats.”

“Israel said that Dems plan to use the Medicare vote today to go on the offensive against Republicans from now all the way until Election Day 2012. Crucially, Israel said it would be used in every district, even ones that are marginal or conservative — suggesting that on Medicare at least, Dems are hoping to maintain a united national front, rather than letting the messsage be watered down in conservative districts that may be more receptive to GOP messages about fiscal conservatism.”

Hoekstra Will Not Take On Stabenow

Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) said he won’t challenge Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) next year for U.S. Senate, the Detroit News reports.

“The announcement came just days after Stabenow filed reports with the Federal Elections Commission showing she has raised more than $1 million in the first quarter of this year, leaving her with more than $3 million in cash on hand.”

Hoekstra’s exit from the race leaves the GOP without a widely recognized challenger to Stabenow.

Obama Approval Sinks Again

The latest Gallup Daily tracking poll shows 41% of Americans approving of the job Barack Obama is doing as president. That ties his low as president, which he registered three times previously — twice in August 2010 and once in October 2010.

Santorum Stumbles Over Campaign Slogan

Speaking in New Hampshire, Rick Santorum was tripped up a bit when a student asked him if he knew that the choice of his campaign slogan, “Fighting to make America America again,” was borrowed from the “pro-union poem by the gay poet Langston Hughes,” the New Hampshire Union Leader reports.

Said Santorum: “No I had nothing to do with that. I didn’t know that. And the folks who worked on that slogan for me didn’t inform me that it came from that, if it in fact came from that.”

When asked a short time later what the campaign slogan meant to him, Santorum said, “well, I’m not too sure that’s my campaign slogan, I think it’s on a web site.”

Democrats Tweak Republicans on Budget Vote

House Democrats “engaged in a little guerrilla warfare” forcing Republicans to switch their votes at the last minute to avoid passing a much more conservative Republican Study Committee budget, Roll Call reports.

“During the vote on the RSC’s alternative to Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget plan, Democrats originally voted against the amendment, as expected. With a number of Republicans voting ‘present’ to avoid voting either for or against the plan, it appeared all but certain the conservative budget would fail… But Democrats suddenly began switching their votes en masse from ‘no’ to ‘present.’ With each switched vote, the threshold for passage of the amendment — which would have replaced Ryan’s plan altogether — was lowered.”

In the end, enough Republicans switched their votes at the last minute to kill the amendment.

Said Rules Chairman David Dreier (R-CA): “It was never going to happen, but it was fun.”

Casey Leads Despite Low Approval

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that despite having a lowly 39% approval rating, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) leads seven potential opponents for next year by anywhere from 12 to 23 points.

The key: Only 35% of voters disapprove of Casey and it’s hard for an incumbent to lose unless you give voters a reason.

Romney’s Wingnut Strategy

David Bernstein argues that likely Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney “has little prayer of winning the predominantly Christian-conservative Republican contests in Iowa and South Carolina,” while whoever does win Iowa “will become the surging non-Romney candidate, knocking out most of the others.”

“That leaves a two-person race in which Romney fights to (maybe) hold onto Northeastern states like New Hampshire, while his opponent chalks up easy wins throughout the South and the heartland. That’s a tough road for Romney. What he needs instead is an Iowa winner whom the Republican Party will rally to destroy. Romney needs a wingnut.”

GOP Budget Plan Very Unpopular

A new Democracy Corps poll finds the Republican deficit reduction plan gets only 48% support, “but when voters learn almost anything about it, they turn sharply and intensely against it.”

Key findings: “When the budget is described — using as much of Paul Ryan’s description as possible — support collapses to 36% with just 19% strongly supporting the plan. The facts in the budget lose people almost immediately — dropping 12 points. Putting the spotlight on this budget is damning. A large majority of 56% oppose it, 42% strongly. The impact is much stronger with seniors where support erodes from 48% to just 32%, with 57% opposed. Support with independents drops from 55% to 43%.”

The Compassion Candidate

President Obama’s presidential campaign “has begun road-testing his 2012 campaign message this week in a series of speeches that can be boiled down to a single word: compassion,” notes The Fix.

“The electoral frame Obama is seeking to set up is simple: the 2012 election is not about an issue or even a set of issues but rather a broader moral choice about what kind of country we want America to be. In many ways, that strategy is a return to the central tenet of the successful campaign of 2008: that voting for Obama was fundamentally aspirational, that it said something larger about who we are and, more importantly, who we can be.”

Trump Now Leads GOP Presidential Field

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds Donald Trump now leading the Republican presidential pack with 26%, followed by Mike Huckabee at 17%, Mitt Romney at 15%, Newt Gingrich at 11%, Sarah Palin at 8% and Ron Paul at 5%.

Key finding: Just 38% of Republican primary voters say they’re willing to support a candidate for President next year who firmly rejects the birther theory. With the other 62% of Republicans — 23% of whom say they are only willing to vote for a birther and 39% of whom are not sure — Trump is cleaning up.

Meanwhile, Poll Watch Daily looks at whether Trump’s standing in recent polls really means much.

Huntsman’s Praise for Obama

U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman (R), who is reportedly considering running for president in 2012 as a Republican, wrote a letter on Aug. 16, 2009 praising President Obama, the Daily Caller reports.

Said Huntsman: “You are a remarkable leader and it has been a great honor getting to know you.”

He underlined the word remarkable. The letter also thanks Obama for “the graciousness and kindness you have shown me and my family – particularly your confidence in my ability to represent you in China.”

Huckabee Fans Mobilize in Iowa

Des Moines Register: “As other potential conservative contenders roam Iowa’s presidential testing grounds and scoop up ace Iowa strategists for their campaigns, Huckabee fans began to feel anxious about the lack of organizing here for their guy. So they pulled out the four-year-old campaign lists and have so far contacted about 540 people who helped catapult Huckabee to a top finish in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation Republican caucuses in 2008.”

Will the Republicans Get Serious?

Peggy Noonan: “The great question of the coming year is not, ‘Will Obama reignite his base?’ or, ‘Will the Democrats outraise and outspend the GOP?’ It is: Will the GOP be serious? Will Republicans be equal to their history, their tradition and the moment? If they are — if they recruit and support candidates who can speak to the entire country, who have serious experience and accomplishments, who are grounded and credible, then they will win centrist support. And with it they will likely win the thing without which they cannot achieve the big changes they seek, and that is the presidency.”

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