POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 5/5

Romney Way Ahead in New Hampshire

A new WMUR Granite State Poll shows Mitt Romney leading the Republican presidential field in the nation’s first primary state with 36%, trailed by Donald Trump at 11%.

“Romney’s support is larger than the next four potential candidates combined… Two candidates who have spent a lot of time in New Hampshire over the past year — Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum — did not fare well in the poll. Pawlenty had only 2% support, and Santorum had less than 1%.”

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“Let me assure you that he is dead, that bin Laden is dead. I have seen the photos and, in fact, we’ve received the briefing and we’ll continue to get the briefings.”

— Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), in an interview with NECN. Brown was later forced to admit to the Boston Globe that the photo he had seen was not authentic.

Independents Are Divided Too

A new Pew Research study finds that a growing number of Americans “are choosing not to identify with either political party, and the center of the political spectrum is increasingly diverse. Rather than being moderate, many of these independents hold extremely strong ideological positions on issues such as the role of government, immigration, the environment and social issues. But they combine these views in ways that defy liberal or conservative orthodoxy.”

“For political leaders in both parties, the challenge is not only one of appeasing ideological and moderate “wings” within their coalitions, but rather holding together remarkably disparate groups, many of whom have strong disagreements with core principles that have defined each party’s political character in recent years.”

Hard to Plug Those Leaks

Blue Mass Group notes that Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) complained in an interview with a local Fox News affiliate this morning that “someone dropped a dime and it’s out” about his request to be deployed to Afghanistan so “obviously I have to talk about it now.”

Who was responsible for the leak? It was Brown himself, who told the Boston Globeabout it earlier this week.

Nixon Widens Lead in Missouri

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) opening up a 14 point lead, 48% to 34%, over Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (R), his most likely opponent in his re-election bid. That’s up from seven points in the last poll of the race.

Majority Says Bin Laden is in Hell

In case you were wondering, a CNN/Opinion Research poll found that 61% of the public says they believe Osama bin Laden is in Hell.

Gingrich Will Be Official Candidate Next Week

An aide to Newt Gingrich tells Jim Galloway that the former House Speaker will be an official presidential candidate by May 13, the day he speaks to the Georgia Republican Convention.

Obama Will Not Release Photos

President Obama told 60 Minutes that he will not release the photos of Osama bin Laden after he was killed.

Said Obama: “It is important to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence or as a propaganda tool.”

He added: “We don’t trot out this stuff as trophies. The fact of the matter is, this is somebody who was deserving of the justice that he received.”

Worst Reporting on Osama Bin Laden Death?

It will be hard to find a news anchor as bad as this one.

Let Bin Laden Prove He’s Not Dead

Dan Amira: “Perhaps, then, instead of shouldering the risks of trying to prove that bin Laden is dead, the White House should shift the burden of proof to bin Laden. Presumably, if bin Laden was still alive, he’d want everyone to know. So let him proclaim his continued existence to the world. Bin Laden has had no trouble getting his messages out to the Arab media in the past. Surely one of his wives could grab a Flipcam and film him holding the day’s newspaper and reciting the score of a recent NBA playoff game. And when bin Laden never releases that tape, when months and years pass without a peep from bin Laden (saying something about contemporaneous events, at least — intelligence officials expect an old recording to surface soon), skeptics will gradually come to accept that it’s because he’s rotting at the bottom of the ocean.”

Cartoon of the Day

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Giffords Would Be Favored for Senate

If she were somehow able to run, a new Public Policy Polling survey in Arizona finds that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) would start out with a 7 point lead in the U.S. Senate race over Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), 48% to 41%.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“It’s like a beauty contest where all the women are ugly.”

— South Carolina GOP operative Bob McAlister, quoted by Real Clear Politics, on the participants in the first Republican debate Thursday night.

The lineup: Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum.

Carter Likes Huntsman

Though he says he’ll vote for President Obama in the next election, Jimmy Carter told CNN that former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman is “very attractive to me personally.”

But he added that his “intention is to vote for the Democratic candidate.”

Heller Gets Informal Welcome to Senate

“He doesn’t pick up the title of senator until his swearing-in Monday afternoon, but Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) crossed the Capitol today for his first function in his role-to-be on Tuesday, joining GOP senators for their weekly policy planning lunch,” the Las Vegas Sun reports.

Romney Loses Key New Hampshire Supporter

Bruce Keough, the head of Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign in New Hampshire tells Mother Jones he’s no longer sure what Romney stands for.

Keough “says he declined an offer join Romney’s 2012 effort and instead is sizing up other potential candidates, including Indiana governor Mitch Daniels and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty. A former gubernatorial candidate in New Hampshire, Keough says Romney’s wishy-washy political identity and inability to stake out firm, consistent positions as a candidate were the reasons for his decision to cut ties with Romney.”

Said Keough: “He struggled with that in the last campaign and to some extent I think he’s still struggling with it.”

How the Mighty Have Fallen

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (I) has a new advertisement on Florida television.

Trump Hurting His Brand?

The Indianapolis Star reports a “groundswell of pressure is starting to build on Indianapolis 500 officials to dump Donald Trump as pace car driver at this month’s race.”

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said the decision is “up to the folks at the Speedway” and he is in favor of “whatever sells tickets.”

Cantwell Seems Vulnerable

A new Elway poll finds Sen. Maria Cantwell’s (D-WA) approval ratings at just 40% with 52% disapproving.

“Numbers like these are a sign of trouble, but in today’s political climate, job performance ratings are not the bellwether they once were — especially this far ahead of the election. In fact, Cantwell’s ‘re‐elect numbers’ are virtually identical to those at the same stage in the 2006 election cycle.

However, 46% of those surveyed were “certain” or “inclined” to vote to keep her in office, while 36% were “certain” or “inclined” to vote to replace her.

Should the White House Release the Photos?

President Obama “is increasingly doubtful that there’s a compelling reason to release a photograph of Osama bin Laden’s corpse,” ABC News reports. He’s expected to make a final decision later today.

First Read: “Here is our question, however: Who is asking for the photos outside the media and a handful of U.S. politicians? Is there really doubt he’s dead? Al Arabiya is reporting, per Pakistani security forces, that bin Laden’s daughter even admits he’s dead (though she alleges he was held captive for 10 minutes before being killed). At this point, the most prominent member of the president’s national security team advocating release is CIA chief Leon Panetta (as he told NBC’s Brian Williams yesterday). But most of the members of the team are leaning against, including folks that sit at the State Department and Pentagon. Ditto with key West Wing aides.”

Most 9/11 Terror Conspirators Now Killed or Captured

When President Obama visits Ground Zero tomorrow, Bloomberg reports “he’ll be able to say that with the death of Osama bin Laden the U.S. has caught or killed almost everyone allegedly responsible for the carnage.”

“Now U.S. authorities will aim to capture the last major figure involved in the attacks who remains free, Ayman al- Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s No. 2 leader. Information on computers and other items taken from the compound where bin Laden was hiding, combined with questioning of current detainees, may help lead them to Zawahiri and new al-Qaeda leaders.”

Rhode Island Republicans Oust Minority Leader

The tiny 10-member Rhode Island House Republican caucus voted to replace Rep. Robert Watson (R) as House minority leader, a week-and-a-half after his arrest in Connecticut on driving-under-the-influence and marijuana possession charges, the Providence Journal reports.

But they lost a member along the way as Rep. Laurence Ehrhardt (R) left the room in anger, stating: “I can no longer serve with the members of this caucus. It’s a disgraceful group of people… I have no wish to be associated with this group of people at this point.”

Pelosi Called Bush to Thank Him

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the former House Speaker and a passionate critic of President George W. Bush, said she called the former president to thank him for his role in getting Osama bin Laden, the New York Times reports.

Said Pelosi: “He is a very friendly person, as you know, and he thanked me for my call. And I think he appreciated it. But I wanted him to know the appreciation that many of us have in a bipartisan way. We have all recognized in our public comments that his role was important in having this success.”

Challenger Announces at Lawmaker’s Town Hall Event

Here’s a unique way to announce that you’re running for office: Attend an event hosted by your rival to inform him that you are going to challenge him.

The Sacramento Bee reports that’s exactly what Darren Spellman (D) did this week during the Q-and-A portion of a town hall meeting hosted by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA).

Obama Approval Spikes Upward

A new New York Times/CBS News poll finds support for President Obama has risen sharply following the killing of Osama bin Laden, with a majority now approving of his overall job performance, as well as his handling of foreign policy, the war in Afghanistan and the threat of terrorism.

In all, 57% said they now approved of the president’s job performance, up from 46% last month.

Quote of the Day

“How many more gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves if he wants them around?”

— Minnesota state Rep. Steve Simon (D), testifying in opposition to a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would outlaw gay marriage.

Bush Declines Invitation from Obama

Former President George W. Bush declined an invitation from President Obama to join him on Thursday at New York City’s Ground Zero to meet with the families of 9/11 victims, Fox News reports.

A spokesman said Bush appreciated the invitation, but “has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight.”

Still No Clear Leader in GOP Field

A new Quinnipiac poll finds American voters say they would consider supporting Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee for president in 2012, but 58% would never support Sarah Palin or Donald Trump.

Romney leads the Republican pack nationally with 18%, followed by Huckabee and Palin at 15% each and Trump at 12%. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul have 5% each. Tim Pawlenty and Rep. Michelle Bachman each get 4%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “It is difficult to get a handle on the 2012 Republican race. Many contenders are not well known and many who are known are not liked, making their candidacies problematic. You could call this the ‘No Way’ measure. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are in the best shape. Sarah Palin and Donald Trump suffer from the reality that, as our mothers told us, ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression.'”

The New Voting Age Majority

For the first time, Americans 45 and older make up a majority of the voting-age population, the Associated Press reports.

“Along with the information about the growing influence of older adults, preliminary census estimates also show a decline in the number of married couples with children, slight growth in household size and a rapid rise in the number of Mexicans.”

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