POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 5/11

Huntsman to Spend Time in New Hampshire

We knew Jon Huntsman had scheduled a commencement speech in New Hampshire for later this month, but Politico reports his trip to the nation’s first primary state will actually last five days and include stops across the entire state.

Is Daniels Hinting at a Run?

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said his chances of beating President Obama would be “quite good” but added that’s not a factor in his deliberations on making a potential presidential bid, the AP reports.

His comments “appeared to break with a public image he’s crafted of a reluctant and self-deprecating politician.”

Meanwhile, a senior advisor told the Huffington Post that Daniels wants to run for president. The only obstacle is whether his wife “is ready to face questions about their past.”

At issue: “In 1993, Cheri Daniels left her husband with their four daughters and married another man in California. She returned a few years later, reconciled with Daniels, and the two were remarried in 1997. That is, in a nutshell, the story. The national press first picked up on it last year when it was buried at the bottom of an 8,600-word Weekly Standard profile.”

Gingrich’s Departure and Return

Matt Bai suggests that Newt Gingrich might be following historian Arnold J. Toynbee’s concept of “departure and return” — “the idea that great leaders have to leave (or be banished from) their kingdoms before they can better themselves and return as conquering heroes.”

One of Gingrich’s heroes, Charles de Gaulle, “embodies just this kind of romantic narrative, having spent 12 years out of power before returning to lead his country. So does Ronald Reagan, who traveled the country after losing his bid for the Republican nomination in 1976, then came roaring back to win it all four years later.”

“Like Mr. de Gaulle, Mr. Gingrich has been out of power for about 12 years. And if elected president, Mr. Gingrich, like Mr. Reagan, would be 69 when taking the oath of office. (Mr. de Gaulle was 68.) Coincidence? It might seem that way, but I’m guessing he sees something more portentous in the parallels.”

Democrats Pull Ahead in Generic Ballot

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll shows registered voters now favor a generic Democrat over a Republican in next year’s congressional election, 50% to 46%. The poll also shows women and non-college voters, both of whom supported Republicans in 2010, now supporting Democrats by 10 points and nine points, respectively.

Said pollster Keating Holland: “It’s far too early to use these results to accurately forecast the 2012 congressional elections. But it does indicate that some of the shifts that swept the GOP into power in 2010 may be shifting back.”

McCotter for President?

Sources around Capitol Hill are chatting up Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) as a dark horse candidate for the 2012 Republican nominee for president, Kerry Pickett reports.

“McCotter, who led the Republican fight against the Bush/Obama TARP bank bailout and stimulus and is acknowledged as one of the party’s foreign policy leaders.”

Romney Schedules First Iowa Trip

Though there’s been speculation Mitt Romney might skip Iowa, the Des Moines Register reports he’s scheduled his first trip to the important caucus state later this month.

Outside Group Drops $650K in Special Election

With the latest polls showing a very competitive race, the conservative American Crossroads “has reserved $650,000 in television advertising time in New York’s 26th district, becoming the first outside group to devote significant resources to a special election that has become far closer than it was supposed to be,” Roll Call reports.

UpdateThe Hotline reports Democratic organizations are now starting to gear up as well with the DCCC pledging $250,000 in ads.

Cartoon of the Day

4-10a-11.jpg

Trump Implodes

Public Policy Polling survey last month found Donald Trump leading the Republican presidential field with 26%. Four weeks later, he’s dropped all the way down to 8%, putting him in a tie for fifth place with Ron Paul.

Romney to Address Health Care in Speech

On Thursday, Mitt Romney will give a major health care speech which lays out a plan to repeal and replace President Obama’s signature health care reform law.

Mark Halperin: “This is smart… Romney has failed so far in convincing the media and others that he can explain his record on this issue. By putting out a detailed plan well before any of his opponents, Romney has his best chance to move the conversation from the past to the future. Hillary Clinton tried to do the same thing on Iraq in 2008 and almost succeeded; and/but right now Romney doesn’t have anyone standing in his way for the nomination who is as politically formidable as Barack Obama was four years ago.”

Meanwhile, Jonathan Cohn defends Romney’s health care reform efforts in Massachusetts.

McDonnell Riding High in Virginia

A new Washington Post poll finds Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) with 62% of voters approving of his job performance and just 26% disapproving.

Even more impressive: Democrats approve of him by a net 14 points.

Such good numbers in a key battleground state almost certainly guarantee McDonnell a spot on the Republican presidential nominee’s veep short list.

Why Gingrich Could Win

Walter Shapiro: “Almost all the GOP contenders have to airbrush away an embarrassing blemish on their ideological records. Whether it is raising taxes as governor (Mike Huckabee), pioneering Obama’s health plan (guess who?), once supporting cap-and-trade energy legislation (Pawlenty and Huntsman), or fueling the deficit as OMB director (Mitch Daniels), the entire Republican presidential all-star team has something to answer for… But Gingrich also does not have to prove his right-from-the-start bona fides at every moment in the campaign. Back in the days when Mitt Romney was running against Teddy Kennedy as a Massachusetts moderate Republican, Gingrich not only personified conservatism but was the field marshal responsible for its greatest congressional victory.”

“2012 may not be Newt Gingrich’s year — and please understand that I am only calling him a plausible possibility in an uninspiring GOP field. But remember that the last time the political railbirds sold Gingrich short, he gave the Republicans their first House majority in 40 years.”

Palin’s Political Metamorphosis

Josh Green reports that that before Sarah Palin became “an unbending, hard-charging, red-meat ideologue,” she actually had a compelling record as Alaska’s governor.

“She set aside private concerns for the greater good, forgoing a focus on social issues to confront the great problem plaguing Alaska, its corrupt oil-and-gas politics. She did this in a way that seems wildly out of character today — by cooperating with Democrats and moderate Republicans to raise taxes on Big Business. And she succeeded to a remarkable extent in settling, at least for a time, what had seemed insoluble problems, in the process putting Alaska on a trajectory to financial well-being.”

What happened?

A One-Sided Conversation on Immigration

President Obama traveled yesterday to Texas where he delivered a major speech on immigration reform.

First Read: “Of course, this is as much about politics as it is policy — Latinos voted for Obama in 2008 by a 67%-31% margin, and they make up an important bloc of voters in the battleground states of Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Florida, and even a place like North Carolina. What’s more, immigration reform has become a one-sided conversation. While George W. Bush also proposed similar immigration reform, and 12 GOP senators voted for it in 2007 (including five who currently serve in the Senate), most Republicans now oppose it.”

Democrats seek to push the GOP presidential field to the right on immigration during the primaries — because the base demands it — and then hope they’re not able to recover in the general election.

Heller Denies “Non-Aggression Pact” with Reid

Newly sworn-in Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) disputed assertions from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) office that the two had agreed to a nonaggression pact “to avoid personal, inflammatory attacks against each other during Heller’s 2012 Senate campaign,” Roll Call reports.

An aide to Reid “described the accord as similar to the agreement observed for nearly 12 years by Reid and John Ensign (R), who resigned from the Senate last week amid an ethics investigation.”

Said Heller: That’s news to me. We did not have that particular discussion. If you’re asking if there’s a [nonaggression pact], that is not happening.”

Economic Concerns Temper Obama Bounce

The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows a mixed picture for President Obama: His approval rating is up slightly to 52% — mainly due to the successful operation to find and kill Osama bin Laden — but just a third of Americans believe the country is headed in the right direction; less than four in 10 approve of Obama’s handling of the U.S. economy; and nearly 70% think the economy will get worse or stay the same in the next year.

Said pollster Peter Hart: “This is a poll that should both fortify the president and frighten the president as he looks ahead to re-election.”

Meanwhile, Pew Research notes Obama’s job approval rating has fallen slightly since the day after Bin Laden’s death was announced.

DeMint’s Demand

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) tells Byron York what it will take to get his endorsement in the Republican presidential primary.

Said DeMint: “I couldn’t support a presidential candidate who did not say we have to have a balanced budget amendment pass before we support [raising the debt ceiling]. I think we should go to the mat with Obama. I don’t think there should be any compromise on that, and if Obama wants to be closing part of the government next fall because he’s unwilling to balance the budget, I think we can win that argument.”

He adds: “I want to hear them weigh in. If I hear them say, ‘Let’s be adults and increase the debt ceiling’ — that one’s off my list.”

Quote of the Day

“I detest the man. He screwed me. He has no morality.”

— Former Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari (R), quoted by the Staten Island Advance, on Newt Gingrich.

Majority Want a Third Party

A new Gallup poll finds that 52% of Americans believe the Republican and Democratic parties do such a poor job of representing the people that a third party is needed.

More interesting is the partisan breakdown: 52% of Republicans favor a third party, compared with just 33% of Democrats.

Branstad to Stay on Sidelines

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) tells Real Clear Politics that he isn’t likely to endorse a candidate in his state’s presidential caucuses.

Said Branstad: “I have not ruled out the possibility, but I think it’s probably still unlikely that I’m going to endorse… Maybe if there’s a situation where one candidate I believe is truly the strongest, but generally speaking, my position has been to welcome all the candidates and encourage them to spend some time in Iowa and meet the people.”

Christie Likes Being Asked to Run

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said he never tires of being asked to run for president, but he insists he’s still not doing it, the AP reports.

Said Christie: “How self-important would one have to be to become tired and annoyed by having people ask you to run for president? I’m a kid from Jersey who has people asking him to run for president. I’m thrilled by it. I just don’t want to do it.”

Gingrich’s Wife to Play Key Role in Campaign

Callista Gingrich, who is “perhaps best remembered for the six-year affair that contributed to her husband’s political downfall,” is now expected to play a key role in her husband’s presidential campaign, the New York Times reports.

It’s “a curious tale of Washington reinvention” in which the onetime Georgia congressman “is counting on the third Mrs. Gingrich for his political redemption.”

“Gingrich is presenting himself as a family man who has embraced Catholicism and found God, with his wife as a kind of character witness. Depending on one’s point of view, she is a reminder of his complicated past, or his secret political weapon.”

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