POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 5/27
John Edwards, while facing looming criminal indictment, spent the afternoon at the estate of Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, one of the key players in the alleged scheme to cover-up his affair, ABC News reports.
“The purpose of the visit is unclear, but it is sure to raise eyebrows with federal investigators who have spent more than two years scrutinizing Mellon’s contributions to Edwards and his presidential campaign.”
A new Haaretz poll finds Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to the United States very well received by the Israeli public.
Netanyahu’s approval jumped to 51% to 36%, almost reversing his 38% to 53% approval just five weeks ago.
As Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) mulls a dark-horse bid for president, many have asked why he would give up a safe seat for a longshot national campaign. Susan Demas might have the answer: “For one thing, when all is said and done in the redistricting process, he might not have a seat.”
“It’s true that McCotter was able to craft his district while he was in the state Senate. But what the redistricting process gives, the redistricting process can give away. Michigan is losing a seat this time… McCotter could make the race interesting, especially in Michigan, one of the many states Romney calls home. And if the stars align and he draws a favorable congressional district, he can always bow out, no worse for the wear. But if he does go for the presidency and that doesn’t turn out, he’ll certainly have raised his national profile — probably enough to convince folks he would make a very entertaining Fox News host. For McCotter, it’s all upside.”
A Reuters examination of probe into former Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) shows the case “took a sudden turn” when the senator “reversed course and handed over more than 1,000 sensitive emails between himself and his attorneys and other top advisers. The decision ‘puzzled’ congressional investigators who thought they would never see the emails and baffled even most of his own closest advisers.”
The Justice Department had once tried to obtain the emails, but agreed with Ensign’s attorneys at the time that they were privileged, and closed its investigation without having seen them.
Prosecutors are now “almost certain to reopen” the criminal investigation.
In a move designed to test her prospects for a presidential run, Sarah Palin “will set out on a bus tour of the country on Sunday, making stops at symbolic sites along the way,” Real Clear Politics reports.
Details were still being hammered out, but sources indicated that the bus tour “is expected to last several weeks and will be divided into separate geographical stretches for logistical reasons.”
NBC News: “Of course, this doesn’t mean she eventually will run. But it certainly stokes speculation about her intentions.”
Kansas state Rep. Pete DeGraaf (R) is getting heat for comments he made about a bill prohibiting general health insurance plans from covering abortions, including for victims of rape and incest, the Witchita Eagle reports.
He suggested that women “plan ahead” by buying a separate policy that covers abortion.
When asked how women are supposed to plan ahead for issues over which they have no control, DeGraaf responded, “I have a spare tire on my car… I also have life insurance. I have a lot of things that I plan ahead for.”
Newt Gingrich’s ties with Tiffany & Co. get even more complicated: The Washington Examiner reports Christy Evans, formerly a top staffer to then-whip Gingrich, is actually a registered lobbyist for the high-end jeweler where Gingrich and his wife enjoy an extraordinary line of credit.
We noted yesterday that Gingrich’s wife, Callista, was a staffer on the Agriculture committee which held jurisdiction over mining issues that concerned Tiffany’s.
“I’m not saying we can win all of them, but I’m saying there are 97 Republicans who lost sleep last night.”
— DCCC Chairman Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), quoted by Reuters, on his party’s plan to target 97 Republican-held districts that are more Democratic-friendly than the one where Kathy Hochul (D) won a special election Tuesday.
Smart Politics finds that with Rep.-elect Kathy Hochul’s (D-NY) special election victory this week, one in five House Democrats have gotten their start in the House through special elections.
By the numbers: “As of today, 15 percent of U.S. Representatives got their start in the House by first winning a special election — or 63 of 433 current members. A total of 39 Democrats and 24 Republicans currently serving in the House won special elections. That means 20 percent of the Democratic caucus and 10 percent of the GOP caucus include former winners of special elections.”
House Republicans “will seek to reset the economic-policy debate,” the Wall Street Journal reports, “offering a broad plan to boost jobs and growth by easing tax and regulatory burdens.”
“The plan includes a 25% top tax rate on corporations and individuals, compared with the current 35%, as well as higher domestic-energy production, new curbs on government regulations and overhauls of U.S. patent and visa systems to help entrepreneurs and high-tech firms.”
“Reflecting the GOP consensus that tax increases won’t be a part of any eventual budget deal this year, the plan calls for ‘significant spending cuts’ to rein in government deficits.”
A Wisconsin judge has struck down “a law taking away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most public sector workers,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinelreports.
The judged said legislators “violated Wisconsin’s open meetings law during the run-up to passage.”
“The decision is not the end of the legal fight. The state Supreme Court has scheduled arguments for June 6 to determine whether it will take the same case.”
A new Sachs/Mason Dixon poll finds that three times as many Americans — 53% — would choose to have a one-on-one lunch chat with President Obama over any of the Republican presidential contenders.
Sarah Palin placed a distant second, with 16%.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney doesn’t want Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to run for president, Politico reports.
Said Cheney: “I worship the ground the Paul Ryan walks on. I hope he doesn’t run for president because that would ruin a good man who has a lot of work to do.”
The New Hampshire Union Leader reports Vice President Biden brought up the killing of Osama bin Laden to fire up a group of New Hampshire Democrats.
He noted the 2012 presidential election is about “strength in leadership” and said Americans watched as Obama executed what he called the “boldest undertaking of a single event in modern history,” referring to bin Laden’s death. With his future on the line, Biden said Obama “didn’t hesitate.”
“And, that was the last piece of the puzzle that had to be put in place.”
A new Public Policy Polling survey finds Newt Gingrich “has completely tanked with Republican voters, providing real confirmation that his campaign rollout has been a total disaster.”
Just 38% of Republican voters now have a favorable opinion of him with 45% having an unfavorable one.
The latest Quinnipiac poll shows President Obama’s approval rating in Florida has improved significantly since early April — before the death of Osama bin Laden — flipping from a net negative approval of 44% to 52% to a net positive of 51% in favor and 43% opposed. A majority of Florida voters also say Obama deserves a second term in office, 50% to 44%.
Regaining independents: “Obama’s improved job rating in Florida is largely due to a big swing among independent voters, from a negative 39% to 55% April 7 to a split 47% to 45% today.”
While the GOP establishment is likely to rally around Mitt Romney if Sarah Palin runs for president, it would be extremely good fortune for President Obama as well.
First Read: “In fact, if there is one state Plouffe/Messina/Axelrod would like her to move to, it’s Arizona — which would remind voters there about Palin’s controversial ‘blood libel’ remarks after the Giffords shooting, versus the president’s own Tucson speech. Make no mistake: Arizona would be a tough state for Obama in 2012 (example: the Justice Department’s suit against the state’s immigration law). But if Palin becomes the face of the Republican Party in the state, it won’t hurt Team Obama to play there. They’ve been looking for a way to rally their base in Arizona to begin organizing the state, and Palin hands them an easy opportunity.”
In a press conference, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) notably declined to “rule out” a White House bid, “amid calls from Rush Limbaugh and others that he should enter the 2012 race,” The Ticket reports.
Asked on Fox News if he’s “tempted” to run for president, Perry said, “Oh, I can’t say I’m not tempted, but the fact is: this is something I don’t want to do.”
Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) blamed most of President Obama’s political problems on racism, the Columbia State reports.
Said Clyburn: “You know, I’m 70 years old. And I can tell you — people don’t like to deal with it, but the fact of the matter is — the president’s problems are in large measure because of the color of his skin.”
In particular, Clyburn suggested the “birther” movement is fueled by racism.
Clyburn: “I don’t know why anybody didn’t ask for John McCain’s (birth certificate). He wasn’t even born in this country.”
Brendan Nyhan: “One of the least remarked upon aspects of the Obama presidency has been the lack of scandals. Since Watergate, presidential and executive branch scandal has been an inescapable feature of the American presidency, but the current administration has not yet suffered a major scandal, which I define as a widespread elite perception of wrongdoing. What happened, and what are the odds that the administration’s streak will continue?”
Nyhan’s research on presidential scandals finds the longest that a president has gone without having a scandal featured in a front-page Washington Post article is 34 months.
“I can’t tell you what a gift, if we use it properly, this year is. If we don’t, shame on us.”
— David Plouffe, in an interview with Time, on President Obama’s re-election advantages as an incumbent.
John Avlon digs into Tim Pawlenty’s “dishonest talking points” about his fiscal record as Minnesota governor and concludes the issue “goes back to a deeper fault line in Republican philosophy — whether fiscal responsibility and fiscal conservatism are the same thing. It’s the difference between believing in the old-fashioned virtues of balanced budgets and believing in the transformational power of tax cuts. The first is a matter of simple math. The second is a matter of theology.”
“This not only constrains the options open to ambitious but responsible executives, it creates a dishonest presidential debate from the outset.”
The New York Times reports Sarah Palin “has reshuffled her staff, rehiring two aides who have helped plan her political events. And she is expected to resume a schedule of public appearances soon — perhaps as early as this weekend — to raise her profile at a moment when the Republican presidential field appears to be taking final form.”
First Read: “While we’re still unsure she actually runs (it could simply be a gambit to get into the political spotlight), a Palin bid would have a profound effect on the rest of the field. For starters, it would benefit the slight front-runner Mitt Romney, because Palin would take attention away from other challengers (like Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman). It also would probably unite the GOP establishment around Romney.”