POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 6/14

The Republican Presidential Debate – A Recap

Some quick thoughts on tonight’s Republican debate in New Hampshire:

Rep. Michele Bahmann stole the first round of questions by announcing she’s formally filed as a presidential candidate. She’s also proven to be very media saavy and capable of feeding red meat to the GOP base.

Tim Pawlenty blinked when asked to expand on his “ObamneyCare” comments from yesterday. It was a missed chance at engaging with Mitt Romney on a key vulnerability.

Newt Gingrich is trying to be the smartest kid in the class but he’s not very personable, looks bored and never smiles. It’s not surprising his staffers all left.

It’s hard to see how Sarah Palin jumps in the race if Bachmann continues to perform so well. She’s coming off as much more adept than Palin in these forums.

Is Herman Cain at this debate? He’s completely overshadowed and not living up to the recent hype.

There’s a reason Mitt Romney is the frontrunner: None of these candidates is nearly as experienced at these debates. No one landed a punch.

Rick Santorum joins Rep. Ron Paul as a bottom tier candidate and this debate isn’t changing that perception.

Unless you think Bachmann can win the Republican nomination, there’s a real opening for another candidate to enter this race and challenge Romney. Is Texas Gov. Rick Perry watching?

Duckworth Running for Congress Again?

Lynn Sweet: “Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth submitted her resignation, the VA confirmed for me on Monday. One of her options will be to return to the Chicago suburbs to run for a House seat from the new 8th Congressional District and I bet she does.”

“I bet that if Duckworth runs again — she would quickly be able to recreate the local and national financial base that helped her raise some $4.5 million in 2006 and secure the backing again of Emily’s List. Her association with Obama opens doors to his fund-raising network and would also be a boost in a year he is running for re-election, where turnout will be high in his adopted home state.”

Congressional Travel Spikes

The Daily Beast notes that trips by lawmakers “are up sharply during the first five months of 2011, erasing any memory of Hill leaders pledging just last summer to rein in travel costs.”

“In all, lawmakers have taken more than 200 trips financed by private groups, costing more than $1 million since January. That’s almost double the amount spent during the first five months in 2010 and well above the first five of months of 2007, before Americans were swept into a recession and trillion-dollar-plus budget deficits.”

Obama Says Weiner Should Resign

President Obama told NBC News that if he were Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), “I would resign.”

He added: “When you get to the point where, because of various personal distractions, you can’t serve as effectively as you need to, at the time when people are worrying about jobs, and their mortgages, and paying the bills — then you should probably step back.”

Obama said that what Weiner did was “highly inappropriate” and that he has “embarrassed himself” and his wife and family, but said it will ultimately come down to a decision by Weiner and his constituents as to whether he will continue in office.

Political Debate or Video Game?

Joshua Green: “By nature, I’m a debate skeptic. They’re hard to differentiate, and the last one is usually forgotten as soon as the next one rolls around. But having just taken a tour of tonight’s CNN debate layout-and-tech-wizardry, I am willing to suspend my disbelief. That’s because CNN’s format has so many tech and social-media bells and whistles that it seems more like a video game than a staid political debate, and therefore more likely to trip up the candidates- — or, as I suppose CNN would say, ‘elicit interesting responses.’ Which is very much by design.”

Honorary Ohioans

By official proclamation, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) is pretty happy that the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA Championship last night by beating the Miami Heat and LeBron James.

Read the whole document.

See more…

Was Anyone  Watching the Debate Last Night?

Matt Latimer: And in a brilliantly timed move by CNN, Monday night’s New Hampshire encounter was in the same time slot as the Stanley Cup Finals, the most dramatic episode of The Bachelorette yet, and a re-run of How I Met Your Mother. Which means that no one was watching last night, except for me and Candy Crowley.

Who Will Come Under More Fire: Obama or Romney?

First Read: “Early presidential debates rarely include direct attacks or heated exchanges, because the candidates all are trying to make a good first (or second) impression. That said, time is a-wastin’, and Pawlenty yesterday telegraphed what could be a more aggressive debate strategy than we’re used to seeing this early in the process. If Pawlenty starts in on him, will the rest of the field pile on? As we learned in the ’08 cycle (think that famous Philly debate when the issue of drivers licenses for illegal immigrants came up), the pile-on is the only effective way to stop a front-runner.”

Weiner Has Not Yet Asked for Leave of Absence

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has not yet received any formal request yet from Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) concerning a leave of absence, NBC Newsreports.

“Various aides have sorted out details on how this works and say that Pelosi would be required to sign the request. The Speaker’s Office or Republican Leader would not be involved.”

Meanwhile, Peter Beinhart argues Weiner shouldn’t quit.

The 14 Juciest Sarah Palin Emails

Last Friday, the state of Alaska released 24,199 pages of emails from Sarah Palin from her tenure as governor. From her praise for President Obama to her jokes with George W. Bush, the Daily Beast has the most interesting details.

Gregoire Will Not Run Again

As expected, the AP reports Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) will not seek a third term.

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WAS) has said that he plans to run for governor if Gregoire steps aside. Attorney General Rob McKenna (R) announced last week that he would seek the Republican nomination.

How Educated are State Lawmakers?

Chronicle of Higher Education study finds that 25% of state legislators do not have a four year college degree.

Huntsman Nearly Ready to Announce

Jon Huntsman won’t be at tonight’s Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire but he tells Bloomberg TV he’s almost ready to jump in the race.

Said Hunstman: “We’re moving in that direction. We’ve got about all the boxes checked: you’ve got the organizing box, you’ve got the fundraising box, you’ve got the boots on the ground box. Then you’ve got the family box, that is the last one. And we’re about there, too. We’ll probably have one more sit-down meeting this week, and then I think we’ll be able to check that box.”

Lawmakers Get Unexpected Thank You from Qaddafi

Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi wrote to members of Congress thanking them for criticizing President Obama last week over his involvement in the NATO-led military campaign in Libya, the New York Times reports.

“Qaddafi did not refer specifically to a resolution passed by the House that rebuked the administration for maintaining an American role in the campaign without the consent of Congress. But he expressed hope that the lawmakers would continue to press the administration.”

One recipient was House Speaker John Boehner who quickly distanced himself from the Libyan leader: “If authentic, this incoherent letter only reinforces that Qaddafi must go. There’s no disagreement about that.”

Is Congress Getting More Unethical?

A new poll from The Hill finds 58% of likely voters think most members of Congress are “unethical,” while just 25% consider the majority to be principled and 17% are unsure.

A striking 68% said the ethical standards of politicians have deteriorated in recent decades, while just 7% said they have improved during that time

Gibbs Returns to Spin Alley

WMUR has learned that former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs will be in New Hampshire today “to present a rebuttal to expected attacks at the Republican presidential debate.”

Civil Unions, Infidelity are Big Problems for GOP Voters

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds 50% of Republicans and Republican leaning-independents say they’d be less likely to support a candidate who favors civil unions for gay couples.

Also interesting: 54% say they’d be less apt to support a candidate for president who’s been unfaithful to his or her spouse.

Unemployment in Key States Could Hurt Obama

“The nation’s high joblessness, already a problem for President Obama as he seeks re-election next year, is shaping up to be a particular burden in a handful of key swing states where the unemployment rate is above the national average,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“In four states that may prove key to the Obama re-election strategy — Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and Michigan — the jobless picture is bleak. In three of the four, the rate tops 10%.”

Dwindling Blue Dogs

The Hotline notes continued challenges for Blue Dog Democrats that may make “the group of moderate to conservative Democrats within the caucus even smaller, following 28 Blue Dogs who either retired or were defeated last cycle.”

More bad news: Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK) has announced he will retire after his current term, while Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) “isn’t likely to be helped in redistricting, and he made it known this week that he’s considering either running for the Senate or for governor, and with his family’s history in the state, he could run strong statewide too.”

Bachmann’s Edge in Iowa

Christopher Rants predicts that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) will win the Iowa caucuses because of “a secret weapon no other candidate possesses — the King factor.”

“The first person I ever heard mention Michele Bachmann was Congressman Steve King. Those two are not just kindred spirits, or intellectual compatriots — they are foxhole buddies. They fight the same wars together. I can’t imagine him not putting his organization to work for her. Plus, helping her helps him. King needs to tune up his own organization for his newly drawn district and prep for a future statewide run. Nobody fires up a room of caucus-Republicans like King.”

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