POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 6/20

McCain Rips GOP Candidates

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), his party’s 2008 presidential nominee, “ripped into the current crop of Republican White House contenders, accusing them of breaking party tradition by preaching isolationism,” Reuters reports.

McCain claimed that former President Reagan “would have been disappointed in last week’s Republican presidential debate in which candidates voiced impatience with U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya.”

Said McCain: “He would be saying: That’s not the Republican Party of the 20th century, and now the 21st century. That is not the Republican Party that has been willing to stand up for freedom for people for all over the world,” McCain said.

Newt’s New Voice

Politico notes that Newt Gingrich’s campaign has taken on a new tone since the mass exodus of his campaign staff, as he is “No longer constrained by campaign advisers who insisted on such conventions as ‘message discipline.'”

“The former speaker, it seems, is very much enjoying the post-consultant phase of his candidacy. Addressing a packed and admiring ballroom of Republicans, Gingrich seemed to discard his effort at playing the role of more candidate than professor. His remarks were dotted with such phrases as, ‘Let me walk you through this,’ and pledges to ‘write a paper about this.'”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I support intelligent design. What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide. I don’t think it’s a good idea for government to come down on one side of scientific issue or another, when there is reasonable doubt on both sides.”

— Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), quoted by CNN.

 

Perry Still Weeks Away from Decision

The top strategist to Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) told the Texas Tribune that Perry is still “at least weeks” away from making a decision about whether to run for president, “a daunting financial and logistical undertaking even without the time pressures of a late entry.”

Said Dave Carney: “We don’t even know all the logistics of it. This is not a situation where you throw your hat into the ring and say ‘I’m next.’ There’s a lot of effort that has to go into this. If you don’t have a finance committee, people willing around the country to raise millions of dollars on their own with little support from the candidate himself because of the time constraints, then it’s not going to work… is there political support out there enough to wage battles in the early states? Those are big questions. We would be running in a field with a bunch of other people who have been at this longer than we have.”

Quote of the Day

“I will always be an advocate in terms of wars of necessity. I am just much more cautious on wars of choice.”

— Defense Secretary Robert Gates, quoted by the New York Times.

 

Obama Rejected Advice on War Powers Act

President Obama “rejected the views of top lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department when he decided that he had the legal authority to continue American military participation in the air war in Libya without Congressional authorization,” the New York Times reports.

The lawyers “had told the White House that they believed that the United States military’s activities in the NATO-led air war amounted to ‘hostilities.’ Under the War Powers Resolution, that would have required Mr. Obama to terminate or scale back the mission after May 20.”

“Presidents have the legal authority to override the legal conclusions of the Office of Legal Counsel and to act in a manner that is contrary to its advice, but it is extraordinarily rare for that to happen. Under normal circumstances, the office’s interpretation of the law is legally binding on the executive branch.”

U.S. in Talks with Taliban

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that “foreign military and especially the U.S. itself” were involved in peace talks with the Taliban, the BBC reports.

“He gave no details as to whether the discussions involved Taliban officials with U.S. authorities, or a go-between.”

Congress’ Self-Imposed Ethical Standards

The Atlantic notes that Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-NY) decision to resign yesterday over a sex scandal makes him the “fourth married, male lawmaker in 15 months to resign suddenly over sexual indiscretion,” even as the ethics committee never rendered a verdict on any of their actions.

“They were largely matters of personal, private failing, but when the scandals broke, the countdown clocks for resignation started ticking… Republicans believe Pelosi is reacting to a standard Boehner has set — that she can’t be outdone on ethics when she built her winning 2006 majority largely on an argument that the GOP was ethically bankrupt. Whether by force or by choice, Pelosi now appears to be of the same mindset as her Republican counterpart that when it comes to sex scandals and the rank-and-file, there is zero tolerance… That mindset, however, does not translate as easily to non-sexual ethical allegations.”

 

Romney Maintains Huge Lead in New Hampshire

A new Magellan Strategies survey in New Hampshire finds Mitt Romney leading all potential GOP primary challengers with 42%, followed by Rep. Ron Paul and Rep. Michelle Bachmann at 10%, Sarah Palin at 7%, Rudy Giuliani at 6% and Tim Pawlenty at 5%.

Among respondents that watched last Monday night’s debate, 39% of voters think that Romney had the strongest performance, followed by 28% for Bachmann and 8% for Paul.

 

Big Difference in New Hampshire

Matt Bai: “It’s vital to remember that next year’s primaries will be the first since 1996 where Democrats haven’t had their own nomination fight going on. In other words, in the last two contested Republican primary seasons, independents in ‘open states’ like New Hampshire split their votes between Republicans and Democrats. But this year, all of them will be voting for a Republican… All of this suggests, I think, that a less doctrinaire candidate might have a real shot in New Hampshire, once the campaign really gets underway and voters get a chance to assess the field.”

Who this helps: Jon Huntsman, and possibly Rudy Giuliani if he runs.

 

The War Powers Act Debate

First Read: “There have been three big political stories this past week: 1) the developments in the GOP presidential race; 2) Weiner, which is finally over; and 3) the debate over the War Powers Act when it comes to the limited U.S. involvement in Libya. And as we’ve written before, this third story is more about the war between two branches of government (the executive vs. the legislative). Yet lost in the debate is this argument: The United States is a member of NATO, and this is a NATO-led operation. As such, the U.S. can’t simply pull out of NATO (we’re not Germany). Then again, is the White House on shaky legal ground when it comes to the War Powers Act? Consider this: It hasn’t asked the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to deliver an opinion on the matter since the operation has started and this debate heated up in Congress. Why? Perhaps the administration doesn’t want to know the answer?”

No Winner This Time

Joe Klein: “Some presidential campaigns — 1960, 1980, 1992, 2008 — are exhilarating, suffused with hope and excitement. This is not likely to be one of those. It is likely to be an election that no one wins but someone loses. It will be a reversal of politics past: a pragmatic Democrat will be facing a Republican with all sorts of big ideas, promising an unregulated, laissez-faire American paradise.”

 

GOP Presidential Campaign Enters Next Phase

David Challian and Terence Burlij: “Pawlenty’s effort to make the rhetorical correction demonstrates two key dynamics at play. First, the pre-season is over. The Pawlenty campaign felt that the debate criticism would continue to hang over them as they race against the June 30 fundraising clock and that the narrative must be changed. The candidate and his advisers realized that they were beyond the point of letting some bad press slide or just hang out there, unaddressed.”

“The second dynamic at play is the launch of full and direct engagement between the candidates. The debate last Monday night was largely an anti-Obama affair. Many subsequent debates will have that as a theme as well, but you can be certain that when a moderator attempts to get two candidates to engage directly, there will be less caution on the part of the candidates to do so.”

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