POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 6/23

Unemployment Up in the Swing States

The Fix looks at the latest state-by-state unemployment numbers and notes that in “every one of the 14 swing states heading into 2012 — Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin — the unemployment rate has risen since October 2008.”

Obama to Bring 10,000 Troops Home This Year

President Obama will announce in his prime-time address tonight “that he will order home 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan this year and another 23,000 by the end of September 2012,” the Washington Post reports.

“Congressional Republicans, long the bedrock of support for his war policy, have called for a rapid drawdown of the 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and sharper focus on targeting al-Qaeda leaders, rather than the Taliban movement, for those forces that remain. His own party long ago turned against the mission.”

Poor Economy Weakens Obama

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds Americans are growing gloomier about where the country is headed and the way President Obama is leading it.

Key findings: “Obama has hit new highs he’d like to avoid — in public disapproval over his handling of the economy in general and unemployment in particular… In addition, more disapprove of his handling of health care and the federal budget deficit than in the past.”

It’s also the first time this year that the respondents saying Obama deserves re-election have fallen below 50%.

Huntsman’s Path to the Nomination

Though Jon Huntsman “seems in almost every way the wrong man for the times”Ryan Lizza says that “even in today’s Republican Party there could be a path for a non-Tea Party extremist to win the nomination. After all, there is no national election for Republicans to pick their nominee. He or she will be decided through the quirky process of state primaries and caucuses. And that system always offers at least a theoretical path for a candidate with Huntsman’s background and qualifications.”

Key factor: “This year, for the first time in modern Presidential politics, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney, has declined to fully participate in the long, absurd process leading up to caucus night. With that decision, Romney made it easy for Huntsman, who would have no chance in Iowa, to skip the state.”

However, Jonathan Bernstein notes that “as long as the press continues to cover Iowa, it’s not going to become a ‘fringe event.’ And of course they’re going to cover Iowa. What that means is that whoever wins Iowa is going to get a blast of publicity. Hunstman, most likely, won’t.”

 

Bonus Quote of the Day

“We all knew it wasn’t going to pass. Everybody knew that that bill was offered on the floor to kill time, to make it look like the United States Senate was doing something.”

— Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), quoted by The Hill, on the U.S. Senate doing “almost nothing” this year.

Quote of the Day

“Philosophically, I am very different from normal politicians, and normal consultants found that very hard to deal with.”

— Newt Gingrich, quoted by Reuters, explaining why most of his campaign staff quit.

Troublemaker, Not a Witch

Coming later this summer: Troublemaker: Let’s Do What It Takes to Make America Great Again by Christine O’Donnell.

The former Delaware U.S. Senate candidate sent an email to supporters saying the book will reveal “the real, raw story of my life” and claims that her closest advisers had concerns she was being “too honest, too open” while writing about her “bumpy journey into politics,” according to CNN.

Fox News Fact Check

Jon Stewart takes down Fox News like only he can.

Andrew Sullivan: “The point here is not the untruths — although they are embarrassing for a news channel — but the lack of any correction. Which is to say that a comedy channel has more dedication to accountability for factual errors than a putative news network. Which tells you almost everything you need to know.”

See more…

Cartoon of the Day

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Huntsman Family Gave Big to Reid

Jon Ralston notes that members of Jon Huntsman’s family gave Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) nearly $25,000 for his re-election bid last year.

Is Bachmann a Secret Democratic Weapon?

Matt Taibbi: “Bachmann is a religious zealot whose brain is a raging electrical storm of divine visions and paranoid delusions. She believes that the Chinese are plotting to replace the dollar bill, that light bulbs are killing our dogs and cats, and that God personally chose her to become both an IRS attorney who would spend years hounding taxpayers and a raging anti-tax Tea Party crusader against big government…”

“In modern American politics, being the right kind of ignorant and entertainingly crazy is like having a big right hand in boxing; you’ve always got a puncher’s chance. And Bachmann is exactly the right kind of completely batshit crazy. Not medically crazy, not talking-to-herself-on-the-subway crazy, but grandiose crazy, late-stage Kim Jong-Il crazy — crazy in the sense that she’s living completely inside her own mind, frenetically pacing the hallways of a vast sand castle she’s built in there, unable to meaningfully communicate with the human beings on the other side of the moat, who are all presumed to be enemies.”

The piece leads Ben Smith to note that the Obama campaign, which can’t use the “hope” and “change” message from 2008, “needs another emotion, fear, to drive turnout, fundraising, and organization” and may have found it in Bachmann.

Reid Says Candidate Misled Him

“Simmering tension in the still-young 2012 Nevada race for U.S. Senate burst into the open Tuesday when Sen. Harry Reid unloaded on upstart candidate Byron Georgiou, a Democratic lawyer and entrepreneur from Las Vegas,” the Las Vegas Review Journal reports.

“Reid said he regretted placing Georgiou on the high-level Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission two years ago, charging he was misled about the businessman’s credentials. Reid said that should raise questions about the candidate’s fitness for office.”

The back story: Establishment Democrats who are behind Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) would rather not have her involved in an expensive primary and would rather focus on the general election against Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV).

Why Huntsman’s Gamble Might Not Work

As pundits discuss Jon Huntsman’s (R) unconventional rollout for his presidential bid, in which he “said he wouldn’t attack President Barack Obama, endorsed a rapid drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, refused to sign an anti-abortion pledge and vowed not to interfere with any New York state law legalizing gay marriage,” according to Morning Score, some are wondering whether Huntsman has critically misread the Republican primary.

Politico: “It’s the central assumption of Huntsman’s candidacy: electability will trump purity… George W. Bush and John McCain, at various times, both come to mind. Huntsman’s challenge, however, is that he lacks some of the qualities that made the apostasies of Bush and McCain tolerable among Republican primary voters… Huntsman is a Mormon who talks of his faith as his ‘heritage,’ is virtually unknown to most Republican activists and lacks the military credentials that could ameliorate his deviations from party orthodoxy. Oh, and he just got through working in the Obama administration.”

Rubio Swims Against Isolationist Tide

As Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) worries about his party’s drift towards isolationism,Time wonders whether Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has misread the Tea Party’s influence on foreign policy and positioned himself in the McCain camp.

“In reality, Rubio doesn’t have much of a choice. As a conservative Cuban-American – and especially as a hard-liner on U.S. Cuba policy – he wouldn’t have the luxury of softening his pro-active principles even if he wanted to… That siege philosophy regarding Cuba tends to dictate that Cuban-American politicos like Rubio bang the drum for the eradication of oppression anywhere else in the world.”

“Rubio’s one-solution-fits-all foreign policy – especially one inspired by a Cuba policy that most Americans and even Cuban-Americans don’t agree with anymore – doesn’t account for all the different types of diplomatic and military arrows the U.S. or any nation has to keep in its quiver when acting abroad… If that return to the GOP’s isolationist past materializes more broadly, it could leave Rubio, the young face of the party’s future, just plain isolated.”

Political Ads Expected to Set New Record

A new Moody’s 
report predicts that political advertising in the 2012 election cycle is “all but certain” to break records, providing a windfall for TV station groups, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The study finds political ad revenue is expected to grow 9% to 18% over the $2.3 billion spent in 2010.

Huntsman’s Confusing First Day

Walter Shapiro says Jon Huntsman’s presidential announcement left him confused. Is he the GOP’s Wesley Clark, an over-hyped elite alternative to a pedestrian collection of candidates? Or is he tapping into something deeper that will appeal to mercurial New Hampshire voters?

“As a personable contender who is likely to boast ample campaign cash even though he has said he will not self-fund, Huntsman will get his chance to be heard amid the GOP cacophony. But what will he say and how will it resonate with Republican audiences? Even as he becomes the latest surprise entry in the 2012 GOP field, Huntsman currently remains a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

First Read: “His sluggish start was striking because the pre-rollout had been orchestrated so well, and it ran counter to the level of hype they were trying to give to the announcement. Yet the biggest shortcoming of Huntsman’s speech yesterday was failing to address our question from yesterday: Who is Jon Huntsman?”

100 Votes for Panetta

Leading the effort to find and kill Osama bin Laden paid off for CIA Director Leon Panetta as the Boston Globe notes he was unanimously confirmed as the next Secretary of Defense in a 100-0 vote by the U.S. Senate.

Panetta will replace Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who is retiring June 30 after 4 1/2 years on the job during the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Worries About GOP Taking Control

A new Bloomberg Poll finds 49% of respondents said they’re worried about Republicans gaining control of the White House and Congress and following through on pledges to slash funding for Medicare and Medicaid, outnumbering the 40% who said they are concerned about another term for Obama and a continuation of current spending policies.

Among independents, 47% said they are worried about a Republican takeover compared with 37% who are concerned about maintaining the status quo.

Trump’s Big Pay Day

No wonder Donald Trump quit the presidential race: The New York Post reports NBC Universal agreed to pay him and co-producer Mark Burnett an estimated $160 million over two years for their reality show Celebrity Apprentice. Sources said Trump will personally pocket $65 million a year.

Where Did Sarah Palin Go?

It appears Sarah Palin’s “One Nation” bus tour has taken an “extended pit stop,” according to Real Clear Politics.

“Though Palin and her staff never announced a timeline for the remaining legs of her trip, aides had drafted preliminary itineraries that would have taken her through the Midwest and Southeast at some point this month. But those travel blueprints are now in limbo, RCP has learned, as Palin and her family have reverted to the friendly confines of summertime Alaska, where the skies are currently alight for over 19 hours a day and the Bristol Bay salmon fishing season is nearing its peak.”

No Money to Fund South Carolina Primary

South Carolina lawmakers did not include money in the state budget to fund the state’s first-in-the-South presidential primary in February, the AP reports.

Republicans insist the primary will go on, even if the state GOP must come up with as much as $1.5 million to run it.

“The party could go back to running the primary with paper ballots and volunteers, which is how it was done until 2008. That year, Republicans and Democrats pushed for and won state funding for the wide-open White House primaries and the state election commission started running them.”

More Say They Are Worse Off Than Under Bush

A new Bloomberg Poll finds that by a 44% to 34% margin Americans say they believe they are worse off than when President Obama took office.

Two-thirds say they believe the country is on the wrong track overall.

Nonetheless, the public “remains ambivalent about the Republican Party’s economic stewardship. Asked to rate Obama’s vision for the economy against that of the Republicans, poll respondents favor the president’s by 40% to 37%, though that is a deterioration from a 12-percentage-point advantage Obama maintained three months ago.”

Another Sex Scandal Brewing on Capitol Hill?

The Wall Street Journal reports that a congressional ethics panel is investigating allegations that Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) sexually harassed a member of his staff.

The investigation began after a conservative group “filed a lawsuit as the legal counsel for Winsome Packer, a staffer on a commission Mr. Hastings headed. She alleged that she had been sexually harassed by the congressman and that he retaliated when she tried to report it.”

Hastings wouldn’t directly address the allegations in an interview: “Quite frankly your source has as much or more information than I do and I would suggest you rely upon them. It would be impossible for me in a paragraph or a page or two or a tome or volumes one and two to help you understand the dynamics of these events. I’ll leave it at that.”

Bachmann Will Launch Campaign Next Week

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), “whose campaign is lifting off quite a bit later than other candidates who have been roaming the state for months, will formally kick off her presidential campaign on Monday,” the Des Moines Register reports.

“Bachmann, who was born in Waterloo, will hold the official event in her hometown.”

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