POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 7/6
Wall Street Journal: “Across a wide range of measures — employment growth, unemployment levels, bank lending, economic output, income growth, home prices and household expectations for financial well-being — the economy’s improvement since the recession’s end in June 2009 has been the worst, or one of the worst, since the government started tracking these trends after World War II.”
Frank Newport notes President Obama’s job approval rating “has been hovering near the fault line between probable re-election and probable ‘one-term’ presidency. This magic line for an incumbent president is not precise, but can be considered to be at about the 48% mark.”
“Obama’s job approval rating has been generally in the 45% to 50% range now for about a year, with occasional forays above 50% and occasional drops below 45%. Obama’s job approval rating for last week was 43%, tied for the lowest weekly average of his administration so far.”
iWatch News reports President Obama, the First Lady and Vice President Biden combined to host 45 fundraisers since announcing the re-election campaign in early April — an average of one every other day.
The latest WMUR Granite State Poll in New Hampshire finds Mitt Romney with a wide lead at 35%, followed by Michele Bachmann at 12%, Ron Paul at 7%, Rudy Giuliani at 7%, Rick Perry at 4%, Tim Pawlenty and Sarah Palin at 3%, and Jon Huntsman and Herman Cain at 2%.
Columbia Journalism Review has a very interesting interview with Hans Noel, co-author of The Party Decides: Presidential Nominations Before and After Reform.
“You see a lot of analysis of primary campaigns, both from political scientists and in the media, that orients everything around how this candidate is going to win in this state or build this result into winning later, and it’s all about these individual candidates who are competing. The key insight of the book is to look at presidential nominations not from the point of the view of the people trying to get the nomination, but from the point of view of the party that’s trying to bestow it…And so we should tell the story from the point of view of the players in the party who have an opinion about who the nominee should be and can do something about it.”
The St. Petersburg Times’ Florida Insider Poll — a survey of 79 of the “savviest political minds in the state” including 42 Repulbicans and 32 Democrats — finds that 70% expect Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) to be re-elected, including more than half of the Republicans who answered.
“The biggest misconception about my mom that really irritates me is that she’s dumb. She’s so smart, and if anyone had a conversation with her they’d realize that . . . she’s a whiz.”
— Bristol Palin, in an interview with the Arizona Republic.
Tim Pawlenty hired Mike Huckabee’s daughter, Sarah, as an Iowa-based senior political adviser.
Mark Halperin: “Great hire. Will send a signal to insiders that Pawlenty is going all out in Iowa, and that savvy operatives (or, at least, this one) think he has the mojo to be the nominee.”
The Washingtonian notes that Bob Woodward’s books are almost always part of the national conversation — even though few people actually read them.
“Woodward’s books are subject to what can be called the Washington Read… the phenomenon by which, through a form of intellectual osmosis, a book is absorbed into the Washington atmosphere.”
Some famous Washington Reads: The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama; Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Bush at War and Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward, Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam and The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy.
Newly-declared GOP presidential candidate Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) declined to tellABC News whether he would seek reelection to his House seat at the same time he’s running for president.
Said McCotter: “I’m focusing on the presidency. All of the considerations are not part of the equation, and I’m always fascinated by people who have that type of question in their mind, because I do have the necessary healthy respect for the office of the presidency and the American people.”
The Washington Post reports that a “Super PAC” organized by former political aides to Mitt Romney and designed to help him in the 2012 presidential race, collected $12 million in the first six months of 2011.
Mark Halperin: “No one else in the race (yet) has a Super PAC, which will multiply Romney’s resource advantage in the nomination contest. On three dimensions, Romney has a cash advantage: he will have raised the most in the second quarter for his own campaign; he has this Super PAC; and he has his own (so far) untapped personal wealth to kick in as needed down the road. The team working on Romney’s Super PAC can be counted on to spend their money well, since they are both talented and veterans of Romney’s political operation. All of this brings into sharp relief the storyline that has been the dominant one for months and months: is ANY Republican in the race or pondering it strong enough to beat Romney for the nomination?”
“The remnants of the once-powerful Democratic Leadership Council, which closed its doors earlier this year after a period of ideological and organizational decline, are being absorbed into the Clinton Foundation,” Ben Smith reports.
First Read: “Leverage depends on who the negotiators are answering to. For instance, the White House believes it has the most leverage because swing voters and independent voters simply want a deal done. They are exhausted from the Washington political games, the gridlock, the inability to solve problems. (By the way, this Congress is on pace to be one of the least productive in history.) GOP leaders think THEY have the leverage, because there are NO cracks in the base and they have their own polling showing that, while independents are turned off by the process, they do NOT want taxes raised and want to see government cut. Bottom line: Republicans believe that on the SUBSTANCE, the middle is with them (if they sell it properly), even if on PROCESS, the middle might be more on the side of the president.”
Key point: “It also looks like Republicans don’t want to hand President Obama something that looks like a victory, in a presidential election cycle; that would cause the base to erupt even more than a perceived tax hike.”
Herman Cain has suffered a wave of campaign staff departures in Iowa, which Politico notes “comes after weeks of swirling rumors between Cain’s staff and volunteers in the Hawkeye State accusing each other of affairs, homosexuality and professional misconduct.”
The Daily Beast reports that David Duke is considering a bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.
“A former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and Republican executive-committee chairman in his district until 2000, Duke has a significant following online. His videos go viral. This month, he’s launching a tour of 25 states to explore how much support he can garner for a potential presidential bid.”
Gerald Seib says it’s “hard to imagine turnout among young voters and minorities next year topping that seen amid the historic pro-Obama wave of 2008. So the key question for Republicans is whether lower turnout among those natural Obama voters can be combined with a higher Republican vote among senior citizens and white working-class voters to block the president’s re-election. And the key question for Democrats is whether the president can show enough progress in creating jobs to win back some of those wavering white working-class votes, and sow enough doubts among senior citizens by portraying Republicans as enemies of Medicare and Social Security, blunting GOP advantages with the retiree set.”
David Brooks: “If the Republican Party were a normal party, it would take advantage of this amazing moment. It is being offered the deal of the century: trillions of dollars in spending cuts in exchange for a few hundred million dollars of revenue increases… But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.”
“The struggles of the next few weeks are about what sort of party the G.O.P. is — a normal conservative party or an odd protest movement that has separated itself from normal governance, the normal rules of evidence and the ancient habits of our nation.”
“If the debt ceiling talks fail, independents voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not. If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern. And they will be right.”
The AP tracks down, but does not name, the career CIA analyst who led the hunt for Osama bin Laden for nearly a decade.
“The analyst was the first to put in writing last summer that the CIA might have a legitimate lead on finding bin Laden. He oversaw the collection of clues that led the agency to a fortified compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. His was among the most confident voices telling Obama that bin Laden was probably behind those walls.”
Time reports that a group of prominent figures on the Christian Right held a conference call in early June “to discuss their dissatisfaction with the current GOP presidential field, and agreed that Rick Perry would be their preferred candidate if he entered the race. Among those on the call were Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council; David Barton, the Texas activist and go-to historian for the Christian Right; and John Hagee, the controversial San Antonio pastor whose endorsement John McCain rejected in 2008.”
“Religious conservatives have often played a substantial role in choosing past Republican nominees, but leaders on the Christian Right have been conspicuously quiet so far in this campaign season. Privately, however, they are enthusiastic about Perry and are encouraging the Texas governor to throw his ten-gallon hat in the ring.”
With the Republican presidential field varying significantly in background, ideology, experience and supporters, Thomas Beaumont looks at the different strategies being employed by each candidate in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses.
Highlights: “Romney’s healthy fundraising, with as much as $20 million in the three-month reporting period that ended last week, and his lead in national polls give him flexibility his less-known rivals lack and make it possible for him to wait to see how the chips fall in Iowa this summer, and decide later whether to up his ante… Bachmann has feet in Christian conservative and tea party camps, and will need to quickly organize within these groups… But caucus support is more often sealed in person than in crowds at a rally or along a July Fourth parade route. Bachmann will have to meet privately with influential GOP activists, as she plans to begin this weekend… For Pawlenty, the task in Iowa is the opposite of Bachmann’s. He will spend 15 days in the state this month trying to show that the organization he has built there can generate enthusiasm.”
Owning the message: By embracing the shutdown on his own terms, Pawlenty is attempting to prevent his critics from using the budget crisis to attack his record as governor.
Contrary to the conventional wisdom about ideological purity, a new poll for the Iowa Republican finds that likely GOP Iowa caucus goers are interested in one thing above all else: defeating President Obama in 2012.
By a two to one margin respondents said they would vote for a candidate who they might not agree with on every issue but who has the best chance of beating Obama over someone who is the closest to their views on the issues, but who might not have a good chance of beating Obama.
The New York Times notes that Mitt Romney has returned to his original claim that President Obama “made the recession worse” after denying he had made such a claim, despite repeatedly doing so since launching his presidential campaign.
Speaking at an Independence Day parade in New Hampshire, Romney told the crowd, “the recession is deeper because of our president…it’s seen an anemic recovery because of our president,” before flatly saying that the president “made the recession worse.”
Steve Benen: “There are two key angles to keep in mind here. The first is that Romney, when dealing with the core issue of his presidential campaign, can’t even keep his own story straight. Even for Romney, who’s flip-flopped more often and on more issues than any American politician in a generation, this is ridiculous. Given Romney’s atrocious record on job creation, this incoherence isn’t doing his campaign any favors. The second angle is that Romney can’t bring himself to tell the truth, either.”
The BBC has a bizarre interview with British Labour leader Ed Miliband who responded to every question with the same statement.
Damon Green, the ITV News correspondent who did the pooled story, told The Guardianthat the interview was “so absurd” that it is only “perfectly proper” that the full un-edited version of it “has found its way onto YouTube… to be laughed at along with all the clips of cats falling off sofas”.
Newt Gingrich told the Los Angeles Times that his upcoming fundraising report will be bleak.
Said Gingrich: “The fact is a month of media barrage is painful, and it slowed a lot of things down. Our numbers will not be as good as we would like, and candidly, the consultants left us in debt. But every single week since they left we’ve been cutting down the debt, and we raise more than we spend in a week.”
The Daily Beast rounded up the 10 biggest fibs of the 2012 presidential campaign so far.
“The verdict: both parties have been guilty of everything from outright false statements to fudges and half-truths. But Republicans, perhaps due to their bigger field of candidates, appear to be more liberal with the facts.”
The Washington Post reports a new breed of “super PACs” and other independent groups “are poised to spend more money than ever to sway federal elections.”
“The rise of these independent groups, which can raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions and other wealthy donors and spend it to help their favored candidates, could end up defining the 2012 campaign. But some of the groups could also pose a threat to established campaigns, which may find it difficult to stop them from wandering off message or committing strategic blunders.”