POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 8/11

Running Against the Republican Brand

Ben Smith has a forthcoming DNC memo which highlights the current unpopularity of congressional Republicans:

“Today’s Republican Party becoming less popular than during impeachment is no small feat. After all, impeachment was a year-long circus that divided the country, consumed the news and distracted the Congress and the nation from other priorities. Of course, that’s exactly what the Tea Party-led Republican Congress just put the country through with a crisis it manufactured – a standoff of months where they put their extreme agenda ahead of the nation’s most urgent priorities. Newt Gingrich and the GOP-led House overplayed its hand in 1998. They lost House seats in that year’s elections and their popularity dropped to near all-time lows. Today’s Republican Party has also overplayed its hand. They manufactured a crisis for their own political ends – one that put our nation on the brink of default for the first time in history and led directly to a downgrade in our credit rating. Those who remember the spectacle of impeachment and the damage it brought to the GOP may find it unfathomable that today’s Republican Party is less popular than the one of that era. But the behavior of Republicans during this debate, and the consequences of their brinkmanship on our economy, undoubtedly make the judgment of the voters justified.”

Voters Split on Obama for Re-Election

A new McClatchy-Marist Poll finds Americans divided over whether President Obama deserves re-election with 40% saying they will definitely vote for the president next year and 40% think they will definitely vote against him. The remaining 20% are unsure.

However, when matched against specific Republican challengers Obama has the edge in every potential race.

Did the Obama Campaign Lay a Trap for Romney?

David Frum wonders if the Obama campaign’s coming “ferocious personal assault” on Mitt Romney is actually just “a mind game” to put his campaign off track.

“Now here’s the other way that a Republican presidential campaign can go wrong. It can allow itself to be swayed by the rage and contempt for Obama that have consumed the conservative media world. It can be infiltrated by the emotions that Rush Limbaugh and so many other Republican talkers and authors have so successfully micro-targeted. It can forget that most potential anti-Obama voters see Obama as a disappointment, not a menace. It can snarl and sneer and vilify.”

“We have seen that behavior in other campaigns, but not so far in Romney’s. Could it be that Axelrod and the others leaked a phony battle plan to Politico in order to goad Romney into exactly the mistakes he has so far avoided?”

 

Daniels Has No Regrets

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) tells the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette that it’s “more than OK” that he’s not regularly in the media glare since deciding not to run for president.

Said Daniels: “You could already see folks, either for partisan or just maybe ideological reasons… had the knives out in various ways. Already on a fairly regular basis there would be some spurious charge or rumor that we had to stop and try to straighten out. Nothing to miss about that.”

Here Come the Super PACs

Politico reports on the “next generation of this new breed of fundraising committees — super PACs created to boost individual presidential candidates, and to strip the bark off their rivals. They’re already showing signs that they could reshape the presidential campaign landscape in 2012.”

“A super PAC created to advance Mitt Romney’s campaign for the GOP nomination raised $12.2 million in the first half of the year. One set up to help President Barack Obama spent $97,000 on ads attacking Romney. Supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s dark horse Republican bid are using a super PAC to pay for $6,000-worth of billboards and print ads ahead of the Ames straw poll. And one of the half-dozen super PACs established to bolster Texas Gov. Rick Perry in his yet-to-be-declared campaign for the GOP nomination is airing ads in Iowa calling him ‘a better option for president.'”

The Anti-Obama

First Read: “In recent history, American voters have tended to opt for a sharp contrast when voting out a party from the White House… Given this history, it’s worth asking: Is front-runner Mitt Romney — who once supported abortion rights and signed Massachusetts’ health reform into law — the sharpest contrast to Obama? Or is it Rick Perry?”

“Unlike the deliberate incumbent, Perry has used his powers aggressively through his appointments (some opponents even call it political revenge) While the current president has talked about unity and bipartisanship, Perry once (jokingly?) suggested secession. While Obama was an Ivy League star and head of the Harvard Law Review, Perry was a C- and D-student from Texas A&M. And while the nation’s unemployment rate stands at 9.1%, Perry can point to Texas’ better 8.2%. This is what makes a potential Romney-vs.-Perry primary showdown captivating: If Romney, on paper, is the Republican Party’s strongest general-election candidate, then Perry represents its sharpest contrast with Obama. And chew on this: The more vulnerable Obama looks, GOP voters might be more concerned with ideological purity and likeability than electability. Think heart over head.”

Weiner’s Seat is Vulnerable

A new Siena poll in New York’s 9th Congressional District finds some worrying signs for Democrats in the special election to replace former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY).

While both candidates, Republican Robert Turner and Democrat David Weprin, remain unknown by a plurality of voters — 49% and 45%, respectively — Weprin leads Turner 48% to 42%, a slimmer than expected margin in a strongly Democratic district. In fact, although 61% of those polled were Democrats and just 17% were Republicans, Weprin only receives 61% of the Democratic vote while Turner takes 80% of Republicans and leads with independents 46% to 42%.

Dave Weigel: “It’s tough to hold a seat when your party’s incumbent resigned after sending pictures of his over-stuffed underwear to women, and Republicans still have a lock on the ‘to hell with these guys’ vote. But that can be mitigated if Weprin runs a predictable campaign and scorches Turner over entitlement spending. Seventy-two percent of voters oppose Social Security and Medicare cuts; Turner is doing quite well with them.”

Introducing the Republicans on the Supercommittee

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced their choices for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction established by the deficit ceiling legislation.

Boehner’s picks: Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Dave Camp (R-MI) and Fred Upton (R-MI).

McConnell’s picks: Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Rob Portman (R-OH).

Notable: Hensarling will serve as the co-chair of the committee alongside Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). McConnell’s picks include one senior member of Republican leadership — Kyl is the Senate minority whip — and two soft-spoken conservative freshmen.

Lawmaker Says Obama Should Be Impeached

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) agreed with a constituent that President Obama should be impeached in an attempt “to obstruct the president from pushing his agenda,” the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports.

Said Burgess: “It needs to happen, and I agree with you it would tie things up. No question about that.”

Burgess expanded on the comment to Politico: “We need to tie things up. The longer we allow the damage to continue unchecked, the worse things are going to be for us.”

Andrew Sullivan: “Apparently now, it is just another legitimate maneuver to oppose a president you don’t like or support. I’m afraid it’s hard to come up with any real reason for this gathering extremism — first impeaching a president for perjury in a civil suit, and a decade later using the threat of national default as leverage… The truth about these alleged constitutionalists is that they are defined by their lack of any restraint.”

Do Democrats Still Try to Recall Walker?

The big question after Wisconsin Republicans likely held on to control of the state senate after winning four of six recall races last night — pending a possible recount and legal challenge — is whether Democrats will still push to recall Gov. Scott Walker (R) next year.

A related question is whether former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) shifts his sights from taking on Walker to trying to return to the U.S. Senate.

Quote of the Day

“We believe there’s dirty tricks afoot.”

— Wisconsin Democratic spokesman Graeme Zielinski, quoted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, alleging fraud in at least one state senate recall race.

Is Mitt Romney Weird?

Michael Crowley wonders whether President Obama’s attempt to portray Mitt Romney as “weird” is using a dog whistle to raise questions about the GOP frontrunner’s religion.

“To my ears, that rings of innuendo about his Mormon faith, and surely any sophisticated political strategist would anticipate that reaction. Romney’s Mormonism, much like Obama’s race at a similar point in the 2008 campaign, remains a fascinating and still little-understood political variable. It’s hard to imagine it as a net positive, however, and that Politico story leaves me wondering how much Obama’s advisers are ready to make of it. You’d like to think that the people who work for a man who has been slurred countless times because of his race would take a higher road, so hopefully I’m just reading too much into this. Time will tell.”

Fed Vows to Keep Interest Rates Near Zero

The Federal Reserve Board made “an unprecedented pledge that it will likely keep a key short-term interest rate exceptionally low until at least mid-2013 — a sign of how long the central bank believes the economy will be burdened by anemic growth and high unemployment,” USA Today reports.

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