POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 12/21
A new CNN/Opinion Research poll reflects the same uptick in President Obama’s approval rating found in yesterday’s ABC News/Washington Post poll. The president’s approval went from 44% to 54% last month to 49% to 48% in this month’s poll.
Said pollster Keating Holland: “President Obama’s approval rating appears to be fueled by dramatic gains among middle-income Americans. The data suggest that the debate over the payroll tax is helping Obama’s efforts to portray himself as the defender of the middle class.”
Myra MacPherson takes apart the idea — regularly repeated by journalists and politicans alike — that Newt Gingrich is a historian.
“For openers ‘historian; Gingrich could not get tenure in a minor institution, West Georgia College… When first asked, Gingrich fudged and said he didn’t apply for tenure, then changed his story to having had a conversation with the dean who told him he was not going to get tenure ‘under any circumstances. You’ve spent four years campaigning, you can’t turn now and say, ‘let me get on the track.'”
Frank Bruni: “Before we travel any further down the 2012 campaign trail and hear any more about what a rosy and essential mirror of the candidate his (or her) spouse provides, let’s brush up on history. We need go back only four years, to John and Elizabeth Edwards… I’m not suggesting that there’s a couple this time around sitting on nearly as big a lie as they were. But I am suggesting that it’s foolish to read too much into a candidate’s spouse or marriage and important to see certain tired political fictions and campaign rituals for what they are. At a predictable juncture, for example, handlers will roll out a candidate’s spouse and green-light previously unattainable interviews in order to change the continuing news story, fill in the blanks of the candidate’s personality, shore up the candidate’s weaknesses or all of the above.”
After previous reports of insider trading by members of Congress privy to information that had not yet been released to the public, the Wall Street Journal has found that some investment groups have cashed in as well.
“When Senate Democrats finally brokered a compromise over the proposed health-care law, a group of hedge funds were let in on the deal, learning details hours before a public announcement on Dec. 8, 2009. The news was potentially worth millions of dollars to the investors, though none would publicly divulge how they used the information. They belong to a select group who pay for early, firsthand reports on Capitol Hill. Seeking advance word of government decisions is part of a growing, lucrative–and legal– practice in Washington that employs a network of brokers, lobbyists and political insiders.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that the group working to create an alternative presidential ticket Americans Elect “has qualified for ballot access in California, marking a significant milestone in its quest to be a factor in the 2012 race.”
“California is the 12th state in which the group has earned a spot on the ballot, and it was the heaviest lift thus far for the nascent group. The effort to get on the state’s ballot started last March and employed more than 1,500 people to collect more than 1.6 million signatures”
Ron Paul “is receiving new focus for decades-old unbylined columns in his political newsletters that included racist, anti-gay and anti-Israel passages that he has since disavowed,” the New York Times reports.
“Mr. Paul is the latest in a series of candidates whose quick improvement in polls has drawn new scrutiny of the more problematic portions of their résumés. The focus on his newsletters comes as he seeks to seize momentum in polls by raising questions about his opponents.”
The Weekly Standard notes it’s these writings and Paul’s “decades-long promotion of bigotry and conspiracy theories, for which he has yet to account fully, and his continuing espousal of extremist views, that should make him unwelcome at any respectable forum.”
“Do I wish that Mitt Romney would be a little edgier and bolder? Sure, and I’ve told him that. I’ve told him that privately, he knows that I feel that way. But he is who he is.”
— New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), in an interview on MSNBC.
First Read notes that at this stage in the GOP presidential race — with two weeks until Iowa and three weeks until New Hampshire — “national polling is usually a lagging indicator. After all, at this point four years ago, our national NBC/WSJ poll showed Hillary Clinton with a 22-point lead over Barack Obama, 45%-23% (and he was just weeks away from winning Iowa). And it showed Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney tied at 20%, with Mike Huckabee (the eventual Iowa caucus winner) at 17%, and John McCain (the eventual GOP nominee) at 14%. Whoever wins Iowa and New Hampshire will change the national polls.”
Politifact says the “lie of the year” is that Republicans voted to end Medicare.
But Steve Benen says it’s not a lie since Republicans voted “to privatize the existing system and replace it with something very different — a voucher scheme. It would still be called Medicare, but it wouldn’t be Medicare.”
Paul Krugman: “How is this not an end to Medicare? And given all the actual, indisputable lies out there, how on earth could saying that it is be the ‘Lie of the year’? The answer is, of course, obvious: the people at Politifact are terrified of being considered partisan if they acknowledge the clear fact that there’s a lot more lying on one side of the political divide than on the other. So they’ve bent over backwards to appear ‘balanced’ — and in the process made themselves useless and irrelevant.”
President Obama told 60 Minutes — in a portion of the interview that did not air — that his accomplishments so far as president rank pretty high historically.
Said Obama: “The issue here is not gonna be a list of accomplishments. As you said yourself, Steve, you know, I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president — with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln — just in terms of what we’ve gotten done in modern history. But, you know, but when it comes to the economy, we’ve got a lot more work to do. And we’re gonna keep on at it.”
Republican elites in Iowa “are divided over who to support for the GOP nomination, but they almost uniformly express concern over the prospect that Ron Paul and his army of activist supporters may capture the state’s 2012 nominating contest — an outcome many fear would do irreparable harm to the future role of the first-in-the-nation caucuses,”Politico reports.
“Paul poses an existential threat to the state’s cherished kick-off status, say these Republicans, because he has little chance to win the GOP nomination and would offer the best evidence yet that the caucuses reward candidates who are unrepresentative of the broader party.”
Just published: Everything Obama Knows About The Economy by Jimmy Moncrief.
The book consists of 200 blank pages.
According to the Daily Caller, Moncrief has has “sold hundreds of copies of his gag gift to Christmas shoppers since it was released several weeks ago.”
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) told the Des Moines Register that former Sen. Bob Dole called him over the weekend to say he was endorsing Mitt Romney and said he’d like to recommend Branstad for vice president.
Said Branstad: “I said, ‘I’m not interested,’ I was flattered, and said, ‘That’s not something I ever even thought of.'”
A new Quinnipiac poll finds New York voters approve of the job Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is doing by a stunning 68% to 17% margin, his highest score in his first year in office.
Key finding: Cuomo’s approval sweeps across the political spectrum, 71% to 12% among Democrats, 69% to 17% among independent voters and 63% to 25% among Republicans.
“Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy. That’s critical. There is not a single statement that the president has ever made in any of our policy assertions that the Taliban is our enemy because it threatens U.S. interests. If, in fact, the Taliban is able to collapse the existing government, which is cooperating with us in keeping the bad guys from being able to do damage to us, then that becomes a problem for us. So there’s a dual track here.”
— Vice President Joe Biden, in an interview with Leslie Gelb, on the Obama administration’s approach to the Taliban.
Ben Smith says the comment “seems to mark a real shift in American thinking about Afghanistan.”
The ethics watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission alleging that Newt Gingrich violated the law by selling a mailing list to his campaign for $42,000, according to the Washington Post.
“Mailing lists are routinely bought and sold by political campaigns, but the Gingrich case is unusual because the campaign says it paid the candidate personally for the list. Most such lists are owned by a political committee or group rather than by the candidate themselves… CREW notes in its complaint that the mailing list was not included as an asset in Gingrich’s financial disclosure records, which are filed by presidential candidates. Therefore, the group argues, the list appears to be owned by Gingrich Productions.”
“The sale of the mailing list, as well as commingling of book sales and campaign activities, violate FEC prohibitions on corporate contributions to a political campaign, CREW alleges in its complaint.”
The latest ABC News-Washington Post poll finds Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney tied among Republican voters nationally with 30% each, followed by Ron Paul at 15% and all other candidates in the single digits.
A new CBS News poll finds Gingrich and Romney tied at 20%, with Paul at 10%.
The New York Times notes that 48 hours passed between North Korean leader Kim Jung Il’s death and the official government announcement and yet South Korean and American officials knew nothing in advance.
“For South Korean and American intelligence services to have failed to pick up any clues to this momentous development — panicked phone calls between government officials, say, or soldiers massing around Mr. Kim’s train — attests to the secretive nature of North Korea, a country not only at odds with most of the world but also sealed off from it in a way that defies spies or satellites.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) vowed not to “return to the negotiating table on a yearlong payroll tax cut extension until the House passes a bipartisan Senate bill that would extend the tax holiday for two months,” Roll Call reports.
Said Reid: “My House colleagues should be clear on what their vote means today. If Republicans vote down the bipartisan compromise negotiated by Republican and Democratic leaders, and passed by 89 senators including 39 Republicans, their intransigence will mean that in ten days, 160 million middle class Americans will see a tax increase, over two million Americans will begin losing their unemployment benefits, and millions of senior citizens on Medicare could find it harder to receive treatment from physicians.”
A new InsiderAdvantage poll in Iowa confirms the implosion of Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign in the first voting state.
Ron Paul leads with 24%, followed by Mitt Romney at 18%, Rick Perry at 16%, Gingrich at 13%, Michele Bachmann at 10%, Jon Huntsman at 4% and Rick Santorum at 3%.
Aided by comparison to a very unpopular Congress, President Obama inched up to a 49% job approval rating in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll — “his best showing since spring, and one, if it holds, that may put his re-election prospects back within reach.”
Key finding: Just 27% of Americans now approve of the Democrats in Congress, and just 20% approve of the Republicans — both new lows going all the way back to 1994.
A new Gallup poll also shows Congress with a record-low approval rating at just 11%.
A new Public Policy Polling survey in New Hampshire finds Mitt Romney with a significant lead at 35%, followed by Ron Paul at 19%, Newt Gingrich at 17%, Jon Huntsman at 13%, Michele Bachmann at 5%, Rick Santorum at 3%, Rick Perry at 2% and Gary Johnson at 1%.
Key finding: “Romney’s doing well with pretty much every key segment of the Republican electorate in the state.”Explore posts in the same categories: Candidates, National, Politics