POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 7/31

LaTourette Will Not Run for Re-Election

Three high-placed Republican sources tell the Columbus Dispatch that Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-OH) “has decided not to run for re-election, leaving party members rushing to find a replacement in time for the Nov. 6 election.”

“A source said LaTourette is leaving because of a dispute with House leadership about future committee assignments.”

Bill Clinton Popularity Hits New High

A new Gallup poll finds 66% of Americans have a favorable opinion of former President Bill Clinton, tying his record-high favorability rating recorded at the time of his inauguration in January 1993.

Clinton nearly returned to this level of popularity at two points in his second term, but has generally seen lower ratings, averaging 56% since 1993.

Romney’s Trip Continues With Another Fumble

The White House “was subtlety gleeful today as Mitt Romney’s campaign dealt with the latest group to be offended during the Republican presidential candidate’s overseas tour that was intended to showcase his foreign policy credentials,” ABC News reports.

“Romney’s newest diplomatic fumble has insulted the Palestinians by suggesting that the discrepancy between the wealth of Israel and Palestinians was due in part to their different cultures. A top Palestinian labeled the analysis racist.”

National Journal: “For any man who would be president there are unwritten rules of foreign diplomacy. Mitt Romney seems to have internalized some, while others apparently slipped out of the briefing book on his flight across the Atlantic to debut as a potential leader of the free world.”

No Change in Views on Gun Control

A new Pew Research survey finds there has been no significant change in public views on the issue of gun control following the July 20th shooting at a Colorado movie theater. Currently, 47% say it is more important to control gun ownership, while 46% say it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns.

That is virtually unchanged from a survey earlier this year in April, when 45% prioritized gun control 49% gun rights.

Stopping the Other Guy

Fred Hiatt: “In this Romney-Obama matchup, the only motivation that surfaces clearly for voters is the desire to stop the other side — the conviction that the opponent’s agenda would be dangerous. If the pattern holds after the conventions, this may be what propels voters to the polls in November…”

“It is a blocking election. The candidates give us little sense of what they would actually do in office. Neither tries to rally Americans behind a positive vision and agenda for the next four years. The rationale instead is the frightening specter of an enemy win.”

Democrats Include Gay Marriage in Party Platform

The Democratic Party platform drafting committee unanimously approved language endorsing same-sex marriage as part of the party platform, according to the Washington Blade.

Another Ad Stars Businessman Who Relied on Government

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign released a new video featuring a small businessman criticizing President Obama’s now infamous “you didn’t build that” line.

Says Dennis Sollmann: “I mean, I’m thinking, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ He was trying to say: ‘Hey, you didn’t build that business on your own. The government helped you build it.’ And that’s what ticked me off more than anything.”

However, the Huffington Post reports Sollmann’s electric company has relied heavily on government contracts.

This is the second time this has happened: A previous Romney ad starred a New Hampshire businessman who also received significant government assistance.

See more…

Most Americans Don’t Know Number of Justices on Court

A new 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll finds just 40% of Americans know that there are nine justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Among college graduates, 52% answered correctly while 40% got it wrong and 8% say they don’t know. Of those without a college degree, 35% got it right, while 52% answered incorrectly and 13% said they don’t know.

Bush’s Economic Advice

Paul Begala reviews former President George W. Bush’s new book, The 4% Solution.

“You gotta hand it to Bush. Either he was born without the moral compass that engenders humility or he has one sick sense of humor. To start with, let the record show that George W. Bush was in fact president of the United States for eight years. And for those eight years economic growth averaged not four percent, but 2.04 percent. For Bush to attach his name to a book claiming to be a recipe for economic growth is what we Texans call chutzpah. What’s next? Charlie Sheen as spokesperson for Just Say No? Chris Christie’s fitness video? Kim Kardashian’s tips for a long and happy marriage? The mind boggles.”

He also notes that James Glassman, who heads the Bush Institute and wrote the introduction to the book, “is no stranger to failed economic prophecy. In 1999 he co-authored (with current Romney adviser Kevin Hassett) a book with the unintentionally hilarious title Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting From the Coming Rise in the Stock Market. They almost got it right. Instead of a rise in the stock market there was a crash. The Dow went to 6,500, and 13 years after their book was published it is around 13,000. So they were only off by 23,000 points.”

Book Says Obama Delayed Mission to Kill Osama Bin Laden

A new book, Leading From Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him by Richard Miniter, claims that President Obama canceled missions to kill Osama bin Laden three time and says it was adviser Valerie Jarrett who persuaded him to hold off each time.

The charge would be much more explosive, of course, if President Obama hadn’t issued the orders that ultimately did kill the al Qaeda leader.

Obama Ahead Nationally

A new Democracy Corps (D) survey shows President Obama leading Mitt Romney nationally by four points, 50% to 46%.

Even more interesting: The poll finds President Obama’s approval rating at 50%.

Nevada Democrats Expanding Edge Over Republicans

Nevada Democrats are registering voters at a much faster clip than Republicans, the Las Vegas Sun reports.

“New numbers released this week show Democrats have increased their advantage over Republicans to 47,500 voters. Since April, Democratic voter registration has increased by 20,500. Republican registration in that time has increased by 9,700.”

Quote of the Day

“I obviously am not a big fan of President Obama. I think he’s been one of our weakest presidents… I’d be hard put to find any Democratic president that I’ve disagreed with more.”

— Dick Cheney, in an interview with ABC News.

McCain Staged an Intervention with Romney

Howard Kurtz reports on Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) failed efforts to advise Mitt Romney and his frustration at a behind-the-scenes role in the campaign.

“When Mitt Romney declared, during a Republican primary debate in Tampa, that he would pressure illegal immigrants to ‘self-deport’ back to their home countries, John McCain was downright disturbed. Worried that his former rival was grievously wounding himself with Hispanic voters, the Arizona senator staged an intervention. He and fellow senator Lindsey Graham placed a joint call to Romney in January, urging him to tone down his rhetoric. Romney listened politely, sources say, and did not use the phrase again.”

“It was a rare instance of Romney taking counsel from the man who beat him in the last campaign — and who has been relegated to a behind-the-scenes role in this one. Four years after his own presidential bid, McCain’s luster as a Republican Party spokesman appears to have dimmed: a number of proposed campaign trips on Romney’s behalf have quietly evaporated, and there has been no offer of a speaking slot at the GOP convention.”

Voter ID Laws Could Impact Election

Politico: “At least 5 million voters, predominantly young and from minority groups sympathetic to President Barack Obama, could be affected by an unprecedented flurry of new legislation by Republican governors and GOP-led legislatures to change or restrict voting rights by Election Day 2012.”

“Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wisconsin, all viewed as important states this fall, each have enacted stricter ID laws. Florida and Ohio have cut back on early voting. And a whole host of other states have passed new ID laws as well.”

Clinton Will Compete with Football Fans for Audience

First Read has the backstory behind giving Bill Clinton a prime speaking slot at the Democratic convention:

“But what shouldn’t be ignored about this decision is that Wednesday Sept. 5 is the NFL’s first game of the regular season, which will air on NBC. (It’s Giants-Cowboys; not exactly a matchup of teams that have small fan bases.) The Obama camp realized that it needed a big draw to compete with the NFL game and to convince the other networks to cover (NBC will NOT be airing any of the convention on the NFL night). In addition, moving Biden to Thursday isn’t a snub at all; in fact, it means that more male eyeballs will be on him than would have been the case if he went on Wednesday. Per NBC’s Dann, sources say the decision to bump Biden to the final night of the convention was made jointly by the VP and the president. Both Biden and Obama will speak at the football stadium.”

Cheney Will Also Skip Convention

Former Vice President Dick Cheney told ABC News that he will not attend the Republican convention next month because he’d rather go fishing.

Former President George W. Bush will also not attend the convention.

Ryan Remakes the Republican Party

Ryan Lizza has a fantastic profile of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

“Ryan’s long-range plan was straightforward: to create a detailed alternative to Obama’s budget and persuade his party to embrace it. He would start in 2009 and 2010 with House Republicans, the most conservative bloc in the Party. Then, in the months before the Presidential primaries, he would focus on the G.O.P. candidates. If the plan worked, by the fall of 2012 Obama’s opponent would be running on Paul Ryan’s ideas, and in 2013 a new Republican President would be signing them into law.”

“Sitting in his office more than three years ago, Ryan could not have foreseen how successful his crusade to reinvent the Republican Party would be… To envisage what Republicans would do if they win in November, the person to understand is not necessarily Romney, who has been a policy cipher all his public life. The person to understand is Paul Ryan.”

Obama Campaign Priorities Don’t Rank as Highest

A new Gallup survey finds that creating good jobs, reducing corruption in the federal government, and reducing the federal budget deficit score highest among 12 issues as priorities for the next president. In contrast, Americans “assign much less importance to increasing taxes on wealthy Americans and dealing with environmental concerns.”

Byron York: “The point is not that any of the goals listed by Gallup is insignificant.  The point is that Americans prioritize what they want their political leaders to do, and right now, the things that are on top of the voters’ list — creating jobs, reducing corruption, and cutting the deficit — are issues that Mitt Romney and Republicans in Congress have been stressing every day.  And the goals the president has been stressing are simply not at the top of voters’ concerns.”

Cruz Leads Dewhurst in Texas Runoff

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Texas finds Ted Cruz (R) leading David Dewhurst (R) in for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, 52% to 42%.

Key findings: “Cruz is ahead by a whooping 75-22 margin with Tea Party voters, more than making up for a 56-39 deficit to Dewhurst with voters who don’t consider themselves members of that movement. There has been too much of a tendency to ascribe any Republican primary upset over the last few years to Tea Party voters, but this is one case where it’s well justified.”

Politico: “Despite being outspent more than 3-to-1, having never run for office and being tasked with penetrating the Lone Star State’s 20 media markets with virtually zero name recognition, Cruz is well positioned to upset Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst Tuesday. It’s a scenario that would send shockwaves through the political elite and embolden the thousands of conservatives from across the country who have descended here to help push him over the finish line.”

The runoff is on Tuesday.

Obama Has the Edge in the Swing States

President Obama “has an overall edge in the 12 decisive battleground states that is measurably greater than his advantage in national polling,” The Hill reports.

“The dynamic, which may reflect a combination of lower swing-state unemployment rates and demographic advantages for the president, is causing stirrings of unease among Republicans, even as they emphasize that it is important not to read too much into the state of the race right now.”

Clinton Gets Key Speaking Role at Democratic Convention

Bill Clinton is “set to play a central part in the Democratic convention, aides said, and will formally place President Obama’s name into nomination by delivering a prime-time speech designed to present a forceful economic argument for why Mr. Obama deserves to win a second term,” the New York Times reports.

Said David Axelrod: “There isn’t anybody on the planet who has a greater perspective on not just the last four years, but the last two decades, than Bill Clinton. He can really articulate the choice that is before people.”

Vice President Joe Biden and Obama “will appear together on stage before they accept the party’s nomination for a second term in the White House. It is unusual in recent election cycles, although not without precedent, for the vice president not to get the stage to himself during a night at the convention.”

USA Today: “The prominent role for Clinton reflects the latest truce between the two presidents, who first clashed during the 2008 Democratic primaries when Obama defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton. More recently, the Obama team has been frustrated by Clinton comments complimenting Romney’s business career and endorsing a different strategy on tax cuts.”

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