POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 12/20

Slight Majority Now Favor Major Gun Restrictions

A new CNN/ORC poll taken in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting finds that a narrow majority — 52% — of Americans now support major restrictions on owning guns or an outright ban on gun ownership by ordinary citizens. Further, 43% say the shooting makes them more likely to support more gun restrictions, up 15 points since the January 2011 shooting in Tucson, AZ.

Said pollster Keating Holland: “All of those numbers are much higher than they were in a CNN poll conducted in January, 2011, indicating that the tragedy in Connecticut may be affecting more Americans more intensely than other recent attacks.”

Key finding: There is a significant gender gap, with 62% support for major gun restrictions among women compared with 41% among men, and an even larger partisan gap, with nearly 80% support among Democrats but only 42% among independents and 31% among Republicans.

Christie Says He’ll Be Ready Next Time

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) told NJPAC that he will be ready if he decides to run for president in 2016.

Said Christie: “I wasn’t ready to run for President this time. If it comes, I know that I will be more ready for it than I would have been this year.”

Obama Campaign Says Mobile Ads Worked

President Obama’s reelection campaign “spent millions on mobile ads that targeted down to the neighborhood level in battleground states,” Adweek reports.

The campaign claims “targeting on-the-go voters moved the needle, underscoring a 2012 that saw the mobile marketing space seemingly toddle towards significantly impacting the larger advertising world… Democratic operatives said they got click-through rates from 3 percent to 19.5 percent during the race’s crucial stretch run when Mitt Romney appeared to surge in late October and early November.”

Concussiongate

In the wake of a report faulting the State Department for missteps in how it handled Benghazi security, The Week notes that some conservatives are turning their frustrations to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, accusing her of faking a concussion to avoid testifying on the attacks.

Atlantic Wire: “The calls for Clinton to ‘come clean’ about her health aren’t unlike when conservative commentators thought David Petraeus coming clean about the affair that ruined his political and personal life was an attempt to wag the dog, even though he did end up testifying … The ongoing narrative from these critics seems to be a step beyond on Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham’s successful prodding of Ambassador Susan Rice on the attacks — these are pundit-class seeds of ‘cover-up’ that go beyond fact, or even perceived fact…”

The Moderate Voice: “And so they whip up paranoia with Fox News viewers, debut a theme that will be continued by some conservative talk show hosts and will be regurgitated up by some conservative bloggers (but most assuredly not all).”

Why We’re Going Over the Fiscal Cliff

Jonathan Chait: “Everybody knows what happens in January. Both sides ought to be able to anticipate it and make the deal they could make then now. Business types have therefore assumed a December deal would happen. If this was a business deal between two rational people, that’s what would happen.”

“But we are not dealing with rational people here. We are dealing with House Republicans. As Republican Tom Cole gently put it, by way of describing his colleagues’ implacable hatred of taxes, ‘It’s who they are. It’s the air they breathe. It’s what the Republican electorate produces.'”

“If Boehner strikes a deal before January, Republicans will suspect he gave away revenue he could have fought for. But if he refuses, the House Republicans will see for themselves what happens. The revenue will go away on its own, over Boehner’s objections. All Obama has to do is continue to make clear he will not under any circumstances extend any tax cuts on income over $250,000 a year. Then he has nearly all the revenue he needs, and he can offer Republicans a deal they would never walk away from. They might try to get that deal in December, but January remains the best bet.”

Norquist Says Vote for “Plan B” Won’t Violate Pledge

The Washington Post reports that Grover Norquist says his group would not consider a vote for Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” a violation of the anti-tax pledge many Republican members of Congress have signed — even though it effectively raises taxes on households with an income of more than $1 million.

Majority Don’t Think Administration Misled on Benghazi

A new CNN/ORC poll finds that a majority of Americans don’t believe that the Obama administration intentionally misled the public on what it knew in the wake of the Sept. 11 Benghazi attacks, with only 40% saying the administration misled and 56% saying they reject that idea.

Said pollster Keating Holland: “But that does not let the White House off the hook. Only 43% are satisfied with the way the Obama administration has handled the matter in the past few months; half are dissatisfied.”

Obama Taps Biden for Gun Control Effort

President Obama tapped Vice President Joe Biden “to spearhead White House efforts to mold new gun and mental-health policies following last week’s Connecticut shootings, a choice that could prove crucial to getting changes through Congress,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Mr. Biden has decades of experience as a senator and is often Mr. Obama’s go-to person when the president seeks to build support on Capitol Hill.”

Washington Post: “White House officials say the eventual package of proposals will likely include some new restrictions on guns, particularly assault rifles, and high-capacity magazines. But they say it will also likely involve measures that touch on mental health initiatives and, perhaps, a discussion on the depiction of violence presented in popular culture.”

Robert Bork Dies at 85

Robert Bork, “a former solicitor general, federal judge and conservative legal theorist whose 1987 nomination to the United States Supreme Court was rejected by the Senate in a historic political battle whose impact is still being felt, died on Wednesday in Arlington, Va,” the New York Times reports. He was 85.

Jeffrey Toobin says Bork “was an unrepentant reactionary who was on the wrong side of every major legal controversy of the twentieth century. The fifty-eight senators who voted against Bork for confirmation to the Supreme Court in 1987 honored themselves, and the Constitution. In the subsequent quarter-century, Bork devoted himself to proving that his critics were right about him all along.”

Booker’s Vogue Profile

Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) gets a flattering profile in Vogue magazine.

“It took Booker the better part of a decade to bring down the corrupt political machine of Mayor Sharpe James. This ugly, bruising struggle is documented in Street Fight, an Oscar-nominated documentary about Booker’s 2002 mayoral campaign, which he lost by a narrow margin. He ran again and won in 2006. Since then, Booker’s constant cheerleading has brought a measure of hope to a city badly in need of it.”

Huntsman Sounds Like He Wants to Run Again

Jon Huntsman suggests to the Ripon Forum that he’s open to another presidential bid.

Said Huntsman: “My gut is telling me you’ve got to clear out all the cobwebs in your head before you even think about anything of that kind. But I will tell you this — I’m committed to serving my country. That’s been my life from the very beginning,”

What is Boehner Doing with Plan B?

House Speaker John Boehner unveiled his “Plan B” to avoid the fiscal cliff — legislation that would raise tax rates on those earning more than $1 million but keep rates the same for everyone else — and scheduled a vote for tomorrow.

First Read: “There are three reasons why Plan B — if it’s a serious effort — seems so puzzling. One… the two sides are thisclose in getting a deal done… Two, if we go over the fiscal cliff (and time is running out, folks), Republicans might not realize the extent to which President Obama will own the bully pulpit in January. After all, there’s a certain inaugural address on Jan. 21, as well as the State of the Union. And three, are enough House Republicans really going to cast a tough vote — raising taxes — without getting any spending cuts or resolution on the sequester in return? And are they going to cast a vote for legislation that breaks a longstanding pledge on taxes that has zero chance of becoming law simply to give Boehner leverage? If Boehner and leadership do pull this off and convince their rank-and-file to vote on legislation that is designed just to give Boehner leverage, it would be quite the political feat.”

Rick Klein: “Boehner’s gambit is either a brilliant technique aimed at strengthening his negotiating position, or a foolhardy scheme that will demonstrate divisions in his own caucus. He’s putting his members on record (or, at least, trying to) in favor of tax rates going up for high-income earners — precisely the kind of vote almost every Republican came to Congress to try to avoid. If he gets it, he shows his caucus’ resolve in the face of pressure from the White House. If he doesn’t, Plan A options will be scrambled, perhaps too late to leave time for Plan C.”

Wonk Wire: Nearing the fiscal cliff end game.

McCain Says Film’s Torture Depiction is Wrong

Sen. John McCain watched the new movie Zero Dark Thirty and said it “left him sick” because it suggests the CIA’s harsh interrogation techniques led the United States to find Osama bin Laden, the AP reports.

Said McCain: “Not only did the use of enhanced interrogation techniques on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed not provide us with key leads on bin Laden’s courier, Abu Ahmed, it actually produced false and misleading information.”

McCain spent 5 1/2 years enduring brutal treatment by his North Vietnamese captors during the Vietnam War and has insisted that the waterboarding of al-Qaida’s No. 3 leader did not provide information that led to the bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.

Christie Plans Big Fundraising Push

“Top donors to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s reelection campaign are telling supporters they hope to raise $2 million by the end of the year,” Politico reports, “a glaringly large figure in the few short weeks since he announced he’s seeking reelection.”

“Sources familiar with the approach by some Christie rainmakers said donors solicited in the past two weeks were told the campaign wants to bring in that sum by Dec. 31. If they can pull it off, it would exacerbate the already daunting challenge facing any Democrats considering a run against Christie, whose popularity has soared in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.”

Person of the Year

Time magazine names Barack Obama as its Person of the Year.

“Two years ago, Republicans liked to say that the only hard thing Obama ever did right was beating Hillary Clinton in the primary, and in electoral terms, there was some truth to that. In 2012 the GOP hoped to cast him as an inspiring guy who was not up to the job. But now we know the difference between the wish and the thing, the hype and the man in the office.”

“He stands somewhat shorter, having won 4 million fewer votes and two fewer states than in 2008. But his 5 million-vote margin of victory out of 129 million ballots cast shocked experts in both parties, and it probably would have been higher had so much of New York and New Jersey not stayed home after Hurricane Sandy. He won many of the toughest battlegrounds walking away: Virginia by 4 points, Colorado by 5 and the lily white states of Iowa and New Hampshire by 6. He untied Ohio’s knotty heartland politics, picked the Republican lock on Florida Cubans and won Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wis. (Those last two data points especially caught the President’s interest.) He will take the oath on Jan. 20 as the first Democrat in more than 75 years to get a majority of the popular vote twice. Only five other Presidents have done that in all of U.S. history.”

Scott Continues String of Negative Ratings in Florida

A new Quinnipiac poll in Florida finds Gov. Rick Scott (R) with an upside down approval rating at 36% to 45% and a majority saying he doesn’t deserve a second term.

Key finding: 53% of Republicans would like another candidate for governor in 2014.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “The rejection of Scott appears to be driven more by policy than personality: Voters like Scott as a person 36 – 32 percent, but they dislike his policies 52 – 32 percent. One bright spot – a total of 49 percent of voters are very or somewhat satisfied with the way things are going in Florida, higher than it’s been so far during Scott’s term.”

House Republicans Call a Tax Increase a Tax Cut

In a press release, BuzzFeed notes House Speaker John Boehner’s office said his “plan B” to extend most tax cuts would “not raise taxes. It is a net tax cut that prevents a $4.6 trillion tax hike on Jan. 1.”

However, taxes would actually stay the same for most people under the proposal, and go up on people earning more than $1 million.

Benghazi Review Faults State Department

“The leaders of an independent panel that blamed systematic State Department management and leadership failures for gross security lapses in the deadly Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya will explain their findings to Congress on Wednesday,” the AP reports.

In a letter that accompanied the transmission of the report to Capitol Hill, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “thanked the board for its ‘clear-eyed, serious look at serious systemic challenges’ and said she accepted all of its 29 recommendations to improve security at high-threat embassies and consulates.”

Clinton was supposed to testify on Benghazi today, but will not appear due to a concussion suffered after fainting from a stomach flu over the weekend. Charles Krauthammer says Clinton instead “seems to have a severe Benghazi allergy.”

New Robo-Poll Firm Launches

Harper Polling launches this week with the goal of putting the Republican party “on parity with Democrats in the field of IVR polling – a term that stands for interactive voice response polling, commonly known as ‘robo-polling,'” Politico reports.

“For several cycles now, Democrats have benefited from a high-volume, relatively inexpensive flow of survey data from the company Public Policy Polling, which takes hundreds of polls in any given cycle checking up on individual races and national issue debates. Some of those surveys are released to the public, while others are conducted for private purposes by Democratic campaigns and interest groups.”

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