POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 1/7

Boehner Coup Attempt Larger Than Previously Known

A concerted effort to oust House Speaker John Boehner “was under way the day of his re-election to the position, but participants called it off 30 minutes before the House floor vote,” Roll Call reports.

“A group of disaffected conservatives had agreed to vote against the Ohio lawmaker if they could get at least 25 members to join the effort. But one member, whose identity could not be verified, rescinded his or her participation the morning of the vote, leaving the group one person short of its self-imposed 25-member threshold. Only 17 votes against Boehner were required to force a second ballot, but the group wanted to have insurance.”

“Even with 24 members, the group would easily have been able to force a second ballot round, but the effort was aborted in frenetic discussions on the House floor.”

GOP Dissension Over Debt-Ceiling Strategy

“There are early signs of division within the Republican Party over how to approach the upcoming debate over raising the federal debt ceiling,” the Washington Post reports.

“On Friday, a top Senate Republican signaled that members of his party should be prepared to play hardball and be willing to accept the kind of consequences in each previous fight they’ve threatened but managed to avoid… But other Republicans counseled caution, warning that pressure from the business community and the public to raise the $16.4 trillion federal borrowing limit renders untenable any threats not to do so and will weaken the GOP’s hand if their stance is perceived to be a bluff.”

Hagel Pick Could Come Monday

President Obama will nominate former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) to be his defense secretary, and an announcement could come on Monday, Reuters reports.

“The choice will likely set up a confirmation battle in the Senate over whether the former Nebraska senator strongly supports key U.S. ally Israel. Hagel also has been criticized for comments he made questioning the effectiveness of sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program.”

Marc Ambinder: Why Hagel?

Conservatives Annoyed by Christie

Maggie Haberman looks at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) slam of House Republicans last week and notes his tone is starting to get on the nerves of conservatives nationally.

“It was vintage Christie — and then some — as he recounted how his calls to Boehner went unanswered, and it articulated clearly a frustration with a dysfunctional Washington system that polls show most Americans share. But it laid stark just how divergent the needs of his reelection bid in New Jersey are from the realities of a potential presidential run in a party that’s tacked hard right not just on social issues but on spending and deficit reduction.”

“Local media and elected officials, along with some national pundits, heaped praise on the governor, who spoke with characteristic bluntness… Still, Christie hit some headwinds nationally from conservatives — including Christie fans — who thought he may have gone overboard hitting an already-diminished national Republican brand. On the party’s right flank, some telegraphed a clear sentiment that Christie’s straight-talking truth teller act had worn on them.”

Divided GOP Faces Big Battles Ahead

“The Republican Party seems as divided and angry as ever,” the AP reports.

New York Times: “From Mitt Romney’s loss on Election Day through the recent tax fight that shattered party discipline in the House of Representatives, Republicans have seen the foundations of their political strategy called into question, stirring a newly urgent debate about how to reshape and redefine their party.”

“At issue immediately is whether that can be achieved through a shift in tactics and tone, or will instead require a deeper rethinking of the party’s longtime positions on bedrock issues like guns and immigration… The coming legislative battles are certain to expose even more division in the party. And with establishment Republicans and Tea Party activists at times speaking as if they are from different parties altogether, concern is spreading throughout the ranks that things could get worse before they get better.”

The Los Angeles Times says the recent budget battles have exposed a divide between the GOP’s solid Southern base and the rest of the country.

Obama Mulls Far Broader Gun Control

The White House “is weighing a far broader and more comprehensive approach to curbing the nation’s gun violence than simply reinstating an expired ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition,” the Washington Post reports.

The measures “would require universal background checks for firearm buyers, track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthen mental health checks, and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors.”

Key point: “To sell such changes, the White House is developing strategies to work around the National Rifle Association that one source said could include rallying support from Wal-Mart and other gun retailers for measures that would benefit their businesses.”

Super PACs to Play Big Role in 2013 Races

“Get ready for what could very well be the most expensive gubernatorial elections ever,”Politico reports.

“As if the national profiles of the expected candidates in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races weren’t enough to draw bundles of cash, the new campaign finance structure has state-based and national outside groups considering pouring millions of dollars into these key off-presidential year races.”

“Super PACs, once widely thought to be limited to federal campaigns, are now expected to play on the state level after a series of court decisions effectively rendered state laws restricting independent groups moot. Tax-exempt nonprofits that don’t have to disclose donors — including big names like Americans for Prosperity and American Bridge 21st Century — are also considering directing their flood of money down to the state level for these races, while a secretive nonprofit supporting New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie has already run ads praising his work.”

Obama Will Hit the Road in Battles with GOP

President Obama “intends to take a confrontational approach with Republicans in future economic battles by using the same campaign-style events the White House saw as effective in the ‘fiscal-cliff’ fight,” The Hill reports.

“Many in Obama’s party believe that he got the upper hand in the recent deal to avoid the mixture of across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts, and that the aggressive approach helped build his public case.”

The reasons: “his successful reelection; polling suggesting public support for many of his positions; and division among Republicans on Capitol Hill.”

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