POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES- 1/9

McAuliffe Stakes Out Early Lead in Virginia

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Virginia finds Terry McAuliffe (D) leading Ken Cuccinelli (R) in the gubernatorial race, 46% to 41%.

If Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is thrown into the mix as an independent he gets 15%, with McAuliffe’s lead expanding over Cuccinelli to 40% to 32%.

Moderate GOP Group Removes Republican from Name

The Republican Main Street Partnership, a group that has promoted moderate GOP lawmakers and policies, will remove the word “Republican” from its name, Yahoo Newsreports.

The organization’s board of directors voted to scrap party identification from its title and be known simply as “The Main Street Partnership.”

Will There Be an Obama Second-Term Scandal?

David Waldman: “If it is going to happen, history tells us we should be on the lookout starting about a year from now, since Year Six of a two-term presidency has been a fruitful time for scandal. Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky came to light in January 1998, at the start of Clinton’s sixth year in office. Iran-Contra was revealed in November 1986, in the sixth year of Reagan’s presidency. The Watergate break-in occurred in 1972 while Richard Nixon was running for re-election, but the revelations played out slowly enough that he didn’t resign until his sixth year in office, in August 1974.”

Tea Party Fades

A new Rasmussen survey finds views of the Tea Party movement are at their lowest point ever, with just 8% saying they are members of the Tea Party, down from a high of 24% in April 2010 just after passage of the national health care law.

White House Lowers Expectations for Gun Control

A senior White House official acknowledged to BuzzFeed that Congress’ “limited bandwidth” will be a challenge for President Obama’s second term agenda “in the short term in the aftermath of the deal — something that is especially damaging to efforts on gun control as emotions grow cooler each day after the shooting.”

Meanwhile, The Hill notes Vice President Biden will hold meetings this week with the National Rifle Association and other gun groups.

Independents Are Actually Not the Swing Voters

Charlie Cook: “For many years, I have been fixated on independent voters as the political equivalent of the holy grail. But now I believe voters who describe themselves as moderates are certainly just as important–and perhaps more important–than those who call themselves independents.”

Key point: “Mitt Romney won the independent vote 50 to 45 percent, yet lost the election by almost 4 percentage points. For many avid election-watchers, if all that we knew was that Romney would carry the independent vote by 5 points, many of us would have bet on Obama losing the election.”

Charlie Sheen Says Villaraigosa is Lying

Actor Charlie Sheen called out Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa “claiming he was flat-out lying when he said he spent only 3 minutes with the actor in Cabo,” TMZ reports.

Instead, he says the Mayor “hung with him for hours, chatting it up and drinking with a bunch of hot chicks.”

Is Schumer Key to Hagel’s Chances?

Mark Halperin suggests Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is the key to whether former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) will ultimately be confirmed as defense secretary.

“To beat someone, a nominee who doesn’t have a scandal — no one is alleging any impropriety or scandal or personal problem; it’s all about policy. Very rare to beat somebody on just policy, particularly if it stays an inside game. Are there people in Washington and in elite circles who want to stop Hagel? Absolutely. Is the public engaged on this? No way, not now. And the challenge for people who oppose is to do one of two things. Either to get the public engaged and say we want to stop Chuck Hagel. Unlikely. Or to pick off a prominent Democratic senator, who, in the end, says, ‘I can’t vote for this person.’ Schumer is the key. If Schumer supports Hagel, it’s almost impossible to imagine them stopping him from being confirmed.”

First Read: “Hagel’s support, at best, in the Senate is an inch deep and that ‘inch’ would get him the votes he needs. But it wouldn’t take much for the bottom to, well, fall out. This is going to be a precarious few weeks.”

Meanwhile, breaking with standard procedure for a high profile nominee, Hagel gave an interview with the Lincoln Journal Star to defend his “unequivocal, total support for Israel”

Bloomberg Still Sees No Worthy Successor

The New York Times suggests outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is unhappy with the slate of candidates running to succeed him.

“Bloomberg has mused about a Mayor Charles E. Schumer with the Democratic senator from New York, and teased Mortimer B. Zuckerman, a fellow billionaire media mogul, about a possible bid. The mayor’s advisers raised the idea of a run with Edward G. Rendell, the former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania and mayor of Philadelphia, and with Edward Skyler, Mr. Bloomberg’s former top deputy in City Hall… The mayor’s most formal overture was delivered to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, perhaps Mr. Bloomberg’s most quixotic choice for the job.”

First Read: “How much sway does Bloomberg really have though? Yes, he changed the rules to win a third term, but voters didn’t overwhelmingly send him back. He spent millions to win a race that should never been as close as it was. Candidates who decide to fall under Bloomberg’s spell about running ought to take a look at the 2009 results: Bloomberg didn’t crack 51%.”

Gabby Giffords Launches Gun Control Effort

On the second anniversary of being shot through the head by a deranged gunman, former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) and her husband, Mark Kelly, are launching a new gun control effort, ABC News reports.

They write in USA Today: “In response to a horrific series of shootings that has sown terror in our communities, victimized tens of thousands of Americans, and left one of its own bleeding and near death in a Tucson parking lot, Congress has done something quite extraordinary — nothing at all.”

Obama’s “In Your Face” Second Term

Frank Wilkinson says the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary “represents both an affront to Republicans, who have never honestly reckoned with the disasters of George W. Bush’s foreign policy, and to Democrats, who have spent decades crafting foreign policy designed in part to avoid inciting aggression not from abroad, but from Republicans.”

“Obama may or may not believe Hagel is the best person for the job. But he certainly is mindful of the challenge he has just laid down. Unless opponents can restrict the debate on Hagel to his views — real or imagined — on Israel, they risk litigating the disastrous policies that Hagel rejected and his most vociferous critics embraced.”

“An oddly similar battle awaits on the debt ceiling. Obama says that, unlike 2011, he will not negotiate on the debt ceiling. To hold that line, he will have to explain — repeatedly — that spending is initiated in the House and passed by Congress. In other words, the battle presents an opportunity to stick Republicans with their share of blame for the deficit, a reckoning they have evaded as assiduously as the one on Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Beohner Blinks in Debt Ceiling Fight

Greg Sargent notes that House Speaker John Boehner essentially admitted that the GOP’s threat not to raise the nation’s debt ceiling in budget negotiations with President Obama is an empty one.

“Boehner does this by threatening to only agree to ‘monthly’ debt ceiling hikes. But this should be read, if anything, as a sign of weakness. It’s essentially a concession that the debt limit has to be raised; Boehner is merely threatening to drag his feet as he allows the inevitable to happen. But it’s just nonsense. The business community is not going to go for such a course of action, to put it mildly. And it risks dragging the country through monthly threats of default, a terrible thing to inflict on the American people.”

“Ultimately, what this highlights is the utter incoherence of the GOP position on the debt ceiling. Republican leaders know they have to raise the debt limit — they know the threat not to do this isn’t credible, and they need to signal to the business community that they don’t view this option seriously — yet they want to continue to use it as leverage to get what they want, anyway.”

Most Republicans Disapproved of Boehner Negotiations

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds 52% of Republican voters disapprove of the way House Speaker John Boehner handled the fiscal cliff negotiations, a 15-percentage point jump from December when the talks were ongoing.

Among the most conservative Republican and independent voters, disapproval of Boehner spiked from 36% to 61%.

Some Want Court to Resolve Debt Standoff

Democratic lawmakers are urging President Obama “to force Republicans to take him to court over the controversial issue of raising the debt ceiling,” The Hill reports.

“They believe the Supreme Court will have to ultimately resolve the battle over spending now raging between Republicans and the president. But how the courts will rule is shrouded in uncertainty because little case law exists to serve as meaningful precedent.”

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