The GOP’s Virginia Problem

“In the eyes of party strategists, Virginia’s off-year elections represent a first opportunity to bounce back from the losses of 2012 – a chance to reset the political debate in a critical swing state, send off popular Gov. Bob McDonnell on a high note and deliver a national message about the direction of the Republican Party,” Politico reports.

“If only the Republican state legislature, local conservative leadership and de facto gubernatorial nominee could stick to the talking points. Instead, national Republicans fear the true believers in Richmond could shout down their fledgling message of prudence and moderation in a state that’s easy prey for much of the political media.”

Lawmaker Retools “Don’t Say Gay” Bill

Tennessee state Sen. Stacey Campfield’s (R) new version of his “Classroom Protection Act” allows counseling of students on homosexuality, but calls for notification of a youth’s parents when counseling occurs, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports.

The bill also prohibits in grades kindergarten through eight “classroom instruction, course materials or other informational resources that are inconsistent with natural human reproduction.”

Lawmaker Compares Health Exchange to Holocaust

As the debate over Idaho’s proposed state health insurance exchange heats up, state Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll (R) compared the role of insurance companies to “the Jews boarding the trains to concentration camps,” saying the federal government is using private insurers and in the future will “pull the trigger” on them, the Idaho Spokesman-Review reports.

Nuxoll defended the analogy: “I felt badly for the Jews – it wasn’t just Jews, but Jews, and Christians, and Catholics, and priests. My thing was they didn’t know what was going on. The insurance companies are not realizing what’s going to end up in their demise.”


A Bad Day for Hagel

National Journal says Chuck Hagel “fumbled badly” at his Senate confirmation hearing today.

“The strong, silent-type approach worked for the Nebraska Republican when he was on the other side of the firing line, just one of a gauntlet of senators asking questions, but it wasn’t working on Thursday, with him in the hot seat before the Senate’s Armed Services Committee and getting it from all sides–from some Democrats and a battery of hostile Republicans–who began by praising his service to the nation and then proceeded to eviscerate him. During the daylong hearings, Hagel appeared to lose Republican after Republican, and even a couple of Democrats, including New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, looked a little doubtful. Hagel’s manner and responses did little to reassure anyone, it seemed, about his toughness on Iran and firmness on Israel.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “Fortunately for Hagel, it almost certainly doesn’t matter. Spending a few hours on the defensive isn’t likely to sink his nomination — unless it was already doomed.”

Politico reports that Hagel’s answers prompted Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to announce he would oppose Hagel’s nomination.

Geraldo Rivera May Run for Senate

Television personality and radio host Geraldo Rivera told his listeners that he’s “truly contemplating” a run for U.S. Senate in New Jersey, The Hill reports.

Said Rivera: “I mention this only briefly, fasten your seat belt. I mentioned this only briefly to my wife…but I am and I’ve been in touch with some people in the Republican Party in New Jersey. I am truly contemplating running for Senate against Frank Lautenberg or Cory Booker in New Jersey.”

McCain Clashes with Hagel

Sen. McCain (R-Ariz.) “grew irate” when former Sen. Chuck Hagel at his confirmation hearing to be defense secretary “wouldn’t say whether he believed the 2007 troop surge in Iraq helped stabilize that country,” Politico reports.

McCain: “Are you going to answer the question? Let the record show that you refused to answer the question.”

Hagel: “I’m not going to give you a yes or no. I’ll defer that judgment to history.”

McCain: “History has already made a judgment on the surge, and you’re on the wrong side of it.”

McCain said later he might oppose Hagel’s nomination because of his refusal to give him a direct response.

NRA Takes Congress

Dana Milbank: “When he and his colleagues stepped off the elevator in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Wednesday morning and found TV cameras waiting in the hallway, LaPierre’s bodyguards swung into action. One of them, in blatant violation of congressional rules, bumped and body-checked journalists out of the way so they couldn’t film LaPierre or question him as he walked. ‘You don’t have jurisdiction here!’ a cameraman protested as an NRA goon pushed him against a wall. After the melee, congressional officials informed the NRA officials that, in the halls of Congress, they had to follow congressional procedures — which prohibit manhandling. This must have come as a surprise to the gun lobbyists, whose swagger seems to suggest that they are, in fact, in control of Congress.”

Majority Say Government Threatens Personal Freedoms

A new Pew Research survey finds “trust in the federal government remains mired near a historic low, while frustration with government remains high. And for the first time, a majority of the public says that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms.”

The poll found shows “that 53% think that the federal government threatens their own personal rights and freedoms while 43% disagree.”

Why the White House Takes Petitions Seriously

Michael Scherer: “Once upon a time, Presidents could talk to the whole nation at will. Thirty years ago, 50 million people watched the nightly news on TV. Now not even half that many do. And whole segments of the public have walled themselves off. How can Obama reach Rush Limbaugh’s audience, except through Rush Limbaugh? How does he talk to his friends and opponents who care passionately about public policy but would never tune in to the State of the Union or even his Inaugural Address?”

“This was the thought that helped launch the petition system, We the People, back in September of 2011. It started as little more than a whiteboard jot in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, a simple idea to get millions of Americans to contribute to the White House website…  It still doesn’t matter how silly or challenging the request. All that matters is that it is on a subject federal government can do something about. All that matters is that it motivates multitudes.”

Not the Way to Handle a Political Crisis

A good observation from First Read:

“Menendez violated a cardinal rule of Crisis Management 101: In this denial, he repeated the charge against him. It may seem like a small thing, but the fact is no major news organization — including ours — has been able to confirm any of the allegations on the prostitution stuff. And the evidence right now is so tenuous on the prostitution allegation that we decided it was irresponsible to even allude to it by saying ‘there are reports,’ etc. However, the senator’s statement about the prostitution allegations has resulted in a lot of bad press on this front — more than he would have gotten simply for his connection to the donor/friend under investigation.”

Immigration Reform Rides on Rubio

David Drucker: “The fate of an immigration overhaul rests almost exclusively with Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican whose star power with conservatives is crucial to moving a bill through Congress.”

“President Barack Obama retains veto power, and Democrats hold the Senate floor. But no comprehensive immigration changes are likely to pass Congress without the healthy support of House Republicans. And Florida’s junior senator, perhaps more than any other Republican serving in Washington today, has the political credibility and communication skills to sell such complicated, sensitive legislation to skeptical conservative members, grass-roots voters and influential media commentators.”

Second Acts for Al Gore and John Kerry

Two former Democratic presidential nominees are in the news: John Kerry was just confirmed as Secretary of State and Al Gore is making the interview rounds for his new book and answering questions about the sale of his Current TV to Al Jazeera.

First Read: “As the saying goes, there are always second acts in politics. And it’s interesting to see the two VERY different paths Kerry and Gore have taken. The other aspect of watching these two men who both came so close to the presidency: Kerry appears to be the same guy he was in 2004. Gore, on the other hand, seems quite different.”

Hagel’s Odds

First Read looks at Chuck Hagel’s chances of being confirmed as Secretary of Defense and notes that as of right now, “there’s at least one Republican (Thad Cochran) who’s planning to vote for his former GOP colleague. That’s 56 votes, which is enough for majority passage but not enough to prevent a filibuster. But do Republicans really pursue a filibuster against their former colleague? Talk about some story if they do.”

“All that said, Hagel also has little margin for error. A bad performance today could undo all the positive momentum his nomination has had over the past couple of weeks. Bottom line: As long as there are no surprises, Hagel is likely to make it. But it also isn’t going to be easy. The most contentious questioning today is likely to come from GOP Sens. Jim Inhofe, John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz.”

Menendez Says He Reimbursed Donor for Flights

Sen. Robert Menendez’s (D-NJ) office said last night that he “reimbursed a prominent Florida political donor $58,500 for the full cost of two of three trips Menendez took on the donor’s plane to the Dominican Republic in 2010,” the AP reports.

“Details of Menendez’s trips emerged as his office said unsubstantiated allegations that the senator engaged in sex with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic are false.”

NBC News reports the reimbursement came only after an ethics complaint was filed against Menenedez.

Cuccinelli Echoes Romney’s “47 percent” Remarks

The Washington Post gets an early copy of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s (R) new book which doesn’t hit stores until Feb. 12.

In The Last Line of Defense: The New Fight for American Liberty, Cuccinelli “uses language akin to Mitt Romney’s famous ’47 percent’ comment. The Republican presidential candidate had suggested that a share of the electorate was so dependent on government hand-outs that it would never vote for him.”

“Romney’s words, captured on a hidden camera, helped sink his campaign. Time will tell how the similar language plays for Cuccinelli, who unlike Romney has never been accused of trying to pass himself off as a moderate. In his case, he wants voters to hear it.”

Explore posts in the same categories: Candidates, National, Politics

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