POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/15
First Read: “Speaking of the Republican Party, we are currently seeing two different splits. The first is the establishment vs. the Tea Party. The examples here are Karl Rove vs. conservative groups, as well as Haley Barbour vs. the Club for Growth.
“But the second split is Washington vs. non-Washington Republicans. And the best way to illustrate this split is between Marco Rubio (Washington) and Bobby Jindal (non-Washington). As we wrote yesterday, Rubio’s State of the Union response was similar to any speech you’d hear from Mitt Romney in 2012, with the exception of Rubio’s different background and his personal story. On the other hand, Jindal has argued that his party should stop focusing so much on Washington budget battles and should instead focus on what’s taking place in the states.”
“We single out these two Republicans because of the obvious 2016 ramifications. Both are conservatives; both appear to be what the party needs as far as looks are concerned (the party is tired of being defined as the party of white men); but both do represent two different schools of thinking of how to rebrand the party.”
Ron Fournier: “Inside the cozy enclaves of GOP bonhomie–hunkered at the tables of see-and-be-seen Washington restaurants–Republican leaders are sourly predicting a party-busting independent presidential bid by a tea-party challenger, like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in 2016.”
“To them, the GOP apocalypse looms larger than most realize. Dueling State of the Union rebuttals and Karl Rove’s assault on right-wing candidates are mere symptoms of an existential crisis that is giving the sturdiest Republicans heartburn.”
“And yet, the heart of the matter extends beyond the GOP. My conversations this week with two Republican officials, along with a Democratic strategist’s timely memo, reflect a growing school of thought in Washington that social change and a disillusioned electorate threaten the entire two-party system.”
Politico reports that Republicans have blocked Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be secretary of Defense, voting to prevent his confirmation on a 58-40 roll call vote, with one senator voting “present.”
The procedural vote the Senate used required 60 votes. But the nomination will get another vote the week of Feb. 25 and Hagel may have the votes for confirmation by that time.
Chuck Hagel, “known for his unswerving relentlessness both as a senator and as a soldier, plans to stand fast as President Obama’s nominee to head the Pentagon despite a growing GOP effort to defeat him with a rare filibuster,” National Journal reports.
Said a spokesperson: “He could be defeated, but he’s not withdrawing. It’s not something anyone is discussing.”
A Senate vote on his nomination faces a 60 vote hurdle and is scheduled for Friday.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) will not seek re-election to a sixth term next year, theNewark Star Ledger reports.
Said Lautenberg: “While I may not be seeking re-election, there is plenty of work to do before the end of this term and I’m going to keep fighting as hard asever for the people of New Jersey in the U.S. Senate.”
“The decision by Lautenberg, who has been giving mixed signals for months, marks the end of a political era in New Jersey and one that is likely to set off a fierce primary battle as Democrats, including Newark Mayor Cory Booker, jockey for the rare open seat.”
The Crystal Ball has an early look at the 2014 U.S. Senate races.
“The seven most imperiled seats in the whole country are all currently held by Democrats. That includes the only seat in the country where the current incumbent party is actually an underdog: West Virginia, where Republicans are now favored to capture the seat of retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D). Democrats also have very tenuous holds on two other seats: South Dakota, where even if he runs again Sen. Tim Johnson (D) will face a stiff challenge from ex-Gov. Mike Rounds (R); and Louisiana, where despite having a popular family name, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) is likely to face a well-funded and, more importantly, sane challenger.”
“Democrats have a firmer grip on a quartet of other seats, but Republicans should strongly challenge them in all four. Sens. Mark Begich (D-AK) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) have strong personal brands, but they also might face formidable opponents in deeply Red states. Meanwhile, Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) and likely Democratic nominee Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) will be fighting Republicans in more favorable territory, but neither can be called favorites as the GOP figures out its primary fields.”
Mike Murphy: “Unlike his congressional opponents, President Obama faces a merciless countdown clock….The White House realizes this and has come to the shaky conclusion that the President’s best tactic is to continue the campaign theatrics and force the GOP-controlled Congress to bend to his will. Showing the hubris of all things Obama, the White House has forgotten that while he won re-election fair and square with about 66 million votes, 61 million other Americans voted to fire the President.”
“Many of those anti-Obama voters live and vote in the 232 congressional districts firmly held by Republicans. It is terribly naive to think that stuffing e-mail inboxes and presidential hectoring on the stump will persuade those voters–and their members of Congress–to support the President’s decidedly left-tilting second-term agenda. When the President threatens the Republicans in Congress with ‘or else,’ they just roll their eyes and wonder ‘or else what?’ In their precincts, he is not even a paper tiger.”
The Cloakroom: No, President Obama is not overreaching.
Nate Silver told Student Life that he might stop doing his election forecasts after the 2014 or 2016 elections should his projections actually influence the elections’ outcome.
Said Silver: “The polls can certainly affect elections at times. I hope people don’t take the forecasts too seriously. You’d rather have an experiment where you record it off from the actual voters, in a sense, but we’ll see. If it gets really weird in 2014, in 2016, then maybe I’ll stop doing it. I don’t want to influence the democratic process in a negative way.”
Businessweek reports that out of the 535 members of Congress, only five — Rep. Jared Polis, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Rep Bob Goodlatte, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, and Rep. Darrell Issa — are recognized as being fluent in the language of the Internet.
Politico notes Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is staying out of the spotlight.
“Since taking office, Warren has kept the lowest of profiles, speaking only to select Massachusetts media outlets while shutting out the national press save for a smattering of interviews, most notably with the liberal-friendly Huffington Post. For a left-leaning icon and national media darling, the role of silent senator is a sharp departure from her rousing campaign and outspoken consumer advocacy.”
“It’s the same tactic used by other first-term senators who entered the chamber to great fanfare, including former New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.”
Joe Klein: “Barack Obama, liberated from the thrall of electoral politics, has now given us two major speeches to set the style and substance of his second term. Both were powerful; both had moments of high passion, a quality the President kept in mothballs for most of his first term. But neither was daring; neither pointed a way past the rutted politics of the moment. They assumed the status quo. They paved the way to past arguments.”
“We’re citizens, Obama amplified. But most of us aren’t very active citizens, though, and the President never addressed the responsibilities that accompany citizenship. He asked nothing of us. But government isn’t only about taking from some and giving to others. It is about the creation and maintenance of something much larger than all of us–a learning, evolving democracy, which requires an informed, rigorous public. I haven’t heard a politician speak honestly about the sacrifices required for greatness in a long time.”
Roll Call: “Actress Ashley Judd’s movement toward a Senate run against Minority Leader Mitch McConnell makes Democrats in Washington, D.C., happy. But back in Kentucky, for many Bluegrass State Democrats, a potential Judd run brings a different feeling: heartburn.”
“Democrats plugged into the Frankfort, Ky., zeitgeist publicly and privately confirmed those sentiments. The crux of their worry is this: As a celebrity and strong supporter of President Barack Obama, Judd’s position at the top of the ticket could nationalize state and local races. They see her losing the Senate contest — an uphill climb for any Democrat — and potentially poisoning the conservative brand of some state Democrats.”
A new poll shows Judd tailing McConnell by nine points in a Senate match up.