POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/21
Stu Rothenberg: “Ultimately, the Republican Party’s problems go back to its base voters, who participate in primaries and nominating conventions. Many of them are so blinded by their anger toward President Barack Obama, the national news media and their own party leaders that they are willing to nominate the most conservative candidate in a primary, no matter how limited his or her appeal in a general election. And for party strategists, there is no easy solution to that problem.”
Nate Silver: “Among Republican presidential nominees since 1960, in fact, only the extraordinarily conservative Barry Goldwater, who had a score of 67, rates as being more conservative than Mr. Rubio.”
Nate Cohn: “In the best-case scenario, Rubio’s attractive candidacy and appeal among Latinos might allow the Republican nominee to match Romney’s historic performance among white voters and exceed 40 percent of the Latino vote. But while that would have given George W. Bush a clean win eight years ago, a similar performance might only allow Rubio to win by an extremely narrow margin. Demographic changes have shifted in the Democrats’ favor, and even exceptional performances by candidates attempting to reassemble the Bush coalition may no longer prove sufficient to win national elections. From this perspective, Rubio’s electoral appeal isn’t just limited, but dangerous to Republicans. It threatens to stifle the GOP’s incipient reckoning with the party’s appeal and its attempt to build a new and more viable electoral pathway for Republicans.”
Politico: “You haven’t seen a YouTube video of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam berating a constituent at a town hall meeting. You probably haven’t watched him on Fox News… But while attracting scant national attention and eschewing the camera-friendly approach of most up-and-coming Republican governors, Bill Haslam has amassed one of the most extensive conservative governing records in the country.”
Robin Kelly (D) is the frontrunner in the race to replace former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress, Roll Call reports.
“The 2nd District special election remains unpredictable — mostly due to anticipated miniscule turnout in frigid Chicago winter. But it’s clear a combination of strategy, luck and super PAC spending broke in Kelly’s favor, allowing her campaign to control much of the narrative in the race.”
Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D) pleaded guilty today “to a conspiracy to siphon about $750,000 in federal campaign funds for their personal use,” the Chicago Tribune reports.
“About 3,100 personal purchases were made on campaign credit cards, totaling $582,772.58… Prosecutors said $60,000 was spent on restaurants, nightclubs and lounges; $31,700 on personal airfare; $16,000 on sports clubs and lounges; $17,000 on tobacco shops; $5,800 on alcohol; $14,500 on dry cleaning; $8,000 on grocery stores and $6,000 at drug stores.”
“In one of the more exotic purchases, Jackson used campaign funds in the spring of 2011 to pay a taxidermist in Montana $7,058 for two mounted elk heads to be shipped to his office in Washington. This was the beginning of an FBI sting, according to court documents.”
A group of Republican state representatives in Georgia would like to repeal the 17th Amendment and return the election of U.S. Senators to the state legislatures, the Douglas County Sentinel reports.
The proposal requests that the U.S. Congress “begin action to repeal the 17th Amendment. The process would require a two-thirds approval by both the U.S. House and Senate, then ratification by at least three-quarters of the states. Political pundits give the move little chance of success.”
Mitt Romney will appear at the Conservative Political Action Conference next month,National Review reports.
“After he lost the presidential election, Romney decamped to his beachfront home in La Jolla, Calif. But friends say he has become somewhat restless, and he’s eager to contribute to the national debate. Sources say he’ll likely focus on economic and fiscal issues, and that his message will be optimistic.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wrote late last year to the Pentagon with “an unusually credulous query” on behalf of a constituent who saw a news article on Guantanamo Bay prisoners receiving Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, Wired reports.
Wrote McConnell: “I would appreciate your review and response to my constituent’s concerns.”
The article was actually a not-so-subtle parody which even quotes a fake military spokesman: “By allowing the detainees to use the Department of Veterans Affairs, we hope to completely crush their souls with bureaucracy.”
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (D), “the brash spokesman for the city inundated by Hurricane Katrina, is expected to plead not guilty in federal court on Wednesday to charges that he accepted kickbacks in exchange for city contracts,” Reuters reports.
Former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) told the Albuquerque Journal that he has a son born in secrecy 30 years ago.
Said Domenici: “More than 30 years ago, I fathered a child outside my marriage. I deeply regret this and am very sorry for my behavior. I hope New Mexicans will view that my accomplishments for my beloved state outweigh my personal transgression.”
Washington Post: “Domenici said that he kept the matter secret because the mother of the child, Michelle Laxalt, asked him to do so. Her father, Paul Laxalt, was himself a U.S. senator from Nevada from 1974 to 1987.”
Roll Call: “Eight evidently wasn’t enough for Domenici”
A new Public Policy Polling survey finds Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) with a 19 pt lead over Sen. Max Baucus (D) in a possible 2014 Democratic U.S. primary.
Even more interesting, however, is that Schweitzer posted the poll on his Facebook page
Rick Klein: “It’s either the worst kind of Washington fight, or the best kind. The stand-off over sequestration’s automatic spending cuts is peculiar in part because there’s no real attempt to do anything about it. All the focus is falling on who should take the blame after it happens. So it’s the worst kind of fight because something big is about to happen, with real consequences for government and military services, that almost nobody in Washington wants to see take place. But it’s the best kind of fight because at least this time there’s no brinksmanship and almost certainly fruitless late-night, high-stakes meeting.”
New Republic: “Once upon a time, the only way for a pol to cash in like that was to leave elected office in order to become a lobbyist–a nice living, but one that carries with it a stigma that would likely kill any future ambitions for high office. By contrast, a gig at Heritage, the main voice of the conservative movement, could be a good launching pad for a potential 2016 presidential bid. Candidate DeMint could run as a man of ideas, not another pol out shilling for his donors.”
“The problem with that wholesome image… is that think-tanking and lobbying have come to look more and more alike. Just like lobbyists, think tanks can frame policy debates and generate political pressure–for the right price.”
The National Rifle Association will launch a print advertising campaign targeting mostly Democratic senators up for re-election in 2014, Roll Call reports.
“On Thursday, full-page ads are scheduled to run in local newspapers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Maine, North Carolina and West Virginia. They will be supplemented by digital advertising in these states and 10 others, including Alaska, Colorado, Montana, New Hampshire and South Dakota. Additionally, the group has scheduled full-page ads to run Feb. 25 in regional editions of USA Today, reaching parts of 15 states. The campaign is estimated to cost north of $375,000, sources said.”
Newt Gingrich takes apart Karl Rove’s plan to ensure “more electable” Republicans win primaries in 2014.
“While Rove would like to argue his ‘national nomination machine’ will protect Republicans from candidates like those who failed in Missouri and Indiana, that isn’t the bigger story. Republicans lost winnable senate races in Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida. So in seven of the nine losing races, the Rove model has no candidate-based explanation for failure. Our problems are deeper and more complex than candidates.”
“Handing millions to Washington based consultants to destroy the candidates they dislike and nominate the candidates they do like is an invitation to cronyism, favoritism and corruption.”
National Journal finds Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) is the Senate’s “most conservative” member.
“Risch, a former governor, entered the Senate in 2009 at the age of 65. While not a figure with much national press since then, Risch has been a true stalwart when it comes to his conservative voting record, most recently being one of just eight Republican senators to vote against the Violence Against Women Act.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Dick Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) both tied for “most liberal.”
A reporter explains in New York Daily News how he inadvertently created the myth that Chuck Hagel spoke to a non-existent group called “Friends of Hamas.”
“I am, it seems, the creator of the Friends of Hamas myth. Doing my job, I erred in counting on confidentiality and the understanding that my example was farcical — and by assuming no one would print an unchecked rumor. If anyone didn’t know already: Partisan agendas, Internet reporting and old-fashioned carelessness can move complete crocks fast. If you see a story on Hagel addressing the Junior League of Hezbollah, that’s fake too.”
Speaker John Boehner writes in the Wall Street Journal that the deep automatic spending cuts set for the end of the month were President Obama’s idea.
But a July 2011 PowerPoint obtained by John Avlon shows the opposite may be true.
“It’s a PowerPoint presentation that Boehner’s office developed with the Republican Policy Committee and sent out to the Capitol Hill GOP on July 31, 2011… It’s essentially an internal sales document from the old dealmaker Boehner to his unruly and often unreasonable Tea Party cohort. But it’s clear as day in the presentation that ‘sequestration’ was considered a cudgel to guarantee a reduction in federal spending–the conservatives’ necessary condition for not having America default on its obligations.”
A new Quinnipiac poll in Virginia finds Terry McAuliffe (D) and Ken Cuccinelli (R) tied in a head-to-head matchup for governor, 38% to 38%, with 21% still undecided.
With Bill Bolling as an independent candidate, the race remains a statistical tie, with McAuliffe at 34%, Cuccinelli at 31% and Bolling at 13%.
A new Quinnipiac poll in New Jersey finds Gov. Chris Christie (R) with a record breaking approval rating of 74% and a stunning 37 point lead over likely Democratic opponent, state Sen. Barbara Buono (D), 62% to 25%.
Said pollster Maurice Carroll: “Most governors would kill for a 56 percent job approval rating. Republican Gov. Christie gets that from Democrats!”Candidates, National, Politics