POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/26

Can Cantor Reposition the Republican Party?

Ryan Lizza has a must-read profile of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA):

“In the next few years, a new field of Republican Presidential candidates will emerge to sort out some of these issues. Until then, House Republicans, who have moved sharply to the right since January, 2011, are the face of their party. They will also determine the destiny of President Obama’s second term, which features an ambitious agenda including taxes, immigration, and gun control. The Speaker of the House, John Boehner, has often shown a willingness to compromise, but for more than two years he has been stymied by a small and unruly group of right-wingers, led by his deputy, Eric Cantor.”

“Cantor is the House Majority Leader, which means that he is responsible for the mundane business of managing the schedule, the House floor, and committees, where legislation is generally written. He has used his position to transform himself into the Party’s chief political strategist. Cantor is frequently talked about as a future Speaker; he could even be a future President, some of his aides say. Since the election, as Republicans have confronted Obama in a series of budgetary battles–another will unfold this week–few have tried as hard as Cantor to reposition and redefine the defeated party.”

Bork Says Nixon Offered Him Supreme Court Appointment

“Robert Bork says President Richard Nixon promised him the next Supreme Court vacancy after Bork complied with Nixon’s order to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in 1973,” the AP reports.

“Bork’s recollection of his role in the Saturday Night Massacre that culminated in Cox’s firing is at the center of his slim memoir, Saving Justice, that is being published posthumously by Encounter Books. Bork died in December at age 85.”

Hagel Battle Points to Future Fights

Roll Call: “The Senate is expected this week to confirm Chuck Hagel to be the next Pentagon chief, but the weeks-long partisan battle over the former Republican senator from Nebraska has provided a taste of some of the biggest national security fights that lay ahead.”

Obama Warns Sequester Won’t Be Felt Immediately

President Obama told the National Governors Association that the impacts of the fast-approaching sequestration “will not all be felt on day one,” but added, “the longer these cuts are in place, the bigger the impact will become,” CBS News reports.

Judd Acting Like a Senate Candidate

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) told ABC News that he “would be surprised” if Ashley Judd doesn’t run for U.S. Senate against Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in 2014.

Said Yarmuth: “My impression is this is something she wants to do, and she is now taking the time to make the contacts she needs to make throughout the state to try and generate commitments of support and in some cases fundraising. She is certainly acting like a candidate, a potential candidate.”

He added: “I think in her own mind… she has made a decision to run and she’s doing the right thing and not ruffling any feathers along the way.”

Coburn Disputes There’s a Deal on Background Checks

Despite reports to the contrary, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) told Roll Call that discussions on legislation to expand background checks for firearm purchases “are not anywhere near an agreement.”

Said Coburn: “I don’t think we’re that close to a deal, and there absolutely will not be record-keeping on legitimate, law-abiding gun owners in this country. And if they want to eliminate the benefits of actually trying to prevent the sales to people who are mentally ill, and the criminals, all they have to do is create a record-keeping, and that will kill this bill.”

Castro Prepares for Transition in Cuba

Reuters: “Cuban President Raul Castro announced on Sunday he will step down from power after his second term ends in 2018, and the new parliament named a 52-year-old rising star to become his first vice president and most visible successor. … In a surprise move, the new parliament also named Miguel Diaz-Canel as first vice president, meaning he would take over if Castro cannot serve his full term. Diaz-Canel is a member of the political bureau who rose through the Communist Party ranks in the provinces to become the most visible possible successor to Castro.”

Here’s the bigger picture: “The new government will almost certainly be the last headed up by the Castro brothers and their generation of leaders who have ruled Cuba since they swept down from the mountains in the 1959 revolution.”

Gibbs Was Ordered Not to Discuss Drones

Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that he was ordered to never acknowledge the existence of the drone program, the Washington Examiner reports.

Said Gibbs: “One of the first things they told me was, you are not even to acknowledge the drone program, you are not even to discuss that it exists.”

Jack Lew’s Golden Parachute

Treasury secretary nominee Jack Lew’s original employment contract at Citigroup included a bonus guarantee if he left the bank for a “high level position with the United States government or regulatory body,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Roll Call reports Lew’s nomination is up for a vote in the Senate Finance Committee this week.

Republicans Losing Message War on Sequester

“The Republicans’ message on the sequester couldn’t be clearer: They don’t have a unified one,” Politico reports.

“There seem to be three distinct camps: Most congressional Republicans appear willing to let the sequester happen since they can’t replace it in time. Others want the cuts to be even deeper. And still others wish that House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama would just get in the same room and negotiate a deal, even if it includes the tax hikes that most Republicans abhor.”

First Read: “So here’s the GOP’s muddled message: First, these cuts could cost jobs and money; second, the Obama administration is trying to scare the American people about these cuts; and third, these cuts could cost jobs and money. What’s happening here: Congressional GOPers are split.”

Roll Call: “The seemingly inevitable sequester cuts that will slash $85 billion from the federal budget on Friday reflect not only Washington’s political paralysis but a bitter lobbying failure for K Street interests across the board.”

Deal Discussed to Avert Shutdown While Extending Cuts

“Already looking past the current budget impasse gripping the capital, congressional leaders are quietly considering a deal to avert a government shutdown next month–but at the cost of prolonging across-the-board spending cuts,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Senior aides to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have begun discussing a bill being prepared by House Republicans to fund government operations through September. Republicans want the bill to extend operating funds at the lower levels set to kick in Friday and to give more flexibility to the Pentagon to manage its cuts.”

“The current funding bill expires March 27, and without an extension or replacement, a partial government shutdown would ensue.”

Voting Rights Act Faces Supreme Court Challenge

“A steady drumbeat of press briefings and messaging events is reaching a crescendo as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments Wednesday in a case that questions whether a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is still needed,” Roll Call reports.

New York Times: “All sides seem to agree that the Voting Rights Act did a lot to make elections fairer. But is there evidence today that the law is still needed?”

GOP Attacks on Judd Could Backfire

Irin Carmon: “I have no idea if Ashley Judd would win if she runs against Mitch McConnell, a prospect looking likelier by the day. I would bet, however, that a lot of Republican men are going to make themselves look like misogynist bullies in the process. For Democrats, a Judd candidacy might be a win-win — if not in Kentucky, then on the national stage.”

Democratic Governors Wait for Hillary

Politico: “Among the Democratic governors who descended on Washington this weekend for the National Governors Association winter meeting, the only difference of opinion when it came to Secretary Clinton was whether she would clear the 2016 field entirely or merely loom colossus-like over the race until, and upon entering, the campaign.”

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

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