By Bonnie K. Goodman
Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:
President Obama campaigning with Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts in Boston on Saturday.
IN FOCUS: STATS
- Obama Supporters Defecting to GOP, Poll Shows: President Obama’s winning coalition from 2008 has crumbled and his core backers are dispirited. It’s now Republicans who stand to benefit from an electorate that’s again craving change. Nearly two years after putting Obama in the White House, one-quarter of those who voted for the Democrat are defecting to the GOP or considering voting against the party in power this fall. Just half of them say they definitely will show up Nov. 2, according to an Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll released two weeks before Obama’s first midterm elections. Yet in a reflection of broad dissatisfaction with politics, just as many people who backed Republican presidential nominee John McCain are either supporting Democrats now or still considering how to vote. Still, McCain voters — to borrow Obama’s campaign rallying cry — are far more “fired up, ready to go.” Two-thirds say they are certain to vote next month…. – Fox News, 10-17-10
- Fox News Poll: Republicans Maintain Lead in Midterms: American voters would give the edge to Republicans over Democrats by a 9-percentage point margin if the Congressional election were held today, according to a Fox News poll. The poll released Thursday finds that 48 percent of likely voters say they’d back the Republican candidate in their congressional district, while 39 percent say they’d support the Democratic candidate. Recent Fox News polls of registered voters have shown a Republican advantage of six to nine percentage points.
More Republicans than Democrats continue to say they are extremely or very interested in the upcoming elections, but this “interest gap” has narrowed. The new poll found 71 percent of Republicans are interested in the election, down from 75 percent a month ago. Among Democrats, 64 percent are interested now, up from 50 percent earlier. As a result, the interest gap has gone from 25 points in mid-September to 7 points now.
It’s a gloomy electorate heading to the ballot box this year. Three of four voters — 75 percent — are extremely or very worried about the future of the country, and 61 percent think life will be worse for their kids. Just 27 percent think life for the next generation of Americans will be better than life today.
Overall, majorities of voters disapprove of the job Congressional Republicans (60 percent) and Congressional Democrats (57 percent) are doing. In fact, by 55-35 percent, more voters think an “everyday American” could do a better job than most current members of Congress. When asked if they personally could do a better job — the number drops to 43 percent…. – Fox News, 10-14-10
- Obama’s Miracle: He’s Making Bush Look Good A new poll shows that people are becoming more nostalgic for the Bush years: Back in April, Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg was fairly confident that Republicans had peaked too early. While Democratic losses would be severe, he predicted, “it will not be another 1994.” Now the former pollster for Bill Clinton is less sure Democrats can avoid a blowout. The reason? His polls show that President Obama’s campaign refrain that the country must “go forward, not go backward” to the past actually loses votes for Democrats.
President Obama has been enamored of the theme that the country can’t afford to return to what he terms the discredited policies of the Bush years. “That’s the mantra that he wants to drill into voters’ heads between now and November,” ABC News reported last summer.
The only problem, according to Mr. Greenberg, is that it doesn’t work. “Though voters agree the economy was an ‘inherited’ problem, they do not like to hear politicians blaming Bush or looking backwards,” he concluded in his study. In an interview with Jane Hamsher of the blog Firedog Lake, Mr. Greenberg went on to say: “I’m really puzzled by Democratic leaders stuck in a message that demonstrably doesn’t work.” He puts it down to the president listening to economic advisers who want him to set a rhetorical tone that “will help confidence to come back.” But so far the only thing that seems to be coming back is nostalgia for George W. Bush. A new CNN poll finds voters still believe Mr. Obama is a better president than Mr. Bush was, but by only 47% to 45%. That’s down from a whopping 23-point margin last year. “Democrats would be wise to think twice before bringing up the name of President Bush on the campaign trail this fall,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. – WSJ, 10-12-10
- President Obama losing support among his backers, poll finds, GOP has edge going into midterms: Has hope turned into hopelessness? More than 40% of voters who once considered themselves as backers of President Obama now say they either support him less or don’t support him at all, according to a Bloomberg National poll Tuesday. With exactly three weeks until crucial midterm elections, voters seem to dislike both parties, but Republicans appear likely to make big gains in the House and Senate….
Though the Democrats hold a 47%-45% advantage in favorability over the GOP, independent voters prefer Republicans six points more than Democrats. For the most motivated voters, Republicans have a strong 51%-37% lead…. – NY Daily News, 10-12-10
- Obama targets key groups in election’s homestretch: Heading into the homestretch of the midterm elections, President Barack Obama is targeting key Democratic constituencies as he tries to energize voters and build up Election Day turnout among his supporters. The groups Obama is targeting mirror those that helped him win the White House: young people, African-Americans and women. A crucial element of the president’s strategy in the two weeks before the Nov. 2 election is finding a way to get first-time voters from 2008 to head back to the polls even though Obama’s name isn’t on the ballot. Obama isn’t shying away from reality: The sputtering economy has created a tough political environment for Democratic candidates.
“When times are that difficult, elections are going to be difficult and understandably so,” Obama said Sunday while speaking at a fundraiser for Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland at a private home outside Cleveland.
Obama was joined at the fundraiser by first lady Michelle Obama. From Cleveland, the Obamas were to travel to Columbus to headline a large nighttime rally on the campus of Ohio State University. The president and first lady have campaigned individually for Democratic candidates in the final weeks before the midterms, but Sunday marked the first time the Obamas had campaigned together since the presidential election…. – AP, 10-17-10
- Obama: End tax breaks to stop overseas hiring: End tax breaks that reward some U.S. companies with overseas subsidiaries and encourage those businesses to create jobs in other countries, President Barack Obama is telling Congress. Yet it’s an idea that has raised concerns even among some lawmakers in the president’s own party. At issue is a bill, now stalled in the Senate, that would do away with some tax credits and deferrals for U.S. companies for operations abroad.
“There is no reason why our tax code should actively reward them for creating jobs overseas,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday. “Instead, we should be using our tax dollars to reward companies that create jobs and businesses within our borders.”… – AP, 10-16-10
- Obama Rallies Massachusetts Democrats: President Obama sought to rally Massachusetts Democrats on Saturday to help re-elect Gov. Deval Patrick, his friend and political twin, whose 2006 campaign of “hope” and “change” presaged Mr. Obama’s own two years later, but who now struggles against voter anger in a weak economy. Mr. Obama, speaking to about 8,000 people in the Hynes Convention Center and more listening outside and in an overflow room, praised Mr. Patrick, the first black elected governor of Massachusetts, in ways that Mr. Obama often describes himself, calling him someone who “represents the politics of conscience and conviction” and who does what is right, not what is easy.
Mr. Patrick’s accomplishments have been offset by stumbles and by the negative political winds that are buffeting Democrats nationwide, eroding his lead in the polls. A recent poll by Suffolk University/7 News showed that 46 percent of likely voters favored Mr. Patrick and 39 percent favored the Republican candidate, Charles D. Baker, a former health insurance executive and state budget official. A third candidate, Tim Cahill, the state treasurer who is a former Democrat running as an independent, received 10 percent in the poll. He has lost ground since the Republican Governors Association hit him with negative advertisements, as Republicans feared that Mr. Cahill was getting support from conservative and independent voters that would otherwise go to Mr. Baker…. – NYT, 10-16-10
- US vows marijuana enforcement regardless of California vote: Federal law enforcement agencies intend to aggressively go after marijuana possession and cultivation even if California voters vote in favor of legalization in a November 2 referendum, US newspapers reported Saturday. The reports cited a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to former chiefs of the Drug Enforcement Administration vowing no let up in enforcement of marijuana laws.
“Let me state clearly that the Department of Justice strongly opposes Proposition 19. If passed, this legislation will greatly complicate federal drug enforcement efforts to the detriment of our citizens,” it said…. – AFP, 10-16-10
- Obama to seek $250 payment to Social Security recipients: After officials announce there will be no cost-of-living increase for the second consecutive year, the White House says Obama will ask Congress to authorize the one-time payment. A key Republican says long-term funding for Social Security must be addressed…. – LAT, 10-15-10
- Petraeus: NATO has facilitated Taliban movement: Commanding Gen. David Petraeus confirmed Friday that coalition forces have allowed Taliban representatives to travel to Kabul for peace discussions with the Afghan government, but a Taliban spokesman said all such talk is only propaganda, designed to lower the morale of the movement’s fighters.
U.S., Afghan and Taliban sources all declined to give details of the contacts, if they are taking place at all. “There have been several very senior Taliban leaders who have reached out to the Afghan government at the highest levels, and also in some cases have reached out to other countries involved in Afghanistan,” Petraeus told reporters at the Royal United Services Institute in London.
“These discussions can only be characterized as preliminary in nature,” Petraeus said. “They certainly would not rise to the level of being called negotiations.”… – AP, 10-15-10
- Marijuana in California: Prop. 19 won’t stop federal drug enforcement: Even if voters pass Proposition 19 on Nov. 2, which would legalize use of marijuana in California, the Justice Department will continue to enforce federal drug laws there, Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday…. – CS Monitor, 10-15-10
- ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska’ may be ‘flippin’ fun,’ but will it be any good?: The trailer for TLC’s upcoming show, ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska,’ is out, featuring themes of family, fun, and freedom. It functions well as a political ad, too. The trailer for TLC’s “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” is out, and it looks like a show that will fit in great with many of the other productions of Discovery Channel affiliates. It features the outdoors, bad weather, scary animals, and lots of roaring machines. Think of it as “Deadliest Catch” with a little politics thrown in, or maybe “Man vs. Wild” plus antigovernment rhetoric. Fortunately there is no dancing. Daughter Bristol Palin is currently on “Dancing with the Stars,” and Mama Grizzly Palin has supported her and all, but American politics has not yet progressed to the point where the ability to tango is considered an asset for potential presidential candidates…. – CS Monitor, 10-15-10
- Obama’s campaigning blitz: It’s about 2012, too: Republicans are poised to topple at least a dozen Democratic governors next month, and that could cause President Barack Obama and his party major headaches far beyond this year’s elections. A cadre of new GOP governors, including some in battleground states that Obama won two years ago, could complicate his efforts to deliver benefits to voters and campaign effectively in 2012. They could also help create Republican- friendly House seats in next year’s once-a-decade redistricting process.
In the final weeks of this year’s contest, Obama is campaigning hard for Democrats coast to coast, well aware of the worrisome signs for the future. So far, his results seem mixed, and some candidates seem wary of him. Democrats are at risk of surrendering governorships in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Oregon, New Mexico and Maine, among others. Obama carried all those states under Democratic governors in 2008. And all will be competitive in a 2012 re-election contest except, presumably, his home state of Illinois. Republican governors already have replaced Democrats in New Jersey and Virginia, states that Obama also carried two years ago…. – AP, 10-14-10
- Obama to hold town hall with young voters: President Barack Obama is taking his message to young people in a televised town hall meeting Thursday. The president will appear before about 250 young people with a cross-section of backgrounds and political views. He’ll answer questions from those in the audience and from viewers submitting questions on Twitter. An Associated Press-mtvU poll found college students cooling in their support for Obama…. – AP, 10-14-10
- Michelle Obama votes early in hometown of Chicago: First lady Michelle Obama has cast her ballot at a polling place on Chicago’s South Side. Obama voted in Illinois’ election at the Martin Luther King Community Center on Thursday. As she left, she told the election judges to make sure that everyone is voting early. Anna Roberts voted near the first lady, and she became emotional, describing the experience as very moving. Roberts says she came to the polling place after hearing Obama planned to vote while she was in town, in hopes of seeing her. The first lady came to Chicago on Wednesday to raise money for U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias and Democrats running for Congress…. – AP, 10-14-10
- Clinton Suggests Conditions on Pakistan Flood Relief: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested European Union leaders should follow the U.S. and withhold further flood-relief funding from Pakistan until Islamabad shows it is doing more to fight corruption and collect tax revenue from its wealthiest citizens. After meeting with Catherine Ashton, the EU’s high representative, Mrs. Clinton praised recent EU aid efforts but added, “the international community can only do so much.” It is unacceptable, she said, “for those with means in Pakistan not to be doing their fair share to help their own people.”… – WSJ, 10-14-10
- Judge acts while others debate Pentagon gay policy: A federal judge’s ruling that the military must stop its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy comes amid conflicting concerns of gays who think the government is moving too slowly to let them serve openly and Pentagon officials who believe that moving too quickly might disrupt a military engaged in war. Gay rights groups have said they are disappointed that legislation to override the ban is likely to languish in Congress until next year, when Democrats could have fewer seats and less power to override Republican objections. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen, the military’s top uniformed officer, have supported lifting the ban on gays serving openly. But Gates and Mullen also have warned that they would prefer to move slowly. Meantime, despite a federal judge’s ruling in San Diego on Tuesday, the battle in the courts over gays in the military may be far from over…. – AP, 10-13-10
- Obama team faces tough politics on gay rights legal issue: A federal judge’s decision to block the military from enforcing its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward gays creates tough politics for the Obama administration. If it appeals the decision — as seems likely — the administration faces criticism from gay rights supporters who say the Obama-ites have been slow to overturn the military policy.
“The president has said this law harms our national security, and we believe it would be a mistake to appeal the decision,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “Each additional day that this unjust law remains in force is one more day the federal government is complicit in discrimination.” If the administration lets the ruling stand, Obama and his aides face more heat from social conservatives.
“Once again, an activist federal judge is using the military to advance a liberal social agenda, disregarding the views of all four military service chiefs and the constitutional role of Congress,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, adding that this should be an issue in the Nov. 2 congressional elections. The Justice Department has appealed previous judicial decisions against “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and may seek an injunction against the ruling that forbids the military from enforcing the policy. In most cases, the Justice Department is obligated to defend laws passed by Congress…. – USA Today, 10-13-10
- Obama utters words ‘tax and spend liberal.’ Republicans drool: In a candid magazine interview, President Obama acknowledges that he made it too easy for Republicans to cast him as a ‘tax and spend liberal.’ The comments could backfire against Democrats. So at a meeting Wednesday morning with reporters, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was at pains to tamp down reaction to comments President Obama made for an interview with the New York Times Magazine that will be distributed this Sunday. In the cover story, by reporter Peter Baker, Mr. Obama admits to learning “tactical lessons” in his first two years in office. He let himself look too much like “the same old tax and spend liberal Democrat,” the president said. When it comes to public works programs, the President said, “there’s no such thing as shovel ready projects.” And he raised the possibility he should not have included tax breaks as part of the stimulus bill and instead “let the Republicans insist on the tax cuts,” thus casting the aura of bipartisan compromise on the legislation. And the story said the president is spending time with key aides mapping a changed course for the next two years.
“There is no post mortem” underway, Mr. Gibbs told reporters. As to the magazine’s report that White House insiders think the administration has a communications problem, Gibbs quipped he was “sort of used to it.” In the magazine story, Gibbs is quoted as saying “I haven’t been to a policy-problem meeting in 20 months.”
Republicans were quick to jump on the president’s comments. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) sent out a press release titled “Obama Acknowledges Stimulus Failures – Does Bishop Agree?” The sub-head read “Twenty Days Until Election Day, Self-Proclaimed ‘Tax and Spend Democrat’ Admits There is ‘No Such Thing as Shovel-Ready Projects.’”
The press release referred to a race pitting incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop, who represents the eastern end of Long Island, against Republican challenger Randy Altschuler. But the NRCC said it fired off a similar release to a long list of Congressional districts…. – CS Monitor, 10-13-10
- Michelle Obama hits campaign trail for Democrats: In her first campaign swing for the November elections, first lady Michelle Obama made the political personal, harkening back to her days growing up in Chicago, recalling the electricity of the 2008 presidential campaign and telling an audience of Democratic donors that her understanding of the issues of the day comes down to her role as a mother.
“You see, more than anything else, I come at this stuff, more, as a mom,” she said Wednesday in Wisconsin. “When I think about the issues facing our nation, I think about what it means. And I think about what it means for the world we’re leaving for them and for all our children. As I travel around this country, and look into the eyes of every single child I meet, I see clearly what’s at stake.”
Her remarks marked her first full foray into the midterm campaign and came in a state where Sen. Russ Feingold (D) is battling Republican Ron Johnson to keep his seat. While Feingold is ahead in fundraising, his popularity has lagged in most polls. Held at the U.S. Cellular center in downtown Milwaukee, the event attracted about 500 people who paid $250 to $500 for a ticket.
In her speech, which ran about 20 minutes, Obama took a page from her address two years ago at the Democratic National Convention, mentioning her family and the president’s remarks that “we all want to leave something better for our kids.”
“I know that was true in my family growing up. That’s why even after my dad was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, he hardly ever missed a day of work. . . . My dad kept getting up . . . because he wanted something better for me and my brother,” she said. “And it was also true in Barack’s family. That’s why Barack’s grandmother woke up before dawn each morning to catch the bus to her job at a bank. And even when she was passed over for promotions year after year because she was a woman, she rarely complained . . . because she wanted something more for Barack and his sister.”… – WaPo, 10-13-10
- Mrs. Obama extols Sen. Feingold at Milwaukee event: First lady Michelle Obama said Wednesday that even though change hasn’t come fast enough for some citizens, it would be a mistake for voters to return Republicans to power next month. Mrs. Obama, in Milwaukee to stump for Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, tried to restore the same enthusiasm that surrounded President Barack Obama’s inauguration early last year. She said people were energized back then because they were hopeful and that it was important for them to re-ignite that passion so the country can finish what voters started.
“This election isn’t just about all that we’ve accomplished these past couple of years,” she said. “This election, Wisconsin, is about all we have left to do in the months and years ahead.” Feingold is facing an unexpected battle as he seeks a fourth term in the Senate. Recent polls show his Republican challenger, Ron Johnson, with a slight lead…. – AP, 10-13-10
- U.S. sees Israel’s ‘Jewish’ demand as legit: The United States sees as legitimate Israel’s demand that Palestinians and other Arab states recognize Israel’s Jewish character, a State Department spokesman said. P.J. Crowley was pressed in a briefing Tuesday about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer to extend a partial settlement building freeze in exchange for the Palestinian leadership’s recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
“What Prime Minister Netanyahu said yesterday is, in essence, the — a core demand of the Israeli government, which we support, is a recognition that Israel is a part of the region, acceptance by the region of the existence of the State of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, and that is what they want to see through this negotiation,” Crowley said.
Palestinians have balked at the offer, saying that recognizing Israel as Jewish should be reserved for final-status talks. Crowley said Netanyahu’s offer was appropriate, considering that the sides have agreed to come to a final-status agreement by next September. He said the Palestinians could break the current impasse in the talks over extending the settlement freeze by countering with their own “core issue” demand. “This is not a one-way street. It is a two-way street,” he said. “The prime minister is offering something and asking for something. It is perfectly within the rights of the Palestinian Authority and President Abbas to say there’s something I need and there’s something I’m willing to give. This is the essence of the negotiation that is ongoing and the essence of the negotiation that we want to see continue.”… – JTA, 10-13-10
- White House steps up attack on anonymous campaigning: The White House stepped up its attacks on Tuesday against anonymous funding of anti-Democrat advertising before the Nov. 2 elections, and shrugged off claims it was trying to distract voters from the weak economy. President Barack Obama, while taking care not to point the finger directly at any specific group, has escalated warnings that big business, and even foreign corporations, are spending heavily to sway the congressional and governors’ elections in favor of Republicans.
“If there are organizations raising tens of millions of dollars who won’t tell us who their donors are, my guess is they’re not telling us for a reason — because they have something to hide,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. “The best way to clear any of this stuff up would simply be to disclose the names.”
Republicans, who are expected to make strong gains in the midterm poll as voters punish Obama’s Democrats for a stuttering economy and unemployment stuck near 10 percent, say Americans care about job creation, not campaign finance. All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 37 of the 100 Senate seats are up for grabs next month. Polls show Republicans could win control of the House and may even challenge Democratic command of the Senate…. – Reuters, 10-12-10
- Obama to college students: Help us in the elections: President Obama continued a series of get-out-the-vote appeals to young people tonight, telling students at George Washington University that, “I really need you to get out on Nov. 2.” Obama also took a series of friendly questions during an interactive town hall that was broadcast to Democratic- sponsored house parties across the country…. – USA Today, 10-12-10
- Republicans Dish Praise for Bill Clinton’s Style Despite Campaign Trail Blitz: Bill Clinton is everywhere. And Republicans don’t seem to mind. If anything, the party that brought you the second presidential impeachment in U.S. history is pining for the days when the Clintons ruled Washington. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said in an interview last month that Clinton “will go down in history as a better president” than Obama. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., a rising GOP star, told The New York Times he enjoys the ex-president and that when he was in power, “the nation benefited” from his moderation — at least in the last six years. Ex-Clinton foe David Bossie, now the head of the Citizens United group behind the Supreme Court decision that tore apart campaign finance law, told The Daily Beast he was wrong to think Clinton was a “radical” in the ’90s. But wait a minute. Isn’t Clinton the guy actively campaigning for Democrats across the country while offering dire warnings about what will happen if Republicans take over Congress? While some Republicans look back fondly on the Clinton years as a time when bipartisan legislation like welfare reform was possible, those in Clinton’s crosshairs have not forgotten his power on the stump…. – Fox News, 10-12-10
- Nine states, 11 days : Obama on Democratic rescue mission: US President Barack Obama will visit at least nine states in 11 days starting on Friday as he cranks up his bid to stem expected heavy Democratic losses in mid-term elections. Obama will also make his first appearances on the campaign trail with his wife Michelle Obama since his 2008 presidential run, as the couple stump at the weekend in midwestern Ohio, a bellwether state ravaged by the recession. Polls show Republicans on course to grab back control of the House of Representatives on November 2, and all but certain to at least decimate the Democratic majority in the Senate. Obama’s trip is a mixture of appearances with candidates and flexing political star power to raise campaign cash and persuade his young and diverse coalition to show up to vote even though he is not on the ballot…. – AFP, 10-12-10
- Obama calls for $50 billion infrastructure initiative: President Barack Obama is pushing a $50 billion plan to upgrade the nation’s transportation networks and create jobs, bringing governors and mayors to the White House to help him make the case. President Obama called on lawmakers Monday to back an ambitious initiative to modernize the nation’s crumbling roads, railways and airports, saying the strategy would not only improve the economy in the long run but create good jobs now.
On the heels of a report last week showing the jobless rate stuck at 9.6 percent, Obama touted his infrastructure plan as the ideal antidote, noting that unemployment is particularly high in the construction trades.
“Nearly one in five construction workers is still unemployed and needs a job. And that makes absolutely no sense when so much of America needs rebuilding,” Obama told reporters in the Rose Garden. “Investing in infrastructure is something members of both political parties have always supported,” Obama said. “There’s no reason why we can’t do this. This is work that needs to be done. There are workers who can do it. All we need is the political will.” WaPo, 10-11-10
- Obama gets book thrown at him: President Obama enjoys books — but not necessarily those thrown at him. An enthusiastic author tossed a copy of his latest work at Obama after the president’s speech yesterday in Philadelphia. The incident alarmed some witnesses, but appears to he harmless.
The Secret Service sent us a statement: The person who threw the book was just an over exuberant person. Our agents observed him throw it, detained him and interviewed him. He threw a book he had written onto the stage hoping the President would read it. He was deemed to not be a threat and released with no charges.
Hey, it could have been worse. Earlier in the program, a naked man — an overweight naked man — streaked in front of the presidential podium. – USA Today, 10-11-10
ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….
- Can Democrats and Republicans work together after the election?: Bipartisanship is in the eye of the beholder, it seems, as Democrats and Republicans ponder how cooperation between them can improve after the upcoming congressional elections. The voting on November 2 is expected to diminish Democratic majorities in both chambers and perhaps cost them control of the House. Whatever the final tally, widespread voter dissatisfaction with the hostile political climate in Washington is evident. Democrats blame Republican intransigence, calling the GOP a “party of no” that has opposed almost every initiative to undermine President Barack Obama’s campaign pledge to change Washington politics. Republican leaders say their opposition is a response to a left-leaning agenda pushed by Obama and Democratic leaders that far exceeds what the public wants. In a new development this election cycle, the conservative Tea Party movement wants to throw out both parties, but its agenda aligns it with Republicans in the heated campaigning. While Obama and some Democrats and Republicans say they hope for better relations after the election, they express different views of what that would mean…. – CNN, 10-17-10
- Whitman has reason to want police, firefighters as allies: Public safety unions have a lot of influence in Sacramento and on voters. The GOP gubernatorial candidate says that’s not why she’d let them keep their pensions…. – LAT, 10-17-10
- Collegians on O’Donnell and Coons: What debate? What witch?: The nation’s comedians are following the Delaware Senate race, but are the state’s college students doing so as well? The campaign for Vice President Joe Biden’s former Senate seat has gotten much attention in the weeks leading up to midterm elections on November 2, largely because of revelations about Republican Christine O’Donnell’s past, including an old television clip where she said she had dabbled in witchcraft and questions about her financial and educational history. After Barack Obama’s campaign famously focused on turning out the youth vote in 2008, political analysts have debated how large a role voters younger than 30 might play…. – CDNN, 10-17-10
- Buck’s remarks on homosexuality loom after Meet the Press debate: Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck suddenly elevated the culture wars from minor player to center stage in the Senate race today when he compared homosexuality to alcoholism in a nationally televised debate.
Appearing with Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in a 27-minute showdown on Meet the Press, Buck responded to a question from host David Gregory by saying that he believed homosexuality was a choice but had limited biological influences “like alcoholism and some other things.”
Buck said after the debate that he “wasn’t talking about being gay as a disease” but also said of his remark that “there’s no doubt there will probably be a commercial on something like that” from Democrats.
Tough questioning by Gregory and a national television audience turned the debate into a significant and uneven test for both men, with Bennet struggling to explain his relationship to President Barack Obama’s agenda and Buck defending a series of campaign flip-flops…. – Denver Post, 10-17-10
- Letting bygones be bygones, Bill Clinton stumps for former rival: Once bitter political rivals, former President Bill Clinton and California gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown were on the same stage Friday to rally voters. Talk about burying the hatchet. When former President Bill Clinton turned out to rally for California Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown on Friday night, the former rivals hugged and made up. Really, they embraced. The two have a bitter political history dating to 1992, when they ran against each other in the Democratic presidential primary. Back then, Brown earned Clinton’s animus by refusing to drop out until well after it was clear Clinton had locked up the nomination. Speaking before a crowd on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles, Brown heaped praise on the former president.
“Let me tell you about President Clinton. I don’t need to say much. Not only was he great in office, but he has been great after he left office,” Brown said. “He didn’t retire to Palm Springs to play golf, he’s out there doing stuff. He’s helping people in Haiti. He’s fighting AIDS.” He cheered the former president for “motivating … the highest angles of our spirit.”
Clinton returned the favor, telling the crowd of screaming students, “I’ve known Jerry Brown for almost 35 years. When we were governors together, we strongly supported to push for green energy … he knew it was good economics when most people thought it was a fools errand.” Reviewing Brown’s history as a two-term California governor, then mayor of Oakland and now attorney general, he enthused, “I watched him consistently choose the future over the present, but not take a meat axe to the present” insisting “that’s what you need now.”… – CNN, 10-16-10
- Delaware race could put hex on GOP hopes: The surprising campaign of Republican US Senate hopeful Christine O’Donnell has charmed Tea Party conservatives, energized voters of both parties, and transformed the traditionally buttoned-down world of Delaware politics into a noisy carnival of witch costumes and intense national media attention. But the candidate, hounded by an old admission she “dabbled into witchcraft,” has not built confidence among mainstream Republicans that she can win what the party had once considered theirs for the taking: the Senate seat held by Vice President Joe Biden for 36 years. O’Donnell’s stark rightward positions and her history of bizarre statements, replayed on television and the Internet, have alarmed many voters. Now, Democrats are confidently pushing back…. – Boston Globe, 10-16-10
- Republican funding surge provides crucial advantage: Some Democrats now fear a historic rout in next month’s midterm election as GOP advocacy groups funnel $50 million into campaigns. Fueled by a surge of outside money, Republicans have begun gunning for Democratic House seats once considered safe and beyond GOP reach — a drive that threatens to reshape the electoral map and raises the specter of a historic rout in the midterm election two weeks away…. – LAT, 10-16-10
- O’Donnell rakes in cash for tea party-fueled bid: Republican Senate hopeful Christine O’Donnell of Delaware may be trailing in the polls but she’s strongly outpacing Democratic rival Chris Coons in fundraising. O’Donnell took in nearly $3.8 million in just over a month as she pulled off her stunning upset in the Sept. 15 GOP primary – more than 10 times what her campaign had collected during her entire campaign previously. The money came from all corners of the country and included many small donations. She said in a finance report Wednesday that after spending $1.2 million, she had $2.6 million in the bank for the final month of the campaign…. – AP, 10-15-10
- Does Reid’s “Tepid” Performance Gives Angle Upper Hand?: Thursday’s one-and-only debate between Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican challenger Sharron Angle was got less-than-glowing reviews from most political pundits and analysts. The question now turns to what impact, if any, it will have on the tight and nasty Nevada Senate race. On Friday’s Washington Unplugged, Politico Editor-in-Chief John Harris told CBS News’ John Dickerson that, in his opinion, the debate was a draw. “You had two candidates who seemed determined not to make big mistakes. It made kind of a stilted performance,” Harris said. “I didn’t find any of the candidates that impressive but I am struck that it was a pretty tepid performance by Reid when what he really needs is to figure out a way to put Angle away.” Harris added: “He clearly didn’t do that with that performance and so a candidate that people said is too extreme to win actually seems in pretty good position.” He said Angle has “even odds” of winning the race…. – CBS News, 10-15-10
- Harry Reid vs. Sharron Angle: huge stakes in first and only debate: The only Harry Reid-Sharron Angle debate is set for Thursday. The focus is Nevada’s troubled economy, but the race is also a referendum on Obama and a test of ‘tea party’ power…. – CS Monitor, 10-14-10
- Sarah Palin advisers prepped Christine O’Donnell for debate: By some reckonings, Christine O’Donnell had a bit of a rocky time at her Delaware Senate debate with Dem Chris Coons last night. She wouldn’t say whether she believe in evolution, described Coons as a Marxist, and appeared to stumble over her answer on discretionary funding. And yet, as Dana Milbank notes, in comparison to recent revelations about her and the national caricature that is the result, her performance was clearly an improvement. If that’s so, there are two people she has to thank for that, and they’re both Sarah Palin advisers: Randy Scheunemann and Michael Goldfarb. They were the ones who took on the job of prepping O’Donnell for the debate, Goldfarb confirms. Palin, in a conversation with O’Donnell, recommended the two men to her, and the O’Donnell campaign reached out to them to enlist their help, Goldfarb says. They spent the day with her yesterday in Wilmington getting her ready…. – WaPo, 10-14-10
- O’Donnell, Coons stage feisty debate in Delaware: A feisty Christine O’Donnell attacked her Democratic opponent but also stumbled in Wednesday’s debate with Chris Coons in their election battle for Delaware’s U.S. Senate seat held for nearly four decades by Vice President Joe Biden. The highly anticipated showdown between two candidates considered surprise contenders featured O’Donnell displaying her conservative credentials that gained Tea Party backing while Coons, put on the defensive at times, generally backed Democratic policies favored by President Barack Obama. O’Donnell’s primary victory over a veteran mainstream Republican candidate last month shook up the GOP establishment, with party strategist Karl Rove even questioning her qualifications. Now trailing badly according to the latest polls, she appeared nervous at the start but quickly went on the attack, accusing Coons of raising taxes and offering a “rubber stamp” to Obama administration policies if elected.
“My opponent wants to go to Washington and rubber-stamp the spending bills” that she said are hurting the nation and Delaware. Later, O’Donnell said, a vote for Coons would cost the average Delawarean $10,000 “instantly” in tax hikes and energy reform costs.
At other times, her attacks were less precise and drew scorn from Coons, such as when she said the influence of a Marxist college professor on Coons’ political beliefs should “send chills up the spine of every Delaware voter.”.. – CNN, 10-13-10
- Karl Rove has $56 million in campaign cash. Where will he spend it?: Two Karl Rove political groups have raised $56 million to dole out to Election 2010 candidates. It could help Republicans at a crucial point in the election cycle…. – CS Monitor, 10-13-10
- RFK Jr.: Dem can’t win in Fla. Senate race: A member of the Kennedy clan says Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek can’t win the Florida Senate race. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says he would support Meek if he thought he could win. Instead he’s endorsing Gov. Charlie Crist, who bolted the GOP to run as an independent. A new Quinnipiac University poll shows both Crist and Meek trail tea party-backed Republican Marco Rubio by double digits, but Meek is further behind…. – AP, 10-13-10
- R.F.K. Jr. Endorses Crist’s Senate Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told a bagel-noshing crowd of Florida voters here today that Marco Rubio, the Republican candidate for Senate, was a Tea Party “crackpot,” “a radical,” and a “sock puppet” who speaks for a “corporate plutocracy threatening to crush our democracy.” It was a compelling, if incendiary description, given not on behalf of Representative Kendrick B. Meek, the Democrat in the race, but rather Gov. Charlie Crist, the newly minted independent. The Rubio campaign immediately denounced Mr. Kennedy’s comments as another example of Mr. Crist going negative, showing “that there’s nothing he won’t say or do to try to win an election.” But the real sting may be felt by die-hard Democrats. Mr. Kennedy, a well-known environmentalist, is the most prominent Democrat to have sided with Mr. Crist in the unexpected battle for Florida’s left and middle, which if unified, could knock Mr. Rubio off his apparent path to victory. Mr. Kennedy said it was a tough decision, made because he did not think Mr. Meek could bring Florida a Rubio defeat. “The only person who can win this race and bring common sense to Washington is my friend Charlie Crist,” he told the group of about 100 Crist supporters…. – NYT, 10-13-10
- The Christine O’Donnell fascination, examined: Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donell is a media darling. Tonight’s Delaware Senate debate between marketing consultant Christine O’Donnell (R) and New Castle County Executive Chris Coons (D) will be carried live on CNN and co-moderated by the network’s lead anchor Wolf Blitzer. Judging from that treatment, a casual viewer might conclude that the race for Vice President Joe Biden’s old seat is among the most competitive in the country. That, of course, would be wrong. Way wrong.
In the Real Clear Politics polling average on the Delaware race, Coons hold a lead of 17 points over O’Donnell. Two other Democratic Senate seats have similar polling numbers.
In Oregon, Sen. Ron Wyden (D) holds an average 16-point lead over someone named Jim Huffman (R).
And, in New York, appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) holds a similar 16-point average lead over former Rep. Joe DioGuardi (R) — best known for being the father of former “American Idol” judge Kara DioGuardi — in the race for the seat being vacated by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton…. – WaPO, 10-13-10
- Schwarzenegger endorses Crist for Fla. Senate: Gov. Charlie Crist lost endorsements from prominent Republicans when he bolted the party for an independent Senate run, but one is sticking by him: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Schwarzenegger made his announcement over Twitter on Tuesday. He summed up his thoughts on Crist in 136 characters: “I endorse Gov (at)charliecristfl for Senate. Great leader, works with both parties, and our country needs someone like him in DC right now.”
Crist was shunned by the Republican establishment when he announced in April that he would run on his own after falling far behind Marco Rubio in the GOP primary. He later changed his voter registration to no party affiliation. Republican leaders quickly pulled back endorsements, including Crist’s appointee to the seat he’s trying to fill, Sen. George LeMieux
“Governor Schwarzenegger has led California in a bipartisan way,” Crist said in a campaign release. “We have worked together on such critical issues as reducing climate change and promoting alternative energy. In the United States Senate, I will work toward bipartisan solutions to our common challenges so we can create jobs and put Florida back to work.”… – AP, 10-12-12
- Angle raises $14 million in 3 months in Nevada: Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle raised more than $14 million in three months in her bid to oust Majority Leader Harry Reid, her campaign announced Tuesday. The cascade of cash Angle collected between July and September is a worrying sign for the Democratic leader, who is locked in a dead heat with the Republican challenger. Angle’s campaign did not immediately release figures showing how much money she had left in the bank for the campaign’s stretch run. Those figures will be released later this week, spokesman Jarrod Agen said…. – AP, 10-12-10
- GOP buying Election 2010 with foreign cash? What Obama’s talking about: President Obama is suggesting that some GOP donors in Election 2010 are using money collected abroad – which would be illegal. But there’s no hard evidence yet. President Obama and other top Democrats in recent days have stepped up attacks on Republican-linked organizations for allegedly using foreign cash donations in Election 2010. Why are they making such inflammatory charges now? Just look at the calendar. Time is short, in electoral terms – the midterm vote is now less than a month away. The Democratic Party needs to do all it can to excite and motivate its own base, since GOP voters are already fired up and ready to go, relatively speaking. Plus, midterms are usually referendums on the party in power. In an effort to try and avoid sweeping losses, the White House may be trying to change the subject by talking up the foreign money allegations…. – CS Monitor, 10-11-10
- Paladino defends comments on gays: Carl Paladino, the volatile GOP candidate for governor of New York, on Monday refused to step back from his inflammatory comments disparaging gays over the weekend, saying that children should not attend gay pride parades because they featured men in bikinis “grinding at each other and doing these gyrations.” “I don’t think that’s proper, I think it’s disgusting,” Paladino told NBC’s “Today.” In appearances before Orthodox Jewish groups Sunday in Brooklyn, the Buffalo developer and tea party-backed candidate created an uproar by saying that children should not be “brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is acceptable.” He also took a swipe at his opponent, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, for marching in a gay pride parade with his children…. – WaPo, 10-11-10
- Manchin shoots climate bill in W.Va. Senate ad: Democratic Senate hopeful Gov. Joe Manchin takes up a rifle in a TV ad to show voters in his coal-mining state how much he opposes his own party’s climate change legislation. Manchin and Republican industrialist John Raese unveiled new ads over the weekend in their race to fill the shoes of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd…. – AP, 10-11-10
- WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama: Washington Republicans “Rewarding Corporations That Create Jobs and Profits Overseas”
Remarks of President Barack Obama As prepared for delivery Saturday, October 16, 2010 Washington, DC: After a decade of hardship for middle class families, and a recession that wiped away millions of jobs, we are in the middle of a tough fight to rebuild this economy and put folks back to work….
I want to close these tax loopholes. Instead, I want to give every business in America a tax break so they can write off the cost of all new equipment they buy next year. That’s going to make it easier for folks to expand and hire new people. I want to make the research and experimentation tax credit permanent. Because promoting new ideas and technologies is how we’ll create jobs and retain our edge as the world’s engine of discovery and innovation. And I want to provide a tax cut for clean energy manufacturing right here in America. Because that’s how we’ll lead the world in this growing industry.
These are commonsense ideas. When more things are made in America, more families make it in America; more jobs are created in America; more businesses thrive in America. But Republicans in Washington have consistently fought to keep these corporate loopholes open. Over the last four years alone, Republicans in the House voted 11 times to continue rewarding corporations that create jobs and profits overseas – a policy that costs taxpayers billions of dollars every year.
That doesn’t make a lot sense. It doesn’t make sense for American workers, American businesses, or America’s economy. A lot of companies that do business internationally make an important contribution to our economy here at home. That’s a good thing. But there is no reason why our tax code should actively reward them for creating jobs overseas. Instead, we should be using our tax dollars to reward companies that create jobs and businesses within our borders.
We should give tax breaks to American small businesses and manufacturers. We should reward the people who are helping us lead in the industries of the future, like clean energy. That’s how we’ll ensure that American innovation and ingenuity are what drive the next century. That’s how we’ll put our people back to work and lead the global economy. and that’s what I’ll be fighting for in the coming months. – WH, 10-16-10
- Axelrod Says ‘More Growth, Jobs’ Will Be White House Top Priority in 2011: White House adviser David Axelrod said generating “more growth and jobs” will be the Obama administration’s top priority next year. “That’s fundamental,” Axelrod said today on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. Axelrod also said the Democratic administration would focus on the U.S. “fiscal situation” and push immigration overhaul next year. “We’re in a tough political environment because the country’s in a tough economic environment,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” While Axelrod predicted that Republicans will gain seats in Congress in November and pledged to work with them, he said tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans shouldn’t be extended and wouldn’t stimulate the economy…. – Bloomberg, 10-17-10
- Sarah Palin says if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, it could lead to Armageddon or World War III: Sarah Palin doesn’t see Iran having a nuclear weapon as a mere national security problem, she believes it could lead to an ultimate world battle between good and evil. The Mama Grizzly delivered some of her foreign policy leanings in an interview with the conservative website Newsmax.com, which will further fuel speculation she is running for President in 2012. “We have to realize that, at the end of the day, a nuclear weapon in that country’s hands is not just Israel’s problem or America’s problem — it is the world’s problem,” Palin said of Iran. “It could lead to an Armageddon,” Palin said, referencing an epic, end-of-days Biblical battle. “It could lead to that World War III that could decimate so much of this planet.”… – NY Daily News, 10-12-10
- Paladino apologizes (somewhat) for gay remarks: Domenico Montanaro writes: Carl Paladino’s campaign just sent out an something of an apology for his recent comments. It might be one of the weirder apologies ever: (By the way, he misspells President Barack Obama’s name.)
I am Carl Paladino, a father, a husband, a builder and a business owner. I am neither perfect, nor a career politician. I have made mistakes in this campaign – I have made mistakes all my life- as we all have. I am what I am – a simple man who works hard, trusts others, and loves his family and fears for the future of our State.
Yesterday I was handed a script. I redacted some contents that were unacceptable. I did also say some things for which I should have chosen better words. I said other things that the press misinterpreted and misstated. I sincerely apologize for any comment that may have offended the Gay and Lesbian Community or their family members. Any reference to branding an entire community based on a small representation of them is wrong. My personal beliefs are:
1) I am a live and let live person.
2) I am 100% against discrimination of any group. I oppose discrimination of any kind in housing, credit, insurance benefits or visitation.
3) I am 100% against hate crimes in any form.
4) I am in support of civil agreements and equal rights for all citizens.
5) My position on marriage is based on my personal views. I have the same position on this issue as President Barrack Obama. I have previously stated I would support a referendum by New York voters. I have proposed Initiative and Referendum so New Yorkers can decide important issues like this.
6) The portrayal of me as anti-gay is inconsistent with my lifelong beliefs and actions and my prior history as an father, employer and friend to many in the gay and lesbian community.
I am concerned with the future for all our citizens, gay, straight, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim and Agnostic. Although I am not perfect I do admit my mistakes. I will reach out to leaders of the gay community to educate me on how to better represent my support for the rights of all citizens. If elected as your governor I will stand and fight for all gay New Yorkers rights. I ask you for forgiveness on my poorly chosen words and the publication by others not involved with our campaign of unredacted script that did not reflect my oral statement or match my personal feelings. Please go to my website http://www.paladinoforthepeople.com to learn more detail about the issues including my staunch support for civil rights for all New Yorkers. – MSNBC, 10-12-10
HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS
- Linn Washington Jr.: “Obama’s Failure: Not Flaunting His Record Of Achievements”: US President Barack Obama grudgingly gets credit for bringing the America economy back from brink of total collapse yet he’s slammed from the left and the middle for doing too little to lower historic high rates of unemployment while the right-wing constantly castigates Obama for just being Obama mischaracterizing him as a socialist, communist and even a Hitler-clone.
While critics on the right and left pound US President Barack Obama daily for not doing enough one of the Obama Administration’s biggest shortcoming is its failure to effectively publicize the many achievements they’ve made.
Far from doing too little, Obama’s presidency “is easily one of the most active in history,” states Dr. Robert P. Watson of Lynn University in Florida. Watson, a presidential historian, recently released an update of his “The Obama Record” that lists 240 Obama initiatives in 15 separate categories including ethics (11 initiatives), foreign policy (28 initiatives), taxes (10 initiatives) and national security (16 initiatives).
On the economy Watson’s “Record” lists 23 items beginning with crediting Obama for increasing infrastructure spending on roads, bridges, power plants, etc. noting that former President Bush was “the first president since Herbert Hoover to not make infrastructure a priority.”…. – Afrik News, 10-15-10
- Julian E. Zelizer: ‘Big Tent’ Already Thing of the Past: According to POLITICO’s John Harris, just as former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has departed from Washington, many of his congressional recruits from the class of 2006 — when he chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — may soon be gone as well.
Emanuel’s strategy of recruiting more Democrats from conservative “red” districts swam against the tide of history. For almost four decades, Democrats and Republicans had been sorting themselves out ideologically, so that there were fewer moderates in either caucus….
This was a big contrast from the state of the nation’s political parties throughout much of the 20th century…. – Politico (10-14-10)
- Stanley Kutler: The Bipartisan Politics of Fear: Mercifully, the midterm election cycle is nearing its end. Both parties, we learn, are planning their “postmortem assessments.” The Daily Beast’s recent headline is a sign of the times: “Why Obama Can’t Lose in 2012.” Plan ahead….
In the 1934 midterm elections, two years after the launching of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, the president and Democrats vigorously defended their programs. No, they had not solved the Depression—not by a long shot—but nevertheless they fought hard to retain their authority. Truthdig (10-13-10)
- Julian E. Zelizer: Why Christine O’Donnell is not you: In a very clever television advertisement, Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell looks directly at the camera and says to voters: “I’m not a witch. … I’m you.” In another ad, O’Donnell says that unlike her Democratic opponent Chris Coons, “I didn’t go to Yale. I didn’t inherit millions like my opponent. I’m you.”
This statement, in a nutshell, is the message of the Tea Party movement. O’Donnell promises that she will not follow the practices of Washington incumbents who believe that trading favors and making backroom deals are legitimate ways to stay in office.
O’Donnell is not alone in advancing this message….
Given the history, O’Donnell’s ad, as good as it is as a piece of political theater, has its problems.
Her website suggests that O’Donnell, like most Tea Party candidates, will not depart that greatly from the GOP’s economic policies of tax reductions, deregulation and the curtailment of government spending.
It might very well be that O’Donnell is one of us, but her party’s economic policies have tended to benefit a very narrow and well-off portion of the population…. – CNN, 10-11-10