From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Julia Steers
*** Yesterday's election results: The two highest-ranking offices up for grabs yesterday
went as expected -- with Democratic challenger Steve Beshear easily ousting scandal-plagued GOP Gov. Ernie Fletcher in Kentucky, and with Gov. Haley Barbour (R) winning re-election in Mississippi (keeping his veep chances alive. Yet perhaps the most significant result last night was in Virginia, where Democrats continued their upward trend by taking control of the state Senate. The Dems came up short on the state House side, but still picked up at least four seats. The House was always an uphill battle for them, however, thanks to redistricting in that state. Meanwhile, the DSCC is gloating about the Kentucky result, since Fletcher was a protege of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Yet McConnell -- unofficially at least -- did try and find a candidate to knock off his one-time ally in the GOP primary, but that failed. McConnell is probably on the DSCC's second-tier target list for 2008. But given McConnell's high profile, look for the Democrats to talk up this race a lot, since McConnell's numbers aren't exactly stellar these days.
*** Angry voters rejecting things: But for those looking for a message from 2007, then answer this question: What does a rejection of stem cell research in New Jersey have in common with a rejection of school vouchers in Utah? Voters didn't trust government with new money to oversee new projects. Looking at these downballot results yesterday -- along with a rejection of increased taxes for health care in Oregon -- it seems the electorate may be showing signs of simple distrust in government. Voters don't think government can accomplish the things it claims it can do with extra money, whether that money is a loan (as in New Jersey), new taxes (in Oregon), or simply shifting tax dollars (in Utah). Is it voter anger or distrust? And how will voters define change? Anecdotally, one can sense the yearning for some outsider white knight when it comes to the presidential but do any of the current candidates fit this mode?
*** Can they keep it to a seven-day story? So here's a challenge to the Clinton campaign: Can it not add any more sound to the fallout from last week's debate? From Bill Clinton's Swiftboat defense, to Clinton herself giving an interview to CNN in which she admitted that she wasn't at her best last week, Hillary's debate performance has been a seven-day story. We're guessing we'll see a dying down of this debate story now that the Republican endorsements of Robertson for Giuliani and Brownback for McCain dominate the process half of the political reporters' minds. It's something the Clinton campaign is certainly looking forward to.
*** Mr. On Message: If there was one thing that struck us more than anything in Giuliani's sit-down interview with NBC's Brian Williams yesterday, it was the mayor's comfort in his own skin. Nothing flusters the guy, whether it's a question about Bernie Kerik or his family. He doesn't miss a chance to tout his record as mayor (be sure to note how easily he seems to acknowledge that may he cut taxes 15 times, not 23, but says, what's the difference, he's still up 15-0) or contrast himself with the Clintons (he was particularly harsh on Bill Clinton, almost as much as Hillary Clinton). But it was the cheeriness of his message that was surprising. For a guy who had a reputation for being combative, he really has mellowed. On the specifics front, some may take his answer on Pakistan and claim he's more reactionary than forward thinking when it comes to his foreign policy worldview. He admitted that it was only recently that he viewed Pakistan as one of the countries that keeps him up at night. Before the tumult in Pakistan, he said it was Iran and North Korea. The Republicans are in desperate need of some optimism from its leaders. Romney wants to be that guy -- and clearly, so does Giuliani.
*** Robertson and Brownback endorse: Meanwhile, this morning in DC, Giuliani will pick up what his campaign is billing as a major endorsement. The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza reports it's none other than Pat Robertson. If there is ONE downside for Rudy regarding this endorsement is Robertson's knack for saying things that force him to apologize; it's been how he's made news quite a bit in the last few years. In addition today, John McCain gets his own endorsement: According to the AP (and confirmed by NBC), ex-presidential candidate Sam Brownback will endorse McCain in Dubuque, IA at 10:00 am ET. The two will then travel on to Des Moines, Sioux City, and then Grand Rapids, MI. McCain's Brownback endorsement would not have been a surprise six months ago, but it seems so now since McCain is not always considered a top tier contender despite his relative national poll strength.
*** On the trail: Clinton campaigns in New Hampshire; Dodd is in Iowa, where he has meetings throughout the day; Giuliani heads to South Carolina; Huckabee spends his day in Iowa; McCain is in Iowa and Michigan; Obama, in Iowa, delivers what his campaign is billing as a major address on "reclaiming the American dream"; Richardson fundraises in Maryland; Romney stumps in South Carolina; and Thompson also campaigns in South Carolina, and then later hits the CMA Awards in Nashville. Also, Bill Clinton speaks in Chicago and Detroit; Michelle Obama visits Minneapolis; and Ann Romney is in Iowa.
Countdown to Iowa: 57 days
Countdown to New Hampshire: 62 days
Countdown to Michigan: 69 days
Countdown to Nevada and SC GOP primary: 73 days
Countdown to SC Dem primary: 80 days
Countdown to Florida: 83 days
Countdown to Tsunami Tuesday: 90 days
Countdown to Election Day 2008: 363 days
Countdown to Inauguration Day 2009: 440 days
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