From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Carrie Dann
*** Obama meets Gore: As first reported by NBC's Savannah Guthrie, the man who almost became president eight years ago (Al Gore) will meet today in Chicago at 1:00 pm ET with the man who will become president 42 days from now (Barack Obama). The two will be joined by Vice President-elect Biden, and they will all discuss the topics of energy and climate change and how those policies can create jobs and stimulate the economy. The New York Times adds that the meeting comes at Gore's request and before Obama announces his yet-to-be-named picks to head Energy, Interior, and the EPA. Our question: Can Obama convince Gore to publicly start ratcheting back some of the climate change rhetoric since the new administration will have to focus on the economy first and may not be able to move at the speed Gore would wish? While Obama said over the weekend on Meet the Press that a good chunk of his economic recovery plan will be to make buildings more energy efficient, he might not be able to go as far as Gore wants him to go -- given the current economic crisis.
*** Not so lame after all: Although President Bush has been viewed as a lame duck for much of the past two years, it's pretty striking to us how Bush is getting his way on the auto bailout. First, he won the argument that bailout money shouldn't come from the TARP. And now it seems he'll get to appoint the eventual "car czar." (In fact, per the Times, Speaker Pelosi said she hoped Bush's car czar "would not need to be replaced by … Obama, raising the prospect that the outgoing and incoming administrations would cooperate in selecting someone.) Of course, timing is everything and presidential power is still enormous. But Bush's leverage here seems a lot greater than you'd expect from a lame duck. By the way, a new NBC/WSJ poll will be coming out this week, and we'll have some numbers on the auto bailout to unveil on NBC Nightly News at 6:30 pm ET tonight.
*** Sweet Caroline (Ba! Ba! Ba!): The New York Times today advances the Caroline-Kennedy-for-Senate story by noting that Uncle Teddy is pushing (behind the scenes) for her appointment to fill Hillary's Senate seat, and that the eventual appointment is going to have to have the financial wherewithal to win back-to-back races in 2010 (the special election) and 2012 (when Hillary's six-year term is up). While those who are fixated on the fact that the appointment will have to win two races in the next four years are technically correct, keep in mind that it's likely the only competitive campaign will be the 2010 one. It'll be hard for the GOP -- should it fail to stop Caroline in 2010 -- to recruit a serious candidate for 2012, a presidential year when Dem turnout is so much higher. So the idea that two campaigns might scare Caroline is probably a bit over-hyped. What's more, remember that this is New York, where Republicans now hold just three (!!!!) out of the state's 29 House seats.
*** Where Dems made their gains: Speaking of… As things stand right now after Saturday's elections in Louisiana and the resolution of that Ohio congressional race, Democrats will hold a 257-178 advantage over Republicans in the next Congress, which means that Republicans will need to pick up 40 seats in the 2010 midterms to take back Congress. Here's another interesting finding: Before the election, per NBC's Abby Livingston, Democrats held a majority of the congressional delegations in 27 states; they now have majorities in 33 states. The changes: Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, and Virginia went from GOP to Dem; Arizona went from even to Dem; Idaho went from GOP to even; and Kansas went from even to GOP. All the state congressional delegations that went from GOP to Dem were in battleground states (MI, NV, NM, OH, VA), proving that where the Obama operation was, Dems made big gains down the ballot.
*** Just askin': With the news that Freedom's Watch is closing its doors, will any other GOP groups step up to plate in 2010 and 2012? In fact, this becomes a challenge for the new RNC chair -- Republicans need to find another way to fund their campaigns. Obama did it himself, proving that you can beat big money on your own (if you have a HUGE base of online donors). But how are Republicans going to do it? By the way, in this current economic climate we probably won't see many self-funding candidates in '10 and '12, right?
Countdown to Electoral Vote Count: 30 days
Countdown to Inauguration Day 2009: 42 days
Countdown to VA Dem primary: 182 days
Countdown to Election Day 2009: 329 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 693 days
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