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First thoughts: Nationalize this

Obama video asks supporters for their help in the midterms… Keeping track of the next five weeks in politics… Will Senate Dems get 60 votes to move forward on the financial reform bill?... Trying to make sense of Lindsey Graham's reversal (on energy and immigration)… Why both political parties didn't want to move on immigration until 2011… Profiling potential SCOTUS candidate Jennifer Granholm… The Giannoulias bank failure… And wrapping up the Lincoln-vs.-Halter and Grayson-vs.-Paul debates.

From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg
*** Nationalize this: This morning, the Democratic National Committee and Organizing for America (Obama's 13 million-member grassroots email list) will be blasting out a video of President Obama asking supporters for their help in the 2010 midterm elections. In particular, the Democrats are hoping to mobilize the so-called "Obama surge voters" -- young voters, minority voters, and often first-time voters who turned out in 2008. Dems were unsuccessful in getting these folks to the polls in last year's New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial contests and in this year's special Senate election in Massachusetts. The White House and the DNC are embracing the 2010 midterms as referendum on Obama. But will the candidates follow suit? Not every Democrat running wants the midterms nationalized, and this will lead to some disagreements. But as recent history suggests, going local doesn't always work in wave elections. This is a page from the '02 Bush playbook, in which the GOP embraced the nationalization of the election. Of course, this isn't 2002…

*** The next five weeks: Between now and Memorial Day, there will enough events on the calendar to keep the political world plenty busy. Here's a helpful clip-and-save calendar to keep track of them all:
April 30: Florida's filing deadline (will Charlie Crist, as expected, make an indie bid?)
May 4: OH, IN, and NC primaries
May 6: Parliamentary elections in Britain
May 7: April's job numbers are released
May 8: UT GOP convention
May 11: NE and WV primaries
May 18: Super Senate Tuesday: AR, KY, and PA primaries, plus PA-12 special election
May 22: Special congressional election in Hawaii
In Between: We'll likely see final action of the financial reform legislation, Obama's SCOTUS pick, maybe work on immigration, and movement on energy/climate change (though that's less likely with Lindsey Graham pulling his support). Phew.

*** Showdown in the Senate: Speaking of the financial reform legislation, we're expected to see a procedural vote to bring the bill to the Senate floor; it needs 60 votes to pass. And right now, it's unclear whether Democrats will be able to convince at least one Republican to get to 60. The Washington Post: "Despite optimism on both sides that a bipartisan compromise will emerge, the lack of a deal has increased the chances of at least a temporary showdown between the two parties… 'It's my expectation that we will not go forward with this partisan bill tomorrow,' Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on 'Fox News Sunday.' 'It's not ready yet.'" More from another Republican: "'I think that nothing happens between now and tomorrow, that the Democrats will not get cloture,' Sen. Richard C. Shelby (Ala.) said" on NBC's Meet the Press. Democrats believe they can win the P.R. argument on this one if the Senate Republicans stay united and keep the bill from getting to the floor. Some Republican political strategists are nervous about looking protective of Wall Street. We'll see.

*** Lindsey's reversal: Turning to energy and immigration, was anyone else a bit confused by GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham's decision to pull his support from the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman energy/climate change bill that was supposed to be introduced today -- because Democrats appear to be moving forward first on immigration? After all, back in a March interview, Graham criticized Obama for not leading on immigration. But now he's upset they might move ahead on the issue this year? And why did he wait to say this until after the Arizona bill became law, versus a couple of weeks ago when Harry Reid told Latinos in Nevada that he wanted to move on immigration? The pro-immigration reform group America's Voice is alleging that Graham wants to save his friend, John McCain, from having to vote on the immigration legislation. "With the primary scheduled for late August, Graham does not want to subject his friend to a 'tough vote' this summer," the group said. "So he decided to blame the president, slow walk the immigration bill, and gear up on climate change." Still, Graham is the one GOPer even remotely close to the White House on energy and immigration, so he's holding a lot of cards right now.

*** You know what they say about best laid plans…: Believe it or not, but neither political party really wanted to deal with immigration this year. The White House had been signaling early 2011, and that was a timetable that Republican leaders seemed to have preferred. And there are PLENTY of swing district and swing state Democrats that didn't want to take that same tough vote on immigration in a midterm year as well. But a few things happened. First was the less-publicized promise by Reid, which had election-year decision written all over it. Then, of course, was the real trigger -- the new Arizona law. While long term, there seems to be agreement that an immigration debate potentially polarizes Hispanics against the GOP helping Democrats in a presidential year, it's a mixed bag -- at best -- for both parties in a midterm.

*** Meet Jennifer Granholm: In our latest look at potential SCOTUS replacements, we profile term-limited Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D), who has served in that post since 2003. Before that, she was Michigan's attorney general, worked as a federal prosecutor, and clerked for 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Damon Keith. Among her pros (from the White House's perspective): Like Janet Napolitano, whom we profiled on Friday, Granholm is a politician, and she'd bring a different perspective to the court; in fact, she'd be the first non-judge to be elevated to the court since 1972… She's pro-choice (but while governor to signed a bill giving pregnant women considering abortion the option of viewing ultrasound pictures)… And she appears to have good relations with Team Obama (due to her beauty-pageant past, good looks, and considerable debating skills, she played the part of Sarah Palin for Joe Biden's VP debate practice).

*** Granholm's pros and cons: Among her cons: Granholm has never been a judge or a law scholar, so there is no track record about her judicial philosophy… Given that Michigan has the highest unemployment rate in the nation (at 14.1%), critics might seize on that to evaluate her tenure as governor… And she endorsed Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential primary season… Here's one other thing worth knowing about Granholm: If selected and confirmed, she would be the first Supreme Court justice to be born outside of the United States since Felix Frankfurter (who was born in Vienna, Austria)

*** Bank on it: We really didn't see either the Democratic or Republican parties make much noise over the failure of Alexi Giannoulias' family bank, which occurred on Friday. Why? Because both Alexi and the GOP have the same short-term strategy: Don't make a huge political deal over this now. The rationale: It could lead to candidate replacement talk. The quicker this goes away the better for both Alexi (who can hunker down) and the GOP (which can still run against the same flawed candidate). That said, the Giannoulias campaign is going up with its first TV ad, and it takes the bank's failure head on. "If a business like my father's, that he started 30 years ago, can fail, it's happening everywhere," Giannoulias says in the ad. "People want someone who's going to fight for them, someone who's been through tough times, someone who's seen, looked at those problems in the face and continues to move on and continues to fight and to struggle for people."

*** Super Senate Tuesday (debate wrap): The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Friday's Lincoln-Halter debate: "Halter said he thinks it was unseemly for Sen. Blanche Lincoln to accept contributions from Goldman Sachs, since it represents 'the very folks you're supposed to regulate.' Lincoln countered that she no longer is accepting contributions from Goldman Sachs and that she recently presented the 'toughest reform bill on Wall Street that anyone has seen.' Halter also said Friday he would have voted against the $700 billion bailout of the nation's banks that Lincoln supported in 2008." The AP covers the second Lincoln-Halter debate on Saturday. "Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Lt. Gov. Bill Halter exchanged some of their most heated charges on unions and negative campaigning." And here's the write-up on Friday's Grayson-vs.-Paul debate: Paul called Grayson a liar for telling voters he's pro-choice, and Grayson called Paul a hypocrite for campaigning against federal earmarks while taking money from people tied to companies that have received them."

Countdown to IN, NC, and OH primaries: 8 days
Countdown to NE and WV primaries: 15 days
Countdown to AR, KY, OR and PA primaries, and PA-12 special: 22 days
Countdown to HI special election: 26 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 190 days

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