Discuss as:

First Thoughts: Obama vs. Boehner

Obama vs. Boehner -- a preview of things to come and why the White House is trying to elevate the House minority leader… The GOP’s plans if they take back the House… First Read’s Rahm Watch… Michael Steele’s Excellent Adventure to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands… Murkowski could still make a move… Joe Manchin’s counterattack… And profiling FL-24.


*** Obama vs. Boehner: President Obama's verbal jabs at John Boehner could very well have been a preview of the next two years, if Republicans take back control of Congress this November. Here are samples of Obama’s remarks yesterday in Boehner’s home state of Ohio: “There were no new policies from Mr. Boehner [in his economic speech last month]. There were no new ideas.”... “Mr. Boehner dismissed these jobs we saved -- teaching our kids, patrolling our streets, rushing into burning buildings -- as ‘government jobs,’ jobs I guess he thought just weren’t worth saving.” The question has now become: Why elevate Boehner? A reasonable response: Why not? As our own NBC/WSJ poll showed, nearly six in 10 respondents believe that Republicans will have different economic ideas than Bush’s if they take control of Congress. So Democrats might as well define Boehner. What else do they have to run on at this point? The White House needs an opponent. Our poll shows Bush might not be an effective opponent anymore, so they need someone they can run against.

*** Boehner’s plans: Speaking of Boehner, Politico is reporting that House Republicans “have held a series of private discussions to plot their first moves if they win the majority in November — with plans to use spending bills and subpoenas to rein in President Barack Obama and satiate their own ravenous base… The plans presently under discussion include defunding some parts of the new health care law and delaying implementation of others, withholding some of the unspent stimulus funds, and using the oversight power of Republican-led committees to investigate the Obama administration. ‘The goal, obviously, would be to make it a one-term presidency,’ said a GOP lobbyist briefed on the talks.” This is going to be a fine line for the Republicans if they get control: Do they really want to be seen as simply an opposition party, even when in control? Over-obsessing on stopping all things Obama might not play well with indies.

*** Rahm Watch: NBC’s Chicago affiliated reported yesterday that Rahm Emanuel canceled a fundraising appearance for Illinois Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson (D) this Sunday. What’s more, we can report that it’s highly possible that Obama -- if Rahm leaves soon (i.e. pre-November) to make his mayoral bid -- would appoint an acting chief of staff to fill the position through the midterms. He would then wait to see what the actual Washington landscape looks like before doing a bigger West Wing shakeup (probably in December). Under this scenario, the most likely interim Rahm-replacement candidate might be senior adviser Pete Rouse, considered one of the rocks of the senior staff. The potential December shakeup would be more extensive than just chief of staff. All of this is being held VERY close to the vest by 44, even some of the inner-circle isn't fully in the loop.

*** Michael Steele’s Excellent Adventure: The period after Labor Day signals the official beginning of the campaign season. Candidates are on the stump; President Obama was in Ohio yesterday; DNC Chairman Tim Kaine was in Pennsylvania. And RNC Chairman Michael Steele has been in … Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. As the Washington Post writes, “The itinerary is fueling speculation that Steele is positioning himself to run for a second term as chairman - and concern among some that he may be spending time on that effort instead of on winning midterm elections.” RNC spokesman Doug Heye responds that Steele has been in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands for “fundraising events for candidates and party committees.” The news of Steele’s Pacific travel comes after Republican Governors Association Chair Haley Barbour told reporters yesterday that the RNC’s woes -- it has only $5 million in the bank, with $2 million in debt -- has cost his committee $10 million.

*** Murkowski’s move? NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports that, according to sources, Sen. Lisa Murkowski might revive her Senate campaign -- and a decision could come by next week. Two options are available to Murkowski. First, she could run on the Alaska Libertarian Party’s ticket. Murkowski sources say she did not personally reach out to that party, but its nominee, David Haase, came to her and made it known he would step aside. If the ALP agreed, Murkowski could get on the ballot. Remember, the party's board already said no, but some are urging them to reconsider. Second, Murkowski could run as a write-in candidate, allowing her to remain as a Republican. The key date: Wednesday Sept. 15th is the deadline for the ALP to notify election officials if that party wants a candidate swap. The deadline for a write-in candidacy is five days before the election, so there is time to develop a strategy if she wants to compete that way.

*** Manchin’s counterattack: The latest evidence that Joe Manchin (D) isn’t a shoo-in in West Virginia’s Senate race: Manchin is up with a TV ad attacking opponent John Raese’s (R) attack ads. The Charleston Daily News: “Gov. Joe Manchin began an ad campaign Wednesday by invoking Robert Byrd and attacking John Raese for running attack ads, entering what could an eight-week war of words. ‘This campaign has just begun, and John Raese is attacking me like he attacked Sen. Byrd,’ Manchin said in the 30-second ad, his first of the campaign. ‘Washington is filled with people like John Raese who tear others down. No wonder we are in this mess.’”

*** 75 House races to watch: FL-24: The Democratic nominee is first-term incumbent Suzanne Kosmas, and the GOP nominee is state Rep. Sandy Adams, who won a five-way primary with 30% of the vote. McCain got 51% in this district in ’08, while Bush won 55% in ’04. As of Aug. 24, Kosmas had $1.8 million in the bank, versus nearly $400,000 for Adams. Kosmas voted for the stimulus, cap-and-trade, and health care. Cook rates it a Toss Up, and Rothenberg has it “Republican Favored.”

*** More midterm news: In California, Steve Poizner tepidly endorsed Meg Whitman… In Connecticut, Mitt Romney stumps for GOP gubernatorial nominee Tom Foley… In Indiana, Dem Senate nominee Brad Ellsworth holds a press conference to discuss domestic policy.

Countdown to DC, MD. MA, NH, NY, RI, and WI primaries: 5 days
Countdown to HI primaries: 9 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 54 days

Click here to sign up for First Read emails.
Text FIRST to 622639, to sign up for First Read alerts to your mobile phone.
Check us out on Facebook and also on Twitter.