What we’re watching for at today’s White House news conference at 11:00 am ET… Robert Gibbs to appear on “Daily Rundown”… Voinovich to help break GOP filibuster on small business bill… Today’s Rahm Watch: Does he get to wait until November to make his mayoral decision? Maybe so… Profiling the undecided… Meg Whitman ad uses Bill Clinton (in ’92) against Jerry Brown… Profiling LA-2… And Lincoln and Boozman debate in Arkansas.
From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro
*** What we’re watching for at today’s presser: For the third time this week, President Obama will deliver remarks on the economy -- this time at a White House press conference at 11:00 am ET; it will be the president’s eighth White House presser. At the outset, he will announce that Austan Goolsbee is succeeding Christina Romer as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. As far as what we’re watching for: Yes, you have the Florida pastor story out there (what else can you possibly ask Obama on this?); yes, there’s the upcoming 9/11 anniversary; yes, there's the economy (how firm is the president's position on not extending the current tax rates, even for another year or two?); and, yes, there are midterms (with the president now headlining four rallies between now and Election Day). But to us, what could be very revealing is if/how Obama sums up his presidency so far. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs will be on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown” this morning.
*** Voinovich to help break GOP filibuster: This might also be a little news at the top of Obama’s remarks today: Retiring GOP Sen. George Voinovich says he’ll help push the small business incentives through the Senate next week, which potentially gives Dems the 60 votes they need to break the GOP filibuster. The Washington Post: "In an interview, Voinovich said he could no longer support efforts by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to delay the measure in hopes of winning the right to offer additional GOP amendments. Most of the proposed amendments 'didn’t have anything to do with the bill,' anyway, Voinovich said, and amounted merely to partisan 'messaging.' 'We don’t have time for messaging. We don’t have time anymore. This country is really hurting,' Voinovich said."
*** Rahm Watch: Did President Obama give Rahm Emanuel breathing room to make his mayoral decision after the midterms? “The one thing I've always been impressed with about Rahm is that when he has a job to do, he focuses on the job in front of him,” Obama told ABC yesterday. “And so my expectation is, he'd make a decision after these midterm elections. He knows that we've got a lot of work to do.” Also, don’t miss this quote, via Politico, by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn explaining why he won’t discuss Rahm or the Chicago mayoral contest: “I’m in the political fight of my life. I don’t think I need to be prognosticating on a race down the road a piece.” It’s quite possible that Dems go 0-2 in the biggest races this year in Illinois, and don’t be surprised if that fact possibly stops the jockeying for the mayoral race -- and gives the White House, Illinois Democrats, and Rahm a reason to say, “It's bad form to raise money now, and suck oxygen away from Quinn and Alexi.” So here's today's CW: Maybe Rahm does stick around as chief of staff through November. And then the president does his BIG shakeup in December, and doesn't have to deal with three chiefs of staff in three months.
*** Profiling the undecided: Our NBC/WSJ pollsters have profiled the 11% of hard undecided likely voters from all our polls this year. The breakdown provides some good news for Democrats but also bad news. First, the good news: These undecideds voted more for Obama in 2008 (40%) than for McCain (31%), so they’re a potential Dem vote in the fall. But here’s the bad news: They are more pessimistic about the direction of the country (66% think it’s on the wrong track); they are less approving of Obama’s job performance (39%) and handling of the economy (34%); and they have a poor opinion of both the Dem and Republican parties. More than anything else, these undecideds are angry voters: 57% of them would replace every member of Congress if they could, and 62% don’t support the re-election of their member of Congress.
*** Bill Clinton vs. Jerry Brown: In her latest TV ad, Meg Whitman airs footage of Bill Clinton blasting Jerry Brown. It comes from a Clinton-Brown presidential debate in 1992.
*** 75 House races to watch: LA-2: The GOP nominee is first-term incumbent Joseph Cao, while the Dem nominee is state Rep. Cedric Richmond. Both Obama (in ’08) and Kerry (in ’04) won 75% in the district. As of Aug. 8, Cao had $300,000 in the bank, and Richmond had $166,000. Cao didn’t cast a vote in the debate over the stimulus, and voted against cap-and-trade and health care (though he did vote for the original House health bill that passed in Nov. 2009). Cook rates the contest as Toss Up, and Rothenberg has it Democrat Favored.
*** More midterm news: In Arkansas, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) and Rep. John Boozman (R) debate in a local FOX affiliate Web cast at 1:00 pm ET… In Delaware, Sarah Palin endorsed underdog Christine O’Donnell (R) in next week's GOP Senate primary… And in Pennsylvania, Joe Sestak (D) is up with his first bio ad of the general election.
Countdown to DC, MD. MA, NH, NY, RI, and WI primaries: 4 days
Countdown to HI primaries: 8 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 53 days