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First Thoughts: Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em

More tension between the White House and its liberal base?... Both Biden and Obama try to “buck up” Democratic voters… Obama holds rally in Wisconsin at 7:00 pm ET… Before that, he hosts an economic event in New Mexico at 12:15 pm ET, and raises money in Wisconsin at 5:30 pm ET… New NBC/WSJ poll released tonight at 6:30 pm ET… Is Rahm’s announcement coming this Friday?... Is Blumenthal really ahead by just three points?... DGA targets Perry in Texas… New Spanish-language radio ads hit Republicans on immigration… Previewing PA-12… And Brown and Whitman debate tonight in California.

From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg
*** Can’t live with 'em, can’t live without 'em: History, politics, and pop culture abound with examples of pairs who, while not always liking one another, still need each other. There’s Kennedy and Johnson. Reagan and H.W. Bush. Obama and Hillary. Oscar and Felix. Maverick and Iceman. Al and Peggy. Jack and Sawyer. Crosby, Stills, Nash AND Young vs. Crosby, Stills and Nash. And here’s a more recent combative couple: The Obama White House and its liberal base. Yesterday, the pool report caught Vice President Biden saying -- at a fundraiser in New Hampshire -- that the base needed to “stop whining” and get fired up about the upcoming midterms. The comment was eerily similar to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ complaint about the “professional left” in the summer.

*** Buck up, little camper: In his interview on MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” last night, Biden revised and extended his remarks: "Those who didn't get everything they wanted, it's time to just buck up here, understand that we can make things better, continue to move forward, but not yield the playing field to those folks who are against everything that we stand for in terms of the initiatives we put forward.” But now there’s a new Obama interview with Rolling Stone, in which the president says it’s “inexcusable” and “irresponsible” for Democrats to sit out voting in November. “People need to shake off this lethargy. People need to buck up,” he said. “If people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.”

*** Obama’s rally in Wisconsin: So now both sides have their excuse for November: The White House will blame the liberal base for not showing up, while the base will blame the White House for not pursuing an agenda that’s progressive enough. But as we’ve said before, if Democrats lose control of Congress, they’ll all deserve blame -- and that includes the White House, Democratic leaders, the liberal base, and rank-and-file voters. It’s simple: If Democrats show up and vote in enthusiastic numbers, they’ll probably keep the House; if they don’t, they won’t. And this is why President Obama is holding a rally in Madison, WI at 7:00 pm ET -- to fire up young voters and dispirited liberals, and to boost their standing in key Midwest states. Of course, tonight's rally is less about saving the House and more directly about trying to create a “save the Dem Senate” firewall. Before the rally, Obama holds an economic discussion in Albuquerque, NM at 12:15 pm ET, and then he raises money at a DNC fundraiser in Wisconsin at 5:30 pm ET. By the way, our new NBC/WSJ poll (on the upcoming midterms and Obama’s standing) comes out at 6:30 pm ET.

*** Rahm announcement coming this Friday? Per NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel appears likely to run for Chicago mayor, and an announcement could come as early as Friday. Because of family considerations, no final decision has been made, Guthrie adds. But the smart money is that he’s running. As for whether or not the president goes with an interim chief of staff before November, the smart money is on him naming an interim for now. Then again, there’s not unity on this among some key folks in and out of the West Wing.

*** Is Blumenthal really ahead by only three points? The political world is buzzing this morning over a new Quinnipiac poll that shows Richard Blumenthal leading Linda McMahon in Connecticut's Senate race by just three points among likely voters, 49%-46%. But here’s a word of caution about the poll: It’s the latest Quinnipiac likely voter survey to show incredible GOP performance -- Rob Portman up 20 points in Ohio, John Kasich ahead 17 points in the Buckeye State, and Carl Paladino down just six points in New York (with Marist and Siena showing much bigger leads for Andrew Cuomo). Indeed, the Blumenthal campaign has released its own poll showing Blumenthal up by 12 points among likelies, 52%-40%. So it’s one of two things: Either Quinnipiac is nailing what the general-election environment is looking like (which will be a historic day for the GOP), or its likely voter screen is too tight (and it’s missing a lot of Democratic votes). We’ll find out who’s right exactly five weeks from today.

*** DGA targets Rick Perry: Meanwhile, the Washington Post’s Dan Balz reports that the Democratic Governors Association is going up with a TV ad in Texas against Gov. Rick Perry “that assails him as a career politician who has lost touch with the people of the Lone Star State.” More: “The DGA has already contributed $2 million to White's campaign. The new ad buy, which is scheduled to begin running in the Dallas area Tuesday, represents an independent expenditure on behalf of White. A Democratic strategist said the DGA would spend about $650,000 to $700,000 a week on its ad campaign.” http://bit.ly/9vOMXB

*** The immigration wars: In a $300,000 national advertising campaign, SEIU, Mi Familia Vota Civic Participation Campaign, and America’s Voice are launching Spanish-language radio ads in nine media markets across the country. “The ads,” a source tells First Read, “take on the Republican Party’s obstructionism on immigration reform, cite the GOP’s successful effort to block a vote on the DREAM Act last week, and encourage voters to support the candidates who ‘support our families, and make our dreams come true.’” The nine markets: Phoenix and Tucson, AZ; Denver, CO; Miami and Orlando, FL; Chicago, IL; Las Vegas, NV; and Houston and McAllen, TX.

*** 75 House races to watch: PA-12: The nominee is freshman incumbent Mark Critz, while the GOP nominee is businessman Tim Burns. The race is a rematch of their special election to replace the late Jack Murtha (D) in May, which Critz won. This district -- located in Southwestern PA -- was the only one in the country that went for Kerry in ’04 but that Obama lost (narrowly). As of June 30, Critz had $166,000 in the bank, while Burns had $163,000. Cook rates the race as Lean Democrat, and Rothenberg has it Democrat Favored.

*** More midterm news: In California, Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman participate in a debate at the University of California-Davis… In Illinois, the DSCC has placed another ad buy to help Alexi Giannoulias’ campaign… And in Massachusetts, the Democratic Governors Association has a new TV ad hitting Charlie Baker over the Big Dig.

Countdown to Election Day 2010: 35 days

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