The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza reports that Sharron Angle, the Tea Party-backed challenger to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada, raised a whopping $14 million between July and the end of September, an astonishing haul almost three times more than amounts raised by other high-profile Republican candidates in the same period of time.
Former Nevada state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle (R) raised an eye-popping $14 million between July 1 and Sept. 30 for her challenge to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D), a stunning number that far eclipses the cash-collection totals of other prominent candidates seeking Senate seats next month.
"Sharron Angle produced one of the most successful single quarters of fundraising in the nation's history for a U.S. Senate campaign," said Angle communications director Jarrod Agen. "This is a testament to the hatred of Harry Reid, the nation's disapproval of President Obama, and the unprecedented grassroots support for Sharron Angle."
Reid has not yet released his fundraising totals for the third quarter, but he raised about $14 million between January and June of 2010.
The race is extremely close. A recent CNN/Time poll showed Angle leading Reid 42 percent to 40 percent.
Final Brown-Whitman debate takes place at 9:30 pm ET in San Rafael, CA… Moderated by NBC’s Tom Brokaw… In California’s other high-profile contest, Carly Fiorina makes what might be her final push as she releases two new TV ads… DCCC retreats on Driehaus… Obama hosts town hall (with Skype) at 7:00 pm ET… Joe Miller doesn’t want to talk about his background or personal life… Blumenthal and McMahon debate in Connecticut… Bill Clinton stumps for Harry Reid in Nevada… And Patty Murray up with a new TV ad hitting Dino Rossi on abortion and social issues.
From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg SAN RAFAEL, CA -- What has made California's gubernatorial race such a compelling contest is that the two candidates, Jerry Brown (D) and Meg Whitman (R), couldn't be more different. One represents the state's past (Brown), while the other says she represents its future (Whitman). One has held nearly every political office in the state (Brown); the other has admitted to having an “atrocious” record voting in elections (Whitman). One believes that politics should be geared toward empowering the powerless (Brown); the other says it should be about promoting business (Whitman). These contrasts will be on display here at tonight's final Brown-Whitman debate at 9:30 pm ET at Dominican University, which will be moderated by NBC's Tom Brokaw. And always, always, remember: As much as it pains your Floridian, Texan, and New Yorker authors, what happens in California impacts the rest of the country. Its trends always move east.
*** One thing they share: recent campaign troubles: Despite their contrasts, though, Brown and Whitman share this trait: They and their campaigns have done their best to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. First, after Whitman talked tough against illegal immigration during the primaries, we discovered that she had employed an illegal immigrant housekeeper/nanny. And when her campaign argued that the housekeeper had lied about her immigration status without Whitman's knowledge, it turned out that the Social Security Administration had written Whitman about a discrepancy with the housekeeper's Social Security number -- and that Whitman's husband wrote on the letter, "Please check this." Then when it seemed that Brown was in the clear lead, according to recent polls, we found out that someone from his campaign (someone with a fairly high pitch voice, by the way) had referred to Whitman as a "whore," which doesn't help Brown with female voters. One gets the sense that there are more October surprises to come in this race…
*** Fiorina’s final push? In California’s other high-profile race, Carly Fiorina is going up with two new TV ads in what appears to be her final push to move the numbers in her contest against Sen. Barbara Boxer. One ad has voters complaining about Boxer’s support for the stimulus. Fiorina says in it, “We can make Washington work. Cut spending. Ban earmarks. But Washington won't change unless you vote to change the people we send there." The other ad hits Boxer for being in Washington for 28 years. "When bickering ends, solutions begin,” Fiorina says. “I'm prepared to oppose my party when it's wrong. We can change Washington. But first you have to vote to change the people we send there." Keep an eye on Fiorina's ad buy; it's big for now. Will national money follow suit? Meanwhile, Boxer’s camp announced that President Obama will campaign for her on Oct. 22.
*** Retreat and advance: As one of us reported yesterday, Ohio Rep. Steve Driehaus became the first incumbent House Democrat to see the national party (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) pull its financial support for TV ads. And Driehaus won't be the only Democrat who experiences this. There are a number of Dem-held House districts the DCCC will be making tough choices about in the next few days. The reason: If they want to pull BACK a buy they promised a specific TV station, there's no penalty if they do it in the next few days. It all depends on the market and the specific TV station's rules. In the case of the Cincy market in Driehaus' district, the DCCC had to make its final decision early yesterday, and that's how this news leaked out. Forget polling -- as we see Republicans expand their buys into once-safe Dem districts and we see Dems pull out of districts in which they trail, that tells you all you need to know about the House map.
*** Obama and Biden today: At 7:00 pm ET, Obama hosts a DNC-sponsored town hall at George Washington University in DC. Per the Huffington Post, “Obama will be answering queries via all types of media -- including Twitter, email and in-person questions from the audience… According to the source, he will also be asked ‘the first ever question a president has received from Skype,’ an online video-chat service. The question will be coming from a house party in Illinois.” Also today, Vice President Biden stumps for Rep. Leonard Boswell in Iowa and Gov. Pat Quinn in Illinois.
*** Refusing to meet the press: Earlier this month, Politico’s Martin wrote a piece, entitled “Year of the missing candidate,” about how candidates this election cycle -- many of them Tea Party-backed Republicans -- have gone out of their way to avoid both the national and local media. The latest example: Alaska’s Joe Miller. Per the AP, Miller said he will "no longer answer reporters' questions about his background and personal life, following what he called a leak of his personnel record from when he served as a government attorney. Miller offered no proof of this during a brief news conference in Anchorage, saying only that he'd learned over the weekend that members of the media had gained access to his confidential file from his work with the Fairbanks North Star Borough." The AP adds that Miller's vow not to answer questions about his background comes after the local press has uncovered that the candidate received federal farm subsidies and Medicaid benefits -- despite his campaign rhetoric against federal largesse.
*** More midterm news: In Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal and Linda McMahon engage in their third debate… In Nevada, Bill Clinton stumps for Harry Reid… And in Washington state, Patty Murray has a new TV ad hitting Dino Rossi on abortion and social issues.
"The two major candidates for California governor head into their final televised showdown tonight with a ‘woman’ problem dogging their campaigns - Republican Meg Whitman for her treatment of her undocumented maid, and Democrat Jerry Brown for a staffer's use of a sexist slur in referring to his opponent," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "The San Rafael event presents the candidates with "a combination of goals," said Michael Semler, a professor of politics at Cal State Sacramento. 'They must reassure their base and get them to the polls, which is critically important for Brown, because Democrats are not as enthusiastic as Republicans' this year. In addition, Whitman and Brown must make their case to the nearly one-fifth of Californians who are 'unmotivated, undecided voters ... who are disproportionately women this year,' Semler said."
The Los Angeles Times: “NBC will co-sponsor the event, to be moderated by newsman Tom Brokaw and broadcast live by NBC outlets in the Bay Area, Eureka, Fresno, Los Angeles, Monterey, Palm Springs, Sacramento, Salinas, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Santa Maria.”
Meanwhile, the Sacramento Bee looks all the outside group spending in the Brown-Whitman contest, most of it benefitting Brown. “Republican Meg Whitman isn't the only one breaking spending records in the gubernatorial contest. Spending by independent groups seeking to influence the governor's race has hit a record-breaking $21.3 million this year, according to report compiled by the Fair Political Practices Commission.”
More: “Independent expenditures in the general election alone totaled $20.6 million as of Oct. 11, surpassing the high of $20 million set in the 2006 general election. Just $1.3 million of that sum has gone toward supporting Whitman. That cash has been spent by two groups that have endorsed the Republican nominee, the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association and Los Angeles Police Protective League. The other $20 million has been spent by largely union-funded groups backing Democrat Jerry Brown and attacking Whitman.”
“Calling himself a ‘pretty good point guard,’ Obama and South Florida Democrats gathered at the home of former Miami Heat All-Star Alonzo Mourning where current Heat players Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade were spotted,” The Hill notes. “‘I like you, but when you play the Bulls, I'm rooting against you,’ Obama told the two men. Neither the reporter in the room nor a White House spokesman spotted the Heat's other new addition, LeBron James, but former Los Angeles Laker great Magic Johnson was in attendance. ‘I am stunned that Alonzo let a Laker in here,’ Obama joked. ‘But he said that Magic transcends party lines.’”
"More than 4 of 10 likely voters who say they once considered themselves Obama backers now are either less supportive or say they no longer support him at all," per a new Bloomberg poll. Still, Obama's overall approval rating among likely voters is 47%.
More from the poll: "Obama’s deteriorating job-approval numbers are balanced by continuing regard for him personally: 53 percent of voters have a positive view of the president in the October poll, up from 49 percent in a July survey. In a hypothetical presidential match-up against one of the Republican Party’s most prominent figures, Obama beats former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin 51 percent to 35 percent. Former President George W. Bush and Republicans in Congress still get more blame than Obama or congressional Democrats for the condition of the economy."
“Peter A. Diamond, an MIT professor regarded as a brilliant theorist grounded in real-world problems, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics yesterday for developing a theory that helps explain mismatches between employers and job seekers that can contribute to high unemployment — even when openings are plentiful,” the Boston Globe reports. “The award comes as Diamond’s nomination to the Federal Reserve awaits Senate action, in a process that has been blocked by Republicans.”
The New York Times on how Republicans are expanding their advertising campaign to House districts that had once seemed safe for Democrats: “Republicans are expanding the battle for the House into districts that Democrats had once considered relatively safe, while Democrats began a strategy of triage on Monday to fortify candidates who they believe stand the best chance of survival. As Republicans made new investments in at least 10 races across the country, including two Democratic seats here in eastern Ohio, Democratic leaders took steps to pull out of some races entirely or significantly cut their financial commitment in several districts that the party won in the last two election cycles.”
Stu Rothenberg looks incumbents who could surprisingly be in trouble on Election Night.
ALASKA: Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller said yesterday that “he won't respond to questions on personal issues in the final weeks of the campaign,” the Bristol Bay Times reports. “Miller lashed out at what he called ‘journalistic improprieties,’ in media efforts to learn more about his tenure as an attorney for the Fairbanks North Star Borough.”
More: “In recent weeks, it has been reported that Miller, who has called for an end to the ‘[welfare state,’ received federal farm subsidies for land he owned in Kansas in the 1990s and that he and his wife received low-income hunting and fishing licenses when they first moved to Alaska and he was fresh from law school. Miller also acknowledged his family also received Medicaid for a period and that his wife briefly received unemployment benefits.” And, of course, he blamed the media for “journalistic impropriety.”
COLORADO: The Denver Post wraps up last night’s Senate debate between Sen. Michael Bennet and Republican Ken Buck: “Rapid-fire debate questions flushed surprising answers from Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet and Republican Ken Buck on Monday, with Bennet opposing a treasured union bill and Buck endorsing big pieces of health care reform.”
CONNECTICUT: Senate candidates Richard Blumenthal and Linda McMahon will face off in their third televised debate tonight, the Hartford Courant writes.
Ledes like this are still being written about the Senate race: “It’s a safe bet millionaire businesswoman Linda McMahon is the first candidate for United States Senate whose job experience includes marching into a wrestling ring and kicking a grown man in the groin.” More: “The race to replace retiring Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd — once thought to be a lost cause for the GOP — has been redefined by McMahon’s big-spending, bare-knuckle campaign. She is drawing on her own brand-building savvy and personal fortune in a bid to systematically transform Blumenthal’s public image from diligent public servant to scheming villain, someone more like a WWE wrestler — The Undertaker, perhaps, or Luke Gallows.” http://bit.ly/a0WnnD
INDIANA: “U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth on Monday used his first debate with Republican Dan Coats in the race for Indiana's open U.S. Senate seat to attack Coats for his time spent as a lobbyist,” the AP writes. “Coats, as he has done for much of the campaign leading up to the Nov. 2 election, criticized Ellsworth for voting with liberal Democrats on the health care overhaul, federal stimulus and other bills. He said Democrats are taking the country in the wrong direction and that voters need bring back the principles of limited government.”
MICHIGAN: “The National Republican Congressional Committee went up with new TV ads in 29 districts over the weekend, and the committee reported shelling out a total of $8.25 million to boost its efforts to regain the majority — the largest one-day spending total for the NRCC this cycle,” Roll Call reports. “Included in the NRCC’s Saturday independent expenditure filing was roughly $200,000 in spending to target freshman Democratic Rep. Mark Schauer in Michigan’s 7th district. The new spending brings the NRCC’s total IE investment in Schauer to $999,000, putting the Michigan race on track to become the first race where either party has spent $1 million.”
NEW YORK: Carl Paladino didn't exactly back away from his recent controversial comments on gays. "Mr. Paladino restated his criticism of Andrew M. Cuomo, his Democratic opponent for governor of New York, for having taken his young daughters to a gay pride parade, saying that such events were inappropriate for children," the New York Times notes. 'Is that normal? Would you do it? Would you take your children to a gay pride parade?' Mr. Paladino asked the host Matt Lauer on the 'Today' show, speaking of Mr. Cuomo. 'I don’t think it’s proper for them to go there and watch a couple of grown men grind against each other. I don’t think that’s proper. I think it’s disgusting.'"
“U.S. Senate hopeful Joe DioGuardi prides himself on his accounting expertise - but he has a history with a firm the feds say ran a $1.7 billion Ponzi scheme,” the New York Daily News reports.
WEST VIRGINIA: The New York Times points out that accusations of stereotyping, leveled at Republican Senate candidate John Raese over the recruitment of “hicky” actors in a campaign ad, could also be warranted in Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin’s latest ad, writing that “his own ads don’t exactly scream urban chic either. The campaign’s latest commercial features the governor on a woodsy gun range, loading bullets into a rifle while decidedly ‘hicky’ music plays in the background.”
WISCONSIN: Ayn Rand had a big presence in last night’s Senate debate between Sen. Russ Feingold and Republican Ron Johnson, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes. “While the two went back and forth on issues such as the economy, Social Security, the health care law and the war in Afghanistan, the most spirited discussion came from a book that was written in 1957 and remains popular among some conservatives and people who espouse limited government… [Atlas Shrugged] is a book that Johnson says he admires and has been a driving force in his political philosophy.”
From NBC's Shawna Thomas Morgantown, W.V. -- Continuing a whirlwind tour on Monday, former President Bill Clinton stumped for West Virginia Senate candidate Gov. Joe Manchin, a Democrat who has worked to distance himself from Clinton's Democratic successor - Barack Obama.
The former president tailored his speech for Manchin’s careful middle-of-the-road campaigning in a state where Democratic policies are increasingly unpopular.
"If people in this state weren’t hurting and frustrated and angry, he’d be ahead by 30 points and you know it," Clinton said of Manchin.
"I’m old enough to know that when you make a decision when you’re mad -- and this is not just [in] politics -- there’s about an 80% chance you’ll make a mistake," he added.
(Clinton was on message during the speech, but he couldn’t help but joke with the crowd when a woman in the front row passed out. “At my age, rarely does a woman faint on me,” said the former president.)
His visit to the state came on a day when West Virginians were getting their first taste of Manchin’s newest television ad, in which the governor slams Obama-backed health care and cap-and-trade legislation.
Just like in his new commercial, Manchin called the new health care law “Obamacare” and said that while there are many aspects of the bill he supports, there are an “awful lot of things in that bill that need to be fixed.”
In an interview after the event, Manchin was even more explicit. When asked whether he would’ve voted for the bill as passed he said, “No, I would not have voted for the final version of that health care law.”
Asked twice if he would like the current president to come to West Virginia, Manchin dodged the question, saying that Clinton had appeared on his behalf merely "as a friend."
“I’ve never had anybody come stump for me," Manchin said. "I don’t do that. Whether it be President Obama, with all due respect, or anybody else. I just have never been that type of a candidate. I think that I’m the one you’re going to have to vote for.”
After the speech, some of the diehard Democratic attendees seemed unfazed by Manchin’s criticisms of Obama’s policies. When asked how she felt about Manchin appearing to run away from his party, Morgantown resident Stella Konchesky said, “He likes to be his own person. You know, he’s still a Democrat but he wants to be his own person being a Democrat and there’s nothing wrong with that. “
Both she and her friend Alice Raley, didn’t seem to mind Manchin’s comments about health care. Raley said, “It isn’t perfect health care, but it’s the best we can get.” She continued, “I know that we were lucky to get what we got. It’s like a stepping stone. Without it we have nothing."
From NBC's John Boxley and Domenico Montanaro SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Sarah Palin challenged the notion that the Tea Party is extreme in a speech here Saturday.
"We are not the extreme ones," she said at the Patriotic Gala Celebration. "We are the voice of reason."
Palin stressed that the election is about the little guy, which is what she claims the Tea Party is all about.
"The little guys all across America have risen up," she said, "and the 'Mama Grizzlies' are starting to growl. We are going to protect our young, we are going to protect the next generation of Americans, so the Mama Grizzlies are growling, we are rising up on our hind legs and saying no, we are going to change course, we need that real hope, we need that real change."
Praising the Tea Party, Palin said, "The Tea Party is a beautiful movement. It's held both sides of the aisle accountable, and both parts of the GOP and the Democrat machine, they don't know what to do with the Tea Party America."
Listening to Palin speak, it certainly sounded like the former Alaska governor is in no hurry to return to public office. She's enjoying the chance to speak her mind.
"I get to say some things that some of you guys can't say," she said, "because I have no title, I have no uniform, I have no office. It's Todd and me -- I get to say what I feel...."
And it was vintage Palin, saying everyone who voted for the Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda "must be fired."
"We need to take back the gavel from Nancy Pelosi," Palin said. "We're going to get this country back on the right track no matter what it takes. We will do it."
And, of course, she took on the media: "'We have the media here tonight, and its never smart to pick a fight with those who buy ink by the barrelful, but what the heck. When the 'Lamestream Media' just doesn't get it, and if they don't believe what your message is, so they want to belittle you and treat you with much disdain; they can do that to me, that is fine, because I know truth, and I am fine with the political shots they take."
From NBC's John Boxley and Domenico Montanaro FONTANA, Calif. -- Meg Whitman (R) has largely avoided the controversy about the undocumented housekeeper she employed for nine years. But while reaching out to NASCAR voters here at the site of the Pepsi 400, the former eBay CEO running for governor talked about it briefly.
"We hired her through an employment agency with driver's license, Social Security Number and I-9," she said, "never had any knowledge until she came to us last summer and said, 'I am here illegally,' so we have to hold people accountable."
On the broader issue of immigration, she said the U.S. needs to secure the borders and hold employers accountable to employ documented-only workers, saying many companies cheat the system knowingly, and that an e-verify system is needed. She also said a guest-worker program is needed.
She met fans, shook hands and posed for pictures. Some fans had words of encouragement for Whitman, telling her to hang in there in the race for governor.
"Don't let 'em get you down," one person said. Whitman, whose husband Griffith sporting a San Francisco Giants cap, joined her at the event, replied that she knew what she was getting into.
Whitman stopped at one point and sat down for a chat with NASCAR fans camped out. She answered a number of questions. An interesting moment came when a man, who is a police officer, asked Whitman about pensions, saying, "Should we be concerned?"
Whitman told the man that she has been endorsed by the LAPD union (pensions were at the center of the angry voice mail controversy, on which a Jerry Brown aide called Whitman a "whore.")
Whitman went on to say, "You guys should keep the fund benefit program for public safety jobs; you guys risk your life for us every single day, and you need to recruit the very best, so I think we need to make some changes, 50 to 55 which is retirement, increase your contribution to the retirement account, extend investing periods a bit."
She said for rank-and-file civil servants, the retirement age should be increased from 55 to 65 and new employees must come in under a 401K plan.
Finally, she took to the infield area of the track to utter those four words -- to a smattering of applause and some boos -- "Gentlemen, start your engines."
From NBC's Adam Verdugo LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Former President Bill Clinton wants voters in Kentucky to "be mad."
"Be mad," he said at a campaign event for Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway on Monday. "They're playing you and you know it."
By "they," the former president meant groups like Karl Rove-backed organization Crossroads GPS, which has been singled out as a threat by White House officials and even by the president himself in recent days. The group, which is not legally required to disclose its donors, has funded ads currently airing in Kentucky against Conway.
"If they're ashamed of their donors, you should suspect their ads," Clinton said.
During the campaign visit, the former president tried to paint Conway as a moderate in the mold of Clinton's own legacy. He called Conway a "practical, progressive, commonsense moderate" who's up against a "radical" Republican opponent.
According to the latest NBC/WSJ poll, Clinton is the most popular political figure in the country: 55 percent of respondents had a favorable view of him, while just 23 percent had an unfavorable view.
In Kentucky, the Clinton name has had a lot of success. Bill Clinton won the state in both of his presidential races in 1992 and 1996, and Hillary Clinton trounced Barack Obama in the primary here during the marathon primary season in 2008.
(The current president can't boast equal popularity in the state. Conway opponent Rand Paul's campaign recently offered to buy Obama's plane ticket if he agreed to campaign for Conway.)
"Why does Kentucky love Bill Clinton," Senate Democratic candidate Jack Conway asked as he introduced the former president.
"Because he loves us." someone from the crowd shouted.
"That's a good answer," Conway assured the crowd.
The man who earned the name "comeback kid" 18 years ago told the crowd here not to believe polls that show Conway trailing in the race. "All of these polls are premised on a profile," he said, "of who will actually show up to vote."
The former president also referred the Republican party as one that wants to "repeal."
"They repealed arithmetic," Clinton said, referring back to the presidency he left with a budget surplus. He also took credit for "pay-as-you-go" legislation. "That's how we balanced the budget."
Both Conway and Clinton's comments were delivered in front of a lively crowd of at least 1,500 at the University of Kentucky, although no official estimate of the crowd was provided.
Alexi Giannoulias is out with a new ad, trying to tie opponent Mark Kirk (R) to former President George W. Bush. The Bush card fell flat in the Ohio Senate race; Illinois does, however, lean more to the left than Ohio. (And as was evident on Meet the Press, Giannoulias has grown out the hair a bit, sporting a more conservative look.) Hat tip: NBC's Sarah Blackwill.
According to multiple sources, including those folks who watch TV ad buys for a living, the first incumbent House Democrat to see the national party (DCCC) fully pull its financial support for TV ads is: Ohio Democrat Steve Driehaus.
Driehaus is facing a rematch with the Republican former congressman he defeated in 2008, Steve Chabot. Polling in this Cincinnati-area district this entire year had shown Driehaus behind Chabot. It's a district that in 2008 saw a surge in African-American turnout that many folks attributed to Barack Obama's name being on the ballot. Without the same level of support, it's an uphill battle for the freshman Democratic incumbent. But with the DCCC now out, it's fair to say the national party doesn't have a lot of confidence in its chances of Driehaus holding. In other words, he's being written off.
There are a number of Democratic-held House districts the DCCC will be making tough choices about in the next few days because if they want to pull BACK a buy they promised a specific TV station, there's no penalty if they do it in the next few days. It all depends on the market and the specific TV station's rules. In the case of the Cincinnati market, the DCCC had to make its final decision earlier this morning and that's how this news leaked out.
According to some well-placed sources, a handful of other Democratic incumbents will be experiencing this same feeling of national party abandonment later today as the news about the DCCC's ad buys leak out. Again, due to specific TV station commitments, the DCCC has to decide today if they are "in" or "out" in a number of races because if they are "out" then they can move that money without penalty.
From NBC's Athena Jones A crumbling, inefficient and outdated infrastructure system is "one of America's greatest challenges," President Obama said as he pressed his plan to put people back to work by investing in rebuilding roads, bridges, railways and runways.
After hosting a meeting on infrastructure in the state dining room, the president was joined on stage in the Rose Garden by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former Transportation Secretaries Norman Mineta and Samuel Skinner.
Framing his proposal for a $50 billion "up front" investment in infrastructure improvements as a call to action to increase America's ability to compete in the global economy, Obama said other countries were "thinking bigger," arguing that poor infrastructure like clogged roads and delayed flights costs America billions in lost productivity and that as a percentage of GDP America invests less than half of what Russia does in infrastructure and less than a third of what Western Europe spends.
"The longer our infrastructure erodes, the deeper our competitive edge erodes," he said. "Our short-sightedness has come due. We can no longer afford to sit still."
The president is proposing to rebuild 150,000 miles of roadways, lay and maintain 4,000 miles of railways and restore 150 miles of runways over the next six years through a national infrastructure bank and other methods. According to the president, the plan that will "be fully paid for" and would not add to the deficit. LaHood put the six-year cost at $500 billion, during a press conference with reporters after the president's speech.
"There's no reason why the world's best infrastructure should lie beyond our borders," the president said. "There's no reason why the world's best infrastructure should lie beyond our borders. This is America," the president said. "This is work that needs to be done. There are workers who are ready to do it. All we need is the political will."
With the economy and stubbornly high unemployment figures topping voters' concerns and the midterm election just weeks away, administration officials are anxious to show they have a plan to spur job creation. Still, they acknowledged that the infrastructure proposal would have to wait until after Nov. 2 and have not set a timeline or deadline for passage of legislation on the matter.
In an effort to make the point that infrastructure projects have traditionally received broad bipartisan support, the president made sure to point out that Skinner had served under President George H.W. Bush and added that groups ranging from the traditionally Democratic-leaning AFL-CIO to the traditionally Republican-leaning Chamber of Commerce "have always supported" investing in infrastructure.
"We have a real opportunity here to do something that's badly needed in this nation and that's to invest real money, real dollars in real infrastructure," Skinner told reporters outside the West Wing.
As if to drive the bipartisan point home, LaHood told reporters the last big infrastructure bill passed Congress with more than 300 votes in the House and more than 80 votes in the Senate, adding "There are no Democratic or Republican bridges or roads."
Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek is categorically denying rumors that he might drop out of the three-way Florida Senate race over concerns that he is splitting the vote with independent candidate Charlie Crist and granting Republican Marco Rubio a wide lead.
“There’s nothing further from the truth,” Meek said on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown.
A recent Mason-Dixon poll showed Meek with the support of just 21 percent of likely voters, with Crist receiving 27 percent and Rubio leading with 42 percent.
An unsourced story in the Wall Street Journal Friday wrote that Republican leaders in the state “are fretting that a deal may be in the works” for Meek to withdraw from the race.
But on MSNBC, Meek cited appearances by high-profile Democratic surrogates in Florida as evidence that his campaign is in full swing. President Barack Obama is campaigning in the state today and just recorded a radio ad for Meek; former President Bill Clinton is slated to appear on Meek’s behalf next week.
“I’m not running for second, I’m running to win,” he said.
The White House sees history as a driving force, but does its focus on the long run keep it from winning the politics of the moment?… Obama drops his line hitting the U.S. Chamber on foreign money… Another busy campaign week for Obama; today, he raises money for the DCCC in Florida (at Alonzo Mourning's home)… Wrapping up yesterday’s Alexi-vs.-Kirk debate… Springtime … for Rich Iott … in Germany… Profiling WV-1… And SNL jabs Christine O’Donnell again.
From NBC's Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg *** The White House’s history lessons: As George Santayana once observed, those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it. But are those who rely too much on history -- like the Obama White House has arguably done -- doomed to lose in the politics of the moment? For Team Obama, history has been a driving force, whether it was with health care (determining not to repeat the Clinton mistakes), the economy and the midterms (comforting themselves by drawing parallels to 1982), the timetable in Afghanistan (wanting to avoid what happened in Vietnam, as well as what happened Afghanistan post-Soviet pullout), or the Tea Party (comparing it to past social/political movements). But as we’ve seen over the past year, relying on history isn't always the best way to win the current debates or news cycles over the economy, the health-care law, and the upcoming midterms. In fact, the White House often acts if it’s trapped by history.
*** Focusing on the long run is sometimes all you can do: Then again, the White House DID get health care passed, so avoiding the Clinton pitfalls proved to be helpful. And if the job market improves -- and that remains a big IF -- then the Obama folks will look prescient with the Reagan comparison (and 2012 could be a layup). Of course, when things are going badly and there’s not much you can do about them (e.g., the economy), then you need to focus on the long run. If you don’t, you’ll have a panicked and knee-jerk presidency. There's nothing wrong with having a long view, but if all you have is the long view, then suddenly you'll find yourself with your opposition in charge -- and with the growing perception that you are politically weak or naïve or both.
*** Chamber 1, White House 0: At his rally yesterday in Philly, which an estimated 18,500 attended, Obama once again mentioned how outside GOP groups are spending millions upon millions in TV attack ads this cycle, without disclosing who has contributed to those groups. But the president dropped the line he used last week in Maryland and Illinois that one of the largest groups paying for these ads -- the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- takes in money from foreign sources. Why? Maybe because the Saturday New York Times noted that “there is little evidence that what the chamber does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers and campaign finance documents.” Then, CBS’s Bob Schieffer yesterday asked David Axelrod if he had proof of what the chamber was doing. Axe’s answer: “Well, do you have any evidence that it’s not, Bob?” Schieffer’s response: “If the only charge, three weeks into the election that the Democrats can make is that there’s somehow this may or may not be foreign money coming into the campaign, is that the best you can do?” Ouch.
*** Giving cover: Whatever traction the White House thought it was having on this issue of outside influence, this knee-jerk/badly researched riff about the Chamber gave cover to all the groups. The Crossroads folks are having a field day about the Chamber issue, and they weren't part of the initial debate over foreign money.
*** Another busy campaign week: It’s another busy campaign week for the White House. Today, Obama raises money in Miami for the DCCC. (Before that, he’ll make a statement on transportation at 10:50 am ET, and later in the day will meet with the students profiled in the documentary “Waiting for Superman.”) On Tuesday, he participates in a DNC-sponsored tele-town hall and holds another town hall, co-sponsored by MTV and BET, with younger voters on Thursday. On Friday, he goes to Delaware. He heads to Massachusetts on Saturday to campaign for Deval Patrick. And then on Sunday, he stumps for Gov. Ted Strickland in Ohio, and will be joined there by First Lady Michelle Obama. Speaking of the first lady, she campaigns this week for Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, Alexi Giannoulias in Illinois, and Michael Bennet in Colorado.
*** Giannoulias vs. Kirk: Meanwhile, Giannoulias (D) and Mark Kirk (R) squared off in a debate yesterday on “Meet the Press,” and NBC’s David Gregory asked each candidate about their flaws. Giannoulias on mob figures who had received loans at his family’s bank: “We didn’t know the extent of that activity.” And Kirk on his misstatements about his military record: “I made mistakes with regard to my military misstatements, I was careless, and, and I learned a very painful and humbling lesson. This is very important to me.” Our takeaway from yesterday: You saw two beaten-down candidates. Neither came across as optimistic, though Giannoulias tried to stay on message a tad better. It was a classic example of how a rough campaign with two damaged nominees can take a toll. The loser of this race is probably done in politics, and maybe that contributed to why they looked so downtrodden. They were like two boxers in the 15th round with nothing left and trading weak punches.
*** Springtime … for Rich Iott … in Germany… : There have been some, well, “interesting” candidates this cycle with some, well, “interesting” resumes. But this very well might take the cake. On Friday, the Atlantic’s Josh Green broke the news that Rich Iott, the GOP congressional nominee (and Tea Party favorite) running for Ohio’s 9th district, donned for years “a German Waffen SS uniform and participated in Nazi re-enactments.” More: "Iott ... was involved with a group that calls itself Wiking, whose members are devoted to re-enacting the exploits of an actual Nazi division.” Here's Iott's response: "It's purely historical interest in World War II... I've always been fascinated by the fact that here was a relatively small country that from a strictly military point of view accomplished incredible things. I mean, they took over most of Europe and Russia, and it really took the combined effort of the free world to defeat them. From a purely historical military point of view, that's incredible." Yesterday, GOP House Whip Eric Cantor, who is Jewish, condemned Iott's Nazi re-enactments. Republicans probably need to condemn this guy en masse. And don't be surprised if a bunch start doing the same with Carl Paladino.
*** Also this week: Tomorrow is the Jerry Brown-vs.-Meg Whitman debate at Dominican University, which is just outside of San Francisco. This final California gubernatorial debate comes just days after it was revealed that a Brown aide referred to Whitman as a “whore.” Also this week: Chris Coons and Christine O’Donnell debate on Wednesday; Sharron Angle and Harry Reid and Robin Carnahan and Roy Blunt debate on Thursday; Bill Clinton stumps for Jerry Brown on Friday and Sunday. And on Saturday, Sarah Palin participates in an RNC-sponsored rally in Anaheim, CA.
*** 75 House races to watch: WV-1: The Democratic nominee is state Sen. Mike Oliverio, who defeated incumbent Alan Mollohan in the Dem primary. His GOP opponent is former state party chairman David McKinley. In 2008, McCain won 57% of the vote in this district – which is located in the northern part of the state – while Bush got 58% in ’04. As of June 30, both Oliverio and McKinley had $300,000 in the bank. Cook and Rothenberg rate the race as Toss Up.
*** More midterm news: In Colorado, Ken Buck and Michael Bennet debate today… In Delaware, “Saturday Night Live” took another jab at Christine O’Donnell… In Florida, Alex Sink plans to air a rare two-minute ad against Rick Scott… In Indiana, Dan Coats and Brad Ellsworth debate today… In Kentucky, Jack Conway and Rand Paul debate… In West Virginia, Joe Manchin is up with a TV ad seizing on the “hicky” casting call in the NRSC’s recent ad (as well as the fact that his opponent’s wife is registered to vote in Florida)… And in Wisconsin, Russ Feingold and Ron Johnson debate today.
The AP: “President Obama tried to recapture some of the big-stage excitement of his 2008 campaign yesterday, imploring voters not to reward what he called Republican cynicism and incompetence by sitting out the Nov. 2 elections. The president delivered one of his most stinging indictments yet of the GOP record to several thousand people under blue skies in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood… ‘If I said there were fish in the sea, they said, ‘No,’’ the president said.”
The Hill: “President Obama will press for more transportation funding in order to create jobs for the middle class on Monday. The White House is stressing that his plan for a $50 billion infusion for federal transportation projects will provide new jobs for the middle class in the short term and have a long-term benefit throughout the economy.”
“Obama will join mayors, governors and current and former transportation secretaries on Monday to argue for a major initiative to repair and modernize the nation’s roads, rails and air systems, just weeks before an election that is all but certain to expand the size of his Republican opposition in Congress,” the New York Times adds. “A new report from economists at the Treasury and Mr. Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers concludes that this is the ‘optimal time’ to invest in public infrastructure because of high unemployment and lower prices in the construction industry, which has been hit harder than any other sector by the puncturing of the bubble in housing and commercial real estate.”
Is this all about Chris Christie? Politico: "He isn’t on the guest list, but New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be on everyone’s mind Monday when President Barack Obama calls for a bipartisan commitment to quickly approve $50 billion in federal spending on roads, rails and airports... But Christie showed just how tenuous that bipartisan commitment is in the current economic and political climate when he announced last week that New Jersey would no longer pay its share of the largest public works project in the country – a proposed rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey. Christie says that the tunnel’s cost – $8.7 billion a few months ago, but now $11 to $14 billion – are spinning out of control."
Politico writes that some Republicans are growing uneasy of the verbal grenades -- some of them racially tinged -- that Newt Gingrich has been tossing. “‘He knows how to appeal to and arouse the conservative coalition,’ said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.). ‘But he also has a tendency to go one stop further than he should.’ As Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) put it of the Gingrich approach: ‘The good news is it gets people to listen to you but the bad news is your negatives go up.’ A long-time associate, former Rep. Vin Weber, said Gingrich knows that his sharp tongue can wound himself as well political opponents.”
In USA Today, GOP Rep. Darrell Issa says, "Earlier this year, the Congressional Research Service released a report underscoring the important function that congressional oversight plays in working with the executive branch: 'A fundamental objective of congressional oversight is to hold executive officials accountable for the implementation of delegated authority. This objective is especially important given the huge expansion of executive influence in the modern era.' As we move closer to the November midterm elections, a discussion is taking shape regarding what kind of oversight will occur should the Republicans regain the majority in Congress. Some partisan voices have tried to push a narrative that would have America believe that oversight guided by a Republican majority would aim to stifle the White House in a series of politically motivated witch hunts."
"It's ironic that the very Democrats who are spreading this rhetorical paranoia struck a much different tone just a few years ago. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., once asked, 'If we're doing our constitutional duty of oversight, how can they refuse to give us information? If they withhold information and try to get away with it, I think it will be very unfortunate for them.'"
A “new ad from the Democratic National Committee says the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may be taking ‘secret foreign money to influence our elections,’ a charge the business group denies,” Business Week writes. The ad “also targets Crossroads GPS, a group advised by Republican strategist Karl Rove and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie.”
Meanwhile, “Karl Rove charged Sunday that President Barack Obama has an ‘enemies list,’ after the White House escalated its argument that Rove and others are orchestrating a flood of midterm-election ads paid for by unknown donors,” Politico writes, citing an email in which Rove said, “It is sad to see the president diminish his office by these baseless attacks. Even the truth doesn't restrain him when it comes to assaulting his enemies list.”
CALIFORNIA: Pegged to the W-word an unidentified Jerry Brown aide made about Meg Whitman, the Saturday New York Times said this about Brown; “It is not clear whether Mr. Brown even heard the remark, or acknowledged it, but the episode is serving as a reminder for Democrats of the sometimes vexing dichotomy of Mr. Brown’s long career: a politician prone to both dreamy idealism and cold pragmatism, capable of being both poetic and profane in the same sentence and often surrounded with starry-eyed do-gooders and the occasional fringe character. ... ‘He is most definitely not the blow-dry-haired, antiseptic, focus-group-tested candidate that most are used to in this day and age in politics,’ said Christopher Lehane, a Democratic consultant. ‘And that cuts both ways.’”
The Los Angeles Times' Decker makes this point: "Just when millions of Californians began tuning in to the upcoming elections, the candidates running for office appeared last week to have wandered onto a different planet, where they speak in tongues and reality is situational. As the Legislature and Arnold Schwarzenegger came to terms on a budget that will dump pain into his successor's lap, little was heard about it from either candidate for governor. They were talking, through aides and statements, about illegal immigrant housekeepers and insulting language, not the state's feeble state. And the candidates running for the U.S. Senate were not much different."
CONNECTICUT: At the margins: ”Connecticut Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon said Sunday she would freeze federal wages and take the balance of stimulus money to help trim the federal debt,” The Hill writes.
FLORIDA: “Eager to retain Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, President Barack Obama returns today for his third Miami fundraiser of the year — this time to benefit House races, including an increasingly competitive South Florida contest” between Rep. Ron Klein and Tea Party-backed challenger Allen West, the Miami Herald writes.
Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek denied rumors, cited anonymously in a Wall Street Journal article, that he was dropping out of the race. “Kendrick Meek's campaign quickly responded to the ‘ridiculous rumor’ from the Journal, saying Meek laughed out loud when he was told about the article,” CBS4 Miami wrote.
“Democrat gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink will add a rare two-minute TV ad to the ongoing battle over the airwaves,” the St. Petersburg Times’ Buzz Blog writes. Sink's campaign said the ad is a response to Republican Rick Scott's ‘deceitful and misleading attacks on Sink's honesty and integrity.’”
ILLINOIS: The nominees for Senate had to both explain aspects of their record that have been subject to scrutiny on “Meet The Press” over the weekend. CQ’s take: “Moderator David Gregory asked both Giannoulias and Kirk about inconsistencies in their personal biographies. He started with Giannoulias, focusing on his time at Broadway Bank. Republicans have tagged Giannoulias as a mob banker over loans given to organized crime figures. ‘We didn’t know the extent of that activity,’ Giannoulias said.” More: “Gregory also revisited the inconsistencies revealed this year concerning Kirk’s military service with the Naval Reserve. Kirk claimed to have received an award individually that actually went to his entire unit and to have served in operations that he wasn’t a part of. ‘I made mistakes with regard to my military misstatements,’ Kirk said. ‘I was careless. I learned a very painful and humbling lesson.’”
Bloomberg News on the “Meet” debate: “The two men who want to fill a Senate seat President Obama once held in Illinois questioned each other’s integrity and qualifications yesterday as they faced off in their first debate.”
KENTUCKY: Spreading the wealth? “Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul raised the idea Sunday that wealthier people like his opponent, the co-owner of a Kentucky Derby horse, should pay more for Medicare coverage.” Paul said, "If you own a racehorse like my opponent, or if you're Bill Gates, do you think maybe you should spend more and pay more for the cost of Medicare?" He added “that taxes won't adequately cover Medicare costs.”
MASSACHUSETTS: The governor’s race keeps getting more twisted… The Boston Globe: “Cahill’s former running mate, Paul Loscocco, charged in a two-page statement that Patrick senior strategist Doug Rubin, who used to work for Cahill, had been coordinating a negative ad campaign against Baker with Neil Morrison, a former top Cahill deputy in the state treasurer’s office and with the Democratic Governors Association.”
NEW YORK: "The Republican candidate for governor, Carl P. Paladino, told a gathering in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Sunday that children should not be 'brainwashed' into thinking that homosexuality was acceptable, and criticized his opponent, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, for marching in a gay pride parade earlier this year," the New York Times says. "Addressing Orthodox Jewish leaders, Mr. Paladino described his opposition to same-sex marriage. 'I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option — it isn’t,' he said, reading from a prepared address, according to a video of the event."
On Sunday's Meet the Press, host David Gregory pressed Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias to outline what he knew about loans made by his family's bank to criminal figures, including convicted felon Tony Rezko.
Giannoulias replied that, while there were individuals with "colorful pasts that we didn't want to do business with," community banks determine worthiness to receive loans based on borrowers' creditworthiness and other objective measures.
"If I knew then what I know now, these are not the kind of people that we'd do business with," he added, "but that's not how banks work."
Asked again if he knew that criminal figures were the recipients of some of those loans, Giannoulias said again, "I didn't know the extent of their activity."
Speaking to reporters after the show, Giannoulias said that the bank was aware of "rumblings" about some of the borrowers but reiterated that the decision to offer the loans was based on the borrowers' creditworthiness alone.
NBC News rates Giannoulias's race against GOP Rep. Mark Kirk a tossup.
9:34 ET: That's all for the debate, everyone. Reporters in the studio are off to try to catch the candidates after the show. We'll report back what they have to say.
9:32 ET: Asked about policies on which they have bucked their party, Kirk cites his support for stem cell research, anti-hate crimes legislation. Giannoulias again mentions how TARP was handled.
9:31 ET: Given the opportunity to weigh in on Kirk's military record, Giannoulias pivots to Kirk's record in Washington D.C. instead.
9:30 ET: Gregory asks Kirk about inconsistencies in how he's portrayed his military record. Here's a quick rundown from the Chicago Tribune:
In June, Kirk apologized for a series of misstatements about his 21-year Navy career, including that he served in the Gulf War, that he once commanded the Pentagon war room, that he was “intelligence office of the year,” and that he came under fire while flying missions over Iraq.
"I learned a very painful and humbling lesson," Kirk says, saying that he was "careless" in describing his military record. "I am completely accountable for this."
9:28 ET: Kirk won't answer directly if he believes Giannoulias' family has direct ties to the mob, as political allies imply in one ad running in the state. But he highlights the timeline of Broadway Bank's loans.
Here's the NRSC ad that appears to connect Giannoulias to mobsters: 9:27 ET: "If I knew then what I know now, these aren't the kind of people I'd be doing business with," Giannoulias says.
Gregory presses Giannoulias to say whether he knew that the bank was lending money to criminal figures. "We didn't know the extent of that activity," Giannoulias replies.
9:23 ET: Gregory asks Giannoulias about the issue that's plagued him throughout the campaign: his family's Broadway Bank. The bank made a $22.75 million loan to a company called Riverside District Development LLC, owned in part by Tony Rezko, a Chicago businessman who was convicted on corruption charges in 2008.
Giannoulias repeats what he's said in the past: "I left day to day operations in 2005."
9:22 ET: On health care, Giannoulias says: "He wants to repeal it. I want to reform it and fix it."
9:20 ET: Giannoulias says "the health care bill was far from a perfect vehicle," but believes that it accomplished some important goals. Kirk supports repeal.
9:18 ET: Gregory asks Kirk if he supports Rep. Paul Ryan's draconian spending cut proposals. "I have my own cuts," Kirk replies. He proposes lawsuit reform, sale of large parts of the Tennessee Valley Authority as examples.
9:16 ET: Giannoulias: "we're going to have to take our medicine" on spending cuts. He says he would have voted against the omnibus spending bill. "This is where the president made a mistake."
9:16 ET: Giannoulias describes Kirk's assertion that he is a fiscal hawk the biggest "whopper" he's told turning the campaign.
9:14 ET: In 2004, Kirk was part of the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership, which argued that permanent across-the-board tax cut extensions were simply unaffordable.
9:13 ET: "We avoided a second Great Depression," Giannoulias says of the stimulus bill. He says that the Recovery Act helped save "millions" of jobs.
9:12 ET: Gregory asks Giannoulias if he will push for more stimulus funds if elected: "If more stimulus means more tax cuts to small business .. I am for it."
9:10 ET: Giannoulias tries to paint himself as the outsider in the race: "We've forgotten what it's like on Main Street" ... "Congressman Kirk has been in Washington for 20 years."
9:09 ET: "The stimulus has largely failed," Kirk says. He describes Congress as "viciously anti-business."
9:08 ET: Kirk describes himself as "a fiscal hawk" -- and he has a chart in hand to illustrate the depth of the national debt.
9:07 ET: First question goes to Giannoulias on Obama: "I think he's done everything he can to help turn this economy around," he says. But adds that some policies, especially TARP, were not "perfect." TARP should have included more accountability. 'I think that was a missed opportunity"
9:06 ET: There are no set rules for Meet the Press debates -- host David Gregory will ask about all the issues. The debate will be 30 minutes long.
9:03 ET: This is a personal fight for the president, who held the seat that his friend and Illinois state treasurer Giannoulias is hoping to win. Obama has campaigned for him twice in as many months; Michelle Obama is slated to appear on his behalf this week.
9:01 ET: This is the first formal debate between the two Illinois Senate candidates. They will meet two more times before Election Day.
9:00 ET: We're on the air.
8:45 a.m. ET: Good morning! The two men vying for Barack Obama's former Senate seat are debating this morning on NBC's Meet the Press, and we'll be live-blogging the show here on First Read.
Recent polls show a tight race between Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias. Giannoulias has faced questions about his family's bank, which was seized by federal regulators in April. Kirk has come under fire for embellishing his military record. Read more about the race here.
Stay tuned for the debate, which starts at 9 a.m. ET.
NBC's John Boxleyreported earlier on Republicans Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina having a little fun and downing shots a tequila Friday night, going along with tradition during a Hispanic 100 award gala in California.
Nevada has the highest unemployment and foreclosure rates in the country, but the past week has been dominated by Sharron Angle's attack ad on Harry Reid for Viagra for sex offenders and child molestors. Reid has been trying paint Angle as too extreme; his campaign even has a mock video (Web video with no money behind it) "selling" Sharron Angle's "Crazy Juice."
Meg Whitman (left) and Carly Fiorina (right) celebrate their primary wins on June 9.
From NBC's John Boxley NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina received a warm welcome here from the audience at the Hispanic 100 lifetime Achievement Award Gala. Before speaking, the two Republican candidates running for governor and Senate, respectively, downed shots of tequila as the crowd cheered them on.
Fiorina spoke first, saying, "Mucho gracias. This evening has spoiled me forever, from now on, I want to follow Paul Rodriguez [the emcee], and i think every speech should begin with a shot of Tequila." Then she let out a yell, "It was great!"
Fiorina says California and the United States have been deeply enriched by Latinos, and pointed out that 25% of all Latino small businesses in the U.S. are here in California.
And she said a guest worker program that works is desperately needed. She even went so far as to blame her opponent, incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer for killing the guest-worker effort in 2006.
"These are consequential times in California," Fiorina said, "these are times where we must choose to reinforce and reaffirm those things that made us great. Too often, bad government and policy is destroying opportunity in the state of California."
She spoke about problems like water shortages affecting farmers in Central California, which she blamed on federal protection of the endangered Smelt fish. Many farms have shut in the Central Coast and, in one city, Mendota, unemployment is about 40%.
Again she placed the blame squarely on Boxer. Boxer is the Chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Fiorina said it is Boxer's job to get that water turned on, but Boxer refused to do it.
"We must protect our frogs and our fish," she said, "we must protect our families as well."
Fiorina added that her first act as a senator would be to walk into senior Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office and get the water turned on.
She closed by saying it's time for a change: "We have to change the people we send to Washington. These are important and consequential times; this is a time for us to stand up and say and reaffirm what it is we believe in, who it is we are, and who we stand with...."
Whitman followed. She did not mention her Democratic opponent Jerry Brown by name, but did make one reference to "my opponent" and his lack of Latino-focused ads -- though the SEIU is certainly running ads in support of Brown, and in Spanish, hitting Whitman for the controversy surrounding her hiring of an undocumented worker, who worked in her home for nine years.
There was no mention of the former housekeeper or the Brown voice mail in which a Brown staffer can be heard referring to Whitman as a "whore."
"Now I don't have to tell you that we have an exciting election coming in 25 days," said an animated Whitman, "and we are in the home stretch, and you know what, we are going to win this thing."
Whitman framed the election as a battle for the soul of California: "Do we want to move forward? Do we want a beacon on the future, or do we want the same old policies of the past? I vote for the future. I bet you vote for the future."
Making her pitch to the Latino crowd, Whitman said, "Here is what every Californian tells me, every Latino Californian tells me, they want California to be great again." She added, "I want to work with Latinos; I can't win the election without the Latino vote."
She promised that Latinos will have a seat at the table in her administration.
She pointed out that the unemployment rate for Latinos is 17%, far exceeding the national average of 9.6%. "One-in-four Latinos are unemployed in California, and that just breaks my heart as it breaks yours."
She also promised to take on the failing California school system: "We are going to take on the leadership of the California Teachers Association, and we are going to get this done... . We are going to put more control into the hands of parents and local school districts. We are going to get the Sacramento bureaucracy out of the way."
The Jerry Brown (D) campaign tells First Read that it has no plans to investigate who in its campaign used the word "whore" in reference to Republican gubernatorial opponent Meg Whitman.
When asked if they planned to fire the person responsible, campaign spokesman Sterling Clifford said he was uncertain the campaign would even be able to identify the staffer.
"I don't know that it's possible," Clifford said of identifying the person, contending there could have been a dozen or more people close enough to the phone to be heard. And they're not interviewing staffers to find out, he said.
An aide can be heard saying the word in a phone call recorded on a voice mail leaked to the Los Angeles Times. The call was placed by the Brown campaign to a union representative of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, seeking its endorsement. But Brown and the campaign did not hang up the call and the rest of their conversation was recorded on the union representative's voice mail.
News of the call, however, only surfaced last night, following a week of negative press for the Whitman campaign over the ex-eBay CEO's employment of an undocumented worker for nine years in her home. The Brown campaign contends Whitman promised to protect police pensions from potential pension reforms, whereas Brown made no such promise. The Whitman campaign accused the Brown campaign of orchestrating the immigrant lawyer story with lawyer Gloria Allred.
What the staffer said was "inappropriate," Clifford said. But, he added, it's clear it's not Brown who used the word. Clifford said he found it "interesting" that this recording surfaces just three days before their next debate, to be moderated by NBC's Tom Brokaw.