Seizing on Pete Sessions’ (R) statement on “Meet the Press” that the GOP needs to go back to the same agenda as they during the Bush years, the DNC has a new Web video.
A DNC official emails First Read: “We’re jumping all over this. Republicans have given us an opening to tie them back to Bush and have also helped us frame this election as a choice -- between Obama and Bush -- rather than a referendum on the President’s policies.”
"In 22 of the 31 House seats rated as tossups by the non-partisan Cook Political Report, vulnerable Democratic candidates had more cash available at the end of June than their GOP rivals," USA Today finds in its analysis of campaign finance reports covering activity from April 1st through June 30th.
ALASKA:Roll Call profiles Lisa Murkowski's GOP primary: "Murkowski is taking the Fairbanks Republican seriously enough that she plans to endure the 20 hours round-trip travel time to fly home Friday and spend about 36 hours on the ground campaigning before she heads back to Washington, D.C., for votes."
FLORIDA: Republicans are pouncing on this news from a Wall Street Journal profile of Charlie Crist. “Despite pledging as a Republican to help repeal President Obama's health-care overhaul, Mr. Crist now says he does not support such a move.”
GEORGIA: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution with some fun facts on the packed gubernatorial race today: "When polls close Tuesday evening at 7, no more than four of 14 candidates for governor will still have an immediate political future, and that assumes a runoff is necessary in both the Democratic and Republican campaigns. The would-be governors, seven Democrats and seven Republicans, have more than 150 years of combined state and federal government experience."
You know it's bad when you're blaming the media... At a final-24-hours campaign stop, state insurance and fire safety commissioner John Oxendine "tried to play a game of catch-up," as former Secretary of State Karen Handel has been "surging," local affiliate WXIA reports. "Polls have shown the Oxendine campaign numbers dropping over the last five weeks. Mr. Oxendine has been the target of ethics questions and campaign tactics. He has also found himself in the crosshairs of both print and television reporters." Oxendine told a reporter, "I think the media has definitely made me a target because I am the conservative reform candidate. Whoever is the most conservative is going to be the punching ball of the media."
And in the 12th congressional district, Democratic Rep. John Barrow has a primary rematch against Regina Thomas, whom he defeated in 2008, Politico writes. "Thomas, a former state senator who is African-American, is campaigning on the message that Barrow is too conservative for his district and criticizing him for voting against health care reform. Barrow has responded by outspending Thomas 21 to one. He has run ads dubbing himself "our congressman" and arguing that he helped bring jobs to the district.
MICHIGAN: "Former 7th District congressman Joe Schwarz, R-Battle Creek, is endorsing Ann Arbor businessman Rick Snyder in the Republican gubernatorial primary," the Jackson Citizen Patriot writes. "Schwarz will also serve as chairman of 'Common Sense for Michigan,' a new website aimed to bring in voters who might not have voted before in a Republican primary."
MISSOURI: Republican Rep. and Senate candidate Roy Blunt "is launching a buzzy statewide television buy today that uses President Barack Obama's recent campaign trip for Carnahan against her, highlighting the president's comment in Kansas City that he needs 'another vote' in the Senate," Politico writes.
This comes a day after the Boston Globe's Milligan wrote that Ayotte was "scrambling," particularly "in a year when Tea Party movement devotees and political newcomers are threatening the electoral hopes of established candidates across the country."
NEW YORK: Sen. Chuck Schumer, "whose recent success at picking winners among Democrats is well established, made a $10,000 contribution to [embattled Rep. Charlie] Rangel’s reelection campaign in June, breaking what had been a long dry spell of contributions from Democratic lawmakers."
From NBC's Jillian Hughes With Sarah Palin behind her and with the latest Mason-Dixon poll showing her ahead, it’s a safe bet that former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) will qualify for the run-off after the state's seven-way GOP gubernatorial primary tomorrow.
And if she wins the run-off, and then wins the general election in November, Handel would become Georgia's first female governor. But it wouldn't be the only thing she might add to the history books.
Come 2011, Handel could very well be part of a group of female governors who could tie -- or even break -- the previous record of nine women residing in governor's mansions simultaneously (which was set in 2004 and again in 2007).
Next year, three female governors are certain. North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue (D) and Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) aren’t up for re-election until 2012. Then one woman -- either Democratic nominee Diane Denish or Republican nominee Susana Martinez -- is guaranteed to be the next governor of New Mexico.
Nikki Haley (R) in South Carolina is the clear favorite, as is Mary Fallin (R) in Oklahoma. That gets us to five pink governor’s mansions. Analysts say re-election for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) is probable as well -- that makes six.
Alex Sink (D) in Florida and Meg Whitman (R) in California, both competing in toss-up contests, are a possible Nos. 7 and 8. Handel could be nine. And several other candidates could make Nos. 10, 11, and beyond. There’s Libby Mitchell (D) in Maine; Deb Markowitz (D) and Susan Bartlett (D) in Vermont; and Margaret Anderson Kelliher (D) in Minnesota.
Other women running for governor -- though they're underdogs in their races -- include Joan Heffington (R) in Kansas; Karen Testerman (R) in New Hampshire; Rita Meyer (R) and Leslie Peterson (D) in Wyoming; and Jari Askins (D) in Oklahoma.
From NBC's Ali Weinberg How do you get to the White House?
For DC-area dance students today, the answer is practice, practice, practice.
As part of a White House series aimed at stressing the importance of arts education, 20 high school-age dancers from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and the Joy of Motion Dance Center performed the closing number from the musical "Hairspray," in front of an audience including First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as the parents and teachers of the performers.
Later tonight, the group will perform in the East Room along with Broadway stars and new talent in a tribute to the Great White Way, as part of the "In Performance at the White House" series.
The students had spent the morning rehearsing the song, "Can't Stop The Beat," with famed choreographer Jerry Mitchell, one of the few in his craft to have three Broadway musicals running simultaneously (in fact, he's held this distinction twice, according to information provided by the White House).
Before the East Room event officially got under way, Mitchell led the dancers through the routine one last time, pausing over a particularly challenging few steps.
"Now do it again and smile," Mitchell said.
After the First Lady entered the room, the dancers took it from the top, hands and legs flying as purple lights bounced off of the hairspray coating each dancer's heads.
When the number reached its triumphant end, Mitchell praised the students but reserved some constructive criticism, telling the students to take it "from the Tracey dance" (named for the musical's lead character, Tracey Turnblad), at which point he gave more directions, some more technical than others.
During a sequence in which the dancers mimicked some iconic "Proud Mary" moves, Mitchell simply shouted, "And, Tina! Turner! Tina! Turner!" in time with the music.
The First Lady took to the stage after the performance ended, shaking her head and saying, "I'm tired!" much to the amusement of the audience.
"I'm just very excited. This is exactly what we envisioned happening when we started this music series," she said, adding that the event "showcases young talent mixed with some of the best talent this country has to offer."
Mitchell proudly told the First Lady that he hadn't gone easy on the students - they had learned the exact same routine that the show's Broadway dancers perform each night.
After shaking each student's hand, Mrs. Obama said that President Obama would be attending the event this evening, and told the dancers not to be intimidated.
From NBC's Athena Jones President Obama today called on Republicans in Congress to stop blocking efforts to extend jobless benefits, arguing that providing unemployment insurance to people who are out of work is the government's responsibility.
Some 2.5 million people have already lost access to this emergency relief, and those numbers are growing by the week. The White House believes helping the unemployed would boost consumer spending and help spur the economic recovery. But Republicans argue this kind of assistance should not be paid for through emergency spending that adds to the deficit; they say it should be paid for, for instance, by using unspent stimulus funds.
"For a long time there's been a tradition, under both Democratic and Republican presidents, to offer relief to the unemployed," Obama said during his brief Rose Garden statement, pointing out that under President Bush, Republican senators voted several times to extend emergency unemployment benefits. "It's time to stop holding workers laid off in this recession hostage to Washington politics."
In fact, passage of the extension of unemployment insurance -- after three failed attempts in recent weeks -- is all but assured tomorrow when it comes up for a vote again, because Democrats will have one more senator added to their ranks with the swearing in of Carte Goodwin (D), who will replace the late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd (D). Democrats have already gained the support of the two Maine Republicans, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.
Today's remarks -- at which three unemployed Americans joined the president on stage -- were intended to paint Republicans as the party of special interests and the wealthy, and to show voters that the Democratic Party is on the side of working people. That was a theme then-candidate Obama was successful in using during the 2008 presidential campaign.
"I have to say, after years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit, the same people who didn't have any problems spending hundreds of billions of dollars on tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are now saying we shouldn't offer relief to middle-class Americans," Obama said.
"These leaders in the Senate who are advancing a misguided notion that emergency relief somehow discourages people from looking for a job should talk to these folks," he added, indicating the three people on stage with him. "That attitude, I think, reflects a lack of faith in the American people."
The president said that even though the country was nearing the midterm elections, there are times when you put politics aside. He also pushed Congress to approve tax cuts for small businesses and help for lending to small businesses, where most of America's jobs are created.
From NBC's Michelle Perry After touting the "real progress" the U.S. and Pakistan have made in the past 18 months and announcing the first major initiatives in the $7.5 billion U.S. aid package to Pakistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she is bothered by the negative connotation that US aid still has in some areas of Pakistan.
Clinton, who faced tough questions the last time she conducted a town hall in Pakistan in October, gave her assessment at this latest one in response to a question about the way some Pakistanis view U.S. aid.
"I'm aware of fact that in some parts of Pakistan US aid is not appreciated," she said, "and that bothers me a lot."
"You've got to understand from an American perspective, especially during the economic crisis that we all have encountered and a higher than usual unemployment rate in the U.S., the idea to say an unemployed auto worker or a laid off secretary somewhere in the United States that the aid we provide to a country may not be appreciated raises the question in their minds, 'Well why are you sending money to country that doesnt want it?' So it is a challenge for us. And we are looking for ways to convey our commitment to Pakistan ... with at the same time changing attitudes among those segments of the Pakistani population that either believe or are led to believe that somehow our assistance is either not wanted or disregarded. And I think we have a lot of work to do.
"We have to do better job of conveying what we are doing, and it is our belief that the vast majority of Pakistanis appreciate what we are doing, but as is often the case in any society, a small minority can have a disproportionate influence on the public discourse. I invite your ideas -- what is a better way of conveying that information? We frankly need a dialogue within Pakistani society about that. that makes clear we are trying to help you achieve your goals -- not our goals."
Clinton also said that overcoming the security situation in Pakistan is not one that the military could win alone.
"The answer is for the vast vast majority of Pakistanis who decry violence," she said, "who are dismayed by the activities of what is a relatively small group to turn your backs on them, to deny them any support, to turn them into authorities, to prevent them from metastasizing like the cancer that they are, because in the end it is not up to your military which has sacrificed a lot. ...There is no military victory. There must be a defeat of the ideology and the actions of those who thrive on violence and extremism. So while your military with our help try to go after those who have caused such death and destruction it is really ultimately up to the people of Pakistan."
From NBC's John Yang CHICAGO -- On his way into court this morning, Rod Blagojevich defense attorney Sam Adam told reporters that Obama confidante and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett will not be called as a defense witness.
She was one of a large number of Washington officials subpoenaed, including White House Chief of Staff and former Chicago congressman Rahm Emanuel and Sens. Dick Durbin and Harry Reid. While Emanuel is very likely to be called, Durbin, Reid and many others on the defense subpoena list are not likely to be called.
*** UPDATE *** Julie Blagojevich, the former governor's sister-in-law and wife of co-defendant Robert Blagojevich, has been called as the first defense witness. After Julie, Robert Blagojevich is expected to be called. Blago himself could be on the stand as soon as tomorrow.
“Meet the Press” turns into Bush vs. Obama, by proxy… Question for Republicans: Where’s the beef?... Examining the GOP’s checks-and-balances argument… What to watch for this week… Obama, at 10:30 am ET, to slam Senate Republicans for blocking the unemployment-benefit extension… NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Hillary… McCain and Hayworth squared off in two debates over the weekend… Obama to stump for Giannoulias on Aug. 5… And Alvin Greene makes his first campaign appearance.
From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg *** Bush vs. Obama, by proxy: Watching yesterday’s forum on “Meet the Press” -- featuring NRCC Chair Pete Sessions, NRSC Chair John Cornyn, DCCC Chair Chris Van Hollen and DSCC Chair Bob Menendez -- it appeared to be a Bush vs. Obama debate by proxy. Republicans blasted the Obama administration’s policies. “I think the public sees this as a long-term debt issue of big government, more spending,” Sessions said. Added Cornyn: “If there's one area where this administration has failed miserably, it's been in creating an environment where job creators will make those investments and create jobs and grow the economy.” On the other hand, here was Van Hollen: “During the whole eight years of the Bush administration, we actually lost over 600,000 private sector jobs…” And Menendez: “It's not just talking about President Bush; it's the policies that they espouse that are in essence Bush's policies. Those led us to a 72% percent increase in the debt from $5.7 trillion to $9.8 trillion when Bush left.”
*** Where’s the beef? But the biggest news that was made on “Meet” may have been what WASN’T said instead of what WAS. Over the course of several minutes, both Sessions and Cornyn were unable or unwilling to discuss what Republicans would specifically do on the deficit, etc., if they take back control of Congress. Sessions said that the GOP would: 1) ensure that the government live within its means, and 2) read the actual legislation. But when NBC’s David Gregory demanded specifics and details of painful choices Republicans were willing to make, Sessions didn’t offer a single one.
*** The GOP is waiting on Obama’s commission? When Gregory asked the same question to Cornyn -- what painful choices would you make to balance the budget? -- the senator replied, “Well, the president has a debt commission that reports December the 1st, and I think we'd all like to see what they come back with.” Gregory followed up with this: “But wait a minute, conservatives need a Democratic president's debt commission to figure out what it is they want to cut?” (Not only that, but as it turns out, many Republicans and several Democrats -- though Cornyn wasn’t one of them -- voted against Congress creating a similar task force on the debt/deficit. Obama then was forced to create the current commission via an executive order.) One of the critiques many are making of the GOP is that, unlike in ’94, the party isn't offering new ideas or fresh faces if they take back control of Congress.
*** The checks-and-balances argument: But do they need to? Perhaps the strongest argument the GOP made on “Meet” was this: Republicans in control of Congress will be a check and balance on the Obama White House. “I think what people are looking for … are checks and balances,” Cornyn said. “They've had single party government, and it's scaring the living daylights out of them.” As it turns out, our NBC/WSJ poll from May showed a whopping 62% preferring different parties controlling the White House and Congress. And as National Journal’s Ron Brownstein noted in his Friday column, that preference has played out over the last 40 years. “Since 1968, neither party has simultaneously controlled the White House and Congress for more than four consecutive years.” The "check" argument is most powerful with indie voters, who personally may have a favorable opinion of the president but have been disappointed in his policies. The "check" allows Republicans to make the pitch to a voter who isn't ready to give up on Obama's presidency but wants to send him a message.
*** What to watch for this week: It might be the middle of the summer, but this week is still packed with plenty of political activity. Tomorrow is primary day in Georgia, where there are competitive Dem and GOP primaries for governor. Tuesday also brings us the Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination, as well as the swearing of new West Virginia Sen. Carte Goodwin (D). On Wednesday, Obama will sign into law the financial reform legislation that the Senate passed last week. And later this week, the liberal blogosphere confab, Netroots Nation, gets underway in Las Vegas.
*** Battling over unemployment benefits: Today, however, President Obama will call on Republicans to stop blocking legislation extending unemployment benefits when he delivers a statement from the White House at 10:30 am ET. “The President will tell the stories of Americans in need of the extension and he will have strong words for Republicans who have previously supported unemployment extensions under Republican presidents, but refuse to offer relief to middle class families today,” an administration official emails First Read. “And he will point out that they are calling for hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while telling working families that we can’t afford to help them when they need it most.” Republicans respond that they’re opposing the measure because it will add to the deficit. “Democrats have refused over and over again to extend additional unemployment insurance in a way that won't add to an already unsustainable national debt,” says Mitch McConnell’s top spokesman.
*** Goodwin’s longer-than-expected stay? The Senate vote on extending the unemployment benefits is supposed to occur right after West Virginia’s Goodwin is sworn in on Tuesday. (And we know the outcome of the vote. After the swearing-in, Democrats will have their 60 votes; the two Maine Republicans have pledged to vote with 58 other Democrats; Nebraska's Ben Nelson is expected to vote with the majority of Republicans on this vote.) Yet it appears that Goodwin might be a senator longer than folks expect. Politico writes, “Legislation to schedule a special election to fill the vacant seat of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) hit a major roadblock Sunday evening when West Virginia lawmakers adjourned without passing the bill. The failure to pass the bill in a special legislative session left in question when and how the state would schedule what is expected to be a late August special primary and November special general election for the seat.”
*** Hillary on Pakistan: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviewed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has been in Pakistan. In the interview, Clinton acknowledged frustration with Pakistan's efforts against Al Qaeda, saying elements in Pakistan's government know where Osama bin Laden is -- and could get him if they wanted to. “I think there is a bit of a debate going within certain elements of the Pakistani government… Our argument is very simple: ‘Look, you’ve got to take on every non-government armed force within your country, because even though you think they won’t bother you today, there’s no guarantee. It’s like keeping a poisonous snake in your back yard.”
*** The McCain-Hayworth debate(s): Turning to 2010 news, John McCain and J.D. Hayworth debated on Friday and Saturday. Here’s the New York Times’ write-up on the Friday night debate: “Mr. McCain was first out of the box, immediately criticizing Mr. Hayworth, a former congressman, for his 2007 infomercial in which he hawked seminars teaching people how they could get federal grant money for free.” The Times adds that Hayworth “taunted” McCain “with statements like ‘You’re not a statesman anymore, you’re a simply a political shape shifter,’ (in reference to Mr. McCain’s position on immigration) and ‘shame on you’ (in reference to Mr. McCain’s attack ads against him). Mr. McCain largely deflected the attacks with a smile, once countering, ‘there you go again’ and later ‘there he goes again.’”
*** McCain vs. … Obama? Politico notes, though, that many of McCain’s attacks were aimed not at Hayworth but at President Obama. “When Hayworth attacked him for supporting the 2008 bank bailout, McCain blasted the Obama administration for ‘committing generational theft.’ When he was accused of supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants, McCain repeatedly blamed Obama for failing to secure the border. On Afghanistan, the Arizona senator called Obama an ‘uncertain trumpet.’”
“President Barack Obama can finally chalk up a win when he signs financial reform legislation into law this week. The trick now is to spin that victory into electoral gains this November, and both the White House and Democratic leaders are coordinating on a strategy they hope will make that happen,” Roll Call writes.
In fact, The Hill reports, “President Obama will take to the White House Rose Garden on Monday morning to excoriate Republicans for blocking unemployment insurance, a White House official said.”
An administration official emails: “The President will call on Congress to extend unemployment insurance in a Rose Garden statement Monday morning. Republicans have blocked the extension of emergency relief for the unemployed three times in the last few weeks, denying millions of people who are out work and trying to find a job the needed relief. The president will tell the stories of Americans in need of the extension and he will have strong words for Republicans who have previously supported unemployment extensions under Republican presidents but refuse to offer relief to middle class families today. And he will point out that they are calling for hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while telling working families that we can’t afford to help them when they need it most.”
“The Tea Party movement is not racist, Vice President Joe Biden said yesterday, though he believes that some Tea Partiers have expressed racist views,” AP writes. Biden on ABC: “Very conservative, very different views on government and a whole lot of things. But it is not a racist organization.”
(Also: “The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People approved a resolution last week calling on Tea Party activists and others to ‘repudiate the racist element and activities’ within the political movement. In defending the National Tea Party Federation, spokesman David Webb said yesterday [on CBS] the coalition of local and regional Tea Party groups has expelled the Tea Party Express from its ranks for refusing to remove its spokesman, conservative talk radio host Mark Williams, after he posted a blog that satirized the NAACP and referred to its president, Benjamin Jealous, as ‘Tom’s nephew and NAACP head colored person.’ The blog post was ‘clearly offensive,’ Webb said.”)
Biden also said: "I don't think the [Democratic] losses are going to be bad at all. I think we're going to shock the heck out of everybody.”
“After promising for a year and a half to take the witness stand, former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich is likely to testify at his federal corruption trial this week,” AP writes and points out: “Unlike in his TV interviews, Blagojevich is going to be under oath.”
Roll Call notes that the “Kagan confirmation drama dwindles”: “Despite Republicans’ vow that Elena Kagan was in for a tough ride to the Supreme Court, the only lingering drama ahead of Tuesday’s Judiciary Committee vote is whether Sen. Lindsey Graham will break GOP ranks to vote ‘yes’ on her nomination. If the South Carolina Republican does back Kagan, as is expected, her committee vote will likely mirror the vote for Justice Sonia Sotomayor -- with Graham joining all 12 Democrats in voting ‘yes,’ while the remaining six Republicans, led by ranking member Jeff Sessions (Ala.), vote ‘no.’”
“Senate and House Democrats are headed for a clash this week over funding for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) races to clear the schedule for a long-awaited energy reform legislation,” The Hill notes.
Roll Call looks at the potential leadership fight if Democrats lose control of the House: “Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) has shown no inclination that he would be willing to give up the Whip job, which would leave Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) the odd man out. Hoyer could go after the leader job in a long-shot bid against Pelosi in a reprise of their epic 2002 face-off for Minority Whip, although one Hoyer ally said there was not even a remote chance he would do so. Still, he’d have a powerful argument to make -- that the party’s rejection at the polls suggests they need a more moderate approach. But more likely, Hoyer could take on Clyburn for Minority Whip instead, setting up a major Caucus battle between fiscally conservative Blue Dogs, the Congressional Black Caucus and everyone in between.”
“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell argued Sunday for extending Bush administration tax cuts while opposing an extension of unemployment benefits without offsets,” Roll Call notes. (It’s interesting and perhaps telling that in arguing about budget deficits, McConnell is for extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, which amounts to government spending, but is against the unemployment benefits extension.)
John Cornyn said this in a C-SPAN interview: "I think President Bush's stock has gone up a lot since he left office. I think a lot people are looking back with more fondness on President Bush's administration, and I think history will treat him well."
The NBC/WSJ poll, however, does not bear that out. Bush’s numbers largely are unchanged. Our poll showed him with a 29%-50% fav/unfav -- largely unchanged from Jan. 2009, when Obama took office. (Then, Bush was at 31%/58%.)
Sen. David Vitter accused President Obama of playing politics by supposedly trying to move the Gulf oil spill out of the headlines by not appearing there since last month, June 4th.
“Slightly over 40” may sound like the title of a fall sitcom, but it was National Republican Campaign Committee chief Pete Sessions’ (R-TX) description on “Meet the Press” of how many seat Republicans would take back in the fall. They need 39 to take back the House.
MSNBC.com’s Carrie Dann live-blogged "Meet the Press," which featured the first-ever joint appearance of the chairmen of the Democratic and Republican campaign committees. She noted that although NRSC Chairman Sen. John Cornyn said, "if the election were held today, it’d be a pretty good election," he wouldn’t say how many Senate seats he thought Republicans would pick up.
The AP writes up this weekend’s midterm predictions, leading with Vice President Joe Biden’s "cheery prediction" that was "in stark contrast to last weekend's talk show comment by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs that enough House seats are ‘in play’ that Republicans could gain control of the House." He also predicted that as voters begin to understand the details of big administration initiatives like health care reform and "begin considering the alternative policies that GOP candidates are offering, they'll start to come around. Republicans, he said, ‘are about repeal and repeat -- repeal what we're doing and go back’ to policies of the past decade that have been tried and found wanting."
ARIZONA: The New York Times calls this weekend’s debate between Republican Senate candidates Sen. John McCain and J.D. Hayworth and Tea Party candidate Jim Deakin "testy" but that "its substance demonstrated little light between" candidates. "Mr. McCain was first out of the box, immediately criticizing Mr. Hayworth, a former congressman, for his 2007 infomercial in which he hawked seminars teaching people how they could get federal grant money for free. Mr. Hayworth quickly countered that while he has made mistakes, ‘the unfortunate thing is you made mistake after mistake that hurt America,’ citing the senator’s votes in Congress on the bank bailouts and his former stance on immigration," the Times writes.
Politico notes a central part of Hayworth’s debate playbook: tying McCain to President Obama, aiming "many of his punches at a man who is not on the ballot. When Hayworth attacked him for supporting the 2008 bank bailout, McCain blasted the Obama administration for ‘committing generational theft.’ When he was accused of supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants, McCain repeatedly blamed Obama for failing to secure the border. On Afghanistan, the Arizona senator called Obama an ‘uncertain trumpet.’"
CALIFORNIA: "California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, already narrowing Democrat Jerry Brown’s lead among Latino voters, is launching a new Spanish-language television ad Monday that homes in on the issue of education," Politico writes.
COLORADO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis repeatedly denied that he was dropping out of the race because of plagiarism charges, saying he "absolutely" is staying in the race, the Grand Junction Sentinel reports. "’This is politics,’ he said of the events of recent days. ‘It’s not for the faint-hearted. I expect more of it. Look, this is for the governor of Colorado,’" the Sentinel writes.
GEORGIA: Looking at the "Palin effect" in midterm elections, the Sunday New York Times looked at the Georgia Republican Senate race: "Last week [Karen] Handel became at least the 50th candidate to win the Palin seal of approval. Through a breezy 194 words posted on Ms. Palin’s Facebook page -- calling Ms. Handel a ‘pro-life, pro-Constitutionalist with a can-do attitude’ -- a four-way Republican primary came alive, the latest in a number of races across the country that have been influenced by Ms. Palin."
ILLINOIS: President Obama will campaign for Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias on Aug. 5th, the Chicago Tribune reports. "The fundraiser announcement, which was confirmed by the White House, comes on the heels of the one-term state treasurer announcing that he is trailing Republican opponent Mark Kirk in fundraising by a significant margin."
NEVADA: "Republican Brian Sandoval has maintained a double-digit lead over Democrat Rory Reid in the race for governor, although the gap between them has narrowed slightly, according to a poll conducted for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and KLAS-TV, Channel 8. Sandoval holds a 47 percent to 36 percent lead over Reid in the poll of 625 likely voters," the Review-Journal writes. http://bit.ly/9cNt7H
OHIO: Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich is up with his first television ad, "blasting incumbent Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland’s record and accusing Strickland ‘and his friends’ of trying to ‘tear me down,’ the Dayton Daily News reports.
PENNSYLVANIA:AP’s Sidoti goes to Pennsylvania: “Independents have been turning away from President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, frustrated with the economic downturn and administration initiatives, even in Pennsylvania where Obama won by double-digits two years ago.”
SOUTH CAROLINA: In his first campaign appearance, South Carolina's surprising U.S. Senate candidate, Alvin Greene, received applause Sunday with his exhortations to improve education and fight unemployment,” the AP says. Greene started his speech at the monthly meeting of the local NAACP branch in his home town of Manning by slowly listing national job loss statistics and South Carolina's dismal rankings in standardized tests.”
The New York Daily News adds: “‘We have more unemployed now in South Carolina than any other time in our history,’ Greene said, speaking slowly for about seven minutes while reading off a prepared text. ‘And we have the highest drop out rate on the country.’”
From left to right: Meet the Press guests National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).
Carrie Dann writes:
9:57am ET: And that concludes Meet the Press. Thanks for following along and enjoy the rest of your morning.
As always: If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.
9:54am ET: Some of the Watergate Babies, by the way: Sens. Chris Dodd, Tom Harkin, and Max Baucus; and Reps. George Miller, Henry Waxman, and Jim Oberstar.
9:53am ET: A dive into the history books: Democrats picked up a whopping 48 seats in the House in 1974. The class of newcomers would later be dubbed the "Watergate Babies."
9:50am ET: From a partial transcript - Bush's name mentioned seven times in 10 minutes.
9:47am ET: Sessions predicts "slightly over 40" House seat pickups for the GOP.
9:46am ET: Cornyn: "If the election was held today, it'd be a pretty good election." But he won't say how many Senate seats he thinks Republicans will pick up.
9:44am ET: Sessions: The Tea Party is made up of "one-third Democrats, one-third Republicans, and one-third Independents."
9:41am ET: Cornyn: It's "slanderous" to accuse the Tea Party of racism. "There's no basis for it."
9:37am ET: Optimistic: Here's what Vice President Biden said on ABC this morning regarding the midterm elections: "I don’t think the [Democratic] losses are going to be bad at all. I think we’re going to shock the heck out of everybody."
"We're going to be in great shape," he said.
9:34am ET: Cornyn won't say directly if the financial regulatory reform bill should be repealed, but he points out that even Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd admitted that it's not clear how exactly the bill will impact the economy in the long run.
9:32am ET: Smaller government "is a positive agenda," Cornyn counters.
9:30am ET: Sessions said the GOP agenda should include "living within our means" and "making sure we read the bills."
Gregory responds: "That's a pretty gauzy agenda so far," asks Sessions to name more specifics.
9:27am ET: The NRCC's Sessions has set his personal goal high for 2010, saying that if the GOP does not retake the House, he will have failed to fulfill his “misison statement.”
Sessions was reportedly so gleeful to hear Gibbs’ admission that the GOP could potentially win back control of the House that he played a tape of the comment during a Republican meeting last week to fire up his colleagues.
9:26am ET: We're in a commercial break.
9:25am ET: No hesitation from Van Hollen: Obama is "absolutely an asset," not a liability for 2010 Democratic candidates.
9:22am ET: Guests discussing this POLITICO piece from Thursday, headlined "Why Obama loses by winning." Here's the lede paragraph:
Thursday’s passage of financial reform, just a couple months after the passage of a comprehensive health care overhaul, should decisively end the narrative that President Barack Obama represents a Jimmy Carter-style case of naive hope crushed by the inability to master Washington.
Yet the mystery remains: Having moved swiftly toward achieving the very policy objectives he promised voters as a candidate, Obama is still widely perceived as flirting with a failed presidency.
9:22am ET: Cornyn: "One party rule" is "scaring the living daylights" out of Americans.
9:19am ET: Van Hollen, describing the policy philosophy being articulated by Republicans, mentions Joe Barton's apology to BP and Minority Leader Boehner's statement that the recently-passed financial regulatory should be repealed.
9:18am ET: Sessions: GOP candidates are campaigning with this message about government spending: "We must live within our own means."
9:16am ET: In the first 15 minutes of this debate, former President Bush's name has been mentioned almost as many times as President Obama's. (UPDATE: Bush's name was mentioned 10 times and Obama's was mentioned 9 in the first 15 minutes, according to a rush transcript)
9:15am ET: Van Hollen: "We know we have a long way to go on the economy."
9:14am ET: Menendez of the DSCC said that Republicans have used the filibuster "in an unprecedented way in American history."
9:13am ET: Cornyn said that, while many of Obama's major legislative initiatives have passed, Americans don't believe the president has done enough to spur the economy and reduce unemployment.
9:11am ET: So, how many House seats are in play? Pundits and lawmakers have varying estimates of how many House seats could potentially change hands in November. Van Hollen estimated 70 in a recent interview. Republican House Leader John Boehner has said that number is more like 100.
Republicans need to win 39 seats this fall to win back the majority.
Can they do it? The Cook Political Report projects that Republicans will pick up 30-40 seats, while the Rothenberg Political Report sees about 25-30 pickups for the GOP.
9:10am ET: Van Hollen on Gibbs' statement: "This is the distinction between a mathematical possibility and a probability." He's made a similar point throughout the week since Gibbs appeared on Meet last week. From The Washington Post:
"It was mathematically true, but he failed to complete the sentence," Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said of Gibbs's assessment. "For 18 months we at DCCC and I specifically have made it clear that we are facing a very tough political season. We've also made it clear that at the end of the day we will retain our majority in the House."
9:08am ET: Sen. Cornyn of the NRSC: Americans "want to restrain this unprecedented spending binge."
9:06am ET: Rep. Van Hollen of the DCCC: "It's pretty fresh in [Americans'] memory what Republican policies did to the economy."
9:04am ET: Gregory asked Rep. Pete Sessions of the NRCC to respond to Obama's stump line that his policies will lift America out of the 'mess' created by the Republican policies of the Bush era. "I think change is in the air," Sessions responded.
9:01am ET: Opening the show, David Gregorynotes how the president lashed out at the GOP during his weekly radio address yesterday. Here's an excerpt of what Obama said about Republicans in the Senate:
This week, many of our largest corporations reported robust earnings – a positive sign of growth.
But too many of our small business owners and those who aspire to start their own small businesses continue to struggle, in part because they can’t get the credit they need to start up, grow, and hire. And too many Americans whose livelihoods have fallen prey to the worst recession in our lifetimes – a recession that cost our economy eight million jobs – still wonder how they’ll make ends meet.
That’s why we need to take new, commonsense steps to help small businesses, grow our economy, and create jobs – and we need to take them now.
For months, that’s what we’ve been trying to do. But too often, the Republican leadership in the United States Senate chooses to filibuster our recovery and obstruct our progress. And that has very real consequences.
9:00am ET: And, we're on the air.
8:50am ET: Our guests this morning will be discussing the likelihood that Republicans will regain control of the House or the Senate after the midterm elections. Last week on Meet the Press, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that there are enough seats in play for Republicans to win back the House. He later said that he had only been stating the 'obvious,' but the comment nevertheless touched off a flurry of commentary from pundits and grumbling among Democrats demoralized by Gibbs' calculation. Here's the video of that exchange from last week:
8:30am ET: Good morning from the NBC News Washington bureau.Today, on NBC's Meet the Press, the chairmen of the four campaign committees responsible for the House and Senate midterm elections are making their first ever joint appearance. To mark the occasion, we'll be live-blogging the show right here on First Read.
Starting at 9am ET, watch our play-by-play coverage of this exclusive debate between National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).
The First Family climbs Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine.
As the president vacations in Maine, here are some vacation fun facts to chew over this weekend:
-- Taft nearly 100 years ago, back in 1911, was the last president to vacation in Mount Desert Island, Maine, a quiet area in the shadow of Acadia National Park frequented by some celebrities.
-- He is said to have shot a 27 on a single hole at Kebo Valley Golf Club in Bar Harbor. We'll see if Obama plays there and if he can shoot better than THAT.
-- Taft arrived in the presidential yacht on his vacation.
-- Laura Bush ate at the Jordan Pond House restaurant in Mount Desert Island with a view of Penobscot Mountain two years ago.
-- Mount Desert Island is 205 milies, or a 3-hour, 45-minute drive to Kennebunkport.
-- Obama has taken 65 vacation days compared with 120 for Bush at this point, including 13 trips to his Crawford ranch, per CBS's Mark Knoller.
-- Obama has vacationed so far in Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon (last summer), Memorial Day in Chicago when the Obamas slept in their own home for the first time in a year, Hawaii, and Martha's Vineyard.
-- Obama's vacations haven't exactly been restful for the president and family. Consider: During the Chicago trip, Obama had to leave for a Gulf spill inspection tour; Hawaii was the underwear bomber, Martha's Vineyard was Ted Kennedy's death. There has also been the twice-rescheduled Indonesia trip.
Mount Desert Island Presidential/Celebrity History
The last sitting president to visit the island was William Howard Taft, who infamously shot a 27 on a single hole at the Kebo Valley Golf Club in 1911; now locals are wondering if Obama might play a round there.
Or maybe the Obamas will eat at the Jordan Pond House restaurant and take in the pond-front view of the spectacular sheer face of Penobscot Mountain. Laura Bush dined here quietly two years ago, blending in with the hundreds of visitors who line up daily to sample the restaurant’s famed popovers.
Perhaps the Obamas might stop by the Bar Harbor Hemporium, where actors Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon bought hemp paper and where John Malkovich has shopped for beads?
Bar Harbor and its surroundings are famed as a summer getaway for the rich and famous, from the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts who built homes there to the Hollywood stars who often turn up. But aides say Obama's visit will focus on Acadia, whose 47,000 acres include Cadillac Mountain, the tallest peak on the East Coast.
The park visit follows last summer's Obama family trip to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Canyon National Park, which included whitewater rafting and peach-picking. ... Consider the most recent full-family holiday: a Memorial Day weekend in Chicago that was overtaken by the Gulf oil spill. After the Obamas slept at their Chicago home for the first time in a year, the president got up and left for a daylong Gulf inspection tour. That diversion followed the Obamas' Christmas trip to Hawaii, interrupted repeatedly for briefings and comment on the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound jet.
And it followed last summer's Martha's Vineyard stay, interrupted by the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, whose Boston funeral Obama and his wife, Michelle, attended.
Then there was the planned visit to Indonesia, where Obama spent part of his youth. He'd hoped to show daughters Malia and Sasha his old haunts. But the trip was scrubbed, first in March as health care neared its climax, then again in June because of the oil spill. It's now expected late this year. ...
According to a tally kept by Mark Knoller, a CBS News reporter long recognized by the White House as authoritative on such matters, Obama has spent all or part of 65 days on vacation, including days at Camp David. At this point in his tenure, George W. Bush had spent 120 days. That included 13 trips to his Texas ranch.
More General Presidential Vacation History Boston Globe:
President Dwight Eisenhower relaxed at the 18th hole during a golf game while on vacation in September 1957 in Newport, R.I.
President Herbert C. Hoover laughed as he hooked one of the five large sailfish he caught on his vacation trip aboard the Sequoia in Florida waters in January 1933. The photograph was taken by the president's secretary, Lawrence Richey.
The newly renovated Anderson Cottage at the Old Soldiers' Home on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., came to be known as Lincoln's Cottage. For three summers, Abraham Lincoln and his family retreated to the cottage, and Lincoln spent a full quarter of his presidency there, sometimes meeting with visitors in his slippers. It is believed he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation there, and it's where he got word of the triumph at Gettysburg.
President George W. Bush waved as he fished off the coast of Kennebunkport, Maine, with his father, George Herbert Walker Bush, on Aug. 24, 2006. President Bush was visiting his parents for the weekend as part of his summer vacation. The president vacationed at his 1,600-acre ranch for nearly a month in 2002.
President Calvin Coolidge shot at clay pigeons in this Sept. 6, 1928, file photo at his vacation home on the Brule River in Superior, Wis. He scored 29 out of 37.
President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary, Obama's current secretary of state, rode bicycles during their 1994 vacation on the island. The Clintons visited the Vineyard several times.
The Week Ahead in politics: A Georgia primary preview, Rahm could testify at Blago trial, Greene's first campaign speech, Biden campaigns in MD for O'Malley, Kagan, Clapper, unemployment benefits get votes, Netroots Nation kicks off in Vegas, and get your profanity-laced Blago ringtone now.
We've got Georgia on our minds this week, as Georgia voters go to the polls Tuesday to choose candidates for governor, Congress, and more.
Georgia voters go to the polls Tuesday to choose candidates for governor, Congress, and more.
In 2008, Barack Obama lost the traditionally Republican state by just five percentage points, thanks to the state's large African-American population. On Tuesday, some analysts believe black voters could comprise more than half of all Democratic primary voters for the first time.
For the Democrats, seven candidates are running for governor, including Attorney General Thurbert Baker, who would be the state's first black governor if elected, and former Gov. Roy Barnes. Barnes has rallied support from several prominent African-American pastors, civil rights icons, and influential former elected officials. But Baker is touting the endorsement of former President Bill Clinton.
On the Republican side, another seven candidates are running for the open seat, but three stand out -- Karen Handel, a former secretary of state who has earned the backing of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin; former Rep. Nathan Deal, who is being supported by Newt Gingrich. (Deal was facing a House Ethics Committee investigation before resigning to run for governor); And the front runner John Oxendine, the state insurance commissioner. If no one achieves 50 percent in the primary, the race will head to an August 10th runoff.
One Congressional primary to watch is the Democratic race for the 12th congressional district. Incumbent John Barrow faces Regina Thomas, a former state senator. Barrow has the money advantage, but Georgia political watchers are not writing off Thomas, who is black and well known in this heavily African-American swing district.
It's tough stuff. In it, a mother whose son was shot by police accuses candidate and prosecutor Ken Hodges of not getting an indictment on the officer, because he "forgot to swear him in, tried to hide the video and then refused to reopen the case. I could never get an answer why." The teary-eyed mom concludes, "Mr. Hodges should not be our next attorney general."
The ad, run by Democratic state Rep. Rob Teilhet, has caused a shake-up in the race. The Hodges campaign has called it unfair and untrue. And an independent fact-checker rated Teilhet's claim that Hodges botched the case as "false."
To the timeline...
The trial of disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich continues. This week the defense calls its first witnesses and they are getting right to the heavy hitters. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel could take the stand as early as this week.
On Sunday, the South Carolina Democrat Alvin Greene, whose legitimacy as a candidate has been questioned by his own party, delivers his first official campaign speech before a local chapter of the NAACP. Greene reported raising a $1,000 dollars in the first quarter of the year. That's right -- just $1,000. His fall opponent, conservative Jim DeMint, has $3.5 million -- on hand.
Also Monday, Vice President Biden travels to nearby Maryland to help Gov. Martin O'Malley raise money in Baltimore for his re-election bid.
On Tuesday, the Senate may vote on extending unemployment benefits. Republicans have repeatedly blocked the measure.
The Judiciary Committee will likely vote on Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court. Republicans had delayed her confirmation vote a week because they said the originally scheduled vote date was too soon after the July 4th recess.
There's another confirmation vote, this one for Lt. General James Clapper, who is Obama's choice to be Director of National Intelligence. Sen. Dianne Feinstein had blocked a vote on his nomination because she was upset over the House not taking acting on intelligence legislation.
Also Tuesday, Carte Goodwin -- a former aide to the late Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, lawyer for Gov. Joe Manchin, and Rockefeller friend -- will be sworn as Byrd's temporary replacement. There will be a special election to fill Byrd's seat this fall.
And British Prime Minister David Cameron makes his first trip to the White House since winning election in May.
On Thursday, liberal activists will gather through the weekend in Las Vegas for the Netroots Nation conference.
This Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press, the chairmen of the four campaign committees responsible for the House and Senate midterm elections will make their first ever joint appearance.
For the occasion, we will be live-blogging the show right here on First Read.
Join us Sunday morning at 9am ET for the play-by-play of this exclusive debate between Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), and Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).
AZ SEN, McCain, "Sheriffs"
SHERIFF 1: We're sheriffs in Arizona. President Obama has made protecting our border incredibly difficult. But Arizona has a senator who has the courage and the character to stand up to a president who is wrong. John McCain. A president versus a senator. Doesn't seem like a fair fight. Unless that senator is John McCain. SHERIFF 2: Character matters.
KS SEN, Moran, "Quotes"
ANNCR: "Ugly." "Inexcusable." Newspapers are condemning Todd Tiahrt's nasty, negative campaign. "Tiahrt's swipes push the edge of decency." "Attacks Moran's family." "Inappropriate." "Slimy.' "Outright bizarre." "Downright revolting." "The mudslinging just got a bit muddier." Down in the polls. False attacks. Congressman Todd Tiahrt. Just another politician gone Washington.
NH SEN, Binnie, "Jail or Jobs"
ANNCR: America is on the brink of bankruptcy. Wasteful spending and higher taxes got us here. New Hampshire has a choice. Kelly Ayotte, former Attorney General, knows how to put people in jail. Bill Binnie, successful businessman, knows how to put people in jobs and fix our economy. In these tough economic times, the choice is clear. Bill Binnie and jobs.
NV SEN, anti-Reid, (American Crossroads) "Really Harry Reprise"
ANNCR: "It's bad enough that Nevada has the highest unemployment in the nation. And Harry Reid claims to be helping the job situation? Really, Harry? Recent data shows Nevada ranks 50th in the money received from Harry's stimulus bill. That's right, Senate leader Harry Reid has gotten his own state less help than every other state but one. Along with bailouts, deficits and Obamacare, that's what Harry Reid's done for Nevada. Really, Harry? That's not the kind of help Nevada needs"
CO GOV, McInnis, "A Jobs Governor" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wn0Ru7G2DeY&feature=player_embedded
MCINNIS: "Look what they've done. If you eat it, drink it, drive it, live in it, or even surf it, they've taxed it. No wonder we're losing jobs. This has got to stop. I'm Scott McInnis, and when I'm governor, it will." ANNCR: "Scott McInnis will open Colorado for business and create jobs." MCINNIS: "Here's the pen I'll use to veto every tax hike they send me, and get ready. I'm going to use it on spending too." ANNCR: "Cut spending, create jobs. For a Colorado that works, Scott McInnis. A jobs governor."
GA GOV, Baker, "Hire,"
BAKER: Growing up we didn't have much money. But my mother gave me something worth a whole lot more. An abiding faith that God and hard work would always make tomorrow better than today. Right now, Georgia's in trouble. But we'll fix it. With a hundred thousand new jobs, more instruction time for our kids and schools as good as any in the whole world. Sounds like hard work? But that's what you hire a governor to do.
OK GOV, Askins, "Ethics"
ASKINS: "Now is the time for ethics reform. As governor, I'll demand politicians be prohibited from giving someone a state contract and then turning around and taking campaign contributions from them. It's as obvious as right and wrong"
OK GOV, Askins, "Cleaning Up Government"
ASKINS: "Insider dealing, investigations, politicians working for themselves and not for you. As governor, I'll end business as usual. Cleaning up government isn't just about being tough, it's about being smart enough to make it happen" (youtube.com, 7/16).
From NBC's Ellie Hall
Old Spice's "Man Your Man Could Smell Like" has some advice for President Obama on how to win back female voters.
In a series of videos posted to YouTube in real time, Isaiah Mustafa, the bare-chested "Old Spice Guy," responded to questions on Twitter and YouTube, recorded answering machine messages and even proposed marriage on behalf of one of his fans.
When asked by a prominent pundit on Twitter about improving the president's popularity among American women, Mustafa had this to say:
Lame puns aside, the new Nevada Senate Mason-Dixon poll, showing Sen. Harry Reid with a 44%-37% lead over Sharron Angle, made waves today on both sides of the blogosphere.
Conservative Red State's Neil Stevens isn't happy about the poll, but tells conservatives to read it with a grain of salt: "The 44 for Reid is slightly higher than his trend in recent months, but is not unreasonable," Stevens wrote. "The 37 for Angle, though, is abnormal. If we look back at the Real Clear Politics trend, Angle has only been below 40 twice: once in a fraudulent Research 2000/Daily Kos poll, and again in an earlier Mason-Dixon/Las Vegas Review-Journal poll."
He continued: "I certainly don't blame Democrats for feeling good about this result, but I would caution Republicans not to get too worried until some other pollster shows Angle dipping quite that far."
NRO's Jim Geraghty is less sanguine about the poll, but also takes refuge in Reid's number: "The only silver lining for fans of Angle is that Reid is only at 44 percent, one point over his previous high. That's still pretty lousy for a well-known incumbent."
HotAir's Ed Morrissey also asserted that the more important number (and one that doesn't bode well for the Reid campaign) is his still-low percentage, rather than the margin between Reid's and Angle's ratings.
"Even though [Angle] bled voters in almost every category, they didn't go to Reid. He's still only getting 44% of the vote, far below the 50% threshold an incumbent needs to be safe in this climate. For the moment, voters don't have to pull the lever for Angle, and she has three months to define herself rather than allow Reid to do it for her. If 56% of the voters don't want Reid, that shouldn't be a difficult sell for Angle, but she has to step up her game now and avoid any further mistakes."
Liberal blogs read an entirely different set of tea leaves, with Daily Kos' Jed Lewinson writing that Reid isn't "out of the woods yet," but "if he continues to run the kind of campaign he's run and Sharron Angle continues to run the kind of campaign she's run, there's no question but that he's going to end up the winner." More: "Between Angle's general craziness, her extreme right-wing economic views, and her campaign's general incompetence, it's not hard to see that she's got virtually no path to victory, especially given the campaign team that Reid has put in place."
BalloonJuice's DougJ made a similar point: that Angle's out-of-the-mainstream views will turn voters off by the time they head to the polls: "Angle isn't a run-of-the-mill winger; her old website sounds like it was written by a third-grade teajihadist, e.g. 'pay back the deficit', 'Sharron Angle will work toward making a basket of commodities (metals, oils, etc.) as a basis for maintaing the value of the U.S. currency'. Current intelligence suggests that Angle writes many of the comments on Ben Smith's blog."
From NBC's Mark Murray and Luke Russert
House Minority Leader John Boehner today called a moratorium on new federal regulations, a day after the Senate passed sweeping reforms to regulate the financial industry after the nation's 2008 financial collapse.
"I think having a moratorium on new Federal regulations is a great idea," Boehner said. "[It] sends a wonderful signal to the private sector that they are going to have some breathing room. I think there is a way to do this with an exemption for those emergency regulations that may be needed or some particular agency or another. If the American people knew that there was going to be a moratorium for a year, that the federal government wasn't going to issue thousands of more regulations, it would give them some breathing room."
But a caution to Boehner and Republicans who agree with him: The public wants more regulation, not less.
According to last month's NBC/WSJ poll, 65% said they wanted more regulation for the oil industry (versus 16% who want less); 57% want more regulation for Wall Street firms (compared with 15% who want less); 53% want more regulation for big corporations (versus 21% who want less); and 52% want more regulation for the health-care industry (compared with 27% who want less).
Only regarding small business was the public divided on having more regulation versus less.
*** UPDATE *** Boehner spokesman Michael Steele emails this response to First Read: "I think the context that he made it clear that such a moratorium would not impact new regulations that are an appropriate response to the tragedy in the Gulf is fair, and important."
From NBC's Scott Foster
President Obama today tried to tamp down expectations about the temporary stoppage of the Gulf oil spill, cautioning Americans "not to get ahead of themselves."
He called the new temporary cap "good news," but added: "One of the problems with having this camera down there is that when the oil stops gushing, everybody feels like we're done -- and we're not."
In a Rose Garden media availability under an intense mid-July sun, the president explained that government scientists continue to analyze the oil well's integrity tests.
He said they're testing whether this new cap can shut the well without creating additional leaks under the sea floor.
And he said that while "all of us have taken hope in the image of clean water instead of oil spewing in the Gulf," it's important to "make sure that we're taking a prudent course of action, and not simply looking for a short term-solution."
But he also said Americans "should take some heart in the fact that we're making progress on this front." But the president explained that even if ongoing tests reveal a "shut-in" is impossible that this new cap will capture up to 80,000 barrels a day. "Nearly all" of the leaking oil until the well is killed, he said.
And when will it be permanently stopped? Mr. Obama said the relief well is "ahead of target," but didn't elaborate. BP has said those relief wells should be completed and linked the damaged well by mid-August.
He told reporters, "I know there were a lot of reports coming out in the media that seemed to indicate, 'Well, maybe this thing is done.' We won't be done until we actually know that we've killed the well and that we have a permanent solution in place."
The president made his remarks before heading to Bar Harbor, Maine for a weekend vacation with wife Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha.
From NBC's Doug Adams and Mark Murray
First Read can confirm, per a Democratic source with knowledge of the pick, that West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) will select former general counsel Carte Goodwin to fill Robert Byrd's Senate seat until November's special election, in which Manchin is expected to run.
So who is Carte Goodwin?
He is 36 years old and currently a practicing attorney in West Virginia. He served as Manchin's general counsel from 2005-2009. He's thought to be a trusted associate of Manchin, and has known the governor since 2004, when Goodwin worked as a volunteer in his campaign.
Goodwin is also a from a prominent West Virginia family -- his uncle is a federal judge, his cousin a U.S. attorney, and his father (who recently died) had chaired the West Virginia university board of governors. Also, Goodwin's wife, Rochelle, is the state director for soon-to-be colleague -- Sen. Jay Rockefeller.
Goodwin left office in January of last year to go back into private practice as an attorney. He's currently a partner at his family's law firm based in Charleston, appropriately named Goodwin & Goodwin.
-- General Counsel to West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III, 2005-2009
-- Chairman, School Building Authority Member,
-- Consolidated Public Retirement Board Chairman,
-- Governor's Advisory Committee on Judicial Nominations
-- Clerk for the Honorable Robert B. King, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 1999-2000
-- Representing clients in civil litigation throughout West Virginia's state and federal courts.
-- Representing clients in mass and class action litigation.
-- Representing clients in various commercial transactions as well as the formation and organization of business entities.
-- Representing clients in the preparation and registration of federal trademark applications, license agreements and intellectual property litigation.
-- Marietta College, B.A., Philosophy, magna cum laude 1996
-- The Emory University School of Law, Doctor of Law, 1999
-- Order of the Coif
-- Executive Notes & Comments Editor, Emory International Law Review
-- Authored "Live, In Concert and Beyond: A New Standard of Contributory Copyright Infringement." 13 Emory Int'l L. Rev. 345 (1999)
The Associated Press reports that West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin has picked Carte Goodwin, his former chief counsel, to fill the late Sen. Robert Byrd's seat until an election for the seat in November.
Manchin will announce his appointment at a 2 p.m. press conference at the state Capitol today.
From NBC's Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro If it's Friday, it means another First Read Top 10 list. This time, we look at the Top 10 states to watch in 2010 -- based on the number of good races, and also what they might tell us about the overall political environment and the emerging 2012 race. The number in parentheses is our last ranking from February.
1. Florida (3): This swing state probably best tells the story of 2010. It has competitive Senate, House and gubernatorial races; it now features two competitive statewide primaries (McCollum vs. Scott, and Meek vs. Greene); it tests the strength and perhaps weakness of the Tea Party (will Rubio win?); and it will measure the appeal of an independent candidate (Crist). 2. Colorado (2): This state has it all, too -- presidential swing state, competitive Dem Senate primary (Bennet vs. Romanoff), and an establishment vs. anti-establishment GOP Senate primary (Norton vs. Buck). And now there’s a plagiarism scandal that is throwing the gubernatorial race into chaos. 3. Ohio (1): Having Ohio third on this list tells you how many great state-based stories there are this midterm cycle. As in Florida and Colorado, the Buckeye State features competitive Senate, House, and gubernatorial races. And, of course, it’s probably the nation’s premiere presidential battleground state. 4. Nevada (5): The contests in this western swing state will tell us: 1) Will Harry Reid go the way of Tom Daschle? 2) Can Sharron Angle win in a state that Obama won by more than 12 percentage points? 3) Can two Reids (Harry and Rory) co-exist on the Dem ballot? and 4) Will the GOP get a Latino governor in Brian Sandoval? 5. California (10): In presidential contests, California is often an afterthought. But that’s not the case in midterms, and the state this year features a competitive gubernatorial race (Brown vs. Whitman), a competitive Senate contest (Boxer vs. Fiorina), and money -- lots of it. 6. Pennsylvania (8): Here’s another state with a key Senate contest (Sestak vs. Toomey), a gubernatorial race (Corbett vs. Onorato), and a few competitive House match-ups. What’s more, President Obama’s approval ratings have plummeted in this state that he won by 10 percentage points. According to Quinnipiac, his approval rating is now upside down at 46%-49%. 7. Illinois (4): President Obama’s old Senate seat is up for grabs (Giannoulias vs. Kirk), and the governor’s race is a hot one (Quinn vs. Brady). And they’re taking place smack in the middle of the Blago trial. 8. Indiana (unranked): A state Obama won in 2008 looks like it’s trending back toward Republicans. But keep an eye on the race to replace Evan Bayh, which could be a sleeper for Democrats (or a pick up for Republicans). Plus, people often ask: How’s it playing in Peoria? Come 2012, they’ll be asking: How’s it playing in Elkhart? 9. Arizona (unranked): Illegal immigration -- and the battle against it -- has turned this state into a political hotbed. And the passage of Arizona’s controversial anti-illegal immigration law transformed Gov. Jan Brewer into a conservative celebrity and a possible shoo-in for victory in November. Oh, and don’t forget that one of the Republicans who led the charge for comprehensive immigration reform -- John McCain -- is up for re-election and running to the right in his GOP primary battle against J.D. Hayworth. 10. New Mexico (unranked): GOP strength in the West, as we’ve pointed out, could come because of women. And in this swing state where Hispanics outnumber any other ethnic group (44% to 42% of whites), Republicans hope gubernatorial nominee Susana Martinez will beat out Lt. Gov. Diane Denish (D) in the race to replace term-limited Gov. Bill Richardson (D). There’s also a highly competitive House race in which former Rep. Steve Pearce (R) is hoping to get his old seat back from freshman Rep. Harry Teague (D).
NBC's Chuck Todd interviews President Obama about his economic policies
In an interview with NBC, President Obama says it all comes down to the economy… He also says that voters should hold him accountable for HIS policies, but not the previous administration’s… He stresses that “no one is happy where things are” with the economy… And he tries to explain why corporate America is doing well, but that hasn’t translated into higher job growth… At 9:30 am ET, Obama makes a statement to the press before the First Family departs for a weekend getaway… At 2:00 pm, Gov. Manchin announces his temporary replacement to fill Robert Byrd’s Senate seat… Harry Reid's up seven points in new poll… First Read’s Top 10 states to watch… And McCain and Hayworth debate tonight in Arizona.
From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg *** It’s the economy… : Yesterday afternoon, the oil spill in the Gulf temporarily stopped -- as did the story over Robert Gibbs' Kinsleyian gaffe. Indeed, the White House received two pieces of good news on Thursday. The first was the stoppage of the oil leak. The second was the Senate passage of the financial reform legislation, which President Obama will sign into law next week. Asked yesterday in an interview with NBC News why his considerable legislative achievements -- financial reform, health care reform -- haven’t translated into more political capital for him and his administration, President Obama essentially had this answer: It’s the economy, stupid. “If unemployment is at 9.5%, the party in power is going to have some problems regardless of how much progress we’ve made and how much worse it would be if the other side had been in charge.”
*** Hold me accountable for my policies -- but not Bush’s: Also in the interview, Obama said that voters should hold him accountable for his policies, but he also said that the midterms should be a choice -- yet he wasn't ready for them to become a referendum. “This is going to be a choice between the policies that got us into this mess and my policies that are getting us out of this mess. And I think if you look at the vast majority of Americans, even those who are dissatisfied with the pace of progress, they'll say that the policies that got us into this mess we can't go back to… What I'm prepared is to be held accountable for the policies that I've put in place. But they Americans don't have selective memory. They're gonna remember the policies that got us into this mess as well. And they sure as heck don't wanna go back to those.”
*** I can’t get no satisfaction: That said, he acknowledged that no one is happy where things are right now. “Look, nobody in the White House is satisfied with where we are right now. What we absolutely are convinced of, though, is that we're on the right track. And I think that the statistics bear that out.”
*** “It takes some time to come back”: And Obama tried to answer why corporate America is doing so well right now, but that isn’t translating into robust job growth. “I'll tell you exactly what Warren Buffet said. He said, ‘We went through a wrenching recession. And so we have not fully recovered. We're about 40, 50 percent back. But we've still got a long way to go.’ And the reason people haven't fully invested yet and started creating as many jobs as we would like is because it takes some time to come back. He used a good example in the housing market, where about 1.2 million households are formed that buy a house each year… But we went through a span of time four or five years, because of the bubble and subprime lending and all the shenanigans that were going on with the mortgage market, where we were building two million homes a year. Now we're building 500,000. And what Warren pointed out was, look, we're gonna get back to 1.2. But right now we're soaking up a whole bunch of inventory.”
*** Wanna get away? At 9:45 am ET, Obama and the First Family will depart the White House for a weekend getaway in Maine. And the president will make a statement to the press 15 minutes before he leaves.
*** The Replacements: At 2:00 pm today from the state Capitol, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) is expected to announce his temporary replacement to fill Robert Byrd’s Senate seat until November’s special election. “Manchin's potential choices,” the AP says, “are believed to include ex-Democratic Party chief Nick Casey, former Gov. Gaston Caperton and former general counsel Carte Goodwin.” Another name that has been floated is longtime Byrd staffer Anne Barth. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday that the Senate will swear-in the still unnamed replacement for Byrd at 2:15 pm ET on Tuesday, July 20, NBC’s Ken Strickland reported. And Roll Call says that immediately afterward, the Senate will hold a procedural vote to block the GOP filibuster on the legislation extending unemployment insurance.
*** Harry Reid up seven points in NV: How bad have the last few weeks been for Sharron Angle (R) in Nevada’s Senate race? Bad enough that she’s now trailing Harry Reid (D) by seven points in a new Las Vegas Review-Journal/Mason-Dixon poll, 44%-37%. “That is the best Reid has done against Angle this year in a series of Mason-Dixon polls. Previously, the two had been locked in a statistical dead heat with Angle finishing just ahead of Reid in February, 44 percent to 42 percent, and in June, 44 percent to 41 percent, and Reid finishing just ahead of Angle in May, 42 percent to 39 percent.” The danger for Reid is that it’s never good for an incumbent to below 50%. Then again, because “None of these candidates” is on the ballot in Nevada, Reid doesn’t need 50% to win here.
*** More midterms: In Arizona tonight, John McCain and J.D. Hayworth face off in their first debate… In Connecticut, a new Quinnipiac poll shows Richard Blumenthal leading Linda McMahon by 17 points, 54%-37%, which is down three points from last month… And in South Carolina, in reaction to Alvin Greene’s plan for economic growth (make action figures of himself), the Charleston minor league team will be giving away figurines, the Charleston Post and Courier writes.
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