The Boston Globe's top story: "The US Senate yesterday passed a sweeping overhaul of financial regulations, getting crucial support from three New England Republicans in a vote that hands President Obama a major legislative victory as his party heads into midterm elections."
The Washington Post adds, “Congress gave final approval Thursday to the most ambitious overhaul of financial regulation in generations, ending more than a year of wrangling over the shape of the new rules and shifting the government's focus to the monumental task of implementing them.”
The Wall Street Journal: “The legislation creates a council of regulators to monitor economic risks; establishes a new agency to police consumer financial products; and sets new standards for the way derivatives are traded... Republicans said the bill could jeopardize the recovery by constraining credit and crimping the banking industry, and chided the expansion of government power it envisions.”
Steve Liesman writes in the New York Daily News: "Well-intentioned though it may be to protect consumers and avoid another financial fiasco, a lot of its effectiveness depends on how well the government carries it out. The regulators in the federal bureaucracy now go to work on what legislators passed, and it's their rule-making and enforcement that will determine whether the banking system or consumers are any safer. I'm pessimistic. Congress and some members of the public are focused on this now, but two years from now, who'll be paying attention?"
The Boston Globe previews the Obamas' vacation to Maine this weekend: “Residents of this Down East retreat of granite mountains, fragrant forests, and fog-veiled ocean inlets prefer to respect the privacy of its many well-heeled residents and visitors. And they take pride in not losing their heads over the A-list celebrities who shop their stores, dine in their restaurants, and hike their trails. So when President Obama arrives on Mount Desert Island today for a weekend family vacation, he can expect a reception as cool as the light salt breeze that wafts over Frenchman’s Bay. And that should suit Obama just fine. The president guards his family’s privacy jealously during personal down time. No public events are scheduled; the White House has said only that the Obamas will be spending a lot of time outdoors and doing some hiking." And here's a fun fact: "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."
The Daily News also goes to Maine for a preview: "The 108-square-mile island, 3-1/2 hours from Portland and 200 miles from the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, is connected to the mainland by a bridge. Cool sea breezes, piney woods, plentiful lobster and dramatic ocean views have long made it a favorite summer escape for the well-heeled."
"While trying to mend ties between her caucus and the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi turned her ire toward the Senate on Thursday, blaming upper-chamber delays in passing the Democratic agenda for the disappointing jobs picture heading into the midterm elections," The Hill writes. Pelosi said at her weekly news conference: “If we had healthcare sooner, if we had energy sooner, if we had an education bill sooner -- they are all three pillars of job creation, and that would have resulted in more jobs created by now."
“Gov. Joe Manchin is ready to unveil his temporary appointee for the U.S. Senate seat held by the late Robert C. Byrd,” the AP says. “The governor plans to present his pick at 2 p.m. Friday in his Capitol reception room. The appointment is considered temporary. Manchin has proposed that voters decide who will complete the more than two years that remain in Byrd's term in November's general election.”
More: “Potential choices include ex-Democratic Party chief Nick Casey and former Gov. Gaston Caperton.”
Per NBC’s Ken Strickland, 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.
Roll Call says that immediately afterward, the Senate “will then hold a procedural vote on an unemployment insurance measure.”
"Ex-Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) has emptied his campaign coffers of more than $64,000 to cover legal bills after he resigned from the House in March amid allegations he sexually harassed his aides, according to his most recent campaign finance report," Roll Call reports.
And "Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) doled out an additional $173,000 from his campaign coffers to cover his legal bills in spring 2010, according to his most recent report to the Federal Election Commission," Roll Call writes.
Issa vs. Bob Bennett: House Oversight Ranking Member Darrell Issa sent a letter to the House Ethics Committee alleging that staffers to Sen. Bob Bennett "received preferential loans from Countrywide Financial." Yet, for context, Roll Call notes: "The Senate Ethics Committee dismissed complaints last year against Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who received loans under the program, saying it found 'no substantial credible evidence' that the mortgages violated Senate ethics rules."
Republicans think Arlen Specter is voting for Elena Kagan because the White House offered him a job. Roll Call reports, per a source, that no job has been offered: "Specter has met with Barack Obama several times since he became president last year, at no time have the two discussed the possibility of Specter joining the administration -- and no similar talks have occurred with other administration officials."
No matter the state of the economy or the politics of the health-care law, one of the GOP’s top arguments this midterm cycle is this: checks and balances. Indeed, in our NBC/WSJ poll from May, a whopping 62% said it was better if different parties control the White House and Congress.
And as Ron Brownstein writes, that desire for checks and balances has been a powerful force in American politics. “Since 1968, neither party has simultaneously controlled the White House and Congress for more than four consecutive years. By contrast, through much of our history, Americans routinely empowered one party to lastingly steer the nation by providing it unified authority over the executive and legislative branches for extended periods. Americans now seem to lack enough trust in either party to grant it that long a leash. To the Constitution’s enumerated checks and balances we have informally added our own by habitually dividing power between the parties.”
COLORADO: "Former Republican representative Tom Tancredo said on Thursday that Colorado Republicans cannot win with Scott McInnis as their nominee for governor," the State Column writes. "'We haven’t got a chance under the present circumstances,' Mr. Tancredo said, in reference to allegations of plagiarism plaguing the McInnis campaign. 'This is a huge disaster for the Republican party unless we can get a candidate in there to make this all work.'"
CONNECTICUT: Richard Blumenthal holds a 17-point (54%-37%) lead over Linda McMahon in the Senate race, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll. That's down from a 20-point lead last month. McMahon "has the momentum, even if the latest movement is only a small three-point change," said Quinnipiac Poll Director Douglas Schwartz. "She is inching up on Blumenthal. In January, she trailed Blumenthal by 41 points. In every subsequent poll she has cut into his lead and now has cut that lead by more than 24 points. She still has a long way to go, but she has a lot of time and a lot of money."
GEORGIA: A new Mason-Dixon poll shows that “John Oxendine and Karen Handel appear headed to an August showdown in the race for the Republican nomination for governor,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. “Oxendine, the state insurance commissioner, gets 31 percent of the vote to 23 percent for Handel, the former secretary of state. Former U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, however, is within striking distance of earning a spot in the Aug. 10 runoff. The poll found Deal with 18 percent.”
IOWA: “Major Democratic donors who wrote checks to the Democratic Governors Association funded a below-the-radar campaign that attacked President Obama and other Democratic all-stars, all in hopes of knocking off a strong GOP challenger,” the Hotline finds. "Liberal Terry Branstad would make Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi proud," reads one mailer, sent by a shadow group called Iowans for Responsible Government. The group was founded by a former state Democratic party chair, and its attacks were aimed at having Branstad’s far more conservative primary challenger, Bob Vander Plaats, progress to the general election.
LOUISIANA: Former state Supreme Court Justice and Republican Senate challenger Chet Traylor said, “[Sen. David]Vitter, R-La., has failed to be an ‘effective senator,’ and said Vitter’s missteps amount to more than ‘personal sins.’”
MASSACHUSETTS: "Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles D. Baker said yesterday that he could not blame Arizona for enacting a law cracking down on illegal immigrants that has sparked controversy nationwide. “Arizona is a border state, living with the failure of the federal government to do the job of securing their border," Baker said in an online chat on Boston.com. “I don’t blame them for taking this issue on directly," he said.
MINNESOTA: Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who voiced support for a “tip credit,” in which hospitality workers who earn tips would be paid below minimum wage, was met with some unusual and creative resistance at a town meeting with restaurant servers: “Emmer walked out after a bag of 2,000 pennies was dumped inches from his face by a man exclaiming, ‘I have a tip for you too, Emmer!’ as cascading pennies bounced in every direction and the crowd at a Roseville restaurant erupted into chaos,” the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune writes.
NEW YORK: Andrew Cuomo has $23.6 million cash on hand (!!!). That's a record for July of an election year in a New York gubernatorial race. It edges out former Gov. Pataki, who had $23.4 million in July of 2002. (He even raised $9.2 million in the past six months.) The GOP's Rick Lazio had just $637,000 on hand at the beginning of the year, and has not disclosed his latest numbers yet.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Reacting to Democratic Senate nominee 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.
TENNESSEE: Mitt Romney’s Political Action Committee, Free and Strong America PAC, endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam.
In today's batch of ads, political newcomers continue to slam entrenched incumbents, while Jerry Moran plays up his support of the Bush tax cuts.
SD HOUSE, Hereth Sandlin, “A Lot’s Changed”
"[archival clip: I'm Stephanie Herseth and no political party has a monopoly on good ideas. It's why I'll always vote to do what's right for South Dakota.] That was six years ago when you first sent me to Congress and I'm as determined to be an independent voice for South Dakota today as I was then. It's why I voted against the bailouts and a trillion-dollar healthcare plan, but for expanding renewable energy and improving veterans benefits. I'm Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and I approve this message because a lot's changed since then, but not how I stand up for South Dakota."
AK SEN, “Joe Miller for U.S. Senate”
I’m Joe Miller. And I’m running for U.S. Senate because we have little time to change the course of our nation. We face a leadership crisis in D.C. Our elected officials are spending us into oblivion. We owe a staggering 13 trillion dollars to our creditors. Future unfunded obligations may exceed a hundred trillion dollars. This is intolerable. The incumbent's gotta go. Join with me to shake up D.C. ANNCR: Vote Joe Miller for U.S. Senate.
CO GOV, anti-Hickenlooper, “39,000”
39 thousand Denver jobs lost under John Hickenlooper’s high tax policies. Frontier airlines, a hometown company, told Hickenlooper taxes were too high. But Hickenlooper stuck to his high-tax agenda, forcing Frontier to move 200 jobs to Wisconsin. 140 more to Indiana. Just part of Denver’s 39,000 jobs lost under John Hickenlooper’s job-killing policies. John Hickenlooper, Bill Ritter. Politicians of the same stripe, raising taxes and killing jobs.
KS SEN, Moran, "No Interest"
MORAN: I've worked hard to make sure farmers and ranchers in Kansas have success. I voted to reduce or eliminate capital gains taxes and estate taxes - I've been a supporter of the Bush tax cuts and almost everything President Obama has opposed, I have been against. I have no interest in giving terrorists constitutional rights in the United States. Have opposed bringing terrorists to the United States for any reason, and don't believe under the constitution have constitutional rights.
NV SEN, anti-Reid (New Leadership for America PAC), "Reid"
ANNCR: Seen Harry Reid's latest TV ad? It's desperate, it's dirty, and worst of all, it's a lie. Sharron Angle won't phase out Social Security but she will end the way Congress raises Social Security to pay for their reckless spending. ANGLE: I want to save Medicare and Social Security. ANNCR: Sharron Angle will protect Social Security and Medicare so the government can't keep raiding it. So the next time you see Harry Reid's desperate negative ads, you'll know he's lying
NV SEN, Reid, “City Center: Sharron Angle Wouldn’t Have Fought to Save 22,000 NV Jobs”
"[Reid voiceover] I'm Harry Reid and I approve this message. [voiceover] City Center was in trouble. It was so dire the company had purchased fencing to shutter the project. Then, Harry Reid called the banks and they made their loans. Reid saved 22,000 jobs, but Sharron Angle wouldn't have saved City Center. [audio clip of Angle on the Alan Stock Radio Show: Would you have saved City Center? Angle: No, I would not.] 22,000 jobs and she wouldn't have lifted a finger. [Angle clip: As your U.S. Senator, I'm not in the business of creating jobs.] Sharron Angle's just too extreme."
WA SEN, Murray, "Never Forgotten"
Her dad was a disabled veteran. She asked to be on the Veterans Committee. Patty Murray passed the New GI Bill. So I could go to college. She improved medical care for military families. And increased military pay. Senator Murray stopped the VA from closing three hospitals. She got new vets clinics. And expanded veterans services all across the state. Patty Murray has never forgotten us vets. MURRAY: I’m Patty Murray and I sponsored this ad to make sure our vets are treated right.
WI SEN, Johnson, “Feingold Mud”
28 years in politics and Russ Feingold’s stuck in the mud. Feingold started his campaign slinging mud at Ron Johnson. Ron Johnson opposes drilling in the Great Lakes, and Russ Feingold knows it. Drilling is already illegal in the Great Lakes, and Feingold knows that too. Because he voted against the law that protected our lakes. That’s right. Feingold was the only Great Lakes senator to vote no. Feingold played politics. Partisan politician Russ Feingold. Stuck in the mud.
Conservatives and liberals provide their interpretation of today's Politico article that said, "You can argue over whether [President] Obama’s achievements are good or bad on the merits. But especially after Thursday’s vote, you can’t argue that Obama is not getting things done."
And financial regulatory reform's passage in the Senate gets a variety of reactions: some liberals bestow unequivocal praise while others laud the vote but not the substance of the bill, and conservatives condemn the legislation as spineless.
Liberal blogger DougJ at AMERICAblog calls the article's "reasonably accurate," though he takes issue with the authors' assertment that Obama "and his West Wing turn out to be not especially good at politics, or communications — in other words, largely ineffective at the very things on which their campaign reputation was built"
DougJ writes, "I think it’s a bit silly to conclude that the Obama administration is bad at politics (as opposed to passing bills), given that Obama’s approval rating is higher (eye-balling the numbers, about 3-4 points higher) than Reagan’s was at the same point of his presidency, in midst of an economy that is at least as bad as that of 1982. Reagan is, for better or worse (and I would say worse, of course), the dominant figure in American politics of the past 30 years... I can’t see how doing a little better than Reagan under equally tough or tougher circumstances makes the Obama administration bad at politics."
Conservative blogger Jim Geraghty of NRO ridicules the points made in the article: "Why do White House officials talk so candidly to Politico? Probably because they write lines like this: 'Obama is perceived as failing to win over the public, even though by most conventional measures he is clearly succeeding.'
Silly readers. You only think you don’t like what he’s doing!"
And HotAir's Allahpundit sums up the article thusly: "Translation: scoreboard." He goes on to assert that the administration's preoccupation is with quantity, not quality, of the bills it passes. "Here’s what happened: The One decided from the start that passing something, anything, would be his top priority on major legislation. The details were less important than the fact of passage; that’s why he let Reid and Pelosi take the lead on the stimulus and eventually O-Care. Letting them write the bills increased his chance of drawing majorities in both houses and thereby avoiding Clinton’s haunting failure with HillaryCare. The problem with that approach, though, is that it guarantees a result that’s further to the right than lefties would like and, with a Democratic president and Congress, waaaaay further to the left than righties would like — and while that might be tolerable with routine legislation, on epochal items like the stimulus and health-care, it’s a recipe for disaster."
Comments on financial reform from liberal blogger Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly seem to indirecly bolster Politico's assertion that the Obama White House's legislative successes don't match the recognition it gets for them: "In the larger context, Wall Street reform also gets added to the list of breakthrough accomplishments of the last 18 months, a list that now includes health care reform, an economy-saving Recovery Act, a long-sought overhaul of the nation's student-loan system, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, new regulation of the credit card industry, new regulation of the tobacco industry, a national service bill, expanded stem-cell research, and the most sweeping land-protection act in 15 years, among other things.
He continues, "As Rachel Maddow recently observed, 'The last time any president did this much in office, booze was illegal. If you believe in policy, if you believe in government that addresses problems, cheers to that.'"
Daily Kos's Joan McCarter expresses caution of the "heavy burden [the bill] places on regulators," who are given the authority to deal with large financial institutions "in lieu of any 'statutory walls'" like the Glass-Steagall act which separated the business of commercial banks from investment banks, and was repealed in 1999.
McCarter concludes that more needs to be done: "In this Congress, it's a major achievement--any comprehensive legislation is. But it needs to be viewed as a very good start to reforming Wall Street, and not the be all and end all Wall Street reform."
MyDD's Nathan Empsall seems to share McCarter's skepticism about the bill's potency but focuses on the political implications of Republican resistance, writing, "Democratic chances this fall just got a lot better."
He continues: "The new law won’t do nearly enough to prevent another Lehman Brothers or Bear Stearns – for instance, there’s no practical way to break up too-big-to-fail – but it improves the status quo at least somewhat and was worth passage.
"And yet, the man who would be Speaker if voters choose Republican this fall is already calling for the bill’s repeal. That’s right; John Boehner thinks the government should leave Wall Street in exactly the same regulatory position that allowed it to double unemployment and seize up credit.
"I understand the politics of demanding repeal of the health insurance bill. The thing’s unpopular. But voters actually care about the economy; they don’t want to lose their jobs, and they understand that the financial industry is to blame for the economic collapse. What the hell is Boehner thinking?"
Echoing some concerns on the left that the bill isn't effective enough, conservative contributor Nicole Gelinas writes at NRO that "[t]he financial system's failures made themselves obvious starting in 2007 in part because legislators and regulators thought that they could conjure up on command not only wisdom and competence but omniscience."
Describing the lax regulatory environment and easy borrowing rules that contributed to the financial collapse, Gelinas concludes, "The lesson to be learned here is that we need borrowing and trading rules that apply to everyone and everything for those times when bankers, regulators, and tens of millions of ordinary Americans aren't right.
The bill offers no evidence that anyone in Congress has learned this lesson.
Instead, by next week, we will have a new Financial Stability Oversight Council (D.C.-ers are already referring to it as "ef-sock") to determine which financial activities and investments are dangerous and which are safe.
We'll also have new derivatives regulations that still allow some users, including big industrial companies and their banks, to escape consistent rules. All that means is it's more likely that a decade hence, reporters will be scratching their heads about how a mild-mannered Midwestern farm-machinery company managed to bankrupt itself and the economy with trillions of dollars' worth of bets via some previously unheard-of 'exotic' financial instrument."
From NBC's John Yang CHICAGO - When the defense begins its case in the federal corruption trial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich on Monday, they'll get right to some heavy hitters.
While the exact order is subject to the availability of the witnesses, defense lawyers told the judge in a hearing without the jury present today that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel could testify as early as next week. The defense hopes he'll say he did not feel unduly pressured when Blagojevich held up a state grant to a school in Emmanuel's Chicago congressional district because the governor wanted Hollywood agent Ari Emmanuel, Rahm's brother, to hold a fundraising event for him.
Blagojevich himself could take the stand as early as Wednesday -- again, depending on the availability of other witnesses -- rather than being the closing witness, as many as speculated.
Indications are that Valerie Jarrett, a longtime friend of President Obama's who is now a senior White House advisor, is not expected to be called to testify. The judge in the case has already blocked an defense bid to subpoena President Obama himself.
From NBC's Cydney Weiner Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was not a topic of conversation at the White House session with President Obama and fellow Democrats last night, according to Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC).
Rep. Clyburn also countered attacks from House Republican leader John Boehner who accused Democrats today of ignoring the American people’s appeals to say no to Obama’s legislation. “How do you say no to a family with a child with diabetes and can’t get health care? That’s the Republican agenda to say no to that family,” Clyburn said. “The public wanted us to say yes to them and we did...This ‘just say no’ is a Republican redux that we are not going to be a part of.”
Clyburn also thinks it's "highly improbable" that Democrats will lose the House in November. "We believe very strongly that we have an agenda that fits well with the American people," he added.
From NBC's Ken Strickland The final vote was 60-39.
The next step? In the words of "Bill" from the 1975 School House Rock cartoon...
"...Well, then I'm off to the White House Where I'll wait in a line With a lot of other bills For the president to sign And if he signs me, then I'll be a law. How I hope and pray that he will, But today I am still just a bill."
Technically, though, this "bill" is actually a "conference report."
From NBC's Athena Jones HOLLAND, Mich -- At the groundbreaking of an advanced battery plant here in one of the states hit hardest by the recession, President Obama touted the steps his administration has taken to put the economy back on track and help jumpstart a new industry.
Compact Power, Inc. is the ninth of nine new advanced battery factories to start construction as a result of $2.4 billion in stimulus money. Four of these nine plants are expected to be operational by the end of the year, according to the White House.
"This is going to lead to growth at local businesses like parts suppliers and restaurants; it will be a boost to the economy in the entire region" Obama said during brief remarks at the construction site. "Our goal has never been to create a government program, but to rather to unleash private-sector growth and we're seeing results."
Today's event is part of Obama's long-touted clean energy agenda -- which the White House says goes hand in hand with building a stronger foundation for the economy. The battery industry is a big focus this week as half a dozen Cabinet and other officials travel across the country visiting companies that received stimulus money to work on advanced batteries and electric vehicles.
In a conference call previewing the trip, David Sandalow, assistant secretary for policy and international affairs at the Department of Energy, said this industry was critical for America's energy independence and part of reaching Obama's goal of million electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles on US roads by 2015, which the White House says is in line with a forecast from Deutsche Bank.
Batteries have become a favorite topic of the president's. At numerous events in recent weeks in Nevada, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio and again today, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have cited a statistic about how the United States produced just 2 percent of the world's batteries for advanced vehicles before the stimulus and because of stimulus investments, the U.S. will have the capacity to produce 20 percent of these batteries by 2012 and up to 40 percent by 2015.
But today's trip is also part of the administration's efforts to show voters the steps they have taken, with the help of Democrats in Congress, are helping to turn the economy around, even as the unemployment rate remains high. Obama today criticized Republicans for trying to stand in the way of initiatives he says will help the American people and urged people to stick with him.
"The surest way out of the storms we've been in is to keep moving forward and not go backwards," he said. "There are some folks who want to go back -- who think that we should return to the policies that helped to lead to this recession."
A subsidiary of LG Chem, Compact Power matched a $151 million stimulus grant roughly dollar-for-dollar to build the Holland facility to make lithium ion batteries for the Chevy Volt and the new electric Ford Focus. Compact Power will purchase separator material -- an important component -- from Celgard, a North Carolina battery technology company the president visited in April.
The plant expects to employ 300 people in construction and another 300 to work in the factory once it's up and running. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said yesterday that the advanced battery industry would support 62,000 jobs in her state over the next decade. In Holland today, she called Michigan the "North American battery capital" and listed cities that would get new jobs in the coming years because of this new industry.
GOP continues criticism But Republican critics say this is not enough. In an email, the Republican National Committee said the stimulus had "failed to create jobs in Michigan while wasting taxpayer money" and Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) wrote an op-ed in The Detroit News entitled "Spending spree won't fix our ailing economy," in which he slammed the stimulus and asked "Where are the jobs?"
"More government, fewer jobs: This isn't the picture of recovery; it's the epitome of failure," Boehner wrote. "To boost the economy and put people back to work, we need to stop the taxing-spending-and-borrowing-binge and cut Washington waste, stop job-killing tax increases, and provide small businesses with the certainty they need to get back on their feet."
The White House Council of Economic Advisers estimates 102,000 jobs were "created or saved" in Michigan by the Recovery Act as of June 2010, but it does not break down how many of those jobs are new ones. The state has spent some $8.7 billion of the $13.5 billion made available to it under the stimulus, according to the White House, with just over half being spent on tax breaks for working families and on unemployment benefits.
Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), who voted against the stimulus, was on hand for today's groundbreaking, a point not lost on Obama as he painted the GOP as the party of "no."
"They said no to tax cuts, they said no to small business loans, they said no to clean energy projects," Obama said. "Now, it doesn't stop them from being at ribbon-cuttings, but that's okay. I just want to make sure that everybody understands that this country would not be better off if this plant hadn't gotten built and if the clean energy package that made it possible wasn't in place."
Hoekstra, who is also running for governor, called the president's comment a "cheap shot" that was "unpresidential, arguing he had come in support of the people of this district and out of respect for the office of the president and for the company that is investing in this plant.
The congressman had hosted a morning conference call to argue that the president needed a broader agenda to stimulate the economy, rather than one that picks "winners and losers" among companies, giving special federal help to firms like Compact Power.
"It's the wrong strategy," Hoekstra told reporters on the call. "The wrong plan."
He also touched on the issue of uncertainty, saying banks and companies were handcuffed by uncertainty about how the financial regulatory overhaul and health care would affect them.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's campaign filed its final spending report, and it showed that the billionaire independent former Republican spent spent $109.2 million in 2009 -- for a less than 5-point victory over his Democratic opponent.
That means in three elections -- and we hope you're sitting down for this one -- Bloomberg's has spent $267.8 million:
2001: $74 million 2005: $84.6 million 2009: $109.2 million
The $109.2 million, by the way, is a record for a municipal election.
Alvin Greene, the embattled South Carolina Democratic Senate nominee, whose legitimacy has been questioned by his own party, won't be breaking any fundraising records.
He said he raised about $1,000, AP reports. (That would beat Roland Burris' punch line 2009 first quarter haul of $845.) Candidates do not have to file with the Federal Election Commission until they reach $5,000, per AP.
Supporters of Arizona's immigration law SB1070 gather outside the Federal Courthouse in Phoenix, AZ .
From NBC's Pete Williams This morning in Phoenix, a federal judge heard the first of several requests to block Arizona's new immigration law. The subject of today's hearing was a challenge filed in May by a Phoenix police officer, David Salgado, and a community development organization called Chicanos Por La Causa. They argue that the Arizona law is preempted by federal law and that enforcing it would require police to engage in racial profiling. The state contends the law does not conflict with federal law and that neither Officer Salgado nor Chicanos Por La Causa can show any way in which they, themselves, would be harmed by it.
The judge has not said whether she'll rule before July 29th, when the law takes effect.
But today's arguments are the warmup to the much bigger legal showdown next Friday, when the judge hears arguments on six other lawsuits against the state's new law, including the suit brought by the U.S. Justice Department. Nine states have filed friend of court briefs supporting Arizona -- Virginia, Michigan, Florida, Texas, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Nebraska, and South Dakota.
On the other side, four countries -- Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru -- have joined opponents asking the court to invalidate the Arizona law. So have 11 U.S. cities -- Baltimore, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Haven, Palo Alto, Portland, Saint Paul, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle.
By a 60-38 vote, the Senate ended debate on the financial reform legislation, clearing a final procedural hurdle.
It's now expected that that final Senate passage (which needs a simple majority vote) will come later this afternoon. Once that happens, the legislation will go to President Obama's desk for his signature.
*** UPDATE *** NBC's Ken Strickland has more: Republicans Scott Brown, Susan Collins, and Olympia Snowe voted with the Democrats. Democrat Russ Feingold voted no, voting with Republicans.
At 2:00 pm ET, there will be two votes leading to final passage: -- the first will be on a "budget point of order" (procedural, but will pass) -- the second will be on passage of the bill (only needs simple majority)
Not putting a period on the sentence of what's become a five-day story over White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' comments that Republicans have enough seats in play to have a shot at taking over the House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put out a defiant fundraising e-mail for the Democrats' House political committee.
"Here is what will happen in November," Pelosi writes. "Democrats will keep control of the House. Period."
She continues: "While some Washington pundits are claiming that Republicans have the momentum, I remain more confident in our chances for victory as long as we have our secret weapon -- you."
The e-mail is pegged to July 25th being 100 days from the fall election.
Here's her full solicitation e-mail:
Here is what will happen in November, Pelosi writes. Democrats will keep control of the House. Period.
While some Washington pundits are claiming that Republicans have the momentum, I remain more confident in our chances for victory as long as we have our secret weapon -- you.
Next Sunday, July 25th, marks 100 days from the fall elections. I have set a goal of raising $1 Million in grassroots contributions to send a powerful message to the media and to the world that we will keep control of the House and we will continue America's New Direction!
Please stand with me to send an overwhelming message of grassroots strength. If you contribute $5, $10 or more today, you will receive a special invitation to join me on our National Campaign Kickoff Conference Call.
Your grassroots support has provided our margin of victory in House races since 2006 and continuing through our triumphant special election victories this year.
Ninety percent of your grassroots dollars are sent right back out the door to help our Democratic campaigns (only 10 percent is used for administrative costs). Your dollars help our great Democrats fight back against Republican attacks, place strategic early media buys to get their messages out, and most of all, work to turn out every Democratic voter on Election Day.
Let us take this opportunity to come together for progress.
Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House
P.S. Help us meet our goal before the final 100 days of this election season. Contribute today and receive a special invitation to join me on our National Campaign Kickoff Conference Call.
When the going gets tough, Democrats, well, freak out… But is the freak-out over Gibbs’ comment over?... Why the expectations game may be out of control for Republicans… Obama to deliver speech on the economy/stimulus in Michigan at 1:30 pm ET, and NBC’s Chuck Todd will interview the president afterward… Boehner pre-buts Obama’s speech with a Detroit News op-ed… McConnell to declare that GOP has its groove back… Senate cloture vote on financial reform to take place at 11:00 am ET, and final passage might come later this afternoon… McInnis is a dead man walking in Colorado… And a look at Pawlenty’s inner circle.
From NBC's Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg *** Super freak (out): When the going gets tough, Democrats, well, they freak out -- at least initially. That’s what we saw during the town hall summer of 2009 (when some Democrats were unsure they’d win the health-care war) and after Scott Brown’s victory in Jan. 2010 (when some Dems proclaimed that health care was dead). And now House Democrats are freaking out over Robert Gibbs’ innocuous and true statement that the House is in play (fyi: he never said Democrats would lose the House), and over another round of poll numbers. Here’s the Washington Post: “House Democrats are lashing out at the White House, venting long-suppressed anger over what they see as President Obama's lukewarm efforts to help them win reelection -- and accusing administration officials of undermining the party's chances of retaining the majority in November's midterm elections.” Democrats typically do their hand-wringing in public, while GOP hand-wringing usually happens behind the scenes.
*** Looks like the Pelosi-vs.-Gibbs story is over: But it appears that House Democrats have already realized they have to stop griping -- or else they end up creating a self-fulfilling narrative. The reports following yesterday’s meeting between President Obama and House leaders (including Speaker Nancy Pelosi) were positive, and Roll Call says that Gibbs’ remark wasn’t even discussed. “Everyone clearly wanted a positive meeting,” a source told Roll Call, adding that the president told the group that they “shouldn’t be down, we are going to win” come November. The Capitol Hill newspaper also notes, per the source, that Obama vowed that he would fight to keep Democrats in control of the House. Interestingly, one other House source tells First Read that they believe they were able to use the Gibbs moment as leverage to secure more help and more resources for the fall.
*** The expectations game: Honest question, especially after all the attention Gibbs’ the-House-is-in-play comment has received: What happens if Republicans pick up, say, 30 House seats in November -- short of the 39 they need to take control of the chamber? It's crazy to think about it, but right now for some Republicans and analysts, it would seem like a defeat if they gain 30 seats (which just happens to be approximately what Dems picked up in '06). Why? Because the expectations game has gotten out of control -- given the frenzy surrounding Gibbs' remarks, given what the handicappers are projecting, and given what GOP leaders have said (Boehner's "at least 100" seats in play, and Pete Sessions' admission that he would fail as NRCC chair if Republicans don’t take back the House). NRCC spokesman Ken Spain emailed this response to our question if the expectations game has gotten out of control for Republicans. “Our objective is to stop President Obama’s big spending, big government agenda, and we plan to do so by significantly reducing the number of Democrat-held seats as possible.”
*** The current projections: By the way, here are the current House projections for November: The Cook Political Report projects -- right now -- Republicans to pick up 30-40 seats, while the Rothenberg Political Report projects a GOP gain of 25-30 seats. As we said above, Republicans need to pick up 39 seats to take back control of the House. One way to look at all this: The difference between 25 and 40 is a wave. It’s hard to get to 35 and not get to, say, 45. One could easily argue that it's going to be EITHER less than 30 or greater than 40 -- and nothing in between.
*** Obama in Michigan: Today, President Obama heads to Holland, MI, where he will deliver remarks at 1:30 pm ET at the groundbreaking of a factory that received $151 million from the stimulus to make electric-vehicle batteries. Bloomberg News: “The completed factory will employ more than 300 workers to produce batteries for General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Volt and Ford Motor Co.'s Focus Electric vehicles. ‘None of this would have been possible without the Recovery Act,’ White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer told reporters on a conference call yesterday. He criticized Republican opposition to the $862 billion stimulus. ‘If they had their way we would not be breaking ground,’ he said. ‘These industries would not be created here.’” Still, opinion polls show that the Obama administration hasn’t convinced the American public that the stimulus is working, and that will be one of the topics of discussion when NBC’s Chuck Todd interviews President Obama from Michigan around 3:00 pm ET today.
*** Boehner’s pre-buttal: House Minority Leader John Boehner pre-buts Obama’s Michigan visit with this op-ed in the Detroit News: “When President Barack Obama speaks in Holland today, I hope that instead of trying to convince the people of a city suffering from 11.8 percent unemployment that our economy is ‘moving forward,’ he will listen closely when they ask, ‘Where are the jobs?’ After all, Michigan is one of 48 states that have lost jobs since Obama signed the trillion-dollar "stimulus" into law amid promises it would create jobs "immediately" and keep unemployment below 8 percent. Since February 2009, our economy has lost roughly 3 million private sector jobs while the federal government has grown by more than 400,000 jobs.”
*** Get into the groove…: Boehner isn’t the only GOP leader making news today. At 11:30 am ET, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell delivers remarks to the Young Republican National Federation conference in DC, where he will discuss the GOP efforts countering the Democrats’ agenda. McConnell’s office emailed First Read this excerpt of the speech: “Along the way, pundits in Washington were stunned to find out that ordinary Americans, like you in this room, were rising up all over the country,” McConnell is expected to say. “And those Republicans in Washington — the ones who were supposed to be beaten down, demoralized, and despondent — well, we were listening. We shared your frustration. And we girded for the fight, confident that we had supporters behind us. We broke out of the Washington echo chamber and fought the government-driven solutions that Democrats were proposing. We got our groove back.” This is the first real attempt we've seen from the DC-GOP leadership lay the groundwork that they are not part of the problem. The base of the party isn't exactly friendly toward DC Republicans these days, so McConnell has some work to do.
*** Financial reform guidance: Thirty minutes before McConnell’s speech, the Senate is expected to take up the cloture vote on final passage of the financial reform legislation. Democrats appear to have the 60 votes (including three Republican ones -- Brown, Collins, and Snowe) to bypass a GOP filibuster. And NBC’s Ken Strickland says that final passage, which needs just a simple majority vote, could occur later this afternoon.
*** Dead man walking in Colorado? After being accused of plagiarism, Colorado GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis, once the overwhelming favorite to win the Republican nomination next month, looks like a dead man walking. The filing deadline has already passed, but we can report that serious Colorado Republicans are exploring a Plan B to get a viable candidate to take on Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (D) in the fall.
*** 2012 Thursday: In the second installment of our weekly feature of the emerging 2012 presidential race, we today take a look at the inner circle of Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The soon-to-be ex-governor’s inner circle includes the co-chairmen of his Freedom First PAC -- strategist/lobbyist Vin Weber and Morgan Stanley’s Bill Strong. Senior advisers include strategist Phil Musser (who’s in charge of the PAC’s day-to-day operations), former Bush political director Sara Taylor, and strategist Terry Nelson. Brian Haley is the PAC’s finance director; Brian Hook is its policy director; former RNC spokesman Alex Conant is the communications director; Michael Toner is the counsel; and the media team includes Pat Hynes, Liz Mair, Patrick Ruffini, and Mindy Finn. Handling the PAC’ s operations is Annie Kelly, and the governor’s former deputy chief of staff, Brian McClung, is an adviser.
*** T-Paw on the road: Pawlenty, who is also the vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association, is in Aspen, CO, today for an RGA event at the Aspen Institute with RGA Chairman Haley Barbour. He stays in Colorado through Friday to speak to the Denver County Republican Party. He’ll also embark on a three-day swing through Eastern Iowa starting July 31. And his Freedom First PAC, which is based in Minnesota, today reports having raised more than $2.5 million since its founding in October 2009 (with more than $930,000 cash on hand) and $114,000 to state and federal campaigns and committees. Pawlenty, remember, has a day job as governor of Minnesota, and didn't travel as much this past month because of the legislative session.
*** Mitt’s numbers: By the way, the Boston Globe's Issenberg has a front-page story on Mitt Romney's PAC's fundraising. "Mitt Romney has raised nearly $3.5 million for his political action committee in the first half of the year, a sum that dwarfs that of other possible 2012 Republican presidential candidates and establishes the former Massachusetts governor as a potent political force. The figures, which will be reported today to the Federal Election Commission, demonstrate the robust national political operation that Romney has assembled since leaving the governor’s mansion in 2007 and point toward the likelihood that he will launch another presidential campaign."
Countdown to GA primary: 5 days Countdown to OK primary: 12 days Countdown to KS and MO primaries: 19 days Countdown to CO and CT primaries: 26 days Countdown to Election Day 2010: 110 days
Politico writes, “You can argue over whether Obama’s achievements are good or bad on the merits. But especially after Thursday’s vote [on financial reform] you can’t argue that Obama is not getting things done. To the contrary, he has, as promised, covered the uninsured, tightened regulations, started to wind down the war in Iraq and shifted focus and resources to Afghanistan, injected more competition into the education system and edged closer to a big energy bill.”
“The problem is that he and his West Wing turn out to be not especially good at politics, or communications -- in other words, largely ineffective at the very things on which their campaign reputation was built. And the promises he made in two years of campaigning turn out to be much less appealing as actual policies.”
A new Time poll has Obama’s approval/disapproval at 49%-45%.
Bloomberg News previews Obama’s economic speech/event today in Michigan. “Obama will attend the groundbreaking in Holland, Michigan, of a factory for Compact Power Inc., a unit of South Korea's LG Chem Ltd. that got a $151 million stimulus grant to make electric-vehicle batteries. The completed factory will employ more than 300 workers to produce batteries for General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Volt and Ford Motor Co.'s Focus Electric vehicles.”
"The White House reported Wednesday its stimulus plan created or saved about 3 million jobs, but the GOP and its allies quickly disputed the figures," the New York Daily News writes.
Reuters: "President Barack Obama sought on Wednesday to lift sagging confidence in his economic stewardship by enlisting the help of predecessor Bill Clinton, as a leading business group issued a scathing critique of the administration's policies."
Drawing the Vietnam parallels (though there's a lot wrong with that comparison): "The CIA director predicted it would be a 'long war.' A senator from Missouri, expressing concern about the unconventional nature of the fighting, wanted to know, 'Who is the enemy?' A senator from Tennessee, meanwhile, warned that if the American people were being misled that 'the consequences are very great.' The words were uttered in secret more than 40 years ago during private meetings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the Vietnam War," the Boston Globe writes. "But they were made public for the first time yesterday by Senator John F. Kerry, now the panel’s chairman, out of a belief that the lively debates offer lessons for how to grapple today with the war in Afghanistan and other hot spots."
The AP's lead on yesterday's Afghanistan hearing: "Senator John F. Kerry expressed doubts yesterday about the course of the war in Afghanistan, further complicating the Obama administration’s effort to maintain support for the nearly 9-year-old conflict. Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said it is not clear that the administration has a solid strategy for prevailing. His counterpart on the committee, Republican Richard Lugar of Indiana, decried 'a lack of clarity' about war goals."
"Senate Republicans are still fuming over the recess appointment of Donald Berwick to head the federal agency in charge of Medicare and Medicaid," The Hill reports. "In retaliation, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) blocked a Democratic request Wednesday evening to advance two of President Obama’s nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit."
"With just a week and a half before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s planned energy debate, many Senators in the Democratic Conference are getting nervous that the Nevada Democrat is putting them in a politically perilous position for a bill that seems destined to be filibustered," Roll Call reports.
In an op-ed in USA Today, Arlen Specter writes that he will support Elena Kagan for the U.S. Supreme Court. He expresssed frustration that she wasn't more forthcoming with her answers (something for which she had been so critical of the past nominees), but, he concluded, "In addition to her intellect, academic and professional qualifications, Kagan did just enough to win my vote by her answers that television would be good for the country and the court, and by identifying Justice Marshall as her role model."
Specter -- when he was a Republican in early ’09 -- voted against Kagan’s nomination for solicitor general.
A billboard designed by the North Iowa Tea Party depicting President Barack Obama, Adolph Hitler, and Vladimir Lenin, was covered over after sparking criticism.
"Reacting to harsh criticism, an Iowa tea party chapter has replaced a controversial billboard which featured President Barack Obama alongside Adolf Hitler and Communist leader Vladimir Lenin.
Tea Party Express Chairman Mark Williams, who has a history of saying controversial things, said this on CNN yesterday: "Racists have their own movement. It's called the NAACP. ... a bunch of old fossils looking to make a buck off skin color. ... I would just like to know well, you know, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, when they're going to grow up and join the 21st century and realize that this country has got to move forward. We're in serious danger. All of our rights are at risk."
And then there's this... "A New Hampshire man is hoping racist hatred will help get him elected to state office. Ryan J. Murdough, a 30-year-old who says he works with children with special needs at a youth center, is running for a seat on the State House in New Hampshire's 8th District," the New York Daily News writes. "And he's doing it as a Republican." Murdough wrote in the Concord Monitor: "For far too long white Americans have been told that diversity is something beneficial to their existence. New Hampshire residents must seek to preserve their racial identity if we want future generations to have to possibility to live in such a great state."
*** CORRECTION *** The New York Daily News story misleadingly had a photo of a man with bald head and Swastika tatooed on the back of his head. But that is not Murdough. That has been corrected in this post.
*** UPDATE *** The New Hampshire Republican Party contacted First Read to make clear that its has denounced Murdough. "He's been denounced by the party," Ryan Williams, communications director for the party told First Read. He added that Murdough has been "barred him from getting any state resources."
Williams said, "We consider him a fraud and an imposter, and he is not welcome in the New Hampshire Republican Party."
He notes that he is a fraud because Murdough is state chairman of a third party group, American Third Party, and only identified as a Republican because it was easier to get on the ballot.
ARIZONA: "Gov. Jan Brewer, trying to combat tension in the tourism industry over the costly fallout from the new immigration law, told industry leaders Tuesday that work is to begin immediately on creating a new advertising campaign for the state," the Arizona Republic writes.
Politico links to a new Behavior Research Center Rocky Mountain poll showing Sen. McCain with a 64%-19% lead over former Rep. J.D. Hayworth.
COLORADO: "Leading Colorado Republicans on Wednesday began maneuvering for the possibility of Scott McInnis dropping out of the governor's race, the Denver Post writes. "GOP leaders and advisers swapped phone calls and hastily held small meetings Wednesday to discuss whether McInnis could be replaced by a another candidate, according to several participants… The name rising to the top of the list was University of Colorado president Bruce Benson," but also included former Rep. Tom Tancredo and state Senate minority leader Josh Penry.
"A researcher whom Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis blamed for plagiarism allegations said Wednesday he won't sign a letter from the campaign owning up to what happened because he claims McInnis is lying."
The AP profiles the Colorado Democratic primary: "Will the real political outsider please stand up? That question easily could be asked in Colorado's Democratic Senate race, where both the incumbent and his challenger are arm-wrestling over who is less likely to embrace anything Washington. Being seen as the bona fide outsider is a powerful election-year quality as frustrated voters turn their backs on the establishment."
The Hill looks at the Republican primary: Lt. Gov. Jane "Norton turned heads last week when she embraced comments by former GOP Rep. Tom Tancredo" that President Obama was "a bigger threat to the United States than al Qaeda." Her thought-to-be more conservative opponent Ken "Buck had distanced himself from the anti-illegal immigration firebrand’s remarks, but Norton a day later said she essentially agreed with Tancredo, which forced Buck to walk back his criticism."
GEORGIA: Yesterday, we told you about an explosive ad being run in the state's attorney general's race -- with an election Tuesday -- featuring a mother tearfully claims prosecutor (and candidate) Ken Hodges didn't get an indictment on the officer, because Hodges "forgot to swear him in, tried to hide the video and then refused to reopen the case. I could never get an answer why." Politifact has weighed in and rates a claim by opponent state Rep. Rob Teilhet that Hodges "badly botched this investigation and, as a result, justice wasn't done in this case" as "false." Politifact calls the ad, by the way, "certainly the most emotional political ad of this election season. And, perhaps, its most controversial." The ad is tinged with racial implications, as black voters could make up more than 50% of the Democratic electorate for the first time in this race. Hodges is holding a news conference with prominent African-American supporters. Hodges has gotten letters of support from several, including former chief state Supreme Court Justice Leah Ward Sears, who was considered for the U.S. Supreme Court and was the state's first black chief justice.
ILLINOIS: Democratic senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias "collected slightly more than $900,000 during the quarter that ended June 30, with the bulk of the money donated in June" and had about $1 million in the bank, Bloomberg News reports. "The campaign for Representative Mark Kirk, the Republican Senate candidate, said July 1 that he raised $2.3 million during the second quarter" and had about $3.9 million in the bank.
KENTUCKY: In an interview with the National Review, Republican senate candidate Rand Paul suggests he would form a Tea Party caucus with other conservatives if elected: "I think I will be part of a nucleus with Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn, who are unafraid to stand up," Paul said. "If we get another loud voice in there, like Mike Lee from Utah or Sharron Angle from Nevada, there will be a new nucleus… Term limits, a balanced-budget amendment, having bills point to where they are enumerated in the Constitution -- those issues resonate with the tea party. I know Republicans are trying to get something going, and I don’t know their list, but if I had a contract with America, these things would be in it. These are not radical ideas -- they are reform-minded, good-government ideas."
MICHIGAN: "A new independent poll of likely Republican primary voters released today finds Attorney General Mike Cox, U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra and Ann Arbor businessman Rick Snyder in a three-way tie for the lead, with Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard well back," the Detroit Free Press reports. According to Mitchell Research & Communications poll, "Cox, Hoekstra and Snyder garnered 18% each, with Bouchard at 9% and George at 1%. Thirty-four percent are undecided."
NEVADA: Politico’s Ben Smith links to what he calls a "very sympathetic interview" between CBN’s David Brody and Republican Senate nominee Sharron Angle, where Angle suggests that "Fox is more open to her fundraising pitch." In the interview, Brody asks why Angle goes on "more conservative outlets but maybe not going on ‘Meet the Press’ or a ‘This Week." Angle’s response: "will they let me say I need $25 dollars from a million people go to Sharron Angle.com send money? Will they let me say that?"
The Hill picks up on this line from the interview from Angle: "When God calls you he also equips you and He doesn’t just say well today you’re going to run against Harry Reid."
WEST VIRGINIA: "John Raese, a wealthy Republican businessman who has taken on, and been defeated by, two of West Virginia’s most powerful Democrats in the past quarter-century, believes the third time might be the charm," Roll Call reports. "Raese said Wednesday that he’s “absolutely” considering jumping into what is shaping up to be a special election this November to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D). Raese also said his decision to run would not be determined by whether GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito enters the contest."
Republican Senate gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott's 527, "Let's Get to Work," is up with two ads slamming opponent Bill McCollum for being a career politician and a flip-flopper on conservative issues, while Colorado Senate candidate Jane Norton criticizes opponent Ken Buck for not being "man enough" to run ads not sponsored by a third party.
NH SEN, Binnie, "Back on Track"
Bill Binnie has a plan to put America back to work. Cut taxes. Especially payroll taxes, encouraging small businesses to create jobs. Cut government spending. Stop the waste. Stop the bailout. Cut the deficit. Demand free trade from all countries including India and China. Bill Binnie will get our economy moving. And create jobs. Bill Binnie for Senate.
CO GOV, Norton, "Backbone"
Seen those TV ads attacking me? They're paid for by a shady interest group doing the bidding of Ken Buck. You'd think Ken'd be man enough to do it himself. Here's the truth. In state government, I cut budgets. Cut programs, and reduced staff. Ken Buck's office? His spending skyrocketed by 40 percent. We need a senator who's actually cut spending and has the backbone to stand her ground. I'm Jane Norton. I approve this message.
CT GOV, Fedele, "Family"
FEDELE: "My family immigrated to Connecticut because of the opportunities this country provided us. My dad dug ditches, my mom worked in the factory. They taught me the importance of hard work, integrity and family. Starting from nothing, I built the business and created hundreds of jobs. I know what it takes to cut spending, balance the budget, and provide the strong, conservative leadership that Connecticut needs." ANNCR: "Rooted in family, successful in business. Mike Fedele for governor." FEDELE: "I'm Mike Fedele, and I approve this message"
FL GOV, anti-McCollum, (Scott 527, Let's Get to Work) "Frequent Flyer"
How's traffic on your drive home? For Bill McCollum, traffic is a breeze. Bill McCollum travels in class, on a chartered airplane you paid for. Newspapers say McCollum billed taxpayers 80 thousand dollars for air travel. Even for personal reasons. He diverted the state plane home 53 times. A state auditor called it "likely misuse of state resources." Career politician Bill McCollum. VOICE: You are now free to get rid of career politicians. Sponsored by Let's Get To Work.
FL GOV, anti-McCollum, (Scott 527, Let's Get to Work) "Copy Cat"
ANNCR: "Bill McCollum seems to be having a real identity crisis. The Arizona immigration law? McCollum said it's 'far out' and won't happen here. Then he saw the polls, and did what politicians do. He flip-flopped to copy Rick Scott. Taxpayer funding for stem-cell research on human embryos? McCollum says he was all for it, causing right-to-life leaders to condemn him. Then he saw the polls, and did what politicians do. He flip-flopped to copy Scott. What will McCollum try next to copy Rick Scott? Sponsored by Let's Get To Work"
FL GOV, Scott, (radio) "Immigration Radio Ad"
ANNCR: "And now Florida conservative commentary with Rick Scott, Republican for governor. This is Rick Scott. Today's topic, doing something about illegal immigration right now. Governor Crist has called a special session of legislature and of course, Florida taxpayers are on the hook to pay for it. So as long as we're paying them anyway, here's something that legislators should do. Bring the Arizona immigration law here to Florida. Now. Pass it in the special session. It was too much for a lot of liberals to read before they opposed it, but the Arizona law is just a few pages long. It's not complicated because it's just commonsense. If someone gets stopped for speeding, or arrested for robbery the police should be able to determine if they are here illegally. My suggestion to Tallahassee? Let's get to work, and bring the Arizona law to Florida now. Florida conservative commentary with Rick Scott. Political advertisement paid for and approved by Rick Scott, Republican for governor."
GA GOV, Johnson, "Just the Guy"
I'm Eric Johnson. It's way past time for some straight talk. Barack Obama and the Democrats are out of control. But we can get it right here in Georgia. They raise taxes, I'll cut 'em and create jobs. They want to take over health care? I'll stop 'em. They say amnesty for illegal immigrants? I'll enforce the law, just like Arizona. You want a proven conservative for governor? I'm Eric Johnson, and I'm just the guy to do it.
GA GOV, Deal, "How Can We Trust Karen Handel On Anything?"
ACTRESS: "Karen Handel is telling lies about Nathan Deal. But in her first campaign, Karen Handel supported gay partner benefits, and gay adoption. And in this campaign, she denies it. If we can't trust Karen Handel on gay partner benefits and gay adoption, how can we trust Karen Handel on anything?" DEAL: "I'm Nathan Deal, the pro-life conservative who'll crack down on illegal immigration. My convictions won't change with every election, 'cause I'm a man of my word"
HI GOV, Hannemann, "Jeff Coehlo"
COELHO: " I think one of the things that Mufi Hannemann will bring to the table as our governor is I think he could be the CEO of any large company in Hawaii. I mean this guy has the talent, he has the mindset, definitely has the education for it. He has the smarts, he has the experience -- these are the skills that we're going to need over the next few years. These are going to be challenging times for us in Hawaii, so yes, I think he'd make an excellent governor." ANNCR: "Mufi Hannemann for governor"
HI GOV, Hannemann, "Tony Guerrero for Mufi Hannemann"
GUERRERO: "Mufi sometimes reminds me of Governor Ariyoshi -- 'cause he made tough decisions. Pono -- he did the the right thing. Mufi has the ability to be Pono -- to do the right thing. To make decisions that will not increase his popularity in the polls but will help the more punas in the future, and that's what I like about Mufi -- he takes care of the kids, he takes care of our future" ANNCR: "Mufi Hannemann for governor"
HI GOV, Hannemann, "Convention Speech"
HANNEMANN: "To truly understand why I want to be your governor, it is important to go back to my roots. It is important to go back to my values. It is important to go back to my parents. And through the years as they instilled in me a desire for public service by saying to me, 'Young man get as much education as possible and then use that education to help others.' I've been inspired. I've been motivated. I want to build upon the legacy of everyone who has contributed for the betterment of our home. The challenges are so enormous. And it is going to take all of us working together. Because the goal is to make Hawaii a better place, not just for some of us, not just for most of us, but for all of us." ANNCR: "Mufi Hannemann, standing tall for all of us."
MI GOV, Bouchard, "Guess"
Consider this. 22 states have a right-to-work law. And their unemployment is around 8%. Not Michigan's. Guess where our jobs are going. And our kids with them. To get a job, workers shouldn't be forced to join unions, or have money pulled from their paychecks to join political campaigns. It's driving businesses away. People want to work. Let's give them the right to work. You know, some people say Michigan's best days are behind us. Let's prove 'em wrong.
MN GOV, Dayton, "Forged"
This is where the future is being forged. One student at a time. Giving our children the tools they need to succeed. Our workers the skills they need to compete. But Tim Pawlenty has cut education funding in Minnesota. Classrooms are overcrowded. Districts have gone to four day school weeks. Mark Dayton says it's wrong. As a former public school teacher, he knows education is the key to our economic future. As governor, Dayton will increase funding for education ever year. No excuses, no exceptions. Dayton for a better Minnesota.
MN GOV, Dayton, "So Much"
They've given us so much. Built businesses. Farmed the land. Raised our kids. Defended our nation. But Tim Pawlenty's cuts have hurt our seniors. Rising property taxes are driving them out of their homes. Mark Dayton has fought for seniors his entire career. Leading bus trips to Canada for cheaper prescription drugs. Opposing plans to privatize social security. Our seniors have done so much for us. Isn't it time for a governor who did more for them? Dayton for governor. For a better Minnesota.
TN GOV, Ramsay, "Draw the Line"
ANNCR: "Washington refuses to secure our borders and now President Obama's filed suit to stop Arizona from enforcing immigration laws. Liberals want amnesty even though 10 percent of Tennesseans are out of work. It's time to draw the line and Ron Ramsey will. As governor, Ron Ramsey will require police to check the citizenship of everyone they arrest. If you want a governor who will stand up to President Obama, there's only one choice: Ron Ramsey. Conservative for governor" (Youtube, 7/12).
TN GOV, Haslam, "The Right Experience"
Some people just move at a faster pace. Like the clock's a-tickin'. Bill Haslam's built a business. Thousands of jobs. Became mayor of Knoxville. Led the city out of tough times. He's a good man. Sets a course and sees it through. Bill Haslam has the right experience to lead our state out of tough times.
WI GOV, anti-Barrett, (RGA)
ANNCR: "Governor Jim Doyle (D) has called Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett 'a great champion,' and says Barrett has a strong record in Milwaukee. It's easy to see why Doyle thinks so. Since becoming Mayor, Barrett has raised Milwaukee taxes every single year and increased spending by $300 million dollars. And under Barrett, Milwaukee has seen dozens of businesses closed and thousands of jobs lost. Sound familiar? Tom Barrett. More taxes, less jobs. Like Jim Doyle, only worse"
From NBC’s Ken Strickland and Msnbc.com’s Carrie Dann
An early Republican supporter of the financial reform bill, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, definitively announced Wednesday that he won’t support the final compromise version of the overhaul legislation when it comes to the Senate floor tomorrow.
Grassley said he opposes changes to the Senate version of the bill that were made during conference negotiations to iron out differences with the House. He vehemently objects to revisions that would use money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program to offset the bill’s effect on the federal deficit – a change that was made to win over Republican Sen. Scott Brown, who announced he would vote for the bill earlier this week.
“I voted for the Senate version of the banking bill to protect taxpayers from another government bailout of Wall Street, not to put taxpayers on the hook by spending more money through TARP,” Grassley said in a written statement.
In addition to Brown, Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine have already indicated that they will support the bill, giving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster.
Grassley also dislikes changes to the bill that would alter how banks can engage in derivatives trading.
Speaking to reporters about his opposition to the final legislation Wednesday, Grassley noted that Wall Street has supported some parts of the final bill.
“It’s a bill most of Wall Street wants passed. And quite frankly, if Wall Street’s pushing for it, is it really much of a change for Wall Street?” Grassley told reporters in a conference call, according to the Des Moines Register. “And it seems to me the last thing Iowans would expect in any real reform bill is that Wall Street would be backing it.”
From NBC's Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro This week, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs learned this important -- and unfortunate -- lesson: In politics, telling the truth can get you in trouble.
On "Meet the Press" this past Sunday, Gibbs acknowledged what nearly every political analyst has concluded: that the U.S. House is in play come November.
“I think there's no doubt there are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control," Gibbs said. "This will depend on strong campaigns by Democrats. And again, I think we've got to take the issues to them.”
That comment from Gibbs -- plus all the attention it received -- made House Speaker Nancy Pelosi furious. "How could [Gibbs] know what is going on in our districts?" Pelosi told her members Tuesday, per Politico. "Some may weigh his words more than others. We have made our disagreement known to the White House."
The reasons why Pelosi and House Democrats didn't appreciate Gibbs' remarks include the fact that it highlighted -- from the president's top spokesman -- Democrats' vulnerability this fall, and that it has spooked Democratic donors. (That said, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer made a similar comment to what Gibbs said: "Do I think he’s right in that there are enough seats in play? Probably close.")
But what this entire episode has reopened is a perception among House Democrats of a White House that has showered more attention and focus on Senate Democrats than on them.
Examples: House Democrats passed cap-and-trade, while the Senate still hasn't moved on energy; House Democrats were forced to vote on a Senate health-care bill they didn't like as much as their own; and President Obama has attended more fundraisers for Sens. Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer than he has for individual House incumbents.
"I think that members feel that the White House throughout the last 18 months has paid closer attention and cared more about the Senate than the House," said one House Democratic aide. "There is a level of frustration."
Another Democratic House aide added that House Democrats "take the tough votes and they do everything the president asks. And it is greeted with more accommodations for the Senate."
That said, this aide predicts that after House leaders meet with Obama later this afternoon, you'll hear from these members that Democrats are on the same page and committed to holding on to control of the House in the fall.
Ahead of Tuesday's Georgia primary, the attorney general's race is worth watching.
It's taken a bitter turn in the Democratic primary with the release of a slickly produced ad featuring a mother whose son, she says, "was lying on the ground unarmed when a police officer shot him twice in the head." The ad features grainy video of the incident, which at the time of its prosecution stirred racial tensions.
The mother claims prosecutor (and candidate) Ken Hodges didn't get an indictment on the officer, because Hodges "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 continues, "Mr. Hodges should not be our next attorney general."
The ad is being run by Democratic state Rep. Rob Teilhet.
Hodges shot back this way at a debate Sunday: "The death of Kenneth Walker was a tragedy, and my heart continues to be with the family. The fact that my opponent wants to exploit the family's grief and use it for political purposes is, quite frankly, disgusting."
And it has pushed back in other ways, per AP: "Greg Edwards, who was Hodges' co-counsel in the Walker case, said Hodges never tried to hide the video and has repeatedly said he would bring the case back to a grand jury if there was new evidence. The case did prompt Georgia lawmakers to pass legislation this year requiring prosecutors to swear in all witnesses who testify in front of grand juries."
AP's context: "With less than a week before the state primary, the bare-knuckles race for attorney general has managed to make the battle for governor appear almost tame in comparison."
This is the first time the state AG seat has been "open" in 60 years, AP notes.
More: "Hodges, a former Dougherty County district attorney, was appointed the special prosecutor to present the case to the Muscogee County grand jury in November 2004. The panel decided not to indict Glisson, stirring racial tensions in Columbus because Walker was black and the deputy is white."
The Republican race, meanwhile, has stirred charges of sympathizing with atheists, party-switching, and yes, being from New Jersey.
*** UPDATE *** The Hodges campaign contacted First Read and alerted us to its "comparative ad":
We’re used to accusations about occasional voting among the dearly departed in certain parts of the country, but active campaigning by the recently deceased is a new one to us.
In this Las Vegas Review-Journal obituary making its way around the blogosphere today, one Nevada voter’s family registered disapproval of the state’s senior senator in a rather unique manner.
The children of the late Charlotte McCourt, 84, used her obituary, published on Tuesday, to say they believe their departed mother would have been “mortified” to have once supported Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“Let the record show Charlotte was displeased with his work,” her family wrote. “Please, in lieu of flowers, vote for another more worthy candidate.”
McCourt was a 40-year resident of Nevada and active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – of which Reid is also a member.
The postmortem putdown comes as Reid faces a challenge from Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle in his re-election bid this fall.
From NBC's Ken Strickland In a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing scheduled for later today, ranking Republican Dick Lugar will make the case that the mission in Afghanistan lacks clarity, and he calls on the administration to "not wait six months to refine its explanation of our goals in Afghanistan."
"It is up to the president to define success, and delineate how much time and how many resources should be devoted to achieving it," he is expected to add, according to prepared remarks for a hearing today with Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.
Lugar will raise doubts about the president's timeline for withdrawal without meaningful changes. "It is unrealistic to expect that a significant downsizing of U.S. forces could occur at that time without security consequences," he will say. "The lack of clarity in Afghanistan does not end with the president's timetable."
"Both civilian and military operations in Afghanistan are proceeding without a clear definition of success. There has been much discussion of our counter-insurgency strategy and methods, but very little explanation of what metrics must be achieved before the country is considered secure."
Lugar is respected on both sides of the aisle as a player on foreign policy matters, preferring to raise his concerns quietly behind the scenes more than throwing partisan bombs at press conferences or on cable shows. That style -- combined with his close relationship with President Obama -- makes his comments today notable.
Lugar acknowledges that progress has been made in Afghanistan and that things in the region are "fluid and not easily defined. I also understand why an administration would not want to be pinned down to a specific definition of success. The problem is that we are expending enormous resources in Afghanistan. Our resources are finite, and they must be focused effectively."
The Indiana senator goes on to say, "We can't fall back on measuring our military and civilian activities in Afghanistan according to relative progress. Arguably, we could make progress for decades on security, employment, good governance, women's rights and other goals - expending billions of dollars each year -- without ever reaching a satisfying conclusion."
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