Tuesday's the last big primary day of the cycle, Congress is back, Nine-year anniversary of 9/11, lots of campaigning, and a viral video rant for the ages.
Andy Gross is not running for Treasurer of anything. But he is fired up.
Andy Gross is not running for Treasurer of anything. But he is fired up.
Hell hath no fury like a journalist scorned, and famed Nevada political Jon Ralston is blasting Sharron Angle's campaign for backing out of a seemingly agreed-upon debate with Harry Reid, which Ralston was going to moderate.
In Ralston's tick-tock of what happened, he concludes:
This is all about a campaign organization riven by personality conflicts between seasoned pros and amateurs, and a candidate torn between longtime friends and operatives parachuted in to save her. [Campaign spokesman Jerry] Stacy is trying to use the campaign's previous insistence on having a debate before early voting starts as a fig leaf, but it is not a very effective one since Oct. 21 is still just under two weeks before the balloting. This is about ego and inside baseball (do they think anyone cares when the debate is or will care about Stacy's demand about the early voting cutoff?) Besides, Angle can’t get away from that public commitment and I have been told it’s not over yet. We shall see.
Capitol Hill isn't exactly home to the nation's most beloved institutions. Over half of Americans say that they have little or no confidence in Congress, according to the latest NBC/WSJ poll, and less than a third say that their representatives in Congress deserve to be re-elected in November.
Many things about the United States Senate -- sometimes described as "the world's greatest deliberative body" -- are opaque and inaccessible to all but a tiny portion of Beltway insiders. Its rules are complex, its history is long and rich, and the relationships between its members can often make the difference between gridlock and legislative victory.
NBC Senate producer Ken Strickland sat down with nine departing senators to get their takes on how the Senate works, what has changed during their tenure there, and what they’ve observed about their colleagues. He conducted hours of interviews, comprising over 130 pages of written transcripts, in order to better understand these lawmakers' combined 158 years of service in the upper chamber.
Starting Monday, a 4-day series of stories about the "Exit Interviews" he conducted will be posted on msnbc.com and here on First Read.
Be sure to check it out.
From NBC's John Yang
CHICAGO -- The ripple effects of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's decision not to run for a seventh term continue to reverberate -- and are likely to be felt in this November's election.
The immediate effect is to limit to pool of potential campaign contributions for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) and Senate nominee Alexei Giannoulias (D), both locked in tough battles to keep those offices in Democratic hands.
To win the Chicago mayor's race -- which will almost certainly be decided in a runoff on April 5, 2011 -- a candidate not named Richard Daley will likely have to spend upwards of $7 million, political professionals estimate. That's money that won't be going to either Quinn or Giannoulias. The late Richard J. Daley amassed so much power in the Chicago mayor's office, which his son consolidated, that its occupant is much more important to many big Democratic contributors than whoever is governor or U.S. senator.
The mayoral race already seems to have sucked all the oxygen out of this fall's two top statewide races at the very time Quinn and Giannoulias need to energize and unify the Democratic base in Chicago -- the key to success for any statewide Democratic candidate.
The aftershocks are also being felt in Washington. At least three members of Chicago's House delegation have publicly said they are considering running for mayor: Reps. Luis Gutierrez, a leader on immigration issues, Jesse Jackson Jr. and Mike Quigley -- all perhaps weighing the possibility of being in the minority in the next Congress.
And, of course, there's White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. The former DCCC chairman who seemed to be on track to be a future House speaker can't afford to be seen as being distracted by the lure of Chicago City Hall as the Democrats' House and Senate majorities are threatened. But with the filing deadline for the mayor's race on Nov. 22 -- barely three weeks after the midterm elections -- he'd have to be lining up support just as congressional races go into the final stretch.
From Msnbc.com's Carrie Dann and Tom Curry
12:19 ET: After 80 minutes of questions, Obama's eighth press conference has concluded.
He took questions from 15 reporters. Here's a list of what he was asked about, per Msnbc.com's Mike Brunker.
(Several also referenced how the economic situation and the legislation passed by Congress over the last two years will impact the 2010 midterm elections)
Economy generally: 1 question
Small business bill/infrastructure spending plan/tax cuts: 2
Consumer protection agency: 1
Health care reform: 1
Fighting poverty: 1
Changing the culture of Washington: 1
Resentment of Islam/Quran and N.Y. mosque controversies: 3
Guantanamo/military tribunals for terror suspects: 1
Bin Laden/terror threat: 1
Mideast/Palestinian-Israeli peace talks: 2
Afghan corruption: 1
12:19 ET: Curry's context on the questions regarding civilian trials for terrorists:
Attorney General Eric Holder announced last fall that he planned to try 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court in New York.
Obama said today on a potential trial for KSM that he wants to “move this forward in a way that is consistent with our standard of due process, consistent with our Constitution.”
Holder has not announced any further plans for the trial.
Back in July Sen. Lindsey Graham pinged the attorney general on this, telling Holder, “In your testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 14, 2010, you stated that ‘New York is not off the table; as a potential trial venue, and that you expected to have a decision ‘in a number of weeks.’ However, months have gone by, and the Department of Justice has failed to reach a decision on where the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks will be tried.”
Back in April New York Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat who is up for re-election this year, said there is a consensus in New York that the KSM trial should not be held there. He added, "We know the administration is not going to hold the trial in New York. They should just say it already."
12:18 ET: There are Muslims serving in the armed forces, Obama says. "They are Americans. We honor their service."
12:17 ET: Obama said in August that "I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there," one day after he insisted that Muslims "have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country," including "the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan."
12:16 ET: "We've got to be clear about" the fact that we are not at war with Islam, Obama emphasizes.
"We need all the allies we can get."
12:14 ET: Religious freedom means "If you could build a church on a site, you could build a synagogue on a site, you could build a Hindu temple on a site, then you should be able to build a mosque on a site," Obama says.
12:12 ET: Next question: what would it say about this country if organizers were talked out of building an Islamic community center near the ground zero site?
12:10 ET: Back to tax cuts for a minute, here's a piece from Msnbc.com business writer Allison Linn on how the various proposals could affect you.
12:09 ET: Capturing or killing Osama Bin Laden remains "a high priority" of the administration, Obama says. He "has gone deep underground."
12:08 ET: Al Qaeda operatives still cite Guantanamo as a "talking point" and argument for attacking the U.S., Obama says.
One of his most vehement promises as a candidate was to close the prison; that pledge remains unfulfilled.
12:06 ET: Obama points out that the cost of holding detainees at Gitmo is "massively higher" than holding them at a supermax prison in the United States.
12:06 ET: Asked about the prosecution of terrorists, Obama says "the American justice system is strong enough," to convict terrorists ... We can do that. We've done it before."
12:04 ET: The president continues to take questions after the one-hour mark comes and goes.
12:02 ET: On the impending lapse of a moratorium on the building of settlements in areas disputed between Israel and Palestine, the president says "it makes sense to extend" the moratorium as peace talks continue.
He calls on Palestinian leader Abbas to show seriousness in negotiation with Israelis so as to help Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu with his own political difficulties. If Abbas helps progress, then Netanyahu’s own internal politics “would be little bit easier” Obama said, so that he might extend the moratorium on settlements
The key for Abbas and Netanyahu is “how can they help the other to succeed” as opposed to making sure the other fails, he says.
11:59 ET: The public is split about whether the recent increase in troop levels in Afghanistan has improved the situation there. The latest NBC/WSJ poll showed that 27 percent thought the troop boost "made things better," 26 percent sayid "made things worse," and 36 percent believe that it's too soon to tell.
11:56 ET: Obama speaks about the difficulty of reducing violence in Afghanistan and the training of security forces, says "we've made progress" on addressing the issue of political corruption. "We have seen Afghan-led efforts that have gone after police commanders, significant business people," he says, but we are "a long way from where we need to be on that."
11:52 ET: Next question from the NYT: How can you lecture Karzai on corruption when many of the corrupt Afghan officials are receiving support from the United States? Also an additional question on Mideast peace.
11:47 ET: Curry notes that, in his pragmatic response to the question about the insurance reform bill, Obama just seemed to give a green light to Democratic congressional candidates who are running against his health care effort.
11:46 ET: "The most important anti-poverty effort is growing the economy," Obama says in response to a question about fighting poverty.
"I am constantly thinking about how do we create ladders for communities and individuals to climb into the middle class."
11:45 ET: What about the fact that some Democrats are running against health care, ABC asks.
Obama responds that every district is different and that each candidate responds to his or her would-be constituents. Each one must make the best possible argument in the midst of a difficult political environment. "That's how political races work."
11:43 ET: The president said “bending the cost curve is hard to do” on health care, says he will work to “Slowly bring down those costs.”
A report released this week by the staff of chief actuary of Medicare said provisions of health care law which take effect this and through 2013 are estimated to increase national health spending by $10.2 billion through 2013.
But major parts of the law – such as expansion of Medicare coverage – don’t take effect until 2014.
As a result of the coverage expansions, growth in national health spending is projected to be 9.2 percent in 2014, versus growth of 6.6 percent in 2014 that was expected prior to the enactment of health reform legislation.
For 2015–19, national health spending is now projected to increase 6.7 percent per year, slightly less than the 6.8 percent average annual growth rate projected in February 2010.
As a result of the new law, By 2019, the insured share of the population is projected to be 92.7 percent— about ten percentage points higher than projected prior to the health reform legislation. The number of uninsured will be reduced by 32.5 million.
11:41 ET: Asked about Florida pastor who has proposed burning copies of the Quran, Obama repeats his response to Good Morning America earlier this week, calling the idea "the best imaginable recruiting tool for al Qaeda." He says that burning a holy book is "contrary to what this nation stands for" and says that he must send a strong message that it would put American troops in harm's way.
"I hardly think we’re the ones who elevated this story," he says. "But it is in the age of the Internet something that can cause us profound damage around the world. So we have to take it seriously."
Obama refers to Pastor Jones as "the individual down in Florida" twice.
11:40 ET: On peace talks between Israel and Palestine, Obama says: "It is a risk worth taking because the alternative is a status quo that is unsustainable." He argues that a Israeli-Palestinian accord would help the U.S. deal with “Iran not willing to give up its nuclear program.”
"We're not just doing this to feel good," he adds.
11:39 ET: On the issue of "changing Washington" that Chuck Todd asked about, Msnbc.com's Tom Curry notes what Obama said as a candidate when he declared his candidacy in 2007: “What's stopped us is the failure of leadership, the smallness of our politics, the ease with which we're distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our preference for scoring cheap political points instead of rolling up our sleeves and building a working consensus to tackle the big problems of America.”
11:35 ET: Obama clearly emphasized his Christian faith in his response to a question about Islam. But many Americans do not believe that he is Christian. In August, a Pew Research Center study found that 18 percent of Americans say Obama is a Muslim. That's up from 11 percent in March 2009.
More from Pew:
The view that Obama is a Muslim is more widespread among his political opponents than among his backers. Roughly a third of conservative Republicans (34%) say Obama is a Muslim, as do 30% of those who disapprove of Obama’s job performance. But even among many of his supporters and allies, less than half now say Obama is a Christian. Among Democrats, for instance, 46% say Obama is a Christian, down from 55% in March 2009.
The belief that Obama is a Muslim has increased most sharply among Republicans
(up 14 points since 2009), especially conservative Republicans (up 16 points). But the number of independents who say Obama is a Muslim has also increased significantly
(up eight points). There has been little change in the number of Democrats who say Obama is a Muslim, but fewer Democrats today say he is a Christian (down nine points since 2009).
11:34 ET: Obama answers that one of the things he admired the most about President Bush was that he was "crystal clear" that America was not at war with Islam after the attacks. He says he will do all he can "to remind the American people that we are one nation under God. And we might call that God different names, but we remain one nation."
He adds that he "relies heavily on my Christian faith."
11:33 ET: Next question from the Washington Post: Why is there still such suspicion of Islam, nine years after the September 11 attacks?
11:32 ET: Here's a little bit more context on the issue of extending the Bush tax cuts:
According to the Treasury Department the cost (in terms of revenues the government would not get) of extending all the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for another two year would be $457 billion.
To put that number in perspective, the Congressional Budget Office currently estimates that the federal budget deficit for 2010 will be about $70 billion below last year’s total but will still exceed $1.3 trillion.
As a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), this year’s deficit is expected to be the second-largest in the past 65 years: about 9.1 percent of GDP.
11:27 ET: Obama: "If you're asking why I haven't been able to create a greater spirit of cooperation?... That's fair. I'm as frustrated as anybody."
"When you take on tough issues ... where special interests are deeply entrenched ... you end up having a lot of big fights here in town. And it's messy. And it's frustrating." Obama says he had the option not to take on those issues (like health care and financial reform) but "that's not the kind of leadership" Americans wanted from their president.
11:26 ET: Before he arrived in Washington, Obama answers, policies were "skewed toward" special interests. He names the health care and financial regulatory bills as examples as his changes to that structure.
11:25 ET: NBC's Chuck Todd: "How have you changed Washington?"
11:24 ET: Bloomberg asks about Elizabeth Warren, whose name has been floated as the head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency but could face a difficult Senate confirmation.
"The idea for this agency was Elizabeth Warren's," he says. He'll "have an announcement soon about how we're going to move forward."
11:23 ET: Obama declines to call additional infrastructure spending "a second stimulus."
"There is no doubt that everything we’ve been trying to do is designed to stimulate growth and additional jobs in the economy," he says, adding that he has no problem with people saying he is trying to "stimulate growth and hiring."
11:21 ET: President says that Republican and Democrats "ususally agree on infrastructure."
11:19 ET: Third question comes from CBS. Chip Reid asks why the president waited until a "super-heated" midterm election season to unveil new economic proposals.
11:18 ET: "Let's give certainty to families out there that are having a tough time."
11:17 ET: Here's a little bit of background to Obama's response to the first question that the economy hasn't fully recovered. "We're not there," he said.
Last month, the unemployment rate was 9.6 percent. There were 14.9 million people unemployed.
In February of 2009 when Obama signed the Recovery Act (stimulus) into law, the unemployment rate was 8.1 percent and there were 12.5 million unemployed.
After 18 months, the employment situation is worse.
But non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says the economy would be in even worse shape today had the stimulus not been enacted.
The CBO estimated in a recent report that the stimulus has increased the number of jobs by at least 1.4 million in the current year and has cut the unemployment rate by as much as 1.8 percentage points.
11:16 ET: Obama says Republicans and Democrats agree that taxes on the middle class should be low. "Let's work on that."
11:14 ET: In his opening statement, Obama also spoke about his new infrastructure proposal, which he unveiled earlier this week. It would invest an initial $50 billion on roads, rails and runways.
Here is what he said in Milwaukee earlier this week: “It doesn’t do anybody any good when so many hardworking Americans have been idled for months, even years, at a time when there is so much of America that needs rebuilding.”
Here is what he said last year when he signed the stimulus bill in February 17, 2009:
"Because we know we can't build our economic future on the transportation and information networks of the past, we are remaking the American landscape with the largest new investment in our nation's infrastructure since Eisenhower built an Interstate Highway System in the 1950s. Because of this investment, nearly 400,000 men and women will go to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, repairing our faulty dams and levees, bringing critical broadband connections to businesses and homes in nearly every community in America, upgrading mass transit, building high-speed rail lines that will improve travel and commerce throughout our nation."
11:12 ET: The president calls GOP economic proposals "the exact policies that got us into this mess." He references NRCC chairman Pete Sessions' comment on Meet the Press that "We need to go back to the exact same agenda" from before the Obama presidency.
11:10 ET: First question comes from the Associated Press: How can the midterm elections not be a referendum on the economy and your handling of it?
Obama responds that, if the election is about policies -- those [from Democrats] that could move us forward or those [from Republicans] that led America into economic crisis -- "I think Democrats will do well."
11:09 ET: In his opening remarks, Obama references “tax cuts for millionaires” in the Bush administration. The 2001 tax law cut all income tax rates. Eleven Democratic senators joined 47 Republicans in voting for it in May 2001. Those rates expire at the end of this year.
Obama has proposed to allow the 2001 tax rates to expire for couples with income over $250,000 and others with income over $200,000.
11:09 ET: He urges Americans to "rekindle that spirit of unit and common purpose" that followed September 11.
11:07 ET: Obama says of Christina Romer, departing chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors: "Christie is brilliant, she is dedicated, she is part of the team that helped save this country from a recession." Formally announces Austan Goolsbee as her successor.
11:05 ET: Obama: "One thing we can do next week is end a month-long standoff on a small business bill .. that has been held up by a partisan minority." Retiring GOP Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio has said he will vote for cloture, potentially giving Democrats the 60 votes they need to break the filibuster. Obama praised him by name.
11:03 ET: Obama: "Even though the economy is growing again... the hole the recession left was huge. Progress has been painfully slow."
11:01 ET: Obama is now at the podium, says he will opens with comments addressing "our continuing efforts to dig ourselves out of this recession."
10:45 ET: President Obama will hold the eighth press conference of his presidency at 11a.m. ET, his first since late May. As First Read wrote this morning, he'll likely be asked to address his party's chances going into the final stretch of a difficult midterm election cycle, as well as the continuing controversy over the NYC Islamic community center and a Florida pastor's proposal to burn copies of the Quran. But front and center will be economic issues -- the president's plan for tax cuts, the stubbornly high unemployment rate, and the administration's new efforts to kick-start the economy. (He'll also announce that longtime economic advisor Austan Goolsbee will succeed Christina Romer as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.)
And one of the most interesting things to watch for will be if - and how - Obama characterizes his own presidency so far.
We'll be live-blogging the news conference here.
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs offered a preview of the president's press conference today on The Daily Rundown. Take a look, and keep refreshing First Read throughout the newser for breaking news and analysis from the political team.
From NBC's Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro
*** First Read’s Top 10 Senate Takeovers: Chew on this: Right now, Republicans have a better chance of flipping West Virginia’s Senate seat than Democrats have in picking up the one in Ohio. In fact, this is our first Top 10 Senate takeover list this cycle where we don’t have a single Dem pick-up opportunity. According to this list, Republicans -- right now -- would gain a minimum of five seats. Yet to take control of the chamber, they’d need to win all 10 on the list (or win a substitute outside the Top 10). The number in parentheses is our ranking from last month.
1. North Dakota (1): Get ready to ho-down with Republican John Hoeven (R); yes, we're running out of Hoeven puns. Ranking: Solid GOP.
2. Delaware (2): Does Mike Castle (R) survive his primary against Christine O’Donnell (R)? The GOP’s likelihood of winning this seat depends on it. Ranking (with Castle as nominee): Probable GOP.
3. Arkansas (3): Bill Clinton campaigned this week for incumbent Blanche Lincoln (D), but it’s unlikely to change the dynamics of her race against John Boozman (R). Ranking: Probable GOP.
4. Indiana (4): Speaking of being able to change the dynamics, Brad Ellsworth (D) hasn’t caught up to Dan Coats (R). Ranking: Probable GOP.
5. Pennsylvania (5): After being dormant for the last couple of months, Joe Sestak’s (D) campaign has become more active, with Biden and Obama set to stump for him later this month. Right now, though, this is Pat Toomey’s (R) race to lose. Ranking: Lean GOP.
6. Illinois (7): The Alexi Giannoulias (D)-vs.-Mark Kirk (R) contest remains what we consider to be the truest 50%-50% race out there. Ranking: Toss Up.
7. Colorado (unranked): The Ken Buck (R)-vs.-Michael Bennet (D) race is close to being a pure 50%-50% race, too. Which force will be greater -- the overall political environment, or the GOP’s woes in the state? Ranking: Toss Up.
8. Nevada (8): Now we enter the contests where Democrats might have an advantage by a fingernail. But the Harry Reid (D)-vs.Sharron Angle (R) race is going to close. Fasten your seatbelts. Ranking: Toss Up.
9. Wisconsin (unranked): As was the case in ‘98, Russ Feingold (D) is fighting for his political life. What makes this time more difficult for him is that this political environment is much different than ’98 was. Ranking: Toss Up.
10. Washington (10): If Republicans indeed catch a wave on Election Night, we’ll be pulling an all-nighter watching the returns from the Patty Murray (D)-vs.-Dino Rossi (R) race. Ranking: Toss Up.
*** Nos. 11-21 (in order): California (Toss Up), Florida (Toss Up), Missouri (Lean R), Kentucky (Lean R), West Virginia (Lean D), Ohio (Lean R), New Hampshire (Lean R), Connecticut (Lean D), North Carolina (Probable R), Louisiana (Probable R), Alaska (Probable R).
What we’re watching for at today’s White House news conference at 11:00 am ET… Robert Gibbs to appear on “Daily Rundown”… Voinovich to help break GOP filibuster on small business bill… Today’s Rahm Watch: Does he get to wait until November to make his mayoral decision? Maybe so… Profiling the undecided… Meg Whitman ad uses Bill Clinton (in ’92) against Jerry Brown… Profiling LA-2… And Lincoln and Boozman debate in Arkansas.
From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro
*** What we’re watching for at today’s presser: For the third time this week, President Obama will deliver remarks on the economy -- this time at a White House press conference at 11:00 am ET; it will be the president’s eighth White House presser. At the outset, he will announce that Austan Goolsbee is succeeding Christina Romer as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. As far as what we’re watching for: Yes, you have the Florida pastor story out there (what else can you possibly ask Obama on this?); yes, there’s the upcoming 9/11 anniversary; yes, there's the economy (how firm is the president's position on not extending the current tax rates, even for another year or two?); and, yes, there are midterms (with the president now headlining four rallies between now and Election Day). But to us, what could be very revealing is if/how Obama sums up his presidency so far. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs will be on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown” this morning.
*** Voinovich to help break GOP filibuster: This might also be a little news at the top of Obama’s remarks today: Retiring GOP Sen. George Voinovich says he’ll help push the small business incentives through the Senate next week, which potentially gives Dems the 60 votes they need to break the GOP filibuster. The Washington Post: "In an interview, Voinovich said he could no longer support efforts by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to delay the measure in hopes of winning the right to offer additional GOP amendments. Most of the proposed amendments 'didn’t have anything to do with the bill,' anyway, Voinovich said, and amounted merely to partisan 'messaging.' 'We don’t have time for messaging. We don’t have time anymore. This country is really hurting,' Voinovich said."
*** Rahm Watch: Did President Obama give Rahm Emanuel breathing room to make his mayoral decision after the midterms? “The one thing I've always been impressed with about Rahm is that when he has a job to do, he focuses on the job in front of him,” Obama told ABC yesterday. “And so my expectation is, he'd make a decision after these midterm elections. He knows that we've got a lot of work to do.” Also, don’t miss this quote, via Politico, by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn explaining why he won’t discuss Rahm or the Chicago mayoral contest: “I’m in the political fight of my life. I don’t think I need to be prognosticating on a race down the road a piece.” It’s quite possible that Dems go 0-2 in the biggest races this year in Illinois, and don’t be surprised if that fact possibly stops the jockeying for the mayoral race -- and gives the White House, Illinois Democrats, and Rahm a reason to say, “It's bad form to raise money now, and suck oxygen away from Quinn and Alexi.” So here's today's CW: Maybe Rahm does stick around as chief of staff through November. And then the president does his BIG shakeup in December, and doesn't have to deal with three chiefs of staff in three months.
*** Profiling the undecided: Our NBC/WSJ pollsters have profiled the 11% of hard undecided likely voters from all our polls this year. The breakdown provides some good news for Democrats but also bad news. First, the good news: These undecideds voted more for Obama in 2008 (40%) than for McCain (31%), so they’re a potential Dem vote in the fall. But here’s the bad news: They are more pessimistic about the direction of the country (66% think it’s on the wrong track); they are less approving of Obama’s job performance (39%) and handling of the economy (34%); and they have a poor opinion of both the Dem and Republican parties. More than anything else, these undecideds are angry voters: 57% of them would replace every member of Congress if they could, and 62% don’t support the re-election of their member of Congress.
*** Bill Clinton vs. Jerry Brown: In her latest TV ad, Meg Whitman airs footage of Bill Clinton blasting Jerry Brown. It comes from a Clinton-Brown presidential debate in 1992.
*** 75 House races to watch: LA-2: The GOP nominee is first-term incumbent Joseph Cao, while the Dem nominee is state Rep. Cedric Richmond. Both Obama (in ’08) and Kerry (in ’04) won 75% in the district. As of Aug. 8, Cao had $300,000 in the bank, and Richmond had $166,000. Cao didn’t cast a vote in the debate over the stimulus, and voted against cap-and-trade and health care (though he did vote for the original House health bill that passed in Nov. 2009). Cook rates the contest as Toss Up, and Rothenberg has it Democrat Favored.
*** More midterm news: In Arkansas, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) and Rep. John Boozman (R) debate in a local FOX affiliate Web cast at 1:00 pm ET… In Delaware, Sarah Palin endorsed underdog Christine O’Donnell (R) in next week's GOP Senate primary… And in Pennsylvania, Joe Sestak (D) is up with his first bio ad of the general election.
Countdown to DC, MD. MA, NH, NY, RI, and WI primaries: 4 days
Countdown to HI primaries: 8 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 53 days
"President Obama resumes his election-year offensive Friday when he takes questions at his first full-blown press conference since May," the New York Daily News writes. "White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs indicated Obama will hammer Republicans for insisting on preserving tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans."
Austan Goolsbee is set to step into the role vacated by Christina Romer as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
In his National Journal column, Ron Brownstein notes Obama's poll slippage among two very different groups -- 1) whites without college degrees, and 2) whites with college degrees, as well as Hispanics. "All the results underscore the likelihood that Obama will face an energized ideological opposition grounded in the portions of the white electorate that have long been most dubious about him... The poll, though, also suggests that Obama hasn't suffered an irreparable breach with the core groups that elected him -- if he can deliver a stronger economic recovery..."
"A federal appeals court yesterday temporarily allowed federally funded human embryonic stem cell research to resume, the latest twist in a court case that has left the scientific community in limbo," the Boston Globe reports. "The new order suspends a federal judge’s ruling, issued last month, that halted federal funding for such research. The order is temporary and 'should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of that motion,' the appeals court judges wrote."
The Washington Post: “A federal judge in California said Thursday that the U.S. military's ban on openly gay service members violates the Constitution, the most recent in a string of court rulings overturning restrictions on the rights of the country's gay men and lesbians.”
"Just 48 percent of Americans in this ABC News/Washington Post poll say the country is safer now than it was before Sept. 11, 2001, down from 62 percent two years ago to the lowest (albeit by a single point) level in polling since 2003. Views that the country is safer have fallen by a huge 34 points among Republicans, but also by 17 points among political independents, while holding essentially steady among Democrats."
In an interview with National Journal's Kirk Victor, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis responded to critics who've complained that she hasn't been visible, especially at a time of high unemployment. Solis' response: "I am spending a lot of time making sure the program monies that we get are really hitting the targeted areas. While Hilda may not be out there in the headlines or in the Washington Post or whatever, I think I am more effective when I am working behind the scenes and conducting the business I have to."
Want to see pictures of Michelle Obama running a football obstacle course?
"Retiring Republican Senator George Voinovich said he plans to help push a package of small-business incentives through the Senate next week, a move that would give President Obama and congressional Democrats a key victory on the economy in the final weeks before the November midterm elections," the Washington Post reports. "In an interview, Voinovich said he could no longer support efforts by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to delay the measure in hopes of winning the right to offer additional GOP amendments. Most of the proposed amendments 'didn’t have anything to do with the bill,' anyway, Voinovich said, and amounted merely to partisan 'messaging.' 'We don’t have time for messaging. We don’t have time anymore. This country is really hurting,' Voinovich said."
On the other hand, here's Democrat Ben Nelson: “I support extending all of the expiring tax cuts until Nebraska’s and the nation’s economy is in better shape, and perhaps longer, because raising taxes in a weak economy could impair recovery.”
Jack Reed says don't expect a final vote on the Bush tax cuts until after the midterms.
"Sen. Scott Brown, once celebrated by tea partiers, has pulled the political equivalent of knocking over the china: He's displayed a moderate streak," the AP writes. "Those tea party cheers have turned to jeers." More: "Brown's centrist course is a matter of political survival: He'll likely face a tough re-election fight in one of the more Democratic states in 2012. His balancing act is playing out amid the broader battle between the GOP establishment and energized tea party activists in primaries for the fall midterm races."
"The National Republican Congressional Committee is set to launch a major television ad blitz in 11 Congressional districts next week in what will be the House GOP’s first multi-district independent expenditure drop of the 2010 cycle," Roll Call reports. "Earlier this week, the NRCC opened its fall TV campaign with a 30-second spot in the South Bend, Ind., media market targeting Rep. Joe Donnelly (D). The NRCC will remain on the airwaves in Indiana’s 2nd district next week while also targeting Alabama’s 2nd district, Arizona’s 1st district, California’s 11th district, Florida’s 2nd district, Kentucky’s 6th district, Mississippi’s 1st district, Tennessee’s 8th district, Texas’ 17th district, Virginia’s 5th district and Wisconsin’s 7th district."
But the DCCC still has the money advantage and Republicans, Politico writes, are taking to the courts to try and stop Democratic ads they see as false. And: "On Thursday, National Republican Congressional Committee General Counsel Jessica Furst wrote an 820-word memo to TV stations in each media market, where the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee plans to air ads this fall, saying that the stations are 'in no way obligated' to run ads from Democratic committees, groups or candidates that they believe to be 'entirely false or fabricated.'"
Speaking of money, "At least 25 'super PACS,' including one linked to Karl Rove, are fueling a surge in money for this year’s elections following the Supreme Court ruling that struck down limits on corporate campaign spending," Bloomberg News writes.
"Three veterans of the Clinton White House argued Thursday that 2010 won’t be as big a disaster for Democrats as 1994, even as they fretted about an enthusiasm gap that’s tangible and an economy that’s even worse," Politico writes.
In his inaugural National Journal column, Matt Dowd busts some political myths.
ALASKA: Joe Miller will be in DC from Sept. 29 to Oct. 2 to raise money, The Hill reports. And he's hired a DC firm to help him fundraise.
CALIFORNIA: "California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is using an unlikely surrogate to attack her Democratic opponent, Jerry Brown: former President Bill Clinton," Politico writes. "The Whitman campaign is launching a new 30-second commercial Thursday that uses a clip of a fiery Clinton lambasting Brown for his tax record during a 1992 presidential primary debate."
DELAWARE: "The Republican Party of Delaware has filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission, accusing one of its own Senate candidates of illegally collaborating with the Tea Party Express," Roll Call notes. http://bit.ly/dd6kDe
IOWA: "Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour slipped into Iowa last month to raise money for the Republican Governors Association at a previously undisclosed fundraiser," Politico's Martin reports.
MARYLAND: The AP dives into the competitive Maryland governor's race: "Four years of budget woes, tax increases in 2007 and the national antiestablishment mood have given Republican Robert Ehrlich a shot at winning his old job back against Gov. Martin O'Malley in one of the most Democratic states in the country." But: "Ehrlich first must prevail in Tuesday's primary against a 33-year-old business investor named Brian Murphy, who was mostly unknown until 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin endorsed him last month."
MICHIGAN: A Detroit News poll shows former Gateway executive Rick Snyder (R) up 56%-36% over Democrat Virg Bernero, mayor of Lansing.
NEW MEXICO: America's Future Fund is targeting Martin Heinrich in NM-1.
NEW YORK: New York Mayor Bloomberg recorded a robo-call for beleaguered Rep. Charlie Rangel, who faces reelection Tuesday.
SOUTH CAROLINA: In SC-5, vulnerable incumbent John Spratt (D) is out with his first ad and is emphasizing the work he's done for his district.
Could Joe "You Lie" Wilson have a race on his hands? He's going negative on Democratic opponent Rob Miller, Politico writes.
SOUTH DAKOTA: Another Democrat distancing herself from Obama: Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin gave Obama a grade of a "C" so far.
TENNESSEE: In the competitive race for TN-8, Roy Herron (D) is hitting Steven Fincher (R) "over an Associated Press report in late August that raised questions about the accuracy of Fincher's federal financial disclosure reports," CQ Politics writes.
Sarah Palin has apparently endorsed Delaware conservative Christine O'Donnell in the Delware GOP Senate primary on Tuesday. Rep. Mike Castle has been the establishment choice.
The nod came during a radio appearance where Palin was a guest on Sean Hannity's radio program. Hannity's Tweet below:
Thanks @SarahPalinUSA for the last minute call in. Endorsement of Christine O'Donnell was an exclusive. Said she hadn't told Christine yet.
O'Donnell also Tweeted:
"Just got Gov. Palin's endorsement! Thank you for your prayers!"
From NBC's Ali Weinberg
The Chamber of Commerce is investing $100 million over a five-year period in a campaign intended to both energize its existing members and reach new voters who may not be attuned to its pro-business message, chamber leaders said today.
In the short term, the chamber's nationwide "Campaign for Free Enterprise," which began last year, will build support for midterm candidates who run on what the chamber deems "free enterprise policies" including limited government spending and lower taxes.
Campaign Managing Director Stan Anderson said his group was reallocating funds away from television commercials and would instead rely on online advertising, social networking sites and text-messaging applications to reach new potential members.
"These are not your traditional chamber members," Anderson said.
Through those channels, it will encourage voters to confront candidates at rallies and town halls with five suggested questions that Anderson said would help gauge the candidates' support of free enterprise.
The first of those questions: "Do you believe that our free enterprise system is currently threatened?" was posed by a reporter back to Anderson.
"I think there are significant questions about the direction of this country that American voters are going to have to decide on this fall," Anderson said, "and I think it's up to each individual voter to decide how they're going to respond to the individual answers of candidates who are going to answer these questions."
When asked about President Obama's newly announced plans to invest $50 billion additional dollars in infrastructure, additional business tax cuts and a permanent extension of a business research and development credit, Anderson expressed mix sentiments.
"I was struck by a lot of what he said about entrepreneurism and the need for the private sector to create jobs," he said, "and I'm frankly pleased that he continues to talk in those terms. The problem frankly is the difference between rhetoric and the action. That's a continuing concern to us because we don't think the policies articulated by the Congress and the administration have been very successful."
Obama draws a large crowd in Philadelphia during his presidential campaign, April 18, 2008.
President Obama will hold at least four major rallies in key states between now and Election Day, per AP.
The appearances are scheduled for Madison, Wisc., on September 28; Philadelphia on October 10; Ohio on October 17; and Las Vegas on October 22.
They’re all key states that Obama in which has invested time before, holding massive rallies during the runup to the presidential election. In Madison, for example, Obama held a February 2008 event that drew 19,000. In April of that year, he pulled a crowd of 35,000 to Philly. And a Vegas rally almost exactly two years to the day before his newly-scheduled October event there was attended by 18,000.
(In 2008, of course, he was himself a candidate in a historic presidential election; this fall, he’ll be attempting to energize voters on behalf of Democratic congressional and gubernatorial candidates in the hopes of stemming massive GOP gains in the November midterms.)
As Taegan Goddard writes, this might be the craziest stump speech -- ever.
Meet Phil Davison, who was running for the GOP nomination for Stark County (OH) treasurer. Alas, Davison lost. (*** UPDATE *** The video was made "private" on YouTube, but we're now using Huffington Post's video of it.)
President Obama called the proposed Quran burning a "stunt" and a "recruitment bonanza for Al Qaeda" that "could greatly endanger our great young men and women in uniform."
"I hope he listens to those better Angels and understands that this is a destructive act that he's engaging in," Obama said of Florida pastor Terry Jones on ABC's Good Morning America.
On his White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel potentially running for Chicago mayor, Obama said he thinks Emanuel would be an "excellent" and "terrific" mayor, but that his "expectation is, he'd make a decision after these midterm elections."
Here's a transcript of those sections:
On Terry Jones:
If he's listening, I just hope he understands that what he's proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans, that this country has been built on the notions of religious freedoms and religious tolerance. And as a very practical matter, as commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling, could greatly endanger our great young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan. We are already seeing protests against Americans just by the mere threat that he's making.
STEPH: What are you worried about?
OBAMA: Well, look, this is a recruitment bonanza for Al Qaeda. You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who'd be willing to blow themselves up in American cities or European cities. You know, and so, I just hope that he says he's someone who is motivated by his faith...
STEPH: He says he's praying on it.
OBAMA: I hope he listens to those better Angels and understands that this is a destructive act that he's engaging in.
STEPH: I wonder what this must feel like from behind your desk. You're President of the United States. You have to deal with the fallout. And here's a pastor who has 35 followers in his church.
STEPH: Does it make you feel helpless or angry?
OBAMA: It's frustrating. But on the other hand, we are a government of laws and so we have to abide by those laws and my understanding is that he can be cited for public burning but that's the extent of the laws we have available to us. You know, part of this country's history is people doing destructive or offensive, harmful things, and yet, we still have to make sure we're following the laws, and that's part of what I love about this country.
On Rahm for Mayor:
I think he would be an excellent mayor. He is an excellent chief of staff. I think right now, as long as he is in the White House, he is critically focused on making sure that we're creating jobs for families around the country and rebuilding our economy. And you know, the one thing I've always been impressed with about Rahm is that when he has a job to do, he focuses on the job in front of him. And so my expectation is, he'd make a decision after these midterm elections. He knows that we've got a lot of work to do. But I think he'd be a terrific mayor.
Msnbc.com’s Tom Curry offers an on-the-ground look today at a crucial House race shaping up in Washington’s Third District, where Democrat Denny Heck is working to distance himself from his party’s leaders and policies in his contest against Republican Jaime Herrera. It’s a must-win for Democrats if they hope to retain control of the House.
This year, Republicans are running against big government; Democrats are defending the policies of Congress and President Barack Obama.
But in Washington’s Third Congressional District, the Republican candidate has spent her career in government; the Democratic candidate is the one touting his private-sector experience in “starting companies, growing companies, [and] creating jobs.”
Read the full story here.
Obama and Boehner's verbal attacks of the past two days could continue for the next two years if the GOP reclaims Congress.
Obama vs. Boehner -- a preview of things to come and why the White House is trying to elevate the House minority leader… The GOP’s plans if they take back the House… First Read’s Rahm Watch… Michael Steele’s Excellent Adventure to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands… Murkowski could still make a move… Joe Manchin’s counterattack… And profiling FL-24.
*** Obama vs. Boehner: President Obama's verbal jabs at John Boehner could very well have been a preview of the next two years, if Republicans take back control of Congress this November. Here are samples of Obama’s remarks yesterday in Boehner’s home state of Ohio: “There were no new policies from Mr. Boehner [in his economic speech last month]. There were no new ideas.”... “Mr. Boehner dismissed these jobs we saved -- teaching our kids, patrolling our streets, rushing into burning buildings -- as ‘government jobs,’ jobs I guess he thought just weren’t worth saving.” The question has now become: Why elevate Boehner? A reasonable response: Why not? As our own NBC/WSJ poll showed, nearly six in 10 respondents believe that Republicans will have different economic ideas than Bush’s if they take control of Congress. So Democrats might as well define Boehner. What else do they have to run on at this point? The White House needs an opponent. Our poll shows Bush might not be an effective opponent anymore, so they need someone they can run against.
*** Boehner’s plans: Speaking of Boehner, Politico is reporting that House Republicans “have held a series of private discussions to plot their first moves if they win the majority in November — with plans to use spending bills and subpoenas to rein in President Barack Obama and satiate their own ravenous base… The plans presently under discussion include defunding some parts of the new health care law and delaying implementation of others, withholding some of the unspent stimulus funds, and using the oversight power of Republican-led committees to investigate the Obama administration. ‘The goal, obviously, would be to make it a one-term presidency,’ said a GOP lobbyist briefed on the talks.” This is going to be a fine line for the Republicans if they get control: Do they really want to be seen as simply an opposition party, even when in control? Over-obsessing on stopping all things Obama might not play well with indies.
*** Rahm Watch: NBC’s Chicago affiliated reported yesterday that Rahm Emanuel canceled a fundraising appearance for Illinois Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson (D) this Sunday. What’s more, we can report that it’s highly possible that Obama -- if Rahm leaves soon (i.e. pre-November) to make his mayoral bid -- would appoint an acting chief of staff to fill the position through the midterms. He would then wait to see what the actual Washington landscape looks like before doing a bigger West Wing shakeup (probably in December). Under this scenario, the most likely interim Rahm-replacement candidate might be senior adviser Pete Rouse, considered one of the rocks of the senior staff. The potential December shakeup would be more extensive than just chief of staff. All of this is being held VERY close to the vest by 44, even some of the inner-circle isn't fully in the loop.
*** Michael Steele’s Excellent Adventure: The period after Labor Day signals the official beginning of the campaign season. Candidates are on the stump; President Obama was in Ohio yesterday; DNC Chairman Tim Kaine was in Pennsylvania. And RNC Chairman Michael Steele has been in … Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. As the Washington Post writes, “The itinerary is fueling speculation that Steele is positioning himself to run for a second term as chairman - and concern among some that he may be spending time on that effort instead of on winning midterm elections.” RNC spokesman Doug Heye responds that Steele has been in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands for “fundraising events for candidates and party committees.” The news of Steele’s Pacific travel comes after Republican Governors Association Chair Haley Barbour told reporters yesterday that the RNC’s woes -- it has only $5 million in the bank, with $2 million in debt -- has cost his committee $10 million.
*** Murkowski’s move? NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports that, according to sources, Sen. Lisa Murkowski might revive her Senate campaign -- and a decision could come by next week. Two options are available to Murkowski. First, she could run on the Alaska Libertarian Party’s ticket. Murkowski sources say she did not personally reach out to that party, but its nominee, David Haase, came to her and made it known he would step aside. If the ALP agreed, Murkowski could get on the ballot. Remember, the party's board already said no, but some are urging them to reconsider. Second, Murkowski could run as a write-in candidate, allowing her to remain as a Republican. The key date: Wednesday Sept. 15th is the deadline for the ALP to notify election officials if that party wants a candidate swap. The deadline for a write-in candidacy is five days before the election, so there is time to develop a strategy if she wants to compete that way.
*** Manchin’s counterattack: The latest evidence that Joe Manchin (D) isn’t a shoo-in in West Virginia’s Senate race: Manchin is up with a TV ad attacking opponent John Raese’s (R) attack ads. The Charleston Daily News: “Gov. Joe Manchin began an ad campaign Wednesday by invoking Robert Byrd and attacking John Raese for running attack ads, entering what could an eight-week war of words. ‘This campaign has just begun, and John Raese is attacking me like he attacked Sen. Byrd,’ Manchin said in the 30-second ad, his first of the campaign. ‘Washington is filled with people like John Raese who tear others down. No wonder we are in this mess.’”
*** 75 House races to watch: FL-24: The Democratic nominee is first-term incumbent Suzanne Kosmas, and the GOP nominee is state Rep. Sandy Adams, who won a five-way primary with 30% of the vote. McCain got 51% in this district in ’08, while Bush won 55% in ’04. As of Aug. 24, Kosmas had $1.8 million in the bank, versus nearly $400,000 for Adams. Kosmas voted for the stimulus, cap-and-trade, and health care. Cook rates it a Toss Up, and Rothenberg has it “Republican Favored.”
*** More midterm news: In California, Steve Poizner tepidly endorsed Meg Whitman… In Connecticut, Mitt Romney stumps for GOP gubernatorial nominee Tom Foley… In Indiana, Dem Senate nominee Brad Ellsworth holds a press conference to discuss domestic policy.
Countdown to DC, MD. MA, NH, NY, RI, and WI primaries: 5 days
Countdown to HI primaries: 9 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 54 days
“Seeking to rally his struggling party for the final weeks of the midterm election, President Obama delivered his most partisan speech of the campaign so far on Wednesday, casting Democrats as fighters for the middle class and Republicans as protectors of ‘millionaires and billionaires’ and special interests,” the New York Times writes. “Mr. Obama called for letting the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy expire but making the rate cuts for the middle class permanent. And he suggested Republicans would hold “hostage” the extension of the middle-class rates to get the top rates extended as well.”
The Boston Globe’s take: "President Obama, whose party is facing a potential midterm disaster under relentless Republican assaults on his economic record, launched an ambitious effort yesterday to cast Democrats as populists who want to end tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans but save them for the middle class."
The Washington Post: “But Obama's proposal for $180 billion in fresh infrastructure spending and business tax breaks is not satisfying many of the groups he needs on his side - not lawmakers on Capital Hill who are leery of raising the deficit by spending more, not economists who say the plan is too modest to create many jobs, and not business groups that say the tax benefits come with too many strings attached.”
"The expected departure of chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to run for mayor of Chicago is likely to mark the beginning of a wider White House shake-up, officials said yesterday, one aimed at helping the administration regain its footing in the aftermath of expected Democratic losses in the midterm elections and positioning President Obama for a 2012 reelection fight," the Boston Globe notes.
Politico says that Rahm isn’t a shoo-in, if he runs. “Rahm Emanuel's a pretty powerful guy in Washington, but not as much here in his hometown, where he'd start a mayoral bid as just one of many credible candidates for the job -- one whose obvious strengths as a national Democratic rainmaker are tempered by an uncommon knack for alienating allies.”
“House Republicans have held a series of private discussions to plot their first moves if they win the majority in November -- with plans to use spending bills and subpoenas to rein in President Barack Obama and satiate their own ravenous base,” Politico reports. “The plans presently under discussion include defunding some parts of the new health care law and delaying implementation of others, withholding some of the unspent stimulus funds, and using the oversight power of Republican-led committees to investigate the Obama administration.”
"Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will likely be forced out of her party leadership position should she decide to launch a write-in or third-party candidacy, a Senate Republican said Wednesday."
"The James Zadroga 9/11 health bill is heading back to the House floor for a vote this month, elected officials announced Wednesday."
The 77-year-old Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) ran a 5K over the weekend.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is embarking on a national campaign swing for fellow Republicans in 2010 that includes a trip to the state that launches the presidential nominating season," The Hill writes. "Christie, the first-term Republican governor who has grabbed the attention of national conservatives through his budget-cutting measures and battles with organized labor, is heading to Iowa to campaign for former Gov. Terry Branstad (R) next month. Christie will headline a fundraiser for Branstad's gubernatorial campaign in Des Moines on Oct. 4." He'll also head to California at the end of Septembers for a fundraiser for Meg Whitman (R) (does she really need the money?). He also is expected to tour Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
The GOP made it clear through Terry Nelson's visit to Alaska that the party supports its nominee for Senate, Joe Miller.
"The Republican National Committee turned the "party of no" label against Democrats in a new Web video, which clips together several Democrats' campaign ads showing different members opposing healthcare reform, cap-and-trade legislation, the stimulus bill and other items," The Hill writes.
Former New York Gov. George Pataki, who now runs the conservative nonprofit group Revere America, yesterday unveiled a seven-figure ad buy, part of the “Pledge to Win” campaign, which will target members of Congress who voted in favor of the health care reform law.
ALASKA: “National Republican Senatorial Committee senior adviser and veteran GOP strategist Terry Nelson flew to Alaska Wednesday night to assist Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller’s campaign,” Politico reports. “Nelson’s trip is also aimed at sending a signal to Sen. Lisa Murkowski that the national party is fully committed to Miller.”
ARKANSAS: "Former President Bill Clinton said Wednesday it would be a mistake for voters to give in to 'anger, apathy and amnesia' and deprive Arkansas of the Senate Agriculture chairmanship by defeating Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln," the AP writes. He said of Lincoln, "It would be a terrible mistake to squander something I have personally waited all my life to see, somebody who gets Arkansas its fair share and rural America its fair share."
CALIFORNIA: “State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner on Tuesday issued a distinctly tepid endorsement of Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman three months after he was steamrollered in a bitter primary fight,” the Bay Citizen writes.
Per the Los Angeles Times, “The nation's largest business organization launched a multimillion-dollar advertising attack in California on Wednesday night on U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, part of a nationwide effort targeting vulnerable Democrats. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce began running ads in San Diego, Bakersfield, Fresno and Sacramento, where Boxer's Republican rival Carly Fiorina has shown strength. The first round of ads castigates Boxer's record on jobs and the environment.”
COLORADO: “Sen. Michael Bennet rejected the idea Wednesday of a new $50 billion stimulus package focused on U.S. infrastructure projects, dealing a blow to President Barack Obama's effort to rally Democrats around a cohesive economic plan,” the Denver Post reports.
Meanwhile, GOP gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes is “shrugging off the suggestion” from RGA Chairman Haley Barbour that the group will no longer help finance Maes’ campaign, the AP reports.
DELAWARE: Rep. Mike Castle and the Tea Party Express ramped up their ad buys on Tuesday night, Hotline OnCall reported, with Castle spending $75,000 and the Tea Party Express, “which does the bidding of Christine O’Donnell,” buying an extra $32,000 worth of ad time.
"Even as the tea party movement vows to spend $250,000 in the coming days to defeat Rep. Mike Castle, campaign officials from both sides of the aisle concede that Castle should capture the Republican Senate nomination in next week’s Delaware primary," Roll Call reports.
FLORIDA: “Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott announced he would take up Democrat Alex Sink on two of her five debate proposals in Davie and Tampa,” the Orlando Sentinel writes.
"In what could be interpreted as a sign of just how much trouble Rep. Suzanne Kosmas may be in this fall, the first six words of the Florida Democrat’s first ad of the 2010 cycle is an attack on Republican state Rep. Sandy Adams," Roll Call writes, adding, "Recent polling has shown Kosmas significantly behind with less than two months to go before Election Day, and the Congresswoman decided to focus on hitting Adams rather than the normal bio and introductory information that is associated with early campaign ads."
KENTUCKY: "Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway on Wednesday reported raising more than $300,000 from his first Web-based fundraiser in his campaign in Kentucky," Roll Call reports. "Meanwhile, his opponent, GOP candidate Rand Paul, appealed to his supporters to help him raise more than $350,000 in two weeks for his fall television ad campaign, the Associated Press reported."
NEW YORK: "[D]espite the 13 ethics charges against him and a trial that could take place before the Nov. 2 general election, [Charlie] Rangel goes into next week's New York Democratic primary with a 20-to-1 financial advantage, support from the state's political elite and empathy from many constituents who believe he got a raw deal," AP writes.
NORTH CAROLINA: "The polling war in North Carolina’s 8th district continued Wednesday with a new survey from Republican Harold Johnson’s campaign showing the former sportscaster down just 5 points to freshman Rep. Larry Kissell (D)," Roll Call reports, adding, "The results paint a very different picture of the race than a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee poll from Aug. 25-29 that showed Kissell ahead 48 percent to 36 percent for Johnson. And just two weeks ago, Kissell’s campaign released an internal poll that showed the Congressman up 49 percent to 32 percent."
The DSCC releases an ad warning voters against what it calls Ken Buck's extreme views in the Colorado Senate race; Alexi Giannoulias breaks away from the now-frequent practice of Democrats distancing themselves from President Obama, and bases his new ad on the president's endorsement; and in New Hampshire's Republican Senate primary, Bill Binnie tells both Republican and independent voters that they can go to the polls for him next week.
CO SEN, anti-Buck (DSCC), "Listen"
ANNCR: "Listen to Ken Buck on Social Security." BUCK CLIP: "Fundamentally against what I believe." ANNCR: "He'd put Social Security in the stock market. Billions for Wall Street. Listen to Buck on whether he'd rewrite the Constitution and end our right to vote for our own senators." BUCK CLIP: "The short answer is yes." ANNCR: "Ending our right to vote. Threatening Social Security. Ken Buck. The more you hear, the more you wonder. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising"
GA SEN, Isakson, "Friday Nights"
ISAKSON: "The sidelines are a great place to watch a football game, but when it comes to fighting for Georgia, I'd rather be in the thick of it. Whether it's fighting government-run health care, trillions in new spending, liberal Supreme Court nominees or higher taxes, my first job in the Senate is to protect our conservative values. That's why I went to Washington, and that's why I come home to Georgia almost every weekend. I'm Johnny Isakson and I approve this message, and I'll continue to fight for the Georgia we love"
IL SEN, Giannoulias, "The Choice"
GIANNOULIAS: "I'm Alexi Giannoulias and I approve this message." OBAMA CLIP: "Alexi's my friend. I know his character. You can trust him. You can count on him. On his very first day in office, Alexi enacted sweeping ethics reforms. He's proven himself as someone who isn't afraid to stand up to special interests. Alexi's not funding this campaign with federal lobbyists' money. Not a dime. He's not doing this to help the lobbyists. That's the kind of person you want in the United State Senate"
IA SEN, Grassley, "Grassley Works for Iowa"
VARIOUS PEOPLE: "He's not Washington, he's pure Iowa. Chuck Grassley. He jogs at 5:15 AM. Grassley is a farmer, worked an assembly line and was a union member. He understands us, urban and rural. Voted hardest working senator by Democrats and Republicans alike. Longest voting record of any senator, 6,000 straight. Work horse, not a show horse. Can't wait to see what he does next." GRASSLEY: "It's an honor to be your senator. I owe you hard work. When the Senate's not in session, I'm in Iowa, having meetings in all 99 counties, every year, not just election years. Then, when that work is done, I come home to my farm. I'm listening, I'm working to make your life better." ANNCR: "Grassley works for us." GRASSLEY: "I'm Chuck Grassley and I approved this message"
IA SEN, Grassley, "Grassley Works for Us"
BARBARA GRASSLEY: "Chuck Grassley has always known hard work. As a family farmer, on an assembly line and in the Senate. He has the longest consecutive voting record of any senator, 6,000 straight. Democrats and Republicans name him the hardest working member of Congress. And he's not done yet. I know -- he's my husband." ANNCR: "Grassley works." B. GRASSLEY: "For Iowa." C. GRASSLEY: "I'm Chuck Grassley and I approved this message"
KY SEN, Paul, "Gift of Sight"
ANNCR: "When Medicare closed its doors to patients needing care, Rand Paul opened his. Rand founded the Southern Kentucky Lions Eye Clinic to provide for those in need. Awarded for his service, Rand always puts patients first. That's why he opposes the Obama-Pelosi health care scheme, which puts Washington bureaucrats in charge, destroying the doctor-patient relationship. Preserving sight. Caring for Kentucky. Dr. Rand Paul." PAUL: "I'm Rand Paul. I'm a physician, not a career politician, and I approve this message"
NH SEN, Binnie, "Independent"
BINNIE: "I'm Bill Binnie and I approve this message. I'm a conservative, commonsense businessman. A pro-choice Republican. That's who I am. I entered this race to fix our economy. My Republican party is fiscally conservative, strong on national defense and committed to protecting individual rights and privacy. Republicans and every independent can vote in the September 14th Republican primary. I ask for your vote. Thank you"
WA SEN, Murray, "Repeal"
MURRAY: "I'm Patty Murray. I sponsored this ad." ANNCR: "The big banks and Wall Street didn't want financial reform. They don't want to be held accountable. They want someone who will repeal the tough new regulations." REPORTER: "So yes, that's a repeal?" ROSSI: "I think we should." ANNCR: "Repeal Wall Street reform?" ROSSI: "I think we should." ANNCR: "Dino chose his Wall Street contributors over protecting our savings. Rossi took the big banks' money then turned his back on taxpayers. Dino Rossi is not on our side"
WA SEN, Rossi, "Yesterday"
ROSSI: "Our economic problems didn't start yesterday. They've been building for years. Some wanted to ignore them, but I told you the truth. Government spending and debt are out of control, destroying jobs and threatening our future. We need to meet these challenges head on. By controlling spending, reducing the debt, ending bailouts and earmarks. I'm Dino Rossi, and I approved this message. Our economic problems didn't start yesterday, but we need to start fixing them today"
WI SEN, Feingold, "Earned It"
ANNCR: "Russ Feingold's work to provide our soldiers with the support and health care they deserve has earned him the approval of Wisconsin veterans. Russ's fight to protect local jobs from being shipped overseas and create jobs here has earned him the respect of Wisconsin families and small businesses. And his stand against wasteful spending and automatic pay raises for members of Congress has earned him a lot of lonely lunches in Washington." FEINGOLD: "I'm U.S. Senator Russ Feingold and I approved this message"
WI SEN, Johnson, "18 Years"
JOHNSON: "I'm Ron Johnson and I approved this message." VARIOUS PEOPLE: "We pay the taxes and people in Washington don't seem to understand that. We can only take so much. Russ Feingold is a career politician, has not worked anywhere outside of politics. Russ Feingold has never created a job, Russ Feingold has never met a payroll. Russ Feingold normally and almost always votes on party lines. He's right in the Reid-Pelosi-Obama camp. Russ Feingold's a career politician -- in there for 18 years. Russ Fengold can't blame anybody else -- he's the problem"
FL GOV, "Difference"
SINK: "Unfortunately, Rick Scott seems to think running for governor is all about President Obama. That's a big difference between us. I'm Alex Sink. While Rick Scott's focused on Obama, I'm focused on creating jobs and giving tax relief to Florida's small businesses. Rick Scott just talks about Obama, while I have a plan to make Florida's schools stronger. He can just keep attacking Obama, but you and I know we need a Governor who attacks Florida's challenges."
NY GOV, pro-Lazio, "CPNYNED"
ANNCR: "The Conservative party agrees with Rick Lazio and other fiscally conservative New Yorkers who want Albany to cut taxes and stop wasteful spending. government liberals can't help themselves. Unemployment is at record highs while taxes and spending keep rising. the Conservative party agrees with Rick Lazio. They must be stopped"
TX GOV, anti-Perry, (Back to Basics PAC), "Four More Years"
MAN: "(Gov.) Rick Perry (R) just raised our insurance bill again." ANNCR: "Under Rick Perry, Texas insurance companies have made over 14 billion in gross profits. Big insurance illegally put hundreds of thousands into Texas elections for Perry's buddies. Then Perry pushed for a law that lets insurance companies raise homeowners rates without having to justify the increase. Now Texas insurance rates are 75% higher than other states." WOMAN: "Thanks, Rick." MAN: "Imagine what he could do in four more years"
HI GOV, Abercrombie, "Your Consideration"
ABERCROMBIE: "For me, this campaign has been a conversation, you and I, and I've heard what you've said. You don't want the same old politics, you want real change. So we published a comprehensive plan to invest in education, rebuild our economy and sustain our Hawaii for future generations. Above all -- restore public confidence. So I ask for your consideration as your next governor. Casting your vote is an act of faith and trust that I will honor and respect"
HI GOV, Hannemann, "Putting Our People Back To Work"
HANNEMANN: "That's what I want to do, I want to put people back to work and I have a plan. If you really want to understand Hawaii's economic challenges, this is how you do it. Talking and listening with real people who simply want to work. This is the human side of our struggling economy. Everyday folks who want nothing more than to earn a decent living so that they can support their families. As governor, I won't rest until we strengthen our economy and put all of our people back to work"
trust that I will honor and respect"
HI GOV, Hannemann, "Education"
HANNEMANN: "Our most important commitment to Hawaii's future is providing our children with a sound education. Furlough Fridays were a disaster for our young people. We've got to help them make up that lost ground, and we can never let such a thing happen again. That's going to take fiscal responsibility, sound management and a stronger economy and bringing everyone to the table, state and counties, families and business. Working together for our children, we can get the job done
ID GOV, Otter, "Tackles The Issues Head-on!"
ANNCR: "Hard times means everyone cuts back, even state government." OTTER: "You, your friends and neighbors had to tighten your belts and while not everyone was happy with the cuts we made, I made sure that the state government tightened theirs. Today Idaho leads the nation in reducing the size of government and we're not in debt. Now despite the worst recession that we've seen in 70 years, Idaho is moving in the right direction, and I'll keep it that way." ANNCR: "Butch Otter. Our future. Our governor"
ME GOV, anti-LePage (DGA), "LePage and Energy"
ANNCR: "Here in Maine, this is what's key to our economy, our jobs, our quality of life. How about adding a nuclear power plant to that picture? Paul LePage says we should. Offshore drilling along our coast -- LePage says he strongly supports it, even before cleaner alternatives like wind power, and he'd make the state department of environmental protection friendlier to the developers and polluters. Staying green is not rational, he said. Tell Paul LePage his pro-nuke, pro-drilling policies are wrong for Maine"
OH GOV, Kasich, "Stronger Ohio"
KASICH: "When I was in business, ParkOhio wanted to strengthen itself financially and I was able to be involved with a team of people who were able to accomplish just that. And as a result, they were able to keep people working. That's what it's all about. If you can help people get a job and keep a job, you make their families stronger, you make the community stronger, you make your state stronger. I'll surround myself with a team of people who wake up every day focused on what we need to do to make Ohio business friendly again"
RI GOV, Chafee, "Trust Chafee"
CHAFEE: "We have to change. We have to grow our economy by working hard at balancing our budget and taking advantage of our assets. And the goal is high paying good jobs and economic growth that can keep down our property taxes. There's no doubt that there's a connection between the cronyism and the corruption in Rhode Island and our inability to grow our economy. I want our young people to have the opportunity to stay here, in the state they love and that's why I'm running"
RI GOV, John Robitaille
ANNCR: "Democrats in the legislature and career politicians gave us record unemployment, crippling taxes and uncontrolled spending. Rhode Island needs a strong leader, a new direction -- John Robitaille for governor. A former Army paratrooper and successful small businessman, John will shake up the status quo. He will cut property taxes, work to create jobs and get our fiscal house in order, Career politicians created the mess, they cant fix it. John Robitaille -- tough new leadership to get Rhode Island back on track"
RI GOV, Moffitt, "Jobs"
ANNCR: "Victor Moffitt, a man with a vision and a solid plan to fix Rhode Island now and create jobs. Has a vision to build a non-profit oceans aquarium science and research center. To expand the small business loan fund to make it easier for small businesses to grow. To reduce sales tax, to create new retail jobs. Elect Moffitt, you will profit. Together we will make Rhode Island a state we're proud to call home. Victor Moffit for governor"
TN GOV, Haslam, "No Income Tax = More Jobs"
HASLAM: "Does not having a state income tax mean more jobs? Absolutely. I'm a businessman and a mayor. I know what competition is like with other states for jobs. One of Tennessee's greatest assets is that we don't have an income tax. I'll veto any attempt to have one. No income tax, more jobs for Tennessee. That's what matters now"
UT GOV, Corroon, "CHEAP"
ANNCR: "Peter Corroon has earned a reputation for being tight with a dollar." COWBOY: "He's che... he's thrifty." WOMAN: "He's really ch... tight-fisted." ANNCR: "As Salt Lake County mayor, he slashed county government by almost 20 percent last year while protecting essential services. He vetoed a tax increase passed by his own party, and said no to tax dollars going to the soccer stadium." WOMAN 2: "He's really che... thrifty." MAN: "Frugal." ANNCR: "He even wears his brother's hand-me-downs." BROTHER: "He's wearing my shoes." ANNCR: "Peter Corroon as governor. He'll be (birds chirping, sounds like 'cheap')"
VT GOV, anti-Dubie (Green Mountain Future) "Yankee"
REPORTER: "Vermont Yankee plant officials say they found and fixed a leak of radioactive material there." ANNCR: "Too many dangerous things. An independent investigation finds the plant's owners can't operate it reliably. The state legislature votes overwhelmingly against relicensing. Brian Dubie says he would have voted for. Brian Dubie wants Vermont Yankee open another 20 years. The Times-Argus says he is looking beyond the warning signs to an unjustified rosy scenario. Want Vermont Yankee open another 20 years? Tell Brian Dubie no"
Former OMB director Peter Orszag's inaugural New York Times column, in which he expressed reluctant support for extending the Bush tax cuts for two years before ending them altogether, is still being rehashed by some liberal and conservative bloggers.
In an interview with the Washington Post's Greg Sargent today, Orszag clarified his position, saying it was not meant as a defense of tax cuts for the wealthy.
"The point I was trying to make is that we can't afford the tax cuts over the medium term, and they shouldn't be made permanent -- but the middle class tax cuts should not expire today... If the price to be paid for that a temporary extension of the upper income tax cuts, my view is that we should reluctantly accept that," Orszag told Sargent.
Liberal blogger John Cole at Balloon Juice responded to Orszag's statement, highlighting the fact that Orszag advocates a tax cut extension because he thinks they could be more effective politically, not policy-wise.
Orszag’s position in his piece yesterday was evident to anyone without an axe to grind or headline to sell- he thinks extending the tax cuts on the wealthy are a bad policy, but he would suck it up and accept it to keep the middle class cuts in place. The only way to read Orszag’s op-ed yesterday and come away with the coverage we got yesterday was to, well, ignore what he actually said in the op-ed and start salivating about conflict.
But I’m kind of used to that by now.
On the conservative side, NRO's Michael G. Franc didn't doubt that Orszag's motivation for supporting a temporary extension was political. He did, however, trip over a sentence from Orszag's original article in which Orszag explains why all tax cuts should eventually expire. He excerpts the following paragraph:
How much savings is plausible on the spending side? Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will account for almost half of spending by 2015. Even if we reform Social Security, which we should, any plausible plan would phase in benefit changes to avoid harming current beneficiaries — and so would generate little savings over the next five years. The health reform act included substantial savings in Medicare and Medicaid, so there aren’t further big reductions available there in our time frame. (Emphasis added.)
Franc urged readers to "replay that last sentence again." He wrote:
So, a permanent, multi-hundred billion dollar tax increase hangs over every American taxpayer like the sword of Damocles precisely because President Obama and his allies in Congress used up all the potential savings from two of the big three entitlement programs — Medicare and Medicaid — to pay for Obamacare? The mere existence of Obamacare, we are now told, means all of us — included those with far less than $250,000 a year in income — will be saddled with higher taxes forevermore. And there is no other way to solve this fiscal mess? How convenient! Why didn’t Orszag and other administration officials in the know shout this rather salient fact from the rooftops prior to the final vote on Obamacare? Think it might have affected the outcome?
Guess we just have to score any future tax increase as yet another cost of Obamacare. Or, better yet, repeal the darn thing.
President Obama challenged his audience to "choose hope over fear" and "reclaim the American dream."
PARMA, OH -- As the final stretch of the midterm election season approaches, the Obama administration has been eager to make the case to voters that their chief concern -- the economy -- is also the White House's.
After spending months and precious political capital on passing a landmark health-care law and the most sweeping overhaul of the financial regulatory system since the 1930s, the White House has struggled to convince the American public that it has put the economy back on the right track after a punishing recession. President Obama spent 45 minutes making that argument when he traveled to this suburb of Cleveland on Wednesday for what the White House billed as a major economic speech -- the sort of event that is accompanied by background briefings, fact sheets, and conference calls.
"My hope was that the crisis would cause everybody, Democrats and Republicans, to pull together and tackle our problems in a practical way. But as we all know, things didn't work out that way," he told the audience at Cuyahoga Community College on this his tenth trip to this state since taking office. "With the nation losing nearly 800,000 jobs the month I was sworn into office, my most urgent task was to stop a financial meltdown and prevent this recession from becoming a second depression. We've done that."
With unemployment at 9.6% nationwide (and higher in Ohio), the housing market still shaky, and businesses and consumers wary of spending, the president traveled here to spell out his plan for kick-starting the flagging recovery. The economy grew just 1.6% in the second quarter -- revised down from the 2.4% pace projected earlier -- and some private economists have downgraded their growth forecasts for the year while predicting the jobless rate will hover near 10%.
In addition to the small business jobs bill that Obama wants Congress to pass as the first order of business when lawmakers return next week, the president has proposed spending $50 billion immediately to improve roads, bridges, railways and runways. Today, he called on lawmakers to expand, simplify, and make permanent research and development tax credits, as well as allow companies to deduct the full cost of capital investments through the end of 2011 -- measures he believes will encourage businesses to spend and to hire. According to the White House, accelerating tax deductions as proposed would be "the largest temporary investment incentive in American history."
Even if these proposals make it into law in the few weeks that Congress will be in session before lawmakers hit the campaign trail again, their ability to significantly lower the jobless rate -- a key barometer for worried voters -- before the election is questionable. Obama aides say that in order to stem losses in November, they'll need to sharpen their message on what the Democratic Party has done to bring the economy back from the brink of collapse and where the Republican Party will take the country. The president's remarks in Ohio were reminiscent of speeches he made on the campaign trail as a presidential candidate, a period he referenced several times.
"A lot has changed since I came here in those final days of the last election, but what hasn't changed is the choice facing this country," the he said. "It's still fear versus hope; the past versus the future. It's still a choice between sliding backward and moving forward. That's what this election is about. That's the choice that you will face in November."
The president has consistently argued a GOP takeover of Congress would mean a return to the same agenda that brought the economy to the edge of the abyss, like policies that favor corporations and the rich, while gutting regulations and consumer protections. Still, the NBC/WSJ poll showed just 39% approved of his handling of the economy and that 58% of those polled thought Republicans would bring new ideas.
Here in Ohio, Obama said Congress should permanently extend the Bush-era tax cuts for middle class families, while allowing those for individuals making over $200,000 a year (and households making more than $250,000 a year) to expire, arguing the country cannot afford tax cuts for the wealthy.
"With all the other budgetary pressures we have -- with all the Republicans' talk about wanting to shrink the deficit -- they would have us borrow $700 billion over the next 10 years to give a tax cut of about $100,000 to folks who are already millionaires," said Obama as he made the case that middle class families would be more likely to spend their tax savings than the wealthy, providing a better stimulus for the economy. "Keep in mind: Wealthy Americans are just about the only folks who saw their incomes rise when Republicans were in charge."
The choice of the Cleveland area as a venue for today's remarks was no accident. House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio spoke here last month, laying out his party's recipe for the economy and the White House wanted to use the same turf for their rebuttal. Obama mentioned the congressman by name at least half a dozen times.
Boehner's office responded after the speech, “If the president is serious about finally focusing on jobs, a good start would be taking the advice of his recently departed budget director and freezing all tax rates, coupled with cutting federal spending to where it was before all the bailouts, government takeovers, and ‘stimulus’ spending sprees.” The statement referred to a recent op-ed by former White House OMB Director Peter Orszag, who recommended extending the Bush tax cuts -- for all Americans -- for two years before ending them completely.