WASHINGTON, Apr. 12
Let's assume for the sake of argument that Republicans do not get mucho credit for liberating Iraq or revitalizing the American economy when voters go to the polls this fall.
As the governing party, the GOP will want a combination of past recent accomplishments and pledges of future action to take to the voters. (And of course THOSE OTHER FOLKS WILL TAX YOU TO DEATH AND LET THE TERRORISTS WIN.)
In the "future action" category, it does not appear that any of the bold, future-oriented agenda items from the State of the Union are currently lighting the world on fire. So maybe you got your immigration bill (or maybe not) or some deficit reduction (or maybe not) or some ethics reform (or maybe not).
Let's focus on past recent accomplishments then. How about the biggest entitlement expansion in a generation? How is that playing with the old people who vote in disproportionate numbers, and their Boomer kids?
We'll find out today (or maybe not), when President Bush participates in a conversation on the Medicare prescription drug benefit at 1:50 pm ET at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, VA. We know the President isn't all that fond of polls, but we wonder if he'll mention any research while in Annandale today.
According to the latest ABC News-Washington Post poll, "millions of senior citizens have not signed up for and do not know much about Medicare's new prescription drug benefit, but among those who have enrolled, three-quarters said the paperwork was easy to complete and nearly two-thirds said the program saved them money." LINK
The Washington Post's Birnbaum and Deane write that the findings underscore the challenge and opportunity facing President Bush and GOPers among older voters.
ABC's Karen Travers reports "there will be several hundred people in the audience today at the Medicare event -- mostly seniors he is trying to reach out to on the prescription drug benefit. The President is not expected to take questions."
As for future health care accomplishments, Senate Republicans have little hope for progress on the issue this year, according to Bloomberg's Jay Newton-Small.LINK
Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) signs his much-heralded health care legislation at 11:00 am ET in Faneuil Hall that through a private, market-based reform will make health insurance available for nearly all citizens of Massachusetts within the next three years. The man who defeated him in the 1994 Senate race, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), will be on hand for the ceremony as well. (It's unclear how the expected gubernatorial veto of the $295-per-employee fee will affect the bipartisan bonhomie scheduled to be on display at today's ceremony.)
In Bedford, NH, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) keynotes a health-care leadership event.
President Bush also meets with the president of Ghana at 11:05 am ET.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) continues his recess tour through early voting and battleground states with a visit to Minnesota today where he holds a press availability with Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) at 4:00 pm ET. LINK
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) joins the California Clean Energy Fund at 2:00 pm ET in Davis, CA to announce the winner of a $1 million grant to help build the nation's first Energy Efficiency Center. The governor will tout his environmental policies to a roundtable of Silicon Valley CEOs at 6:30 pm ET in San Jose, CA.
The two leading candidates for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in the Golden State -- Treasurer Phil Angelides and Controller Steve Westly -- will "put aside their campaign differences" and come together at 1:30 pm ET on Wednesday to announce their support for Proposition 82, the "Preschool for All" initiative.
Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) leads a 3:45 pm ET classroom discussion on immigration reform while visiting Espanola Valley High School in Espanola, NM. Gov. Richardson will encourage the students, who are participating in an advanced placement program, to talk about the issues being debated in Congress and the marches taking place across the nation.
Gov. Richardson will also lead a town hall meeting in Española, as well as meet with the members of the Española City Council, the Rio Arriba County Commission. The governor will also lead a community conversation on substance abuse.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is expected to announce changes to the nation's federal disaster response at the National Hurricane Conference today in Orlando, Florida at 1:40 pm ET.
Politics of immigration:
Sen. Frist and Speaker Hastert's joint statement on declaring their intent not to make felons of illegal immigrants in the United States was nothing short of political jujitsu, attempting to hang any failure to pass immigration reform on the Democrats.
Wasn't it just Sunday that Majority Leader Boehner professed satisfaction that the House Republicans accomplished their job on this matter?
In a must-read, the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman looks at the role House Democrats played in defeating Rep. James Sensenbrenner's (R-WI) effort to water down his immigration bill when he took it to the floor on Dec. 16. Rep. Sensenbrenner wanted to amend his immigration bill to downgrade the offense of being an undocumented worker from a felony to a misdemeanor. But the Democratic leadership "pushed its members to vote against the amendment, and 191 Democrats did." LINK
"'The Democrats were not going to do anything to make it easier for Republicans to pass an atrocious bill,' said Jennifer Cider, a spokeswoman fro House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif)."
The Washington Post's Weisman also reports that Republican lawmakers are "increasingly saying they will now consider some avenue to grant illegal immigrants access to legal employment. And Democrats who voted for the House bill with an eye on their political futures or to preempt feared attacks from conservatives are rethinking their position." (Note Ted Strickland's (D-OH) regret.)
The AP's David Espo deconstructs the Frist-Hastert statement and writes of some of the remaining unanswered questions. LINK
The Boston Globe's Rick Klein writes of the "unprecedented wave of Latino political activism" represented in the recent immigration rallies around the country. LINK
Need more proof that the immigration issue is upsetting the paradigm? How about a New York Times story that has Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) being praised by Frist's chief of staff and criticized by an anonymous Democratic colleague. (Though the story makes clear that the greater intra-party problem exists in the GOP.) &LINK
The Washington Post's Harold Meyerson Notes that "many among the march's organizers had quiet thanks for Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate leader who pulled the plug on the steadily worsening compromise legislation that was rushing through the upper house of Congress last week." LINK
"'Nothing coming out of the Senate was good enough to survive reconciliation with the House bill,' said one veteran civil rights organizer. 'Our hope is to go back into the streets to get something better.'"
Some former Clinton officials (who are not overwhelmed with the DNC's Hispanic outreach) see in the Senate's failure to pass an immigration bill "an opportunity to roll back President Bush's close to 40 percent support among Hispanics in 2004," and to convert "the high political energy among Hispanics into Democratic votes," writes Alexander Bolton of The Hill. LINK
Democrats are working hard to spin Francine Busby's 44 percent vote total as a moral victory. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has reacted to yesterday's vote by calling it a "dramatic win" which shows that "Democratic, independent, and Republican voters simply want change."
But non-partisan handicappers are taking a more restrained view. Busby improved upon her 2004 performance when she captured 36 percent of the vote against then-Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA), and she won more votes than anyone else on the ballot yesterday. But that had more to do with the fact that the GOP vote was fractured among 14 Republicans than anything else.
Going into yesterday, the consensus among non-partisan handicappers was that Busby needed to win it outright (or at least finish in the high 40s) in order for Democrats to be able to look at these results and persuasively argue that they are a sign that a tidal wave is coming in November.
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), after all, won 44 percent of the vote in this district against President Bush in 2004.
Carl Forti, the spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, Noted that the Democratic candidates received 45.42 percent of the vote yesterday as compared to 53.33 percent of the vote for the GOP candidates.
As Richard Cohen, the co-author of the Almanac of American Politics, has written, "in the spring of 1994, the GOP actually won the two long-time Democratic-held seats. Those were more than moral victories." LINK
Busby will face off against former Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) in a June 6 run-off. The Los Angeles Times on the results and a look ahead to the Busby-Bilbray runoff. LINK
The Washington Post's John Pomfret highlights that Busby received more votes than the combined totals of her three closest Republican competitors. LINK
We'll keep watching to see how much money the DCCC decides to spend here between now and June to determine if they think they've got a real shot at this seat.
Not to mention the interest groups on all sides.
Politics of Iran:
Anonymous "lawmaker" sources tell the New York Times' Sanger and Schmitt that, in a meeting with President Bush, he "all but dismissed" the possibility of military force as a near-term option for dealing with Iran's nuclear program. LINK
The New York Times offers lots o' details on yesterday's uranium enrichment announcement in Iran (complete with dancers wielding vials of the stuff), and what it means for international relations. LINK
Ahmadenijad's announcement got Maureen Dowd's blood boiling: "While Dick Cheney was getting booed as he threw out the first pitch for the Nationals -- it bounced in the dirt and Scooter wasn't even there to catch it -- Iran was jubilantly welcoming itself to the nuclear club and spitting in the eye of the U.S. and U.N." LINK
Politics of Iraq:
The Washington Post's Joby Warrick reports with exclusivity that the Bush Administration pushed the Notion that it had found banned Iraqi weapons despite evidence to the contrary. LINK
"'We have found the weapons of mass destruction,' President Bush said on May 29, 2003. But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true," writes Warrick. The New York Times on April's uptick in American casualties in Iraq: LINK
The Fitzgerald investigation:
Josh Gerstein of the New York Sun, again showing his ownership of a story, writes of the widely-praised prosecutors correction. LINK
". . .in a letter yesterday, Mr. Fitzgerald advised the judge overseeing the case, Reggie Walton, that the government's April 5 filing was inaccurate. 'We are writing to correct a sentence,' Mr. Fitzgerald's letter begins. He told the judge an error occurred in the following statement:"
"'Defendant understood that he was to tell Miller, among other things, that a key judgment of the NIE held that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium."
"The prosecutor said the government brief should have said, 'Defendant understood that he was to tell Miller, among other things, some of the key judgments of the NIE, and that the NIE stated that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium.'"
The Washington Post's Dafna Linzer reports on the same. LINK
Bush Administration agenda:
The Des Moines Register's Thomas Beaumont on Bush's 3 hour and 23 minutes long visit to the Hawkeye State: LINK
The Washington Post's Al Kamen Notes that one senior told President Bush yesterday that he " was lucky" that he knew someone at the Social Security office who was able to sign him up for the Medicare prescription drug benefit "in less than 10 minutes." LINK
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday resisted the Notion that he would resign, saying that he expects criticism since the war is controversial, reports Richard Whittle of the Dallas Morning News. LINK
The Los Angeles Times writes up Gen. Peter Pace's full-throated defense of Sec. Rumsfeld in the wake of recent criticism from retired military leaders. LINK
Politics of intelligence:
USA Today's John Diamond reports the not-so-flattering critique House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) (among others) has for the year-old office of the DNI. LINK
Elana Schor of The Hill takes a look at how Congressional Republicans "could soon seize upon the lobbying-reform debate as a vehicle for strict new oversight on the Bush Administration" in their eagerness to distance themselves from "a White House mired in low poll numbers." LINK
The AP reports on Abramoff emails that appear to tie large campaign donations to Republican legislative support for his clients. LINK
Cheney plays ball:
Headline in the Washington Post express: "Cheney, Nats Come Up Short." LINK
The Washington Times' Joseph Curl sets the scene at yesterday's Nationals game: "Mr. Cheney strode out of the Nats' dugout and boos immediately began to rain down on him, growing to a crescendo as he neared the mound." LINK
The Washington Post's Reliable Source writes that the "derisive greeting" that Vice President Cheney faced yesterday "was surprisingly loud and long, given the bipartisan nature of our national pastime, and drowned out a smattering of applause reported from the upper decks." LINK
Eleven cities presented proposals to the RNC convention site selection committee yesterday. The presentation is not a requirement in the bid process, but does put potential host city organizers in front of the key committee. The RNC is not publicly disclosing which 11 cities made presentations since some cities that did not present will likely still submit proposals and be in the running to host the convention.
Final proposals from all interested cities are due to the RNC by May 22. RNC co-chair Jo Ann Davidson chairs the site selection committee. The Western, Southern, Midwestern, and Northeastern regions each have two representatives on the committee.
Jeff Zeleny and a Des Moines dateline - not many things go as perfectly together. The Chicago Tribune scribe broke some news last night on his paper's blog that "John McCain has reeled in one of the state's best-known Republicans to join his 2008 team."
"Chuck Larson, the former chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa and a state senator from Cedar Rapids, has jumped aboard the McCain bandwagon. He will be at his side Thursday as the Arizona Republican travels to four Iowa cities, launching his effort to win over GOP activists in a state that kicks off the road to the White House." LINK
At deadline, no word on where Zeleny had his Tuesday dinner. Howard Wilkinson of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes up McCain's stumping yesterday for Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Notes that the two have diverging views on immigration. LINK
The Boston Globe reports on a last minute jab toward Democrats by Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), that has sent them scratching their heads. Romney now wants to veto a fee within the new Massachusetts healthcare legislation. LINK
The Boston Herald reports, "Gov. Mitt Romney's star turn in the national health care limelight has left some critics in Massachusetts in the shadows and fuming that the governor's presidential aspirations are crowding them out." LINK
The Wall Street Journal's ed board gives Gov. Romney credit for talking about health care, saying that he is "miles ahead of GOP Congressional leaders, who won't even vote on pro-market reforms."
However, the ed board has its qualms: "The core flaw is that the plan forces individuals to buy health insurance, and penalizes businesses that don't provide it, before deregulating the market for private health insurance. So the state is forcing people to buy insurance many will need subsidies to afford, which is a recipe for higher taxes and more government intervention down the road."
The Journal concludes thusly: "The real health insurance problem in America today isn't lack of coverage per se; it's the inability of insurers to offer affordable policies in many states. By making a fetish of 'universal' coverage, Governor Romney has bought into a bidding war that Democrats and advocates of socialized medicine are bound to win in the end."
Gov. Mitt Romney was spotted at last night's season opener for the Red Sox. LINK
After an article in the Argus Union Leader with the header "Gingrich at USD: Pull out of Iraq" caused a bit of a stir yesterday, Gingrich's Web site, Newt.org, reported that the headline has been changed to "Gingrich at USD: Scale back to small force in Iraq."
Gingrich's Newt.org Web site also included this:
"Gingrich's position of Iraq has been consistent and clear:"
1. "The decision by Paul Bremer to go from a liberation model to an occupation model in June 2003 was a major mistake (Gingrich first said this publicly in December 2003)."
2. "The United States needs to train the Iraqis as rapidly as possible and 'pull back' from the cities to bases and air fields and serve as reinforcers as opposed to occupiers (this position is outlined in today's WSJ as the official policy)."
3. "The United States is likely to need to keep some forces in Iraq for a very long time (Gingrich has been saying this as far back in 2003)."
An editorial in "Investor's Business Daily" looks at Gingrich's recent Iraq comments and asks: "So what was Newt Gingrich thinking?" LINK
The New York Sun's Josh Gerstein also takes Note of Gingrich's criticism of the Administration on Iraq. LINK
Tyler Whitley of the Richmond Times-Dispatch writes that Sen. George Allen (R-VA) officially announced yesterday he's running… for the Senate. Not surprisingly, Sen. Allen made no guarantee that he'd serve out the entire six-year term. LINK
The Washington Post's Michael Shear easily shifts from his Warner coverage to Sen. Allen's reelect announcement and Notes the refusal to rule-out leaving the job before his second term expires, should he win reelection. LINK
Gov. Pataki's plan to cut $2 million from New York's budget may mean vetoing tax cuts, reports the New York Times. LINK
The New York Times' Patrick Healy gets a preview of a new (and unflattering) documentary critical of Rudy Giuliani, "the leader who has been raised to secular sainthood." LINK
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) discussed health savings accounts and electronic health records during a speech at Cerner Corp. in Kansas City yesterday, reports Julius Karash of the Kansas City Star. LINK
In case you had any doubt who the Republican Party sees as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in 2008, just take a look at the White House, RNC, and Hastert releases prebutting Sen. Clinton's speech yesterday.
The Washington Post's Dan Balz writes that Sen. Clinton presented herself "as a problem-solver, stressing cooperation between business and government, calling for reduced partisanship in Washington and even quoting former President Ronald Reagan approvingly about driving down the deficit." LINK
"Mrs. Clinton did not, in her 57-minute speech to the Economic Club of Chicago, assail President Bush by name. Indeed, Mrs. Clinton repeatedly emphasized her conservative credentials and alliances, and she blamed the sharp partisan fighting in Washington for dissuading business leaders from working with government," writes Anne Kornblut of the New York Times. LINK
Rick Pearson of the Chicago Tribune provides readers with a comprehensive report on Sen. Clinton's speech yesterday, Noting that "she did not discuss any presidential ambitions despite a heavy national media presence." LINK
Per Pearson, "Asked after her 55-minute address whether the audience would see a female president in their lifetime, she replied: 'Well, I hope so.'"
The New York Times' McIntire and Hernandez write up the mutually beneficial relationship between Sen. Clinton and upstate New York's glass powerhouse Corning Inc. LINK
The story leaves out two key factors that may have helped open the door to this Senator/corporation contribution/constituent service relationship:
1. Former Rep. Amo Houghton (whose family IS Corning Inc. and who is quoted in the story) was one of five House Republicans to vote against impeaching President Clinton in 1998.
2. The elegant and wise Priscilla Dewey Houghton (Amo's wife) is a committed Democrat and has been a Clinton supporter over the years.
Harvard University students are beginning to feel like prospective donors on Manhattan's Upper East Side -- Mark Warner one week, Evan Bayh the next. Here's the Harvard Crimson's take on the Indiana Senator's appeal for less partisanship and a more united political front to attack the country's most pressing issues. LINK
The Los Angeles Times does the Gov. Schweitzer (D-MT) profile thing and wonders if he has some 2008 dark-horse potential. LINK
2006: New Orleans:
The Washington Post's Sylvia Moreno looks at efforts being made by ACORN and the Metropolitan Organization to help Katrina evacuees vote in the New Orleans mayoral election. LINK
The Washington Post has Al Ater, Louisiana's secretary of state, saying, "It's entirely possible that we'll have 20 to 25 percent of the votes that get cast by mail."
The DCCC is launching a radio ad in OH-06 to help support Charlie Wilson's write-in effort in the May primary. (You may recall that Wilson did not submit sufficient signatures to get his name placed on the ballot.)
The radio ad is of a country-style crooner who includes this line in his song: "George Bush will feel the pain when you write in Charlie's name."
"Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele (R) will report raising $1.3 million during the first three months of the year, the highest quarterly haul to date of any candidate in Maryland's race for the U.S. Senate, according to an internal campaign memo," reports the Washington Post's John Wagner. LINK
"Steele's fundraising clip is likely to match or exceed that of Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin of Baltimore, who has far outpaced the other half-dozen Democrats in the race in raising money."
This statement from Republican senate candidate Mike McGavick in Washington clearly places him at odds with President Bush and the Republican leadership in Congress.
"News today that gas prices will continue to skyrocket into this summer is further evidence that Congress and the Administration have failed to produce a balanced energy policy that helps Americans. Instead of real energy problem solving, we're stuck with political posturing. . . And, now we know that the energy bill passed by Congress last year is actually driving gas prices up."
Houston lawyer Barbara Ann Radnofsky emerged victorious in her runoff and will face Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) in November, reports Ratcliffe and Elliott of the Houston Chronicle. LINK
Patrick O'Connor of the Hill has gubernatorial candidate Rep. Jim Nussle (R-IA) touting his $1 million raised yesterday in the Hy-Vee Hall by President Bush. LINK
Ray Long and Maura Possley of the Chicago Tribune report on the face-off between Democrats and Republicans over the Illinois state budget and have a testy meta-exchange between GOP gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka and Gov. Blagojevich (D-IL). LINK
The New York Post reports that the state's Conservative Party, which has backed every winning Republican since 1974, will not support GOP favorite William Weld for governor, favoring instead former Assemblyman John Faso. LINK
The New York Daily News reports on some verbal missteps by Weld, including saying "anthrax" when he meant "asthma" and referring to New York's Fresh Kills landfill as "Fishkill." LINK
William March gives us some quick data from a Tampa Tribune analysis of campaign finance reports in the GOP gubernatorial primary. LINK
Dean to Mehlman: Can you hear me now? The Portsmouth Herald runs the AP story on the phone jamming controversy in New Hampshire, highlighting Howard Dean's questions for Ken Mehlman. LINK
"The Republican National Committee says the calls involved routine election business and that it was 'preposterous' to suggest they involved phone jamming."
The Hill's Josephine Hearn looks at the increasing influence of blogs and at House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's (R-CA) efforts to "take her House Democrats a few steps farther into the blogosphere," even as she has "taken some beatings recently in the liberal blogosphere." LINK
The Schwarzenegger Era:
The Los Angeles Times reports that although the Governor "threw his political weight behind a drive to curb greenhouse gas emissions," it's unclear whether the move will satisfy either environmentalists or business leaders. LINK
Susan Milligan of the Boston Globe writes of a "candidate to candidate giving," which is growing in popularity as a political fundraising method. LINK
Grover Norquist is seeking to trademark the name of his "K Street Project," writes Carrie Sheffield of The Hill. LINK
Ann Richards tells the AP she feels "terrific" and expects to make a full recovery from esophageal cancer. LINK