WASHINGTON, August 3
Today's political match-ups (personality driven, per usual):
Joe Lieberman versus Joe Lieberman. (Ned Lamont is just a stand in.)
Donald Rumsfeld versus Hillary Clinton. (Senator Warner is just a gaveler.)
President Bush versus his poll standing on immigration in the Bloomberg/LAT poll. (The State of the Union is just a distant memory.)
Ken Mehlman versus the Ghost of Ed Gillespie Past. (History is just a cruel prison.)
Harold Ford versus the definition of the New South. (Jim Margolis's ads are just a necessary -- but not sufficient -- element.)
According to a Quinnipiac poll released this morning, Ned Lamont has opened up a 54 - 41 percent lead over Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) among likely Democratic primary voters. Grim as that is for the incumbent, one has the informed sense that the 13 percentage point gap might actually show the race closer than some other data that Lieberman has seen of late.
Undaunted, Sen. Lieberman continues to travel around Connecticut talking to voters today, attending a voter drive in Bristol and spending the rest of the afternoon shaking hands in West Hartford. Challenger Ned Lamont breakfasts with Rev. Jesse Jackson in Hartford then travels to Middletown and Meriden before returning to Hartford for a rally.
The main event at today's RNC summer meeting in Minneapolis, MN comes from 5:00-6:30 pm ET when RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman and White House political director Sara Taylor walk RNC members through the 2006 electoral landscape at the "Welcome Meeting and Strategy Session." Mehlman and Taylor are expected to take questions from RNC members. Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) is also slated to speak at the welcome meeting.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is also a part of the fray in Minnesota, starting with a closed fundraiser at the Minneapolis Club for Patty Wetterling, Democratic candidate for the 6th District. At 3:00 pm ET, she will address the "Democratic New Direction for America" conference with Reps. Martin Sabo (D-MN) and Betty McCollum (D-MN) at the Humphrey Forum at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
In Tennessee today, Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. (D-TN) learns which Republican he will face in his quest to become the first black U.S. Senator elected in the South since Reconstruction.
The state's Republican Senate primary is a three-way contest between Bob Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor, Ed Bryant, a former House member who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2002, and Van Hilleary, a former House member who ran unsuccessfully for governor that same year. (See below for more on Tennessee).
Back in Washington, the Senate continues its hectic, final week before August recess. The Senate Armed Services Committee hosts Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace, and Army General John Abizaid at a 9:30 am ET hearing on Iraq, Afghanistan, and the global war on terrorism. Rumsfeld initially said his calendar was too crowded to testify before reversing course. Secretary Rumseld, Gen. Pace, and Secretary Rice participate in a closed 2:00 pm ET briefing on Iraq for members of the Senate. LINK
The New York Post curtain raises today's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing with the Clinton-centric focus, after the Junior Senator from New York's taunting press release preceded the SecDef's decision to appear. LINK
President Bush tours the Rio Grande Valley border patrol operations at 2:50 pm ET, he views a demonstration a National Guard demonstration at 3:30 pm ET, and delivers remarks about comprehensive immigration reform at 3:55 pm ET before starting his vacation.
The Mission Monitor reports that McAllen Mayor Richard Cortez and Mission Mayor Beto Salinas are both slated to briefly meet with Bush before attending the speech LINK
The Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg News surveyed the President's leadership across a variety of fronts and found that 60% disapprove of his handling of Iraq and 59% disapprove of his handling of the economy.
Los Angeles Times header: "Poor Marks for Bush on Iraq, Economy." LINK
Bloomberg News header: "U.S. Anxiety Over Terrorism, War Test Bush's Core Strength, Poll Finds." LINK
In Austin, TX, a three-judge federal panel hears arguments on how to redraw southwest Texas congressional districts to restore minority power. The AP reports that a ruling must come by Monday if elections are to proceed on time. LINK
In the Capitol's Mansfield room at 12:15 pm ET, Senate Democrats call on Congress to put "sound science and stem cell research before the right wing, and a raise in the minimum wage before trillion-dollar handouts to multi-millionaires."
At 10:30 am ET, the Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing titled "Kick-Off for Tax Reform: Tackling the Tax Code" in Dirksen 106. Witnesses include Connie Mack III, the chairman of the President's advisory panel on tax reform, former Sen. John Breaux (D-LA), and others.
In the afternoon, Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV) and John Ensign (R-NV) testify to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee about the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility.
The Senate reconvenes at 9:30 am ET and resumes consideration of the fiscal 2007 Defense appropriations bill (HR 5631). Roll call votes are expected throughout the day.
Sen. Lieberman's primary politics:
"New Poll Shows Lieberman Losing Ground," the AP on Sen. Lieberman shedding more "Joementum" in his race with Lamont, with a new Quinnipiac poll showing a thirteen point discrepancy in Lamont's favor. LINK
"Lieberman Rips W's War Plan," The New York Daily News on Sen. Lieberman's "Hail Mary" attack on the war on terror LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper looks at the Quinnipiac poll numbers and writes in his Political Punch blog that Lieberman is "lashing out, going negative, acting like he's applied a few too many of Floyd Landis's alleged testosterone patches. LINK
Per the Washington Post's Dan Balz, "The bitter Democratic Senate primary in Connecticut erupted in fresh controversy Wednesday over a doctored photo of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) in blackface that was posted by a blogger who has been an influential promoter of challenger Ned Lamont." LINK
Hartford Courant on the same: LINK
"On Wal-Mart, Lieberman and Challenger Can Agree," the Washington Post's Dan Balz, clearly getting paid by the piece. LINK
"'You know there's been a lot of nonsense put out by my opponent that I'm not a Democrat or this or that,' (Lieberman) told reporters outside Noel's Supermarket in Colchester on Tuesday. 'But Bill Clinton came in, the true head of the Democratic Party in America, and said Joe Lieberman is a fighting Democrat.'"
"Lieberman uses rival's wealth as issue in race," the New York Times says, with a detailed description of how college campuses get cable TV. LINK
ABC's Jake Tapper takes a look at the blogosphere's coverage of the Connecticut primary race. LINK
"Raising Their Voices," Hartford Courant on praise for Lamont from the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. LINK
"Sharpton Goes to War vs. Sen. Joe," New York Post LINK
"State Tries To Avoid Florida-Type Chaos," Hartford Courant. LINK
"Press Your Nose Against The Glass," on Ned Lamont's tony hometown of Greenwich. LINK
"Colbert's Offer Fails To Lure Lieberman Onto TV Show," Hartford Courant. LINK
RNC summer meeting:
Sometimes in political journalism, you have to force metaphorical structures onto events. Other times, the metaphors just present themselves. RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman's Wednesday flight from Washington, DC to Minneapolis, MN for today's RNC summer meeting falls into the latter category.
For what seemed like 72 hours yesterday, the fate of the majority hung in the balance. While flipping through clips from the Financial Times, the New Republic, and the Weekly Standard in the last-row of first class on Northwest Airlines Flight # 549 out of Washington, Mehlman dropped his Blackberry.
Mindful that the floppy disk in Lafayette Park would look like small potatoes if his Blackberry fell into enemy hands, Mehlman pulled out all the stops.
He got down on his knees. He paced the aisle. He patiently explained to an incredulous white-haired lady that a "Blackberry" is "an e-mail device."
He even persuaded a flight attendant to make an overhead announcement when the plane landed.
At 2:29 pm ET, a flight attendant announced that a "Palm Pilot" had been lost, asking passengers to look around them before deplaning. (Oh, no! Would people now be confused? Would they now be looking under their seats for the wrong hand-held device?). Feeling badly for Mehlman, the proprietor of the Forbidden Solutions blog sitting in the row behind Mehlman, took a break from railing against the "illegal" war in Iraq being waged to yell out: "It's a Blackberry!"
And then in a moment that called to mind the way the sun poked through the skies over Washington when President Reagan took the oath of office in 1981, at 2:37 pm ET, to a small round of applause, Joe Monfort, the passenger sitting next to Mehlman in first class who was headed to Minneapolis to go on vacation with his father, reached in between the two seats and pulled out Mehlman's life-line.
"It was a little amusing," Monfort told ABC News exclusively following the episode, "to see him lose his Blackberry and the whole Republican majority crumbling."
"RNC strategy session begins Thursday," Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune on the Republican National Committee's summer gathering, beginning today and continuing on Friday -- "the last time the committee will be together before the November elections." LINK
Polls open: 8:00 am ET.
Polls close: 8:00 pm ET.
Election results can be viewed on the Secretary of State's Web site: LINK
There are no network exit polls.
"Fight for Frist's Seat Crucial in Larger Battle for Senate Control," Associated Press. LINK
Per the Associated Press, "Hilleary and Bryant, who both arrived in Congress during the 1994 Republican Revolution, have questioned Corker's conservative credentials, particularly on abortion. In 1994, Corker said he was personally opposed to abortion but did not believe it was a government issue. He now says he opposes abortion rights. Corker has fired back with TV ads calling Hilleary and Bryant ineffective as congressmen."
The AP has Southern specialist Merle Black saying that any of the three GOPers would be favored over Rep. Ford in the general election, but it is not hopeless for the Democrats.
Politics of the minimum wage and estate tax:
"An Estate Tax Twist Reverses Party Roles On Minimum Wage," Washington Post writes in a must read piece. LINK
"GOP deserts two principles by backing 2 bills," Bob Novak chastises the "haughty" Republicans for abandoning "conservative doctrine." Novak writes that passing a bill on minimum wage with an estate tax poison pill, leaving people to question what the GOP really stands for. Note hint: Novak will not be sorry to see Bil Thomas go. LINK
"Estate-Tax Bill's Senate Fortunes May Be Fading," the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers on the Republican effort to reduce estate taxes "appears to be faltering, with Democrats offering to expedite a Senate vote on the measure so as to move quickly toward final passage of a separate pension-overhaul bill that has been sidetracked by the confrontation."
"Workers' tips at issue in congressional minimum-wage bill," Associated Press. LINK
"Senate Setting Vote on Minimum Wage, Reducing U.S. Estate Tax," Bloomberg. LINK
"Death and Democrats," the Wall Street Journal ed board is eagerly waiting "to find out if Senate Democrats are more interested in achieving the policy goals they claim to want, or merely in blow-everything-up obstruction."
"Untie knot that binds minimum- wage, estate-tax decisions," Des Moines Register's ed board urges Senate to "rescue the House from its folly and reject the combined bill" that leaves "crumbs for the working poor and a bonanza for the children of the superrich." LINK
Bush Administration agenda:
"Bush Finds Economy Is Turning From Potential Asset to Liability," Bloomberg. LINK
"`Hourglass Economy' Divides Americans, Defines U.S. Politics," Bloomberg on the nation's seemingly widening wealth gap. LINK
"White House asks Congress to define war crimes," New York Times. LINK
"Top Military Lawyers Oppose Plan for Special Courts," Washington Post. LINK
"Ex-Bush Aide Makes Plea Deal in thefts," Washington Post on Claude Allen. LINK
Allen is expected to plead guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge after reaching a deal with Montgomery County prosecutors. He was charged with stealing more than $500 in merchandise and conspiracy to commit theft last March which could have landed him in jail for up to 15 years. The agreement spares him jail time and recommends that he be given an $850 restitution fine.
USA Today has more on the President's vacation plans. LINK
"A growing force," The Las Vegas Sun: on how "Hispanic voters could have greater power in the upcoming elections." LINK
"Ready to Exit on a Feisty Note," Roll Call on Republicans and Democrats turning to the megaphone in the battle to hold/take the majority this season.
"Webb urges changes in campaign-finance law," Richmond Times-Dispatch on Democratic Virginia Senate candidate Jim Webb's declaration that campaign-finance reform has not worked. LINK
"Dem calls Blackwell's ideas 'dangerous,'" Columbus Dispatch LINK
"Governor's race starts with a lively debate," St. Paul Pioneer Press on the "first head-to-head forum in the Minnesota governor's race," in which Gov. Pawlenty's three challengers attacked the sitting governor's record. LINK
"Dems may challenge Green Party nominees," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Democrats questioning the validity of Green Party petitions to put their candidates on the ballot for governor in fears they could siphon votes from incumbent Gov. Ed Rendell. LINK
"Nussle suggests network of Iowa alumni," Des Moines Register on Republican Iowa gubernatorial nominee Jim Nussle's proposal to create an "alumni association to identify people who have left the state, as a way of encouraging them to return." LINK
"Granite Status: Coburn sees a few chinks in Lynch's armor," Union Leader's John Distaso on Republican candidate for New Hampshire governor Jim Coburn's leaking of an internal poll that found "small weaknesses in Gov. John Lynch's standing." LINK
"Kisses in the heartland, kicks at home," Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi on Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) and Sen. John Kerry's (D-MA) recent trip to Iowa received rave reviews in the Hawkeye State, but caused some eye-rolling at home. LINK
"You Can't Big Dig Yourself Out of a Hole," the Wall Street Journal's Moore describes an "empowered" Mitt Romney managing obstacles in the Big Dig's repair, echoing the Notion that he's "arrived at a Rudy Giuliani type moment that could elevate or ruin his political fortunes."
"Voters look up to war heroes," Newsday's James P. Pinkerton on the advantage of the "warrior," giving Sen. McCain (R-AZ) an instant edge in 2008. LINK
"Vice Candidate: Does McCain have a remote presidential advantage?" National Review Online's Kathryn Jean Lopez bills Sen. McCain as a "substitute VPOTUS-like candidate" who can "latch onto something reassuring at a time of war: experience and continuity." LINK
"Rudy Talks Tough on the Middle East" saying the US must hang tough against Iran and can't "cut and run" on Iraq reports the New York Daily News. LINK
"Frist Draws Praise, Critics," Roll Call on Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist coming to terms with his retirement from the Senate and the legacy he might leave. LINK
"Where Did That Video Spoofing Gore's Film Come From," the Wall Street Journal on a YouTube.com video depicting a "sinister" Al Gore amongst an army of penguins. If the consulting firm DCI wasn't already on Gore's radar (we kid because we love), it is now!!! Note to the Gang of 500: this is a must-read story for you.
"Edwards to speak at Capitol rally for minimum wage hike," The Helena Independent Record. LINK
"Vilsack says South matters to Democrats," Montgomery Advertiser on Gov. Tom Vilsack's (D-IA) recent visit to Alabama. LINK
"Future of Orthodox Jewish Vote Has Implications for GOP," Washington Post on GOP hopes that a strong defense of Israel translates into greater support among Jewish voters. LINK
"A two-front war for Murtha," the Philadelphia Inquirer on the backlash against Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) after he accused Marines of killing Iraqi civilians "in cold blood." LINK
"Murtha Denies Libeling Marine," Washington Post. LINK
"Marine hits Murtha with defamation suit," USA Today. LINK
Clintons of Chappaqua:
"A Reform That Worked," the Washington Post's Robert Samuelson on welfare reform. LINK
The Schwarzenegger Era:
"Minimum-wage hike would help governor," San Francisco Chronicle on the possibility that a Friday meeting of California's Industrial Welfare Commission's wage board, a body Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) has encouraged to raise the base pay rate, might result in a minimum wage boost that would proportionately aid the governor's re-election prospects. LINK
In his recap of the White House briefing room's final day, the Washington Post's Peter Baker has ABC News' Sam Donaldson shouting: "Mr. President, should Mel Gibson be forgiven?" LINK
"Bush, Reporters Say Goodbye to Press Room," Los Angeles Times LINK
"White House evicts press, temporarily. No, really," New York Times. LINK
"Press Briefing Room Signing Off for a Bit," Chicago Tribune LINK