WASHINGTON, Sep. 20
Pending: a (likely) torture/interrogation deal; a(n unlikely) immigration deal; and savvy reconciliation of the spirit and substance of the New York Times/CBS and Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times polls.
While we work on those, you read this:
President Bush hits the Sunshine State campaign trail. The Commander/Campaigner-in-Chief attends fundraising events for congressional candidate Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) in Tampa, FL (where he seeks to replace his father in Congress) at 1:10 pm ET and for gubernatorial Charlie Crist (R-FL) at a Republican Party reception in Orlando, FL at 5:35 pm ET.
Both fundraisers are open press, and alert reporters will be listening closely to see if there are hints of a new presidential election stump speech.
First Lady Laura Bush and Sebba Musharraf, wife of President Pervez Musharraf , start their morning at 10:15 am ET launching a website on Pakistani culture at the Kennedy Center. At 7:00 pm ET the First Lady accepts the IRI Freedom Award at the J.W. Marriot Hotel in Washington, DC.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets with NATO foreign ministers in New York while her friend, former President Bill Clinton, continues to host the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City.
Clinton holds a 9:30 am ET press conference with Sir Richard Branson -- part of the process by which the CGI commitments head towards the billions-with-a-"b" level . LINK
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace hold a Senators-only briefing on Iraq at 4:00 pm ET in the Capitol.
Speaker Hastert, Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), and other allies highlight border security accomplishments at 2:30 pm ET in the Capitol.
Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Jim Ramstad (R-MN), and representatives from the Betty Ford Center discuss the treatment of mental health disorders at 10:00 am ET in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, DC.
At 12:30 pm ET Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), explain the "Compromiso Demócrata con el Pueblo Latino (The Democractic Agenda: A New Direction for Latino Families) at the Capitol in Washington, DC.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) join the Campaign for America's Future at a 11:00 am ET conference call to release a new report on the gap in Medicare's prescription drug coverage.
Democrats on the Ways & Means Committee plan to release their own report today that analyzes coverage and premiums in stand-along private drug plans.
As far as policy prescription goes, the "Democratic Prescription for Change" calls for requiring Medicare to "use its bargaining power to negotiate lower drug prices" and using the savings to "fill the doughnut hole." The Democratic plan would also "waive the late enrollment penalty" and create a Medicare-sponsored option for the sake of simplicity.
The AP has Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) saying: "As this report shows, the opportunity to purchase plans that fill the hole is a mirage. Beneficiaries are no more able to afford expensive, full-coverage plans than minimum wage Americans are able to afford a Mercedes." LINK
Sens. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Barack Obama (D-IL) and Mike DeWine (R-OH) talk up the Darfur Peace Act at 11:00 am ET.
The American Enterprise Institute hosts a panel discussion entitled "Beyond November: Who Will Prevail in American Politics?" with authors Thomas Edsall, Tom Hamburger, Doug Sosnik, and Peter Wallsten at the AEI building in Washington, DC, so close to ABC News' Washington bureau that we could crawl there.
Stan Greenberg, Chairman and CEO of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Page Garnder, President and Founder of "Women's Voices. Women Vote. Action Fund" host a briefing and research update at 10:00 am ET on the "fastest growing demographic group in the electorate" at the Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington, DC.
RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman was slated to do some early morning (8:30 am ET) campaigning in Iowa for GOP congressional candidate Mike Whalen in Cedar Falls. Mehlman also makes a stop on behalf of congressional candidate Jeff Lamberti in Urbandale, IA.
Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) begins a two-day trip to Iowa today while his possible '08 GOP rival former Speaker Newt Gingrich gives his plan for national health care to the Georgia Healthcare Transformation Senate Study Committee in Atlanta, GA.
Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) was scheduled to discuss "Health Care Reform: The Massachusetts Model" at 8:45 am ET at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), who had his prostate removed in 2003, attends a luncheon reception on legislative initiatives for the African American Prostate Cancer Disparity Summit at noon ET in the Rayburn House Office Building in DC.
Former Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) hosts and speaks at 6:30 pm ET at a fundraiser for Senate candidate Jim Webb (D-VA) at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA.
The New America Foundation holds a 12:00 pm ET discussion on "How Bush Rules: The Transformation of the American Political Landscape" with sidny Blumenthal and Michael Lind. At 2:00 pm ET, NAF holds a discussion, "Can the Employer Role in Health Insurance be Preserved" with Sens. Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR).
The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne discusses "Seamless Criticism: Why the Church Should Make Everyone in Politics Feel Guilty" at 4:00 pm ET at the Catholic University of America.
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and others hold a 10:30 am ET press conference and nonviolent civil disobedience action in the street directly in front of the White House to protest the US "occupation" of Iraq. The DC event is intended to kick-off a national Declaration of Peace initiative with more than 350 events across the country from Sep. 21-28.
The Way to Win:
USA Today's discerning Bob Minzesheimer touts the forthcoming book The Way to Win -- along with fall tomes by Noted authors Bob Woodward, Ed Gillespie, and Barack Obama. LINK
If you missed yesterday's world premiere of The Way to Win videos -- semi-pegged to the October 3 release of the Halperin/Harris-penned Random House book of the same name -- do not despair.
Today, another world premiere, this time of the extended versions (featuring a television legend) that illustrate the Jacquification of John Kerry and the before-to-after transformation of Hillary Clinton.
Go to The Way to Win website LINK
As for our daily trivia battle, the correct answer to yesterday's question (Which American president was caught on tape saying of John Kerry, "Well, he is sort of a phony, isn't he?") is Richard M. Nixon. Our winner, Anat Maytal, is a Boston U law student who will be getting an autographed copy of the book in the mail.
Want a chance to win one too? Then correctly answer today's question:
To whom did Bill Clinton say in an interview in 1992 , "I'm all right. I'm disappointed you didn't call me 'Bubba'"?
To enter, go to thewaytowin2008.com and enter now. LINK
Of course, on the site, you can also pre-order the book, to make sure you get one as soon as possible. LINK
There's also a preview excerpt of the book which you can read here. LINK
Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder write up the latest New York Times/CBS News poll showing "Americans have an overwhelmingly negative view of the Republican-controlled Congress. . ." LINK
"The disdain for Congress is as intense as it has been since 1994, when Republicans captured 52 seats to end 40 years of Democratic control of the House and retook the Senate as well. It underlines the challenge the Republican Party faces in trying to hold on to power in the face of a surge in anti-incumbent sentiment," writes the duo.
The poll also finds the generic congressional ballot at 50% for the Democrats and 35% for the Republicans. Nagourney and Elder are sure to include the important caveats that the playing field is much narrower than it was in 1994 and Americans feel a lot better about their own representative than they do about Congress as a whole.
With a different emphasis, Ron Brownstein writes up the latest Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg News poll results which, like the New York Times poll, shows continued Republican vulnerabilities, but unlike the New York Times poll, also shows the President (another 44% to test drive) and Republicans with some momentum. LINK
"Democrats hold a lead in the poll, 49% to 39%, when registered voters are asked which party they intend to support for Congress this year. But that advantage may rest on softening ground: On virtually every comparison between the parties measured in the survey, Republicans have improved their position since early summer."
"In particular, Republicans have nearly doubled their advantage when voters are asked which party they trust most to protect the nation against terrorism -- the thrust of Bush's public relations blitz in recent weeks."
When you take these polls and mix them in with the USA Today/Gallup poll from Tuesday, one thing is clear. We'll have to wait to the next round of polling for this to shake out a bit.
The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny (read that a few times over just to get used to it) brings his Nebraska values to the Paper of Record and writes up the various national political committee's fundraising figures and tries to goad Sen. Schumer into a spat with Howard Dean, but to no avail. LINK
Touted in a New York Times' house ad today in the Arts section: Adam Nagourney's upcoming Sunday Magazine piece on Ken Mehlman ("Can Ken Mehlman pull off one more G.O.P. win?")
Nagourney has an associate describing Mehlman as being "flabbergasted" after learning that the anonymous GOP Senate candidate in Dana Milbank's Washington Post story was his friend, Michael Steele.
Future PAC, a group of African American women (many well-known), announced its plans to focus on turning out the expected 2.6 million black women who may be inclined to stay home on Election Day in a midterm election year. The effort is focused on 25 cities in 6 potential battleground states. Board members include, Donna Brazile, Minyon Moore, Susan Taylor, and Cicely Tyson.
Senator Allen gets religion:
In a blockbuster front-pages story, the Washington Post's Michael Shear reports that Henrietta "Etty" Allen concealed her upbringing as a Jew in North Africa from her children, including Sen. George Allen (R-VA), until a conversation across the dining room table in late August. LINK
"She said Allen asked her directly about his Jewish heritage when he was in Los Angeles for a fundraiser. 'We sat across the table and he said, 'Mom, there's a rumor that Pop-pop and Mom-mom were Jewish and so were you,' ' she recalled, a day after Allen issued a statement acknowledging and embracing his Jewish roots as he campaigns for a second term in the U.S. Senate."
"At the table in Palos Verdes, Calif., Allen's mother, who is 83, said she told her son the truth: That she had been raised as a Jew in Tunisia before moving to the United States. She said that she and the senator's father, famed former Redskins coach George Allen, had wanted to protect their children from living with the fear that she had experienced during World War II. Her father, Felix Lumbroso, was imprisoned by the Nazis during the German occupation of Tunis."
"'What they put my father through. I always was fearful,' Etty Allen said in a telephone interview. 'I didn't want my children to have to go through that fear all the time. When I told Georgie, I said, 'Now you don't love me anymore.' He said, 'Mom, I respect you more than ever.' '"
When Allen was asked about his heritage on Monday, he rpeated "what he has said in the past: 'My mother's French-Italian with a little Spanish blood in her. And I was raised as she was, as far as I know, raised as a Christian.'"
"In fact, Allen had just recently learned about their Jewish roots when he made those comments. Allen declined to comment, but his mother said she had sworn him to secrecy."
We'll see if the Virginia press tries to square the circle today with the incumbent, while the challenger feigns indifference.
Text of the exchange between Sen. Allen and WUSA reporter Peggy Fox: LINK
Clinton Global Initiative:
Patrick Healy of the New York Times revels in the Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton(?) phenomenon -- much of which was on display in New York this week. LINK
The New York Post: LINK
The New York Daily News: LINK
Per the Arizona Daily Star, "the Democratic party is upset that former Ku Klux Klan leader and Louisiana State Rep. David Duke put a link on his Web site to District 8 GOP congressional candidate Randy Graf's site." LINK
"Graf's campaign swiftly denounced Duke after the Arizona Democratic Party sent out a press release Wednesday afternoon suggesting Graf is associated with the controversial figure. The link on Duke's Web site is the only evidence offered to support the allegation."
A Democratic source on the Hill tells The Note that, in an effort to get a second-day story, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-DCCC) plans to write a letter to Rep. Reynolds (R-NRCC) about this today, demanding that he withdraw support from Randy Graf. "It is also likely to become an issue in the Hayworth-Mitchell race," predicts the source.
In the first installment of their nine-day trek through nine congressional districts that sit on the dividing line between the upper South and the industrial Midwest, the Washington Post's Cillizza and VandeHei report that both parties in Kentucky are trying to take the right flank. LINK
CQ reports that although Bob Ney has agreed to plead guilty to felony corruption charges, "neither the Republican leadership nor its Democratic counterparts are prepared to forcibly expel the lawmaker -- though most say they want the Ohio Republican to resign immediately."
The Columbus Dispatch's Torry reports that the Ohio Republican House conference of Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH), Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Rep. David Hobson) say that Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) should quit. LINK
Thomas Beaumont writes that the First Lady will campaign in Iowa next week. She will attend a luncheon on the 28th for Jeff Lamberti, the Republican challenger in Iowa's 3rd district. While there, she will also campaign for Republican Mike Whalen in the 1st district. LINK
More on the First Lady's upcoming trip to Iowa. LINK
The Des Moines Register's Tom Witosky writes that the NRCC has spent 25% of a $780,000 expenditure opposing Democrat Bruce Braley in Iowa's 1st district. Braley is running against Republican businessman Mike Whalen. The NRCC has not spent any money supporting Whalen. LINK
John Distaso's column, "Granit Status" reports that Rep. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.) is trying to appear unaffiliated in his most recent TV ads, saying "In Washington, Republicans weren't happy when I led the fight to oust Tom DeLay. Democrats didn't like it when I supported tax cuts for businesses and working families." The state Democratic Party said it was "nice try," but his voting record puts him right in line with GOP leadership. He also writes that several '08ers are visiting New Hampshire next week, including Warner, Richardson, Bayh, and Vilsack. LINK
The New York Daily News writes up the (left-leaning) Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington report naming Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY) as one of the 20 most corrupt national lawmakers. LINK
Politics of immigration:
Deal or no deal, Part I.
As the debate moves forward, the fate of the border security fence measure in the Senate remains unclear, reports the New York Times. LINK
It's not clear if the a bill requiring voters to show a valid photo identification passed yesterday will move in the Senate. The vote was almost entirely along party lines in the House, with Republicans arguing the bill fights illegal immigration while Democrats countered that it would disenfranchise voters. LINK
Funding shortages and problems with immigration control are two roadblocks hindering the forward progress of 6,000 miles of virtual fencing along the US border, reports the Washington Post. LINK
With an eye on the midterms congressional Republicans sought to par their domestic fall agenda as the House churned out one freshly minted bill after another determined to showcase the party's stance on illegal immigration, writeth David Rogers in the Wall Street Journal. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's ed board looks at "The Great Wall of America," and takes House Republicans to task for their immigration emphasis.
Politics of detainees:
Deal or no deal, Part II.
The Greenville News reports that Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham's fight to modify the Bush Administration's bill for interrogating and trying terror suspects has been the "catalyst" for "dissident conservatives" to begin discussing "the possibility of wooing Ambassador David Wilkins to challenge his 2008 re-nomination." LINK
"Wilkins, former speaker of the state House of Representatives, said Wednesday in a telephone interview from British Columbia that no one has contacted him and 'I'm staying here as long as President Bush is in office, and that's January 2009. My obligation is to him.'"
In addition to his detainee position, the Greenville News reports that conservatives have been "irked" by Graham's positions on immigration and judges.
CQ reports that the debate over the treatment and trial of terror suspects took an "unexpected turn" Wednesday as a House committee rejected a bill that echoes President Bush's proposals for dealing with the suspects.
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank on the cruel, inhuman, and degrading day the President's torture bill spent in committee. LINK
David Broder of the Washington Post opines on the critical turn in American politics last week that ended in the revolt of Republican senators against the President over the epic dimensions of torture. Dean Broder is in high dudgeon celebrating centrism. LINK
Bush Administration agenda:
Robert Novak uses his column to lay out John Bolton's two year struggle to become U.S. ambassador to the UN, complete with elliptical bouquet to Senator Hagel. LINK
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, basking in the California sun, received encouraging words from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief Bill Bratton about a potential 2008 presidential candidacy. LINK
More from the New York Sun's Gerstein: LINK
Bloomberg remains on the Left Coast today where he attends two fundraisers for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA).
The New York Post's Stephanie Gaskell also writes up the Bloomberg presidential buzz from the Golden State. LINK
The New York Daily News covers it too. LINK
(Has anyone else seen that old time checkered-style New York City taxi cab with a "Bloomberg for President" ad on its roof driving around the city?)
Is Tom Ridge gearing up?
The Des Moines Register's Tom Beaumont reports that former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is scheduled to headline the Republican Party of Iowa's annual Ronald Reagan Dinner on Oct. 28. LINK
The Boston Globe's Joan Vennochi Notes that "there's a danger" for Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey "in getting too close to the national party, or to Romney." LINK
After The Hotline portrayed Mark Warner's tax cut position (which substantively resembles that of Sen. Kerry, i.e., repeal the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans but keep the middle-class tax cuts in place) as "blasphemy in most Dem circles" and speculated about whether the "rightward shifts" of Warner and Sen. Clinton creating an '08 opening for the Left to unite behind "a Edwards, Obama or Gore, the Virginia Democrat called The Hotline to explain himself.
As reported in the "On Call" news blog, Warner thinks the Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans were "morally wrong and economically wrong" and he would indeed support their repeal. The Kerry position was right, he says. His concern was about the Democrats appearing to be "anti-'people-being-successful'."
"If Democrats take control of the Senate, Warner said they should 'definitely' vote to repeal the 'high level' cuts while possibly keeping "some of the middle income tax cuts in place.'"
The New York Times' Kornblut and Medina take a look at how likely 2008 Democratic presidential hopefuls are seeking to help Ned Lamont in his Connecticut Senate race to possibly curry favor with the netroots and at Lamont's uncertainty as to just how much national star power he needs for his particular battle. LINK
We look forward to the readouts of the calls to the Timeswomen from Kim Rubey and Jenny Backus concerning the lumping together of Kerry, Edwards, and Clinton into one camp on Iraq.
Steve Kornacki writes for PoliticsNH.com that Carol Shea-Porter's surprising win in New Hampshire's 1st congressional district could spell trouble for Sen. Clinton. LINK
Mark Leibovich of the New York Times has an excellently colorful item on the Times' blog, "The Caucus," about the young woman who offered John Kerry a beer bong in Iowa recently. LINK
The Des Moines Register reports on the aftermath of the "beer bong" incident. LINK
The New York Post runs some excerpts in its coverage of People Magazine's preview of Elizabeth Edwards' soon-to-be-published book on her battle with breast cancer. LINK
Per the Washington Times, "Republicans will begin a major campaign offensive today to warn voters of far-left Democrats who would take leadership posts and committee chairmanships if they win control of Congress in November." LINK
The Hill's Jonathan Allen reports that congressional Democrats plan to hold Iraq war hearings to spotlight their position on the issue before elections. LINK
Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Jack Murtha (D-PA) are courting Democratic candidates likely to win in November hoping to become House Majority leader next year, Notes the Hill's Hearn. LINK
The Hill's Bolton reports that the Senate Republican freshman class, a/k/a the "Magnificent Seven," plan to campaign together in states such as Michigan, Minnesota and Maryland. LINK
You may be shocked, shocked that there's gambling going on here. The New York Times looks at allegations that folks inside the Kean campaign are disguising themselves on a New Jersey blog as Democrats disappointed in and raising questions about Sen. Menendez. (Don't miss Menendez's Matt Miller's clean swipe at Kean's Jill Hazelbaker. Clearly providing that quote was the most fun he had all day.) LINK
Two polls released yesterday suggest that Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) is 4 points behind Democratic challenger Sherrod Brown, Notes the Columbus Dispatch's Darrel Rowland. LINK
Sen. Joe Lieberman said yesterday that he strongly supports universal health care after spending most of his Senate career advocating piecemeal health care reforms, Notes the Hartford Courant's Lightman and Pazniokas. LINK
This week Ned Lamont is focused on the costs and availability of health care on the ground, whereas his ads deliver a different message, branding Sen. Lieberman as a "turncoat" for pursuing an independent bid, Notes the Hartford Courant's Pazniokas. LINK
Democrat Amy Klobuchar's campaign fired its communications director for viewing "an unreleased TV ad" for Republican Mark Kennedy, the AP reports. LINK
The RGA's Phil Musser and the DGA's Penny Lee size up the high profile and history making gubernatorial election in Massachusetts. LINK
To help Democrat Deval Patrick raise money for his bid for governor, Bill Clinton will head to Massachusetts next month to stump for his old pal, the Boston Herald reports. LINK
Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) will join Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and the Bay State congressional delegation for a fund-raiser for Patrick on Monday.
Another visit by Sen. Obama, who stumped for Patrick during the primary and called to congratulate him Tuesday night, "is also in the works."
"'This is the beginning of a golden era in African-American politics,' said Peter Groff, founder of the University of Denver Center for African American Policy. 'This is our key black race of the moment. We've been watching it for a long time. We think he has the best chance of any African-American running for top office to win.'"
Marjorie O. Rendell, wife of Gov. Edward Rendell (D-PA), has traveled the state before to talk about issues relating to civic education, history and the arts but now in the midst of an election she is nowhere to be seen on the campaign trail, Notes Angela Couloumbis of the Philadelphia Inquire. LINK
In a sign that the advice of Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason is being heard, Lynn Swann, the party's gubernatorial nominee, crisscrossed the state yesterday attacking Gov. Rendell on the infamous pay raises of July 7, 2005, reports the Post-Gazette's Mauriello. LINK
The Schwarzenegger Era:
Per the AP's Juliet Williams, the California Faculty Association, a union that represents about 22,000 professors and other CSU employees, "launched a 'Flunk Arnold' contest on Wednesday asking CSU students to design a 30-second television commercial criticizing Schwarzenegger." LINK
"The winning spot will air statewide during The Daily Show in October. Its creator also will win a year's worth of fees at their school. One year of annual fees also will be paid for the student who designs the best 'Flunk Arnold' Web site."
Casting and counting:
In the latest case of moving technological progress backwards, Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R-MD) called for the state to "go low tech" and revert to a paper ballot system for the November elections a week after the primary was plagued with technological snafus despite $106 million voting system on hand. LINK
Election workers in Boston failed to count write-in votes in 8 precincts in the city. And this is not the first time the city has had election woes. LINK
``It was human error," Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in an interview yesterday. ``We haven't discovered yet why they didn't count them, because it is more important to get the count complete. We will. They were well trained. They went to training sessions, but somehow they didn't follow procedures."
More problems in the Lone Star State's Jefferson County. LINK
Political potpourri: Two must-read pieces in the Personal Journal, as the Wall Street Journal's Jessica Vascellaro takes a must-read look at new Web sites -- like Hotsoup -- that aim to capitalize on the social-networking craze to spark political involvement.
The Wall Street Journal's Peter Grant looks at the web-video factor in politics. LINK
We're not sure the DNC did anything other than boost Grover Norquist's speaking fee, by suing for the release of Secret Service records of entrance to the White House. "White House officials said Mr. Norquist, who runs the nonprofit Americans for Tax Reform, was cleared for 97 visits to the White House complex from 2001 to 2006, including a half-dozen with the president," reports the Associated Press. LINK