So House Speaker John Boehner wore a baseball cap out to breakfast, just in time for President Obama to apologize for his fumble. Since politics mixes enough metaphors to turn homeruns into bricks, and slam dunks into touchdowns into knockout blows, it's fitting that the Toronto Argonauts want the jersey off Mayor Rob Ford's back as much as the face of Obamacare wanted off the Healthcare.gov Website. After a week that Sarah Palin took on the pope, and Democrats looked like Republicans (who looked like Democrats used to) in squaring off against each other, here's a glimpse of some of the stories your ABC News political team will be tracking in the week ahead:
Be sure to watch "This Week" Sunday when we go one-on-one with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Gov. Scott Walker.
It was a "fumble" – two fumbles, actually – according to President Obama, and they've cost him credibility with lawmakers and the public on his signature accomplishment. To extend the metaphor, the fumbles happened with the clock running down, and with some teammates headed for the locker room – if not the opposite sidelines. A "fix" that complicated the policy may have helped marginally with the politics, but Democratic jitters over the shaky rollout will continue to exert pressure the White House will be feeling. If Healthcare.gov isn't ready for full demand by the end of the month, let's just say that would be the kind of turnover games are lost over. Look for more votes that will put Democrats, particularly those with tough 2014 races to face down, in difficult binds.
No, this is not an elephant joke. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie takes over the Republican Governors Association next week, as the nation's GOP state chief executives convene Wednesday and Thursday in Arizona. At least 26 Republican governors are expected to attend, and there's a decent chance the next GOP nominee for president will be among them. As Washington Republicans see their brand tarnished, stars are being cultivated in state houses. Wisconsin's Scott Walker, New Mexico's Susana Martinez, Indiana's Mike Pence, and Louisiana's Bobby Jindal join Christie as possible occupants of slots on national tickets sometime soon. Here's guessing they will have a thing or two to say about the president's leadership.
There's voting going on in a few interesting places in the coming days, in races that will be dissected for national import. On Saturday in Louisiana, the runoff in a special-election House race pits two Republicans against each other. Both are opponents of Obamacare, but the underdog is less outspoken about it, and he's got one of the stars of "Duck Dynasty" on his side. Meanwhile, the latest front in the abortion wars lands in Albuquerque on Tuesday, where voters will decide whether to ban abortions later than 20 weeks into pregnancies. The city would be the first municipality to take such a step (13 states have done so, and the House passed a federal ban that's now stalled in the Senate), and the ban includes no exceptions for rape or incest. Passing the ban would be seen as a big victory for abortion-rights opponents, in a generally liberal pocket of the country.
There was a way-back time, around maybe August, where we were looking forward to a fall flurry: immigration reform, another push on gun control, maybe even a budget deal, and possibly sweeping tax reform. Now? Not so much. Among the casualties of Obamacare's rocky rollout are just about every other legislative priority for the year. We'll see some last gasps around scattered priorities, most notably immigration reform. But House Republicans don't feel much pressure to deliver on that or very much else that isn't connected to undoing all or part of the new health care law. The outlook for actual lawmaking for the rest of the year doesn't look all that bright.
After years of American presidents championing new sanctions against Iran, the Obama White House is lobbying against any such steps. It's an attempt to buy time from a skeptical Congress, as negotiations with Iran get set to resume next Wednesday in Geneva. "Let's test how willing they are to actually resolve this diplomatically and peacefully," President Obama said Thursday. But the Israelis and even many of the president's allies in Congress aren't in a testing mood, and they could seek to bind the administration's hands even before talks fire up anew. Mixed signals out of Iran about how much the nuclear program has slowed down is complicating the early positioning.
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