Obama Joins Boxer’s Fight in California: Republicans Running Close but Must Overcome Divisions

By Jonathan Blakely

Apr 19, 2010 8:49am

By Teddy Davis: The political spotlight falls today on the California Senate race as President Obama travels to Los Angeles to raise money for Sen. Barbara “Don’t Call Me, Ma’am” Boxer (D) and the Democratic National Committee. The president is scheduled to take part in two events – one at the California Science Center and one at the Natural History Museum. According to an informed Democratic source, tickets range from $100 to $17,600. The events are expected to raise between $3 – $3.5 million total for both events (that money will then be split between Boxer and DNC). If the GOP is going to recapture control of the Senate in November, it is going to have to win in Blue States like California. But as the LA-bound Adam Nagourney pointed out recently in the New York Times, “before Republicans get a clear shot at Mrs. Boxer, they will have to overcome deep divisions within their own party — divides that reflect both the grass-roots energy surging through the conservative movement and the tensions between the party’s moderate and conservative wings.” The three Republicans vying for a chance to take on Boxer are: Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard; Tom Campbell, a law professor and former congressman; and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore the self-described “toast of the Tea Partiers.” Boxer was re-elected in 2004 by 20 points but this time finds herself in a potentially competitive race. According to a non-partisan Field Poll conducted last month, Boxer was running even with Campbell and Fiorina: (Campbell 44, Boxer 43) (Boxer 45, Fiorina 44). Campbell, who supports abortion rights and same-sex marriage, believes that his moderate-to-liberal social profile would allow him to turn a race with Boxer into a fight over who is tougher on spending. The problem for Campbell, however, is that his stances on abortion and marriage and previous support for permitting localities to experiment with the distribution of heroin could keep him from capturing the nomination. He is also potentially vulnerable in the GOP primary on the tax issue having favored higher state taxes to resolve the state’s budget gap. Fiorina is able to invest her own resources into a Senate race but will be attacked relentlessly in a general election by the well-funded Boxer for having received a $21 million “golden parachute” following her departure from Hewlett Packard. DeVore has the backing of Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and the Tea Party Express PAC, but as a down-the-line conservative, Boxer would portray him as out of step with California. Republicans are planning to push back on the president’s visit to California by portraying him as more interested in the state’s well-heeled donors than in the state’s 12.6 percent unemployment rate. For a sense of what the neglect argument looks like, check this out from the Los Angeles Times: “Obama visits California, but only for money — again” Financial Regulatory Reform: “With the Senate scheduled to begin debate on a financial overhaul bill this week, the fraud suit against the Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs has emboldened Democrats to ratchet up pressure on Republicans who oppose the Obama administration’s proposal,” reports the New York Times. Oklahoma City: 15 Years Later: Former President Bill Clinton pens an op-ed for the New York Times on the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing. During an interview on ABC’s “This Week” with Jake Tapper, Clinton said that Rush Limbaugh’s claim that the former president was setting the stage for violence “doesn’t make any sense.” Clinton also said on ABC’s “This Week” that President Obama’s health-care win made him feel like TR to Obama’s FDR. Politics of VAT: President Obama’s economic team is looking for ways to reduce the US deficit to 3 percent of gross domestic product, from 10 percent, within a decade. A New York Times story by John Harwood indicates that “one way to reach that 3 percent goal, by the calculations of Mr. Obama’s economic team: a 5 percent value-added tax, which would generate enough revenue to simultaneously permit the reduction in corporate tax rates Republicans favor.” Keying off of Harwood’s reference to “the calculations of Mr. Obama’s economic team,” Grover Norquist’s conservative anti-tax group is now challenging President Obama to release the reported VAT calculations or to deny such calculations exist. Politics of Gun Control: In a full page ad in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch, families of the Virginia Tech victims issued a letter to United States Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner of Virginia. The letter asks Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., an outspoken advocate of gun rights, to honor his commitment, allegedly made last year in a private meeting with the families, to require background checks on all sales at gun shows.  The letter also asks Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., to qualify his position on closing the Gun Show Loophole.  The Gun Show Loophole allows gun sales made at gun shows without background checks. View the print ad HERE. Tuesday is the 11th anniversary of the Columbine shootings. 2010: The Doctors Are In: “Forty-seven physicians — 41 Republicans and six Democrats — are running for the House or Senate this year, three times the number of doctors serving in Congress today, according to a USA Today review. 2012: Later today, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) endorses Marco Rubio for US Senate in Tampa. On Friday night, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) told 16,000 evangelical Christian women attending a conference in Louisville, Ky., that the US needs to get back to its Christian roots and rejected any notion that “God should be separated from the state.”   Former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) launched an anti-ObamaCare group over the weekend and will be in Iowa on Tuesday as he continues to test the 2012 waters. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) lands on the cover of Newsweek but maintains that he won’t run for president in 2012. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour meet with advisers in Jackson on April 8 for a six-hour meeting that included talk of a 2012 presidential bid, reports Politico’s Jonathan Martin. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) tells Iowans for Tax Relief that it’s time for Republicans to “rise up” this November.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., raised nearly $2.7 million in the first three months of the year for his political committee — almost as much as the groups of prospective rivals for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee brought in combined. Note, however, that Gingrich’s group, American Solutions, has a major fundraising advantage over the others. As a so-called 527 group, it can accept unlimited contributions from people and corporations. The groups fronted by Romney, Palin, and Pawlenty, on the other hand, are federal political action committees subject to contribution limits of $5,000 per-person-per-year and barred from taking corporate cash.  Top Line: Today on the “Top Line” political Webcast: Third Way’s Matt Bennett and National Journal’s Erin McPike will be interviewed by ABC’s Jonathan Karl and Teddy Davis.
Noon ET at ABCNews.com. The Kicker: "I think to worry about 2012 is a disservice to the American people.”
–Former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) discussing his new group, “RevereAmerica.org,” on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” as he prepares to head to Iowa.

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