The Note: Opposite Day On The Campaign Trail?

Sep 21, 2010 9:21am

ABC’s Michael Falcone and Amy Walter report:

Obama To Liberals: ‘Wake Up!’ — Voters To Obama: ‘Wake Up!’ At a Democratic National Committee fundraiser last night an angsty-sounding President Obama issued a warning to frustrated liberals: “Folks wake up! This is not some academic exercise. As Joe Biden put it, Don’t compare us to the Almighty, compare us to the alternative.” But, as ABC’s Jake Tapper reports, the angst went both ways on Monday. At a televised town hall-style meeting in Washington the president was confronted by frustrated voters, including Velma Hart, a self-described middle-class American. “Quite frankly, I'm exhausted. I'm exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are right now,” Hart told Obama. “I have been told that I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I'm one of those people. And I'm waiting, sir. I'm waiting.” Not exactly the sound bite the White House was hoping for in the closing weeks of the fall campaign season.

Odd Couplings. It was a day and night for double takes. Was that President Obama heaping praise on Pennsylvania Senate candidate Joe Sestak — the same Joe Sestak that the White House once tried to push out of the Democratic primary in favor of Sen. Arlen Specter? Was that Republican-turned-independent New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg hosting a fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid? Was that the Republican-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce offering up an endorsement of Democratic West Virginia Senate hopeful Joe Manchin? All true and all pairing off is about gaining an edge during a midterm season that seems to prove daily that anything is possible and conventional wisdom is often wrong.

Obama & Sestak. In the City of Brotherly Love last night, Obama showed some affection for Sestak: “In me, he’s got a friend. And I’m not the only one. Look, this is a friendly crowd. Everybody here loves Joe.” The president, who was speaking at a Philadelphia fundraiser for the Democratic Senate contender, laid it on even stronger: “Everybody has been talking about insiders in Washington. Well, Joe is not one of the insiders who’s been part of the problem. Instead, he’s been solving problems in Washington.” It was a far cry from the primary season when the White House, using Bill Clinton as a go-between, tried to tempt Sestak to drop his Senate bid in order to smooth the path for the Democrats’ chosen candidate, Sen. Specter. Sestak, of course, refused and the rest is history. Now the Pennsylvania Congressman is battling former GOP Rep. Pat Toomey, who appears to have an edge in the latest poll. And, to make matters even more awkward, Specter, who was spotted on the tarmac in Philadelphia with Obama but did not attend last night’s fundraise, declined to answer a reporter’s question about how Sestak was doing with his campaign. “I’m late for the squash court,” was all Specter would say.

Bloomberg & Reid. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been wading deeper into national electoral politics lately, and his latest venture on Monday was on behalf of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The mayor hosted $1,000-per-ticket event for Reid who is locked in a tight contest with Tea Party-backed GOP Senate candidate Sharron angle in Nevada. Bloomberg has been hedging his bets during the election cycle, lending his support to candidates from both parties. Last week, Bloomberg traveled to Providence, R.I. to endorse former Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee, another former Republican, who is an independent candidate for governor. NOTED: Besides the odd-couple politics of the Bloomberg-Reid event, there was Reid’s odd comment. According to Politico’s Maggie Haberman, Reid reportedly called Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who was at the fundraiser, the “hottest member.” Haberman reports: “The comment prompted Gillibrand to turn red, according to the sources, and created a bit of stir among the small crowd there.”

Joe Manchin & the Chamber of Commerce. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which by all accounts has been working hard to get more Republicans elected to the Senate in November (the group has endorsed Marco Rubio in Florida and Carly Fiorina in California, to name just two of their favored candidates), endorsed a Democratic Senate hopeful on Monday, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin.  “From cutting taxes on businesses and workers, to supporting common sense energy policies, Joe has been an independent voice in West Virginia,” Lisa Rickard, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber, said in a statement. Manchin also got has the backing of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce over his Republican opponent John Raese. Team Manchin said the endorsement was a “blow” to Raese because he comes from the business community, while the Raese camp shot back, characterizing the Chamber’s backing as an “insider” move, the Charleston Gazette reports.

Bill Clinton & Obama. “He was against him before he was for him,” The New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg and Kate Zernike point out today, noting that in “the final weeks of the 2010 midterm campaign, Mr. Clinton is stumping hard to help his onetime foe — and has emerged as one of the most important defenders of President Obama’s Congressional majorities.” Clinton was at it again in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America” today. "It’s O.K. to be mad,” Clinton said, but urged voters to “make a choice based on what we should do know and who's more likely to do it.” Clinton on Obama: "It's the similarities between us that's getting him in trouble." Clinton on Palin: “I do think she’s a resilient character. And we may be entering a sort of period in politics that’s sort of fact free, where the experience in government is a negative,” he told Stephanopoulos.

ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Jonathan Karl and Rick Klein interview Colorado GOP Congressional hopeful, Ryan Frazier, who is vying to unseat Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter in the state’s competitive 7th district. Frazier, 33, a city councilman from Aurora, Colo. has been keeping pace with Perlmutter’s fundraising and he boasts an impressive resume, including service in the U.S. Navy. Watch LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.

From Gaga To Capitol Hill. Though all eyes may have been, momentarily, on pop star Lady Gaga, who appeared at a rally in Maine on Monday to push for the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, attention shifts today to Capitol Hill today where Democrats are trying to come up with the votes to start debate on a defense bill that includes the DADT repeal. Getting rid of the controversial policy would give a much-needed boost to Democrats, who are looking for sweeteners to rally the base before Election Day, but as ABC’s Matthew Jaffe and Devin Dwyer report, they may have a rough time with Sen. John McCain threatening to filibuster the bill: “Democratic supporters of the bill say it's unclear they have the 60 Senate votes needed to override McCain, despite unprecedented popular and legislative support for allowing openly gay and lesbian individuals to serve in the military. … ‘This is turning legislation related to our national defense and military preparedness into a vehicle to force a partisan agenda through the Senate, often on a party-line vote,’ said McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. ‘Their desperation — because they see a Nov. 2 election coming up — is palpable.’”

 

THE BUZZ

Wither The American Dream? A new ABC News/Yahoo poll finds that just half of Americans say there is still such a thing as the American Dream. “Perhaps not all that bad, given the economy's condition,” writes Gary Langer in his analysis of the poll. “But 43 percent say this basic principle of grade-school civics once was true, and isn't any more. And 4 percent, confirmed curmudgeons, say it never was.” More findings: “For all their economic gripes, 52 percent of Americans say they'd rather have President Obama than his predecessor in control of economic policy, vs. 35 percent who'd prefer to have former President Bush in charge."

O’Donnell On Ethics Charges.  Delaware GOP Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell, said there is “no truth” to allegations that she misused funds from an earlier campaign after the watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed a complaint against her on Monday. "Why are you listening to a liberal organization in the first place?" she told CNN on Monday night. CREW’s complaint alleges that $20,000 of O'Donnell's spending in 2009 and 2010 was illegal because O'Donnell was not running for office at the time.

THE NUMBER: $10.9 million

The amount of money that the Democratic National Committee raised in August, besting the Republican National Committee, which took in $7.9 million . More on the latest numbers form from the Washington Post: “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee brought in $8.3 million, besting the National Republican Congressional Committee's $6.6 million raised during the last month. The DCCC's haul broke a four-month streak where the organization had been outraised by the NRCC. On the Senate side, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $7.4 million as compared to $6 million collected in August by the National Republican Senatorial Committee.”

NOTED               

 Murkowski On The Air. Sen. Lisa Murkowski who launched a write-in candidacy last week in an effort to hold on to her U.S. Senate seat in Alaska after being defeated in the GOP primary by Tea Party upstart Joe Miller, is going on the air with ads to support her bid. Politico’s Shira Toeplitz, hears from Murkowski campaign spokesman Steve Wackowski that the “campaign will premiere television and radio spots, although he would not divulge the size of the ad buys.”

 

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