The Note: A Place Called Kokomo

Nov 23, 2010 9:07am

By MICHAEL FALCONE and AMY WALTER

CAR SALESMAN-IN-CHIEF. President Obama and Vice President Biden travel to Kokomo, Indiana today to tout the benefits that the economic stimulus and auto industry bailout brought to this community, but it’s going to be a hard sell. By all accounts Kokomo, where the president last visited in April 2008, represents a success story for the administration. The president and vice president will tour the Chrysler Indiana Transmission Plant II. Thanks to “some of the restructuring and some of the funding for retooling and modernization,” according to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, the town “was able to retain more than a thousand workers, rather than seeing its plants shuttered.” In Kokomo, the White House also noted, “Unemployment is down nearly 8 percent to 12 percent as of September 2010 and the downtown has experienced significant revitalization.” But the Associated Press’ Jim Kuhnhenn matches the good news Obama and Biden will be talking about today with a reality check: “While Obama is embarking on a mission to change the public's mood, the story is much the same elsewhere in auto manufacturing states: The industry might be on the mend, but neither Obama nor the Democrats are reaping the benefits. “You could talk to people in Michigan who would say, `Yes, I work at GM, my job was saved because the administration saved GM, but you know what, I'm voting Republican because I'm mad about the economy,’” said Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, who has polled in the state for departing Gov. Jennifer Granholm.” http://wapo.st/fIa9OT

PAT-DOWN POLLING. Despite the public outcry over naked image, full-body scanners at airports, Americans still favor their use by a 2-to-1 margin, according to the results of the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.  According to ABC News analyst Gary Langer, “Views are more divided, though, on the Transportation Security Administration's new pat-down procedures, to be used on people who decline the full-body scan, or whose electronic screening indicates a need for further examination. While 48 percent see the new pat-downs as justified, 50 percent say they go too far — including a majority, 54 percent, of people who fly at least once a year. And strength of sentiment runs negatively on this issue: Among all adults 37 percent are strongly opposed, vs. 29 percent who strongly support the pat-down rule. … In addition to privacy, health impacts are a concern, or at least an open question, with a strong relationship to views on the new scanning machines. Fifty-two percent of Americans don't think the scanners raise a serious health concern — but that leaves 48 percent who either think they may pose a health risk (35 percent) or who are unsure (13 percent).” http://bit.ly/f4Nl9u

In case you missed it, watch Jake Tapper’s report on airport pat-downs and the new poll results from “World News”: http://bit.ly/ieJ4Ra

GRIDLOCK HAS FANS. Note to the incoming Congress: “As many Republicans favor political gridlock as oppose it, complicating the lives of leaders of the victorious party in this month's congressional elections,” according to a new ABC News/Yahoo! News poll. “Republican registered voters in fact divide evenly, 42-43 percent, on whether gridlock is a bad thing because it prevents good legislation from being passed — or a good thing, because it blocks bad laws. The split underscores many Republicans' skepticism of active government. But it may make it difficult for GOP leaders to push their own legislative agenda. And it raises questions about the durability of the party's appeal to independent registered voters, who favored Republicans by a record margin Nov. 2, but who see gridlock as a negative by a 2-1 margin, 57-28 percent. Democratic registered voters even more broadly see gridlock as a negative, and among all registered voters combined it's viewed negatively by 56-31 percent, again nearly 2-1.” http://bit.ly/dYcpAl

SARAH PALIN SPEED READ. Sarah Palin is kicking off a 16-stop cross-country tour to promote her new book, “America by Heart: Reflections on Faith, Family and Flag," which officially goes on sale today. Her first stop is in Phoenix. In the book, Palin offers a full-throated critique of President Obama on almost every issue — from the economy to social policy to civil rights — casting herself as a "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" character drafted by the American people to take on the president and other conservative foes. "The epitome of progressive thinking was Barack Obama's promise, just before the 2008 election, that 'we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America,'" Palin writes in the book, a copy of which was obtained by ABC News. "I guess you could say that he warned us! But the problem is that Americans don't want a fundamental transformation of their country." Palin portrays herself as a modern-day Jefferson Smith, the character played by Jimmy Stewart in the iconic film, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," which she says is her favorite movie. Palin draws on an eclectic mix of source material, quoting from the Bible, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, speeches of President Calvin Coolidge and John F. Kennedy, lines from movies like "The Incredibles" as well passages from the works of the economist Milton Friedman and the ancient philosopher, Plato. Like her own path to stardom, Palin straddles the border between politics and entertainment, delivering a lengthy explication of American exceptionalism, railing against the Fox television show, "American Idol," praising "Mama Grizzly" politicians like South Carolina's Nikki Haley, Minnesota's Michele Bachmann, New Hamsphire's Kelly Ayotte and celebrating the movie "Juno" as a film with a redeeming moral message about abortion. http://bit.ly/fIdSDl

 

ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Rick Klein sits down with Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland and the outgoing chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, about the way ahead for Democrats in the House. Also on the program today, Jane Sasseen Yahoo! News Editor in Chief for Opinions and Politics. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://bit.ly/ABCTopLine

 

THE BUZZ

AXE OUT, PLOUFFE IN? Politico’s Glenn Thrush reports on movement at the highest levels of the White House hierarchy: “David Axelrod’s long-anticipated departure from the White House is happening a little earlier than expected – right after President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech in late January or early February – so the  senior adviser can ‘recharge his batteries,’ according to a senior administration official. David Plouffe — Obama’s 2008 campaign manager and most skilled organization builder — will be joining the West Wing staff in early January, also a bit earlier than predicted, to help a reeling White House cope with the biggest midterm rebuke any president has suffered in decades.” http://politi.co/fgSfJS

BACHMANN BACKSTORY. Why did the Minnesota congresswoman and Tea Party favorite decide to pull out of the race for GOP Conference Chair. In the latest episode of the “Political Punch” Web cast, Bachmann tells ABC’s Jake Tapper: "I thought I had a lot to offer … I'd been an effective speaker on the national and local level on a lot of issues that people really cared about. So I threw my name in the ring, when Mike Pence pulled his name out and then it became clear pretty quickly that I wasn't the leadership pick and my competition was.” Tapper writes: “Does she think the fact that the House GOP leadership didn't support her is indicative at all that they don't ‘get’ the importance of embracing the Tea Party movement as much as they need to?  ‘Well, it's a good question and people have asked me that,’ she said. ‘And what I do is I presume the best of leadership and I take them at their word.’” http://bit.ly/hJtZc4

THE UNDECIDEDS. One more for the GOP. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Texas conceded his previously undecided race late Monday night Republican Blake Farenthold. The margin was 648 votes. National Journal’s Tim Sahd notes: “The Republican is one of this cycle's most unlikely winners. Even he didn't fully expect to win, despite late polling from his campaign that showed him leading the South Texas incumbent. ‘Early on in the race, I had a nightmare that I won’  Farenthold told a local TV outlet on Election Night. ‘And now it's like, 'Now what do I do?’ … With this race in the books, Republicans have now pushed their net House gains to 62 seats this cycle. In addition, there are four remaining House contests that are still in doubt. Republicans lead in one (NY 25), while Democrats lead in CA 11, CA 20 and NY 01.” http://bit.ly/hXNYTD

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@Berman14: Before dawn outside Barnes and Noble in Phoenix…the line to see @SarahPalinUSA. (About 35 people)http://plixi.com/p/58658941

@nationaljournal: Real turkey time: @njhotline gives us the 10 Worst Ads of 2010.http://bit.ly/hFlYcK

@michaelluo: Dem IE effort gets off ground, w/ a Kennedy as chair and $4 mill in pledges. http://nyti.ms/dJu3J5

@AlexPappasDC: FreedomWorks Matt Kibbe says Murkowski, if elected, should be punished by GOP leadership for running independenthttp://bit.ly/hxIEHu

mitchellreports: Just went thru security Reagan Natl no lines no fuss passengers, TSA trying to get thru it. Saw Tom Costello reporting live for @@Todayshow

 

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