The Note: Of Tactics And Taxes

Nov 9, 2010 9:05am


DRAMA ON THE HILL. Two unfolding dramas are taking place on Capitol Hill this week and next. We're already in the midst of the first — the ongoing struggles over House leadership positions among Democrats and Republicans — but buckle up and get ready for the second — the coming debate over taxes. The leadership fight is in high gear with Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., battling Rep. James Clyburn for House minority whip. Hoyer officially announced his bid in a message last night: “Over the past several days, I have talked to most of my Democratic colleagues in the House. I have received support from across the breadth of our Caucus to remain in the second ranking position of our Democratic leadership team,” Hoyer wrote. ABC’s John R. Parkinson reports: “An aide close to Hoyer confidently insists the majority leader ‘has the votes’ to defeat Clyburn. … House Democrats will most likely hold their leadership elections next Wednesday, Nov. 17th, during new member orientation week and as lawmakers return to Washington to begin a lame duck session of Congress.”

But the internal party wrangling is about to face some competition for the spotlight from the divisive back-and-forth over whether or not to extend the expiring Bush-era tax cuts. ABC’s Matthew Jaffe writes that both sides will are likely to be “talking compromise”: “Last week President Obama first sounded a conciliatory tone in his post-election press conference at the White House, a message he reiterated over the weekend. ‘I recognize that both parties are going to have to work together and compromise to get something done here.’ … But Republicans have held their ground, arguing against raising taxes for anyone as the country emerges from a severe recession. With Democrats now weakened by the midterms' resounding defeat that saw them lose the House altogether and six seats in the Senate, a compromise now appears likely.”

BUSH REWIND. In a wide-ranging television interview last night, former President George W. Bush defended some of the most controversial decisions of his presidency while offering up a few moments during his eight years in office he said he wished he could do over. In particular, Bush criticized what he said was a “lack of crisp response” to Hurricane Katrina at “all levels of government,” saying that his initial decision to fly over New Orleans aboard Air Force One was a “huge mistake.” Bush told NBC News’ Matt Lauer that Katrina gave “critics an opportunity to undermine the presidency.” And in one of the most emotional moments of the interview, the former president expressed deep disgust at singer Kanye West’s declaration in the days after the hurricane that "George Bush doesn't care about black people. “He called me a racist,” Bush said in the interview. “I didn’t appreciate it then, I don’t appreciate it now. It’s one thing to say ‘I don’t appreciate the way he’s handling his business.’ It’s another thing to say, ‘this man’s a racist.’ I resent it. It’s not true, and it’s one of the most disgusting moments of my presidency.” The interview was timed to coincide with the release of Bush’s new book, “Decision Points,” part autobiography, part political memoir.

WRITING THEIR WAY TO 2012. And former President Bush is hardly the only high-profile Republican on the book circuit these days. A handful of potential 2012 presidential candidates and rising stars of the Republican Party are also unveiling new books and taking to the road for promotional tours. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was one of the first out of starting gate on Monday with the release of “Valley Forge,” a new historical novel he co-authored that focuses on George Washington and the bone-chilling winter of 1777. Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin’s new book, “America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag,” is set to hit store shelves on Nov. 23. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s book, “Leadership and Crisis” is due out next week. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose name has been tossed around as a possible 2012 contender, is in the midst of a high-profile tour to promote his new book “Fed Up: Our Fight to Save America from Washington,” which goes on sale Nov. 15. (Perry insists that he is not running for president.) Timed to coincide with the end of one election cycle and the symbolic beginning of another, these new releases are not only an opportunity for potential presidential contenders to move some merchandise, but also to tour the country, spreading their message and taking the pulse of the electorate. Notably, Gingrich’s book tour will take him to three stops in Iowa this month — West Des Moines, Ames and Cedar Rapids.

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos sat down with Gingrich on “Good Morning America” today to talk politics and his new book. Here’s George’s interview: and an excerpt from “Valley Forge”

OBAMA ABROAD. ABC’s Sunlen Miller reports from the president’s 10-day trip to Asia: “President Obama’s short time in Indonesia may be a little shorter due to the ash cloud from the volcanic Mount Merapi. While flying on Air Force One from New Delhi to Indonesia this morning White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that the anticipated departure on Tuesday could be moved up by a couple hours due to forecasting that the ash cloud could disrupt air traffic again. The president was to have arrived in South Korea on Wednesday night. … The largest concern is the president’s major speech to the Muslim world planned tomorrow morning at the University of Indonesia among a slew of other events.”


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Rick Klein and Jonathan Karl interview New York Congressional candidate Randy Altschuler who’s race with incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop is too close to call. Another twist: actor Alec Baldwin reportedly wants to challenge Altschuler if he ends up winning the contest. Klein and Karl also welcome The Hill’s Shane D’Aprile. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.

WASHINGTON’S ODD COUPLE. Tune into ABC News “Nightline” tonight for the first ever joint television interview from abroad with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. ABC’s Cynthia McFadden joins the pair in Melbourne, Australia. A preview from ABC’s Melinda Arons and Alice Gomstyn: “Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is a Republican insider who has served eight presidents but shuns politics. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is a Democrat and one-half of perhaps the most political couple on earth. Historically, the country's Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense have often been at each other's throats, competing for budgets, political turf and influence. Clinton and Gates say their experience has been the opposite. ‘We didn't get the memo about how we were supposed to be diametrically opposite on everything,’ Clinton said.”



MAKING CONCESSIONS. GOP candidate Tom Foley conceded the Connecticut governor's race to Democrat and former Stamford, Conn. Mayor Dan Malloy on Monday. The National Journal’s Jamie Shufflebarger reports: “The AP had initially called the race for Malloy, but withdrew its call on Wednesday after officials from the city of Bridgeport were slow to report their final tally. ‘I think what happened in Bridgeport should be looked in to,’ Foley said in Monday's presser, calling the rest of the state's counting ‘very reliable.’ Foley continued: ‘Had it been closer, and it could have been, it might have called into question the result.’”

Meanwhile, in Virginia’s 11th Congressional district, Republican Keith Fimian plans to concede to Democratic incumbent Gerry Connolly today. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Connolly's margin over Fimian in the 11th District race is about 0.4 of a percentage point out of more than 225,000 votes cast. That qualifies under Virginia law for a court-supervised recount at state expense. Fimian's close finish came as three other Virginia Republicans unseated Democratic House incumbents, including 14-term Rep. Rick Boucher, D-9th.”

ARNOLD ON POT. In an appearance on the “Tonight Show” on Monday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said a failed state ballot initiative that would have eased restrictions on the possession and growing of marijuana was a bridge to far for most voters. But, in general, he said: “No one cares if you smoke a joint or not.” More from the AP: “The Hollywood actor-turned-governor signed a law five weeks ago that made possession of up to an ounce of marijuana the equivalent of a traffic ticket. It carries a penalty of no more than a $100 fine and no arrest or criminal record.”



The approval rating of New Jersey governor and emerging GOP star Chris Christie, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released today. While 51 percent approve of the job he is doing, 38 percent disapprove. Forty-eight percent of New Jersey voters say he is “confrontational,” while 43 percent say he is “honest and refreshing.” Another interesting tidbit from Quinnipiac Polling Institute director Maurice Carroll: “But all that Christie-for-President chatter in the national news media? New Jerseyans think it's more political gossip than a serious possibility. Only one in five think he might run and most doubt that he's ready for the White House.”



@jaketapper: President Obama to Highlight to the Muslim World Indonesia's Example of Democracy and Pluralism >

@AlexConant: David Yepsen says T-Paw is "competent and cool"

@GOPLeader: RT @WSJWashington GOP Leaders Give Freshmen More Say #pledge #teaparty

@RalstonFlash: The $31M behind Angle — her $ plus outside — was largest per vote spending in country.

@ThePlumLineGS: Whatever happened to Heath Shuler's vow to run for minority leader? The Blue Dog Dem that didn't bark:


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