Washington Extra – T minus 4

October 29, 2010

There’s something about the number four.

It’s FOUR days to the midterm elections which still leaves plenty of room for last-minute commotion.

For example, in the Florida (yes, Florida) three-way Senate race, former President Bill Clinton ended up having to issue this statement today: “I didn’t ask Kendrick to leave the race, nor did Kendrick say that he would.”

BASEBALL/Comedian Jon Stewart caps off his weeklong visit to Washington, which included the interview with President Barack Obama on “The Daily Show,” with his Rally4Sanity (there’s that FOUR) on Saturday.

And then on Sunday, the two former Presidents Bush will throw out the ceremonial first pitch in Game FOUR of the World Series.

Since the younger Bush was part-owner of the Texas Rangers, there’s little doubt which team he’s rooting for – hint, it’s probably not the San Francisco Giants.
Of course, Sunday is also Halloween so beware of the FOUR pounds of leftover candy…   

Here are our top stories from Washington today…

A Marshall Plan for America’s housing woes

Add it all up and there’s the potential for the U.S. housing market to languish in a stupor for years. But there could be a way out. Reuters found, after talking to nearly two-dozen housing experts, mortgage traders, lawyers, securities experts and others, there is broad agreement that a fix must allow many borrowers to stay in their homes, compensate disgruntled mortgage investors and allow banks to take write down loans without causing a repeat of the financial crisis of 2008.

For more of this special report by Matthew Goldstein, read here.

Suspicious packages found on US-bound cargo planes

U.S. and British security officials searched United Parcel Service cargo flights after suspected packages were found in Britain and Dubai as part of an international alert over parcels sent from Yemen. “We know that these packages originated in Yemen and we are looking into potential links to terrorism,” a U.S. official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

For more of this story, read here.

On economy, Republicans win the messaging war

Republicans have successfully blamed Democrats for bank bailouts, deficits, and joblessness although some of those policies and problems originated under President Bush. “The Republicans have just managed the PR campaign better,” said Gary Segura, political science professor at Stanford University. “The Obama political messaging machine, which was so effective during the ’08 campaign, has been a disaster since they’ve been in the White House.”

For more of this analysis story by Jeff Mason, read here.

U.S. election trends could be evident early

The battle for control of the Congress on Tuesday promises to stretch deep into the night or beyond, but some of the earliest results could give big clues about the outcome. For Republicans to win a majority in the House of Representatives and make big gains in the Senate as expected, they must capture dozens of endangered Democratic seats in the Northeast and Midwest where polls are the first to close.

For scenarios on trends and results of key races, by John Whitesides, read here.

Boehner eyes taking U.S. House and taking on Obama

The man who may soon tie President Obama’s legislative agenda into knots touts his own ability to cross party lines to get things done. But questions remain on whether John Boehner, who once ran a small business in America’s heartland, may in fact be a partisan warrior unwilling to work with Obama to shrink the budget deficit, create jobs and compromise on tax cuts.

For more of this story by Thomas Ferraro, read here.

Perry has big lead in Texas governor’s race-poll

Texas Governor Rick Perry, a conservative Republican who has tapped into a deep anti-Washington mood, has a double-digit lead over Democratic challenger Bill White, according to a new poll. Perry, already the longest-serving governor in Texas history, has drawn from the rich vein of conservative discontent with President Obama and Democrats in Congress. In his campaign, Perry has rarely mentioned White, instead heaping criticism on Obama.

For more of this story from Dallas, read here.

U.S. GDP growth tepid in Q3, more Fed easing seen

Economic growth edged up as expected, but not enough to chip away at high unemployment or change perceptions of more monetary easing from the Federal Reserve next week. “The economy is recovering, but recovering at an anemic pace, and this certainly will help the Fed in its deliberations on Tuesday,” said one analyst.

For more of this story by Lucia Mutikani, read here.

HHS offers grants for early US insurance exchanges

States, as well as coalitions of states, will compete for two-year “Early Innovator” grants, which will help defray the cost of developing information technology infrastructure for establishing insurance exchanges. The models developed by grant recipients will then be made available for other states to use. “The states have told us that they don’t want to all have to reinvent the wheel on each aspect of the exchange,” an HHS official said.

For more of this story by Emily Stephenson, read here.

What we are blogging…


Meek stays in Florida Senate race despite Clinton overtures

This much is clear. Democrat Kendrick Meek is not dropping out of Florida’s three-way Senate race. What’s not so clear is what happened before Meek summoned reporters to his campaign headquarters for a late evening news conference to deny reports former President Bill Clinton had asked him to quit the race. “Any rumor or any statement by anyone that says that I made a decision to get out of the race is inaccurate, at best.”

For JoAnne Allen’s full post, read here.

Twitter opinion analysis shows even split between parties

Democrats grasping for positive news might take hope from a shift in the tone on Twitter. Our analysis of some 1.6 million tweets since August, using sentiment analysis software from market research firm Crimson Hexagon, shows a more favorable trend for President Obama’s party in recent weeks.

For Frank Tantillo’s full post, read here.


From elsewhere…


Halloween ghost hunters seek old soldiers in Gettysburg

Days before Halloween on a darkened street Dwight Stoutzenberger aimed his digital camera at a wall not far from where a guide was telling ghost stories to a group of tourists. Tour guide Ann Griffith said the battle, in which some 7,000 soldiers were killed, explains why modern Gettysburg is populated with the ghosts of those who died horribly, or whose bodies were hurriedly buried in shallow graves during the summer heat. “A lot of them don’t know they are dead,” she explained. “A lot of them still think they are fighting the biggest battle of their life.”

For more of this story, read here.


Movie “Kill Octopus Paul” takes look at soccer betting

Shortly after the passing of the world’s beloved eight-legged soccer soothsayer, a Chinese film called “Kill Octopus Paul” is challenging the truth behind the oracle octopus who correctly predicted World Cup results. The fictional thriller follows a group of Chinese soccer enthusiasts who travel to South Africa to uncover an international betting cartel conspiracy. The plot twists and turns as viewers find out that the legend of Paul, the visionary mollusk, was fabricated and manipulated to aid a match-fixing scheme and international betting ring.

For more of this story, read here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Mike Blake (fans with fake beards hold sign referrig to bearded San Francisco Giants’ Wilson before World Series game)

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