Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – In the heart of Texas

President Barack Obama took his attack on the economic policies of George W. Bush to his predecessor’s home state of Texas today, at a pair of Democratic fundraisers.

OBAMA/But even as he hits the campaign trail in earnest,  we wonder how much use the president will be in boosting the electoral fortunes of his own party in November’s elections. For sure, the president will help enormously to bring in the bucks, but how many votes will he corral as well?

Many Democrats will want to keep their distance from a president whose approval ratings just keep falling. Bill White for one. The Democratic nominee for Texas governor declined an invitation to attend Obama’s  events, a decision the White House said it didn’t take as an insult.

Colorado holds two Senate primaries on Tuesday, and both are looking like close races with establishment favorites facing strong challenges from rising insurgents. The Democratic race pits Obama-backed candidate, Senator Michael Bennet, against former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who interestingly has been endorsed by Bill Clinton. But even in this Democratic primary, veteran local pollster Floyd Cirulli says Obama’s support “is not hurting Bennet, but he doesn’t really seem to be helping him either.”

David Axelrod told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that the White House was well aware Obama was more popular in some states and some districts than in others.  “Look, these candidates are going to make the decisions they think are best for them,” he said. “We wish them well.”

Reuters/Ipsos poll – Reid leads Republican rival in Nevada Senate race

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, one of America’s most powerful politicians, holds a narrow edge among likely voters in his re-election bid in recession-lashed Nevada, a Reuters-Ipsos poll said Tuesday.USA/

The struggling U.S. economy is paramount in voters’ minds as they look ahead to the Nov. 2 election in Nevada, with 74 percent citing the economy as their top concern, the poll of 600 Nevada voters done July 30-Aug. 1 found.

And Nevada’s high jobless rate of 14.2 percent and rising home foreclosures and bankruptcies appear to be taking their toll on Reid in his attempt for a fifth six-year term. Seventy-one percent of registered voters said the state is on the wrong track.

McConnell sees 2012 presidential race wide open, no Republican heir apparent

Who will lead the Republican Party in the 2012 presidential race?

USA/Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says plenty of Republicans will throw their hat into that ring, especially if Democratic President Barack Obama’s popularity stays on the low side.

What about Sarah Palin? The Tea Party favorite appears to be positioning herself for a possible run — she’s endorsing candidates in this year’s midterm elections and taking on Democrats when there’s an opening.

“I think she’s going to be one of a number of Republican leaders who are going to be looking at the presidential contest after the election,” McConnell said in a Reuters interview. “They’re all viable.”

House investigators recommend reprimand for Rangel

USA-CONGRESS/RANGELSome of Representative Charles Rangel’s colleagues thought the New York Democrat merited a reprimand rather than a more serious punishment of censure or expulsion for alleged violations of ethics rules in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The recommendation we had was a reprimand,” Representative Gene Green, who led the two-year House ethics committee investigation into Rangel, told reporters on Friday.

The investigation by a subcommittee of four members of the House Ethics Committee has ended and Rangel, 80, has been charged with 13 counts of violating House rules.

Obama swipes at “just say no crowd”

President Barack Obama in Detroit demonstrated what is sure to become a familiar theme in the run up to the November elections — Democrats painting Republicans with variations on the ”Party of No.”

OBAMA/Obama patted his policies on the back for keeping automobile jobs and plants open in Michigan — a state hard hit by the recession — and struck out at Republicans for standing in the way of progress.

In defending his handling of the auto industry crisis, Obama said some of the automobile jobs and plants would not have held on if it weren’t for the controversial government bailouts.

Boehner says lawmakers should expect to do more reading if he becomes House Speaker

Republican John Boehner wants you to know that if his party wins control of  the House of Representatives and he becomes the chamber’s next Speaker, things will be a lot different.

For starters, Boehner says lawmakers in both parties will get a better opportunity to actually read bills before they vote on them.

USA-HEALTHCARE/“One of the things that the American people are most fed up with is the practice of rushing massive, expensive bills to the floor before anyone has had a chance to read them,” Boehner said this week in looking ahead to the November election.

Republicans create caucus ‘to listen’ to Tea Party

There are scores of U.S. congressional caucuses that focus on specific issues — including ones to combat hunger and cancer, advance the arts, protect the environment and promote the rights of black, Asian, Hispanic and other Americans.

The conservative Tea Party movement scored a milestone on Wednesday in its drive to be heard in Washington when two dozen Republican members of the House of Representatives held the first meeting of the new Tea Party Congressional Caucus. USA-HEALTHCARE/

“We decided to form a Tea Party Caucus for one very important purpose, to listen to the concerns of the Tea Party,” Representative Michele Bachmann, chief organizer, told a Capitol Hill news conference afterward.

Obama may want to cover his eyes, poll numbers not good

A standard public line for presidents is that they don’t make policy based on opinion polls.

But we’re fairly certain no president likes to see his poll numbers drop. Well, President Barack Obama may want to cover his eyes for this one.

OBAMA/The latest Quinnipiac University National Poll found that Obama’s approval rating has dropped to a net low, with 44 percent saying they approve compared with 48 percent who disapprove of how he’s doing his job.

Gingrich chides Obama for acting like a teenager with credit card

Extending unemployment benefits is this week’s battleground for Democrats versus Republicans. USA/NRA

Democrats look set to push the legislation through the Senate with the help of newcomer Carte Goodwin of West Virginia. They hope to show voters in an election year that they are the party responding to the plight of the unemployed.

Republicans had blocked the measure, demanding cuts elsewhere to pay for the $34 billion price tag and prevent it from adding to the U.S. budget deficit. They want to show voters that they are the party of fiscal restraint.

Don’t tell anyone, but Pelosi upset her criticism of Gibbs leaked

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear she’s upset — “ticked off” — that her private criticism of White House press secretary Robert Gibbs leaked out. OBAMA/

That’s the word from one of Pelosi’s fellow Democrats who attended another closed-door meeting with her on Thursday, two days after her now well-publicized complaints about President Barack Obama’s chief spokesman.

“She said these meetings should be an opportunity for us to speak candidly with each other,” said the Democrat, asking not to be identified by name. “She was ticked off it leaked out.”