Tales from the Trail

Great gift ideas for the political animal

The Vietnam War caused the biggest political division in the United States since the Civil War. It also radicalized a generation and drove a president from office. Yet Democrats are using a photograph of two of the Vietnam War’s leading characters to try to rally the party and raise money.

The fund-raising outfit that helps elect Democrats to the U.S. Senate has opened the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Online Store “just in time for the holidays.”
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Yes, there are the typical campaign buttons you’d expect. But besides being the first in your neighborhood with a fashionable DSCC mug, this year’s holidays also can be celebrated with a framed photo of President Lyndon Johnson, conferring with his secretary of defense. That would be Robert Strange McNamara, an architect of the American troop escalation in Vietnam.

“Every purchase helps get Democrats elected,” the DSCC says.

Nineteen Democratic-held seats are up for grabs in elections next year,  out of 38 races, and Democrats will have to fight hard not to lose seats in the 2010 mid-term elections.

Republicans shouldn’t feel left out in the cold on gift-giving. There are plenty of websites offering  up ideas that showcase their stars.

For those who really want to get into the holiday spirit, the Sarah Palin wine glass or “can cooler” might be right up their alley.

The First Draft: What if Congress turned Republican on Obama?

A Republican-controlled Congress could be a real possibility for the second half of President Barack Obama’s four-year term, according to the latest Gallup poll.
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The poll of 894 registered voters suggests Republicans would win the U.S. House of Representatives by 48 percent to 44 percent if the 2010 congressional election were held today.

The Republican lead is well within the poll’s 4 percentage point margin of error. But the results indicate that Republicans might have some momentum after gaining steadily on Democrats since July.

People who participated in the survey were asked only about their local House districts, so the results mean little for that other congressional chamber, the U.S. Senate. US POLITICS

New Jersey goes Republican too, bad night for Democrats

USA-HEALTHCARE/LUNCHESNo matter how they slice and dice it, Democrat losses in the New Jersey and Virginia governor races are bad news for the party of President Barack Obama as he tries to move an ambitious agenda forward.

Congressional Democrats are already jittery about mid-term elections in 2010 when the party of a first-term president usually loses seats. And Tuesday’s Republican wins will only scare them more.

Even before the New Jersey race was called for Republican Chris Christie over incumbent Governor Jon Corzine, Democrats were postulating that this would be the race to watch rather than the Republican win in Virginia where Bob McDonnell beat Democrat Creigh Deeds.

Lieberman likely to back some Republicans in 2010 election

Senator Joe Lieberman, a former Democrat-turned-independent, is at it again — comforting Republicans and irritating Democrats.

This time Lieberman is doing it by saying, “I probably will support some Republican candidates” in next year’s congressional election –  even though he’s still a member of the Senate Democratic Caucus. OBAMA/

“I’m going to call them as I see them,” he said in an interview with ABC News that the network posted on its web site on Friday.

Obama: “Skinny but tough”

obamatoughPresident Barack Obama had a message for his political friends and foes on Monday — “just because I’m skinny doesn’t mean I’m not tough.”

After weeks in which he has been angrily criticized by some on the right, to the point of creating a poster image of him with a Hitler mustache, Obama told a Democratic fund-raising event in Miami that some of his supporters have been expressing concern to him.

“I’ve tried to explain … just because I’m skinny doesn’t mean I’m not tough. I don’t rattle. I’m not going to shrink back, because now is the time for us to continue to push and follow through on those things that we know have to be done but have not been done in decades,” he said.

Gallup poll: conservatives outnumber moderates and liberals

What’s in a political label?

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Well Gallup has found that more Americans identify themselves as conservatives than those who call themselves moderate or liberal.

On the question of political ideology, 40 percent of those surveyed said they were conservative, 36 percent were moderate, and 20 percent liberal.

“This marks a shift from 2005 through 2008, when moderates were tied with conservatives as the most prevalent group,” Gallup says.

from Summit Notebook:

Senator McCain: Republicans in search of message to woo angry voters

The Republican Party is in search of a message to attract voters who are angry with just about everything -- healthcare, the U.S. deficit, Wall Street bonuses, increased unemployment and home foreclosures to mention a few.

"There's a lot of anger out there and there's a lot of frustration," said Republican Senator John McCain, who was defeated by Democrat Barack Obama for president last year.

Thousands of people are turning up at townhall meetings and "tea party" protests against government policies, he noted.

Hey Washington, it’s still the economy

Politicians who have a red circle around Election Day in November 2010 would do well to have a look at a new poll by Public Strategies Inc. and Politico. USA-ECONOMY/

It says voters choose the economy by a two-to-one margin over other issues in determining how they will vote in that midterm congressional election.

The numbers:

–45 percent consider the economy the most important issue in deciding their vote.
–21 percent chose government spending.
–20 percent picked a U.S. healthcare overhaul.
–9 percent chose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as their big issues.
–4 percent picked climate change.

Democratic strategist: don’t bet against Harry Reid

A top Democratic strategist has a tip for political gamblers: Don’t bet against Harry Reid.

OBAMA/Polls show the embattled Senate majority leader in jeopardy of being rejected by voters in his home state of Nevada for a fifth, six-year term. But Robert Menendez, the Senate Democratic campaign chief, said he expects Reid to pull through next year.

“I’m convinced that Harry Reid will win,” Menendez told reporters on Tuesday at the headquarters for the Senate Democratic campaign committee. “I would not bet against Harry Reid.”

It’s never too early to think elections…

It’s more than a year away, but the White House is already making clear that President Barack Obama will not be on the sidelines of the 2010 elections. OBAMA/

Just about everything that happens in political Washington next year will have an eye toward November 2010 when all the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, one-third of the Senate and some state governorships will be up for grabs.

Republicans will be hoping to break the Democratic triple crown in Washington — control of the House, Senate and White House (of course the White House is taken until 2012).