Tales from the Trail

California negative ad throwdown

Jerrymeg

Sarah McBride takes a look at the campaign ads in the California race.

California’s gubernatorial frontrunner Jerry Brown pledged Tuesday to remove all negative ads one week before the November 2 election, but only if his rival went along. Meg Whitman, the billionaire Republican with a big self-financed campaign, wasn’t willing to go quite that far.

At first, neither candidate seemed crazy about the proposal from Matt Lauer, moderator of the candidates’ on-stage conversation at the annual Women’s Conference in Long Beach, with current governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, sitting in the middle. As the audience clapped and cheered at the suggestion, the two hopefuls sat stonefaced on stage, their hands motionless in their laps.

“Sometimes negativity was in the eye of the beholder,” said Brown. But perhaps remembering his lead in the polls, he quickly turned generous and said he would if Whitman would.

Whitman, the former eBay CEO, came back with a counteroffer: she would take down ads considered personal attacks, but not those on the issues.

Then she started swinging hard. “I think it’s really important for people to understand what the track record was as governor,” she said, referring to Brown’s previous stint as governor. “Jerry Brown in many ways left this state in worse shape than when he found it. Before Brown could respond fully, Lauer jumped back in, saying he had to wrap up the session.

Washington Extra – The octopus is dead, long live the opinion pollster

We start this afternoon with the sad news of the demise of Paul, the psychic octopus who captivated the world this summer with his uncanny ability to predict the results of Germany’s World Cup soccer matches.

Fear not, though. There are other ways to divine the future, and especially the results of next week’s midterm elections.

GERMANY/But first of all Washington Extra would like to categorically deny that Paul, just before taking his last gulp of water, predicted that Republicans would win control of the House and Democrats would cling onto power in the Senate. It’s just not true. And if he did, he was only reading our poll data.

Bejeebers! A scary fiscal outlook and Tea Party politics

Tackling huge budget deficits and growing debt is essential for the United States to avoid a financial market crisis that would push interest rates higher and severely damage the U.S. economy, many economists have warned.

Compromise and statesmanship will be needed to cut spending and raise revenues to narrow the budget gap, and that might not be possible inUSA-ELECTIONS/TEAPARTY the current political environment, says at least one experienced budget expert.

“We’re certainly going to have a more fiscally conservative Congress next year,” Rudolph Penner, a former Congressional Budget Office director told a U.S. Chamber of Commerce forum.  “The Tea Party, if nothing else, has certainly moved both the Republicans and Democratic Party to the right.”

Gibbs is now predicting Dems will hold both chambers of Congress

White House press secretary Roberts Gibbs isn’t offering any more words of possible doom and gloom for fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill. 

Three months after riling Democrats by saying they may lose one chamber of Congress in the November 2 election, GibbsUSA/ said on Sunday that he expects them to keep both.

“Our candidates have done a remarkably good job in a tough, political environment,” Gibbs said. “I think that come election night, we’ll retain control of both the House and the Senate.”

When Harry Reid met Sharron Angle

Anyone expecting to see a smack-down in the desert would have been disappointed.
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The first and only debate in the high stakes Senate race between Nevada Democrat Harry Reid and Republican challenger Sharron Angle ended with both candidates still standing.

But there were plenty barbs as the Senate Majority Leader and the Tea Party-backed former state legislator met face-to-face Thursday night in Las Vegas.

In the hour-long debate, Reid called her “extreme.” Angle repeatedly referred to him as “Harry Reid” and portrayed him as a tax-raising, career politician.

A Social Security reality check for deficit hawks

President Barack Obama’s fiscal commission is expected to recommend changes to Social Security to help reduce the deficit when it issues its report in early December.FRANCE-PENSIONS/ But protests in France over pension reforms there could serve as a reality check to U. S. deficit hawks who want to raise the U.S. retirement age  and make other benefit changes to the popular  retirement plan.

While they may not go on strike or take to the streets in protest — like is happening in France over a plan to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62  –  older Americans are more likely to show up at the voting booth in November than other groups.

A new survey by the influential AARP, which advocates for older Americans and has 35 million readers for its magazine, shows that lawmakers who embrace deficit reduction  proposals that include cuts for Social Security may do so at their own peril.

Loss of U.S. jobs to China becomes powerful election issue

In Pennsylvania, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, Joe Sestak, accuses his Republican foe Pat Toomey of favoring China over hard-working Americans.

In a new website, the AFL-CIO pointedly tracks the loss of U.S. jobs to China and other cheap-labor countries.

With about a month to go more the Nov. 2 election, Democrats and their friends are pushing as a potentially pivotal issue the export of U.S. jobs.USA-CONGRESS/LEVIN

Voters may like the healthcare plan after all, poll shows

Pundits may want to reconsider the conventional wisdom that U.S. voters are sour on President Barack Obama’s sweeping healthcare overhaul, at least according to a new survey released Tuesday.

rallyA majority — 54 percent — of all voters said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported the healthcare overhaul, the Public Religion Research Institute found in its American Values Survey of more than 3,000 voters.

Among women voters, 60 percent said a candidates’ support for the new healthcare law made them more likely to vote for that candidate, Dan Cox, the institute’s research director, said.

A new wind blowing through Senate on climate change?

For anyone mulling the chances the U.S. Congress will pass a climate change bill next year, it might be worth having a look at Republican candidates who could end up serving in the Senate starting in 2011.

That’s exactly what the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund has done and if you’re an environmentalist, it’s notWEATHER ERNESTO a pretty landscape. 

“Nearly all (Senate Republican candidates) dispute the scientific consensus that the United States must act to fight global warming pollution,” the group writes in a posting.  

Bennet, Buck score wins in Colorado

In a primary drama that might have been subtitled “two presidents and a party,” incumbent Colorado Senator Michael Bennet won the battle for the state’s Democratic Senate nomination on Tuesday.

Bennet’s win was  a welcome victory for President Barack Obama who backed the incumbent who battled both anti-incumbent fever and a challenger, Andrew Romanoff, who had the endorsement of former President Bill Clinton.

On the Republican side, Tea Party-backed candidate Ken Buckbuck narrowly defeated former Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton. Buck, a former prosecutor, won despite being caught on tape complaining about Tea Party “dumb-asses” who question whether Obama was born in the United States. He will face Bennet in November.