Tales from the Trail

McCain, J.D. Hayworth both claim Tea Party backing

Both Arizona Republican primary challenger J.D. Hayworth and moderate incumbent John McCain claimed the support of Tea Party activists on Monday in their knock-down, drag-out fight for to be their party’s pick to run for the U.S. Senate in the state.
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Hayworth, a former U.S. Congressman who has campaigned as the “Consistent Conservative,” claimed the backing of a statewide coalition of Tea Party activists and “like minded” conservatives in his flagging challenge to unseat four-term incumbent McCain in the August 24 primary.

Hayworth, a talk show host, has lambasted centrist McCain as a liberal on immigration and fiscal issues. On Monday, he trumpeted the support of 16 Tea Party organizations from across the state, posting testimonials on his campaign website.

“We, as conservative leaders and individuals in Arizona, representing thousands of members …  are looking forward to supporting Mr. Hayworth’s campaign in the general election,” Annette McHugh, the leader of the Tea Party Patriots of Glendale, said in an endorsement.

McCain, a war hero who lost to Democrat Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, has represented Arizona in the U.S. Senate since 1987. He has run to the right in this year’s Republican primary to head off a strong challenge from Hayworth.

On Monday, the McCain campaign shot back with a ringing endorsement of its own from Tea Party chapters in the state, praising McCain as a champion in the battle to curb wasteful pork barrel spending, and for combating Obama’s healthcare reforms and stimulus spending — all acid tests of ideological purity among conservatives.
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“Senator McCain led the fight in Congress against President Obama’s stimulus package, and led the fight on the floor of the Senate against Obamacare. … Throughout his entire career (he) has never requested a pork barrel earmark,” said Yavapai Tea Party board member Jennifer Campbell.

Lights, action, cameras, U.S. congressional hearings!!!

TV cameras zoomed in on corporate executives squirming, a top federal regulator promising answers and U.S. lawmakers venting anger.

All of this and more unfolded during a series of nationally broadcast dramas on Tuesday as two congressional panels held hearings on the spreading BP oil spill, and a third probed last week’s mysterious collapse on Wall Street.

Such high-profile investigative proceedings have been a regular feature on Capitol Hill for years.

Obama says Washington vitriol is still a solvable problem

President Barack Obama thinks Washington’s political climate of vitriolic partisanship could start to wane over the next few years. Republicans just have to calm down, and Democrats have to stop playing the same silly political games as their opponents.

“A party that’s out of power, often times in those first few years of being out of power and reacting very negatively, their base ends up being very agitated. And it may take the next election or the next presidential election before things settle down,” the president told NBC’s Today show.

One problem is the media, and not just the mainstream media with its 24/7 news cycle but the cable-TV and radio talk shows, the Internet and the blogosphere — “all of which tend to try to feed the most extreme sides of any issue instead of trying to narrow differences and solve problems.”

No matter how you slice it, Obama’s on a roll

NCAA/What does he do for an encore?

President Barack Obama started the week with a victorious end to the healthcare angst. And ended it with a win on START.

For a president who entered his second year with a Nobel Peace Prize but scrounging for a mega-accomplishment to put in the Democrats’ corner in an election year, this week handed him a pair of major victories.

But there is still plenty of time for things to go awry before November — think Kansas in the NCAA basketball tournament. Or for things to go even better than hoped — think Butler.

Frum Obamacare to Waterloo: Where do Republicans find themselves?

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Have Republicans really met their Waterloo? George W. Bush’s former speech writer David Frum thinks so. And he may have a point, though making it in public has proved costly.

Only six months ago, Republican opposition to healthcare reform was whacking away gleefully at President Barack Obama’s approval ratings. An army of conservative Tea Party activists were flooding Washington’s National Mall in a show of force against the Obama legislative agenda. And Republican nice guy Scott Brown was on his merry way to a Senate upset in bluest of blue Massachusetts.

Now healthcare reform is law and newly energized Democrats are moving to counter those evils of Wall Street that voters love to hate. The grass-roots army has brought Republicans one or two liabilities. And Obama’s job approval rating shows signs of firming up.

Reid to Republicans: healthcare reform is now law of the land

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proudly proclaimed on Wednesday that the “historic healthcare reform is now no longer a bill it is the law.”

Someone please tell Republicans.

They are planning a flurry of amendments to try to stall a package of changes being considered by the Senate that Democrats want to make to the legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama.

House Democrats demanded the changes, which among other things would close the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap for the elderly.

Palin using her star power against selected House Democrats

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Sarah Palin really has the 2010 congressional elections in her cross hairs now.

As President Barack Obama signed healthcare reform into law, the potential 2012 Republican White House wannabe was out on Facebook with her own campaign to unseat 20 House Democrats who voted for the legislation. The page identifies targeted congressional districts via a map of the United States dotted by white and red cross hairs.

“We’re going to fire them and send them back to the private sector, which has been shrinking thanks to their destructive government-growing policies,” she says in a rallying note to supporters that also seeks donations for her political action committee, SarahPAC.

Palin’s aim is to go after House Democrats who voted for Obamacare and represent districts that she and John McCain carried in the 2008 presidential race.  USA-HEALTHCARE

Does Obama’s healthcare victory point to future legislative strategy?

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When President Barack Obama signed healthcare reform into law today, was he also endorsing the preferred White House strategy for legislation to come?

After months of political wrangling and face-reddening rhetoric all around, Obama’s sweeping overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system became reality without a single Republican voting for it.

Democrats say that’s because the Republicans want to render Obama’s presidency a failure. They point to a recently published account of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s strategic game plan to deny Democrats any support on big legislation.

Democrats lead on fundraising for 2010, but the gap may be closing

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If new campaign dollars were votes, Democrats would be leading Republicans in the early returns for the 2010 congressional elections by about 7 percentage points overall. But that’s with Republicans closing the gap and eight months to go before Election Day.

A report by the Federal Election Commission says the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pulled in $183 million in new donations during 2009, the first half of the 2009-2010 congressional election cycle.

That put Democrats about 9 percent ahead of their Republican counterparts – the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee – which raised $168.6 million together.

Are Republicans admitting defeat before the timorous Democrats?

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Republicans who urged anti-healthcare supporters to help them “kill the bill” only days ago suddenly seem to be shouting “repeal the bill,” as if Democrats are truly destined for victory. Yet their Democratic opponents in the House seem too scared to say ‘yea’ without more than a little hand-holding.

Dozens of Republican lawmakers and candidates are reported to have signed a pledge to repeal President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan, should the GOP take control of either the House or Senate in November.  The Washington Post says 37 House and Senate members and 163 congressional candidates have already signed the pledge.

That’s an agreement to overturn legislation that hasn’t even seen sunlight. And it comes less than two days after fiscal conservative activists kicked off an 11th hour bid to drown the Democratic cause in a torrent of phone calls, e-mails and congressional office visits.