Tales from the Trail

This time, some Democrats are embracing “Obamacare”

 

Fierce opposition to President Barack Obama’s healthcare bill helped propel Republicans to big victories in the 2010 mid-term elections, when they won a majority of seats in the House of Representatives and cut into the Democratic majority in the Senate.

But this year, at least some Democrats are embracing the healthcare plan – touting their support for its popular provisions and attacking Republicans for opposing measures that polls show big majorities of Americans supporting.

North Dakota’s former Democratic attorney general, Heidi Heitkamp, who is running for the Senate, responded to a wave of attack advertisements against her over the healthcare law by creating an emotional advertisement of her own relating her own recovery from breast cancer to her support for the law.

“Twelve years ago I beat breast cancer. When you live through that, political attack ads seem silly,” she said in the advertisement, in which she speaks directly to the camera, wearing a soft blue jacket over a simple white top.

“I would never vote to take away a senior’s healthcare or limit anyone’s care. There’s good and bad in the healthcare law and it needs to be fixed,” she continues in the short spot, in which she criticizes her Republican opponent for failing to support the law.

Will the “War on Women” have legs in November?

Democrats should not hold back from the “war on women” in campaigning for the Nov. 6 election, Senator Jeanne Shaheen said, even if the economy will be on voters’ minds as they head to the polls.

“I’m old enough to remember the ’50s and before … contraceptives were widely available to people, what my mother and other women were dealing with,” the New Hampshire Democrat said on Tuesday at the Reuters Washington Summit. “I’m old enough to remember what it was like before Roe v. Wade, and I think access to reproductive health services for women is critical.  And I don’t think women in this country are planning to go back.”

Polls generally show Democratic President Barack Obama with an advantage over Republican candidate Mitt Romney among women voters, but some recent surveys have shown Romney gaining ground. Democrats have sought to maintain their advantage by advertising what they call a Republican “war on women,” which casts the party as insensitive on issues such as equal pay for women, healthcare, protection against domestic abuse and access to contraception. 

Are Republicans also losing the Asian vote?

Republican struggles winning over Hispanic-American voters have been well documented this campaign season, but there is some concern about another fast-growing ethnic group – Asian Americans.

Tom Davis, a former congressman from Virginia, discussed the Republican Party’s difficulties connecting with Hispanic voters, but said it could change that. ”They are a group that is certainly gettable,” the moderate Republican said.

However, Davis said his party should also seek to win over Asian voters.

“More troubling for Republicans is the fact they’re not winning Asians. Asians are culturally much more like Republicans. They tend to be entrepreneurial, they tend to be very upwardly mobile groups and they ought to be winning those groups in spades,” Davis said at the Reuters Washington Summit.

Outside campaign groups can coordinate – with each other

 

Super PACs and other outside campaign organizations are barred from coordinating with the candidates they support or political parties, but there is nothing keeping a Super PAC from coordinating with another Super PAC, or several Super PACs. And indeed, some of them do.

Jonathan Collegio, director of public relations for American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, Karl Rove’s conservative Super PAC and non-profit, said outside groups on the right work together all the time.

“There’s a lot of coordination among outside groups on the right, all of which is allowed,” he said at the Reuters Washington Summit on Monday. “Starting in 2010, Crossroads started bringing together a lot of the organizations that were going to be spending a lot of money in the issue and election debate. The goal there was to maximize the efficiency of what everyone was doing.”

Romney changes style – not substance – on immigration

Mitt Romney took a dramatically softer tone on immigration in his speech to Latino officials on Thursday than his harsh rhetoric on this issue during the primary campaign, but the likely Republican presidential nominee’s remarks fell flat with immigration advocates, who want him to offer solid policy suggestions and are wary of his past tough line on the issue.

Romney tacked hard to the right on immigration during his nomination fight, as he sought to woo conservative Republican primary voters from rivals who took more moderate positions. During the primary campaign, Romney endorsed an Arizona state law giving the police expanded powers to stop anyone suspected of being in the country illegally, which many Latinos view as racial profiling. He also called for the “self-deportation” of illegal immigrants and promised to repeal the Dream Act, which would have provided a path to citizenship for some young illegal immigrants brought into the country as children, if the measure were to pass Congress.

But the audience for the general election on Nov. 6 is more moderate on immigration than Republican primary voters. Romney also came under pressure to offer proposals on immigration when President Barack Obama announced a plan on Friday that will let hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people to avoid being shipped home.

Romney offers donors chance to “Dine with the Donald”

Barack Obama’s re-election campaign has raised millions of dollars by auctioning off dinners with the president, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton and Hollywood stars – and Democratic supporters – George Clooney and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Now his rival Mitt Romney is getting into the act with some Republican celebrity love – offering the chance to “Dine with the Donald,” that is, Donald Trump — and Mitt — to anyone who donates $3 or more.

“Jets owner Woody Johnson recently previewed a rival event to the George Clooney one that President Obama’s campaign did, and this appears to be it – a raffle for a dinner with Mitt Romney and Donald Trump,” Politico reported on Thursday.

West Virginia primary ballot included felon, Virginia’s lacked candidates

 

A convicted felon not only made West Virginia’s Democratic primary ballot, he won 72,544 – or 41 percent - of votes in the contest against Democratic President Barack Obama, and could receive at least one of the state’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention this summer.

The inmate, Keith Judd, is serving a 17-1/2 year sentence at a federal prison in Texas for making threats at the University of New Mexico in 1999.

Judd’s performance was taken as a sign of deep animosity in West Virginia toward Obama, who was handily defeated in the state’s 2008 primary by Hillary Clinton and lost there by 13 percentage points to Republican John McCain in the general election. Joe Manchin, the state’s former governor who is now a Democratic senator, declined to say on Tuesday whether he had voted for Obama.

Washington Extra – The Pentagon and the poor

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) shows a copy of the "FY2013 Budget - The Path to Prosperity" during a news conference at Capitol Hill in Washington March 20, 2012. U.S. House Republicans placed a major election-year bet Tuesday on a deficit-slashing budget proposal the party hopes will win over voters and quell any concerns about the plan's most controversial element - a sweeping revamp of Medicare. REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana

Never ones to shy away from a budget fight, the current crop of House Republicans pushed ahead with their latest deficit-reduction ideas – ones that weren’t exactly designed to win bipartisan support. 

By throwing last summer’s delicately-crafted budget deal overboard, this updated plan mandates deeper cuts to social programs for the poor while adding money to military accounts. Food stamps, child tax credits and Medicaid healthcare would all feel the knife, while the Pentagon would escape all of the cuts that otherwise would begin triggering in January.

Washington Extra – An anniversary observed

Troops at Bagram Air Base listen to U.S. President Barack Obama speak during his visit to Kabul, May 2, 2012. Earlier, Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement at the Presidential Palace. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

One year ago, President Barack Obama was secretly holed up in the White House Situation Room monitoring what turned out to be the successful U.S. military operation to kill Osama bin Laden.

A year later, he spent the day on another secret mission: flying aboard Air Force One to Afghanistan, the country from which bin Laden hatched his Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Washington Extra – Kids, cover your ears

It’s true, you learn much more out in the real world than you do in school. Just look at the kids who today attended the State Department press briefing for Take Your Child to Work Day. Instead of lessons in nation-building or food aid, they were treated to a discussion of prostitutes and strip clubs. 

With Washington gripped by a widening Secret Service scandal, reporters just couldn’t steer clear of the salacious story. Soon after spokeswoman Victoria Nuland saluted the handful of underage observers, the questions moved to charges that Secret Service agents and other government workers cavorted with strippers and prostitutes while on overseas assignments. Nuland lamented the topic du jour and one Department employee jokingly moved to cover his daughter’s ears.

The roughly half-dozen kids were models of decorum. There they sat, on the sidelines of the briefing room, staring down at the floor. None asked a question. But they might have been thinking “Mom, Dad, when we get home tonight, you’ll have some explaining to do.”