Tales from the Trail

Another one heads for the exit: Senator Ensign won’t seek reelection

UPDATES with Ensign announcement.

At this rate, the Senate will be overrun by freshmen in 2013.

USA-POLITICS/ENSIGNRepublican Senator John Ensign, once considered a potential presidential candidate in 2012, said he won’t seek reelection next year.

The decision comes nearly two years after he admitted to having an affair with a female staffer whose husband also worked for him.

“There are consequences to sin,” he said at a news conference in Las Vegas. Ensign said the campaign was likely to get especially “ugly” and he did not want to put his family through that.

Ensign becomes the third Senate Republican to announce he won’t seek reelection, following Assistant Senate Republican Leader Jon Kyl of Arizona and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas.

Five members of the Senate Democratic caucus have said that they won’t seek another term next year: Democrats Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, Jim Webb of Virginia, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico and independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

Washington Extra – 9 below

Don’t underestimate the PoliPsych impact of the unemployment rate falling below 9 percent for the first time in nearly two years.

That number is the one which resonates with the public when candidates talk about jobs on the campaign trail. USA-ECONOMY/JOBS

The economy is still shaking off the doldrums so the White House did not want to be seen as publicly reveling in what must have been a privately gleeful moment after the 8.9 percent February unemployment rate was revealed.

Washington Extra – Trying it out

It’s a bird, it’s a plane… oh wait… sorry, just some trial balloons floating around…

President Barack Obama took a harsh tone on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi at today’s news conference.  USA/

The way he repeatedly emphasized “COLONEL” was an effective reminder that Gaddafi was not an elected leader like a president, but rather a military man who took power through a coup.

Robert Pozen says not running for Senate – but perhaps could be convinced

Boston correspondent Ross Kerber interviewed mutual fund industry veteran Robert Pozen and they talked politics.

Pozen says he’s not running so far for the Senate seat from Massachusetts once held by the late Edward Kennedy. But he does appear to be positioning himself as a possible centrist candidate for Democrats mulling how to defeat Republican Senator Scott Brown in next year’s election. USA/

“I’m not running for Senate unless the Democratic Party asks me to, if they want someone who is socially liberal and fiscally disciplined,” Pozen told us in an interview at his office at MFS Investment Management, the Boston fund company where he is now Chairman Emeritus.

Obama tweaks Republicans at governors lunch

President Obama leaped into political frays on a whole bunch of different levels when he addressed state governors at a White House luncheon.

Of singular interest was his mention of Republican Mitt Romney, a potential 2012 presidential candidate who is OBAMA/spending time these days defending the healthcare overhaul he executed as governor of Massachusetts.

The plan has been criticized by Romney’s potential 2012 rivals as little different from the Obama plan that Republicans want to repeal.

2012 White House race may lose one tradition: candidates from the Senate

Barack Obama did it. So did Joe Biden, John McCain, Hillary Clinton and scores of others. They all ran for the White House while sitting members of the U.S. Senate.

The 2012 presidential campaign, however, may feature for the first time in more than a half-century no U.S. senators. USA/

John Thune had been the only current senator openly considering a run. But he announced on Tuesday that he’s decided instead to stay put.

2012 Republican sweepstakes: Thune out, waiting for Huntsman

The Republican field for the 2012 presidential race has not yet crystallized, but it will start taking shape over the next few months with every announcement from a (real or rumored) potential presidential hopeful.

One to cross off the list — Republican Senator John Thune said he won’t be running.  He posted the announcement on his Facebook page, saying he plans to continue representing South Dakota in the Senate.

USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANS“There is a battle to be waged over what kind of country we are going to leave our children and grandchildren and that battle is happening now in Washington, not two years from now,” Thune said. “So at this time, I feel that I am best positioned to fight for America’s future here in the trenches of the United States Senate.”

Will the real Sarah Palin please stand up

There can be no denying that Sarah Palin is a rock star among conservatives. Even a fake version managed to gain some attention at a conservative conference that heard from some potential presidential wannabes.

USA-POLITICS/A woman who resembled the former Alaska governor — similar hairstyle, glasses, red outfit — got a warm welcome as she wandered around greeting people during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.

One observer found at close range it was obvious she wasn’t the real former Republican vice presidential candidate, but not a bad likeness form a little distance.

Pawlenty calls Tea Party push for more cuts “good news”

USA/House Republican leaders may be concerned about turmoil among newly elected Tea Party colleagues who want bigger spending cuts. But potential Republican White House hopeful Tim Pawlenty sees only good news.

As the Conservative Political Action Conference prepares to hear from 2012 White House Wannabes, the former Minnesota governor tells NBC’s Today show that conservatives of every stripe should be proud.

“The good news is, and this is I think the story for CPAC and for conservatives more broadly, reducing government spending and dealing with the deficit and the debt is now mainstream,” he says.

Webb’s retirement could loosen Democratic grip on U.S. Senate

Things just got a lot harder for Democrats.

First-term Senator James Webb announced on Wednesday he will not run for re-election in Virginia next year, making Republicans the early favorite to recapture the seat the Democrat narrowly won in 2006. MYANMAR-USA/

The decision by Webb, an author and a former secretary of the Navy, set off a celebration among Senate Republicans and a scramble to find a replacement among Democrats with no clear good options.

The name most frequently mentioned was former Governor Tim Kaine, head of the Democratic National Committee, who says he has no interest in the seat. Other possibilities among Democrats include former Congressman Tom Periello, who lost in November after one term, former Congressman Rick Boucher and former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe.