Tales from the Trail

As Tea Party cranks up heat on Congress, poll shows public support waning

The Tea Party is coming to Washington to turn up the heat on the Congress — just as a new poll finds that public support for it has waned.

Members of the conservative Tea Party movement plan to hold a rally on Thursday outside the U.S. Capitol, urging Republicans to stand firm in their showdown with Democrats over proposed spending cuts.

While the Tea Party helped Republicans win power in last year’s elections, nearly half of all Americans now have an USA-POLITICS/unfavorable view of it, according to CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released on Wednesday.

The Tea Party’s 47 percent unfavorablity rating is up four points since December, and represents an increase of 21 points since January 2010, the poll said.

That drops the Tea Party into the same disapproval range as the Democratic and Republican parties, whose unfavorable ratings are each 48 percent. The Tea Party’s favorable rating of 32 percent is down five points since December.

Conservative challenger daubs John McCain “Avatar” blue in primary attack ad

Avatar_DrudgeBannerAn attack ad this week daubing Arizona Senator John McCain with blue face-paint like a cobalt-toned creature from the sci-fi blockbuster film ”Avatar” triggered a row in the desert state’s increasingly heated Republican primary race.

Fiery conservative challenger J.D. Hayworth launched the ad this week attacking McCain as a fake conservative, with a tag line that reads “John McCain, nominee for Best Conservative Actor.”

The ad, showing a slightly uneasy looking McCain tinted blue, channels the 3-D epic “Avatar” about the battle for survival of a turquoise-hued alien species, which is up for a Best Picture Oscar at this weekend’s Academy Awards. In the political spectrum, blue represents the Democratic Party.

Bush, Cheney meet for first time since leaving office

Former President George W. Bush and his former vice president, Dick Cheney, got together Thursday for the first time since they left office in January 2009.

The meeting took place at Cheney’s house in McLean, Virginia, just three days after the former vice president suffered a mild heart attack and was hospitalized overnight. An ABC News camera captured the moment.
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“Mr. President, welcome,” Cheney said as Bush stepped from the back of a sport utility vehicle.

“Looking good,” Bush said.

“Holding up alright,” Cheney replied.

“Looking good,” the former president said again as the two shook hands warmly.

Conservative Rubio pulls ahead in Florida Republican primary

USA-Politics/Crist

Conservative Republican Marco Rubio is building a lead over moderate Governor Charlie Crist in Florida’s Republican Senate primary, a contest highlighting the perils facing party moderates in this rambunctious election year, a poll shows.

A Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely Republican primary voters released this week showed Rubio, a former Florida House Speaker, with 54 percent support against Crist’s 36 percent. A poll in January had Rubio ahead by 13 points.

The primary race has echoes in Arizona, where veteran Senator John McCain faces his strongest challenge yet from fiery conservative J.D. Hayworth, who is attacking his “moderate record” on taxes, social issues and the bank bailout.

Clinton open to coffee with Palin

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is open to having coffee with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, whose new book about the 2008 presidential campaign is stirring controversy.

“I absolutely would look forward to having coffee,” Clinton said from Singapore  Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Clinton told ABC’s “This Week” that she would look forward to having a chance to actually get to meet Palin.

Palin: Ready to shake things up in New York

Sarah Palin on Thursday endorsed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman over Republican Party choice Dede Scozzafava in a special congressional election in upstate New York that has the GOP divided.

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“I am very pleased to announce my support for Doug Hoffman in his fight to be the next representative from New York’s 23rd Congressional district. It’s my honor to endorse Doug and to do what I can to help him win,” Palin said in a statement posted on Facebook.

“The people of the 23rd Congressional District of New York are ready to shake things up, and Doug Hoffman is coming on strong as Election Day approaches!” she added.

from FaithWorld:

Obama evokes church/state divide at National Prayer Breakfast

Religion's role in U.S. politics was on full display on Thursday as President Barack Obama spoke and prayed at the annual National Prayer Breakfast.

Obama, an adult convert to Christianity, used the occasion to announce that he will be establishing a White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. This will replace or be an extension of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives established by former President George W. Bush, who was strongly supported by conservative Christians.

Some of Obama's remarks about the new office are sure to raise eyebrows in those conservative Christian circles. For example:

from FaithWorld:

U.S. ideology stable, “culture trench warfare” ahead?

The U.S. Democratic Party has gained a larger following over the past two decades but America's ideological landscape has remained largely unchanged over the past two decades, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. You can see the analysis here.

What is of interest for readers of this blog may be the implications of this "cultural trench warfare" -- with neither side gaining much ground from the other -- for red-hot social issues such as abortion rights and the future prospects for both the Republicans and the Democrats.

"The Democratic Party's advantage in party identification has widened over the past two decades, but the share of Americans who describe their political views as liberal, conservative or moderate has remained stable during the same period. Only about one-in-five Americans currently call themselves liberal (21 percent), while 38 percent say they are conservative and 36 percent describe themselves as moderate. This is virtually unchanged from recent years; when George W. Bush was first elected president, 18 percent of Americans said they were liberal, 36 percent were conservative and 38 percent considered themselves moderate," the report, released late on Tuesday, says.