Tales from the Trail

Pelosi takes on Chamber of Commerce over campaign spending

The phrase “Buy American”  may be taking on a new connotation in the rough-and-tumble battle over corporate financing and the midterm congressional elections.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been pumping lots of cash into the campaign, received multimillion dollar donations from some major companies as it fought against government policies, the New York Times reported Thursday.

pelosi“They give new meaning to the term “Buy American”…  they want to buy these elections,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said when asked about the article in an MSNBC interview.

“If they win — which I fully intend to stop them from doing — but if they were to win, it would mean that we are now…  a plutocracy and oligarchy,” Pelosi said. “Whatever these few wealthy, secret, unlimited sources of money are can control our entire agenda,” she added.

The Chamber is tax-exempt and not obligated to disclose it donors.

The New York Times says what it found offers a glimpse of how the business network raised money as “it ramped up an orchestrated campaign to become one of the most well-financed critics of the Obama administration and an influential player in this fall’s Congressional elections.”

Washington Extra – Take Five

Washington Extra is going to let our correspondents do the talking today. So instead of listening to my meanderings, check out these five stories:  SWITZERLAND/

-          Mark Hosenball’s special report on Christine O’Donnell and her money problems. Her tense relationship with mainstream Republicans and her floundering campaign have led big-time donors to shun her, albeit quietly. Read here.

-          John Whitesides’ story on how big Republican gains in the governors’ races on November 2 could dramatically reshape the U.S. political landscape for a decade, giving the party an edge on next year’s redrawing of congressional district boundaries and in the 2012 presidential race. Here.

Midterm election enthusiasm being lost on the young

In the end, it’s all about turnout.

President Barack Obama has been trying to rev up young voters, who played a strong role in his own election, to encourage them show up at the polls on Election Day through appearances on MTV, next week’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” and an interview with “Rolling Stone” magazine. USA-POLITICS/

But a Harvard University poll of voters under age 30 finds midterm enthusiasm waning as the Nov. 2 election approaches.

“In most election cycles, it is expected that interest in voting will increase as the election draws near — in the 2010 midterm elections, interest in voting among Millennials (18-29 year olds) has been decreasing over the course of our last three surveys,” the report says.

Media relations eclipse rhetoric as bare-knuckle politics

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The campaign rhetoric couldn’t be harsher, what with the talk about who’s a whore and who’s a nut job and who cheated on who’s ex-wife. (Remember when ‘who’ was just the guy on first?)

But nowadays the real bare-knuckle politics appears to be between the candidates and the news media.

Take the Senate campaign in Alaska. Tea Party Republican Joe Miller won’t talk to the press about his past as a public official. And when a journalist wouldn’t stop asking about it over the weekend, Miller’s private security team intervened.

Political insider still “in” in New York governor’s race

carl1New York voters are plenty angry. But apparently they’re not so comfortable with “scary-angry” and that could be costing Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino some support, The New York Times reports.

According to a New York Times poll released on the eve of their Monday night debate, Democrat Andrew Cuomo has opened a big lead over Paladino, 59 percent to 24 percent.

Fifty-nine percent of voters said Paladino did not have the right temperament and personality to be a good governor.  Fifty-five percent said the real estate developer who’s never held public office did not have the right kind of experience.

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.”

Are Obama’s approval ratings that bad? Maybe not, relatively speaking

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President Obama’s approval rating has been below 50 percent for most of 2010. But are things really so bad? Gallup suggests they’re not, relatively speaking.

In fact, Democratic incumbents who’ve shunned or tried to avoid associating with Obama may have denied themselves the chance to firm their own party base for an election contest that’s all about turnout.

The Obama approval rating, at the moment, stands in the mid- to low-40s and foreshadows stiff losses for congressional Democrats on Nov. 2. 

Washington Extra – Slipping away

congress1The Democrats’ chances of retaining control of the House of Representatives are slipping away. Our latest Reuters/Ipsos poll suggests that Republicans are poised to win around 227 seats and Democrats about 208 seats in next month’s election. Unemployment is top of the agenda for voters, and there is no good news coming on that front between now and November 2 (the next reading on the jobless rate doesn’t even come until the Friday after the election). That means there is very little chance that Democrats can pull off a late surge.

Also slipping away is President Barack Obama’s approval rating, to a new low in our poll, with much of the decline coming from his own Democratic supporters. His handling of the economy remains a leading cause of the drop. Again, any hope of energizing the Democratic base now looks slim.

More interesting is the race for control of the Senate. Ipsos says the poll numbers suggest Democrats will win 52 seats to 48 seats for the Republicans, the same margin predicted by the poll of polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. But a number of races are still very close.

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.

Reuters-Ipsos Poll: Obama approval drops to 43 pct driven by Democrats

President Barack Obama’s poll numbers keep going down, and it’s not the Republicans who are to blame.

USA/Obama’s approval rating fell to a new low of 43 percent since he took office, down from 47 percent last month, according to a Reuters-Ipsos national poll.

Ipsos pollsters say it appears that much of that drop comes from Democrats whose approval of Obama fell to 70 percent from 78 percent last month.