Tales from the Trail

Who doesn’t want to be seen with whom?

Congress is in recess and lawmakers are gearing up for midterm elections in November.

The Republican National Committee decided to liven up a slow mid-August Monday with a video taking aim at Democrats who might not want to stand too close to President Barack Obama and his sagging approval ratings. 

It was done as a take-off on the Steven Slater exit from his job as flight attendant — showing Democrats in hotly-contested races sliding down an emergency chute from a plane that has Obama on board.

The video was timed to coincide with Obama’s three-day trip criss-crossing the country to attend fundraisers in Wisconsin, California, Washington, Ohio and Florida.

Wisconsin Democrat Senator Russ Feingold, who is in a tight Senate race, greeted Obama at the airport in Milwaukee.  A White House press pool report says that when a reporter asked Feingold whether he was reluctant to stand with Obama, the senator said, “Absolutely none. I’m pleased to stand with this president anytime and anywhere and defend what we’ve done and what we’re doing.”

Gay marriage ruling has California, and Democrat Jerry Brown’s Twitter feed, buzzing

Democrat Jerry Brown has long been an outspoken critic of California’s ban on same-sex marriages,  even refusing to Jerry_Browndefend the voter approved law known as Proposition 8  in court in his role as California’s attorney general  – a move that won the hearts of gay and civil rights activists even as it raised eyebrows among legal scholars .

So before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker even ruled on Thursday that gay marriages can resume next week, while those who oppose them appeal his earlier decision finding the ban unconstitutional, Jerry Brown the candidate for governor was Tweeting out his support:

“Hoping Judge Walker will allow same-sex couples in CA to marry while the Prop 8 case appeal is pending. We should find out before noon,” Brown (or someone on his staff) Tweeted about two hours before the ruling.

Republicans Portman, Kasich lead in Ohio races

Republicans Rob Portman, a former White House budget director, and John Kasich, a former House member, so far are leading in their races for new jobs in economically hard-hit and politically important Ohio.

That’s according to our new Reuters-Ipsos poll. OBAMA/

Portman leads Democrat Lee Fisher in the U.S. Senate race by 43 percent to 36 percent in the poll of likely voters, with less than three months to go until the Nov. 2 congressional elections.

Kasich has a 48 percent to 39 percent lead over incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland in the Ohio governor’s race.

Washington Extra – In the heart of Texas

President Barack Obama took his attack on the economic policies of George W. Bush to his predecessor’s home state of Texas today, at a pair of Democratic fundraisers.

OBAMA/But even as he hits the campaign trail in earnest,  we wonder how much use the president will be in boosting the electoral fortunes of his own party in November’s elections. For sure, the president will help enormously to bring in the bucks, but how many votes will he corral as well?

Many Democrats will want to keep their distance from a president whose approval ratings just keep falling. Bill White for one. The Democratic nominee for Texas governor declined an invitation to attend Obama’s  events, a decision the White House said it didn’t take as an insult.

Washington Extra

In the name of equal opportunities, after featuring Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Monday, today’s newsletter leads on his Democratic counterpart Harry Reid.
reid
Reid, our Reuters-IPSOS poll reveals, has two big problems as he aims for re-election in recession-hit Nevada in November. The first is the economy, the overriding concern of three out of every four registered voters – a proportion way higher than the national average.

The second is the enthusiasm gap, a problem for Democrats all over the country, with Reid’s supporters significantly less likely to vote than the Republican rank and file. Reid is comfortably ahead of Tea Party darling Sharron Angle among registered voters, by 52 to 36 percent. Among people who said they were likely to vote, the gap narrowed sharply, with Reid leading by just 48 to 44 percent.

One of the Democrats biggest problems has been convincing voters that the economic stimulus enacted last year actually helped. Ratcheting up the war of words, Republican leaders Tom Coburn and John McCain sent out a list of 100 spending projects they said were “stupid and inappropriate.”

All smiles at the White House, for a moment anyway

Earlier today President Barack Obama signed a law about prison sentences for possession of crack cocaine and powder cocaine and the photograph of the smiling group of people who supported the legislation gave us a brief pause.

The Democrats and Republicans gathered around the president in the Oval Office rarely agree on anything.  Let’s take a minute to dissect this photograph.

OBAMA

There’s Attorney General Eric Holder (pictured second from the left), a close confidante of Obama’s. But he has drawn intense criticism for his plan to prosecute the five alleged plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in a criminal court in the heart of Manhattan (now highly unlikely). He also has been lambasted by Republicans for affording full legal rights to terrorism suspects who have been arrested on U.S. soil.

Reuters/Ipsos poll – Reid leads Republican rival in Nevada Senate race

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, one of America’s most powerful politicians, holds a narrow edge among likely voters in his re-election bid in recession-lashed Nevada, a Reuters-Ipsos poll said Tuesday.USA/

The struggling U.S. economy is paramount in voters’ minds as they look ahead to the Nov. 2 election in Nevada, with 74 percent citing the economy as their top concern, the poll of 600 Nevada voters done July 30-Aug. 1 found.

And Nevada’s high jobless rate of 14.2 percent and rising home foreclosures and bankruptcies appear to be taking their toll on Reid in his attempt for a fifth six-year term. Seventy-one percent of registered voters said the state is on the wrong track.

Meg Whitman’s Facebook ad nets 20,000 clicks — and a message about jobs

USA/Republican Meg Whitman’s campaign says the results are in from her innovative Facebook “polling ads,” which asked Californians to choose the issue most important to them. The message came back loud and clear:  Jobs.

The Whitman campaign said its poll, which ran from July 27 to July 31, drew 20,000 Facebook respondents — with 42 percent of them saying that jobs were their number one priority in the 2010 governor’s race.  Not surprising at all in a state with double-digit unemployment.

Another 32 percent voted for fixing education in California, with 26 percent saying that cutting state spending was most critical.  Whitman, who has said that putting Californians back to work is the number one goal of her campaign, released the poll results in a Facebook video.

Rep. Waters accused of breaking House rules

Another leading Democrat in the House of Representatives stands accused of ethics violations and faces a public trial ahead of the November congressional elections.

maxine1Long-time California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, is accused of breaking ethics rules in setting up a 2008 meeting between a banker and then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. (See details here)

After a lengthy investigation of Waters, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (informally known as the House Ethics Committee) released a report on the findings on Monday.

Washington Extra

mcconnell1Democrats have been trying to portray Republicans as the “Party of No”. Today Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell visited the Reuters bureau in DC and argued there was no shame in saying no.

Republicans, he said, will be campaigning against many of the policies enacted by President Barack Obama, including healthcare reform, higher spending, bailouts and greater government intervention in the economy, things the party was “proud” to say no to.

“It depends on what you are saying ‘no’ to,” McConnell told Reuters. “If you’re saying ‘no’ to the massive amount of spending and debt and Washington takeovers and things like adding a quarter of a million federal employees with borrowed money like we have in the past year and a half, I think the American people are saying: ‘Please say no to that. We want you to say no to that.’”