Tales from the Trail

Feingold trails in new Reuters-Ipsos poll

USALiberal stalwart Russ Feingold trails his Republican challenger by 7 percentage points in a new Reuters-Ipsos poll of Wisconsin’s Senate race released on Tuesday.

With less than a month to go before the Nov. 2 elections, Republican Ron Johnson leads Feingold, a Democrat, 51 percent to 44 percent among likely voters.

That’s good news for Republicans, who are counting on a Wisconsin victory to help win control of the Senate. Not so good for Democrats, who could see the three-term incumbent swept out of office due to worries about the economy.

Johnson, who owns a plastics company, was seen in the poll as being “the best person to help generate jobs in Wisconsin” — 49 percent compared to 36 percent for Feingold.

By a 42-28 percent margin, Feingold was more likely to be seen as “part of the problem with politics right now in this country,” according to the poll.

Washington Extra – Comfort Zone

President Barack Obama was jubilant at the bill signing for the small business lending legislation, but with just slightly more than a month to go before the election, voters appear consistently unmoved by White House attempts to lift the economy.

USA-ECONOMY/OBAMAThe president acknowledged that the small business bill came after a “long and tough fight,” and he castigated Senate Republicans – well, all but the two who bucked their party – for standing in the way.

Be on the lookout for the Reuters/Ipsos poll on Ohio tomorrow, you can find it on our midterm election page.

Seriously folks – comedian testifies before U.S. Congress

It was all quite funny, but the subject is very serious especially in a sluggish U.S. economy with an unemployment rate stuck at 9.6 percent.USA/

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing Friday on whether illegal migrant workers take jobs away from Americans. Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert testified in character as a conservative talk show host.

He was there at the invitation of Representative Zoe Lofgren and his testimony was based on the one day he spent for his show “The Colbert Report” laboring in the fields along with migrant farm workers.

from Reuters Investigates:

In case you missed them

Just because it was summer, doesn't mean we weren't busy here at Reuters. Here are a few of our recent special reports that you might have missed.

IRAN-OBAMA/ECOMOMYTracking Iran's nuclear money trail to Turkey. U.N. correspondent Lou Charbonneau -- who used to cover the IAEA for Reuters --  followed the money to Turkey where an Iranian bank under U.S. and EU sanctions is operating freely. Nice to see the New York Times follow up on this today, and the Washington Post also quizzed Turkey's president about it.

 

 

USA-ELECTION/JOBSBlue-collar, unemployed and seeing red -- Chicago correspondent James Kelleher went on the road for this story about the long-term unemployed and what that means for Obama and the Democrats at November's midterm elections.

Washington Extra – The finer things in life

lamarIf I come back in my next life as an American, I am thinking that a career in the Senate might be a better way to go than in the administration or the military. Whatever you think of their political views, the senators who have visited our offices for the Washington Summit this week have not just been charming and interesting to talk to, they also seem to have time for the finer things in life. Take Senator Lamar Alexander, who not only has the time to watch Tennessee football pretty regularly, but also likes to play classical piano and has a date on center stage with the Jackson Symphony at the end of next month. “I try to keep a balanced life,” he said.

gibbsNo such luck for hard-pressed administration types, working at a pace that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says “is and has been grueling for a long period of time,” especially if you take two years of campaigning into account. Take Austan Goolsbee, who used to compete in the triathlon, but now has no time to train and jokes he is so out of shape he can’t walk up the stairs without gasping for breath. Or General David Petraeus, who is already at work by 5:30 in the morning, and when he goes to bed around 10 or 11 at night, only manages a couple of pages in whatever book he is reading “before it falls on the floor.”

That grueling pace is one reason, Gibbs argued, why many members of Obama’s economic team and political inner circle are on their way out, to spend a bit more time “with their family and their friends.” It is not, as Goolsbee insisted, an acknowledgment that the administration has made mistakes, or that it needs to change direction.

Washington Extra — Beck, Bernanke and baseball

An “American miracle” or an “exercise in self-aggrandizement on a Napoleonic scale”?

Reuters/Chris Keane (Beck at an NRA meeting in Charlotte May 15)

 No, I am not talking about Reuters Washington Extra, but Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor rally which is due to take place on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday. Beck, never one to hide his light under a bushel, has described tomorrow’s event as “a defibrillator to the heart of America”, “the Woodstock of the next generation”, and “the turning point” in American history. Eugene Robinson in today’s Washington Post was less optimistic about the rally and its “egomaniacal” host, who will be speaking a few steps down from where Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech on the same day in 1963. Washington Extra is not taking sides.

Ben Bernanke’s speech at the Federal Reserve conference in Jackson Hole was considerably less dramatic than Beck’s is likely to be, but does merit a quick mention too. The Fed chairman said the economic recovery had weakened more than expected but downplayed concerns that it might slip back into recession. The Fed, he said, was ready to act if needed to spur growth and said the central bank still had ammunition left. He at least is not reaching for the defibrillator yet.

Washington Extra – Foot in mouth

alan_simpsonSuggestion of the day. Encourage top officials to undertake some basic training in what to say and write in public. Specifically, try and avoid insulting and tactless remarks in print, on camera, in public or in front of journalists.

Alan Simpson, the Republican co-chairman of the president’s deficit commission, has a reputation for blunt speaking, but obviously was not paying much attention when Gen. Stanley McChrystal lost his job earlier this year. Simpson has already apologized for his email, to the executive director of the Older Women’s League, in which he compared the handing out of government retirement benefits to “milking a cow with 310 million tits.”

“When I make a mistake,” Simpson said, “it’s a doozy.” Which at least got me consulting the online dictionary. Nevertheless, there have already been calls for him to fall on his sword.

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.”

Obama swipes at “just say no crowd”

President Barack Obama in Detroit demonstrated what is sure to become a familiar theme in the run up to the November elections — Democrats painting Republicans with variations on the ”Party of No.”

OBAMA/Obama patted his policies on the back for keeping automobile jobs and plants open in Michigan — a state hard hit by the recession — and struck out at Republicans for standing in the way of progress.

In defending his handling of the auto industry crisis, Obama said some of the automobile jobs and plants would not have held on if it weren’t for the controversial government bailouts.

Washington Extra – Obama’s BlackBerry 10

Tempers ran high in the Senate today as Republicans blocked a $30 billion Democratic plan to help community banks boost lending to small businesses. Democrats are fast running out of time to show they are doing something to cut unemployment ahead of November’s elections, but this is just the latest bill to founder on objections from Republicans and some centrist Democrats, who argue extra spending should be covered by cuts elsewhere in the budget.

This time Republicans complained they were shut out of the amendment process and that a billion dollars of agriculture spending had been attached to the legislation. Mindful that voters think his administration is not doing enough to create jobs, Obama had been calling for the Senate to pass this bill, and he will likely be dismayed by this latest setback. OBAMA/

If that was the thorn in Obama’s day, the rose was probably his appearance on ABC’s ”The View”, sitting on a couch peppered with questions by five women, including Barbara Walters and Joy Behar. Referring to how his family discuss the highs and lows of their lives, he talked about the “roses” and “thorns” of his life as president, revealed he hadn’t been invited to Chelsea Clinton’s wedding and said his i-Pod included Jay-Z and Frank Sinatra but thankfully nothing by teen sensation Justin Bieber.