Tales from the Trail

Aide to rival calls California’s Whitman a ‘whore’

USA-ELECTIONS/CALIFORNIAUSA-ELECTIONS/CALIFORNIACalifornia’s personal and unpleasant governor’s race just took another step toward the bottom as a tape emerged in which an aide to Democrat Jerry Brown calls Republican Meg Whitman a “whore” for her attempts to get endorsements from law enforcement.

The Los Angeles Times was given the tape of an answering machine message from Brown to a law enforcement group. Brown apparently didn’t hang up, and so a private conversation was captured on tape. The Times’ blog is here, with the audio tape is at the bottom or here.

The governor’s race is nearly tied — Brown’s taken a small lead recently — and it is nasty, thanks to a fight over Whitman’s hiring of an illegal immigrant housekeeper. Brown, the maverick and former governor running for another try at the top job, says she’s not taking the type of responsibility that she should, given her position that employers should be held accountable for hiring illegal workers. She calls that a lie and says she didn’t know her housekeeper was in the United States illegally until the woman confessed — and Whitman says she’s willing to take a lie detector test.

A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found Californians watching the drama but not basing their votes on the housekeeper scandal. We’ll see what happens with the Brown tape.

The Brown call is a pitch for an endorsement from a law enforcement group. After he thinks he’s hung up, Brown complains that Whitman has bought the support of police by carving out an exception for them in her pension reform plan. ”They know Whitman will give ‘em, will cut them a deal, but I won’t,” Brown says.

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.

from Summit Notebook:

Five weeks: It’s an eternity in the world of politics

By Christopher Doering carper

Five weeks:  It may not be a lot of time for many people, but with the pivotal mid-term elections looming on Nov. 2 Delaware Senator Tom Carper said five weeks is an eternity for Democrats to use to turn the tide in their favor.

"Today, five weeks a lot happens. A lot of minds change in five weeks," Carper, a self-proclaimed "optimist", told the Reuters Washington Summit.

"What we have to do is to be able to remind people if there is some good news here in the next five weeks of what that is and get people to focus on the future."

Washington Extra

It was two years in the making, runs to 2,300 pages, took three Republicans to pass it, and 11 pens to sign it into law. President Barack Obama put the seal on a drastic overhaul of the rules governing Wall Street and the banking industry today, using a separate pen for each letter of his name. FINANCIAL-REGULATION/OBAMA

Behind him, Joe Biden chatted throughout the signing ceremony, often with his back to the camera, so we just have to assume the vice president thinks this particular legislative victory is also a “big … deal”.

Influential business groups lined up with Republicans to criticize the new law for the 533 new regulations they say it imposes, while Obama’s one-time friend, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, was not even invited to the signing ceremony. No sign of a rapprochement in the relationship between the presidency and Big Finance, as Obama used the occasion to take another swipe at “unscrupulous” lenders and the “abuse and excess” that lay behind the financial crisis.

from Environment Forum:

Campaign ad equating global warming with weather gets “pants-on-fire” rating

MILKEN/By now, almost everybody -- with the possible exception of Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina -- realizes there's a difference between climate and weather. Fiorina, running in the California primary and ultimately aiming to unseat Democrat Barbara Boxer, paid for and appeared in a campaign ad slamming the sitting senator for being "worried about the weather" when there are serious concerns like terrorism to deal with.

Take a look here:

A few problems with this ad earned it the not-so-coveted beyond-false "Pants on Fire" rating from Politifact, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalism website that checks on the truthfulness of political advertising. First off, Boxer didn't say she was worried about the weather. She said that climate change was "one of the very important national security issues" -- a position in line with the Pentagon and the CIA. The site also found that it's not an either/or thing, that focusing on climate change doesn't necessarily mean neglecting national security. They took a look at Boxer's record and found she has supported at least six bills against terrorism.

"Fiorina casts climate change as something you need to pack an umbrella for, or that prompts you to curse at the TV weatherman -- which strikes us as not only a trivialization of climate change but also a failure to distinguish between two well-established scientific specialties," Politifact said. "She also ignores Boxer's lengthy record supporting bills against terrorism. So we have to light up the meter (the site's Truth-o-Meter): Pants on Fire!"

The coming conflict with China

2008 was the last presidential election when voters didn’t know or care about the candidates views on China, argues political risk analyst Ian Bremmer.

NUCLEAR-SUMMIT/Bremmer’s new book “The End of the Free Market” argues that the Chinese economic model — which he calls state capitalism — is so fundamentally different from Western free market capitalism that tensions and economic conflict are inevitable in the years ahead.

The main goal of China’s state-directed capitalism is to harness economic growth to ensure political stability and keep the Communist Party in power, Bremmer says.  And since the financial crisis, China has seen the United States and the West as “less indispensable”.

Holbrooke: my relationship with Karzai is good, really

Absolutely they are on good terms…

Richard Holbrooke, special U.S. representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, once again declared his respect for Afghan President Hamid Karzai. AFGHANISTAN/

In fact, he feels so strongly about reports that the two don’t get along he wrote a letter to The Washington Post.

“I did not, and never have, spoken harshly to Mr. Karzai, ” said Holbrooke in the letter to the editor, which was published on Thursday. He was responding to a story earlier this week in the newspaper which said he had spoken harshly to the re-elected Afghan leader.

Governor Sanford’s walk in the woods

When Governor Mark Sanford walks out of the woods tomorrow, he’s sure for a big surprise.

The governor of South Carolina went hiking on the Appalachian Trail last Thursday to clear his head after a tough legislative session, according to his aides. Nothing odd in that – politicians need time off as much as anyone. Trouble is, when Sanford left he didn’t tell his aides where he was going. He didn’t tell the state’s lieutenant governor either. Or his wife.

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His disappearance sparked speculation about his whereabouts, although Fox News reported he did call to check in two days into the trip. Tomorrow he is due to emerge from the trail and return to work and he will doubtless face many questions. For a possible presidential candidate in 2012, the distraction could prove awkward.

The First Draft: Reading tea leaves in Virginia

USA-POLITICS/The year after a presidential election, there’s typically few electoral contests on the calendar as politicians focus on getting some work done so they’ll have something to brag about to voters during the next election.

The few races that do occur tend to be heavily scrutinized as pundits look for something to chew over in the slow period before next year’s congressional midterms.

Today, Democrats in Virginia go to the polls to pick a candidate for the governor’s mansion, as incumbent Tim Kaine is constitutionally limited to one term. On the Republican side, Robert McDonnell faces no opposition for his party’s nomination.

Poll: U.S. Senate leader has problems in home state

Sure it’s a long way before the November 2010 U.S. congressional election — and a lot can happen between now and then. But at this point, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada seems to be in jeopardy of becoming the second Senate leader in a half century to be voted out of office.

A poll released on Tuesday by the Las Vegas Review-Journal found that half of Nevada voters had an unfavorable view of Reid, while 38 percent had a favorable view, the newspaper said.

USA-SENATE/SPECTER

Reid won reelection in 2004 to a fourth term with 61 percent of the vote. But his approval ratings have since slipped. He became Senate Democratic leader in 2005, and majority leader in 2007.