Tales from the Trail

Bachmann is tops in GOP “intensity”

RTR2JTAS_Comp-150x150House Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann may not rate highly with Republican hierophants like George Will. But some Republicans seem to have an intense liking for her none the less, according to a new Gallup poll.

The Gallup survey of more than 1,500 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents shows Bachmann with a 20 percent “positive intensity” rating among 12 potential GOP White House wannabes. That’s second only to Mike Huckabee’s 25 percent rating. And it’s worth noting that Bachmann was recognized by only 52 percent of the respondents, so there may be room for improvement.

Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor with a disarming nice-guy persona, has polled strongly among Republican voters for some time. But the results seem encouraging for Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican who has only recently emerged from relative obscurity on the back of the Tea Party movement.

Viewed in some circles as a not-ready-for-prime-time-player in national politics, Bachmann has been parodied on Saturday Night Live and castigated by critics for gaffes including a recent reference to the first shots of the American Revolution being fired in New Hampshire, instead of Massachusetts, where the Battles of Lexington and Concord actually occurred. 

Will, the influential conservative columnist,  told ABC’s “This Week” only two days ago that Bachmann was “not among the serious contenders.”  That’s likely to prove true if she doesn’t poll strongly among independent voters who are not necessarily Tea Party-minded. Overall, Gallup said none of the GOP contenders they looked at drew a high level of intensely positive opinion — and that’s among Republicans.

Will she? Won’t she? Still reading the tea leaves…

USA/Is Sarah Palin getting the kind of press that makes for viable presidential campaigns? Maybe not, and her critics appear to be increasingly of a conservative stripe.

The Mama of Mama Grizzlies proved to be a fierce campaigner on the 2010 midterm election trail, and she continues to command an army of devoted supporters, particularly among members of the Tea Party movement.

But winning the White House requires an ability to attract many, many independent voters. And two months after the Arizona shootings, and her use of the charged term “blood libel” against critics of her gun-toting rhetoric, Palin seems to be having trouble convincing influential conservatives to take her seriously as a seaworthy candidate.

How strong is U.S. will for Afghan fight?

When George W. Bush was president, Democrats and other critics repeatedly said the United States was fighting the wrong war — it was not Iraq that should have been the center of U.S. military attention, but Afghanistan.

The thinking then was that Afghanistan was where Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda crew had planned the Sept. 11 attacks under the protection of the Taliban and they were the ones to pursue and attack. AFGHANISTAN/

Now that Barack Obama is president, he is trying to wind down the war in Iraq and send more troops to Afghanistan. But it’s been eight years since the Sept. 11 attacks and more than six years since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and Americans are war-weary.

Obama dines with conservative columnists

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama says he is prepared to listen to all voices as he tries to rescue the U.S. economy from deep recession. He has also OBAMAsought to portray himself as a unifier after the deeply divisive presidency of his soon-to-be predecessor George W. Bush.
So, in that context, his attendance at a dinner party on Tuesday night at the home of George Will, one of the United States’ best-known conservative columnists, is probably not too surprising.
Guests at Will’s dinner party reportedly included William Kristol, a founder and editor of The Weekly Standard and a leader of the neoconservative movement that was so influential in the Bush administration.
Also reportedly in attendance were David Brooks of the New York Times, Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, Michael Barone of U.S. News & World Report, Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, Larry Kudlow of CNBC and Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal.
OBAMAThe left-wing blog, The Huffington Post, reassured readers that the dinner did not mean that Obama was selling out to the right. “Talking with them is a shrewd move on Obama’s part,” wrote senior editor Jacob Heilbrunn.
“It indicates that Obama is completing the job of detaching the conservative intellectual elite from the GOP itself,” he said.
Obama’s traveling media pool stayed outside Will’s upmarket Chevy Chase home, but an aide said in a statement later: “President-elect Obama had dinner this evening with columnists at the home of George Will.
“He will attend similar gatherings in the months to come, including one at his transition headquarters tomorrow.”
It is not known what they discussed, but Obama stayed for about two-and-a-half hours.
Oh, to have been a fly on the wall.
For more Reuters political news, please click here

Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Security on porch roof at George Will’s house; Obama entering the house for dinner)