Tales from the Trail

Campaign’s over, so start campaigning

OBAMA/Finally get some shut-eye after Tuesday’s election? Well, rise and shine. 2012 is just around the corner and the presidential campaign is already getting under way.

Folks at the White House may be asking themselves if the humbled, chastened President Barack Obama will face a primary challenge from the Left.

That bit of speculation got churning after newly unemployed Senate Democrat Russ Feingold conceded defeat with the decidedly unchastened message: “It’s on to the next fight. It’s on to the next battle. It’s on to 2012. And it is on to our next adventure — forward!” FEINGOLD

Then the Washington political journal Politico wondered aloud if Obama’s almost meek-sounding response to the Republican midterm wave could make him vulnerable to a fiery challenge from Howard Dean.

According to the latest speculation, a primary challenge from the Left could weaken Obama in 2012 by making it much harder for him to galvanize his base for the general election. Teddy Kennedy did the same favor for Jimmy Carter in 1980.

Dean, Scarborough claim health insurance stocks hit 52-YEAR high. Really?

Numbers can be tricky. And when trying to make political points in Washington, they probably should be checked twice (like Santa’s list of naughty and nice). USA-WEATHER/SNOWSTORM

So when Howard Dean, an influential liberal Democrat, and Joe Scarborough, a conservative Republican commentator, both used the SAME figure to make the SAME point that the Senate healthcare bill would mainly help insurance companies, it caught our attention.

First came Dean on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” saying:  “In this last week of unseemly scrambling for votes, we have committed to go down a path in this country where private insurance will be the way that we achieve universal health care.”

Paint Texas blue? Kaine won’t guarantee it

WASHINGTON – New Democratic Party head Tim Kaine wants to continue to win territory from Republicans, but he’s not ready to guarantee victory in George W. Bush’s home state.

As he took control of the Democratic National Committee from outgoing chairman Howard Dean on Wednesday, Kaine said he would continue Dean’s “50 State Strategy” to win votes in conservative places like Idaho and Utah.

“We will never again be a party that writes off states or regions or people,” Kaine said. “The 50 state strategy is now and forever what Democrats do.”

Dean not expected to seek another term as DNC chairman

WASHINGTON – Howard Dean seems ready to move on as chairman of the Democratic party after a successful four-year stint that included twice helping his colleagues win Congress and recapture the White House.

Dean has said he doesn’t plan to seek another term as chairman and names of potential successors have begun to surface in anticipation of his January departure, a party source said on Monday.

President-elect Barack Obama, as the party’s new leader, is expected to soon name his choice for Democratic National Committee chairman. And the DNC is expected to formally go along with Obama’s selection at its January meeting.