Tales from the Trail

Let’s fight…

The overnight news of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s resignation sets up a global battle over who will succeed him in the IMF’s glass-and-steel headquarters in Washington. But, of course, that’s not the only fight in town.

The bipartisan group of budget negotiators now known as the Gang-of-Six-Minus-One is expected to meet today to try to salvage hopes of a budget compromise after a shouting match over Medicare sent Republican Senator Tom Coburn to the exit door.

Medicare is the third-rail political issue that recently had Republicans showing signs of retreating from House Budget Chief Paul Ryan’s Republican reform plan. Critics call it a blueprint for privatizing the federal government’s healthcare program for the elderly.

But all politics is local. And the national Medicare litmus test is likely to take place far from Washington.

A proxy war over Medicare-as-2012-campaign-issue is shaping up around next week’s special congressional election in one of New York’s most conservative districts, where the Ryan plan has given Democrats the chance for an upset.  Conservative groups are pouring tons of money into the contest and veteran Capitol Hill staffers are expected to parachute in soon to help get out the vote.

Republican wannabes edge toward GOP primary race

Don’t look now, but some of those Republican White House wannabes are finally getting ready to run for the GOP presidential nomination. But whether any of the current crop gets further than the latest deficit talks is another question.

Newt Gingrich announces his candidacy today. But don’t expect his lackluster ratings to improve automatically. That, according to Karl Rove, who says people know Gingrich already. But the thrice-married former House speaker, who got blamed for the Clinton-era government shutdown, could “earn” his way into the top tier before the Iowa Caucuses next February, Rove tells NBC’s Today show.

Gingrich would not be alone among top GOP “earners,” either.

There’s the septuagenarian Ron Paul, who’s spent years waiting for his long-held views on government to become du jour under the U.S. Capitol dome. He may announce within the week, according to The Hill.

2012 Republican sweepstakes: Thune out, waiting for Huntsman

The Republican field for the 2012 presidential race has not yet crystallized, but it will start taking shape over the next few months with every announcement from a (real or rumored) potential presidential hopeful.

One to cross off the list — Republican Senator John Thune said he won’t be running.  He posted the announcement on his Facebook page, saying he plans to continue representing South Dakota in the Senate.

USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANS“There is a battle to be waged over what kind of country we are going to leave our children and grandchildren and that battle is happening now in Washington, not two years from now,” Thune said. “So at this time, I feel that I am best positioned to fight for America’s future here in the trenches of the United States Senate.”

2012 possibility? The candidate speaks Mandarin

President Barack Obama was asked bluntly about the buzz that his Ambassador to China may turn into a Republican rival for the White House in 2012.

A Newsweek article about Ambassador Jon Huntsman has been seen by some as hinting at a potential run for the White House by the former Republican governor of  Utah.

CHINA/Obama responded with praise and humor to the question posed at a news conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao.