Tales from the Trail

Meek stays in Florida Senate race despite Clinton overtures

This much is clear. Democrat Kendrick Meek is not dropping out of Florida’s three-way Senate race.

What’s not so clear is what happened before Meek summoned reporters to his campaign headquarters for a late evening news conference Thursday to deny reports former President Bill Clinton had asked him to quit the race.

Singling out a report by Politico.com, the Florida congressman said, “Any rumor or any statement by anyone that says that I made a decision to get out of the race is inaccurate, at best.”

Politico.com reported that Clinton nearly succeeded in talking Meek out of the race before the candidate changed his mind.

According to Politico, Meek would have agreed to drop out and endorse Governor Charlie Crist, who might then have a better shot at winning in a two-way contest with former state House speaker Marc Rubio, a Tea Party favorite.

Republican, Democratic party chiefs see victory in battle for the House

In dueling appearances on the Sunday morning news shows, the heads of the Democratic and Republican parties made the same  prediction — After the Nov. 2 elections, our guys will control the House.

mike_sarahRepublican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says his party’s going into the final campaign stretch on a winning combination of momentum, excitement and energy.

“There is a vibration out here that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, Steele said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Washington economic indicator: political finger-pointing

How do you know the economy is souring?

One indicator that doesn’t come wrapped in a government report is political finger-pointing.

It’s an election year with a sluggish economy and so Republicans and Democrats want to make sure voters know it’s the other’s fault — or at the very least not their own fault.

Take a look at the response to the jobless data today which showed weekly unemployment benefit claims reached a nine-month high. OBAMA/

RNC’s Steele cancels on NABJ due to food poisoning

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele canceled an appearance at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in San Diego on Friday due to food poisoning.

The NABJ announced the news on its convention website by displaying a picture of Steele with a red “canceled” banner across it, and a write-up that begins:  “A bad meal has spoiled one of the most anticipated events at this week’s NABJ convention.”

USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANSSteele was to have appeared in a session titled “Life, Liberty and Legacy” a day after Shirley Sherrod spoke at the same convention. Sherrod on Thursday said she planned to sue conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart who posted an edited video that led to accusations of racism and forced her to resign from the Agriculture Department. (After the whole video was seen, the Ag Secretary apologized and the President of the United States called her).

Steele staying put

steele2“I ain’t going anywhere,” Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said on Thursday, in response to calls for his resignation from critics in his own party, MSNBC reported.

“I’m here. I’m here,” Steele said at the launch of the Colorado Republican Party’s 2010 “Victory” headquarters.

Steele brushed aside the criticism, calling it a “distraction.”   With victory in the November midterm elections at stake, Steele said he was focused on “winning.”

Man of Steele seems to have avoided kryptonite for now

After a weekend of some prominent Republicans calling for his resignation — Liz Cheney among them — and a round of phone calls trying to explain himself, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele appears likely to hold onto his job through the election. USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANS

Washington Whispers has a look at how Steele’s gaffe on Afghanistan does not affect Republican fundraising, which is obviously key to the November elections when Republicans are hoping to gain seats and possibly control of Congress from President Barack Obama’s Democrats.

After the election will be quite another story for the RNC chairman, with Republicans probably looking to replace Steele. Hotline has a piece on possible candidates in the next go-around. (Sarah Palin is not considered to be a serious contender).

Is time off allowed during a mammoth oil spill crisis? Depends…

BP CEO Tony Hayward takes time off to watch his yacht race in British waters, President Barack Obama goes golfing over the Father’s Day weekend. OIL-SPILL/

Is that acceptable when the BP oil spill, the worst in U.S. history and a huge environmental disaster, is entering a third month in the Gulf of Mexico?

Well, depends on who you talk to.

The White House on Monday made a cutting remark about Hayward’s yacht trip: “Look, if Tony Hayward wants to put a skimmer on that yacht and bring it down to the Gulf, we’d be happy to have his help,” White House spokesman Bill Burton said at the daily media briefing. 

Republican party chief says he’s staying put despite spending furor

Under fire for the Republican National Committee’s  free-wheeling spending on posh hotels, private jets and a party at a Los Angeles nightclub, committee Chairman Michael Steele said Monday he will not resign despite the controversy.

“No,” he said flatly on ABC’s “Good Morning America” when asked whether he would step down. It was his first television interview since the controversial spending came to light. “When I first heard about this behavior going on, I was very angry and we dealt with it.”

Steele has been excoriated over the last week, including by some members of his own party, for spending that included $2,000 at a sex-themed nightclub as well as tens of thousands of dollars spent on luxury hotels, private  planes and limousines in the month of February.

RNC drops $1,946 at risque night club but says Steele wasn’t the big spender


Politics and money can lead to some naughty things. Take RNC Chairman Michael Steele, for example. He was forced to deny a claim that he spent megabucks at a risque West Hollywood night club last month. The only trouble is that even if he didn’t, the Republican National Committee did.

Official documents show the RNC forked over $1,946 for meals at Voyeur, a high-end nightclub in West Hollywood where guests can enjoy drinks, cucumber tea sandwiches and live female performances that will “titillate the senses while still remaining classy and tasteful.”

RNC disclosure documents on file with the Federal Election Commission include the Voyeur expense in a monthly report that also shows the committee spending $9,099 at the Beverly Hills Hotel and $6,596 at the nearby Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire.

Unemployment falls, what’s the proper political response?

OBAMA/The unemployment rate fell in January to 9.7 percent, the lowest in five months and below that dreaded 10 percent in December. It also foiled analyst expectations for an increase to 10.1 percent.

So a jump-for-joy event in Washington right?

Well, not quite.

The White House publicly decided on a cool, measured response.

(We have to believe someone over there must have let out a cheer, or maybe even clapped, at 8:30 a.m.)

The official response from White House economic adviser Christina Romer was a caution that there would likely be “bumps in the road ahead” and that it was important not to read too much into one monthly report. UNEMPLOYMENT/