Tales from the Trail

GOP’s Steele – political elite has been blind-sided

Recent electoral wins have pulled the Republican Party out of a tailspin that started at the height of its power in 1994, but it will be well-selected local candidates, more than the national party, that drives the agenda in November’s mid-term elections.

So says Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANSMost political pundits expect the GOP to pick up many House and Senate seats in the fall as part of a backlash against the incumbent Democrats and frustration over the weak economy and high unemployment.

“This fall I think you’ll see much more reliance on the candidates carrying the water in their states,” rather than the national party apparatus, Steele said during a lively exchange with students at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

In victories such as the recent upset win by Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts, “we have trusted the candidates to shape the ground game and the campaigns and the messages,” Steele said. Brown was elected to Ted Kennedy’s old U.S. Senate seat in January, a victory that surprised the Democratic Party and deprived them of the 60-seat supermajority needed to pass legislation over Republican procedural hurdles.

Steele said letting candidates shape their own campaign and message took advantage of populist sentiment at work across the United States.

Blago says he’s “blacker than Barack Obama”

Believe it or not, Rod Blagojevich is African-American — and more so than President Barack Obama. At least, that’s what the former Illinois governor tells Esquire magazine in a new interview.
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“It’s such a cynical business, and most of the people in the business are full of (expletive deleted) and phonies, but I was real, man — and am real. This guy, he was catapulted in on hope and change, what we hope the guy is. What the (expletive deleted)? Everything he’s saying’s on the teleprompter,” Esquire quotes Blago as saying about the president, without the expletives deleted.

“I’m blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived. I saw it all growing up,” he explains.

Blago is, in fact, a white Democrat who gained prominence for introducing big male hair to the national political arena during a corruption probe that led to his indictment on charges of trying to sell Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat. He denies the accusations.

Book? What book? GOP asks Steele

steeleRepublican Party Chairman Michael Steele is once again at odds with his party. This time it’s for calling for active opposition of the Obama agenda. What’s wrong with that, you ask. Well, he did it in a book. A book GOP leaders knew nothing about until it hit the shelves.

According to Amazon.com, Steele’s book, “Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda,” “throws down the gauntlet,” and makes an argument for “abandoning ‘conservatism-lite,’ returning to core conservative principles, and launching an uncompromising campaign for limited government.”

The book is said to be highly critical of the party and has angered Republican congressional leaders who feel such a blueprint for the party should have included their input. Some GOP leaders only learned of the book when Steele began promoting it in television appearances this week. 

Republicans savoring election prospects after Democrats drop out

Let the countdown begin.

USA/The 2010 election year has officially started and Republicans can barely contain their glee after two senior Senate Democrats announced they would not run again and a House Democrat switched to the Republican Party.

Right out of the New Year’s gate, Senate Democrats Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota said they would not seek re-election in November.

Democrats control the Senate 60-40 which is just enough to overcome procedural hurdles and pass legislation without a single Republican vote. Republicans are expected to pick up seats, but not enough to win back control.

Obama’s security tweaks unlikely to quiet political opponents

President Barack Obama will tighten airline security today in a bid to thwart any future attack like last month’s plot to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner. But will that silence his political opponents? Not likely. With congressional elections looming in November, the stakes may be too high.

Take Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra, for example. He’s running for governor of Michigan and criticizing Obama’s handling of the bomb plot in hopes of making Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, look soft on security.

“If you agree that we need a governor who will stand up the Obama/Pelosi efforts to weaken our security, please make a most generous contribution of $25, $50, $100 or even $250 to my campaign,” he said in a widely quoted letter to prospective supporters.
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The letter caused an uproar among critics who accused Hoekstra of playing politics with national security. But the security issue seems destined to become a leading theme for Republicans in this year’s election battle for control of Congress, which they hope to turn into a referendum on Obama’s policies.

What will be in Obama’s Christmas stocking?

The last thing Republicans want to see this Christmas is the U.S. Senate giving President Barack Obama a nicely wrapped package of health care reform legislation.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele made that plain today. He hopes the Senate will be a lousy Santa who leaves nothing in Obama’s Christmas stocking.BRITAIN

“I hope so. I really do,” he told NBC’s Today show.

Steele says that’s because the American public doesn’t want the kind of healthcare legislation that Senate Democratic leaders have been talking about lately.

The First Draft: Limbo Day

It’s the day before the all-important employment report for October. (Expectation is for a 175,000 drop in payrolls and an uptick in the unemployment rate to 9.9 percent, which would be a 26-year high).

BASEBALL/It’s the day after the New York Yankees won the World Series. (Condolences Phillies fans).

It’s the day before the House of Representatives might send healthcare overhaul legislation to the floor for debate with the goal of a Saturday vote. (Have learned never to bet on the timing of legislation on the Hill).

The First Draft: Independents Day

Day-after chatter focused on how independent voters were pivotal in helping drive Republicans to victory in the New Jersey and Virginia governor races.

“The independent voter today is the keystone,” a very happy chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, said on CNN.

“And if you don’t have a message for them, if you don’t have something to say, they’ll let you know by going with the other team or staying out of it altogether. Last night they came home to the GOP,” he said. After repeated TV appearances since last night’s results, Steele is holding a press conference at 10 a.m.

Virginia shakes off Obama blue, returns to red roots

Pundits always use sports analogies for politics, we’re thinking of trying something different — a hair color analogy.

Virginia returned to its red roots tonight after an impetuous experiment last year with blue, the state’s political color of a generation ago. MONACO/

OK maybe it doesn’t work as well. To put it more simply, the Republicans won the governor’s race in Virginia. That was in contrast to last year when Barack Obama captured the state which voted Democrat in a presidential election for the first time since 1964.

Protests against Obama: race or policy?

Former President Jimmy Carter said out loud what Democrats had been whispering for a while, that the protests against the country’s first black president are tinged with racism.

USA-POLITICS/Carter’s forceful words threw the issue into the forefront of public debate.

“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African American,” Carter said in an interview on NBC.