Tales from the Trail

Santorum seeks “strong showing” in two caucuses and a primary

Mitt Romney may have secured frontrunner status in the race for the Republican presidential nominee to take on Democrat Barack Obama in the general election –  but don’t count Rick Santorum out.

The former Pennsylavania senator has not won a Republican  nominating contest since he edged Romney in the Iowa caucuses. And the  “frontrunner” title briefly held by other  Romney rivals  has eluded Santorum.

But he’s still  standing and apparently planning on  sticking around for a bit longer –  even if he doesn’t pick up a triple win in two  caucuses (Colorado,  Minnesota)  and a primary (Missouri) on Tuesday.

“Winning would be great but doing well and showing that we’re a strong — we still have a strong base of support out there is — is going to be good enough for us,” Santorum said on CNN Monday evening.

” I think we certainly have a chance of winning one … or more of those states tomorrow.  But, you know, a strong showing is a strong showing. And, you know, we’re — we’re very encouraged that we’re going to have a strong showing in all three states.  And … we’ll go from there.”

Pawlenty calls Tea Party push for more cuts “good news”

USA/House Republican leaders may be concerned about turmoil among newly elected Tea Party colleagues who want bigger spending cuts. But potential Republican White House hopeful Tim Pawlenty sees only good news.

As the Conservative Political Action Conference prepares to hear from 2012 White House Wannabes, the former Minnesota governor tells NBC’s Today show that conservatives of every stripe should be proud.

“The good news is, and this is I think the story for CPAC and for conservatives more broadly, reducing government spending and dealing with the deficit and the debt is now mainstream,” he says.

Bachmann says her “high-profile” congressional race targeted by top Democrats

Second-term Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who started the “Tea Party Caucus” in the House of Representatives this summer, says her “high-profile” congressional race is being targeted by some very high-profile Democrats ahead of  the Nov. 2 election.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has set her sights on ousting her from the congressional seat,  Bachmann said. The outspoken Republican is a social conservative and is known for her strong Christian faith.  

“I’ve been one of Speaker Pelosi’s top targets to defeat this fall,” Bachmann said on NBC’s “Today” show. ”President (Bill) Clinton came in, he was campaigning against me. In a couple of weeks Speaker Pelosi will be in Minnesota as will President Obama. Mine is a very high-profile race, and she’s trying to do everything she can to defeat me.”

A serious Franken vows to work hard in U.S. Senate

Former comedian Al Franken on Monday made it clear in his first appearance in the U.S. Capitol as senator-elect that he had not come to entertain.

Franken did not crack a single joke, nor did he take a single question as he spoke briefly to reporters outside the Senate chamber. Instead he vowed to work hard and tried to downplay expectations now that his election has clinched a super-majority of 60 for President Obama’s Democrats in the Senate.

“A lot has been made of this number 60.  The number I’m focused on is the number two.  I — I see myself as the second senator from the state of Minnesota,” Franken said. (The other Minnesota senator is Amy Klobuchar).

Minnesota Democrat Franken calls on Biden

frankenDemocrat Al Franken went to Washington on Wednesday — but not to to claim the Minnesota Senate seat Republican incumbent Norm Coleman lost in the November election. Franken, a comic turned politician, called on Vice President Joe Biden at the White House to talk about policy issues and the still-unresolved Minnesota contest he hopes will end with a win for the Democrats.

“Minnesotans are eager to see Congress make progress on the administration’s agenda and I’m eager to do my part in that effort,” Franken said after his meeting with Biden.

He’s going to have to wait a while. A state court ruled last month that Franken should be certified the winner of the Minnesota Senate race.  But it’s far from over. The widely anticipated ruling merely signaled the end of another round in a long-running battle. Coleman’s legal challenge continues — and he has said he may take his case all  the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Coleman, senator in limbo, visits old stomping ground

Republican Norm Coleman, who is in a court battle against comedian and Democrat Al Franken over who won the Minnesota Senate seat in November’s election, decided to visit his old stomping ground on Tuesday, dropping by the weekly Republican policy luncheon.

USA-ELECTION/A mere 25 steps or so from the Senate floor, Coleman entered the luncheon with the new head of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele and told reporters he was just popping in to catch up with his brethren.

“Everyone understands how important this race is, how important this seat is. Folks have been supportive and are still engaged,” Coleman told reporters before the lunch. ”We were ahead on election night, ahead when the recount began and I expect that when all is said and done.”

Coleman finds temporary gig as fight for Senate seat goes on

USA-POLITICS/FRANKENWASHINGTON – Norm Coleman has found a temporary gig while his court battle to hang on to his U.S. Senate seat representing Minnesota begins — the Republican Jewish Coalition.

After recounting the votes, Minnesota officials declared Coleman’s opponent, comedian and Democrat Al Franken, the winner in the race. But the Republican has complained that the recount was conducted unfairly and promised a court challenge that could take weeks to resolve. 

In the meantime, Coleman has found himself a part-time gig, paid of course, to be a consultant and strategic adviser to the Republican organization. However, he will not engage in any lobbying.

Palin charts future of interviews, governors’ shindig

WASHINGTON – Is Sarah Palin going through a catharsis, some sort of political rehabilitation or is she now a permanent fixture on the national political scene?
 
The former Republican vice presidential hopeful returned home after the election to her job as Alaska governor where she promptly held a news conference and conducted several television interviews. She’s lined up for NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday.
 
In addition, later this week she will head to sunny Miami to attend the Republican Governors Association annual conference where she will again meet with reporters on Thursday.
 
She is to speak during a session entitled “Looking Toward the Future.”  That wouldn’t have anything to do with 2012 would it?  Nevermind that last week she avoided talking about her political future.

Also on the panel was another name that bubbled up for the 2008 Republican vice presidential nomination, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is expected to be a national player as the Republican Party regroups after losing the White House.

Click here for more Reuters political coverage.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking (Palin on election night)

New state polls show shift towards Obama

rtx93zk.jpgWASHINGTON – A slew of new state polls released on Wednesday showed some shift in momentum toward Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama and away from Republican rival John McCain.

CNN/Time Magazine/Opinion Research Corp. released polls for five battleground states — Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada and Virginia — that showed Obama ahead among likely voters in all of them, though still within the margin of error in four.

Obama held a 51 percent to 47 percent lead in both Florida and Nevada, a 53 percent to 44 percent lead in Virginia, a 54 percent to 43 percent advantage in Minnesota and a narrow 49 percent to 48 percent edge in Missouri.

Senate candidate Al Franken’s tax goof bites

CHICAGO – Comedian, author and former radio talk show host Al Franken, the likely Democratic Senate candidate for Minnesota, is paying $70,000 in back taxes and penalties to 17 states to make up for what he says were mistakes by his accountant.

State Republicans say Franken, who was expected to pose rtr1n2zo.jpga strong challenge to incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman in the November election, is at fault. 

“Al Franken’s business activities must have a full, and complete public airing if he is to retain any credibility as a candidate for public office,” Ron Carey, chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota, said in a statement.