Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Whose bipartisanship?

The feeling appeared mutual when President Barack Obama shook hands with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell after signing the tax cut bill. It looked like the picture of what Obama called a “bipartisan effort.”  OBAMA/TAXES-SIGNS

McConnell tried not to grin too much over the Republicans winning the war in their efforts to extend tax cuts to the wealthy.

But when it came to Capitol Hill Democrats, there wasn’t much display of unity with even Obama, let alone bipartisanship with the Republicans. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were no-shows at the bill signing.

(Lawmakers don’t miss bill signings if they can help it, it gives them a chance to show accomplishment… and get one of those presidential pens).

Vice President Joe Biden got the first mention in Obama’s remarks, McConnell and the Republican leadership in the Senate were second. Then Obama mentioned House Republican Dave Camp, followed by the Democrats on stage, starting with Senator Dick Durbin.

O’Donnell’s ‘witch’ captures spirit of times

RTXU581_Comp-150x150Tea Party darling Christine O’Donnell may have lost the Delaware Senate race. But she heads the list when it comes to expressing the spirit of the times.

“I’m not a witch,” her famous TV ad declaration that preceded the demise of her Republican Senate campaign, tops Yale University’s annual list of most notable quotes for 2010.

O’Donnell doesn’t have the No. 1 slot to herself, however. She’s tied with former BP CEO Tony Hayward’s lament to reporters: “I’d like my life back.” That was when his company’s off-shore rig was spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, endangering life and livelihoods along the U.S. coast.

Washington Extra – Cold shoulder

It’s a chilly day in Washington, and we’re not just talking about the weather.

Democrats on Capitol Hill are giving President Barack Obama the cold shoulder after he blinked first in the stand-off with Republicans over extending tax cuts. USA/

“We will continue discussions with the President and our Caucus in the days ahead,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. (Translation – House Democrats are not on board with this yet.)

Hoyer, Clyburn compete for House leadership post

clyburn_stenyU.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer will win his bid to remain in party leadership in the soon-to-be Republican-led chamber, a source close to Hoyer said on Sunday.

“We’re going to win,” the source said.

But a spokeswoman for the current House Democratic Whip James Clyburn, who’s trying to fend off a Hoyer challenge, fired back: “We dispute that.” She voiced confidence in Clyburn’s candidacy, saying he has broad support in the Democratic caucus.

With Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi running to be minority leader when the new House convenes in January, Hoyer and Clyburn — her two top lieutenants — are seeking the No. 2 job.

Washington Extra – Down but not out

How the Democrats could have done with those numbers a week ago, or more precisely how they could have done with three or four months of numbers like that. The U.S. economy created a net 151,000 jobs in October, hiring hitting its fastest pace in six months. It is a sign that the economy is regaining momentum after a desperately sluggish summer, and might have lifted President Barack Obama’s mood a little too as he makes the long trip to India. USA/

They were subjected to some bitter attacks from their opponents, and even had their detractors within their two parties. Both suffered cruel defeats this week, but if you thought you had seen the back of Nancy Pelosi and Christine O’Donnell, think again. The Republican from Delaware, who ended her remarkably upbeat concession speech with an invocation to have a “party”, has already announced she is pursuing a book deal and will still be fighting against the Democrats. Shades of Sarah Palin perhaps.

Pelosi, meanwhile, says she now wants her old job back, that of House Minority leader. Defeated or not, who would bet against her?

Pelosi or not Pelosi? That is the question for House Democrats

Nancy Pelosi — the first woman Speaker of the House — is soon to become the first woman ex-Speaker of the House.

But the trouncing of  House Democrats in Tuesday’s elections, which flipped control of that chamber to Republicans, has not deterred Pelosi from wanting to hang onto the leadership reins.

She announced on Twitter and in a letter to her colleagues that she will run for House Minority Leader in the new Congress. It’s a position she held before becoming House Speaker — third in line to the presidency – in 2007. USA-ELECTIONS/HOUSE-DEMOCRATS

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.”

Bill Clinton emerges as leading U.S. political favorite — poll

OBAMA/

CLINTON/Nearly a decade after his presidency ended in scandal and disgrace, Bill Clinton has emerged as the most popular figure in the U.S. political firmament, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.   Except he’s not running for office.

Fifty-five percent of the 1,000 adults who responded to the survey reported having positive feelings about the Arkansas Democrat, vs. only 23 percent who harbored negative feelings. (When he left office in early 2001, his ratings were 34 percent positive and 52 percent negative.)RACING/

The poll, which has a 3.1 percentage point margin of error, comes at a time when many voters are angry about the country’s economic straits, including high unemployement and an exploding fiscal deficit. Clinton’s two-term presidency was marked not only by impeachment and the Monica Lewinsky scandal but also by buoyant growth and a balanced budget.

from Summit Notebook:

If Democrats hold US House, Pelosi seen concentrating power-lobbyist

SUMMIT-WASHINGTON/JOSTENIf Democrats are able to hang on to the U.S. House of Representatives in the November 2 elections, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will likely be able to concentrate her power because there will be fewer conservative Democrats giving her a hard time on critical votes, according to top senior lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Political prognosticators have said that Republicans are within striking distance of taking control of the House in November, with Republicans needing a net gain of 40 seats and polls showing them closing in on that target.

"She'll have a much more cohesive conference than she has now because it's the middle that's anticipated to get cratered in this election," Bruce Josten told the Reuters Washington Summit.  "Most of the seat losses anticipated come from the people that are the hardest votes to get on party-line unity votes."

from Summit Notebook:

Berman: House may be “lame” after elections but won’t be paralyzed

The chairman of the House of Representatives committee on foreign affairs hasn't lost his sense of humor...yet.

USA/Representative Howard Berman said he has been struggling for 24 years to get Congress to ease up on travel restrictions for Americans who want to go to Cuba. He's determined to get it through his committee this year, even if it doesn't happen until after the November election when the lawmakers are in "lame duck" session.

"We're lame but we're not paralyzed," he told the Reuters Washington Summit when asked if it was possible to still get bills out of committee and to the full House for a vote during the time between the November election and the beginning of the new session in January.