Tales from the Trail

More grief for “The Mitt” with backing from The Donald?

Mitt Romney, Donald Trump said in a surprise endorsement from Las Vegas this afternoon, would make a “tough” and “smart” president who wouldn’t “allow bad things to continue to happen to this country we all love.”

But it wasn’t clear that backing from Trump, a real estate mogul who cultivates an aura of glitz and glamour, would help Romney, the former private equity executive who has a net worth estimated at some $270 million and fights charges by critics that he is out of touch with the concerns of average Americans.

Democrats pounced on the opportunity to draw parallels between Romney and the television personality, claiming in a video that alluded to Trump’s starring role on the reality television program, “The Apprentice,” that Romney nabbed Trump’s endorsement because “they both like firing people.”

Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz echoed the theme, telling MSNBC that the endorsement wasn’t surprising because “they both like firing people and they both made millions doing it.” Likening Trump to a “cartoon character,” the DNC head said his endorsement is “like Bugs Bunny saying which candidate for president he supports. So it’s really kind of a non-news event.”

Newt Gingrich, Romney’s chief Republican rival who had reportedly expected to receive Trump’s backing, issued through his spokesperson a long list of public criticisms Trump had previously leveled at the former Massachusetts governor. Among them was a comment Trump made on CNN in April of last year:

Another one heads for the exit: Senator Ensign won’t seek reelection

UPDATES with Ensign announcement.

At this rate, the Senate will be overrun by freshmen in 2013.

USA-POLITICS/ENSIGNRepublican Senator John Ensign, once considered a potential presidential candidate in 2012, said he won’t seek reelection next year.

The decision comes nearly two years after he admitted to having an affair with a female staffer whose husband also worked for him.

“There are consequences to sin,” he said at a news conference in Las Vegas. Ensign said the campaign was likely to get especially “ugly” and he did not want to put his family through that.

When Harry Reid met Sharron Angle

Anyone expecting to see a smack-down in the desert would have been disappointed.
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The first and only debate in the high stakes Senate race between Nevada Democrat Harry Reid and Republican challenger Sharron Angle ended with both candidates still standing.

But there were plenty barbs as the Senate Majority Leader and the Tea Party-backed former state legislator met face-to-face Thursday night in Las Vegas.

In the hour-long debate, Reid called her “extreme.” Angle repeatedly referred to him as “Harry Reid” and portrayed him as a tax-raising, career politician.

Washington Extra – Whose party?

As a Brit I never like to write too much about the Tea Party, but today I have no choice.
teaparty2
Every week that goes by the movement seems to gain more momentum. On Tuesday, our poll showed Democratic heavyweight Harry Reid clinging to a narrow lead in Nevada against Tea Party insurgent Sharron Angle. That night, Republican establishment favorite Michael Castle was knocked off his perch in the Delaware primary by upstart Christine O’Donnell. Today, our Reuters/Ipsos poll shows one of the Tea Party’s most well-known favorites, Marco Rubio, opening a clear lead in the race for a Senate seat from Florida. With just six weeks to go until the elections, Rubio leads state Governor Charlie Crist, now running as an independent, by 40 percent to 26 percent, with Democrat Kendrick Meek trailing behind.

But who is going to benefit?

Republicans are hoping the surge in enthusiasm for a right-wing agenda will get their supporters to the polls, and right now there is a definite “enthusiasm gap” between Republicans and Democrats in terms of their likelihood to vote.

Democrats are still hoping that “Tea Partiers” will simply be too right-wing for voters to accept in many states. The contest in Nevada is a critical one, with Reid hoping he can cling to his slightodonnell lead against Angle, a lead he might not have against a more centrist candidate. More to the point, some Dems could scarcely contain their glee this morning after O’Donnell’s victory, calling her an “ultra right-wing extremist” who will be rejected by Delaware voters, and arguing they might now just keep control of the Senate as a result.

Reuters-Ipsos poll: Senate Majority Leader Reid barely ahead in Nevada race

Perhaps it will become known as a tale of two Reids.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is barely ahead of his Republican opponent Sharron Angle in the Nevada race for U.S. Senate, and his son Rory Reid is slipping against Republican Brian Sandoval in the governor’s race, according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll.

Looking at likely voters, Reid is up 46-44 percent against Angle. Among registered voters, Reid is up 46-38 percent and among independents, he is up 29-15 percent. USA-ELECTIONS

When it comes to Nevada voters views of the Tea Party, which supports Angle, 51 percent of registered voters, 56 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of independents said it would make no difference on whether to support or not support Angle.

Has U.S. “missed the boat” on long-range renewable energy planning?

OBAMA/There was President Barack Obama, working a friendly crowd in Henderson, Nevada, not far from Las Vegas. And then a sympathetic comment from a French businessman who wants to see U.S. regulation of climate-warming greenhouse emissions seemed to get the president all wound up.

After noting that the weather has been particularly wild lately — five feet of snow in Washington DC, rain at the Vancouver Olympics — Obama said the best way to “unleash” dynamism in the energy market is to set fuel efficiency standards, notably for cars.

“If you’ve got a fuel-efficiency standard in place that says your car needs to get 20 miles a gallon or 30 miles a gallon, suddenly all these engineers are thinking, well, how do we do that?  And all these companies start coming up with new technologies that make your cars more fuel-efficient.  Ultimately, you end up seeing jobs and businesses thriving in response to the regulation that’s been put there,” Obama told the town hall meeting.

Obama outs mother-in-law as big fan of Las Vegas

USA-POLITICS/OBAMABy trying to soothe Las Vegas’ hurt feelings about some remarks he made recently, President Barack Obama outed his mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, as a big fan of the gambling city.

“Now, before I go any further, let me set the record straight: I love Vegas,” Obama told a town hall meeting.

He had angered the mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, by saying in New Hamsphire recently that, “You don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college.”

What’s a friendly wager between friends, or senators?

trophyWhile Washington deals with freezing temperatures this Sunday, Super Bowl XLIV will kick off in sunny Miami Gardens, Florida, as the New Orleans Saints take on the Indianapolis Colts. But the snow has not dampened football fans’ spirits, and even a few senators are betting on the outcome.

Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Evan Bayh of Indiana announced a friendly wager on Friday, each betting that their team will bring home that coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy.

What’s at stake?

Well, a win for the Saints in their first ever Super Bowl appearance means Bayh will be bringing Landrieu and her constituents Indiana popcorn, a local favorite.

Poll: U.S. Senate leader has problems in home state

Sure it’s a long way before the November 2010 U.S. congressional election — and a lot can happen between now and then. But at this point, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada seems to be in jeopardy of becoming the second Senate leader in a half century to be voted out of office.

A poll released on Tuesday by the Las Vegas Review-Journal found that half of Nevada voters had an unfavorable view of Reid, while 38 percent had a favorable view, the newspaper said.

USA-SENATE/SPECTER

Reid won reelection in 2004 to a fourth term with 61 percent of the vote. But his approval ratings have since slipped. He became Senate Democratic leader in 2005, and majority leader in 2007.

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.