Tales from the Trail

What would Gingrich do?

RTR2JLFO_Comp-150x150President Obama may be in hot water with lawmakers who think the U.S.-led military mission in Libya is a big mistake. But some GOP voices are calling for an escalation of U.S. involvement — or at least an expansion of U.S. goals.

Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who is considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination, tells NBC’s Today show that the United States will face defeat in Libya if the current mission ends with Muammar Gaddafi still in power.

People might have a hard time arguing with that point.

But what would he do now, if he were president?

Gingrich’s answer sounds just like the message John McCain conveyed on the same TV show a day earlier, when LIBYA-REBELS/GADDAFIhe called for arming the Libyan rebels to ensure the end of Gaddafi’s 41-year rule.

“We should be very clear to the Libyans that Gaddafi is going to go,” Gingrich says. ”We should help equip the Libyan rebels.” Otherwise he’d let the Pentagon, the CIA, etc, determine what needs to be done “to win”.

But there may be problems with the arm-the-rebels idea. Reports from the field suggest the rag-tag Libyan rebel force wouldn’t be able to defeat Gaddafi in its present state.  According to accounts, some rebels are so innocent of martial tactics that they may not even be sure which end of the gun goes ‘Bang!”

Reuters/Ipsos poll: Potential Republican candidates not quite household names

At least they know his name.

USA

President Barack Obama’s job approval rating fell to 49 percent in March from 51 percent in February, and dropped among independent voters to 37 percent from 47 percent over the same period, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Separate from their view on Obama’s job performance, a majority of Americans — 55 percent — had a favorable opinion of the president personally, according to the poll. That number was unchanged from December, when the question was last asked.

Potential Republican candidates who may seek to challenge Obama in the 2012 presidential race have their work cut out in the name recognition department.

Then came social issues and ‘morality’…

RTR2CNMS_Comp-150x150The Tea Party’s November victories and the ensuing Republican drive for spending cuts are in large part the result of a political strategy that focuses tightly on fiscal and economic matters, while minimizing rhetoric on moral questions and social topics. But for how much longer can Republicans keep a lid on the culture war?

The 2012 presidential race, though lacking in declared GOP candidates, may be about to pry open a Pandora’s box bearing the name of social issues that have long divided Republican and independent ranks. And such an occurrence could work against the interests of fiscal conservatives, just as the GOP girds itself for a showdown with Democrats over spending cuts and the debt ceiling later this spring.RTXXP42_Comp-150x150

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, one of those Republicans who are running for president without actually running for president, tells NBC’s Today show that social conservatism is what built America and made it strong.

Washington Extra – Trying it out

It’s a bird, it’s a plane… oh wait… sorry, just some trial balloons floating around…

President Barack Obama took a harsh tone on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi at today’s news conference.  USA/

The way he repeatedly emphasized “COLONEL” was an effective reminder that Gaddafi was not an elected leader like a president, but rather a military man who took power through a coup.

Trump accepts high marks for CPAC

USA-POLITICS/Donald Trump went to CPAC this week and aced his performance as a prospective White House Wannabe. Any doubts? Just ask him.

“I tell the truth. I tell it like it is, and people understand what I’m saying, and the place did go crazy,” The Donald tells MSNBC’s Morning Joe today.  ”That’s what I said in the speech. And that’s why I got 10 standing ovations.”

Remarks like that, taken out of context, might sound like the words of a talking ego.

Obama up, Palin down in 2012 poll

President Barack Obama’s reelection prospects seem to be rosier, while former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s chances of being the Republican nominee were souring for 2012, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll. But it’s early yet.

USA-ELECTION/Obama is expected to run again in 2012, and CNN said the poll suggests that his tax-cut deal with Republicans, pushed through at year-end, did not hurt him with Democrats.

Among Democrats, 78 percent said Obama should be renominated as the party’s presidential candidate, while 19 percent said they wanted a different candidate. Those readings were the highest and lowest respectively since March 2010, when the poll first asked the question.

Washington Extra – The elections are over, time to start campaigning

The final result of the mid-term elections is not even in yet, but it’s never too early to start the campaign for the White House in 2012. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan invited Republican candidates to take part in the first presidential debate, to be held next spring at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in California.debate

There are plenty of potential candidates, including Mitt Romney, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Then there’s Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and South Dakota Senator  John Thune. And of course, if no one suitable throws their hat in the ring, Sarah Palin has offered to step up to the plate. Honestly, spring seems such a long time to wait.

Finally, a nod to the latest twist in the post-Cold War spy drama, with the unmasking of a Russian double agent who betrayed a Russian spy ring in the United States in June before defecting. The Russian paper which broke the story quoted a Kremlin official as saying a hit squad was probably already planning to kill him.  ”We know who he is and where he is,” the unidentified official said. “Do not doubt that a Mercader has been sent after him already.”

First Republican presidential debate planned for next spring

Okay here we go again. Now that the 2010 elections are behind us, it’s time to start looking ahead to 2012. And so today we have former first lady Nancy Reagan GERALD FORDannouncing plans to invite Republican candidates to the first presidential debate. It’s to be held next spring at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California.

Setting up the first debate could have the net effect of forcing some would-be candidates who are sitting back and testing the political winds to go ahead and make a decision on whether they will run. We’re talking about you, Sarah Palin.

“Ronnie would be thrilled that the road to the White House will begin at his presidential library,” Mrs. Reagan said in a statement. “I look forward to welcoming and watching the top candidates debate the issues next spring.”

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.

Democrats try turning mosque debate against GOP

Democrats were stunned and somewhat speechless last August when Republicans accused them of proposing “death panels” as part of  their healthcare reform initiative.

This August,  it’s the proposed construction of a Muslim cultural center and mosque near lower Manhattan’s “Ground Zero” that is dominating the end-of-summer doldrums.  Once again,  Democrats are struggling to gain the upper hand in the debate. AFGHANISTAN/

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi weighed in on Wednesday, saying, “Where a place of worship is located is a local decision.” The Democrat may have been tweaking Republicans from across the U.S. who are railing about the New York City mosque all the while complaining about the long, intrusive arm of the federal government.