Tales from the Trail

Reuters-Ipsos poll: Tea Party favorite Rubio ahead in Florida Senate race

The Tea Party’s on a roll and it’s a wake-up and smell the coffee moment for anyone who had dismissed the movement as a passing fad.

Tea Party backed Christine O’Donnell shook the political cognoscenti by winning the Delaware Republican primary over  longtime congressman Michael Castle last night. USA-POLITICS/FLORIDA

Another Tea Party favorite, Marco Rubio, is leading in the Senate race in Florida, according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll on Wednesday.

With just six weeks to go until the Nov. 2 election, Rubio leads Florida Governor Charlie Crist, an independent, 40-26 percent among likely voters. Democrat Kendrick Meek trails at 21 percent.

The Democratic candidate is likely taking support away from Crist, because in a two-way race Rubio and Crist poll head-to-head 46-45 percent.

Taxes: battle of the shoulds, musts, nots

Political maneuvering is in full bloom as positions are being staked out in the battle over tax cuts to the wealthy and for the hearts and minds of the Middle Class ahead of the November election.

President Barack Obama on Friday had his say: Congress should pass what everyone agrees on — extend Bush-era Middle Class tax relief for families earning up to $250,000.

USA/For higher incomes, Obama said the country can’t afford extending tax cuts, but he is willing to talk about it . “We can have a further conversation about how they want to spend an additional $700 billion to give an average of $100,000 to millionaires. That I think is a bad idea.” 

Obama finds reality of change is no quick fix on economy

President Barack Obama has come face-to-face with the reality of change (his campaign slogan) and found it is slow moving when the economy is involved.

OBAMA/“My analysis is that we came in with great excitement and people hoping that we could turn the corner really quickly. And we couldn’t,” Obama said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“This is a hard set of problems that we’re facing. And so, folks have now seen a year and a half of unemployment above 9 percent. And long-term unemployment at record levels. And so, people are hurtin’ out there. And they’re anxious and they’re fearful,” he said.

You take that back, Mr. President!

Republicans are lining up to throw punches at President Barack Obama.

The Democratic president has been trading verbal barbs with House Republican Leader John Boehner over economic and fiscal policy. Obama on Wednesday took several swipes at Boehner and charged that it was the Republicans who took the country into deficit when they were running things in Washington. USA-STIMULUS/

Boehner retorted that Obama should freeze all tax rates and cut “federal spending to where it was before all the bailouts, government takeovers, and ‘stimulus’ spending sprees.” Boehner is in line to become House Speaker if Republicans seize control of Congress in November elections.

Other Republicans also jumped in the fray. Boehner’s House Republican lieutenants Eric Cantor and Mike Pence issued statements backing Boehner, saying non-security spending should be cut to 2008 levels. 

Cleveland was no accident, Gibbs confirms

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed what had been suspected.

USA/OBAMAThere was a reason for choosing Cleveland as the venue for President Barack Obama’s economy speech on Wednesday and his name is John Boehner — the man who would likely be House Speaker if Republicans oust the Democrats from control on Nov. 2.

Cleveland was where House Republican leader Boehner gave his economy speech two weeks ago in which he suggested Obama toss out his economic team, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and White House economic adviser Larry Summers.

And it’s no accident that Boehner and Obama are paying so much attention to Ohio less than two months before the congressional elections – it’s a swing state with a crucial Senate race and several competitive House races.

Washington Extra – pain relief

Just a few quick thoughts ahead of the Labor Day weekend. President Barack Obama plans to unveil a package of measures to stimulate hiring and the economy next week, although we are assured this will absolutely not be a second stimulus. I guess that means it won’t have a major price tag attached, in terms of its effect on the deficit. But you also have to wonder how much effect it will have on the economy, even if Obama manages to get any of it through Congress. BAYER

Some relief, then, that this week’s economic numbers have not been as grim as many had feared. The private sector is not dead and buried, if today’s payrolls report is anything to go by. But don’t expect growth or hiring to pick up nearly fast enough to save the Democrats from pain in November.

Finally, take a look at our special report on the Food and Drug Administration’s efforts to crack down on increasingly aggressive marketing tactics by drug companies. Critics accuse Big Pharma of pushing medicines on people which they often do not need, without fully disclosing the risks. Sadly, even the FDA admits it is outgunned, and lacks the resources to keep pace.

Lighting a fire off the campaign trail

Politicians rarely take a break from the campaign trail, but when they do they tend to choose mainstream R&R, unwinding on the golf course or tucked away on a private estate.

Not so John Mertens, a third-party candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Chris Dodd of Connecticut. Attendees of the annual Burning Man festival parade around a 50-foot effigy of a man at the annual event held in the Nevada desert August 30. The festival is an 'anything goes' event that's been described as "Mad Max meets Woodstock" and is expected to draw 20,000 free-sprited people.

The engineering professor turned candidate is off to Burning Man, a counterculture festival held each summer in the Nevada desert that ends with the burning of a 40-foot tall wooden sculpture. It will be his sixth time at the festival, which features extensive art exhibits but is also known for drug use and nudity.

Reuters/Ipsos poll on Colorado races: Democrat Hickenlooper, Republican Buck leading

A Reuters/Ipsos poll on Colorado races shows a mixed picture for Democrats and Republicans ahead of the November election, reflecting the mountain state’s status as a hard-fought battleground where neither party holds a clear advantage.

Democrat John Hickenlooper has a substantial lead in the Colorado governor’s race in which a third-party candidate is splitting the Republican vote, according to the Reuters/Ipsos poll. USA-POLITICS/

But the Democrat in Colorado’s Senate race, incumbent Michael Bennet, trails Republican challenger Ken Buck 40-49 percent, the poll found.

Florida, Arizona contestants set, still waiting on Alaska…

The contestants are set in Florida’s three-way race for the U.S. Senate and John McCain holds on to pursue a fifth term. USA/PALIN

But most of the chatter this morning is about the Alaska surprise where Joe Miller, an underdog candidate backed by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, edged into the lead over incumbent Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski. It may take a week or more to determine the winner of the primary as rural and absentee votes are tallied. 

How Miller fares will be seen as a test of Palin’s clout in the Republican Party. She has backed a number of candidates in this primary season and her results are mixed.

Reuters/Ipsos poll: Obama approval hits new low, but Republicans catch blame too

President Barack Obama’s approval rating sank to a new low of 45 percent, while his disapproval rating rose to 52 percent, according to a Reuters-Ipsos  poll. It was the first time more Americans disapproved than approved of Obama in an Ipsos poll since he became president.

But Republicans had little to crow about because they were blamed more than Democrats for Washington being broken, according to the August national poll. OBAMA/

Among registered voters the readings were about even when looking ahead to the November midterm elections, with 46 percent  likely to vote for Republican candidates and 45 percent for Democrats.