Tales from the Trail

Why are these politicians smiling?

IMMIGRATION-USA/SECURITYSocial Security reform is coming. You can tell by the smiling nice guy personas being adopted around Washington in uncommon bipartisan fashion.

There’s Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, the senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. “If we’re smart, we can adjust those programs in ways that minimize the impact,” he reassures the viewers of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

After all, Sessions says there’s no reason seniors should have to worry about losing their Social Security (who says they would?) or see it “savaged in any significant way.”

Never mind the bizarre implication that it might somehow be savaged in an insignificant way.

These are not fighting words like the ones that adorned political speech before the Giffords shooting in Arizona.

CPAC victory in hand, Ron Paul takes on Tea Party

USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANSLibertarian Ron Paul, a godfather of the Tea Party movement, isn’t altogether happy with his political progeny these days.

Fresh from victory in last week’s CPAC presidential straw poll, the Republican congressman from Texas laments to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that some Tea Partiers aren’t measuring up when it comes to the tough defense and entitlement program cuts he believes are needed to save the United States from economic cataclysm.

“They don’t want you to touch Social Security. They don’t want you to touch anything but Obamacare,” Paul says. “Some of them are real Republicans and they wouldn’t dare touch Bush’s increase in medical care costs, you know, prescription health programs.”

Is Rand Paul a U.S. Senate action hero?

RTR9KH6_Comp-150x150It didn’t take Rand Paul long to become Captain America of the U.S. Senate. He’s tough-minded, strong-willed and he’s ready to battle the most dangerous titans on the political landscape, like Social Security and Medicare.

In fact, the Republican Tea Party favorite from Kentucky tells MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that a courageous and comprehensive plan for fixing America’s public finances will soon be on the march. And if all goes as planned, much may be accomplished before the start of this year’s Major League Baseball season.

“Within two to three weeks, I’m going to propose a fix for Social Security,” says Rand, son of Ron, who has already far surpassed the fiscal aims of the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill by proposing $500 billion in budget cuts.

Washington Extra – Time for a change, Take two

For the second time in two years, the American people have delivered a message of change, a message that they think Washington is broken. In 2008, Barack Obama took that message into the White House but has, at least according to these polls, failed to deliver change that most Americans readily believe in.

Now, the conservative Tea Party movement is riding what Kentucky’s new Senator-elect Rand Paul called a “tidal wave” right into the halls of power to “get our government back.”

USA-ELECTIONS/The change the Tea Party is proposing is, of course, very different from the agenda that Obama pursued. The question is whether the new kids on the block will be any more successful in handling the power they have now been granted.

When politics feels like a bad flight

ALITALIA

He sounded like someone bombarded by too many election ads.

“I call it the perfect storm of bad manners,” Steven Slater told CNN’s Larry King. “I was angry at all of it.”

The former JetBlue flight attendant, who famously quit his job by jumping down an emergency chute, beer in hand, was talking about his life in the U.S. airline industry — not politics.

But his words could just as easily have described what some people think about the tone of the 2010 midterm election campaign – like audience members who booed Republican California gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman for refusing to stop TV ads attacking her Democratic opponent Jerry Brown. 
    
USA/This election year, negative ads can be mild compared with campaign events on the ground.
    
Last week, Alaska Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller’s private security guard handcuffed a journalist for asking questions the candidate didn’t want to answer. This week, video footage from Kentucky shows a woman protester from MoveOn.org being dragged to the ground and stepped on by supporters of Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul. 
    
Among voters, the anger appears aimed mainly at Democrats, who the Cook Political Report’s pre-election House outlook now predicts will lose 48 to 60 seats, with higher losses possible.
    
Republican officials are already preparing for an invasion of fresh new GOP House members, some of them Tea Party candidates who say they want nothing to do with business as usual in Washington. USA-POLITICS

Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Republican Rand Paul leading in Kentucky Senate race

Republican Rand Paul, a Tea Party favored candidate, is leading his Democratic opponent Jack Conway by 5 points among likely voters,  45 percent to 40 percent, in the Kentucky race for a U.S. Senate seat, a Reuters/Ipsos poll said. USA-POLITICS/

Many voters in Kentucky, 53 percent, were unaware of the recent reports about Paul’s involvement in apparent pranks while he was a student. A GQ headlined “Rand Paul’s Kooky College Days” article described escapades including trying to force a woman to bow at a creek to a god called “Aqua Buddha” and smoke marijuana.

A small number of Republicans, 12 percent, said those stories made them MORE likely to vote for the son of two-time Republican presidential contender Ron Paul.

Rand Paul blames trash-talking Democrats who throw out red herrings

USA/“When does my honeymoon period start?” Rand Paul asked.

That was Paul’s opening line in an ABC “Good Morning America” interview Friday when asked about the controversy this week over comments that suggested he opposed part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that outlawed racial segregation.

Paul blamed the controversy on political trash-talk by Democrats worried that he will win the Kentucky Senate seat in November’s election after his Tea Party supported victory in the Republican primary earlier this week.

“I’ve been trashed up and down one network that tends to side with the Democrats. For an entire 24 hours I’ve suffered from them saying ‘oh he wants to repeal the Civil Rights Act,’ but that’s never been my position,” he said.

The Day After: everyone’s got an opinion

Everyone’s got an opinion about what happened Tuesday when Senator Arlen Specter — long-term Republican, newly turned Democrat — lost the Pennsylvania primary, Tea Party candidate Ron Paul won the Senate Republican primary in Kentucky, and neither Democrat in the Arkansas Senate primary could muster 50 percent of the vote so they have to do it all over again in June.

USA-POLITICS/In all of the contests, there was only one person who won an actual seat in Congress on Tuesday night — Democrat Mark Critz who took the special election for the Pennsylvania district seat left vacant by the death of Rep. John Murtha earlier this year.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs @PressSec tweeted “Sort of says it all…” with a link to a Politico story headlined “The GOP’s special failure.”

Specter Loses, “Tea Party” Wins

specterIt’s curtains  for Arlen Specter’s career in the  U.S. Senate. The veteran senator from Pennsylvania  went down in defeat on Tuesday, losing to challenger Rep. Joe  Sestak in a tight race for the Democratic Senate nomination.

Specter’s loss makes him the latest incumbent to get the boot from  angry voters unhappy with just about everybody in Washington.

Specter has served in the Senate for 30 years but his political fortune may have been sealed last year when he switched party allegiance from Republican to Democrat.

Tea Party toughens up Republican Party – Gingrich

The Tea Party movement is a good thing for the Republican Party, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says. It toughens up the GOP.

USA/(Anyone else thinking biker jackets?)

Rather than fragment the Republican Party in the coming November elections, the conservative anti-tax, small-government Tea Party movement will rev it up,  says Gingrich, who helped orchestrate the 1994 Republican Revolution when the party won control of both houses of Congress in the midterm elections.

And wins by Tea Party-supported candidates in the primaries leading up to the November midterms will benefit the Republican Party, “if the Tea Party movement and the Republicans stay together to defeat Obamaism,” Gingrich said on NBC’s “Today” show.