Tales from the Trail

Romney’s strong debate draws cheers and relief from Republicans in Congress

Mitt Romney’s strong debate performance eased concerns by fellow Republicans in Congress that his recent struggles could be a problem for all of them on Election Day.

“His first debate was very important – and he delivered,” said Congressman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a member of the House Republican leadership.

“He established himself as a person who can be president of the United States – and that will make everyone feel positive,” said Republican Senator Mike Johanns.

“This is our first good morning since our convention,” said Republican Congressman Tom Cole. “We’re buoyant.”

Romney raised Republicans’ spirits – and lowered those of  Democrats – with a powerful showing on Wednesday in his first of three nationally televised debates against President Barack Obama.

Washington Extra – T-Paw power

Right off the starting line, Republican Tim Pawlenty is fashioning himself as the Chevy of presidential candidates. “We will not be the money champion in the race to start with. My friend, Mitt Romney, will be the front-runner in that regard,” he told NBC’s Today show. His nomination bid, he added, “may not be the BMW or the Mercedes campaign.”

Sounds like T-Paw is calling Mitt a Mercedes. But what Pawlenty isn’t saying is that he is running the Cadillac of campaigns in Iowa. The former Minnesota governor has put more troops on the ground in that early voting state than any of the other candidates combined, according to the Iowa Republican website.

A political scientist in his native Minnesota called it a big and costly operation, “a Napoleonic army sort of thing.” With potent paychecks, Pawlenty has drawn in some of Iowa’s best campaign talent.

As Tea Party cranks up heat on Congress, poll shows public support waning

The Tea Party is coming to Washington to turn up the heat on the Congress — just as a new poll finds that public support for it has waned.

Members of the conservative Tea Party movement plan to hold a rally on Thursday outside the U.S. Capitol, urging Republicans to stand firm in their showdown with Democrats over proposed spending cuts.

While the Tea Party helped Republicans win power in last year’s elections, nearly half of all Americans now have an USA-POLITICS/unfavorable view of it, according to CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released on Wednesday.

No politics or punditry for George W. Bush

When George W. Bush says he’s done with politics — believe it.

bush1Not even the queen of daytime TV could draw the former Republican president into commenting on the current political scene when Bush sat down with her to discuss his new book.

He makes it clear he has moved on from politics and that punditry is not his thing.

“I’m through with politics. It’s hard for people to believe. I already said that. I am through. I enjoyed it,” Bush says in excerpts of an upcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey released Thursday.

Top Democrat dismisses Beck’s ‘non-political’ rally as blatant politics

A Washington rally that will be hosted by Fox TV’s Glenn Beck and feature conservative power broker Sarah Palin drew the wrath on Friday of the chairman of the House Democratic campaign committee.

USA/Chris Van Hollen rejected organizers’ assurances that the “Restoring Honor Rally” — expected to draw thousands of members of the conservative Tea Party movement — would be “non-political.”

In fact, Van Hollen predicted the rally would be partisan and could turn off many voters.

Peter Peterson says Republicans and business need to step up

Peter Peterson knows a little something about Republicans, Wall Street, and American business. He’s a former Commerce Secretary under Republican President Richard Nixon, a former New York Federal Reserve chairman and a former chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers.

And what he sees right now is that Republicans and business are not stepping up to the plate.

BUSH/“One of the things that troubles me about the position of the Republicans is they’ve also been the party of  ‘yes,’ not just the party of  ’no’,” he said in an interview with Reuters Insider TV.

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.

Obama: no ‘Armageddon’ as healthcare becomes law

USA-HEALTHCARE/OBAMAPresident Barack Obama, campaigning in Iowa on Thursday to sell his landmark healthcare overhaul, couldn’t resist mocking Republicans for warning that the reform would provoke “Armageddon” and other tactics he rejects as alarmist scaremongering.

“I’m not exaggerating. Leaders of the Republican Party called the passage of this bill Armageddon. Armageddon! End of freedom as we know it,” he told a rally in Iowa City.

“So after I signed the bill, I looked around to see if there were any asteroids falling, some cracks opening up in the earth? Turned out it was a nice day. Birds were chirping. Folks were strolling down the Mall,” he said.

Texas Tea Partiers organize by zip codes

In north Texas, the conservative protest Tea Party movement has organized itself by zip codes and hopes it is a model that will be used elsewhere in America as it sets out to “take the country back” neighborhood by neighborhood.

We break down our system by zip codes. This is unique to north Texas I think but we would like to see it adopted elsewhere,” Ken Emanuelson, who is on the steering committee for the Dallas Tea Party, told me on the sidelines of a “Leadership Tea Party” conference being held this weekend.

USA/

The movement grabbed headlines last year as it channeled conservative opposition to President Barack Obama’s policies into natwion-wide protests against bank bail-outs, the drive to overhaul healthcare, and other aspects of the White House agenda.

A Tale of Two Tea Parties

Is it the best of times or the worst of times for America’s Tea Party movement?

The answer may emerge in the next couple of weeks. A pair of Tea-Party-events-in-the-making suggest the movement, which has channeled much of the conservative opposition to President Barack Obama’s agenda, has reached a fork in the road.

It made headlines last summer as “Tea Party” rallies – evoking a famous protest in Boston against British rule in 1773 — were held across the country in opposition to bank bail-outs, Obama’s attempted healthcare overhaul, and other aspects of the White House agenda.