Tales from the Trail

Jindal’s not running for president, but…

LOUISIANA GOVERNORS ELECTIONFirst, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says he isn’t running for president. Then out comes his prescription for righting the national economy. 

“What I’m saying is, if we actually focus on the real challenges facing our country, not get diverted into taking over car companies and healthcare (but) cut taxes, create jobs, our country can get back on the right path, right direction,” the rising Republican conservative star of the South tells NBC in an interview.

Political oracle Karl Rove has anointed Jindal as one of 10 potential GOP presidential candidates for 2012.  Seven others on the list are also current or former state governors. But the 39-year-old son of Indian immigrants is the only one who is his state’s first nonwhite governor since the Civil War era, whose popularity among voters that has scored one decisive election victory after another.  

Jindal is running. But officialy speaking, that’s only for reelection as state chief executive. “Next year, you’ll have a lot of Republicans in Iowa. I’m sure I’ll be in Louisiana,” he predicts.

But wait. Don’t forget that on his watch Louisiana’s economy has outperformed the nation’s, with unemployment rates below Southern and national averages, or so he asserts in a burst of enthusiasm.   

Bachmann steps aside, avoids House Republican-Tea Party tussle

There will be no showdown at the GOP corral. (For now anyway).

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a Tea Party potentate, decided to step out of the ring . And so evaporated the potential for a high-profile internal duel for House Republican Conference chair, the fourth highest position.

Bachmann in July started the Tea Party Caucus as the conservative movement was gaining momentum ahead of the November elections. Republicans seized control of the House of Representatives in those midterms which also brought wins to Tea Party candidates who will want to flex their muscles in the new Congress. USA-ELECTIONS/

But Bachmann’s decision has staved off what could have been high-level drama when Republicans pick their leaders next week.

Will spelling count in Alaska write-in ballot count?

vote3They’re counting write-in ballots in Alaska to decide the winner of the last undecided U.S. Senate race of the 2010 elections.

It’s write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski versus Sarah Palin protege and Tea Party favorite Joe Miller in a Republican family feud where spelling counts.

Incumbent  Murkowski lost  to Miller in the Republican Senate primary. But she mounted a write-in campaign to keep the seat she’s held for eight years.

Did GOP victory boost economic optimism?

USA-TAX/It’s not exactly a tsunami of euphoria. But Republican victories in the midterm elections may have helped goose economic optimism, at least among …well… Republicans.

A new Gallup survey finds that Republicans grew more optimistic during the first week of November, as Tea Party candidates led a GOP charge that captured the House and narrowed the Democratic majority in the Senate.

Republicans grew 13 points rosier on the Gallup Economic Confidence Index, compared with October, and that change appeared strong enough to drive an increase in optimism across the board.

Christine O’Donnell is not going away

Christine O’Donnell may have lost her Senate race. But she’s not exiting the spotlight. In fact, she’s sounding a bit like Sarah Palin.RTXU581_Comp-150x150

The Tea Party darling of Delaware cheerfully tells NBC’s Today show that she’s pursuing a book deal. She likes being involved in documentaries. And she’s going to fight tooth and nail against whatever Democrats try to pull during the upcoming lameduck session in Congress (how isn’t quite clear).

“We created a platform and we’ve been able to get a lot of issues out there. And I’d like to continue to do that at least for the short term.”

Washington Extra – Dinner party ideas

ron_paulCongress might not get much done in the next two years, but boring it won’t be. Certainly not with Ron Paul as likely head of the monetary policy (aka Fed oversight) subcommittee in the House.

Today, Paul the elder told Reuters correspondent Andy Sullivan that he was looking forward to his new “very, very important” role. The Fed, he said, was ”way too independent” and “totally out of control.” Quantitative easing – the Fed’s controversial program to purchase government securities – is not just lousy economics and lousy monetary policy, he said, it is “central economic planning at its worst.” More here.

Expect more fireworks from other conservative Republicans in the coming Congress, people who believe the Fed is enabling excessive government borrowing through its purchases of government debt, that it is printing money to finance the deficit. Then there is Darrell Issa, likely head of the oversight committee, with the subpoena power to be at least as much of a thorn in Ben Bernanke’s side than either of the Paul clan. It will be interesting to see if any of them can get under the skin of the normally unflappable Fed chairman.

What wilderness? Republicans emerge from elections ready to charge

Republicans have emerged from the political wilderness and they’re wasting no time laying down markers.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell particularly sounds like he’s looking for bear, not mincing words in his speech at the Heritage Foundation today.  SAFRICA/

Never mind that his party is still  in the minority in the Senate and would need support from Democrats and the president to get anything enacted, McConnell appears ready to lay down the law.

Election is over, now can they get along?

It’s the day after the election and the big question now is will they play nice?

The Tea Party’s coming to town, Republicans seized control of the House, and Democrats are still in charge of the White House and Senate. 

Soon-to-be House Speaker John Boehner today said he saw no problem with incorporating members of the Tea Party into the Republican Party. And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the goal was “how do we meet in the middle?”

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.

Reuters.com has the midterms covered

After a long and bitter campaign, Americans voted in midterm elections that could sweep Democrats from power in Congress and slam the brakes on President Barack Obama’s legislative agenda.

Our midterm coverage has all the angles covered, with the latest breaking news and developments, as well as thoughtful insight and analysis.

In between reporting the results and implications, our White House team will be tweeting the latest insights from the nation’s capital and posting behind-the-headlines stories to Front Row Washington.