Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Blame to go around

As much as President Barack Obama tries to distance himself from the failure of the congressional “super committee” to make a long-term deal on cutting the deficit, a good chunk of voters may hold him at least partially responsible.

A Reuters Ipsos poll shows the blame for the failure shared fairly equally among the political parties and the president. Just over one in five respondents (22 percent) blame all three (Democratic and Republican lawmakers as well as Obama) the most — slightly more than the 19 percent who blame both parties’ lawmakers but not the president.

For 13 percent of respondents, Obama alone is blamed most, better than the 18 percent who just blame Republicans but worse than the 7 percent who blame the Democratic lawmakers alone. And while Congress suffers the most in the public’s eye, with 51 percent taking a less favorable view of Capitol Hill in the wake of the failure, Obama’s standing drops for 35 percent of those polled.

While Obama can run from this unpopular Congress, he cannot hide from voters when it comes to the country’s debt crisis. A full 87 percent of the poll respondents said they were very or fairly concerned about the super committee’s failure. If there is anything to console him in this poll, it might be that Americans still think he has the best chances of solving the debt crisis when compared to his possible Republican contenders in 2012.

Here are our top stories from Washington…

Americans blame all sides for debt committee failure: poll
Americans blamed the failure of Washington’s debt “super committee” on Republican and Democratic lawmakers and President Barack Obama, although more than a third said it lowered their opinion of the president, according to Reuters/Ipsos poll results on Tuesday.
Eighteen percent blamed Republican lawmakers most for the committee’s failure to reach agreement on a plan to reduce the U.S. budget deficit and 13 percent blamed Obama most.

Reuters/Ipsos poll: Republicans trail Obama

President Barack Obama comes out ahead against the field of potential Republican hopefuls for the 2012 presidential election, with more than a 10-point lead over the closest of the pack — Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

When Obama was pitted against each possible Republican candidate, he scored more than 50 percent. His highest rating came against Donald Trump with 57 percent saying they would vote for Obama versus 30 percent for the New York real estate magnate.

All the Republicans were in the 30-percent range, led by former Arkansas governor Huckabee at 39 percent and former Massachusetts governor Romney at 38 percent, compared with 51 percent who said they would vote for Obama.

Reuters/Ipsos poll: Obama gets credit for bin Laden death, but not by much

President Barack Obama gave the order for a daring raid on a compound inside Pakistan in which the most wanted man on earth was killed, but only 32 percent of Americans say he deserves the most credit for Osama bin Laden’s death.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that 13 percent of Americans gave former President George W. Bush credit, while 25 percent said neither.

Most Americans, 52 percent, said the killing of bin Laden in the Sunday secret operation did not change their view about Obama’s leadership, while 39 percent said it improved their view and 10 percent said it worsened theirs.

Obama doesn’t drive, but he feels your pain at the pump

President Barack Obama says he sympathizes with the frustration over high gas prices — even though it’s been a while since he’s had to fill a tank.

“I’ll admit to you, it’s been a while since I … filled up at the pump,” Obama joked during a townhall-style event. “Secret Service doesn’t let me get out, and they don’t let me drive anymore.” USA

The event at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale was part of Obama’s ongoing effort to sell the deficit-reduction plan he introduced last week and gear up for a 2012 re-election campaign.

Reuters/Ipsos poll: Obama seen as cautious commander-in-chief

The military operation on Libya has once again put President Barack Obama’s commander-in-chief credentials to the test, and nearly half of Americans — 48 percent — describe his style as “cautious and consultative,” according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Obama was seen by 36 percent as “indecisive and dithering”, and the fewest, 17 percent, viewed Obama as a “strong and decisive” commander of the armed forces. USA/

The Reuters/Ipsos poll interviewed 975 adults online and was conducted on March 22, three days after the bombing campaign was launched against Libya to impose a no-fly zone.

Washington Extra – Podium pieces

We learned a thing or two from briefings around town.

– White House spokesman Jay Carney has a sister, and today is her birthday. He announced it from the podium. “I spoke with her this morning, and we are very close.” LIBYA-USA/

– State Department spokesman Mark Toner is interested in the Georgetown basketball game. “Anybody got the latest score on Georgetown?” he asked, to break up some of the back-and-forth with reporters on questions about Libya.

– Republicans have noticed that Vice President Joe Biden hasn’t been around. House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy complained that Biden is supposed to be lead negotiator in government funding talks and no one will say who is filling in for him. “The vice president is out of the country. We’ll have to prepare for another two weeks but that’s not where we want to go.”

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.

Washington Extra – Food for thought

The U.S. government strongly supports democratic reforms in the Middle East. Just look at its comments on Egypt. But the American public doesn’t appear to be so gung-ho.

OBAMAA Reuters/Ipsos poll out today found that a solid majority, 58 percent, believe the United States should be cautious about backing democracy in the Middle East because elections could lead to anti-American Islamist governments.

The biggest opposition group in Egypt is the banned Muslim Brotherhood and President Barack Obama has acknowledged that the group’s ideology included anti-American strains.

Washington Extra – Word test

Presidents are tested almost every day, in big ways and small.

Tonight is one of the bigger ones. Will Obama’s words at the memorial service for the Arizona shooting victims have the impact of uniting a politically divided country? USA-SHOOTING/

Will Obama’s words resonate with a public that is divided over whether he is taking the country in the right direction? There will be plenty of analysis and punditry afterward on whether the president’s famed oratorical skills stood up to the test.

His predecessors faced similar challenges. President George W. Bush was credited with helping pull the country together in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, and President Bill Clinton’s popularity was boosted after his speech on the Oklahoma City bombing.

Reuters/Ipsos poll: Obama steady, Republicans get higher marks on economy

President Barack Obama’s job approval rating held steady at 45 percent since late October despite last month’s “shellacking” of Democrats in the midterm elections, a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted Dec. 2-5 showed.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton scored the highest favorability rating on a list of prominent officials and politicians, followed by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a potential Republican presidential contender, and General David Petraeus. USA-TAXES/

At the bottom of the list were conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh with the lowest favorability rating, followed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.