Tales from the Trail

Republican, Democratic party chiefs see victory in battle for the House

In dueling appearances on the Sunday morning news shows, the heads of the Democratic and Republican parties made the same  prediction — After the Nov. 2 elections, our guys will control the House.

mike_sarahRepublican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says his party’s going into the final campaign stretch on a winning combination of momentum, excitement and energy.

“There is a vibration out here that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, Steele said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“I think you’re going to see a wave, an unprecedented wave on Election Day, that’s going to surprise a lot of people,” Steele said.

“As I like to say, we’re 38 seats and we need to get to 39 seats to… get control (of the House). But I think we’re more than there,” the RNC chief said.

McCain hails Palin power in the mid-term elections

Arizona Senator John McCain says his former running mate former Alasaka governor Sarah Palin is a “visionary” for the United States.

“She has had a tremendous impact on this election cycle, as you well know, by supporting certain candidates,” McCain said in an interview on ABC’s “Nightline. “It is really a remarkable thing to observe.”

The 2008 Republican presidential nominee again defended his decision to pick the then relatively unknown Palin for the number-two spot on the ticket.

Media relations eclipse rhetoric as bare-knuckle politics

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The campaign rhetoric couldn’t be harsher, what with the talk about who’s a whore and who’s a nut job and who cheated on who’s ex-wife. (Remember when ‘who’ was just the guy on first?)

But nowadays the real bare-knuckle politics appears to be between the candidates and the news media.

Take the Senate campaign in Alaska. Tea Party Republican Joe Miller won’t talk to the press about his past as a public official. And when a journalist wouldn’t stop asking about it over the weekend, Miller’s private security team intervened.

NRSC eats humble pie over West Virginia “hicky” ad

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The National Republican Senatorial Committee at first denied having anything to do with the infamous TV casting call that sought “hicky” actors to pose as West Virginia voters in a Republican campaign ad.

But today, the committee charged with getting Republicans elected to the U.S. Senate, fired one of its TV ad vendors and apologized to West Virginians, saying it had learned the consulting firm in question — Jamestown Associates – was responsible for the remark.

The NRSC also apologized to the Philadelphia talent agent who was falsely blamed for coming up with the word “hicky.”

Reuters-Ipsos Poll: Obama approval drops to 43 pct driven by Democrats

President Barack Obama’s poll numbers keep going down, and it’s not the Republicans who are to blame.

USA/Obama’s approval rating fell to a new low of 43 percent since he took office, down from 47 percent last month, according to a Reuters-Ipsos national poll.

Ipsos pollsters say it appears that much of that drop comes from Democrats whose approval of Obama fell to 70 percent from 78 percent last month.

Say hello to an average American citizen

christineChristine O’Donnell says her  “I Am Not A Witch” ad is an attempt  to reintroduce herself to the public… after some old video put a damper on her national debut.

Delaware’s Republican U.S. Senate nominee was still savoring her stunning primary victory when the video clips from her past television appearances resurfaced.

Let’s just say, the old Christine wasn’t exactly the image the new Christine wanted to project — thus the reintroduction.

Voters may like the healthcare plan after all, poll shows

Pundits may want to reconsider the conventional wisdom that U.S. voters are sour on President Barack Obama’s sweeping healthcare overhaul, at least according to a new survey released Tuesday.

rallyA majority — 54 percent — of all voters said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported the healthcare overhaul, the Public Religion Research Institute found in its American Values Survey of more than 3,000 voters.

Among women voters, 60 percent said a candidates’ support for the new healthcare law made them more likely to vote for that candidate, Dan Cox, the institute’s research director, said.

Washington Extra – Trump cards

The “enthusiasm gap” was always the Democrats’ biggest problem heading into the November midterm elections, and conversely also their biggest hope. votersDemocrats have told poll after poll they were less likely to vote than their Republican counterparts. If only Democrats could enthuse their supporters, strategists have been hoping, then maybe the party could still trump the Republicans in some tight races.

So the Democrats will be pleased today with the results of our latest Reuters/Ipsos poll from California, which not only shows their candidates leading in the race for the Senate and the governor’s office, but also shows that enthusiasm gap narrowing slightly. Some 75 percent of Democrats now say they are certain to vote, up from 60 percent in June. Comparative numbers for Republicans are 83 percent now, up from 73 percent in June.

This tends to support evidence from other polls that the enthusiasm gap could be closing, giving Democrats a flicker of hope of avoiding a rout, as political correspondent John Whitesides reported last Friday. Add to that, some evidence from an ABC/Washington Post poll that voters are losing their enthusiasm for Tea Party candidates, and things are looking a little less grim for the Dems this evening.

Bill Clinton emerges as leading U.S. political favorite — poll

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CLINTON/Nearly a decade after his presidency ended in scandal and disgrace, Bill Clinton has emerged as the most popular figure in the U.S. political firmament, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.   Except he’s not running for office.

Fifty-five percent of the 1,000 adults who responded to the survey reported having positive feelings about the Arkansas Democrat, vs. only 23 percent who harbored negative feelings. (When he left office in early 2001, his ratings were 34 percent positive and 52 percent negative.)RACING/

The poll, which has a 3.1 percentage point margin of error, comes at a time when many voters are angry about the country’s economic straits, including high unemployement and an exploding fiscal deficit. Clinton’s two-term presidency was marked not only by impeachment and the Monica Lewinsky scandal but also by buoyant growth and a balanced budget.

Washington Extra – The finer things in life

lamarIf I come back in my next life as an American, I am thinking that a career in the Senate might be a better way to go than in the administration or the military. Whatever you think of their political views, the senators who have visited our offices for the Washington Summit this week have not just been charming and interesting to talk to, they also seem to have time for the finer things in life. Take Senator Lamar Alexander, who not only has the time to watch Tennessee football pretty regularly, but also likes to play classical piano and has a date on center stage with the Jackson Symphony at the end of next month. “I try to keep a balanced life,” he said.

gibbsNo such luck for hard-pressed administration types, working at a pace that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says “is and has been grueling for a long period of time,” especially if you take two years of campaigning into account. Take Austan Goolsbee, who used to compete in the triathlon, but now has no time to train and jokes he is so out of shape he can’t walk up the stairs without gasping for breath. Or General David Petraeus, who is already at work by 5:30 in the morning, and when he goes to bed around 10 or 11 at night, only manages a couple of pages in whatever book he is reading “before it falls on the floor.”

That grueling pace is one reason, Gibbs argued, why many members of Obama’s economic team and political inner circle are on their way out, to spend a bit more time “with their family and their friends.” It is not, as Goolsbee insisted, an acknowledgment that the administration has made mistakes, or that it needs to change direction.