Tales from the Trail

Florida Republican Marco Rubio “not running for president”

While the world waits for  potential Republican candidates to decide whether they are in or out of the 2012 presidential race, Florida Senator Marco Rubio is leaving no room for speculation.

“I am not running for president in 2012. Because I want to be a United States senator. I want to be the best United States senator that Florida has ever had,” Rubio said in an interview on ABC’s “Nightline.”

“I just got elected three months ago so how can I be a full-time United States senator if my eye’s already on running for  something else?”

Rubio, the biggest Tea Party success in the 2010 congressional elections, has said it before — he’s not considering a presidential bid at this point in his career.

But that didn’t stop ABC’s Jonathan Karl from pressing the issue  during the Florida freshman’s “first national television interview” since being elected.   (The new senator was doing his “first live network interview on “Good Morning America” on Wednesday.)

As for Elizabeth Warren? Barney Frank says: “Let’s fight!”

RTXQB96_Comp1-150x150Is President Obama up for a Senate confirmation fight over Elizabeth Warren? Maybe not right now. But that’s just the sort of rhetorical rumble Barney Frank would like to see.

The former Democratic chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who co-authored the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill, tells MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that Warren might survive a confirmation battle.

His reasoning? “This is not just the left and the right. The Republican Party is united against healthcare and united against the environment. They’re not united against financial reform.”

Boehner confident on getting budget deal, but admits it won’t be easy

House Speaker John Boehner, facing somewhat of a revolt in Republican ranks, says “it is not going to be easy” to craft and win passage of a bipartisan deal to cut spending and fund the government for the rest of this fiscal year.

USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANSBut the top U.S. Republican said he remains confident that it will be done — somehow, some way.

“We never thought it was going to be easy,” Boehner said a day after the House passed a short-term funding bill that 54 of his 240 House Republican colleagues opposed.

Bachmann is tops in GOP “intensity”

RTR2JTAS_Comp-150x150House Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann may not rate highly with Republican hierophants like George Will. But some Republicans seem to have an intense liking for her none the less, according to a new Gallup poll.

The Gallup survey of more than 1,500 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents shows Bachmann with a 20 percent “positive intensity” rating among 12 potential GOP White House wannabes. That’s second only to Mike Huckabee’s 25 percent rating. And it’s worth noting that Bachmann was recognized by only 52 percent of the respondents, so there may be room for improvement.

Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor with a disarming nice-guy persona, has polled strongly among Republican voters for some time. But the results seem encouraging for Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican who has only recently emerged from relative obscurity on the back of the Tea Party movement.

Then came social issues and ‘morality’…

RTR2CNMS_Comp-150x150The Tea Party’s November victories and the ensuing Republican drive for spending cuts are in large part the result of a political strategy that focuses tightly on fiscal and economic matters, while minimizing rhetoric on moral questions and social topics. But for how much longer can Republicans keep a lid on the culture war?

The 2012 presidential race, though lacking in declared GOP candidates, may be about to pry open a Pandora’s box bearing the name of social issues that have long divided Republican and independent ranks. And such an occurrence could work against the interests of fiscal conservatives, just as the GOP girds itself for a showdown with Democrats over spending cuts and the debt ceiling later this spring.RTXXP42_Comp-150x150

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, one of those Republicans who are running for president without actually running for president, tells NBC’s Today show that social conservatism is what built America and made it strong.

from Summit Notebook:

Unlikely alliance: Congressman Barney Frank and the Tea Party

At first glance it would appear that Congressman Barney Frank and lawmakers backed by the Tea Party movement would have little in common -- one is a liberal Democrat, the others are conservative Republicans.

Look again.

FINANCE-SUMMIT/Frank said his quest to reduce military spending will probably attract Tea Party lawmakers who campaigned on a platform of fiscal discipline, even to cuts in an area that typically meet strong resistance from Republicans.

"I think the notion of nation building, of America enforcing stability over the world ... is wasted money because it doesn't work," Frank told the Reuters Future Face of Finance summit. "I think there's some potential alliance there."

from Summit Notebook:

Hensarling proud of fiscal conservative creds, embraces Tea Party allies

It is clear that House Financial Services Committee Vice Chairman Jeb Hensarling is proud of his credentials as a fiscal conservative.

He may have more competition for that label after the November election swept in members of the Tea Party. But he sees that as a good thing. FINANCE-SUMMIT/HENSARLING

Hensarling eased into the position of  House Republican Conference chair after avoiding an internal battle for the fourth highest slot in House Republican leadership when Michele Bachmann, who started the congressional Tea Party Caucus, stepped aside.

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.”

Washington Extra – Wave goodbye

Might be time for a remake of an old classic film, with a contemporary twist: Mr. Smith gets out of Washington (or should that be Dodge?)

More and more lawmakers are deciding it’s time, enough is enough, see ya. The Number 2 Republican in the Senate, Jon Kyl, today announced he won’t seek reelection next year, with a quaint “my heart says it is time to go.”  USA-COURT/SOTOMAYOR

While not an elected official, Federal Reserve Governor Kevin Warsh said today he was stepping down from the central bank’s powerful board.

Pawlenty calls Tea Party push for more cuts “good news”

USA/House Republican leaders may be concerned about turmoil among newly elected Tea Party colleagues who want bigger spending cuts. But potential Republican White House hopeful Tim Pawlenty sees only good news.

As the Conservative Political Action Conference prepares to hear from 2012 White House Wannabes, the former Minnesota governor tells NBC’s Today show that conservatives of every stripe should be proud.

“The good news is, and this is I think the story for CPAC and for conservatives more broadly, reducing government spending and dealing with the deficit and the debt is now mainstream,” he says.