Tales from the Trail

Rick Perry lags in home state of Texas

Tuesday only got worse for Texas Governor Rick Perry whose comments about Turkey in a debate last night got him lambasted by foreign policy experts, the Turkish press, and the Turkish government in Ankara.

Perry, the longest serving governor in Texas history, polled only third in a survey of his fellow Longhorn Republicans, according to a poll released Tuesday.

Less than a fifth of those polled by the Democratic polling firm, Public Policy Polling said they would choose Perry over his rivals. He lagged frontrunner Mitt Romney  as well as former Speaker of the House Gingrich.

Romney polled at 24 percent and Gingrich at 23 percent, compared to Perry’s 18 percent.

Perry’s conservative credentials once endeared him to Republicans looking for a candidate other than Romney, suspected of moderate leanings. He shot to the top in August when he first entered the race but fell back after consistently fumbling debates and interviews.

With prison looming, DeLay looks to Citizens United and the Supremes

USA-POLITICS/DELAYTom DeLay stands eyeball-to-eyeball with the prospect of years in prison. But he figures he still has friends in high places. Like the U.S. Supreme Court, maybe.

That would be the majority of justices who authored the 2010 campaign finance ruling known as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which has been decried by Democrats and reformers as a danger to U.S. electoral integrity.

DeLay, whose hard-driving style as a congressional powerbroker earned him the nickname “The Hammer,” was sentenced this week to three years in prison on money laundering and conspiracy charges. A Texas jury said he helped funnel money illegally to Republican candidates in the state in 2002.

Arizona immigration law controversy hits border governors’ conference

The simmering row over Arizona’s tough-as-nails immigration law has led to a shift in venue for the U.S.-Mexico border governors’ meeting, an annual event usually characterized by unity and good will.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, canceled the bash she was due to host after six border governors from Mexico pulled out in protest at the desert state’s crackdown on unauthorized immigrants she inked into law in late April.

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New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a Democrat, stepped in this week to save the meeting which is now set to take place in Santa Fe in late September — although full attendance looks doubtful in the poisoned atmosphere that lingers.

2012 may be an open door for Palin, but first comes 2010

USA/Sarah Palin’s right. It would be absurd for her not to consider a White House bid in 2012, especially while Tea Partiers are chanting, “Run, Sarah, run!”  
   
But first come this November’s elections, which could help build Palin’s credibility if her high-profile public appearances (and repeated attacks on President Barack Obama) actually help conservative candidates get elected to Congress and important state offices around the country. If.

Some political experts say Palin’s weekend keynote speech at the big Tea party in Nashville was her best since the 2008 GOP convention — detailed, focused and high on energy. Lucrative, too, given the $100,000 speaker’s fee, though the on-stage interview seemed a bit scripted, especially the part about what she’d do if she were president. 
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The appearance also kicked off a busy travel schedule to help candidates in this year’s campaign.
   
On Super Bowl Sunday, she was in Texas helping Republican Gov. Rick Perry with his March gubernatorial primary contest against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Polling results show Hutchison trailing the incumbent by 15 percentage points and losing ground to a third candidate, Tea Party activist Debra Medina.

Palin spent much of her time in the Lone Star State assailing Washington, and by implication, Hutchison. She raised a huge cheer by pointing out in non-establishment fashion that Texans might like to secede.     
    
But moving the national political applause needle to the right in 2010 could be much more difficult than rallying friendly audiences or using a talking hand to bash that “charismatic guy with a TelePrompTer.”
   
A state-by-state analysis of Obama’s job approval ratings by Gallup may offer a glimpse of the voter sentiment challenge that Palin and her conservative allies face this year.

Republican northern light sparks up Southern town

Sarah Palin remains the hottest Republican ticket if the crowds and enthusiasm at her book signings are anything to go by.

On Friday she brought her “Going Rogue” book tour to Plano, an affluent town just north of Dallas that is in deeply red Republican country. About 1,500 people lined up for hours in the winter cold to wait for Palin’s bus. A lucky 1,000 among them had advance tickets to get their copy of her new autobiography signed.

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The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee clearly remains the northern light of the Republican Party that can spark up its Southern and conservative base. She now reigns almost unchallenged with this base after the apparent downfall of former Arkansas governor and Republican White House hopeful Mike Huckabee.

DeLay’s Last Dance

Former Congressman Tom DeLay, aka “The Hammer,” hung up his dancing shoes on Tuesday, but we may not have seen the last of his smooth moves.

CONGRESS DELAYThe Texas Republican scored low in the polling, but still got enough votes to remain in the running in ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars.”

DeLay lived up to his nickname during his years as the tough Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives. But he could not hang tough with two sore feet, so he bowed out of the dance competition.

The First Draft: Backlash against Obama’s classroom message

OBAMA/What could be more mainstream than the president of the United States addressing the country’s school kids on their first day in class after the Labor Day weekend? That must have been what White House officials were thinking when they set up a speech by Barack Obama for next Tuesday.

The theme, according to the presidential Web site, couldn’t be blander: work hard, be responsible and stay in school. Even the White House recognized the possibly low excitement level of the subject and in addition to a video promo by the president, there’s also one featuring NASCAR drivers, urging students and their parents to tune in.

BUSH EDUCATIONThat’s not how some parents — and political conservatives — saw it, especially in Texas.

Texas gubernatorial race heats up

A looming battle between two prominent Texas Republicans is heating up after U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison confirmed that she’ll leave the Senate this fall to challenge Texahutch pics Gov. Rick Perry for his post in 2010.

Hutchison, Texas’ senior senator whose term ends in 2012, has not formally decided to run against Perry — the longest-serving governor in the state’s history — and will likely make that announcement in August, she told Dallas radio host Mark Davis in an interview on Wednesday.

Hutchison told Davis that she will likely resign her U.S. Senate seat “sometime in October, November … in that timeframe,” and return to Texas to focus on her gubernatorial campaign, with a primary run-off by May 2010.

Paint Texas blue? Kaine won’t guarantee it

WASHINGTON – New Democratic Party head Tim Kaine wants to continue to win territory from Republicans, but he’s not ready to guarantee victory in George W. Bush’s home state.

As he took control of the Democratic National Committee from outgoing chairman Howard Dean on Wednesday, Kaine said he would continue Dean’s “50 State Strategy” to win votes in conservative places like Idaho and Utah.

“We will never again be a party that writes off states or regions or people,” Kaine said. “The 50 state strategy is now and forever what Democrats do.”

Bush looking forward to new domestic agenda

Former President George W. Bush says he’s got a new domestic agenda — mowing the lawn and taking out the trash.

OBAMA/He says he’s looking forward to his wife Laura’s home cooking, sort of,  and plans on relaxing Wednesday on his first morning out of the White House – making Laura coffee, skimming the newspaper, calling friends, reading a book, going fishing, and taking a walk – all before 8 a.m.

“That’s what happens when you’re a Type A personality,” he said.