Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Say cheese

Civility isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and last night it meant watching lawmakers smile with their teeth but not their eyes.

The day after the State of the Union it has become clear that the forced Kumbaya moment is being shrugged off for a return to the comfort of political sniping. But no one expected that rearranging the deck chairs would lead to a lasting group hug. OBAMA/

Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — the state President Barack Obama chose for his day-after trip to the heartland — said when Obama mentions investment he means “government spending and government control. And that is the definite wrong direction.”

Obama visited Manitowoc, Wisconsin, to promote his agenda of creating jobs and reining in spending, as the Congressional Budget Office painted a worsening deficit picture.

Obama said he came to Manitowoc “to glimpse the future” and that he had not known beforehand about the city’s own Sputnik moment in 1962. (Coincidence? Fade to Twilight Zone music).

Feingold trails in new Reuters-Ipsos poll

USALiberal stalwart Russ Feingold trails his Republican challenger by 7 percentage points in a new Reuters-Ipsos poll of Wisconsin’s Senate race released on Tuesday.

With less than a month to go before the Nov. 2 elections, Republican Ron Johnson leads Feingold, a Democrat, 51 percent to 44 percent among likely voters.

That’s good news for Republicans, who are counting on a Wisconsin victory to help win control of the Senate. Not so good for Democrats, who could see the three-term incumbent swept out of office due to worries about the economy.

Obama: Still the big man on (high school) campus

If President Barack Obama ever needs a pick-me-up,  he can visit the campus of an American public high school, as he did on Tuesday at La Follette High School in Madison, Wisconsin, where he remains, indisputably, a rock star.

obama_youthShouts of joy and screams of “Obama! Obama!” greeted his motorcade as Obama pulled up and strode across the school’s sports practice fields to meet with members of its teams — the Lancers.  (Team motto: “Attitude, Character, Effort.”)

He first met with members of the girl’s volleyball team, who ran out in their uniforms and knee pads, and squealed with delight as he spoke with them and then posed for pictures.

Washington Extra – housing gloomy

Gloomy housing data today with home builders’ optimism hitting almost a 1-1/2 year low in August, which along with other recent economic reports suggests the slowdown continued in the third quarter. More to come tomorrow when July housing starts are reported at 8:30 a.m. Even if starts edge up a bit, the number to watch is building permits which are an indication of things to come. OBAMA/

President Barack Obama went with familiar themes in Wisconsin where he visited a battery plant and a fundraiser as he began a three-day trip to five states. He took aim at Republicans, saying: “These are the same folks in Washington who made the political calculation that it was better to stand on the sidelines than work as a team to help the American worker.”

The Republican National Committee also had its say today, releasing a video to coincide with Obama’s trip that was a take-off on the dramatic job-quitting flight attendant saga. It showed Democrats in tight races sliding down an emergency chute to evacuate a plane with Obama on board.