Sunday, October 29, 2006

Political Buzz On The Midterms

With PB out of commission until Saturday, here are the latest trends in the hottest races and what those trends mean. Sunday will be the day PB posts our predictions for all of the big races.

  • Tenn. Senate: Ford vs. Corker: Dem Ford still has a surprising amount of support for a Dem running in a southern state, but Corker has the momentum. This nasty ads that he and the RNC ran against Ford really worked well. The polls are giving Corker a 5-10% lead over ford, so Corker probably has this in the bag. Trending: Corker

  • Montana Senate: Tester vs. Burns: Incumbent GOPer Conrad Burns has been constantly zinged by controversy, from his Abramoff ties to his "illegal little Guatemalan man" comments. Dem Tester is more friendly and much more popular. Trending: Tester

  • Ohio Senate: Brown vs. DeWine: A close race in one of the most important states in this year's midterms. No real controversy in this race. It's just the standard anger with the GOP. That give Brown a slight edge, although DeWine is still very close. A shocker could happen on 11/7. Trending: Brown

  • CT Senate: Lieberman vs. Lamont vs. Schlesinger: A full race. Lieberman's double-digit leads in the polls have yet to evaporate, so he should be fine. His immense GOP voter support has been the key. Trending: Lieberman

  • Congress: Dem vs. GOP: This is what really matters; the overall picture. While Democrats were breathing easy after the constant stumbling in late September/early October by Republicans, Dems haven't really seal the deal. They stayed quiet for far too long after the Foley scandal died down, and have yet to offer any real policies they would implement. Republicans are fighting hard and making up ground very quickly. Trending: Republican

Obama Update

Bob Novak thinks Barack is more of a threat to the slim 2008 hopes of John Edwards rather than the Hillary juggernaut. No, Bob, Obama is far beyond the good Senator Edwards. He's a direct challenger to H. His trip to LA this week showed the huge amount of rabid supporters he has gained. Obama is the real deal.

Then why is it that so many commentators (mainly conservative), like Novak, refuse to buy into this obvious Obama fever that is sweeping the nation? Do they perceive him as a more dangerous candidate in '08 than Hillary? BO has the wide appeal that, if race stays a non-factor in his campaign (which PB thinks won't be the case), he could turn in a surprisingly strong run in the general. But can he get past Hillary?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

New Midterm Poll: Dems In Control, but GOP in comeback mode

A new Newsweek poll out today shows that the Democrats still hold a commanding lead over Republicans heading into closing days of the midterm race. Dems lead the GOP 53% to 39%. But the poll has some good news for the GOP, with Pres. Bush's approval rating rising and the outlook on Iraq brightening. This could be the rally that saves the GOP. All of the polls are showing narrowing leads for Democrats in races where they had been a juggernaut. Republicans might just pull off an incredible upset come 11/7.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Novelgate: Allen vs. Webb

The Latest:

  • Jim Webb hit back hard against the George Allen-induced controversy over Webb's critically acclaimed - though bizarre - war novels. "To take these things out and pull excerpts out and force them on people . . . is just a classic example of the way this campaign is run," Webb said. "Literature is literature. I've made my career as a novelist. George Allen doesn't have a record to run on." He then blasted Lynne Cheney for her steamy writings. "You can read Lynne Cheney's lesbian sex scenes if you want to get graphic on stuff." Ouch.

  • Webb's campaign also issued a press release that told Allen and "his campaign hit men" to - literally - "shut up" with their outrage over the books.

  • Allen says that the inclusion of steamy and lurid scene in his novels show "bad character".

  • Lynne Cheney proceeded to respond with her own rant defending her novels. This from CNN's "The Situation Room" this afternoon. There is also video at the same link.
  • BLITZER: Here’s what the Democratic Party put out today, the Democratic Congressional — Senatorial Campaign Committee: “Lynne Cheney’s book featured brothels and attempted rape. In 1981, Vice
    President Dick Cheney’s wife, Lynne, wrote a book called “Sisters”, which featured a lesbian love affair, brothels and attempted rapes.”
    CHENEY: No.
    BLITZER: “In 1988, Lynn Cheney wrote about a Republican vice president who dies of a heart attack while having sex with his mistress.” Is that true?
    CHENEY: Nothing explicit. And actually, that was full of lies. It’s not — it’s just — it’s absolutely not a…
    BLITZER: Did you write a book entitled “Sisters”?
    CHENEY: I did write a book entitled “Sisters.”
    BLITZER: It did have lesbian characters.
    CHENEY: This — no, not necessarily. This description is a lie. I’ll stand on that.

  • "Lost Soldiers", the most controversial of Webb's novels, is rated 4 stars on, were it's available for $7.50. GOP Sen. John McCain gave the book a solid blurb of praise when it came out : “James Webb’s new novel paints a portrait of a modern Vietnam charged with hopes for the future but haunted by the ghosts of its war-torn past. It captures well the lingering scars of the war, and exposes the tension between the dynamism of a new generation and the invisible bondage of an older generation for whom wartime allegiances, and animosities, are rendered no less vivid by the passage of time. A novel of revenge and redemption that tells us much about both where Vietnam is headed and where it has been.”

Jim Webb's Dirty Novels

Webb's "disturbing" writings: Is it a legit issue? More like an Allen campaign ploy. But he of "Macaca" fame can use anything after his myriad troubles. And those troubles continue. Webb fairly trounced Allen in the latest fundraising report.

Obama Fever

The Barack Obama phenomenon has gained big-time momentum after his "I'll think about 2008" blurb on MTP. Yesterday he campaigned for Maria Cantwell in Washington, setting off raucous reactions from the thronging crowd.

"I think he's very personable and very charismatic and very intelligent, someone I'd want to be a leader for my country,"

"I'm very impressed and I hope he runs for president,"

A new Fox News poll shows Obama tied with John McCain in a hypothetical 2008 match up; something Hillary has yet to do. Even a Hillary-Obama ticket fails to beat a GOP challenger.

What sort of shake up will these number bring about if they freeze like this through '07? Will the Dem brass (especially Hillary-hater Howard Dean) attempt to push Hillary to the side in favor of Obama? Why not? Hillary won't gain more supporters until she drops her icy image, something that doesn't appear likely. And she will never accept such an affront to her perceived dignity as a Veep slot for BO. Some are actually touting John Kerry as the "perfect" Veep for Obama.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ford Jr. - Corker poll

A new Survey USA poll has this nasty race in a dead heat - tied at 48%.

Check out the controversial RNC ad for this race trashing Harold Ford. Just go to the Political Buzz Channel on YouTube.

Why Dems Could Win In November

Roger Simon of Bloomberg has a good piece on the real reasons (and it's not the Foley scandal) that Dems will batter Republicans in November. They have managed to get the GOPers on the defensive through a combination of great strategy, luck, and voter anger at GOP incumbents.

Democrats once figured they would have to come up with detailed and thoughtful arguments to beat the Republicans on Nov. 7. Now, the party's message is so simple it fits on a bumper sticker: ``Had enough? Vote Democratic.''

That exhortation is what Democratic strategists say is their party's key to victory: Making the election a referendum on President George W. Bush, his supporters and the war in Iraq, rather than about local concerns and individual races between candidates.

To make sure the election stays focused on Bush and his administration, Democrats such as Representative Ben Cardin, running for Senate in Maryland, are tying their opponents to the president in television advertisements. Even gubernatorial candidates such as Chet Culver in Iowa and Wisconsin incumbent James Doyle are focusing attacks on Bush. Doyle flies the flags at state buildings at half-staff when a Wisconsin soldier is killed in Iraq, which critics say is an attempt to politicize the war to his benefit.

Jenny Backus, a Democratic campaign consultant, said the Democrats have succeeded in making the election a referendum on Republicans and not a choice between the two parties.

The Dems found their focus strategy that they so painfully lacked in '04. Instead of running around trying to put control the damage done by Rove and the GOPers, they are confidently bashing the GOP over a key group of issues that are actually important to voters; corruption, Iraq, out of touch politicians.

Will the Dems follow this path again in '08? That's one of the reasons why a newcomer like Obama may be the best presidential candidate in two years. He has no long-standing record that can be trashed like Hillary's can. That no doubt helped the Democrats this year, with no public personality for the GOP to base their campaign around (Pelosi sure didn't work). Meanwhile, the Dems could just point to all of the Republicans tied to other "nasty" Republicans; Pres. Bush, Bob Ney, Mark Foley, Abramoff, etc.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Brand New Stuff From Political Buzz!

Check out the brand new Political Buzz YouTube vlog. It will include the latest and greatest video from the world of politics. There's some great video there already, including John Edwards at a Heath Shuler rally in NC. We will continue to compile the best political video from YT on that site, updated several times a week. Let us know what you think. Send an email to to let PB know what you think of the new v\og or just Political buzz in general.

Hillary-Obama? No. Obama-Hillary? Hmmm...

Talk of a dream Dem ticket of Hillary-Obama is circulating throughout the web, most of it from Democrats desperate for a win in '08. This chatter continues despite the clear intentions of Barack to challenge Hillary in the Dem primaries.

Hillary Rosen at HuffPo writes that Obama is no threat to Hillary Clinton in a 2008 Presidential run.
"Yet Hillary's detractors see her as too liberal, too fresh, too ambitious --- too unelectable. Next to Obama you can't help but think she looks a downright conventional choice."

I see Obama as a centrist, not a liberal. I see Hillary Clinton as a centrist.

Wouldn't that be a close to perfect pairing for 2008, the two centrists, a female and an African-American?

Sure, there could be a Kerry-Edwards moment in '08, with Hillary picking her closest competitor for the nomination as her Veep after she wins, but that may not happen again after the stilted affair that was the K-E train wreck in '04.

At first glance, the H-B ticket seems natural, for all the reasons laid out in the above-mentioned TalkLeft post. But Obama is ambitious and may prefer to boost his Senate resume and prepare for '12 if Hillary loses or '16 if she wins. Obama has that kind of longevity.

Besides, why should Obama set himself up for a Veep slot when he could very well win? His feverish campaigning this election season and rock star-like reactions from Dems show that he is hot RIGHT NOW. If Hillary can't change her icy image makes even the slightest blunder, Obama grabs the nomination. And then what. Does Hillary get the Veep slot?

But Obama's prodigy status may cost him support among some Dems. Ha ha ha...

Iraq Timeline Announced. Any Impact On Elections?

Top US generals and Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad announced today a rough timeline for the complete hand-over of security in Iraq to the Iraqi government. Gen George Casey is now calling the fighting strictly an Iraqi problem.

"Since the elections in December, we've seen the nature of the conflict evolving from what was an insurgency against us to a struggle for the division of political and economic power among the Iraqis," said Casey.

This is a big change for the Bush administration - even if they won't admit that. Iraq went from the battleground for an apocalyptic struggle against good and evil to being a mainly sectarian battle between Iraqis with US troops in the middle of it. This change is a tactical move - or gamble - before November. The Bush administration realized that their unflinching stance on Iraq was hurting Republican candidates prior to 11/7. The GOP pressure became too much for the White House.

More and more, the issue is dominating election campaigns and altering the political landscape. That, and the historic pattern of midterm losses for the party holding the White House, has cast a heavy gloom over rank-and-file Republicans, particularly those on the ballot.
The GOP doubts, coupled with widespread Democratic opposition to Bush's strategy, put intense pressure on the White House
to do something differently, and momentum for that will build if Republicans lose the House or Senate

The latest poll numbers on Iraq show growing discontent with the situation there, obviously contributing to the gloomy GOP outlook for the midterms. The BA is still playing down these minor changes to their Iraq strategy, meaning voters may not even notice the changes before November. If the White House won't trumpet the Iraq shift, it will be left up to those struggling GOPers to spread the word on the campaign trail. Will that be enough?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Hillary Gets Mired in an "Ugly" Campaign

Hillary's Republican opponent in their NY Senate race implied in a newspaper interview that Hillary was "ugly" and that she must have spent "millions of dollars" on cosmetic surgery to improve her appearance. Spencer, the opponent, is denying the entire episode.
You ever see a picture of her back then? Whew," the newspaper quotes John Spencer as saying of Clinton's appearance as a young woman.

"I don't know why Bill [Clinton] married her," Spencer added, according to the News.

The newspaper said Spencer attributed her improved appearance to "millions of dollars" in plastic surgery.

Hillary is fighting back, saying that Spencer has entered "swampy territory" with his apparent attack.

Accusations of rampant plastic surgery and the entrance of Barack Obama into the 2008 presidential race. Bad week for Hillary.

Obama Starts His Presidential Run. How About Hillary?

In a bombshell interview on "Meet the Press" yesterday, the star of the Democratic party intimated that he is definitely "thinking" about running for president in '08, but won't make his decision until after this election.

Russert asked Obama if it was "fair to say'' he was "thinking'' about a 2008 White House bid.
"It's fair, yes," Obama replied.

GOP conservatives are already getting hot-and-bothered over a run by the "liberal" Obama, which clearly shows that h is feared by the right. They have every reason to be afraid of Barack. He is adored by the media (not because he's liberal, because he's a perfect story and the perfect anti-Hillary), has Hillary-esque fundraising ability, and is idolized by Dems of every stripe. A run by Obama wouldn't be as easy (or as fun) to combat as Hillary 2008 for the GOP. Whereas the Republicans have filed away every item from Hillary's past to unleash upon her come '08, Obama is fresh, actually friendly, and exudes an air of bipartisanship.

What effect will Obama's campaign have on the primary scene in '08? A big one. Hillary and Obama become the two-headed juggernaut of the Dems, basically relegating all other quasi-candidates to playing for Veep. That includes the delusional John Kerry, even though he is still all smiles about his chances, who welcomes the entrance of Barack into the race.

"If he thinks he's ready to run for president and wants to run, and I've made a decision, we'll go out there and have a great contest," said Kerry, who said he'll decide whether to run sometime after the midterm elections.

"A great contest"? Kerry needs to get in the real world. He's done.

The only shake-up that is still a possibility is if Hillary decides not to run in 2008. Yes, that would be insane, but it is a possibility. She has yet to make firm statements (unlike Kerry and Obama) about her prospects for '08 and may be pressured by the Dem brass to step aside if Obama gets close to her in the polls and campaigns well enough. Besides, Obama is essentially a Clinton clone in his politics, so that's no problem. B&H might even tutor the fresh-faced Obama as he begins his presidential run. Or maybe it will be Veep Hillary to President Obama? Not likely, but it is plausible.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

New GOP Ad

The GOP makes a powerful statement with their new ad for the midterms. It also seems to be a very desperate tactic to hold onto something in this election. It goes right back to their strategy of scaring voters away from the Dems. That's what they need to highlight pre-Nov., but this ad may go over the top. Ominously quoting from Osama? Yikes...

Follow this link to the RNC's website for video of the ad.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

GOP Survival in November?

Barron's Magazine (It is from WSJ, so keep that in mind) has a cover story this week on their bold and possibly ridiculous prediction for the November midterms: The GOP will keep complete control of Congress.

Our analysis -- based on a race-by-race examination of campaign-finance data -- suggests that the GOP will hang on to both chambers, at least nominally. We expect the Republican majority in the House to fall by eight seats, to 224 of the chamber's 435. At the very worst, our analysis suggests, the party's loss could be as large as 14 seats, leaving a one-seat majority. But that is still a far cry from the 20-seat loss some are predicting. In the Senate, with 100 seats, we see the GOP winding up with 52, down three.

First, why are they looking at campaign finance data to gauge an election? Are they kidding? It doesn't matter that the Dems are a little behind in cash this election, the voters are angry. Look at '94. Since when do finance reports trump a bevy of polls? And the GOPers are hurting in the polls. Second, the Dems are closing the gap in raising cash this election, with the DCCC raking in more cash than the Republican campaign committee.

This rant doesn't mean that the GOPers won't pull an upset come 11/7. The Senate still appears safely Republican and the House could trend that way as well if a terror-related event pops up. And the Dems do not have a good reputation for closing out the kill (Latest example: Kerry in '04). They could stumble. But, if the election were held today, Republicans would most definitely lose the House, maybe the Senate. Anyone who says otherwise is either a partisan hack or an absolute lunatic.

Click here for the entire subscriber-only article.

Another GOP Endorsement For Lieberman

That would be Sen. Susan Collins. Joe is also enjoying his big lead in the latest polls. Howard Dean is desperately stumping for Ned Lamont, but it's over for Ned.

Now the question is whether or not Lieberman will change back to a Democrat (instead of his "Independent Lieberman Party". Or something like that...) form his current (I) status. If Dems pick up 5 seats in the Senate, Joe will be pressured. What will he do?

Pelosi Profile

The Washington Post has a fairly glowing article on would-be Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

An example:

"...if the Democrats win, experts say, much credit is due this 66-year-old woman, whose notable fundraising abilities (she raised $50 million this election cycle) and scorched-earth strategy of refusing to negotiate with the GOP have put her on track to become the first woman to be speaker of the House.

Dismissed by her critics as too liberal, too elitist and too lacking in gravitas, Pelosi, serving her 10th term, has proved to be a tough-minded tactician who has led her caucus from the political center and kept the fractious House Democrats in line. "

The right-wing blogosphere is not enjoying Pelosi's "free ride" from the media, or their continuous talk of her as "Speaker Pelosi?". Well, she will be Speaker Pelosi in a few weeks, so they might want to get used to that.

Some on the right are even trying to cook up a scandal involving Pelosi employing illegal immigrants. "... it is a near certainty that part of her and her husband’s wealth is derived from illegal immigrant labor. Their vineyards use non-union labor to pick grapes..." !!??

Like PB has said before; if the GOPers want a Dem scandal to trumpet, focus on Bill Jefferson (!!!, not on Nancy Pelosi's vineyards.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Lieberman In Control

According to a new Quinnipiac poll Joe Lieberman has a 17-point lead over challenger Ned Lamont in the CT Senate race. GOPer Schlesinger (7%) tried to make a big splash heading into the final weeks of the campaign, but he never caught on with the more moderate Republican voters in CT who favor the centrist Joe. The GOP vote; Joe's best friend.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thanks Bill'O!

Bill O'Reilly disses the blogosphere. That's not nice.

DCCC Raises Some Serious Cash

From The Hotline:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported raising $14.4 million in September and entered October with a whopping -- and we do mean whopping -- $36 million cash on hand.

The RNC reported more than $26M on hand; the DSCC had $23 million to spend as of Oct. 1. The DSCC's figure does not include at least $5M in transfers from the Democratic National Committee.

Those Dems do get excited when they feel that`they might actually win something. The Dems already had momentum on their side. Now they have something that no pundit could have predicted 2 months ago; more cash than Republicans.

New Political Buzz poll!

This one's been out since yesterday. The last question, "How are Democrats handling the Foley scandal?", brought in a 40% response to "Well". And that's just what PB thinks. They didn't over-hype the issue and managed to keep themselves out of the news while it blew up in the GOP's face.

Now for the new Q:

"With the initial shock winding down, how much of an impact will the Foley scandal have on the midterms?"

Select your answer in the box on the right side of the page. While you're at it, enter your email address n in the box directly under the voting console to sign up for the Political Buzz daily email. Great stuff...

Newt Gingrich: "Savior Of Conservatives"?

Some on the right see Newt Gingrich as the "savior of conservatives" in the 2008 election. Not necessarily a presidential candidate, but just a big-time right-wing voice to guide the listless GOP through the uber-important presidential race in '08.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is quietly jockeying into position for a comeback as the head of the Republican Party as early as 2008.

Gingrich does not plan to run for president, but intends "to be available as the savior of conservatives dismayed by candidates who seek to move the party to the left in the aftermath of George W. Bush’s presidency,” according to Insight on the News, a Web site affiliated with the Washington Times.

"I believe that whatever the results of the November elections, Newt will become a major force in the GOP for 2008," a senior Republican Party strategist said.

Of course Newt is shying away from talking about a '08 run; all prospective presidential candidates say they aren't running until the day they launch thier bid. There is no doubt that Gingrich will seriously consider a 2008 campaign. His great poll numbers (4th, including Condi Rice) are a sign that conservative Republicans are looking for the outspoken and media savvy (Now) activist that Newt is. He is the GOP's Bill Clinton-esque figure - that larger-than-life guy that fires up the base and gets good TV ratings.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Foley Fallout: "Many people knew"

So says Rep. Rodney Alexander about Mark Foley's bizarre behavior toward current and former pages.

"It's quite apparent from some of the reports out there that there are many people that know what we know and have known it for a lot longer period of time than we've known," Alexander told reporters after his closed-door testimony with the House Ethics Committee investigating the matter.

When isn't there bad news for the GOP?

Man, what a bad week for Republicans. First they get hammered in fundraising numbers in key House races. And now a new NBC/WSJ poll shows absolutely horrid numbers for all GOPers - including President Bush, whose approval rating continues to be mired in the 30's (38%). What is more troubling for Republicans are their dismal approval numbers and how they are viewed by voters.

"...only 16 percent now approve of the job Congress is doing -- its lowest mark since 1992."

"What's more, in this latest poll, just 32 percent of respondents see the Republican Party in a positive light, while 49 percent view it negatively. Those are the party's worst marks in the history of the poll. In contrast, voters -- by a 37-35 percent margin -- view the Democratic Party positively."

This isn't about anger toward all politicians in D.C., although those Dem numbers aren't great. This is pure distrust and disappointment with Republicans - and voters are apparently prepared to take it out on the GOP come November.

However, Republican leaders aren't panicking.

"It is a Republican Congress we will have after the midterm elections," Rep. Tom Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Wednesday.

A bit of calm stoicism in the face of adversity is good, but this isn't simple adversity. This is a veritable meltdown. How will the GOP brass react if these numbers don't change and it's 11/6? This isn't a problem that they can just throw cash at. Maybe Reynolds and the NRCC can bribe some hot former Congressional page to IM Nancy Pelosi? You know, just to see what happens...

Republican desperation

The right-wing is trying desperately to boost the GOP to an improbable victory on 11/7. They have come up with a full-press campaign for the GOPers before Nov., complete with slogans.
From the American Spectator:

Stay the course. Don't change horses in midstream. Let them finish the job they've started. It's always darkest just before dawn.

Or maybe, less pithily but more positively, this: On second thought, look around your hometown, because life may be going better than you realized.

Republicans trying desperately to hold their congressional majorities still lack a simple message that resonates with voters who usually or at least often lean right, but who this year are disaffected. They need something like (but better than) one of the examples above, something that gets voters to say, "Okay, dammit, I may not be happy with them, but I'll give these guys one more chance. The Democrats sure haven't given me anything to vote for, and at least these Republicans are in my general vicinity on the issues.... Yeah, dammit, okay."

"It's always darkest just before dawn? This is getting very sad... The best that the right is hoping for from voters is "yeah, dammit, okay; I'll vote Republican"? Dire straits for the GOP.

Dems raking in the cash

In a surprising development, Democrats are raising more campaign cash than Republicans in several key House races. GOPers still had more cash on hand, but the fact that Dems are getting more cash than Republicans after years of GOP domination in fundraising is a boost for them heading into November. Is this an early sign of a Democratic sweep of Congress? No. But it shows that the Dem momentum from the Foley scandal and the other GOP mishaps is real - and growing. That Jim Gerlach is trailing in the fundraising numbers is troubling for the GOP, considering that he was seen as one of their stronger candidates - after an early stumble - heading into the midterms.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Cheney on the midterms

Veep Dick Cheney on Rush Limbaugh today talking about the GOP's chances in November:

"...I really think we're going to do reasonably well. And I think we'll hold the Senate, and I also think we got a good shot at holding the House.

Unbridled optimism from Dick Cheney? Wow, the GOP must really be choking. Perhaps he can define "a good shot". Well, seriously, Cheney has no reason to be saying that. Except that Ken Mehlman is mimicking the Veep's enthusiam in a conversation with Newsweek's Howard Fineman, and believes that Republicans will hold onto full control of Congress.

What’s his theory for GOP survival?

Stabbing furiously at thick slabs of Ahi tuna, Mehlman laid out the national themes, which boil down to The Three Ts: Terrorists, Tax Cuts and Traditionalist judges.

The idea is to suggest stark “choices” on all three, beginning with a White House signing ceremony for the new legislation that governs the interrogation and trial of “detainees” accused of terrorism.

“Do we have an interrogation program against guys like Khalid Sheik Mohammad or do we not?” he asked rhetorically. “Do we have a Patriot Act or not? Do we have surveillance? Do we have missile defense? A whole series of things that don’t involve Iraq.”

As for Iraq, he said, the aim is to ask Democrats whether they “want another Taliban-like Afghanistan between Syrian and Iran. Is that acceptable?”

"Tuna" Mehlman may be right. If the scenario laid out in PB earlier today involving fallout from the Foley scandal doesn't play out, voters could turn serious and focus on terrorism. Taxes, even though voters always talk about them, are a non-iussue. That's for local races.

Three things will dtermine which party is in power come 11/8: Iraq, Foley, and terrorism. If voters are scared enough about terror, they'll head for the GOP. If they're scared about Foley and/or Iraq, Dems will be in charge. It's another fear-based election. But until that poll drop for Republicans after the Foley scandal disappears and voters come back to the GOP, the Dems are looking very good for the win.

Foley rehab on taxpayers tab

The House Clerk's office says that the alcohol rehab program that Foley so publicly entered is paid for by taxpayers.

Salley Collins, a spokeswoman for the clerk's office, said the Florida Republican is covered by a "temporary continuation of coverage" program that is available to federal employees who leave or resign their positions, Capitol Hill Blue reported Monday.

"Most, if not all (lawmakers), have some coverage as far as rehabilitation for drug and alcohol," Collins said.

Rehab coverage? GOPers will be needing that soon enough if Dems win back Congress.

Nixon, Reagan...Kerry?

John Kerry, "haunted" by the failures of his '04 campaign, is getting his '08 presidential run into high gear. He's traversing New Hampshire again, trying to cook up some of that '04 primary magic that vaulted him into the Dem nomination. He's been to Iowa dozens upon dozens of times in the last two years. And now he's making excuses as to why he's running again.

" Ronald Reagan twice unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for president before he got it and won two elections for the White House, Kerry said.

"John McCain, their leading candidate -- didn't he get kicked around South Carolina by the same president because he wasn't patriotic enough as a prisoner of war? He's now their leading candidate for president," Kerry said of the Republican Party.

"Richard Nixon seemed to get kicked around pretty badly both running for president and governor, turned around and came back and got elected president," he added. "

But they weren't running against the juggernaut that is Hllary.

Ohio Dem Leads In Senate Race + Why The Foley Scandal Is Still Politically Relevant

Democratic challenger Sherrod Brown has staked himself to a 12-point lead in his Senate race against GOP incumbent Mike DeWine. This double-digit lead for Brown is a surprise, given that the race had been essentially tied for the last few months.

Remember, Ohio is analogous with the rest of the country as far as elections go (we all remember '04, don't we?) so the Dems can take heart with Brown shoving DeWine aside in their race. Although the Foely scandal and the other bevy of bad news for the GOP has quieted some, the fallout from those events remain. GOP insiders still believe that they will certainly lose the House and possibly the Senate. The media may trumpet the fact that the Foley scandal is now the least important issue for voters in this election. That's right; voters have pushed the episode aside.

But one must remember the "Swift Boat" campaign against John Kerry from the '04 presidential election. That dubious campaign made headlines for only a few weeks, like the Foley scandal. After getting huge coverage time from the media and interest from voters, the initial chargers against Kerry were later proven to be, if not false, very sketchy. The SB campaign then slowly vanished from the election scene, with voters professing to not care about any of the issues raised about Kerry. But he lost the election. His slim lead disappeared when the Swiftboaters came onto the scene and it never came back. Voters may not have considered the SB attack important after its initial burst of publicity, but, after backing away from voting for Kerry, they never returned to the fold.

This could play out again in 2006 with the Foley scandal. Although the issue has lost importance with the public, its effects are still being felt. The GOP is still down in the polls, GOP candidates are actually losing ground, and the overall election prospects of Republicans looks very grim. Until the voters that abandoned the Republicans after the Foley story broke head back to the GOP ranks, the Foley scandal will have an impact on the midterms.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Bob Ney? Abramoff? Uh-oh...

The Abramoff scandal pops up again. The news continues to be horrifically gloomy for Republicans...

But is a Democratic snafu about to blast onto he scene? No. The Harry Reid thing looks like a GOP creation attempting to get the spotlight off of the wrongdoers among their own ranks. Why not trump up the Bill Jefferson scandal?

Foley Fallout: "Dennis Hastert didn't kill anybody"

That was a remarkable tirade from GOP Rep. Chris Shays on Wednesday, slamming Ted Kennedy for his Chappaquiddick incident while defending Denny Hastert in the Foley scandal.

"I know the speaker didn't go over a bridge and leave a young person in the water, and then have a press conference the next day," the embattled Connecticut congressman told The Hartford Courant in remarks published Wednesday.

"Dennis Hastert didn't kill anybody," he added.

While PB agrees with Shays that what Hastert may have ignored is not along the lines of leaving a dead body, that's not the issue here. That Shays brought this up makes him and the rest of the GOP look incredibly desperate less than a month out from the elections.

The office of Chris Shays would not give any answer when contacted by Political Buzz for further comments or a clarification concerning the issue.

Kerry on offense

John Kerry paid a visit to New Hampshire today, slamming Republicans on the war in Iraq and the Foley scandal. He had some tough words for his friends in the GOP.

"They tell us we're making progress in Iraq and that there is no civil war. That is a lie," Kerry, D-Mass., said in remarks prepared for delivery at the New Hampshire Democratic Party's annual fall fundraising dinner. "There is a civil war and it is costing American and Iraqi lives every single day, and we must change course in Iraq."

"This issue is here because of a Republican cover-up," he said. "And those from the party that preaches moral values that covered this up have no right to preach moral values anymore."

Does Kerry sense a small opening now that Mark Warner has bowed out? He's had some harsh comments for GOPers before, but he seems to be keeping that up. Kerry could be presenting himself as the viable angry left-wing candidate in '08, up against the centrist Hillary.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

POTUS appears with Hastert

Pres. Bush joined Dennis Hastert at an Illinois campaign stop today, trying to shore up both of their tattered images. Bush was able to raise oodles of cash for GOP candidates and talk about low gas prices, and Hastert got the Foley scandal spotlight off of him for a few minutes. Bush was only next to Hastert for a short time, but he did glowingly mention Denny in his remarks.

I am proud to be standing with the current speaker of the House, who is going to be the future speaker,'' the president said to applause throughout the room. "Speaker Denny Hastert has a long record of accomplishment. He is not one of these Washington politicians who spews a lot of hot air.

"He just gets the job done,'' Bush said. "I have worked with him up close. I know what's it like to work with a speaker who is determined to protect the United States of America… The country is better off with Denny Hastert as speaker and it will be better off with him as speaker the next legislative session.''

That's good backing. But how fast will Bush drop Hastert if the Speaker is found to have known about the Foley messages for months or years?

Foley Fallout: Fordham testifies

Ex-Foley chief of staff Kirk Fordham testified for five hours in front of the House Ethics Committee today, apparently repeating his story that he went to Dennis Hastert's office with Foley's message three years ago.

Fordham's lawyer, Timothy Heaphy, said after the testimony, "Kirk has been forthcoming with them. He has been consistent in his accounts of these events when he talked to the FBI and today met with the ethics committee.

Of course, we won't know the extent of Fordham's remarks to the HEC until their report is done. What anticipation!

Warner will not run

The news is now official - Mark Warner is not running for president in 2008. He posted a statement explaining his decision on the website of his Forward Together PAC. His main reason given for not running was to spend more time with his family. He also pledges to help Democratic candidates get elected in '06.

The "spending time with family" excuse is, while noble, surely not the real reason for Warner's decision. There must be some dirt on this.

The full statement of Gov. Warner on his decision not to run for president in 2008:


Nine months ago, I left the office of Governor in Virginia. I was immensely proud of what we had accomplished. We faced historic challenges and got real results.
Upon leaving office, I committed all my time and energy to Forward Together because we need a new direction in America.
Everywhere I’ve traveled, I found hope that we could turn this country around. That Americans are looking for leaders who at this moment of enormous challenge for our country can actually bring us together and get things done.
I’ve heard that regardless of the depth of dismay at the direction President Bush has taken our country, rank and file Democrats are energized, and want ours to be a party of hope, not of anger.
I am especially proud of the work we’ve done in supporting those kinds of candidates throughout America.We got a lot done.
Forward Together has contributed more money this year to Democratic candidates and party organizations than any other federal leadership PAC. Our effort raised over $9 million.
I headlined 86 events in 25 states to help raise or directly donate $7.3 million to Democrats this cycle.
And our work is not done—especially at home in Virginia, where I continue to work to help Jim Webb win.
But this has also been another kind of journey—one that would lead to a decision as to whether I would seek the Democratic nomination for President.
Late last year, I said to Lisa and my girls, “Let’s go down this path and make a decision around Election Day.”
But there were hiring decisions and people who’ve put their lives on hold waiting to join this effort.
So about a month ago, I told my family and people who know me best that I would make a final decision after Columbus Day weekend, which I was spending with my family. After 67 trips to 28 states and five foreign countries, I have made that decision.
I have decided not to run for President.
This past weekend, my family and I went to Connecticut to celebrate my Dad’s 81st birthday, and then we took my oldest daughter Madison to start looking at colleges.
I know these moments are never going to come again. This weekend made clear what I’d been thinking about for many weeks—that while politically this appears to be the right time for me to take the plunge—at this point, I want to have a real life.
And while the chance may never come again, I shouldn’t move forward unless I’m willing to put everything else in my life on the back burner.
This has been a difficult decision, but for me, it’s the right decision.
It’s not a decision I have easily reached. I made it after a lot of discussion with my family and a few close friends, and ultimately a lot of reflection, prayer, and
Let me also tell you what were not the reasons for my decision.
This is not a choice that was made based on whether I would win or lose. I can say with complete conviction that—15 months out from the first nomination contests—I feel we would have had as good a shot to be successful as any potential candidate in the field.
As for my family, Lisa and our three girls have always had a healthy amount of skepticism, but would have been willing to buckle down and support the effort. I love them all and appreciate their faith in me.
So what’s next?
First, I know that many friends, staff and supporters who have been so generous with time, ideas, energy, and financial support will be disappointed.
My decision does not in any way diminish my desire to be active in getting our country fixed. It doesn’t mean that I won’t run for public office again.
I want to serve, whether in elective office or in some other way. I’m still excited about the possibilities for the future.
In the short-term, I am going to do everything I can do make sure Democrats win in 2006. It’s an exciting year to be a Democrat. I leave shortly to go to Iowa to support folks running for state and congressional office. Hope they are still excited to see me.
I want to thank the thousands of Americans who have donated to Forward Together, hosted me in their homes, shared their ideas, and given me encouragement.
I also want to thank all of the staff and key advisors at Forward Together who have created a great organization. If we had chosen to go forward, I know they had the skills, talent, and dedication to take us all the way.
And finally, as I have traveled the country, I have been amazed at what pent-up positive energy for change exists.
In my speeches, I always acknowledge that what disappoints me most about this administration in Washington is that with all the challenges we face . . . and the tragedies we have experienced, from 9-11 to Katrina . . . that the President has never rallied the American people to come together, to step up, to ask Americans to be part of the solution.
I think a number of our party’s potential candidates understand that. I think, in fact, we have a strong field. A field of good people. I think they’re all hearing what I heard: that Americans are ready to do their part to get our country fixed. I
wish them all well.
And I want to say thanks to all who’ve been part of this effort.
Mark Warner
Again, the entire staement is also posted on the website of FTPAC.

Romney makes a splash

With evangelical conservatives becoming rather wary of the presidential campaign of Mormon GOPer Mitt Romney, the Romney team has pulled out all the stops to win over at least the more secular right-wing conservative leaders. Romney appeared at the National Review Online 10th Anniversary party last night, and mingled with some of the GOP right's most influential names. This is obviously a ploy to grab support from conservatives away from the more centrist John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Isn't it odd that the right-wing's favorite GOP candidate is not even a Christian? Actually, Slate doesn't think it's weird at all. They say that even evangelicals will soon come around to Mitt. Hmm....

BREAKING Mark Warner will not run in 2008

Sources in the Democratic Party have confirmed that Mark Warner will not run for president in 2008. He is scheduled to issue a statement concerning his decision at 11 AM today. Now the question is why won't Warner run? He had been gaining momentum throughout the last few months, making high-profile trips to Iowa, making the publicity-grabbing appearance on the virtual reality site "Second Life", and even campaigning for FL Governor candidate Jim Davis.

Is there some sort of scandal involving Warner that was on the verge of breaking? Did he come to terms with the Dem juggernaut that is Hillary Clinton and decide to back off and support her? Is he angling for serious consideration as her Veep selection? The latter seems the most likely. Warner probably realized that he would have no real chance of getting the nomination and that he would have more influence on the race if he left it early and fled to Hillary thereby gaining points for a possible Veep slot with her. We'll see after 11.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

JMac to Hillary: "Game on"

John McCain gets ready for a presidential showdown with Hillary Clinton in '08 by making a blistering (for JMac) attack on her husband, Bill. "Her husband's administration (towards North Korea)...was a failure," said McCain at a campaign stop for a GOP House candidate yesterday. Here's some video. The comments were ostensibly about Bill's NK policy, but that wasn't who or what they were really directed at. It was all about McCain against Hillary in 2008.

This comes after several chummy (and photogenic) moments with Hillary earlier this year and last, when they were working on various pieces of Senate legislation together.

Is this how a McCain vs. Hillary match up will look like (the bashing, not the photo)? It never seemed that JMac really liked Hillary all that much, so I could see more cat fights between the two in '08. The whole "bipartisan" thing with Hillary was just another way for JMac "the maverick" to try and gain support. That didn't work, so now he can bash B&H, thereby scoring big points with the right-wing GOP-types.

Condi Rice was also sniping at the Clinton administration yesterday.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Foley Fallout: Updates

- New info on the visit several years ago by a drunken Mark Foley to the dorm for Congressional pages is surfacing.

ABC News has learned that one former staffer who worked for the GOP leadership will tell the House Ethics Committee Thursday about an incident several years ago in which he was alerted that an apparently inebriated Foley had tried to gain access to the pages' dormitory.

A source with firsthand knowledge of events says that this coming Thursday, Kirk Fordham — former chief of staff to both Foley and more recently Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y. — will testify that a few years ago he was told by then-House clerk Jeff Trandahl that Foley had been stopped while trying to enter the pages' dorm in an apparently intoxicated state. The source said Fordham will testify that he recalls this being the event that convinced both him and Trandahl to warn Hastert's office, with Fordham designated to have the conversation with Hastert's chief of staff, Scott Palmer.

Hastert denied that his staff knew of any physical incident at the pages dorm.

- Dennis Hastert met today with a leading conservative evangelical that has publicly called for Hastert to resign. Christian evangelist K.A. Paul said that he told Hastert to resign in his meeting. This guy is a "spiritual advisor" to Liberian warlord Charles Taylor. Does Hastert really want to meet with someone like that in the midst of the Foley scandal? His image can't get any worse in the mind of the public, so why not?

- All of the polls are showing huge GOP deficits in their fight to retain Congress. Some GOP strategists are saying that they could lose up to 30 seats. That seems to be a reasonable number.

Quick Hits

  • A hypothetical right-wing conservative Jesus Christ writes a scathing letter to Hillary Clinton. You have to see this to believe it...

  • GOPer Charlie Crist has the race for Governor of Florida all but wrapped up. In the latest poll on the race Crist leads Jim Davis by 10 points. The Foley scandal is clearly not affecting state races, even in Foley's home state.

  • Mitt Romney may struggle to be accepted by conservative GOP voters if he does indeed run for president in '08. Right wing evangelicals are "appalled" by Romney being a Mormon, a faith that they consider to be a "Christian cult group". That will be his downfall in '08. If he were a Democrat he might have a shot, but no good Christian conservative will vote for a "cult" member. Mitt's barking up the wrong tree.

Monday, October 09, 2006

New Poll A Disaster For GOP

A just released USATODAY/Gallup poll shows Democrats leading Republicans in the race for control of Congress by 23-points. A majority also said the Dennis Hastert should resign as Speaker, GOP leaders covered up the Foley scandal "for months or years", and that sending troops to Iraq was a mistake. The GOP knew this was coming, so nobody should be surprised. Even their one main issue right now - gas prices - is a dud with voters.

Voters gave Democrats a 54%-28% advantage over Republicans concerning which party would handle gasoline prices better despite the recent drop in prices.

If Iran had tested a nuke instead of North Korea, the GOP would have had a chance. But that's the only way that they can win in November. Less than a month until 11/7 and the voter anger toward Republicans is skyrocketing. That is bad news for the GOP.

Check back soon for reactions...

Foley Fallout: Tom Reynolds

Rep. Thomas Reynolds, the chair of the GOP's Congressional Campaign Committe and deeply involved in the Foley scandal, is beginning to feel the effects of his involvement, literally and figuratively speaking.

Reynolds cancelled a scheduled appearance on ABC's "This Week" program on Sunday (where he would face off against Rahm Emanuel) after more questions had been raised about the actions of the GOP's House leadership in the Foley mess and after a new poll had Reynolds trailing his Democratic challenger in his House race by nearly 20-points. His absence was blamed on a bad case of the flu, and that's what Political Buzz was told as well. L.D. Platt, a spokesman for Reynolds, told PB that his boss "... has a flu that was made worse by a week of 15 hour days."

That huge deficit in his NY race is bound to make Tom feel a lot worse. He is sure to be the most prominent GOPer to lose his seat specifically due to the Foley scandal. Having his chief of staff (Kirk Fordham) first be accused of hiding evidence of Foley's lewd messages and then turning himself in and pointing the finger of blame at Reynolds and the GOP was too big a bombshell to overcome.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Foley Fallout: Who knew what?

New allegations came out yesterday focusing on what Dennis Hastert's chief of staff Scott Palmer knew about the sordid messages from Mark Foley to House pages and when he knew it. An unidentified house staffer alleges that Palmer met with Foley about the issue at the very least before November 2005, and probably years ago.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's chief of staff met with disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley to discuss the time and attention Foley was giving House pages years before the speaker's office admits becoming aware of the issue, a current House staffer told ABC News.

The staffer, who asked not be identified because of the ongoing FBI and House Ethics Committee investigations, told ABC News of learning in November 2005 about an earlier meeting between Hastert Chief of Staff Scott Palmer and Foley, R-Fla.

November 2005 was around the time Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., head of the House Page Board, and then-House Clerk Jeff Trandahl, who was administrator of the page program, met with Foley about an e-mail exchange Foley had with a former page sponsored by Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La.

"At that time, I became aware that there was a previous meeting" between Foley and Palmer, the House staffer told ABC News.

This is another example that Hastert's story, that he and his staff knew of the Foley situation only in the last weeks or months, is possibly unraveling.

With a House investigation into who knew what in the Foley scandal underway, Hastert's staff is downplaying the new developments until that probe is completed. "The House Standards Committee is investigating this matter and we are confident in its ability to determine the real facts," Hastert's communications director Ron Bonjean told Political Buzz.

Waiting for the House panel's findings won't satisfy voters though, as that Newsweek poll from earlier today showed. There may be some shake-ups before November if things don't change.

New election poll and more GOP troubles

A new poll out from Newsweek continues to show bad news for Republicans heading into the mid-term's, now less than a month away. It has Democrats leading the GOP 51% to 39% in who voters would rather cast their ballots for on 11/7. As the article says, the GOP was struggling before the Foley scandal broke, but it's clear that that bombshell is what has blown the GOP's chances of retaining control of Congress. It's a cumulative effect: voters who were already weary of Iraq and D.C. scandals but who were still undecided were given a reason not to vote GOP in November.

Chris Cillizza has more bad news for the GOP on his WPost blog. He looks at some of the incredibly close Senate races (maybe even leaning Dem), a few in the south. We all know about George Allen in Va., but Tennessee has a nailbiter as well. There was a good debate in that Senate race last night. Dem Harold Ford came off the clear winner in that one. The GOP losing in the south? That's bad.

Cillizza details all of the close Senate races (and they all look spiffy for the Dems) in that article. It's a good read, so check it out.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Foley Fallout: Foley's Money

Republican candidates in this year's election continue to dump money from Mark Foley's PAC.

Campaigning Republicans can't get rid of Foley donations fast enough, returning it or giving it swiftly to charity, sometimes accompanied by public rebukes. The Web site of U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa., explains how he gave $1,000 in Foley contributions to a crime victim center and adds, "Mark Foley is a pedophile who should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Dumping the tainted cash is all they can do. Keeping it would be near-fatal PR.

However, the NRCC is still holding firm on their decision to keep over $100,000 of donated cash from Foley. The NRCC is using it to "elect Republicans". That's nice, but voters want to see remorse.

All efforts made by Political Buzz to contact the NRCC about the issue were unsuccessful.

With Tom Reynolds, the NRCC's chairman, in big trouble over the Foley scandal, launching ads with an apology from Reynolds for his role ("I'm sorry"), the NRCC should be in full damage control. Those GOPers must be desperate for cash. Well, with the polls looking as bad as they do for them, they really do need it.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Foley Fallout: The Democrats - An Analysis

The Democrats are hitting Republicans hard on the Foley scandal, with harsh words in the Dems Saturday rebuttal to Pres. Bush's Radio Address. Dem Congressional candidate Patty Wetterling will deliver the response, parts of which were released today.

"We need to stop the sexual exploitation of children across the country, and in Washington we must hold accountable all those complicit in allowing this victimization to happen," Democratic congressional candidate Patty Wetterling said in excerpts of her party's Saturday radio address released on Friday."

"Foley sent obvious predatory signals, received loud and clear by members of congressional leadership, who swept them under the rug to protect their political power."

Meanwhile, conservative politicians and media outlets continue to blame the Democrats of starting the scandal or even "covering up" for Foley even while they are slamming the GOP for their role in the affair. That accusation is rather absurd, but it does show the extreme risks the Dems are taking when they attack Republicans on this issue. With polls showing that voters are angry at all Republicans after the scandal and leaning heavily toward the Dems anyhow, their best bet is to lay low and simply keep the pressure on GOP leaders to reveal what they knew about the scandal before it went public. Getting nasty will not help.