Blog Posts by Holly Bailey, Yahoo News

  • With new book and TV show, the Sarah Palin charm offensive begins

    palin tour

    As she openly flirts with a 2012 GOP presidential run, Sarah Palin is launching a folksy charm offensive aimed at winning over voters in America's heartland. On Sunday, Alaska's former governor kicks off her new TLC reality show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska." The show--which one pundit described as possibly the "earliest, most expensive presidential campaign ad ever made" --aims to reshape the Mama Grizzly's image, dialing down the campaign-season impression of Palin as  a politically polarizing tea party leader. The reality-TV version is a folksy everyday mom who'd rather be hiking and fishing than sitting in "some stuffy old political office."

    [Photos: More moments with Sarah Palin]

    At the same time, though, Palin is preparing to hit the road for a book tour touting a title that plies heartland political virtues--and boasting an itinerary that bypasses media centers such as New York and Los Angeles in favor of middle-American destinations that also figure prominently on the 2012 primary map. The promotional tour for "America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag" kicks off Nov. 23 in Phoenix and will take her through 13 states in 11 days, including key 2012 primary states Iowa and South Carolina.

    [Related: Why Palin's being called 'Democrat's last hope']

    Palin has been coy in fielding questions about potential plans to challenge Obama in 2012--but there's little doubt that she's working to position herself as a candidate of "regular" people. On her TV show, Palin repeatedly describes herself as an average Alaskan mother and housewife. That image helped to propel her to the national scene as John McCain's running mate in 2008--even though some McCain-Palin staffers charged that the vice-presidential nominee  had a penchant for "diva-like" behavior.

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  • ‘Dancing With the Stars’–or ballot-stuffing with the tea party?

    360 bristolAre Sarah Palin's tea party supporters keeping her daughter Bristol from being eliminated on "Dancing With the Stars"?

    That's what the show's top producer thinks after the 20-year-old Palin, who has received some of the lowest scores of the season, survived another elimination round this week. She now enters the show's semifinals, as a member of one the final four couples in contention.

    "There's a strong popular movement behind Sarah Palin at the moment, and she's receiving a lot of support from the tea party," "DWTS" executive producer Conrad Greene tells Bloomberg's Ronald Grover. "It's entirely possible some of those people are behind Bristol for political reasons."

    While Sarah Palin herself has not urged her supporters to vote for her daughter, some of the ex-governor's backers have. The blog Conservatives4Palin, which is closely allied with Palin's  political operation, has posted voting info for the show, urging supporters to vote for Bristol. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin's fans on Twitter have also sent messages urging votes for Bristol—though that procedure is no different from how the show's other celebrity contestants and their supporters have lobbied for votes.

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  • Democrats plot outside ad spending in 2012

    obama tvsDuring the 2008 campaign, President Obama disavowed spending by outside political groups to boost his campaign. But with certain outside conservative groups -- dubbed by critics the shadow GOP -- already planning to spend millions on ads to undermine Obama's re-election bid, White House officials have signaled to Democratic donors  that Obama wouldn't be opposed to allies running their own outside ads in 2012.

    As Politico's Ken Vogel reports Thursday, liberal donors will gather in Washington next week to hash out a 2012 game plan. But there's some skepticism among Democrats about how much money donors will be willing to put up for ad assaults in 2012. Some big donors are still hurting over the millions they'd spent on similar campaigns to defeat Bush and the GOP in 2004, without much success.

    The question among some Democratic activists is whether 2012 money would be better invested in the ground game and other non-advertising efforts.

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  • McConnell argued for Iraq troop pullout (plus 4 more Bush memoir revelations)

    bush and mcconnellBy now, you've read about George W. Bush's displeasure with Kanye West and his thoughts of replacing Vice President Dick Cheney in 2004. You've probably also read about Bush's puzzlement over John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign and his fight with Cheney over his unwillingness to pardon former White House aide Scooter Libby. Another news-making admission in "Decision Points," Bush's memoir released Tuesday: That photo of him flying in Air Force One over flooded New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was a big mistake.

    What else does the 43rd president reveal in his new memoir? Here are five other revealing disclosures from the Bush book:

    McConnell pushed for a troop drawdown from Iraq: In September 2006, the Senate's GOP leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, asked Bush in a private meeting to bring "some troops" home from Iraq in hopes of boosting Republicans ahead of a crucial midterm election. "Your unpopularity is going to cost us control of the Congress," McConnell said, according to Bush. Asked what he could do, the senator told Bush, "Mr. President, bring some troops home from Iraq."

    That contradicts what McConnell was saying publicly at the time. Indeed, he'd been attacking Democrats for trying to be "armchair generals" and seeking to dictate Iraq policy.

    McConnell's office has declined to comment on the Bush memoir, while the GOP leader himself deflected questions on the issue in an interview Wednesday with WHAS-TV of Louisville, Ky.

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  • Bush forgives Kanye West for calling him a racist

    bush kanyeIt looks like George W. Bush and Kanye West have buried the hatchet—at least for now.

    In a taped interview on NBC's "Today" show, the often-impulsive rapper told Matt Lauer that he now regrets having said after Hurricane Katrina that Bush "doesn't care about black people."

    "I would tell George Bush: In my moment of frustration, I didn't have the grounds to call him a racist," West said. "I believe that in a situation of high emotion like that, we as human beings don't always choose the right words."

    [Photo: Bush calls memorable Katrina image a 'huge mistake']

    In Bush's new memoir, "Decision Points," Bush calls the moment "disgusting" and the lowest ebb of his presidency.

    Appearing separately on "Today," Bush, upon seeing a video of West's remarks, replied, "I appreciate that." But he added: "It wasn't just Kanye West who was talking like that during Katrina. I cited him as an example."

    [Photos: Iconic images of President George W. Bush]

    Asked if he forgives West, Bush said "absolutely."

    "I'm not a hater. I don't hate Kanye West," he said. "But I was talking about an environment in which people were willing to say things that hurt. Nobody wants to be called a racist, if in your heart you believe in the equality of race."

    [Related: Bush airs feud with John McCain]

    You can watch Bush's remarks below:

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  • Michael Steele slams GOP critics of his RNC tenure

    steeleRepublican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is again defending his tenure as head of the GOP, trashing those in his party who "don't want me in this job."

    In an interview with NPR's "Tell Me More," Steele was asked about criticism by Republican Governors Association Chairman Haley Barbour, who has complained repeatedly about the RNC's fundraising struggles during the campaign.

    "They don't want me in this job, to put it rather bluntly," Steele told NPR. "That has been a concerted effort since I got the job."

    Steele pushed back against GOP officials who claim the RNC has suffered under his stewardship. He said he deserves credit for building a coalition between the party establishment and grass-roots activists like tea partiers. "I have won more elections than any chairman since 1938," Steele argued. "None of my predecessors have been able to put together the kind of combination of wins."

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  • Alvin Greene may mobilize for 2012 presidential run

    greene soldierMaybe Alvin Greene was thinking way too small when he set out to revive South Carolina's economy with his idea of constructing tiny armies of action figures molded in his likeness. After all, the whole country needs help, right?

    Well, never fear. Fresh off his losing bid to unseat Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Greene tells Politico's Kasie Hunt that he's now eying an even bigger race: the 2012 presidential campaign. The unlikely candidate confirms he called the state Democratic Party on Monday to find out how much it would cost to get on the ballot.

    Cost appears to be a major factor in whether Greene will run.

    When he couldn't find the answer through the party (the state hasn't set its fee yet, a party spokeswoman said), Greene asked Politico how much the filing fee would be, according to Hunt's report.

    Asked if he'll run, Greene replied, "Maybe. I'll have to see."

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  • GOP congressman says Palin cost Republicans control of Senate

    palin bachusA GOP congressman from Alabama has given fresh fuel to a growing debate within the Republican Party over its failure to take control of the Senate amid last week's enormous GOP wave on Election Day. Nine-term Rep. Spencer Bachus, in line to head the House Financial Services Committee, has laid blame for that setback at the feet of Sarah Palin.

    As first reported by the Shelby County Reporter's Jan Griffey,  Bachus told members of a chamber of commerce in his district that Palin's tea party choices sank GOP chances in the Senate.

    "The Senate would be Republican today except for states [in which Palin endorsed candidates] like Christine O'Donnell in Delaware," Bachus told the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce. "Sarah Palin cost us control of the Senate."

    According to Bachus, that means Republicans aren't really in charge in Washington. "You can wipe that thought from your mind," he said. "Democrats are in control of the presidency and the Senate. It would take 67 votes to override any veto."

    That's not to say Bachus, who is considered a staunch conservative, is anti-tea party.

    He told the chamber while tea party candidates did well in House races, the movement's picks in the Senate "didn't do well at all."

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  • More than $65 million was spent on anti-Pelosi ads

    pelosi adsIt's no secret that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wasn't a popular figure during the 2010 campaign, but it turns out her lack of popularity was record-breaking.

    A new Campaign Media Analysis Group study of political ads for CNN finds that more money was spent and more commercials were aired trashing Pelosi than any other congressional leader since Newt Gingrich 16 years ago.

    According to the analysis, 161,203 anti-Pelosi ads aired between January 1 and Election Day at a cost of more than $65 million. Almost half of that money came from individual congressional campaigns, while independent groups supporting GOP candidates chipped in $22 million. Republican party committees spent $8 million.

    Where did most of the anti-Pelosi ads air? Not in Pelosi's own northern California congressional district (where she handily won re-election) but in Pennsylvania, home to several hard-fought congressional races. According to CMAG, 14,443 ads trashing Pelosi aired in the state this year, which could be among the reasons why five House Democrats in Pennsylvania lost their bids for re-election.

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  • Huckabee defends the costs of Obama’s trip to India

    huckDid Mike Huckabee change his position on the costs related to President Obama's trip to India?

    As The Upshot reported on Friday, Huckabee was among leading Republicans floating a widely disputed estimate that Obama's trip to India, part of a 10-day tour of Asia, was costing $200 million a day.

    The former Arkansas governor first made the claim on Fox News on Election Night and then later repeated the number in a Facebook message. "Reports say that Obama's trip to Mumbai, India, tomorrow will cost $200 million dollars a day — come to think of it, that's much less than Obama's been spending here," Huckabee wrote Tuesday night (misstating the day of Obama's departure). "So maybe it's not a bad thing he's leaving."

    But as TPMDC's Eric Kleefeld notices today, Huckabee came to the White House's defense during an interview Friday night with Fox's Greta Van Susteren, pushing back on criticism that the trip is too expensive.

    "Presidents always get in trouble when they take a trip. It doesn't matter whether they're Democrats or Republicans. The Republicans whine when the Democrats go, and the Democrats whine when the Republicans go," Huckabee told Van Susteren. "It's an expensive trip. But the reality is, it costs a lot of money to take a president and all the necessary security, especially in a country like India, where there have been a lot of terrorist bombings and things have to be carefully managed."

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