Blog Posts by Holly Bailey

  • Senate Democrats come to Blumenthal’s rescue in Connecticut

    blumenthalWith polls showing him in a statistical dead heat with GOP rival Linda McMahon, Connecticut Democratic Senate hopeful Richard Blumenthal is getting some help from Democrats in Washington.

    The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has purchased at least $250,000 in ad time in Connecticut to run ads on Blumenthal's behalf. The spending call comes as the party is determining how best to spend its cash in the final weeks of the campaign. Democrats did not expect to have to spend money in the race, but the contest has become unexpectedly competitive, in part because McMahon has spent more than $24 million of her own cash.

    But it's not just McMahon's cash that has made the race a toss-up. Privately, many Democrats are questioning why Blumenthal has not been more aggressive in going after what some view as McMahon's most obvious vulnerabilities, including her previous stint as head of World Wrestling Entertainment and her lack of experience in public life.

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  • In key races, majority of undecided voters are Democrats

    feiingoldboxerWith Election Day just 32 days away, Democrats face an uphill battle to maintain their majority hold on Congress. But even as polls show serious GOP momentum, there are some small signs of hope that Democrats might still be able to avoid massive losses.

    For one thing, as The Upshot has previously reported, voters have an equally poor opinion of Democrats and Republicans, which makes the outcome of this year's midterms less easy to predict than many polls suggest. The second potential bright spot for Democrats: A new Public Policy Polling analysis finds that most undecided voters in Senate and gubernatorial races around the country are Democrats. According to PPP, an average 17 percent of likely Democratic voters are still on the fence about whom to support in November.

    That means if Democrats can win over their own base, the party will be far more competitive than expected.

    Still, that's easier said than done. The races that involve the highest quotient of Democrats staying on the fence are also in states where voters are either seriously unhappy with President Obama's job performance or have soured on the Democratic incumbent in the race.

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  • White House apologizes for turning away war hero’s family over dress code

    vernonbakerThe White House apologized Thursday to the family of a Medal of Honor recipient who was turned away from a tour of the West Wing last weekend because the late veteran's 10-year-old grandson was wearing shorts.

    Vernon K. Baker was the last surviving black Medal of Honor winner from World War II. He was belatedly awarded the honor in 1997 by President Clinton, after historians concluded Baker had been snubbed from receiving the military's top award because of race. Baker, who died in July after complications from brain cancer, was buried last Friday at Arlington National Cemetery.

    On Saturday, his widow, Heidy Baker, and grandson, Vernon, along with another Medal of Honor winner, Thomas Norris, arrived at the White House for an exclusive tour of the West Wing. But as the Associated Press's Nicholas K. Geranios reported, the three were turned away after a White House staffer who was to lead the tour wasn't sure the grandson's attire was appropriate. Vernon was wearing shorts and a T-shirt with a photo of his late grandfather on the front.

    [Related: Woman secretly a World War II hero]

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  • Obama bids farewell to Rahm, appoints Rouse in the interim

    rahmobama

    As expected, President Obama announced Friday morning that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is exiting the White House to run for mayor of Chicago. He will be replaced in the interim with longtime Obama staffer Pete Rouse. (Who is Rouse? Read our primer from Thursday.)

    "Welcome to the least suspenseful announcement of all time," Obama joked, as he went before a roomful of staffers and Cabinet members in the East Room.

    The president praised Emanuel as a "one of a kind" staffer, a "selfless public servant"  he had been able to count on "day and night." "We could not have accomplished what we have accomplished without Rahm's leadership," Obama said.

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  • Linda McMahon stumbles on minimum-wage questions

    mcmahonkConnecticut GOP Senate hopeful Linda McMahon has run a largely gaffe-free campaign, until today. The former World Wrestling Entertainment chief was rolling out an endorsement from the National Federation of Independent Business, which opposes a hike in the minimum wage. During a press conference, McMahon was asked if she agrees with the NFIB's position.

    According to a transcript of the news conference posted by The Day's Ted Mann, McMahon wasn't exactly precise in her answer. "What I think we have to look at whenever we are talking about minimum-wage increases is where is our economy at this particular point and how is that going to impact the businesses that are going to have to pay those wages," she replied.

    Asked point blank if she thinks there should be a minimum wage, McMahon said the minimum wage is law. "But I think we need to review how much it ought to be, and whether or not we ought to have increases in the minimum wage, and how is it planned, does it get tied to inflation, or are there just automatic increases in it," she said. "I think we should always review the policies that have been put in place to make sure that they are in keeping with the needs today."

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  • Meet Pete Rouse, Obama’s next chief of staff

    obama rouse

    With Rahm Emanuel announcing Friday that he's leaving the White House to run for mayor of Chicago, President Obama is expected to name his senior adviser, Pete Rouse, to serve as acting (and perhaps permanent) White House chief of staff. (Update: Obama announced Friday that Rouse will serve as "interim" chief of staff.)

    In choosing Rouse, Obama is tapping a near-opposite of his outgoing chief of staff. Rouse eschews the spotlight, preferring to operate as a self-described "behind-the-scenes" manager. "I fix things," Rouse told NBC last year, in one of his only recent interviews. He has rarely been photographed, much less with his boss. And while he knows many reporters, Rouse infrequently speaks to the media -- unlike Emanuel, who has been known to e-mail and phone White House beat reporters at all hours.

    Yet like Emanuel, Rouse is a consummate insider. He enjoys a close relationship to the president dating back long before Emanuel was invited into the Obama inner circle. His name is well known around Washington, thanks in large part to his nearly three-decade-long resume as a Capitol Hill staffer.

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  • McCain, Coburn contribute $1 million apiece to Senate GOP

    mccaincoburnWith polls showing Democrats increasingly at risk of losing seats in the Senate, two Republican senators are anteing up major donations to the Senate GOP's fundraising committee as Election Day rapidly approaches.

    As first reported by CQ-Roll Call's David Drucker, John McCain and Tom Coburn told attendees at a Senate GOP policy lunch Wednesday that they plan to transfer $1 million apiece from their campaign accounts to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Those transfers will mark the two single biggest contributions this election cycle to the NRSC.

    It's a sign that Republicans are increasingly confident the GOP will make major inroads in the Senate on Election Day -- if not gain majority control. NRSC Chairman John Cornyn has downplayed the GOP's prospects for months, saying that two election cycles would probably have to transpire for the Republicans to gain a majority. But recent polls have hinted there's a slim chance the Senate GOP could ride the anti-incumbent wave to a majority -- prompting Cornyn to appeal to lawmakers to help finance the NRSC's final push before Nov. 2.

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  • Palin will raise cash for the RNC next month

    palin kySarah Palin will use her celebrity to help raise funds for the Republican National Committee next month.

    The former Alaska governor will appear with embattled RNC Chairman Michael Steele at two fundraising rallies: Oct. 16 in Anaheim, Calif., and Oct. 23 in Orlando, Fla.

    According to a copy of the invitation obtained by CNN's Peter Hamby and Paul Steinhauser, the cost of admission ranges from $25 for people who want to simply  attend the rally to $30,400 for access to a private reception with Palin, Steele and other GOP leaders. A $1,000 donation will get you a photo with Palin and a "commemorative copy" of her new book, "America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag."

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  • How does a family get picked for an Obama backyard chat? A nice yard helps

    obamaclubbsIn recent weeks, President Obama has stepped out from behind the podium and taken his message on the economy to backyards around the country. He turns up at these gatherings in shirtsleeves and no tie to field questions from average American citizens.

    It's a move aimed in part at reviving the president's dismal poll numbers, which now show that most of the country disapproves of Obama's job performance and believes him to be out of touch with its economic problems.

    But do you ever wonder how the White House chooses where the president will go?

    [Photos: Latest images of the president]

    It's not random. So far, the White House has chosen backyards in swing states  that not only will be the chief political battleground in 2010 but also will probably play a big role in 2012, including Iowa, Ohio, New Mexico and Virginia.

    According to administration officials, advance teams pick a place and then begin scouting for families, sometimes based on recommendations of Obama allies.

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  • Poll: Murkowski and Miller are dead even in Alaska

    murkowskiA new poll finds Joe Miller and Lisa Murkoswki virtually tied in Alaska's Senate race.

    According to a new CNN/Time survey, Miller narrowly leads the incumbent senator by just two points, 38 percent to 36 percent, among likely Alaska voters. Democrat Scott McAdams, the mayor of Sitka, runs a distant third, garnering just 22 percent. The poll has a 3 percent margin of error.

    While this is good news for Murkowski, the poll is a little tricky, as her name won't technically appear on the ballot. Miller, a tea party-backed candidate, narrowly defeated Murkoswki in last month's GOP primary, but the senator announced plans to run a write-in candidate. If she wins, she'd be the first senator in 56 years to be elected in a write-in campaign.

    But the poll finds plenty of hopeful signs for Murkowski, including significant support among Democrats and independents. According to the survey, 39 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of independents say they will support Murkowski on Election Day.

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