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• The most revealing quote about Obama’s political instincts
• Reid relapses with Koch amendment
• Roberts packs punch in first debate
• Rubio teams with Romney foreign policy alums
• That’s a lot of breadsticks
THE MOST REVEALING QUOTE ABOUT OBAMA’S POLITICAL INSTINCTS
President Obama said this weekend that fears of damaging his party’s chances of holding the Senate were not behind his decision to abandon plans to use executive action to grant temporary amnesty to large numbers of illegal immigrants. Instead, the president told NBC News’ re-launched Sunday chat show, that he waited for a different political reason. Obama said he pulled back because voters changed their mind on the subject of immigration itself after seeing the chaos at the southern border amid the surge of Central American minors seeking sanctuary in the U.S. “The truth of the matter is, that the politics did shift midsummer because of that problem,” Obama said, going on to blame Republicans for “exploit[ing] the humanitarian situation.” (Not that Democrats would ever do such a thing…) What the president said, in essence, was that he is not doing what he knows to be right because people are paying too much attention. Instead, Obama said he will wait until voters have calmed down lest his action be rolled back amid a public outcry. Or an even shorter version: “Of course it’s not about politics for Senate Democrats, it’s about politics for me.”
That explains it - Obama’s answer doesn’t seem to be an evasion, since the evasive answer would have been to say that the measures weren’t ready or weren’t satisfactory or anything else he could think of. But instead, Obama was delineating between playing politics to push the issue itself as opposed to the somehow less noble pursuit of preserving his Senate majority, as if the two weren’t connected. Of course the amnesty action would have hurt Democrats, but so did threatening it for months on end. Eliminating the threat temporarily will make things less bad, perhaps, but it will also hurt Democratic turnout in key precincts. What a mess. Obama going from a mass-amnesty, impeachment-bait measure to no measure at all is far worse than if he had done nothing at all. How did he manage to screw up the one thing he was doing (other than a bajillion fundraisers) to try to help Democrats?
Obama, party of one - First, he waited and waffled. The politics of the issue have been clear for more than a month. Rather than ratcheting up speculation, Team Obama could have quietly started stepping on the executive action story line instead of pumping it up. Second, Obama did not understand his foes. He expected Republicans to freak out and start drafting articles of impeachment, but instead the GOP has done what the president has failed to do: keep its political focus on the task at hand. Third, and most importantly, Obama overestimated his commitment to his allies. The president may have once imagined himself willing to risk his legacy and one of his most prized issues with an audacious move, but flinched as he got closer. The verdict of this cycle is the same as most of Obama’s presidency: He is a party of one. Obama needed listeners to know that he was politically savvy, but also wanted them to know he wouldn’t waste his acumen on something so crass as saving his fellow Democrats.
SUPER MODELS FOR GOP SENATE TAKEOVER
The prognosticators reset their dials after another round of public polling on key Senate races, showing a timely shift in favor of Republicans.
Odds in favor - Nate Silver: “The FiveThirtyEight forecast model gives Republicans a 65.1 percent chance of winning the Senate with the new polling added, similar to the 63.5 percent chance that our previous forecast gave them on Friday…Republicans have long been favored to win back the seats in Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota, three states where Democratic incumbents have retired. …The GOP’s next two easiest targets are in Louisiana and Arkansas, where the Democratic incumbents Mary Landrieu and Mark Pryor are struggling with electorates that have turned much redder since their tenure in office began…”
Marginal momentum - NYT’s Upshot: “The Upshot’s Senate model, now gives the Republicans a 61 percent chance of retaking the Senate, up from 58 percent before the infusion of new data….The overall effect of the likely voter screen is to increase the G.O.P. margin in the national Senate popular vote by two percentage points. That’s hardly ideal for Democrats…”
A fine nine? - Weekly Standard’s Jay Cost: “Republicans could well do better than six seats. In fact, they could easily take nine seats from the Democrats—in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia. In each of these states, Republicans plus independents constitute a majority, and there is no clear Democratic candidate edge. A true repeat of the 2010 wave should therefore give the Republicans 54 seats—give or take—in the Senate.”
Dems losing the edge - WSJ: “Republican candidates have opened up leads in two key Senate races, according to new NBC News/Marist polls, brightening the party's prospects for retaking control of the chamber in the November elections. Rep. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) has opened up a five-point lead over Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor in Arkansas among likely voters, 45% to 40%. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell leads Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes by eight points, 47% to 39%, in Kentucky. Libertarian David Patterson was at 8%...Republicans are doing well in red states, but still trailing in blue states like Colorado, where incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall leads Republican Rep. Cory Gardner by six points, 48% to 42%.”
[Unfavorable conditions - WaPo: “In Kentucky, Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes's favorable rating in May, according to NBC-Marist, was 39 percent, with just 24 percent viewing her unfavorably. Today, her favorable rating is unchanged at 39 percent, but her unfavorable rating his risen 17 points, to 41 percent… In other words, Grimes's image went from 15 points positive to two points negative…. In May, Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor's favorable/unfavorable split was a pretty strong 50/35 among registered voters -- and he led Cotton by 11 points. Today, it's 44/42 among likely voters, and he trails Cotton by five. So from a plus-15 image to plus-two.”]
REID RELAPSES WITH KOCH AMENDMENT
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to put the Senate back to work today after its August recess by going back to attacks on billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, whom he declared “enemies of progress” at a conference for green energy companies seeking government subsidies last week. Reid plans to hold a vote on amending the Constitution to let Congress regulate political spending – a measure put forward by vulnerable incumbent Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM. The amendment is a political dead letter, but has figured heavily in Reid and his patrons attack ads. House Speaker John Boehner is out today mocking Reid’s move and calling for action on House-passed legislation to boost the saggy economy. In a Time op-ed Boehner lays out his forthcoming “American Solutions” suite of legislation aimed at job creation, lowering the cost of living and expanding opportunities.
[For the defense - Former Solicitor General Ted Olson writes in a subscribers-only WSJ op-ed: “When politicians seek to restrict political speech, it is invariably to protect their own incumbency and avoid having to defend their policies in the marketplace of ideas.”]
Land rebuts - Michigan Republican Senate nominee Terri Lynn Land is hitting back at her rival Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., for claiming she is contributing to pollution because she is supported by oilmen Charles and David Koch. From the ad: “Peters calls petcoke a ‘dangerous pollutant’… but he has nineteen thousand dollars invested in a company that produces it… hoping to profit from pollution.”
Steyer strategy, too - Crossroads GPS is attacking Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., for what the group says is favoring his patron, green-energy billionaire Tom Steyer, over the jobs that would have been created by the proposed Keystone Pipeline.
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
Fifty years ago this week, during NBC’s “Monday Night at the Movies” showing of the lusty Bible story “David and Bathsheba” Americans met three-year-old Monique Corzilius, who starred in a political attack ad unlike any that came before it. The spot from the campaign of President Lyndon Johnson which aired only once, featured Corzilius counting daisy petals when a suddenly the voice of a mission-control announcer, sounding straight out of “Dr. Strangelove,” counted down to a nuclear blast. The Johnson campaign had two other spots, including one that’s even ickier featuring a woman telling a little girl that Republican nominee Barry Goldwater favored nuclear testing that could “make you die.” Ad Age has the history of the spots that began a long race to the bottom for scare tactics and the advertising executives who fired the first shot.
Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 41.8 percent//Disapprove – 53.2 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 25.4 percent//Wrong Track – 66.1 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 42.5 percent// Republicans – 42 percent
-- 57 days until Nov. 4 --
ROBERTS PACKS PUNCH IN FIRST DEBATE
Wichita [Kan.] Eagle: “Sen. Pat Roberts [R-Kan.] touted his experience while challenger Greg Orman claimed his independence as the two met head-to-head in debate at the Kansas State Fair… Orman has said he plans to caucus with the majority, whoever wins it, and hasn’t committed to picking a side if it’s a tie. Roberts said that’s a big difference. He said he’s the only candidate who can ‘make a Republican majority, put Harry Reid out to pasture and get things done.’ And he disputed Orman’s independence, saying Orman has said he voted for President Obama in 2008 and donated money to Democrats, inluding Hillary Clinton and Reid. ‘He is not (independent), he is liberal Democrat by philosophy,’ Roberts said. Orman shot back that he has donated to politicians in both parties and has been a Republican, a Democrat and an independent.”
GARDNER, UDALL FIGHT OVER OBAMACARE
KDVR: “Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner took every opportunity to tie Democratic Sen. Mark Udall to President Obama and his vote for the Affordable Care Act during their first debate Saturday night… ‘When you promised people, ‘If you like your health care plan you can keep it,’ when did you realize that was a lie?’ Gardner continued… When it was Udall’s turn, he cited Gardner’s votes to defund Planned Parenthood, restrict access to birth control and to ban abortion. ‘How can women and families trust you not to interfere with their personal health decisions?’ Udall asked. Gardner responded by saying he looked forward to creating jobs for women.”
PICK SIX: SAFE BETS AND INSURANCE POLICIES
Republicans need to gain six seats to take control of the Senate. Which six Democrat-held seats are the most vulnerable? Based off of your e-mails and tweets, here is the consensus among Fox News First readers : Arkansas (13.7%), Montana (12.6%), West Virginia (11.8%), Louisiana (11.5%), South Dakota (10.4%) and North Carolina (9.5%). Reader Michael Scott of Wentzville, Mo., sees Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota as “sure fires” but urges his fellow readers to keep their eyes on Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan and Colorado.
CRUZ PITCHES FOR GARCIA IN THE GRANITE STATE
WMUR: “…Sen. Ted Cruz [R-Texas] spoke at a rally Sunday in Nashua [N.H.] for state Rep. Marilinda Garcia, just two days before she competes in the Republican primary for the 2nd Congressional District. Cruz spoke about immigration, health care and defending the Constitution…One of Garcia’s two opponents, Gary Lambert, said the endorsement from Cruz means little.’ No matter what Sen. Cruz may say, it’s clear what Rep. Garcia has said. She wants a pathway to citizenship. She said that in the sponsored resolution with the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators,’ Lambert said.’’’
RUBIO TEAMS WITH ROMNEY FOREIGN POLICY ALUMS
Mitt Romney nudged the door almost closed on a third presidential bid in his appearance on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” saying “I'm not running. I'm not planning on running” – though Romney stopped short of Shermanesque absolutism. But Romney’s foreign policy team is running and in search of a candidate to back. The Daily Beast reports on the John Hay Initiative which is gearing up for its first high-profile event with a Sept. 17 speech from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
“I'll have more clarity on [a potential presidential run] after this midterm, because I can promise you this, the one place where I will not be able to [advance his agenda] from is a Senate that is still run by Harry Reid that allows no votes on anything of substance or importance.” – Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on “Face the Nation”
PAUL MAKING PLAY IN PURPLE VIRGINIA
WaPo: “Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) plans to help Republicans in the swing state of Virginia fill party coffers at a fundraiser this month. The potential presidential contender will headline a dinner in Falls Church on Sept. 24 to benefit the Republican Party of Virginia. The $95-a-head dinner, at 7 p.m. at the Marriott Fairview Park, comes two months after Paul appeared in Arlington at a pair of events meant to introduce him to business leaders and grassroots activists in a state that has only recently become critical to presidential hopefuls.”
THAT’S A LOT OF BREADSTICKS
If you think of “all-you-can-eat” as more of a lifestyle than a dining option, then grab your stretchy pants and head for an Olive Garden today. USA Today reports the restaurant chain “will announce plans for it’s first-ever ‘Never Ending Pasta Pass’—which for $100, gives the holder the right to consume all of the pasta, salad, bread and Coca-Cola branded soft drinks that they can stuff down for seven weeks.” You’d better hurry if you’re interested since only 1,000 passes will be available, plus you probably won’t be doing a lot hurrying in the next 49 days if you’re maxing out on Alfredo sauce.
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First" political news note and hosts "Power Play," a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace." He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.