Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Democrats descended on Capitol Hill Wednesday to deliver hundreds of thousands of pledges from across the country in support of President Obama's budget. The signatures were harvested during a massive effort to tap the president's huge e-mail list and capitalize on a 50-state, door-to-door campaign.
The official DNC release read, "Supporters of President Obama's budget to hand deliver 642,000 pledges...." CNN and the Huffington Post reported the DNC's claim. But the truth is somewhat more complicated.
The president's e-mail list of 13-million resulted in just 114,000 individual pledges — a response rate of less than 1 percent. Party workers secured another 100,000 signatures by hitting the streets. The DNC arrived at its 642,000 figure by making three photocopies of each petition so that every signer's senators and representative could get one.
DNC spokesperson Natalie Wyeth responded: "This effort was designed to give our supporters the tools to influence their elected officials. Of course we delivered a pledge to each of their members of Congress — 642,000 pledges. That's what we said we were delivering and that's what we did."
When asked about the impression in the DNC press release that there were 642,000 unique pledges, she offered no response.
Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Pikeville, North Carolina Wednesday with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to announce a new wave of federal stimulus funds for essential services in rural communities. Biden used the town's outdated fire station as a backdrop saying, "We're investing in places like this all across the country to demonstrate the vital role towns like this play in the recovery."
Pikeville is getting money for a new station. But Republican State Senator David Rouzer says it is not from the stimulus — it's actually from money approved by the Bush administration.
Rouzer told McClatchy Newspapers, "They're coming in and cherry picking the best projects and switching out the money, saying it's stimulus money. But it was already approved and in the pipeline. It's totally disingenuous to come down here and say this is stimulus money, when regardless of whether a stimulus bill passed, they were getting the money."
However, officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture disputed Rouzer’s statements late Thursday about when the fire department's recently announced loan and grants for a new fire station were approved. And after speaking with USDA officials, the fire department's president, Russell Robertson said that he and state officials misunderstood the process. He said the fire department did not officially apply for the money until March 5. USDA provided a copy of the application with that date. McClatchy Newspapers corrected its inaccurate story.
Hold the Phone
White House officials gave journalists a toll-free number to call for an on-the-record briefing by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Adviser Jim Jones, live from the G20 summit in London. But people who dialed that number were instead solicited for phone sex.
Reporters were greeted by a soft-voiced female — who was clearly not Secretary Clinton — and then asked for a credit card number if they felt like "getting nasty."
It turns out the wrong number was listed on the press release, which was soon updated. But when asked for comment, White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said, "A corrected phone number on a press release is probably one of the stupider things FOX News has covered lately."
— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.
Bret Baier currently serves as FOX News Channel's (FNC) chief political anchor and anchor of Special Report with Bret Baier(weeknights at 6-7PM/ET), the highest-rated cable news program in its timeslot and consistently one of the top five shows in cable news. Based in Washington, DC, he joined the network in 1998 as the first reporter in the Atlanta bureau.