Today's Power Play: Republicans Aren't Fighting the Tea Party

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Republicans Aren't Fighting the Tea Party

The Tea Party movement has energized and remade the Republican Party in ways hardly imaginable for a political force less than two years old.

The latest poll from the Wall Street Journal and NBC News helps us answer the question endlessly posed among the smart set in Washington of whether the Tea Party will supplant or destroy the GOP. The answer is that Republicans welcome the movement and are doing everything they can to accommodate its vast energies.

It does not appear to be the start of a new political party, but rather the scouring of an existing one. And it's a movement for fiscal conservatism that most Americans seem to welcome.

Seventy one percent of Republicans were supportive of the Tea Party movement compared to 30 percent overall. It's also instructive to note that Republicans and Democrats had overall support of 31 percent and 36 percent respectively.

Half of all respondents liked the idea of the Tea Party movement pushing Republicans to be more fiscally conservative. Forty two percent said the Tea Party movement had been good for the political process compared to 18 percent who thought it was a bad thing.

What does the Tea Party movement stand for? We have, at last, some answers from the WSJ poll. The top three attributes Tea Party supporters ascribed to the movement: "Committed to cutting federal government, spending and the national debt (29 percent); committed to reducing the size of government, including abolishing some federal agencies (25 percent); Supports personal liberty of the individual, within the rule of law (19 percent)."

As for that midterm election thingy, things look about the same as they did in August. The expected sharpening of partisan interest and enthusiasm has begun. Democrats still lag, but the constant exhortations from the White House and hoary threats about Social Security being taken away are having some effect.

Obama's job approval rating is at 46 percent - steady since June. Approval for his handling of the economy is at 42 percent, similar to August

Most Americans still believe the state of the economy is mostly not Obama's fault (56 percent) but almost double the percent of people blame Obama (32 percent) than did in January. A good question for next time: Did Obama's policies help, hurt or make no difference?

Democrats widened their lead in the survey of registered voters on generic ballot preference from 2 points in August to 5 points today. Owing to higher Republican enthusiasm and higher historical voting performance by GOPers, this still represents a game-day advantage for the GOP, but a smaller one.

Respondents were split (47 percent apiece) on the question of whether to allow a huge tax hike on high-income earners next year.

Approval for Congress is at 20 percent - essentially unchanged since September of 2009, except for a 17-point nadir in March, when Obamacare passed.

Bill Clinton is more popular than President Obama by a wide margin. Clinton is now viewed positively by 55 percent and negatively by 23 percent. The split on Clinton was 52/31 in January of 2009. Obama, meanwhile is viewed positively by 47 percent and negatively by 41 percent.

The president's effort to elevate and destroy House Minority Leader John Boehner seemed to have little effect. Half of respondents had never heard of Boehner. Twenty percent were ambivalent about him. Seventeen percent had a negative view. Fourteen percent had a positive view. Compare that to Nancy Pelosi, who is known by 89 percent and viewed in a negative light by half of all respondents.

FOX News is the main source of political news for 24 percent of respondents, as many as CNN(16) and MSNBC (8) combined.

The Day in Quotes

"The prediction among pundits is that it would be a blood-letting for Democrats and the basis is that all of you who had worked so hard, is that you all won't be as engaged. They say there is an enthusiasm gap.... You can't lose heart. Change is gonna come."

--President Obama fires up the crowd at the University of Wisconsin.

"So part of their strategy here is to try to wake up the living dead in Madison, but it's not going to happen because people are alive and they're thinking straight, and they know that Obama's policies are bad for this country."

-- Reince Priebus, chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party, to the Los Angeles Times.

"I keep in my pocket a checklist of the promises I made during the campaign, and here I am, halfway through my first term, and we've probably accomplished 70 percent of the things that we said we were going to do."

--President Obama to Rolling Stone.

"I'm not looking to pick another fight with Rahm Emanuel, but the contempt with which he held the progressive wing of the party was devastating and incredibly demoralizing. That's basically saying to your own people -- you got us here, now FU."

-- Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, quoted in Ari Berman's new book "Herding Donkeys,"

"It was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead - being my brothers' and sisters' keeper, treating others as they would treat me."

-- President Obama explaining to a questioner at a campaign event in Albuquerque, N.M. who asked why he was a Christian. Obama also defended his support for access to elective abortions on the grounds that it was a decision for families, not the government.

"Hell, if I was younger, you'd know I'd be running again."

-- California Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown, 72, when asked in a debate what would prevent him from mounting a third bid for the presidency.

"That would be like putting Count Dracula in charge of the blood bank. The fact is, nothing will get done."

-- California Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman discussing in a debate the promises of reforming state employee benefits from opponent Jerry Brown.

"My view is that most academic polling, as well as the polling sponsored by local television stations and newspapers, is dime-store junk."

-- Election forecaster Charlie Cook.

"We've got to pound that message as hard as can from now until November... If we do that and deliver this message over and over again, we are going to be OK."

-- Former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis describing to the Boston Globe his visit to the White House to give Obama advisers advice for the midterm elections. His recommendation: Remind voters that Republicans "want to go back and do exactly what got us in this mess in the first place."

"I fully expect to be speaker of the House five weeks from now."

-- Nancy Pelosi to outgoing NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker at a leadership forum.

"They're rapidly becoming the party of food stamps versus a Republican Party of paychecks."-- Newt Gingrich on FOX News."You're hearing this cop-out excuse that we can't repeal Obamacare as long as Obama is in office. That is simply not true. That's a lazy approach to dealing with this."

-- Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell in an interview with conservative Baltimore talk radio host, Tom Marr."I'm interested in public service. I'm someone who believes that you're in this not to make a career out of it but to make a difference. And if I think I can make a difference that's something I may consider."-- Sen. John Thune (R-SD) on "Hannity" about his interest in running for president."The general and I are really good friends. And we really work well together. We put all this behind us."

-- Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to FOX News discussing Brigadier General Michael Walsh, whom she famously dressed down for calling her "ma'am" instead of "senator."

"It is in the best interest of transparency and fairness...that the House ethics committee stop stalling the resolution of the Rangel and Waters matters and complete these public trials prior to the November elections."-- A letter from the five Republican members of the House ethics committee to Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) saying that voters should know the details of ethics charges against Reps. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Charlie Rangel (D-NY).

"I'm ninth on the ballot, OK, so you have to go down the list and then you'll lift me back up."

-- Independent Florida Senate Candidate Charlie Crist, quoted by the Daily Beast, on a push to pick up black voter support for his flagging candidacy, which has been further hampered by low ballot placement.

2012 Watch - Christie in the House; Thune Sets Timetable

Christie to Rally House GOP

House Republicans today will get a pep talk from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has been crisscrossing the country campaigning for Republican gubernatorial candidates.

One Hill leadership aide, who described Christie to Power Play as "the man," said he expected lots of interest in the speech among members.

"There's a lot of interest in him right now," the aide said. "People want to know where he's going."

Thune Sets Timetable

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) told his home-state's Rapid City Journal that he would make up his mind about a presidential run sometime next year and have an announcement in the "winter-spring time frame."

And while Thune stressed he didn't want to get ahead of himself, he did note to the paper that his "retail" style of politics would be very helpful in neighboring Iowa.

Trail Riders - Dems Ditch Obama Spending Pleas; Boxer-Fiorina Face Off; Krauthammer on Rahm's Replacement

Politics on FOX Today

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will be on "FOX & Friends" in the 8 a.m. hour

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) will be on "America's Newsroom" in the 9 a.m. hour

Democratic National Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) will be on "America's Newsroom" in the 10 a.m. hour

Meghan McCain will be on "America Live with Megyn Kelly" in the 1 p.m. hour

"On the Record With Greta Van Susteren" will host Bristol Palin, Alaska GOP Senate nominee Joe Miller and former Senator Rick Santorum in the 10 p.m. hour.

(All times Eastern)

Senate to Move on Stopgap Spending Bill

Senate Democrats are constructing a stopgap bill that's needed to avoid a government shutdown on Friday, the end of the federal fiscal year. Congress did not approve a budget this year and needs a "continuing resolution" to keep appropriations flowing.

In an effort to speed passage, lawmakers seem likely to pass on a series of add-ons requested by the Obama administration, including $1.9 billion worth of grants to better performing schools and more than $4 billion to finance settlements of long-standing lawsuits by black farmers and American Indians.

The measure could be passed as early as Wednesday and cleared for President Obama before the budget year ends at midnight on Thursday. The measure is expected to last until Dec. 4.Midday Maulers - Boxer, Fiorina Debate Today

California Senate candidates Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina today will face off in their second debate, scheduled for 1 p.m. from the studios of public radio station KPCC in Sacramento. Questions will come from the station's political show host and the editor of La Opinion, the state's largest Spanish-language newspaper.

Obama and Dem Leaders to Huddle

President Obama will meet with Democratic leaders on Thursday at the White House, presumably to map out the legislative endgame for the year - what to do (and say) about a looming tax increase and for a final pep talk before adjournment.

RNC Tries New 72-Hour Plan

For many election cycles the Republican National Committee has invested heavily on shipping out volunteers from Washington, mostly Hill aides and former staffers, to help turn out voters in key races.The cash-strapped committee is instead using the money for mailers and phone banks.

One staffer told Power Play that she often found the trips a waste of time anyway - "They send you to a part of the state you know nothing about. And expect you to get people out. You end up drinking coffee and sitting in vans most of the time."

Old Campaigners

-- Former President Bill Clinton has added another campaign stop. He'll stump for endangered Washington Sen. Patty Murray in Everett, Wash. On Oct 18.

-- Comedian Dennis Miller will headline a fundraiser for Nevada GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle Saturday in Las Vegas.

-- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will return to New Hampshire, the scene of strong showings in the 2000 and 2008 Republican presidential primaries, to stump for GOP Senate nominee Kelly Ayotte.

And Now, A Word from Charles

"When you bring in an outsider, somebody who's a public face... it's an admission that ‘I didn't quite get it.' It's an admission that ‘I didn't govern effectively or correctly, that I was off in my early days.'... It's a reach for getting kind of legitimacy on you by means of appointing somebody whom everyone likes. Obama is not someone who is going to make a tacit admission of that sort, I don't think. I think he doesn't want to admit he was wrong in the way he governed, and that would be, I think, what would be understood. As you say, the message it would send is ‘I get it now.' I don't think he believes -- I'm not sure he believes -- he didn't get it. And that's why I suspect simply from his nature he'll find somebody on the inside."

-- Charles Krauthammer on "Special Report with Bret Baier" discussing why President Obama will select an insider for Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's replacement.

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Thanks to today's Power Play Crew: Kimberly Schwandt, April Girouard, Lee Ross, Niki Gjoni, Varuna Bhatia, Jason Donner, Molly Mathews