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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Twitter Tactic Costs POTUS Followers

The Miami Herald reports that the Obama team is not always adept at social media:

President Barack Obama's re-election campaign really wanted to put the heat on Republicans, so it took to Twitter and asked followers to urge a deal. Considering that Obama's popularity numbers are tanking, it seemed like a good idea to reach out to followers directly.

"Let your members of Congress know, make a phone call, send an e-mail, tweet, keep the pressure on Washington and we can get past this," said @BarackObama.

But as CNN reports, the plan back-fired -- or back-twittered. @BarackObama might have lost more than 33,000 followers. Albeit, the report relies on the data for the twitter handle @whitehousepresscorps, which is tough to find. And it could be just a statistical blip, especially compared to the 9,365,436 current followers of @BarackObama.

Some Republicans seem to appreciate the combat. Lakeland Rep. Dennis Ross (a must-follow, fyi) tweeted "Dear #Obamatons you are ruining my interactions with thoughtful democrats with this spam. And U R hurting your President."

Saturday, July 30, 2011

California Remap

California's redistricting commission has issued the final draft of state legislative and congressional districts. Click here for detailed maps along with demographic and political data.

Mediha Fejzagic DiMartino writes at The San Bernardino Sun:

The Citizens Redistricting Commission on Friday voted to adopt the state's new political boundaries, sealing its decision to bind the fate of two longtime congressmen.

Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, whose residence would now be in Rep. Joe Baca's district, will have a decision to make - move into a new district similar to the area he currently represents, or face off against Baca, D-San Bernardino, in Baca's home district.

A new Latino district is drawing candidate interest as Rebecca Kimitch reports in the Pasadena Star-News:

The new congressional district maps released Friday are already creating potential races that six months ago would have been unthinkable.

El Monte Councilwoman Norma Macias has become the latest elected official considering a run in a new San Gabriel Valley-centered district.

Already Assemblymen Anthony Portantino and Roger Hernandez have expressed interest in representing the same district.

Macias announced Friday, hours before the California Redistricting Commission tentatively approved its new maps, that she has opened a campaign committee and begun raising money for a congressional bid.

"I'm exploring it right now, and doing my due diligence," said Macias, stressing that she has not yet made an official declaration.

Though Macias' political experience is limited - her election to the El Monte City Council in 2009 was her first - she has some heavyweights backing her bid: Congresswomen Loretta and Linda Sanchez are her cousins.
While the Sanchez sisters have served as role models, Macias said it was the sheer opportunity provided by redistricting that inspired her to run.


The district Macias, Hernandez and Portantino are interested in representing is made up of a block of cities including all or part of El Monte, Baldwin Park, West Covina, Covina, Azusa, La Puente, Duarte, and San Dimas, incorporating much of the East San Gabriel Valley. Politics there are dominated by Latino Democrats. The only incumbent currently living in the district is Republican Rep. David Dreier of San Dimas.

Dreier has so far largely been seen as a loser in the redistricting game. His current district stretches from along the foothills into San Bernardino County and includes San Dimas, Glendora and La Verne. And the new district would be almost entirely new territory for him.

The Los Angeles Times reports on Democratic incumbents:

Democrats Xavier Becerra and Lucille Roybal-Allard issued separate news releases announcing their plans to run for two Eastside-area and Southeast districts, the 34th Congressional District for him, the 40th for her.

A little farther north, Democratic Rep. Lois Capps of Santa Barbara, already in Republicans' sites in her newly drawn district, reaffirmed she's running again in what will be the new 24th.
And Rep. Howard Berman, whose San Fernando Valley home will be in the same district as that of Rep. Brad Sherman, a fellow Democrat, also said he's running in that new district, the 30th.
The new lines will get a final commission vote Aug. 15 but are unlikely to change. They are posing a real dilemma for recently seated Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro).
Her current 36th Congressional District, which basically runs up the coast to Venice, has been divided among three new districts.
Her home is in territory traditionally represented by African Americans, long allies of the Hahn political family, and there already is some concern among black leaders that Hahn might try to take one of "their" seats.
"Ten days ago, I took the oath of office as a new member of Congress," Hahn said in a statement early Friday afternoon. "Today that district was taken away from me and split into three very different districts."
What's she going to do? If she has decided, it wasn't apparent from her statement:
"Regardless of which district the voters of the old 36th were placed into under these lines, they should rest assured that I will fight for the very issues I campaigned on each and every day," she said in the statement.

Democratic Rep. Henry A. Waxman, who gained much of Hahn's turf in a new district that runs from his Beverly Hills base and Malibu down to the Palos Verdes Peninsula, said he expects the new maps to lead to expensive campaigns and put California's political clout in Washington at risk.

"some of our senior people will be forced into costly and difficult election campaigns," Waxman said in a Capitol interview Friday. "Many of them won't return, which I think will hurt the clout of the state in a Congress where seniority matters as much as it does."

Hollywood, Labor, and Outside Democratic Groups

Kenneth Vogel writes at Politico:

A network of Democratic outside groups designed to offset the fundraising juggernaut conceived last year by Karl Rove is off to a slow start, pulling in a combined $10 million in the first half of the year, while leaning heavily on big contributions from labor unions and Hollywood, according to campaign reports filed with the Federal Election Commission Friday evening.

By contrast, one of the key groups in Rove’s GOP-allied constellation, Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, will have spent more than $20 million on television ads ripping Democrats by the end of August, and – combined with a sister group called American Crossroads – intends to spend $120 million before the 2012 election.

The Crossroads groups raised $70 million for their advertising efforts in the 2010 midterm campaign, prompting Democrats to form their own network of groups in recent months.

The Democratic network comprises so-called super PACs including Priorities USA, American Bridge 21st Century, Majority PAC and House Majority PAC – all of which are required to disclose their donors and other finances to the FEC – and a connected network of groups registered under a section of the Internal Revenue Service code – 501(c)4 – that allows them to keep their donors secret.

In total, the groups raised $10 million in the first half of the year, according to a joint press release.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Another Bad Number for the President

Gallup reports:
President Obama's job approval rating is at a new low, averaging 40% in July 26-28 Gallup Daily tracking. His prior low rating of 41% occurred several times, the last of which was in April. As recently as June 7, Obama had 50% job approval.

Obama's approval rating averaged 46% in June and was near that level for most of July; however, it has stumbled in the past few days, coinciding with intensification of the debt ceiling/budget battle in Washington.

Obama's 40% overall approval rating nearly matches the recent 41% approval Americans gave him for handling the debt ceiling negotiations. Though Americans rate Obama poorly for his handling of the situation, they are less approving of how House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are handling it. Gallup does not include ratings of Congress or congressional leaders in its Daily tracking, and thus, there is no overall job approval rating of Boehner, Reid, or Congress directly comparable to Obama's current 40% overall job approval rating.

Obama's job approval rating among Democrats is 72%, compared with 34% among independents and 13% among Republicans. In the prior three weeks, his average approval rating was 79% among Democrats, 41% among independents, and 12% among Republicans.

And outside groups are following Lee Atwater's dictum of "always kick `em when they're down," as National Journal reports:

On the same day the latest Gallup tracking poll showed President Obama's job-approval rating falling to a new low of 40 percent, a conservative group moved to keep him on the ropes, announcing it has purchased $1 million worth of television ads blasting the president's handling of the debt ceiling debate.

"In 2006, Senator Barack Obama, said, quote, 'raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure,'" says the ad commissioned by Americans for Prosperity, before cutting to a clip of Obama as president saying "we have to extend this debt ceiling through the next election."

The ad follows several spots from a range of outside groups that have highlighted the debt ceiling debate in attacks against candidates for federal office, and in some cases, the president himself.

Bad Numbers, Late July Edition

US News reports a story that will have far more impact on the 2012 election than a candidate's migraines:

GDP growth for the second quarter was lower than expected, with the nation's output increasing at an annual rate of 1.3 percent from April through June, according to numbers released this morning by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis.Click here to find out more!

Though a marked increase from the first quarter's 0.4 percent growth, the figure shows that the nation's economic recovery remains tepid. According to Ben Herzon, senior economist at macroeconomic consulting firm Macroeconomic Advisers, a survey of economists his firm conducted on July 22 had predicted growth of 2.1 percent in the second quarter. Ryan Sweet, senior economist at Moody's Analytics, told U.S. News that he had predicted 1.8 percent.[Read about the growing political will for corporate tax reform.]

Gallup reports that people are pretty clear on the state of the economy:

Seventy-three percent of Americans in Gallup Daily tracking over the July 22-24 weekend say the U.S. economy is getting worse. This is up 11 percentage points from the three days ending July 6, and the worst level for this measure since the three days ending March 12, 2009.

California Redistricting Endgame

An independent citizens' panel is expected to vote to adopt new maps for California's congressional and legislative districts, completing a process that is expected to promote more Democrats to office but one that also will open the door to potential legal and ballot challenges.

Following dozens of meetings since the start of the year, the 14-member California Citizens Redistricting Commission will vote Friday on the final version of district maps for Congress, the state Legislature and the state Board of Equalization, which administers sales and use taxes. At least nine commissioners have to support the lines, including at least three each from Democrats, Republicans and independents.

Tony Quinn writes at Fox and Hounds that the plan is a racial gerrymander:

The worst example of racial gerrymandering is in Los Angeles where the two African American commissioners made it clear their votes for the congressional plan required drawing three black congressional districts, even though Los Angeles black population, now only 8.3 percent of the county’s total, allowed for hardly more than one black district.

African-Americans had initially complained about being ignored, but when it became clear the congressional plan would fail without the votes of the two black commissioners the commission acquiesced to the three black districts, although not without a tearful and bitter debate. And now it turns out that a white Democratic congresswoman is threatening to run in one of the black seats; the commission will probably be forced back to the drawing board to stop that.

The racial gerrymander has one probably unintended consequence: the Republicans were generally saved from extinction. As they created hugely minority districts, lily white Republican districts emerged on their periphery. I had hoped this would not happen; that Republicans would be forced to run in districts with more middle class Latinos, and that Democrats would have to respond to suburban concerns: in other words: the creation of truly competitive districts.

That is not the result. Republicans will hold ultra safe rural and suburban districts; Democrats heavily minority urban districts, and there will be fewer moderates, or anyone who can makes deals. This is the single greatest failure of this commission; and it did not happen by chance.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Thread Spot and the Daisy Spot

Crossroads GPS has a striking new spot, as Melanie Mason writes at The Los Angeles Times:
Conservative group Crossroads GPS, co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove, has weighed in on Washington’s economic crisis du jour with a new ad released Wednesday, saying America’s economy is “hanging by a thread” and laying the blame on President Obama.

The new ad campaign, which totals $3.5 million for a two-week run in Colorado, North Carolina, New Mexico, Iowa, Nevada and Virginia, doesn’t explicitly mention the debt ceiling debate that has paralyzed the capital in recent weeks. But the commercial’s warning that the country is “near the breaking point” dovetails with the coming Tuesday deadline for Congress to raise the debt limit, after which the country will default on its obligations. (See video below.)

In the commercial, shipping crates—each meant to signify a strain on the economy, such as the high unemployment rate and rising gas prices—dangle precipitously by fraying ropes in a computer animation. “Maybe we won’t be crushed when our economy snaps,” the narrator says. “But someone will,” as the image of a young blond girl fills the screen.

The wide-eyed youth harkens back to Lyndon Johnson’s famous 1964 “Daisy” ad, in which footage of a little girl playing with flowers was ominously juxtaposed against footage of a mushroom cloud.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Perry Effect

Gallup reports that Rick Perry would start off in second place.
Mitt Romney is the leader for the GOP nomination among the current field of official candidates, supported by 27% of Republicans, compared with 18% for Michele Bachmann. However, Rick Perry would essentially tie Romney, with Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani close behind, in a scenario in which all three of these undecided candidates entered the race.
Preferences for 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination, July 2011

The Fundamentals

At The Weekly Standard, Jay Cost argues that the fundamentals currently do not favor the president's reelection:
  • Democratic party identification is at a 50-year low;
  • Independents disapprove of his job performance;
  • He has poor approval ratings on key issues (including health care).
Cost concludes:
At this point, Obama is a prisoner to events. He needs a substantial, noticeable improvement in the economy, specifically as independent voters experience it, to have a decent shot at reelection. And beyond that, his health care bill remains extremely unpopular, and the deficit is bound to remain an issue next year. So, he has a lot of fundamental challenges. Assuming that his macro-position does not improve (and the Republicans nominate a reasonably acceptable candidate), the data at this point indicate that he would have a very difficult time winning reelection next year.
At The Atlantic, Derek Thompson points out that a big cut in spending would not help POTUS:
First, real disposable income isn't growing. Wages are falling behind inflation, and there's little reason to think that cutting spending will change that picture. Second, as Washington reins in spending, total government jobs will continue to fall below the private sector. Government is supposed to be a crutch for the private sector, but it's becoming a hurdle for national employment. Third, multinational corporations, which are growing faster than the overall economy, have repeatedly warned that premature government tightening could "risk triggering another recession [that] would likely result in excessive unemployment." A grand bargain might seem like smart politics for the administration, but if it hurts the economy, it'll come around and look like bad politics in 2012.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The 2012 Calendar

Jeff Zeleny writes at The New York Times:

Even as the Republican presidential contenders zigzag through Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, an uncertain and potentially unwieldy primary schedule in subsequent states is alarming party leaders, who fear that the voting could start earlier, last longer and complicate efforts to confront President Obama next year.

The 2012 presidential race is the first to fall under new rules from the Republican National Committee, which had intended the contests to start in February, a month later than in 2008. But at least a half dozen states are threatening to defy the rules and move up their primaries.

The result is that the first ballots are once again likely to be cast in January as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina move up the dates of their contests to protect their franchises as the early voting states.

At the same time, the rush toward the front of the calendar by Florida, Michigan, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia and Missouri is accompanied by another trend: several states are pushing back their presidential primaries — or canceling them entirely — because of tight state budgets.

The outcome is a sharply scaled-back set of contests in the weeks after the initial flurry — with Super Tuesday in particular diminished in importance — followed by a stretch of primaries lasting until summer.


Josh Putnam, an assistant professor at Davidson College who studies presidential primaries and writes the blog FrontloadingHQ, said the biggest change to the calendar was the shrinking of Super Tuesday — from 24 states last time to about 10 next year — and the lengthening of the nominating season.

“Four years ago, there was a mad rush to the first Tuesday in February,” Mr. Putnam said. “This time, a sizable chunk of states are deciding to move back.”

Another dynamic in the calendar fight has made this round of behind-the-scenes competition among states even more chaotic.

Republicans have long operated under a winner-takes-all system, which has allowed the party to wrap up its nominating fight more swiftly than Democrats, who allow states to award delegates proportional to the share of votes received by the candidates. This time, most Republican delegates will be awarded proportionally for all primaries and caucuses taking place before April 1, which means finishing second can be nearly as fruitful as winning. If the campaign narrows to a head-to-head match between two candidates next year, it has the potential to become a Republican version of the extended 2008 Democratic delegate fight between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton that was not resolved until all states had voted.

Crossroads GPS and the Debt Fight

David Catanese writes at Politico:

A little more than two weeks after its initial infiltration of five key battleground states hosting 2012 Senate elections, Crossroads GPS is back.

The outsized third-party conservative group is attempting to seize the high ground as the debate over the debt ceiling reaches its climax, launching the next phase of its $20 million summer ad blitz.

Its latest 11-day $1.6 million purchase lands in the five familiar states of Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska and Ohio, accusing the Democratic Senate incumbents of voting for "billions in new taxes and trillions in debt."

The spots, shared with POLITICO, feature a montage of "regular people" lamenting rising prices for gas and groceries and falling house prices before accusing President Obama of another tax hike.

The Miami Herald adds:

Crossroads GPS is launching a second ad against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. The spot blames Nelson for higher taxes and spending while Americans struggle to find jobs and pay more for gas and groceries.

The "reckless spending" cited in the ad, though, is a bipartisan affair, as Republicans also ran up budgets in the George W. Bush era. The ad buy in Florida is $560,000. Ads are also playing against Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

On Sunday, we looked at the rise of the third-party expenditure groups like Crossroads GPS and affiliate American Crossroads, which plan to spend $20 million in July and August alone. Story here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 72

From an interview with NPR's Michel Martin:

MARTIN: ...and you're willing to give up on some things that are important to other Democrats, to progressives. But what about — what is your message to Democrats — and perhaps I should say progressives — who say that the most vulnerable people in this country have already suffered too much in recent years and gotten too little?

OBAMA: Well, I think what's absolutely true is, is that core commitments that we make to the most vulnerable have to be maintained. And so a lot of the spending cuts that we're making should be around areas like defense spending, as opposed to food stamps. I do think that when it comes to entitlements, when we're talking about Social Security and Medicare, that those aren't entitlement programs where people aren't contributing; it would be that they are social insurance programs that people have been making contributions to, and they are the most important part of our social safety net so that when people retire, they can retire with dignity and respect.

What is true is that given the rising number of seniors, and given the huge escalation in health-care costs, that if we don't structure those programs so that they are sustainable, then it's going to be hard for the next generation to enjoy those kinds — same kinds of benefits. And so we are going to have to make some modest changes that retain the integrity of the program, but make sure that they're there for years to come. And that's not even just a deficit problem, that's a — a step that even if we were all Democrats up here on Capitol Hill, we'd have to start making, to make sure that the integrity of those programs are preserved.

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 71

From a July 20 interview with Jerry Revish of WBNS, Columbus, Ohio:

REVISH: Let's move to the economy for a moment here, Ohio's economy in particular. Manufacturing helped build our state. What do you do to revive that part of our economy in Ohio when those jobs continue to fade away?

OBAMA: Well, I have to say the recovery has been obviously slower than we would like and we're doing everything we can to accelerate hiring. Manufacturing has actually been a bright spot in this recovery. We've actually seen more growth faster in manufacturing than in the rest of the economy. Now part of that is the work that we did in the auto industry, which is obviously very important to Ohio. We were about to see the liquidation of Chrysler and GM, they have come roaring back, they're now making a profit; they're actually increasing market share. Part of it is restructuring and better management but part of it is also starting to look at what are the products of the future? How can we build cars that are fuel efficient, how can we win the race for electric cars? And so this whole area of advanced manufacturing where we focus on the products that we're going to be using in the 21st century rather than in the 19th or 20th century, that's how we can create more and more manufacturing jobs and we're putting a lot of investment in that particularly on the research and development side where the federal government can do some things that typically the private sector is not going to do and I'll give you one example: Advanced battery manufacturing, the batteries that are used in electric cars, we've gone from a two-percent share of the worldwide market now to 30, 40 percent potentially over the next five years of the worldwide market. And those are all good paying jobs in Ohio, in Michigan in areas that have traditionally had a outstanding manufacturing track-record.

REVISH: You know how important Ohio was to your election, what's your strategy to win the state over in 2012?

OBAMA: You know, I'm not thinking about elections I'm thinking about all the families that I hear back from in Ohio and across the country who are, you know, struggling, maybe a spouse has lost a job, they used to have two paychecks, now they got one, trying to make ends meet. Their housing situation has not stabilized so they still have mortgages that may be worth or higher than what the house is worth. You know, young people who are trying to figure out how to afford college, so that's what motivates me on a day to day basis and my attitude is that if we're taking the right steps to improve our education system, if we're rebuilding our infrastructure, our roads and our bridges and putting people back to work, especially construction workers who've been laid off, if we are getting our fiscal house in order, if we're investing in research and development for the kind of advanced manufacturing we just talked about, and the economy's growing, then politics will take care of itself. And that's going to be true in Ohio, that's going to be true across the country.

See also William Galston's analysis of the president's chances in Ohio.

Bachmann to Keynote in California

Capitol Alert reports that Michele Bachmann is coming to California:

GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann will make a trip to Southern California in September to speak at the California Republican Party's fall convention.

The conservative Minnesota congresswoman is scheduled to address delegates on the first night of the three-day convention, which will be held in Los Angeles Sept 16-18.

CRP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro said in a statement that he believes Bachmann's "pure energy, vibrancy and leadership will be a hit with our delegates."

"This is a great opportunity for us to hear directly from one of the Republican Party's leading presidential candidates," he said.

The full speaker line-up has yet to be confirmed, though CRP spokesman Mark Standriff said invitations have been extended to other GOP presidential candidates as well. Attendees at the party's spring convention in Sacramento heard from Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who was then considering a 2012 run of his own.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Huntsman To Reboot

Jon Huntsman is in low single digits in national polls and trails Romney even in Utah. The Washington Post reports:

In an attempt to jump-start his bid, aides said, Huntsman will highlight his conservative record as governor and directly attack the man viewed as his chief rival, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

On Thursday, Huntsman replaced his campaign manager, Susie Wiles, with Matt David, a longtime communications strategist steeped in the rapid-response pace of campaigns. In the 2004 campaign, David was one of the aides in the “war room” who devised tactics to attack Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the Democratic presidential nominee, and defend President George W. Bush, who was running for reelection.

Huntsman plans in the next few weeks to highlight what his campaign calls Romney’s weak record on job creation and inconsistency on key issues, aides said.

The campaign also began an initiative dubbed Conservatives for Huntsman to secure pledges of support from 5,000 conservative voters. That represents an attempt to redefine the candidate, whom many GOP voters know mostly as Obama’s former ambassador to China.

“Governor Huntsman is going to be more aggressive about message and strategy and defining differences with Obama and Romney,” spokesman Tim Miller said. “That’s a message that needs to get out in the coming weeks.”

The Salt Lake Tribune reports on one sign of the challenges facing Huntsman:

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman retooled his presidential campaign staff last week, elevating his communications director to campaign manager and promising a more aggressive effort. He needs it.

Huntsman has yet to make up much ground in national or early state polls, and he seems to be losing another test of support: Facebook likes.

Mitt Romney has racked up more than 1 million supporters on his Facebook page, Michele Bachmann has 430,634 who have signed on to her fan site. Herman Cain has 153,576 and Tim Pawlenty 103,518.

Huntsman? 9,571.

To be fair, Huntsman has only officially been a candidate for a little over a month and didn’t take over his Facebook fan site until right before he announced. His Republican opponents have had much more time. Still, he’s got a long way to go before he can catch up to their support level.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Perry Surges

Rick Perry on a bit of a roll. The Austin America-Statesman reports on recent surveys:

• Perry was only three points behind Romney, 17 to 14 percent, in support from 323 registered GOP voters in a Fox News poll. Bachmann was third with 10 percent. President Barack Obama topped all Republicans in head-to-head matchups, with Romney behind Obama by six points (47 to 41 percent) and Perry and Pawlenty down 10 points (both 47 to 37 percent), the poll showed.

• A CNN poll of 455 Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP showed the tightest race, with Perry only two points behind Romney, 16 to 14 percent, with potential candidates Giuliani and Palin close behind at 13 percent.

• Romney had a solid lead with support from 30 percent of GOP primary voters in an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll. Bachmann followed with 16 percent, and Perry was third with support from 11 percent of those polled.

• Perry came in fourth with support from 8 percent of registered Republican voters surveyed by the Washington Post and ABC News. Romney had 28 percent, followed by Palin with 16 percent and Bachmann with 13 percent.

If he runs, this article in The Texas Monthly will be the starting point for a lot of research. In "Dear Yankee," Paul Burka writes of 8 points to keep in mind while writing about the governor:
1. He is not Bush. He grew up poor, while Bush grew up rich. They hate each other.
2. It is not a big deal that he was once a Democrat, since he was always a conservative. [Besides, Reagan started off as a Democrat -- and a liberal. -- JJP]
3. He is cannier than you think. He knew what he was doing with secession remarks.
4. Texas is not a "weak governor" state. Like LBJ as majority leader, he has expanded the power of his office.
5. He is not a hair model. He is a very tough pol.
6. He is from the middle of nowhere -- Paint Creek.
7. He is an Aggie.
8. He is lucky.
Burka concludes:
So there you have it. In closing, I would like to request that you please do your best to avoid tin-ear clich├ęs about barbecue, cattle, oil, football, and the Alamo. Remember, this is an urban state of 25 million people. We don’t go to sleep at night dreaming of William Barret Travis drawing a line in the sand. We do admire our rural history, as this month’s cover attests, but our vitality is in the cities. Enjoy your visit, best of luck, and please get it right this time.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dems Counter Crossroads in Spanish

The Denver Post reports:

Democrats are out with their own Spanish-language ad, which praises and accuses Republicans of wanting to sacrifice Medicare to pay for tax cuts for the super wealthy.

In addition to Denver, the ads will run in the following media markets: Reno, Las Vegas, Tampa, Orlando, Miami, Albuquerque, and Washington D.C., according to the .

“What the country needs is the continued leadership of President Obama, who is focused like a laser on creating jobs and moving our country forward,” DNC chair said in a statement.

The ads are aimed at countering Spanish commercials from GPS, an arm of a conservative third party organization connected to .

The House Vote and the Presidential Vote

At The American, Michael Barone writes:

Since the middle 1990s, the popular vote for the House of Representatives has become a good proxy for the standing of the nation’s two major parties. This was not the case for many years, in large part because Democratic House candidates in the South stood for different issues than their party’s national nominees and tended to run far ahead of Democratic presidential candidates. But during Bill Clinton’s presidency and afterward, Democratic presidential candidates became more successful nationally than they had been in most of the 1970s and 1980s, even as Republicans started running much better than they had in House districts in the South.

In 1992, for the first time since Reconstruction, the Republican percentage of the House vote in the South, defined as the 11 Confederate states plus West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, was (slightly) higher than in the North; in 1994, Republicans carried the House popular vote in the South, as they have ever since, in years when they carried the House popular vote in the North only twice (in 1994 and 2002).

So it is fair to say that the popular vote for the House and the president have converged. ...

The contrast is striking: from 1996 through 2008 there is only a 1% difference between the Democratic percentages for president and the House; between 1952 and 1992, with the single exception of 1964, when Lyndon Johnson ran ahead of Democratic congressional candidates, Democratic House candidates’ percentage ranged from 5% to 14% higher than Democrats’ percentages for president.

The question then suggests itself: to what extent can we consider the popular vote for the House in off-year elections as a prediction of the presidential vote in the next election? The answer appears to be: pretty good.


Obviously, the three most recent examples portend an unhappy 2012 for President Obama and the Democrats, while the 1994-1996 example is a precedent for an incumbent Democratic president overcoming a “thumping” (George W. Bush’s term) in the off-year and winning reelection by a nontrivial margin. What I think these numbers suggest is that, absent a considerable redefinition by the incumbent president, he or his party’s nominee is likely to run just about as well (or poorly) in the next presidential election as his party’s House candidates did in the most recent off-year elections.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

RNC Does Spanish Ads, Too

ABC News’ Devin Dwyer reports:

Two national Republican groups have launched a summertime Spanish-language advertising blitz to court Hispanic voters in key presidential battleground states.

The Republican National Committee and independent pro-Republican group American Crossroads [actually Crossroads GPS] are simultaneously airing ads in New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada, slamming President Obama on the economy.

The RNC ad, which hits the president on unemployment, taxes, federal debt and deficit, will air on Hispanic radio in the three states, according to a committee statement. It’s expected to run concurrently with a small English-language TV buy in select media markets highlighting a similar message.

Not-Great Polls for the President

Gallup reports:

President Barack Obama earned a 46.8% average approval rating in his 10th quarter in office ending July 19, essentially unchanged from the 9th quarter and still above his record-low 7th quarter.

The president's latest quarterly average is based on Gallup Daily tracking from April 20 through July 19. Across that time, his three-day rolling average approval ratings have been as high as 53% and as low as 42%, with the most recent readings falling on the lower end of that range.

Obama is in the company of several former elected presidents who averaged sub-50% approval during their 10th quarters in office. This includes three former presidents who won re-election -- Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan -- and one, Jimmy Carter, who lost. On the other hand, of the three presidents with exceptionally high average approvals at this stage, George H.W. Bush was ultimately defeated, while Dwight Eisenhower and George W. Bush prevailed.

At The Washington Post, Scott Clement writes:

President Obama and Mitt Romney, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, split 49 percent to 47 percent among registered voters in a hypothetical 2012 matchup in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

While Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) are weaker against the incumbent president, all Republican candidates amass heavy margins among tea party supporters, who are paying considerable attention to the election at this early stage.

Two-thirds of registered voters say they’re paying attention to the 2012 presidential election, with 20 percent reporting that they’re following it “very closely.” However, among strong supporters of the tea party movement — a group that tilts heavily Republican — the percentage following “very closely” is at 43 percent.

A news release from Public Policy Polling:

For the first time since last July Barack Obama does not lead Mitt Romney in PPP's monthly national poll on the 2012 Presidential race. Romney has now pulled into a tie with the President at 45%.

Obama's approval rating this month is 46% with 48% of voters disapproving of him.
There are 2 things particularly troubling in his numbers: independents split against him by a 44/49 margin, and 16% of Democrats are unhappy with the job he's doing while only 10% of Republicans give him good marks.

Romney takes advantage of those 2 points of weakness for Obama. He leads the
President by 9 points with independents at 46-37. And he earns more crossover support, getting 13% of the Democratic vote while only 8% of Republicans are behind Obama.

An extremely wide electability gap has developed between Romney and all the rest of the Republican candidates. Everyone else we tested trails Obama by at least as much as John McCain's 2008 margin of defeat and in most cases more. Obama's up 7 on Michele Bachmann at 48-41, 9 against Tim Pawlenty at 48-39, 12 versus Herman Cain at 48-36, and as usual has his largest lead in a match up with Sarah Palin at 53-37.

Here's an important note on all of this early 2012 polling: Obama's numbers are worse than they appear to be on the surface. The vast majority of the undecideds in all of these match ups disapprove of the job Obama's doing but aren't committing to a candidate yet while they wait to see how the Republican field shakes out. For instance if you allocate the undecides based on their approval/disapprove of Obama, Romney would lead 52-48.

“There’s a very good chance Barack Obama would lose if he had to stand for reelection today,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “This is his worst poll standing in a long time and he really needs the economy to start turning around.”

PPP surveyed 928 registered voters from July 15th to 17th. The margin of error for the survey is +/-3.2%. This poll was not paid for or authorized by any campaign or political organization. PPP surveys are conducted through automated telephone interviews. PPP is a Democratic polling company, but polling expert Nate Silver of the New York Times found that its surveys in 2010 actually exhibited a slight bias toward Republican candidates.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More on Bachmann Migraines

The migraine story remains a problem for Michele Bachmann. Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes in The New York Times:

Representative Michele Bachmann suffers from migraine headaches so intense that she has sometimes sought emergency medical treatment, but the congresswoman said Tuesday that the condition would not preclude her from serving as president if elected.

“Let me be abundantly clear — my ability to function effectively has never been impeded by migraines and will not affect my ability to serve as commander in chief,” Mrs. Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota, said in a statement. She described the headaches as “easily controlled with medication.”

Mrs. Bachmann, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination and was campaigning Tuesday in South Carolina, was responding to a report in The Daily Caller, which published an article about the migraines on its Web site Monday night. It cited unnamed advisers, including one who said the congresswoman “carries and takes all sorts of pills” for migraines that at times rendered her “incapacitated” — an assertion her campaign and family strongly disputed.

“She would not in any respect meet the definition for not having capacity in one of these episodes,” Dr. Lucas Bachmann, the candidate’s son and a medical resident at the University of Connecticut, said in a telephone interview. “She is probably not going to run a mile, but in terms of being able to engage, she can comprehend and assess information — without a doubt.”

The American Migraine Foundation, a nonprofit group devoted to research, says 36 million Americans, or about 12 percent of the population, suffers from migraines, a neurological disorder characterized by severe-to-moderate headaches and often nausea. The headaches, which the group says can be “extremely disabling for sufferers, painful enough to cause work loss” typically last 24 hours; most people have only a few attacks per month, but chronic sufferers can have many more.

The last line will not be helpful to Rep. Bachmann.

Crossroads GPS, In Spanish

The Miami Herald blog carries a Crossroads GPS release:

Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS) today announced the launch of a new Spanish ad, “Despertarse,” as part of its $20 million advocacy campaign on runaway government spending and debt. The ad, a Spanish language version of the nationally-televised “Wake up” spot, will air on Spanish-language broadcast television stations in Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Washington DC.

The sixty-second issue advocacy ad seeks to counterbalance the messaging coming from President Obama’s bully pulpit during the debt limit debate. It is the first Spanish-language issue advertisement by Crossroads GPS. It will air in the Miami, Orlando and Tampa markets.

"As the debt limit negotiations heat up and the president uses his office to gain free media attention to promote tax increases, it is crucial to make sure that both English and Spanish-speaking Americans are getting the facts,” said Steven Law, president of Crossroads GPS. "President Obama and his congressional allies have already wasted hundreds of billions of our tax dollars, and we need to send them the message that they don’t deserve another penny in taxes.”

The new Spanish ad can be viewed here. The media buys for the effort currently exceed $158,000 for one week of advertising, though they are likely to be extended.

The new spot is part of a summer-long, $20 million effort by Crossroads GPS to urge decisive action by Congress to cut spending and the national debt and start rebuilding the nation’s economy.

Electoral Process in California

During the 2008 election in California, 42 percent of voters cast their ballots by mail. Two years later, 60 percent did so. The San Francisco Chronicle reports on a budget development that may change this trend:

Buried on page 620 of the state budget are a few small cuts that could change the way Californians vote.

To save $33 million, the bill suspended several state mandates requiring counties to provide voting services that many Californians take for granted. The state no longer requires counties to process all voter registration applications they receive by mail or to send out vote-by-mail ballots to anyone who wants one.

Counties still could provide these services, and many probably will, but they won't be reimbursed by the state.

Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature needed the savings to close a budget gap of $26 billion, said H.D. Palmer, deputy director for external affairs at the state Department of Finance.

"That required any number of difficult choices and reductions, this being one of them," Palmer said.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen opposed the mandate suspensions because they could cause "widespread confusion" and possibly disenfranchise some voters, said spokeswoman Nicole Winger.

"There is a risk to voters that they could be treated differently county by county," Winger said. "Some of these suspensions have to do with democracy itself, and some of them have had such minimal savings or even no savings, it wasn't clear why they had to impose them anyway."

The California Legislature has approved the National Popular Vote compact, as AP reports:

The California bill, AB459, would commit a majority of electors to the candidate who receives the most popular votes nationwide. The proposed change is intended to guarantee that the winner of the national popular vote becomes president.

It was approved by the state Senate on a 23-15 vote Thursday, with all but one Democrat voting for it and Republicans opposed. The Assembly concurred on minor amendments with a 50-5 vote moments later, with 25 members not voting, as lawmakers rushed to complete their work before a monthlong summer recess.

"AB459 will assure that the presidential candidates actually come to California to campaign and discuss and address California's unique issues," said Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, who carried the bill in the Senate. "459 will give a voice to all California voters and assure that their votes will matter in every presidential election."

The effort gained momentum after Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000, but Republican George W. Bush won the electoral vote.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cain, Muslims, and Health

At The Atlantic, Joshua Green writes:
On Fox News Sunday, GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain took off after his favorite target again. President Obama? Nope. Onerous tax rates? Uh-uh. ACORN? Not even close. Cain was too busy demagoguing Muslims, this time throwing in with protesters who want to stop construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Cain claims that he is driven by a desire to head off the imposition of Sharia law--that phantom menace with which some vanishingly small sliver of the conservative base is feverishly consumed. Cain is their most outspoken champion. (The Muslims in Murfreesboro have worshipped peacefully there for three decades, so whatever nefarious deeds he suspects them of perpetrating aren't much in evidence.)
Meanwhile, Cain has going for him what any half-sentient politician would recognize as political gold, something that would not only distinguish him from the GOP field but in the process point up the greatest weakness of the frontrunner, Mitt Romney: Cain was passionately against universal healthcare back in 1994, and took on its champion at the time, Bill Clinton, in a memorable confrontation that made national news. Here's the clip:

So here we have Cain on record condemning a Democratic president for his health care plan a full 15 years before Obamacare. Cain can justifiably tell conservatives that he was a seer. This ought to be his ticket to GOP stardom.
Instead, his remarks are getting bad reviews across the board. From The Christian Post:
Southern Baptist leader Richard Land chided presidential candidate Herman Cain for disregarding the constitutional rights of U.S. Muslims during a Monday C-SPAN interview. He reminded Cain that as a Christian and an African American, he should have a special interest in the enforcement of the constitution in all communities, not just approving ones.

Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, addressed the businessman turned presidential candidate in a Monday broadcast saying, "Don't throw out the baby with the bath, Mr. Cain."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bachmann's Health

If this story holds up, Bachmann has a problem. Jonathan Strong writes at The Daily Caller:
The Minnesota Republican frequently suffers from stress-induced medical episodes that she has characterized as severe headaches. These episodes, say witnesses, occur once a week on average and can “incapacitate” her for days at time. On at least three occasions, Bachmann has landed in the hospital as a result.

“She has terrible migraine headaches. And they put her out of commission for a day or more at a time. They come out of nowhere, and they’re unpredictable,” says an adviser to Bachmann who was involved in her 2010 congressional campaign. “They level her. They put her down. It’s actually sad. It’s very painful.”

Bachmann’s medical condition wouldn’t merit public attention, but for the fact she is running for president. Some close to Bachmann fear she won’t be equal to the stress of the campaign, much less the presidency itself.

“When she gets ‘em, frankly, she can’t function at all. It’s not like a little thing with a couple Advils. It’s bad,” the adviser says. “The migraines are so bad and so intense, she carries and takes all sorts of pills. Prevention pills. Pills during the migraine. Pills after the migraine, to keep them under control. She has to take these pills wherever she goes.”


Sources who spoke to The Daily Caller said they did so because they are terrified about the impact the condition could have on Bachmann’s performance if she actually became president. They also worry that the issue could blow up in the general election campaign, giving President Obama an easy path to re-election.

“It’s a careful choice of words I used: ‘incapacitated,’” the adviser says.

She would not be the first president with such a problem. Grant and Wilson suffered migraines, and perhaps JFK did, too. (Not to mention Elvis.) But when you're running for president, you don't want to answer questions about pills and incapacitation.

Crossroads GPS v. House Dems

Jessica Taylor writes at National Journal:

Crossroads GPS is turning its fire against ten House Democrats this week, in a new ad campaign hitting them over their stewardship of the economy.

An affiliate of American Crossroads, it's the group's first major foray into the House race battlegrounds this year after playing a pivotal role in last year's midterm elections, spending over $70 million in 2010.

The first ad buys will air in districts of Reps. Mike Ross<, D-Ark., Jim Matheson, D-Utah, Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., Heath Shuler, D-N.C., Bill Owens, D-N.Y., Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., Ben Chandler, D-Ky., Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, Jerry Costello, D-Ill., and Lois Capps, D-Calif.

Each of the ads features footage of the member talking about reducing spending or the deficit, but then goes on to list bills they supported, such as raising the debt limit in the past or backing the $787 billion stimulus.

Similar to spots launched earlier this month in 11 states, the new ads will be aired for two weeks, and cost the group $1.4 million. It comes as negotiations between Congress and the White House over raising the debt limit are at a critical impasse.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


President Obama granted plum jobs and appointments to almost 200 people who raised large sums for his presidential campaign, and his top fundraisers have won millions of dollars in federal contracts, according to a new report from the Center for Public Integrity.

In one example detailed by the group's iWatch News, Telecom executive Donald H. Gips "bundled" half a million dollars in contributions to the president for his reelection campaign. ("Bundling" is the practice of gathering together a group of donations, and was popularized because of legal limits in individual contributions. It has been used particularly aggressively by Presidents George W. Bush and Obama.)

Gips went on to take charge of hiring in the Obama White House and (was later) named ambassador to South Africa. And his company, Level 3 Communications, was granted millions in stimulus contracts for broadband projects. Gips told iWatch he was "completely unaware" of the federal windfall. The company has taken $13.8 million in stimulus money.

The report found that 80 percent of Obama bundlers who raised $500,000 or more for Mr. Obama - many of whom are being asked to do the same for his reelection bid - ended up in "key administration posts," in the words of the White House.

At the New York Times, Nicholas Confessore notes the president's reliance on bundlers:
More than half a million people have donated to the president’s campaign or his joint fund with the Democratic National Committee since Mr. Obama formally entered the race in April, and the two accounts gained a combined record-breaking $86 million for the campaign by the end of June. But Mr. Obama’s bundlers — 271 in all — accounted for at least 40 percent of the total, according to the campaign’s estimates.

Mr. Obama’s elite donor corps live in 26 states and the District of Columbia, though a vast majority live in the traditional centers of political fund-raising: Texas, Florida, California and, above all, New York.
Confessore notes the impact of incumbency:
In March, for example, Mr. Obama hosted about 30 supporters, many with ties to Wall Street, at an informal discussion in the Blue Room of the White House about financial regulation and the economy. No money was raised at the event, which was similar to receptions and events held by past presidents.

But 17 of those guests appeared on Friday’s list of bundlers for Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign, accounting for a minimum of $3.95 million of the $86 million he raised.

“It’s high-priced access to closed policy discussions with deep-pocketed individuals, just like it’s always been,” Ms. Miller said.

But incumbency can also complicate fund-raising. Only about one in five of the supporters who bundled checks for Mr. Obama last time appear on the list disclosed by his campaign Friday.

One reason for the drop-off: Upon taking office, Mr. Obama appointed dozens of his top fundraisers to ambassadorships, government advisory boards or jobs in his administration, perches from which they may be prohibited from raising campaign money for the president. One such supporter, Matthew Barzun, resigned in April as the United States ambassador to Sweden to become the Obama campaign’s national finance chairman.

Mr. Obama, unlike his Republican opponents, has made a point of swearing off contributions from registered lobbyists and corporate political action committees.

But the president’s bundlers include business executives whose companies have substantial interests before the federal government. Marc Benioff, who raised more than $500,000, is also chairman of, a company whose software the Obama administration has adopted for wide use in federal agencies. Another bundler, Michael Kempner, is president of the MWW Group, a national public affairs company that has a lobbying practice in Washington.

Outside Spending, Presidential Candidates, and Non-Coordination Coordination

Earlier posts dealt with outside groups and the challenge of indirect coordination.

Matea Gold and Melanie Mason write in The Los Angeles Times:

Faced with a growing cacophony of outside voices, allies of the Republican candidates are scrambling to set up their own independent vehicles.

"Everybody will have one — there will be a sidecar for every motorcycle," said one GOP operative familiar with the discussions.

Restore Our Future PAC, a super PAC created in October to campaign on behalf of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, raised $12 million in the first half of the year, according to officials. Among its founders is Carl Forti, who was a top Romney campaign aide in 2008 and is currently political director for American Crossroads.

Another group, Americans for Rick Perry, was started by La Jolla-based GOP consultant Bob Schuman last month in the hopes of luring the Texas governor into the presidential race. The group raked in $400,000 in just three weeks, which Schuman said will go toward on-the-ground activities in Iowa.

The new dynamic means that the candidates will need to telegraph their approach to allied groups working on their behalf, without officially coordinating.

"In some ways, today's campaign is like running a no-huddle offense in football," said GOP media strategist Brad Todd. "Everyone has got to have hand signals and read each other's eyes."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

An Open GOP Race

Gallup reports:
More than half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 58%, do not express a preference when asked in an open-ended format -- with no candidates' names read -- whom they are most likely to support for the party's 2012 presidential nomination. Those who do have a preference most often mention Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann.

The July 7-10 poll result illustrates the uncertainty surrounding who the Republican challenger to President Barack Obama is likely to be in the 2012 presidential election. The high level of "no opinion" responses suggests that many Republicans are not highly engaged in the campaign to this point, and may be unclear about who is running. It also could indicate that Republicans who are familiar with the GOP field may not yet feel comfortable backing a particular candidate for the nomination.

Gallup typically reads a list of candidate names when gauging nomination preferences. In the most recent update using this closed-ended approach, Romney was the leading candidate. But even with this method, Gallup finds a fairly high degree of uncertainty, with roughly one in five Republicans not having a preference even after being read a list of the likely candidates. That is a higher percentage of "no opinion" responses than Gallup has found at comparable points in prior GOP nomination contests.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Romney: the 2008 and 2012 Models

At RealClearPolitics, Erin McPike and Carl M. Cannon report:

Insanity, Rita Mae Brown once wrote, is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. Although Romney is certainly ambitious, nobody has ever called him insane. And before he takes on President Obama -- and even before he can vanquish a restive and rowdy field of fellow Republicans -- the Mitt Romney of 2012 must vanquish the Mitt Romney of 2008.

Four years ago, Romney was nothing if not accessible to the press, and he often took questions twice a day. This summer, he's treating reporters as though they have an unpleasant social disease.

In the previous campaign, former Romney aides say (only half-jokingly), their plan was to sink money into straw polls -- like the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames -- so that they could effectively buy an organizational victory to show strength. He won the straw poll but lost the Iowa caucuses. Romney, a business consultant by trade, doesn't plan to waste money organizing for the straw poll again.

In 2007-2008, Romney took up hard-line immigration reform as a pet issue -- among many such stances he used in hopes of convincing grass-roots conservatives that he was one of them. This time around, Romney is focusing on one big-picture issue of interest to conservatives, moderates and liberals alike: job creation and the federal role in guiding the U.S. economy.

At this point in his last race, Romney was already pouring money into advertising on TV in the early nominating states. Now he's letting inexpensive web videos do the talking.

Finally, four years ago, Romney came out swinging against his fellow GOPers, running early and very negative ads attacking his rivals for positions that he had -- until very recently -- espoused himself. To say that this didn't endear him to the rest of the Republican field is an understatement. So far this year, Romney's approach to his competition for the GOP nomination has ranged from disinterest to graciousness.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The CA 36 Special

Democrat Janice Hahn defeated Republican Craig Huey in the special election to succeed Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA). Michael Barone argues that it has a bit more significance than the New York special election earlier this year:

California 36, in contrast, is an affluent area along the Los Angeles County beachfront, heavily white (look at this terrific New York Times interactive graphic showing the predominant racial group: the coast is a white bastion penned in by black and Hispanic interior areas in Los Angeles County). Historically Republican, primarily because of economic issues, it trended heavily toward Democrats in the 1990s. Republican nominee Craig Huey was spectacularly out of line with the district on cultural issues, but managed to get 45% of the vote anyway. I take this result as evidence of significant erosion in Obama/Democratic support in affluent white areas that are part of large metropolitan areas—a key part of the Democratic national coalition since 1996. I think it has somewhat more precedental value than New York 26, which is typical of only a few other districts in western Upstate New York.

Plus, let’s keep in mind that both of these are special elections, which are sometimes affected by factors that turn out to be insignificant in the Novembers of even-numbered years.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 70

In an interview with Scott Pelley of CBS, the president raised the possibility that the debt fight could disrupt the issuance of government checks:

Pelley: Can you tell the folks at home that no matter what happens, the Social Security checks are gonna go out on August the third? There are about $20 billion worth of Social Security checks that have to go out the day after the government is supposedly gonna go into default?

Mr. Obama: Well, this is not just a matter of Social Security checks. These are veterans' checks, these are folks on disability, and their checks. There are about 70 million checks that go out each month.

Pelley: Can you guarantee, as president, those checks will go out on August the third?

Mr. Obama: I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.

In 1996, President Clinton made a similar comment:

What could happen if the United States Government failed to meet its obligations? Our unbroken record of keeping our word could end with taxpayers bearing the costs for years to come because interest rates would go up on United States obligations. And interest rates could also go up for businesses, consumers, and homeowners, many of whom have interest rates that vary according to the Government's interest rates. And for tens of millions of Americans the unthinkable could happen: The Social Security checks they count on would not be able to be mailed out.
My fellow Americans, we are a great country. We have never—never—broken our word or defaulted on our obligations in our entire 220-year history. We've never failed to pay Social Security for senior citizens who've earned it.
So Congress should act responsibly and stop playing politics with America's good name. Let our Government pay its bills. In order to avoid endangering the March 1st Social Security checks, Congress should pass a straightforward, long-term debt limit immediately.