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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Intraparty Tensions


A number of posts have described intraparty GOP tensions. At The New York Times, Jennifer Steinhauer writes of the Senate:
The willingness of Republicans to skewer one of their own became increasingly apparent on Friday as more and more members of the party peeled away from Mr. Hagel, President Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense, saying they would not vote to confirm him after Mr. Hagel melted like chocolate on a dashboard under combative questioning from Republicans.
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There were other moments as well. Earlier in the week, Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, took to talk radio to refer to a Republican colleague, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, as “amazingly naïve” for his proposals to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. Mr. Rubio did not choose to respond or question the judgment of Mr. Vitter, whose phone number once appeared in a client list of a Washington madam.
As Politico reports, however, there was a response from somebody on Team Rubio:
Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) associates, furious about fellow Republican Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) calling the Floridian “nuts” and “naïve” over his immigration reform efforts, are hitting Vitter where it hurts.
“David Vitter has done some nuttier things in his life,” a source close to Rubio wrote in an unsolicited email to POLITICO.
That’s a not-at-all subtle reference to Vitter’s 2007 admission that his phone number appeared on a client list of a Washington, D.C. madam. A New Orleans-based prostitute and madam have also, separately, accused Vitter of being a client, but he has denied those charges.
Asked for comment about the jab, Vitter’s press secretary didn’t respond to two emails. A receptionist at Vitter’s Washington office said the press staffer “must be away from his desk.”
In a number of posts, and in After Hope and Change, we have discussed frustration with the president among congressional Democrats.  Politico also reports that the frustration still smolders:
President Barack Obama and his top advisers have declared that they’re done playing “the inside game” in Washington, but one crucial Democratic constituency — his former colleagues in Congress — say the president shouldn’t deep-six a strategy that he only half-heartedly tried in his first term.

As Obama prepares an aggressive public lobbying campaign for his ambitious second-term agenda, Democrats on Capitol Hill are bluntly warning him that he has to do more to engage them if he expects his congressional allies to take a series of politically tough votes.
Interviews with dozens of members of Congress and senior aides reveal frustration and in some cases exasperation that a president who came from the Senate has no apparent appetite for cultivating relationships on Capitol Hill.

These Democrats say they almost never hear from Obama personally, haven’t been to the White House since Rahm Emanuel was still chief of staff and are mystified that the president passed over a popular legislative affairs aide for the job as top congressional liaison. One high-profile Democrat who recently spoke to a group of Hill Democrats came away stunned at their anger toward a president they hardly know.