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August 28, 2014

White House Now Insists Obama Has a Strategy for ISIS

The White House is pushing back after President Obama's stated his administration currently doesn't have "a strategy" for dealing with ISIS, Business Insider reports.

"White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest subsequently insisted that Obama specifically articulated a 'comprehensive strategy' for dealing with the Islamic State during the briefing... Overall, Earnest said the word 'strategy' at least 24 times during his CNN interview."

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

"I don't want to put the cart before the horse. We don't have a strategy yet."

-- President Obama, quoted by CNN, on how the United States will deal with the ISIS threat in Iraq and Syria.

Pence Will Visit Iowa

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) will soon visit Iowa to support the re-election campaign of the state's governor, the Washington Post reports.

"Pence's trip, set for Sept. 8, is the latest sign that he is considering a 2016 presidential bid."

Forecast Shows Democrats Outperforming Expectations

Sam Wang has updated his Senate forecast which shows Democrats with a 70% probability of retaining control of the upper chamber.

One reason his forecast is more favorable to Democrats than others is that he's relying more on actual polls than so-called "fundamentals."

"This year's Senate race is harder than any electoral forecast that the other forecasters have ever had to make. To be frank, 2008 and 2012 were easy. My own experience is guided by 2004 Presidential race, which was as close as this year's Senate campaign. In 2004, I formed the view that the correct approach is to use polls only, if at all possible."

Does Obama Have a Foreign Policy?

Matt Bai: "If you've been at the beach and missed the latest world news, let me briefly catch you up. Terrorists in Syria and Iraq have been overrunning the countryside, pausing to savagely murder an American journalist. Pakistan is reeling from political crisis. The Russians just made an incursion into Ukraine, the Israelis have been blowing up every other building in Gaza, and Ebola's rampaging through West Africa."

"All of which has led to some of the most blistering criticism of Barack Obama's presidency -- and not just because he found time to golf. Republican leaders have called Obama feckless and incompetent, a man without a grand plan."

Even Brownback's Poll Shows a Toss Up

An internal poll released by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) shows him barely ahead of challenger Paul Davis (D) in the race for governor, 43% to 42%.

McConnell Pledges No Government Shutdown

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) "tried to quash talk that he would allow another government shutdown if he becomes Senate majority leader next year," CNN reports.

Said McConnell: "Of course not. Remember me? I am the guy that gets us out of shutdowns."

Brian Beutler: "He's threatening to use the appropriations process as leverage to extract concessions. That's a government shutdown fight. And no matter how he plays it, he will unleash forces he and other GOP leaders have proven incapable of restraining."

Schauer Pulls Ahead in Michigan

A new EPIC-MRA poll in Michigan finds Mark Schauer (D) has edged ahead of Gov. Rick Snyder (R) among likely voters by two points, 45% to 43%.

Said pollster Bernie Porn: "I would have bet that Snyder would have a significant lead at Labor Day. The fact that Schauer is up by a couple of points against an incumbent ... probably spells that this is going to be a close race."

Wolf Headed for Landslide Win in Pennsylvania

A new Franklin & Marshall College poll in Pennsylvania finds Tom Wolf (D) with a 25-point lead over Gov. Tom Corbett (R) in the race for governor, 49% to 24%.

Said pollster Terry Madonna: "The big takeaway here is that the race has not changed because Corbett has not changed. His narrative remains the same, and that's the fundamental problem for his campaign."

Corbett would be the first Pennsylvania governor ever to be denied a second term.

Quote of the Day

"The best part of my life is I've been hired to work for the people of the state of Maine and I'm very humble and very proud. The worst part of my life is newspapers are still alive."

-- Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), quoted by the Bangor Daily News.

RNC Will Spend $100 Million on Voter Turnout

The RNC "is on track to spend more than $100 million in the midterm campaign, with virtually every dime plowed into the party's new digital voter-turnout program," the Washington Examiner reports.

"If the program is effective, Republican campaigns will have access to a modern get-out-the-vote operation that has been the hallmark of the Democrats' success in recent election cycles. But if it fails to deliver as advertised, Republican candidates will be stuck with another subpar voter turnout program and without the resources the GOP traditionally sent to their campaigns in midterm years."

Why Libertarians Won't Help GOP Win Youth Vote

Alan Abramowitz: "An analysis of data from the 2012 American National Election Study raises serious doubts about the claim that a candidate with libertarian views would have strong appeal to younger voters. In fact, the data indicate that younger voters tend to hold relatively liberal views on social welfare as well as cultural issues. Only a small minority of voters under the age of 30 can be classified as libertarians. Moreover, both younger and older Americans who hold libertarian views already vote overwhelmingly for Republican candidates, so nominating a candidate with a libertarian philosophy would be unlikely to gain many votes for the GOP."

Utah's Polygamy Ban Partly Struck Down

"A federal judge finalized the order striking part of Utah's bigamy law and gave one more victory to the family from the television show Sister Wives. The long legal battle over polygamy in Utah now appears headed to the appeals courts," the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

August 27, 2014

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

"I've been indicted by that same body now for I think two counts, one of bribery, which I'm not a lawyer, so I don't really understand the details here."

-- Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), quoted by the Houston Chronicle, talking about the indictments against him of which bribery was not one.

GOP Report Says Party Intolerant to Women

A detailed report commissioned by two major Republican groups paints a dismal picture for Republicans, concluding female voters view the party as "intolerant," "lacking in compassion" and "stuck in the past," Politico reports.

"Women are 'barely receptive' to Republicans' policies, and the party does "especially poorly" with women in the Northeast and Midwest... It was presented to a small number of senior aides this month on Capitol Hill, according to multiple sources involved."

Both Parties Brace for Obama Immigration Decision

"Both political parties are in a state of high anxiety over the possibility that President Obama will allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the country, fearing that White House action on the issue could change the course of November's midterm elections," the Washington Post reports.

"In the past few days, Democratic candidates in nearly every closely fought Senate race have criticized the idea of aggressive action by Obama. Some strategists say privately that it would signal the president has written off the Democrats' prospects for retaining control of the chamber, deciding to focus on securing his own legacy instead."

Iowa Lawmaker Guilty of Receiving Illegal Payments

Former Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson (R) has pleaded guilty in federal court to receiving concealed payments from then-Rep. Ron Paul's (R) presidential campaign and then obstructing the investigation into the incident, the Des Moines Register reports.

The ISIS Economy

"The Islamic State runs a self-sustaining economy across territory it controls in Syria and Iraq, pirating oil while exacting tribute from a population of at least eight million, Arab and Western officials said, making it one of the world's richest terror groups and an unprecedented threat," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"That illicit economy presents a new picture of Islamic State's financial underpinnings. The group was once thought to depend on funding from Arab Gulf donors and donations from the broader Muslim world. Now, Islamic State--the former branch of al Qaeda that has swallowed parts of Iraq and Syria--is a largely self-financed organization."

Walker Holds Edge in Wisconsin

A new Marquette Law School poll in Wisconsin finds Gov. Scott Walker (R) with a slim lead over challenger Mary Burke (D) in the race for governor, 48% to 44%.

Deadlocked in Iowa

A new Suffolk University/USA Today poll in Iowa finds Joni Ernst (R) and Bruce Braley (D) tied in the race for U.S. Senate, 40% to 40%.

GOP Lawmaker Threatens Government Shutdown

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said "the threat of another government shutdown could be Republicans' leverage to pass border security and immigration legislation this fall," the Des Moines Register reports.

Said King: "If the president wields his pen and commits that unconstitutional act to legalize millions, I think that becomes something that is nearly political nuclear... I think the public would be mobilized and galvanized and that changes the dynamic of any continuing resolution and how we might deal with that."

What to do in Syria?

First Read: "Strikingly, it was exactly a year ago when Washington was debating about what to do in Syria -- back then, it was over the Assad regime's chemical weapons. A year later, Syria is once again in the news -- this time over whether to strike ISIS in the region. Of course, the circumstances are different. Assad's chemical weapons weren't viewed as the same threat to the United States that ISIS is (if unchecked). And a year ago, when it wasn't election season, members of Congress were eager to debate whether to authorize limited airstrikes in Syria."

"Today, in the midst of campaign season, many politicians (though there are some exceptions like Sens. Tim Kaine and Bob Corker) are notably silent on the subject... Despite those differences, the larger storyline is the same between Aug. 2013 and Aug. 2014: Syria remains the Obama administration's most difficult foreign-policy problem. (How do you curb the Shiite Assad regime? How also do you stop the Sunni ISIS militants there?) And Syria presents the danger that if you start getting involved, it becomes hard to stop. "

Bonus Quote of the Day

"There's only one thing Barack Obama needs to keep his grip on power. He needs the U.S. Senate!"

-- Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), quoted by the New York Times Magazine.

Crist Wouldn't Be First Party Switcher Elected in Florida

Morning Line: "If Charlie Crist wins the governorship -- for the second time -- this fall he would become the first governor in Florida history to ever win as a member of two different parties... Crist would also be only the second Florida governor in 117 years -- and only the second since it achieved statehood -- to serve two non-consecutive terms. Gov. William Bloxham served as governor from 1881 to 1885 and was later elected again 12 years later... Crist, though, would not be the first party-switcher in state history to serve as governor. Three Florida governors before him actually switched parties before holding office, but none to the Democratic Party."

Roll Call: How and when to switch political parties

Boehner Haters Head Back to Congress

Bloomberg: "Ten of the 12 House Republicans who didn't support John Boehner's 2013 selection as speaker are cruising to November victories, despite the business community's attempts to knock some of them off."

"It's an ominous twist in the Republican civil war between the Tea Party and the business community. Neither side had enough power to annihilate the other, so the fight goes into the 2016 presidential campaign. The House rebels could thwart the work of Senate Republican candidates, who were backed by corporate cash and have promised to move legislation."

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