Clinton Still Giving Paid Speeches

“Hillary Clinton is set to give a paid speech at a women’s conference in Silicon Valley in February, an appearance that indicates her time on the speaking circuit is not yet coming to an end with a likely presidential campaign looming,” Politico reports.

“The Feb. 24 appearance seems at odds with suggestions in the media that she is about to wind down her speaking schedule in the coming weeks… Clinton could, of course, cancel the appearance or decline a speaking fee if she announces a campaign before the speech. It’s highly unlikely she would continue to give paid speeches once she’s a candidate, something Republican Rudy Giuliani did in 2007 and took heat for.”

“But the fact that Clinton is still signing up for speeches also gives weight to what a number of people close to her say: that she hasn’t completely made up her mind about running.”

Many Incoming Lawmakers are Losers

“Congress is filled with a bunch of losers, but not exactly in the way you’re thinking,” Nathan Gonazeles writes.

“In the wake of the elections, it’s easy to second-guess losing candidates and their campaigns, and to discount their chances of ever winning a seat in Congress. But at least 27 incoming House members have electoral losses on their records — more than 40 percent of the new class — and many of them lost contests for the same seat they will represent in the 114th Congress.”

Edwards Comeback Stalled Ahead of Runoff

A new JMC Analytics and Polling survey in Louisiana’s 6th congressional district finds Rep. Garret Graves (R) with a hefty lead over challenger and former Gov. Edwin Edwards (D), 61% to 35%.

“That lines up fairly well with the results of the Nov. 4 primary, where Graves finished second but split the vote with three other significant Republican candidates. About 65 percent of voters in the primary voted for Republicans, while 35 percent voted for Democrats.”

It’s been 31 years since Edwards bragged, “The only way I can lose this election is if I’m caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy.”

Clinton Ratings Very Similar to Obama

First Read: “One of the emerging pieces of conventional wisdom is how Hillary Clinton — because she’s white, because she’s a woman — could outperform Obama among some key demographic groups. But what’s striking in our NBC/WSJ poll is how SIMILAR the two are; perhaps she will over perform with some older white voters but right now, there isn’t a lot of evidence of that.”

Reid Staffer Irks White House

The New York Times looks at the acrimonious relationship between White House staff and those who work for Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), especially chief of staff David Krone.

“Administration and congressional officials have argued that the transgressions of Mr. Krone — publicly challenging the president, betraying the Oval Office code of silence and acting more like a senator than a staff member to one — have damaged Democratic unity at a time when the party can least afford it, as its numbers in Congress dwindle and the president sorely needs discipline in his ranks to advance what is left of his agenda. It all exploded this month when Mr. Krone, 48, astonished even some veteran Capitol Hill staff members by speaking on the record in a highly critical way about private conversations with Mr. Obama.”

It’s particularly interesting to learn that Krone listens in on private phone conversations Reid has with Obama.

Obama Will Veto Any Attempt to Undo Executive Action

President Obama “would veto any legislation hatched by Republicans to undo his immigration executive action granting relief to millions,” a senior administration official tells Roll Call.

“The official left no doubt that the White House is prepared for a shutdown standoff if Republicans attach a rider to the upcoming spending bill needed to keep the government open past Dec. 11.”

Also interesting: “If there was one moment that sealed the timing, the official said, it was when Speaker John A. Boehner was asked by a reporter after the election if he could commit to bringing up an immigration bill in the next Congress, and the Ohio Republican refused to do so. The president wasn’t willing to wait to give the newly elected Republican Congress a chance to act with no commitment or expectation that they would.”

Democrats Lash Out at White House Over Torture Report

“The White House’s briefing to Democrats on immigration Thursday erupted instead into a confrontation over the Senate’s classified torture report,” Senate sources told the Huffington Post.

Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) “waited for the immigration discussion to end and then pulled out a prepared speech that she read for five or six minutes, making the case for the release of the damning portrayal of America’s post-9/11 torture program…. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who served as intelligence committee chair before Feinstein, was furious after the meeting, and accused the administration of deliberately stalling the report.”

This may be one area where the White House will be glad when Republicans take control of the Senate in January.

House Republicans Sue Over Health Care Law

“House Republicans filed a long-threatened lawsuit Friday against the Obama administration over unilateral actions on the health care law that they say are abuses of the president’s executive authority,” the New York Times reports.

“The lawsuit — filed against the secretaries of the Health and Human Services and Treasury Departments — focuses on two crucial aspects of the way the administration has put the Affordable Care Act into effect.”

What Next for Republicans on Immigration?

First Read notes it’s almost impossible to imagine what GOP-passed legislation might look like. Republicans couldn’t even agree on a political strategy to combat the president’s ‘constitutional overstep’ – the thing that unites them. How will they find common ground on an issue as complex, messy and demographically fraught as immigration reform?”

“There’s a danger here for the GOP if they get too focused on the process and ignore the policy challenge facing them. If they focus too much on tactics, it will quickly frustrate the public which clearly has less patience for gridlock than everyone in Washington realizes. Republicans would be in a very different place on this issue right now and on their criticism of the president’s action if they had ANY bill – even one that might not get presidential support — to show the public. But they don’t have ANY bill… not a singular one that is border security first. Nothing.”

John Boehner has proven himself unable to control his caucus so the onus will be on Mitch McConnell, an extremely skilled legislator, to take the lead for Republicans.

Boehner Says Obama Is ‘Damaging the Presidency’

Speaker John Boehner said that President Obama was “damaging the presidency itself” by using his executive authority to prevent the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, the New York Times reports.

Said Boehner: “With this action, the president has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting bipartisan reforms that he claims to seek. And as I told him yesterday, he’s damaging the presidency itself.”

“Mr. Obama, in his address to the nation Thursday night, all but dared congressional Republicans to act — either by passing their own immigration legislation to trump his executive action or by challenging him in a way that could be politically disastrous for the Republican brand… In the lead-up to his announcement and in the hours after, Republicans struggled to balance fighting what they view as an abuse of presidential power while still offering a carefully moderated response that does not damage the party’s standing with Latino voters, the nation’s fastest-growing minority, or imperil its governing agenda next year, when it controls both chambers.”

And with that, the House now heads off on recess until December 1.

A Question for the Republican Presidential Debates

Jeff Zeleny: “President Obama’s executive order on immigration won’t ever become the law of the land, it can be reversed with the stroke of a pen by the 45th president. But how likely is it that he — or she — would actually do that? There will be pressure on every 2016 candidate to take a stand on whether they would repeal it and erase the protections afforded to up to 5 million people. Republicans know they are boxed in a bit of a corner. Taking something away from such a large swath of people — even while trying to improve their appeal to Hispanic voters — may be an impossible challenge. Will there be any GOP hopeful who says the president’s order should stand? It would be risky, but likely more realistic.”

Many think the immigration issue forced Republicans so far right in 2012 they could never recover. Romney ended up with just 27% of the Hispanic vote.

Republicans Still Have No Immigration Policy

Ezra Klein: “Republicans aren’t just the opposition party anymore. They are, arguably, the governing party — they will soon control the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, most state legislatures, and more governorships. And the governing party needs to solve — or at least propose solutions — to the nation’s problems. And that means the Republican policy on immigration needs to be something more than opposing Obama’s immigration policies. It needs to be something more than vague noises about border security.”

With his action last night, Obama was able to simultaneously implement his party’s policy goals while dividing the opposition. That’s why Democrats have the advantage in this fight.