“I’m not obligated on the pledge. I made Tennesseans aware, I was just elected, the only thing I’m honoring is the oath I take when I serve, when I’m sworn in this January.”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) appeared to soften his critique of potential Hillary Clinton successor Susan Rice telling Fox News, “I’d give everyone the benefit of explaining their position and the actions that they took. I’d be glad to have the opportunity to discuss these issues with her.”
First Read: “Of course, this doesn’t mean that any Rice hearing would be less contentious or that Benghazi wouldn’t be an issue. But it does seem — for now at least — that Benghazi might not be fatal for Rice, if Obama nominates her. The White House is going to get a Benghazi proxy fight at some point in the Senate, perhaps it’s during the Rice confirmation, or perhaps during the confirmation of a new CIA director, or maybe it’s all unavoidable giving the president the leeway to go with Rice without fear of creating a NEW political problem for himself on the Hill.”
And this: “By the way, the State job is down to Rice and John Kerry; there really isn’t a third contender being vetted, we’ve learned. And look for an announcement about State to happen in the next week or so.”
Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) said his former colleague and friend Jesse Jackson Jr. still “can’t take the pressure” of speaking publicly about his resignation, the Chicago Sun Times reports.
Said Rush: “Some moments he would be very articulate, very flowing with his thoughts, very much in control and command, but then at the drop of the hat, he just started crying.”
Jackson, who is under treatment for bipolar depression, resigned from Congress last week in the midst of a federal investigation into his campaign finances.
Al Hunt: “Before scheduling any budget negotiations at the White House, on Capitol Hill or at Camp David, President Barack Obama and congressional leaders should go see Steven Spielberg’s classic new film, Lincoln.”
“It’s the best movie about Washington politics I’ve seen. The centerpiece is the American icon, Abraham Lincoln; it brilliantly captures him doing what politicians are supposed to do, and today too often avoid: compromising, calculating, horse trading, dealing and preventing the perfect from becoming the enemy of a good objective.”
Mark Salter: “The film succeeds where others have failed: revealing in the story of
Lincoln the politician, in his appearance and personality, the
hard-pressed faith in humanity necessary to believe that any nation ‘conceived in liberty . . . could long endure.'”
Politico reports Democrats are planning a permanent network of officially blessed independent groups that leverages liberals’ increasing acceptance and appreciation of outside money to compete with a much-better-funded Republican shadow party.
The Washington Post notes that in recent weeks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “has reiterated that she will not stay on for President Obama’s second term, unleashing fresh waves of speculation about her plans.”
“There is hypothesizing that she is merely entering a hibernation period before a 2016 presidential bid. There is talk that she will start her own women’s rights initiative. There is the prospect, too, that this might really be it for one of the most iconic figures in American political history.”
“What is clear is that despite lingering questions about Benghazi, Clinton is more beloved than at any point in her long and at times controversial career, commanding soaring approval ratings, a vast fundraising machine and supporters who gush more than ever that she should run for president again.”
The Week: What’s next for Hillary Clinton?
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has set the record of most votes won in a Senate election, Bloomberg reports.
An updated tall finds her winning more than 7.1 million votes in the Nov. 6 election.
A new CNN/ORC poll finds 53% of the country has an unfavorable view of the Republican Party and only 42% want to see congressional Republican have more influence than the president over the direction the nation takes in the next two years. And seven in ten say the GOP has not done enough to cooperate with Obama.
All of that helps explain why more Americans would blame the Republicans in Congress rather than Obama if the fiscal cliff provisions actually go into effect next year, 45% to 34%.
Sen.-elect Tim Kaine (D-VA) told the Richmond Times-Dispatch he hopes to remain in the U.S. Senate a long time.
Said Kain: “I want to do more. I decided when I ran: Don’t do this unless you think this is likely to be the last job you have in your life. I want to do it, and I want to do it for a long while. I’m kind of using (former Sen.) John Warner as my model as somebody who dug in, did it for a long time, accomplished a lot of good, and the fact that he was there for a while enabled him to attain positions that helped him do good things for the country and the commonwealth.”
When asked if he might run for president, he said, “Let’s see, if I serve for 30 years, I’ll be 86… probably not, no.”
Polly Judd told the AP she is skeptical of talk that her famous granddaughter, actress Ashley Judd, might run for U.S. Senate against Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Said Judd: “I don’t think there’s any possibility of that happening… I think Mitch has done more for Ashland than anybody else who has been in there. That means a lot. He’s been here personally, and we don’t always get that from politicians who represent us.”
Of her granddaughter, she added: “She’s a Hollywood liberal. It would be interesting to see what type of race she would run.”
“Nancy Pelosi decided to take one more crack at winning back the House, but a big obstacle stands between the Democratic leader and the speaker’s gavel in 2014: the six-year itch,” Politico reports.
“Pelosi’s party will be swimming against the riptide of history. The party controlling the White House during a president’s sixth year in office has lost seats in every midterm election but one since 1918, when Woodrow Wilson occupied the Oval Office. And the setbacks typically aren’t small: The average loss in these elections was 30 seats. The exception was 1998, when a soaring economy and Republicans’ focus on President Bill Clinton’s affair helped Democrats buck the trend and pick up a handful of seats.”
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) will announce tomorrow morning that she is running in 2014 for the seat now held by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), West Virginia Metro News reports.
“The announcement sets up a potential race between two West Virginia political heavyweights… Rockefeller has indicated that he plans to run for re-election in 2014, but there continues to be speculation that he may retire at the end of this term.”
Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) returned to Congress after a U.S. Senate campaign “that left him vilified for his verbal missteps and blamed for his role in the Republican Party’s dismal showing in the elections,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Though he’ll be out of work when the new Congress takes over in January, Akin “is hopeful about what lies ahead. He said he is considering taking advantage of his new fame by writing a book — something Sen. Claire McCaskill, the victor in his race, also has discussed.”
“The increased use of the tactic, which had previously been rare, is part of the procedural warfare that has reached a zenith over the past two years in the Senate. Republicans threaten to filibuster and propose politically charged amendments, Democrats fill the amendment tree, and Republicans filibuster in retaliation.”
“The tactic initially meant to speed bills has instead helped slow them down. The Senate — the legislative body that was designed as the saucer to cool the House’s tempestuous teacup — has become a deep freeze, where even once-routine matters have become hopelessly stuck and a supermajority is needed to pass almost anything.”
The Week: Is it finally time to reform the filibuster?
“I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform.”
— Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), in an interview on ABC News, on his willingness to break his pledge not to raise taxes.
President Obama finished more strongly in the South than any other Democratic presidential nominee in three decades, “underscoring a fresh challenge for Republicans who rely on Southern whites as their base of national support,” the Washington Post reports.
“Obama won Virginia and Florida and narrowly missed victory in North Carolina. But he also polled as well in Georgia as any Democrat since Jimmy Carter, grabbed 44 percent of the vote in deep-red South Carolina and just under that in Mississippi — despite doing no substantive campaigning in any of those states.”
“Much of the post-election analysis has focused on the demographic crisis facing Republicans among Hispanic voters, particularly in Texas. But the results across other parts of the South, where Latinos remain a single-digit minority, point to separate trends among blacks and whites that may also have big implications for the GOP’s future.”