Interviews/Profiles

Interviews/Profiles

McConnell optimistic about November, warns Dems about Bush attack line

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sat down with The Hill on Monday and said he was "optimistic" about Republican chances in November, and warned Democrats there is a "statute of limitations" on how long they can run against former President George W. Bush.

McConnell said "if the election were today, we'd have a good day. The president's approval rating is well below 50 and has been for a month or so. The party generic ballot — 'Would you be more likely to vote Republican or Democrat?' — is very good. … I'm reluctant to kind of project the future. But we're optimistic. We're optimistic that it will be a good day on Nov. 2 and restore some balance to the government."

He wouldn't predict how many seats his party might pick up, but he did scoff at one of the Democrats' main attack angles this election cycle: that returning Republicans to power would mark a return to the Bush-era policies.

"The Democrats would like to have a 'do-over' of the '06 and '08 elections," he said. "There's a statute of limitations on how long you can run against President Bush. They've been in office 18 months now."

He also noted that the voters "know who's in charge. They know who's in the White House. They know the president has a big majority in the House and a big majority in the Senate, and they've focused fully on what's happened in the last year and a half. And it is naïve of our friends on the other side to assume they can run again the '06 and '08 elections. This is going to be about the present, not the past. And about the record of this administration, not the previous administration."

McConnell also has a competitive Senate race in his own state, where Republican candidate Rand Paul is running to keep retiring Sen. Jim Bunning's (R-Ky.) seat. Paul won the nomination largely on the support of the Tea Party, which has become a presence in many primaries this year.

McConnell called the group a "positive" factor.



"With regard to the Tea Party factor, I think it's been positive," he said. "These are citizens who feel like we're losing the country, and the issues that they seem to be most concerned about are the issues that Republicans are most concerned about. And one thing I would point out is that the issues that are driving the Tea Party are the same issues that are driving surveys and driving independents in our direction."

The Senate Republican leader also predicted President Obama would become a "born-again moderate" after the election.

"If there is a mid-course correction in November, I think the president will become a born-again moderate," McConnell said.

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Liz Cheney says Obama has dishonored fallen soldiers

NEW ORLEANS -- Liz Cheney said Thursday that the Obama Administration has dishonored fallen soldiers by engaging in a strategy of appeasing its enemies.

The former vice president’s daughter said at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference that the administration’s strategy is to “apologize for America, abandon our allies, and appease our enemies.”

“It dishonors this nation and the brave men and women who have fought and died for our freedom,” Cheney said.

She pointed in particular to the reception Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received at a recent meeting at the White House. Republicans criticized the White House for not rolling out the red carpet more for Netanyahu.

News also broke Thursday that Netanyahu had cancelled his trip to the nuclear summit in Washington next week.

Cheney said the White House’s treatment of Netanyahu was “just disgraceful.”

Not everything from the vice president’s daughter was so negative. In fact, Cheney even praised Obama for putting General Stanley McChrystal in charge in Afghanistan and for the troop surge there.

But she continued to hammer away at Obama’s foreign policy and at the lawyers who represent Guantanamo detainees.

“If (Attorney General) Eric Holder is looking for patriots and heroes to bravely defend, I suggest he start with soldiers who have fought, captured and interrogated enemies of the American people,” Cheney said.

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Clinton pollster says if election were held today, 1994 would repeat

Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg said Wednesday that if the 2010 election were held today, his party would be faced with a similar result to its catastrophic 1994 losses.

Greenberg, who was Bill Clinton's pollster in the early 1990s, went on to say that he doesn’t think the current situation will hold over the next seven months, and that he expects things will improve for Democrats.

“We’re on the edge of it, but we’re not there. If the election were now, we’d have a change election, a 1994,” he said at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “If the election were now, you would be there.”

But Greenberg also noted a series of differences between now and 1994, including the Republican Party being held in higher regard back then.

Polling shows the GOP brand languishing as low as, and in some cases lower than, the Democratic one.

Greenberg said Republicans already experienced their 1994-like election with the Massachusetts race Sen. Scott Brown (R) won in January, and that things are likely to get better for his party after the passage of healthcare reform.

“We’ll look back on this and say Massachusetts is when 1994 happened,” Greenberg said. “It will be marginally better than it is now, but I don’t think it’s 1994.”

Greenberg and Democratic consultant James Carville were releasing a new Democracy Corps poll that shows Democratic enthusiasm rebounding a little in the aftermath of the healthcare bill.

But Carville and Greenberg said the GOP will almost surely take an enthusiasm advantage into the 2010 election, and Carville worried aloud that the new electorate would be a much better one for the GOP.

Carville noted that the 2008 electorate was about 72 percent white, while the projected 2010 voters are expected to be 76 percent white.

“If you look at intensity questions, they do have more intensity,” Carville said. “The good news after health care is that ours went up. They don’t match, but they went up.”

Greenberg said it is a matter of how close Democratic intensity can get to GOP intensity, but that he doesn’t expect them to match.

“This is a structural, long-term problem,” he said. “There is a very strong, deep homogeneous opposition to the president.”

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