Ballot Box

Poll: Republicans beating Obama in Virginia, Senate race neck-and-neck

Rick Perry and Mitt Romney both lead President Obama in the critical swing state of Virginia while the Senate race between former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) and former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) is all but tied, according to a poll released Monday afternoon by Roanoke College.

Romney leads Obama by 45 percent to 37 percent, while Perry leads Obama by a narrower 42 percent to 40 percent, within the poll's margin of error. The president won the state with 53 percent of the vote in 2008, making him the first Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson to win there.

In the Senate race, Allen is up on Kaine by a narrow 42 percent to 39 percent, with 19 percent undecided.

The state could be a major national bellwhether next year: If Obama and Kaine win there it makes it much more likely Democrats will hold both the Senate and the White House, but if they lose both become much more challenging. Kaine and Allen are running to replace retiring Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), who beat Allen six years ago and is retiring after his first term.

The poll of 601 Virginia residents was conducted from Sept. 6-17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

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Bachmann hits Perry on foreign policy experience

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) knocked Republican frontrunner Rick Perry as being naive about international affairs during a campaign stop in Iowa.

“We can’t compromise this time,” Bachmann said, according to Politico. “We can’t settle for a candidate who doesn’t understand the problems that we have in the Middle East, who doesn’t understand the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Bachmann also reiterated her attack on Perry for an executive order that mandated that girls in Texas receive the HPV vaccine. Bachmann has criticized the governor both for mandating the inoculation, and that the decision benefited a pharmaceutical company that had hired a former aide to lobby him.

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Perry op-ed for Tea Party website stresses 'actions over words'

Texas Gov. Rick Perry penned an op-ed for a Tea Party website Monday afternoon seeking to address the two largest criticisms he has faced in the wake of Thursday night's GOP debate: that he is not hawkish enough on border security and that he is a weak debater.

Perry's choice of venue for the piece, the Tea Party website teapartybrew.com, shows he believes appealing to his party's base is his most important challenge in the race for the White House. Perry stresses in the piece that eloquence is not the same as leadership.

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Huntsman: I'm no longer a 'margin-of-error candidate'

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) is celebrating a pair of recent polls showing him in double digits among New Hampshire voters as a sign that he is no longer a "margin-of-error candidate."

"We're going to win this state," Huntsman said Saturday at a town hall in Raymond, N.H., according to CBS. "They used to call us the margin-of-error candidate when I first came here. I can't say that anymore. I can't say we're the margin-of-error candidate. The last polls that came out, we're bumping up to ... 10 percent in the polls."

Two polls showed Huntsman polling in double digits among New Hampshire Republican voters last week. Although neither poll had him leading the Republican presidential field, they were a promising improvement for his campaign, which has lagged behind most of the Republican presidential field in the polls since he jumped into the race.

A Suffolk University poll had Huntsman with 10 percent approval, behind only former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (with 41 percent) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) (14 percent).

Huntsman also placed fifth in a poll conducted by the Republican American Research Group that also had him at 10 percent, behind Romney (30 percent), Texas Gov. Rick Perry (13 percent) and Paul (12 percent). The ARG poll also found 12 percent of Republican voters are undecided on their preferred candidate.

"A new poll just released shows Governor Huntsman’s support jumping in New Hampshire, and confirms what we have known all along about Jon: once you get to know him, you’re for him," Huntsman campaign manager Matt David wrote in an email on Thursday.

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Mitch Daniels: Don't shut down the government

A government shutdown would be a major distraction from bigger spending issues, said Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R).

"It's not productive to have these huge fights over these relatively small [sums]," Daniels said on NPR's "The Diane Rehm Show" Monday morning. "We've got to see where the big problems are and the big solutions."

Republicans and Democrats are still at odds over the budget, raising the possibility of a government shutdown in November.

The Indiana governor decided earlier this year not to run for president because of opposition from his family, and said he hasn't reconsidered that option at all — but he didn't completely shut the door to a run.

"It would take a change of heart on my family's part, and five women are a pretty intimidating group when they make their mind up," said Daniels. He also said that "if such a strange thing" as an offer to be the Republican vice presidential nominee came up he'd have to discuss it with his family before making a decision.

When asked if so far he was happy with the Republican presidential field, Daniels said: " 'So far' is a good qualifier."

Daniels said Congress needed to focus on entitlement reform above all other things, and called for an end to paying out Social Security and Medicare benefits to the wealthiest Americans as well as raising the retirement age. On the new congressional supercommittee charged with cutting the U.S. debt, Daniels said he thought that it should be easy to cut the minimum $1.2 trillion, but that "politically, I just don't know" if the two sides could come to agreement.

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Bivens becomes first Dem to enter Arizona Senate race

Democrats finally have an official candidate for Senate in Arizona: Don Bivens, a former Arizona Democratic Party chairman, announced a bid Monday for the seat of retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

In a Web video announcing his candidacy, Bivens built on anti-Washington, pro-growth themes that have been dispatched by candidates of both parties during a campaign season characterized by public disdain for incumbent politicians.

"I'm not a politician," Bivens said. "I've spent my entire career in the private sector working with businesses large and small."

Bivens told supporters in the video that the current batch of politicians are preoccupied with "extreme personal ideology" and have neglected to solve real people's problems through hard work. He said he has built his legal career on finding consensus among those with diametrically opposed agendas and seeking out the type of innovative solutions sorely needed in Washington.

Although Democrats see the Senate seat in Arizona as one of their strongest pickup opportunities in 2012, they have held off on running candidates until now, out of deference to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was considering running for the seat before she was shot in the head during a January attack.

Giffords is still recovering, and has not yet made a decision about running for the open Senate seat or running for reelection in the House. A Democratic strategist in southern Arizona told The Hill that Giffords's staff is encouraging any Democrats interested in the Senate seat to enter the race.

While Bivens is the only Democrat to have announced, former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona and others are said to be mulling a run. On the GOP side, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is considered the front-runner for the nomination.

A prominent attorney in Phoenix, Bivens is a former president of the State Bar of Arizona and served on the board of a local unit of Planned Parenthood.

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First TV ad for Bonamici in Oregon special House race

Suzanne Bonamici (D), an Oregon state lawmaker running for former Rep. David Wu's (D-Ore.) House seat, will air her first television ad of the special election touting Bonamici's work on behalf of consumers.

The ad shows Bonamici recalling a case from early in her legal career when, as an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission, she took on Nationwide Mortgage Corp. over misleading loan terms. The firm's president was eventually convicted and given a nine-year term.

Bonamici's campaign said the ad would air on both cable and broadcast networks in Oregon. 

Bonamici has already been endorsed by Oregon Attorney General John Kroger (D), former Gov. Barbara Roberts (D) and EMILY's List, a group that endorses and raises money for female Democrats who support abortion rights.

Bonamici will face off in the Nov. 8 primary against state Labor Commissioner Brad Akavian and state Rep. Brad Witt (D). On the Republican side, businessman Rob Cornilles, who challenged Wu in 2010, will be running again.

The general election in January 2012 will pick the successor for Wu, who resigned in August amid allegations of a sex scandal involving the teenage daughter of a campaign donor.

The district is considered safe Democratic territory, but Wu won over Cornilles in 2010 by just seven points.

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