The Midterm Snapshot: October 13

New Yorker

As Nancy Pelosi warns of Republicans defunding all of President Obama’s accomplishments, the Republicans are using Obama’s introspective interview with The New York Times Magazine against him. Meanwhile, Michelle Obama hit the campaign trail, Meg Whitman gave her campaign another $20 million, and Michele Bachmann broke a fund-raising record. Here’s a look at what’s happening in the race for Congress.

National Polls and Projections

FiveThirtyEight: Senate — 51.5-48.4 Dems; House — 226.5-208.5 GOP
Cook Political Report: Senate — 47-42 Dems (11 toss-ups); House — 198-197 Dems (40 toss-ups)
CQ Politics: Senate — 48-44 Dems (8 toss-ups); House — 205-190 Dems (40 toss-ups)
Real Clear Politics: Senate — 48-46 Dems (6 toss-ups); House — 211-185 GOP (39 toss-ups)
The Daily Beast’s Election Oracle: Senate — 52-48 Dems; House — 220-215 GOP

Talking Points


In a conference call with bloggers and reporters earlier today, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi laid out exactly what it would mean if the Republican Party wins control of the House. “If the Republicans were to win they would defund Wall Street reform, health care as a right not a privilege in our country,” she said. “The list would be a long one of things that they could hold up. They couldn’t necessarily repeal with President Obama in office. But they could defund. And that’s important for members to mention.”

The GOP jumped all over some of President Obama’s remarks in an upcoming New York Times Magazine profile, in which the president admits that he’s allowed himself to look like “the same old tax-and-spend liberal Democrat,” and acknowledges that “‘there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects’ when it comes to public works.” The NRCC ran with it, firing off a press release proclaiming “Twenty Days Until Election Day, Self-Proclaimed ‘Tax and Spend Democrat’ Admits There is ‘No Such Thing as Shovel-Ready Projects.'”

Eye On …

Wisconsin Senate:

Progressive Democratic senator Russ Feingold is headed for a spanking at the hands of political newbie Ron Johnson, a millionaire businessman. The Democrats are hoping that Michelle Obama can help. The First Lady, who is way more popular than her husband, made a rare appearance on the campaign trail today for a speech at a Feingold fund-raiser.

California governor:

As California processes a final televised debate that saw Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown tangle over Whoregate and Nannygate, Whitman has donated another $20 million to her campaign, further extending the all-time self-funding record that she set this year.


Sharron Angle isn’t the only polarizing right-winger raking in huge amounts of cash this year. Republican incumbent Michele Bachmann, the founder of the Tea Party Caucus in the House, brought in $5.4 million over the last three months, which is “more than any Minnesota congressional candidate has raised in an entire election.” According to the Center for Responsive Politics, “the sum is staggering considering the average winner of a House race raised $1.4 million in the entire 2008 cycle.”

Condi Rice Says Gingrich’s Anti-Obama Rhetoric Is ‘Over The Top,’ Not ‘Very Helpful’

Think Progress

Last month, Newt Gingrich joined the “not-so-subtle race-baiting” campaign against President Obama, upping the ante on his inflammatory radical right-wing rhetoric. “What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?” Gingrich asked in an interview with the National Review. “That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior,” he said. Today on MSNBC, host Andrea Mitchell asked Bush administration Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — who is promoting her new memoir — to comment on Gingrich’s statement:

MITCHELL: [Gingrich is] tying to marginalize the President as a non-American as an “other.”

RICE: I know Newt Gingrich, he’s a friend but that’s over the top and I think, I don’t think very helpful.

Rice isn’t the first Bush administration official to denounce Gingrich’s rhetoric. Bush White House chief of staff Andy Card said of the same comments, “I don’t think that the statements that Newt Gingrich made are helpful. … I’m disappointed.”

Sharron Angle raised $14 million in 3rd quarter

The Washington Post – Chris Cillizza

Former Nevada state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle (R) raised an eye-popping $14 million between July 1 and Sept. 30 for her challenge to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D), a stunning number that far eclipses the cash-collection totals of other prominent candidates seeking Senate seats next month.

“Sharron Angle produced one of the most successful single quarters of fundraising in the nation’s history for a U.S. Senate campaign,” said Angle communications director Jarrod Agen. “This is a testament to the hatred of Harry Reid, the nation’s disapproval of President Obama, and the unprecedented grassroots support for Sharron Angle.”

Ninety four percent of the money raised in the third quarter by Angle came in the form of donation of $100 or less. Ninety six percent of the contributions were $200 or less.

Agen did not provide figures for how much money Angle had left in the bank at the end of September and it’s likely to be well less than the $14 million she raised since she relies heavily on a costly and aggressive direct mail fundraising operation.

“Sharron Angle’s fundraising number is meaningless without disclosing how much they spent to raise it,” said Reid spokesman Kelly Steele.

Reid has yet to release his third quarter fundraising totals but as of mid-summer he had collected just short of $14 million so far in 2010. For the election cycle to date, Reid has raised $18 million.

Angle’s fundraising over the last three months represent an exponential gain over what she collected during her underdog primary bid in which she was heavily outspent by two Republican opponents but managed to win the race thanks to strong support from the tea party movement.

Between April 1 and June 30, which included three weeks of fundraising in the wake of her June 8 primary victory, Angle brought in $4.75 million.

Angle’s total dwarfs other impressive fundraising hauls by GOP Senate candidates in the third quarter including former Florida state House Speaker Marco Rubio ($5 million raised) and former Washington state Sen. Dino Rossi ($4.5 million).

The Nevada Republican’s showing is only bested in modern memory by the $14.2 million Scott Brown raised in January 2010 in advance of his Massachusetts Senate special election victory.

One Big, Dysfunctional Family

This ought to send Palin, Limbaugh and Coulter into a collective tirade!

The New York Times

The next time Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin starts to write a nasty thought about President Obama in a Twitter message, she might want to give some pause.

After all, family members should be nice to each other.

That’s right, it turns out that Ms. Palin and Mr. Obama are tenth cousins, both descending from a Massachusetts settler named John Smith, who fought against the persecution of the Quakers in the mid-1600’s.

The distant connection between the country’s first African-American president and the former governor of Alaska was discovered by researchers at, a Web site that provides tools for creating family trees. The results were provided to The Caucus.

Anastasia Tyler, a genealogist at the Web site, said she was impressed by the similarity between Mr. Obama, Ms. Palin and their shared ancestor. Mr. Smith, she said, was a controversial figure in his day who started his own church in Massachusetts.

“We see them involved in the social issues of their time and standing up for what they believe to be right,” Ms. Tyler said of the two current politicians. “It’s interesting to see their ancestors doing the same things.”

But if there are similarities between Ms. Palin and Mr. Obama, the same surely can’t be said about Mr. Obama and his chief talk-radio nemesis, Rush Limbaugh, right?

But in fact, Mr. Obama and Mr. Limbaugh are also tenth cousins – albeit, once removed. They share a family tie with Richmond Terrell, a wealthy landowner who settled in America in the 1650’s.

And there’s more.

Ms. Palin is related to Senator Harry Reid, the Senate majority leaderfrom Nevada. And both are in turn related to Ann Coulter, the conservative author. The family trees of the unlikely trio merge 450 years ago, when an Englishman, John Lathrop, was exiled to the United States.

Mr. Lathrop was punished for being the minister of an illegal church and was banished to Boston, Ms. Tyler said. His descendants eventually went on to give the United States some of its most colorful politicians.

Previous efforts to document the family connections between famous people have turned up some good ones. Mr. Obama is related to actor Brad Pitt (ninth cousins) and super-rich investor Warren Buffett (seventh cousins).

Ms. Palin’s extended family includes former President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the late Princess Diana of Wales.

But at some point, isn’t everyone related to everyone?

Not true, Ms. Tyler said. She and the other researchers have spent months poring through the family records of famous politicians, looking for interesting connections. And in a few cases, there just were none.

Among the most boring family trees: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Fox News host Glenn Beck – who are decidedly not related to each other, or to anyone else interesting, Ms. Tyler said.

“We just couldn’t find any potential connections,” she said.

Introducing The Year In Sanity


When Jon Stewart announced the Oct. 30th “Rally to Restore Sanity,” we cheered. Why didn’t we think of that? We put our collective heads together to figure out a way to meaningfully participate and, naturally, we figured we’d spend a small fortune to shuttle legions to the march by bus. But then someone beat us to it. Curses!

So instead, we came up with another idea: Spotlighting outstanding examples of sane behavior in 2010 so far. We’re flipping one of our favorite features – This Week in Crazy – on its head, running a series that celebrates the Year in Sanity. The goal: We want to honor inspiring cases of clear-thinking in the face of madness. We want to reward honest reactions when evasion would’ve been applauded. We want to spotlight straight talk, when obfuscation would have been the easier, or expected, way to go.

We’ve had a rough time. Especially when looking at our public officials, examples of sane behavior have been crazily tough to find. Which is why we are turning to you for help. Who do you think deserves to be honored for their sane behavior this year? You have three ways to let us know:

  1. Blog about it on Open Salon (be sure to tag it: theyearinsanity).
  2. Email us your idea at TheYearInSanity at salon dot com.
  3. Post your idea in the Comments section on this post, below.


To get you started, we’re launching with five people worth honoring, and we’ll be rolling out more examples until the end of the month, when we’ll rank the Top 10 on the eve of Oct. 30. So our first awardees:       Continue reading

Carl Paladino Apologizes As Gay Nephew Goes AWOL

The New Yorker

For a while it seemed almost impossible, as if maybe Carl Paladino’s bullheadedness had precluded his capacity for shame or remorse, even if everyone tells him he’s wrong. But yesterday, after he’d spent all of Monday unrepentantly defending remarks like “I don’t want [children] to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option. It isn’t,” Paladino apologized. His statement read:

Yesterday I was handed a script. I redacted some contents that were unacceptable. I did also say some things for which I should have chosen better words. I said other things that the press misinterpreted and misstated. I sincerely apologize for any comment that may have offended the Gay and Lesbian Community or their family members. Any reference to branding an entire community based on a small representation of them is wrong.

He then proceeded to lay out how he really feels about the gays.

1) I am a live and let live person.

2) I am 100% against discrimination of any group. I oppose discrimination of any kind in housing, credit, insurance benefits or visitation.

3) I am 100% against hate crimes in any form.

4) I am in support of civil agreements and equal rights for all citizens.

5) My position on marriage is based on my personal views. I have the same position on this issue as President Barrack [sic] Obama. I have previously stated I would support a referendum by New York voters. I have proposed Initiative and Referendum so New Yorkers can decide important issues like this.

6) The portrayal of me as anti-gay is inconsistent with my lifelong beliefs and actions and my prior history as an father, employer and friend to many in the gay and lesbian community.

Even in his apologies, there is a lot to quibble with. Paladino is a “live and let live person” and “against discrimination,” but is opposed to gay marriage and “disgusting” gay-pride parades. He implies that he supports civil unions (President Barack Obama’s position), but said on Sunday that he would not only veto a gay-marriage bill passed by the state legislature, but even a civil-union bill (at the 6:57 mark in this video), which the gay community doesn’t even want anymore.

It seems clear that Paladino still has zero chance of attracting any gay support. Perhaps not even from his token gay family member. Paladino’s nephew, 23-year-old Jeff Hannon — who, as Paladino has been eager to point out over the past two days, works as a staffer for the campaign — hasn’t shown up to work this week, and tells the Post that he’s “obviously … very offended” by what his uncle has said.

Crazy for ‘Sanity’ rally


Soon after Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity was announced, a handful of satellite rallies were announced via Facebook. Now there are shadow rallies planned in 47 states and six foreign countries for October 30, according to, and predicted attendance numbers keep climbing. It seems the world is going crazy for sanity.

POLITICO spoke to organizers for a few of the farther-flung rallies to find out why Stewart’s event is resonating so far and wide.

Amy Lee, along with her friend Ashley Wright, is organizing the Los Angeles-based Rally to Restore Sanity.

“A couple of weeks ago, while we were having dinner together, we were talking about how much we wanted to go to the D.C. rally,” wrote Lee, a 38 year-old who works in production and H.R, and Wright, a 32 year-old post-doctoral biology scholar at Caltech, in an e-mail. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford the time and money it would take to travel all the way to the East Coast.” They said that within two weeks of setting up a Facebook page for their event, 2,500 people had signed up to support a rally at L.A.’s Pershing Square.*

“We are Jon Stewart fans who love the spirit of the D.C. rally to ‘Take it Down a Notch for America’,” Lee and Wright added. The pair, along with a number of volunteer organizers, are trying to raise funds for a LED Screen to broadcast the main D.C. event to the crowd. 

Continue reading…

Huffington Post – Rally To Restore Sanity’s Roots: A Search For Calm From Day One

While the upcoming Rally To Restore Sanity, and its opposing March To Keep Fear Alive, marks an exciting high point in the lives of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report”, respectively, the combined event can best be seen as something that deepens and extends a challenge that the two shows have long sought to meet — that a debased and frantic public discourse needs to be confronted head-on by the cool reason of rational minds.

Comedy, which harvests laughs by juxtaposing the life we’re left with against the ideal, is a genre that loves reason above all else, and the two hosts have plowed the field carefully. Jon Stewart, whose show has evolved into a meta-critique of media excess, is known as the man who told the hosts of CNN’s “Crossfire” that their daily shout-fest was “hurting America.” And Colbert has exposed the central witlessnes of our cable-news paranoiacs, by ably embodying a pundit-host so suffused with fear that his only response to the world is to batter it with trademarked truthiness.    Continue reading…

Related Articles

Bill Clinton vs. Sarah Palin in West Virginia


WASHINGTON — Former President Bill Clinton and ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin are lining up on opposite sides in West Virginia’s Senate race, a key contest that could determine control of the Senate in the November election.

Clinton spent Monday in West Virginia, hoping to boost Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin’s campaign as it struggles against wealthy Republican businessman John Raese. Meanwhile, former vice presidential candidate Palin announced she was backing Raese on her Facebook page, hoping to again demonstrate her political clout.

Manchin appears with Clinton, shies from Obama

“He did every single thing you want Washington to do,” Clinton said of Manchin during an event in Morgantown. If it weren’t for the nation’s economic struggles, Clinton said, Manchin would “be ahead by 30 points, and you know it.”  Continue reading…

DRAMA REVIVED: Blogger Details Alleged Affair With Nikki Haley

Huffington Post

Nikki Haley Affair Accusations Resurface: Blogger Details Alleged Tryst With South Carolina Candidate…

The political blogger who claims he had a physical relationship with married Republican South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley offered new details in a sworn statement released Tuesday.

In an affidavit to a group of Republican activists critical of Haley, Will Folks states he had “romantic encounters” with the state representative in her Cadillac SUV, his apartment and her Statehouse office. He said the physical relationship ended in June 2007, when he began dating the woman who is now his wife.

“Rep. Haley specifically requested that I notify her in the event this relationship was getting serious so that she could ‘back off,'” the statement reads.

Haley’s campaign again denied all of Folks’ claims, which were made without any proof.

“There is something about the days just before an election that make certain people want to get back in the newspapers,” said Haley campaign manager Tim Pearson. “These accusations weren’t true in June, they aren’t true now, and those who continue to be fixated on this nonsense really should look into getting some professional help.”

Folks, 36, provided the three-page affidavit to the two-week-old group calling itself Conservatives for Truth in Politics, which is questioning Haley on various issues. It was sworn before a South Carolina notary public and signed by both but is not filed in any court.

The conservative group is clearly critical of Haley but says it will not endorse either her or her opponent, Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen. Lobbyist Larry Marchant, who came forward to say he had a one-night stand with Haley in 2007, told The Associated Press he, too, will provide an affidavit to the group.     Continue reading…