Is it time for Democrats to galvanize the base or reach out to the middle?
With election results causing new anxieties in the party over the president’s big agenda, Democrats are looking for a new direction.
In the short term, the answer from the White House/DNC will be to try to get beyond the dithering/bickering phase and pass something/anything on health care – water it down, get it passed, and start campaigning for 2010 and talking about jobs.
As I argue in my column today, not seeming obsessed with the economy and unemployment has been a major mistake for President Obama.
Writers Peter Wallsten and Jonathan Weisman share other signs to watch:
“One indicator of how Mr. Obama will respond to the election might be reflected in his decisions over the overhaul of U.S. immigration laws. The president's approval rating remains sky-high with Latino voters, one official said, but they didn't come out to vote Tuesday.
To turn them out, Democrats may have to press ahead with a broad overhaul of immigration laws next year, including the creation of a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
That might seal defeat for some Democrats in southern Republican districts — such as Rep. Tom Perriello of Virginia — but could energize the Latino vote elsewhere and give Mr. Obama a head of steam heading into 2012.”
It’s getting crowded out on Speaker Pelosi’s plank.
With the Senate slowing down on health care again, Pelosi is going to speed things up by forcing a vote on her bill.
It’s unclear that she has the votes to pass the legislation and moderate Democrats and freshmen from GOP-leaning districts are starting to really sweat.
Writers Janet Adamy and Martin Vaughan have the details:
“As of Wednesday, House leaders didn't appear to have secured the 218 votes they need to pass the bill.
They were moving to quickly swear in two Democrats elected Tuesday, which would give the party 258 seats in the House and allow leaders to lose as many as 40 Democratic votes without losing their majority. No Republicans are expected to vote for the bill.
House leaders are targeting the vote for late Saturday so they have time to shore up support and set voting rules while still giving members a full week at home for Veterans Day, which falls next Wednesday. While the schedule could slip some, leaders are reluctant to push the vote beyond the holiday. A lull could expose it to attacks from Republicans and a more-than-$10 million advertising campaign by employers that slams the legislation for raising taxes during a bad economy.”
The White House is using the Internet to try to show the tangible benefits of February’s deficit-swelling stimulus – a package most Americans believe has either hurt the economy or had no effect.
Writers Michael Cooper and Ron Nixon explain, as Tuesday’s Examiner did, that being detailed about government spending rarely leaves taxpayers feeling well served.
Part of the problem for the administration is that it tacitly encouraged people to be optimistic about jobs “saved or created.” Following the lead of the Wall Street Journal, the Times weighs in:
“Onvia, a Seattle company that tracks government spending at the federal, state and local levels, noted that the data is only as good as the recipients that have reported it, and pointed out a number of questionable reports.
In one, a Kentucky shoe store reported that it had created nine jobs with an $890 order for work boots. In another, a $7,960 contract for a ‘Basketball System Replacement’ in Ohio claimed three jobs.
It was not clear what positions they played.”
Ed Gillespie — Lessons from Virginia for the GOP
The former RNC Chairman and senior advisor to President George W. Bush left his big-time, bipartisan lobbying firm, set up a communications business in Virginia and got serious about getting Bob McDonnell elected governor there.
It was the kind of hands-on work for which Gillespie, one of the fathers of the Contract with America, has long been famous.
McDonnell’s blowout win Tuesday gives Gillespie a platform from which to urge his party forward into the practical business of getting elected and governing.
His five point plan, published in a Washington Post op ed, includes: run inclusive campaigns, use language voters want from their elected leaders, match the left's use of technology, and back strong candidates.
But the takeaway point is:
“Convert conservative principles into practical policies — and finish the sentence.
All year, McDonnell laid out a steady stream of policy initiatives rooted in a commitment to lower taxes, less regulation and innovation. Too often, however, Republicans don't “finish the sentence” and remind voters outside our base why such conservative policies are better. McDonnell's campaign attracted crucial independent voters by focusing on the benefits of his policies: better elementary schools, more college degrees, less time stuck in traffic, more affordable gas and electricity, and most important, jobs, jobs, jobs.
By Tuesday, voters gave McDonnell a sizable lead when it came to handling every critical issue facing Virginians, and he can now claim a mandate for his agenda.”
Writer Andrew Malcolm looks at how the PR blunder of downplaying election returns in advance and ceding Tuesday night to the GOP message left the Obama team to speak with the “not a legitimate news organization” Fox.
What a difference a week makes. And what a bone-headed move for an organization that governs in campaign mode and tries to own every news cycle.
“No administration spokesmen appeared during the evening news storm. They passed word. that the voters' verdict was so important to this president that, as usual, he wasn't even watching election returns. But that info vacuum meant the election results' story theme got away from the White House in the 24/7 news cycle:”
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