Capital Briefs November 3

PARTING SHOTS: The nationwide polls on the presidential election late last week all showed the race was tightening, and that the number of voters who still had not made up their minds was still unusually high. An IBD/TIPP poll shows Barack Obama leading John McCain among likely voters by 46.9 percent to 43.9 percent, with 9.2 percent saying they “not sure” whom they would vote for. Both the Rasmussen and Gallup Polls showed Obama leading McCain by 5 percentage points nationwide. However, a final ABC News/Washington Post poll gave Obama a 52-to-44 percent lead nationwide.  

1932 ALL OVER AGAIN? That was the election preview of Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg and political operative James Carville at a Christian Science Monitor press breakfast last week. “It’s like pre-Katrina and post-Katrina,” Carville told reporters. “Nothing will be the same again.” The “Ragin’ Cajun” went on to note that after Franklin Roosevelt’s landslide election in 1932 and the Democratic sweep of the House and Senate that year, “Democrats were in power for the next 36 years except for Dwight Eisenhower’s eight years as President. And a lot of folks said Ike was only a ‘60-40’ Republican.” Perhaps sensing that Carville and Greenberg might be onto something, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last week took out a $15 million loan to go after more Republican targets. “There are so many opportunities out there and we just can’t afford them all,” DCCC spokeswoman Jennifer Crider told Salon Magazine. At the time of the loan, the DCCC enjoyed an estimated 4-to-1 spending advantage over its Republican counterpart.  

PLANNING POST-MORTEMS: “It’s going to be brutal” is the way James Carville described to HUMAN EVENTS the recriminations he thinks will take place among Republicans if his prediction of a Democratic sweep November 4 comes true. Sure enough, there have already been reports of secret, and not-so-secret post-election meetings of conservatives and Republicans that are going to be held to discuss rebuilding the conservative movement and putting the Republican Party on a more conservative course in the post-Bush era. In one of his final pre-election broadcasts, Rush Limbaugh appeared to second the goal of the conservatives when he declared, “there is no elected or political leadership in Washington or in the Republican Party that people can rally around.” The Republican Governors Association will hold its annual meeting a week after Election Day in Miami, Fla., and Republican National Committee members will meet at an informal gathering in Myrtle Beach, S.C., November 14-15 to discuss “lessons learned” from the 2008 campaign.  

CHOOSING A NEW RNC CHAIRMAN: Although Mike Duncan is still the Republican National Chairman until his term runs out in January and John McCain would be expected to name the party leader if he is elected, this has not stopped some Republicans from sending signals that they want to be chairman. South Carolina State Chairman Katon Dawson, for example, has long made it clear he will run for the top party spot regardless of the outcome of the election and will host a post-election meeting of RNC members. Dawson and Michigan Chairman Saul Anuzis, who is also widely mentioned for national chairman, are considered strong conservatives, while a third possible contender, Florida Chairman Jim Greer, is regarded as the top political operative for moderate Florida Gov. Charles Crist. Also mentioned for the national chairmanship are former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and Massachusetts GOP National Committeeman (and close Mitt Romney ally) Ron Kaufman.  

HERITAGE VS. OBAMA: John McCain isn’t the only one taking on Barack Obama. Last week, the conservative Heritage Foundation charged that two recent Obama TV spots “seriously misrepresent” Heritage by suggesting that the foundation and one of it policy analysts support the Democratic nominee’s tax plan. In a sharply worded letter to Obama, Heritage’s lawyer Alan Dye noted that an ad on the candidate’s website and an ad titled “Try This” both refer to a quote from policy analyst Rea Hederman. “In fact, Mr. Hederman never said what is quoted there,” Dye wrote. “Rather, the words you quote are from a New York Sun reporter who interviewed Mr. Hederman and summarized his views erroneously.” Dye cited Heritage’s view that the Obama spot “is an intentional attempt to mislead and misinform voters” and demanded that the commercial and website item be stopped immediately.  

BYRD HUNTING? That was the talk among Senate Democrats last week. As first reported on, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) has held private discussions with selected colleagues about replacing 90-year-old Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee before the next session of Congress begins in January. Byrd, the longest-serving senator in history, has been in poor health for well more than a year, and many of his colleagues feel he is not up to the physical demands of such a powerful chairmanship and should be replaced by the next senior Democrat, Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii. In a sharply worded statement, Byrd made it clear that he intends to keep his post. “I am disappointed that, according to press accounts, the majority leader is talking to others about the chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee,” he said. “This is the sort of Washington back-room gossip which ill serves the Democratic Party in a year when the Democratic Party should be paramount.”