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The Rundown

Cross-posted from The Fix, by Chris Cillizza.

Can Mitch Daniels Save the GOP?

Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels delivered a condemnation of the "Baby Boomer" and a call for generational change during a recent commencement address at Butler University, a speech drawing considerable national attention as the Republican Party continues its search for fresh faces and new leaders.

"As a group, we have been self-centered, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, and all too often just plain selfish," Daniels said in the speech. "Our current Baby Boomer president has written two eloquent, erudite books, both about . . . himself."

Daniels went on to offer a sweeping indictment of his own generation's financial and moral selfishness, concluding: "It's been a blast; good luck cleaning up after us."

He offered a brighter prospect for the graduating class, however, insisting that great generations (with apologies to the man from South Dakota) often follow mediocre ones and noting that: "True greatness can only be revealed by large challenges, by tough circumstances. And your opportunities for greatness will be large."

Cross-posted from The Fix's White House Cheat Sheet, by Chris Cillizza.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is set to announce his Senate candidacy today, a decision that has national implications and says a great deal about the current political landscape, from Republicans rebuilding efforts to the treacherous political position for governors heading into 2010.

Crist is, without question, the star of the Republican recruiting efforts to date -- a well known and popular chief executive who also happens to be running in one of the largest and most politically competitive states in the country.

He is also someone with unabashed interest in playing at the national level -- pushing his way into the vice presidential talk for Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) last year and regularly mentioned as a presidential candidate in his own right in 2012.

What does Crist's Senate candidacy mean for observers of national politics? Here are five things his decision represents:

A Vote for Moderation: With Sen. Arlen Specter no longer in the Republican Party and former governor Tom Ridge (R-Pa.) not running, Crist is the most recognizable face of GOP moderates in the mix in 2010. While Crist allies note that he is a conservative on social issues like abortion, his emphasis during his first three years as governor has been on redefining Republicanism with attention being paid to traditional Democratic issue like the environment. And, no one who knows Crist thinks he will run -- either for the Senate or for president in 2012 -- as anything but a new sort of establishment Republican; former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee or Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin he is not. Should Crist get elected next November, he will immediately surge to the top (or close to it) of the group of moderate Republicans calling for a change in the way the party defines itself.

A Money Saver: Florida is one of the most expensive states in the country to run a statewide campaign given its size and the cost of its many media markets. An open seat Senate race with a relatively unknown candidate would have cost the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee millions of dollars with no guarantee that they would be able to hold the seat. But, if Crist is able to beat former state House Speaker Marco Rubio in the Republican primary, the NRSC may be spared from spending any significant cash in the general election as polling suggests the governor would be a prohibitive favorite. That means more money for less expensive states like Arkansas, Connecticut and even Colorado where Republicans believe they have a chance to knock off Democratic incumbents.

The Foil Fight: Any Republican with even the vaguest interest in running in 2012 has a vested interest in emerging over the next year and a half as the most prominent critic of Obama and his policies. Crist's decision to run for the Senate is due, at least in part, to a desire to fight Obama toe to toe in the place -- Washington -- where his agenda will succeed or fail between now and 2012. Unlike former governor Mitt Romney (Mass.) or Palin, for example, Crist clearly believes that a seat in the Senate gives him the best perch from which to engage Obama in advance of a national bid. Is he right?

Govs Running Scared: Talk to any political consultant -- Democrat or Republican -- about 2010 and the first thing you are likely to hear is that no one -- NO ONE -- is safe because of the collapse of the economy throughout the country. Unlike earlier this decade when everyone wanted to be a governor -- budget surpluses, ideas incubator etc. -- the money has run out, forcing chief executives to raise taxes, slash services or both. Crist, faced with a dire budget situation in Florida between now and his 2010 reelection, saw an opportunity to side-step it and took it. Keep an eye on governors like Ted Strickland (D-Ohio), Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) and Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) who are -- or could -- struggle to overcome the economic dissatisfaction in their states.

The Stimulus Set-To: Crist was, by far, the most prominent Republican elected official to speak out in favor of President Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus package -- even appearing with the president at an event in the Sunshine State touting the plan. Republican base voters expressed outrage at such spending by the federal government -- taking out their frustration at a series of town halls nationwide on April 15. Crist's primary against Rubio will serve as a litmus test for how politically potent the stimulus package will be in 2010 and beyond. Every poll points to a relatively pedestrian primary victory for Crist over Rubio but the latter candidate is on the right side of the stimulus issue in terms of the base.

Tuesday's Fix Picks: Was the Fix the only one who thought Allison Iraheta should have been in the top three on Idol?

1. Can President Obama really get health care done?
2. The Post's Carol Leonnig keeps up the drumbeat on Jack Murtha.
3. Al Franken speaks!
4. Jack Shafer ponders a newspaper-less world.
5. Apple rejects "Jesus" app.

Trippi: No "Doomsday" Strategy: A report by ABC's George Stephanopoulos over the weekend that staffers to former Sen. John Edwards' (N.C.) presidential campaign had a so-called "Doomsday" scenario to sink the candidate if it looked like he might win the Democratic nomination is false, according to Joe Trippi who served as a senior strategist to the campaign. "The storyline that a sleeper cell existed within the Edwards campaign that knew the truth [about the candidate's marital indiscretions] and was prepared to wait out the campaign and destroy it if it looked like John Edwards was taking off is exactly what I called it -- fantasyland," Trippi emailed the Fix. "It's a great way in hindsight to sound heroic -- but it isn't true."

Hastert for Tiahrt: Former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) has thrown his support behind Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R) in the contested Kansas Senate race. "Kansas voters have a clear choice in 2010 when electing their next United States Senator," said Hastert. "Todd is a strong conservative leader you can trust to get things done for your state and your nation." Tiahrt is running against Rep. Jerry Moran in the Republican primary in a contest that will be almost entirely defined by which candidate can better appeal to the conservative base within the state. While the low-key Hastert is among the least well-known House speakers in history, he is beloved among conservatives and his support should be helpful to Tiahrt among that sliver of voters. Whether Tiahrt or Moran wins the Republican primary, either one will be favored in the general election given that Kansas hasn't elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1932.

Click It!: President Obama's TelePrompter has a blog. Not kidding. Well, sort of kidding.

Media Matters Empire Grows: Media Matters for America, a liberal interest group that seeks to monitor the media (duh) for elements of conservative bias is expanding its efforts via a new organization known as Media Matter Action Fund (MMAN). The new group will seek to fact-check statements by conservatives across the political spectrum; "We are going to correct conservative misinformation at its source -- members of Congress and their allies who are committed to maintaining the failed conservative status quo," explained Ari Rabin-Havt, the managing director of MMAN. The growth of Media Matters comes amid the emergence of groups like Common Purpose and Unity '09 -- liberal organizations that have emerged since President Obama's election that serve to drive the daily messaging in the Washington echo chamber. The dearth of conservative groups that do the same is one of the major problems for the GOP right now.

Best iPhone Apps: ToDo, Mood Ring and Quordy.

Say What?: "If Stormy decides to go forward and run for United States Senate, Louisiana voters will have the opportunity to choose a candidate who has the honesty, integrity and strength of character to stand up for fiscal and personality responsibility in Washington DC." -- A statement from a "DraftStormy" a website dedicated to luring adult film star Stormy Daniels into the Louisiana Senate race.

By washingtonpost.com editors  |  May 12, 2009; 12:37 PM ET
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