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The Rundown

7:00 a.m. ET: Cross-posted from The Fix, by Chris Cillizza.

White House Cheat Sheet: Republicans Try to Tar Pelosi

When Nancy Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House in early 2007, Republican strategists could barely contain their glee, believing that the liberal, San Francisco congresswoman would make a perfect foil for them in future elections in the same way that Democrats used Newt Gingrich to hang around the necks of his Republican colleagues a decade ago.

Pelosi's first several years proved a disappointment for those once-high Republican hopes as the California Democrat steered a liberal but not particularly high profile course in the House.

Until the last seven days, that is.

Pelosi's press conference on what she knew and when she knew it in regards to the waterboarding of terrorist suspects and her allegation that the C.I.A. had misled her on the matter thrust her into an unwelcome national spotlight.

And, Republicans quickly pounced.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) said that Pelosi "has had way too many stories on this issue" and former vice president Dick Cheney said "on numerous occasions, leading members of Congress, including the current speaker of the House, were briefed on the program and on the methods" during a speech on national security Thursday.

In addition, the National Republican Congressional Committee sent out releases on Thursday to nearly 70 Democratic districts alleging that the member of Congress "may not be interested in finding out whether the Pelosi's accusations that the CIA misled her are true or not but certainly the American people think otherwise," and the Republican National Committee has posted a Web video designed to focus attention on Pelosi and the interrogation issue.

Several polls out late this week suggest that Pelosi has taken on water over the detainee issue. In a Gallup survey, 31 percent approved of how Pelosi has "handled the matter of interrogation techniques against terrorism suspects" while 47 percent disapproved. (Pelosi's numbers were a stark contrast to those of President Obama who had a 59 approval/29 percent disapproval on the question.)

And, a CNN poll showed that 39 percent approved of the job Pelosi was handling her speakership while 48 percent disapproved -- well below the 46 percent approval rating that the Californian scored in a CNN survey in March 2007.

Even with the decline in Pelosi's numbers, they are nowhere near as low as Gingrich's nadir in the CNN data; in a CNN survey in late March 1997, just 25 percent of the national sample approved of the job Gingrich was doing while 63 percent disapproved.

In focus groups done in Seattle, Richmond and Chicago over the last week by Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, "not one voter base or swing [voter] has raised the issue" of Pelosi and the CIA, said Lake. "People are focused on economy, security, health care -- in short the business of the people which the speaker has been working on," Lake added.

While it's clear the last week has been far from kind politically to Pelosi, it's far more debatable what the long term political consequences will be (if any) for House Democrats. (The debate about Pelosi's personal political future is a non-starter; she will hold her district until she decides she doesn't want it anymore.)

Carl Forti, who spent three election cycles at the National Republican Congressional Committee, said that Pelosi's situation is an opportunity for GOPers but far from a sure thing.

"The bad news for Democrats is Pelosi's name I.D. is rising, people have an opinion of her and its not favorable," said Forti. "The good news for Democrats is that its always hard to transfer negatives of someone else to their member."

That dictum was proven out during the 2006 and 2008 elections when Democrats worked hard to tar House Republicans with the specter of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Texas) and disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Those Republicans who were ultimately defeated by that strategy were those with direct links to DeLay and/or Abramoff; members who simply had accepted a campaign contribution (or had some other tenuous link to either man) escaped largely unscathed.

Pelosi has several other factors going for her that differentiate her from Gingrich: she enjoys very strong support among her caucus and a large majority that ensures that even losing a dozen or so seats would do little to affect the passage of the president's agenda through Congress in 2011.

Republicans are looking for someone -- anyone -- on the Democratic side to whom some negatives will stick given their decided lack of success in doing so to Obama. Pelosi is in the crosshairs right now. How will she handle herself in the coming weeks and months?

Friday Fix Picks: Another week, another dollar.

1. President Obama charts the middle course on Gitmo.
2. Is the "empathy" standard, a bridge too far for Senate Republicans?
3. What Michelle O. means.
4. T-Paw and former Sen. Mark Dayton are close to dead even in a Minnesota gov poll.
5. "Terminator: Salvation" -- What to Watch For.

EFCA -- It's Baaaack!: The Employee Free Choice Act, considered dead after Sen. Arlen Specter (then a Republican) came out in opposition to it, is likely to be re-written and then re-introduced in the Senate within the next two months, according to informed labor sources. Politico's Glenn Thrush reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) as well as Democratic Sens. Tom Harkin (Iowa), Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) huddled on Thursday to discuss strategy for the re-emergence of the controversial bill, which Democrats contend will simply allow workers to organize unions more easily and Republicans believe will remove the secret ballot. "We're confident with great advocates in the Senate like Tom Harkin that someday soon, millions of Americans will be able to experience a workplace in which they truly have a voice," said Service Employees International Union president Andy Stern. The thinking in the labor community is that a revised bill -- the parameters of which remain undecided -- can get the 60 votes it needs to invoke cloture and bring it to a floor vote in the Senate. Specter, the newest Democrat, will almost certainly line up behind the new bill if for no other reason than to make a potential primary challenge from Rep. Joe Sestak more complicated. Two other hurdles: Democrat Al Franken (Minn.) will need to be seated and Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln, who has said she would not vote to end debate, would need to be convinced.

Follow Me: In the world of Twitter, one can always follow Ashton Kutcher or Shaq but what's the fun in being the 1,134,157th person in that line? The Fix asked his Twosse for recommendations of up and coming tweeters to follow, the kind of people you can say you followed before following him/her was cool. (Our lone cool moment like that was seeing Ryan Adams at Iota in the 1990s.) So, we'll be listing three Twitter feeds to follow every day in this space. Have suggestions? Offer them at "TheFix" feed. Our three for today: ProPublica, Peter Hamby and pourmecoffee.

Another Day, Another McAuliffe Poll Lead: Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe holds a fourteen point lead over former Virginia state Del. Brian Moran in a new independent poll on the Virginia governor's Democratic primary scheduled for June 9. The survey, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research for the liberal blog Daily Kos, showed McAuliffe at 36 percent as compared to 22 percent for Moran and 13 percent for state Sen. Creigh Deeds. A Survey USA survey released Wednesday showed McAuliffe leading with Deeds in second and Moran bringing up the rear. McAuliffe has drastically outspent Deeds and Moran on television, taking advantage of the Old Dominion's lack of donation limits. State Attorney General Bob McDonnell (R) leads all three potential Republicans in the Mason-Dixon survey with Moran the closest -- seven points behind.

Christie on the TV: Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (R) is up with a new ad seeking to use New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine's (D) wealth, gained from years as a senior executive at Goldman Sachs, against him. "Over the past decade Jon Corzine has spent over $100 million to get elected, attacking everyone in his path," says Christie. "We've seen it before." Christie faces former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan in a June 2 Republican primary but has trained all his fire on Corzine to date as polling shows the Democratic incumbent struggling to win over skeptical Garden State voters.

Click It!: Starting today, you can pre-order the 2010 Almanac of American Politics -- the single most valuable resource out there for a committed political junkie. Regular readers know of our love for the Almanac on which we worked as a researcher way back when. Buy it!

Say What?: "By continuing to promise the closure of GITMO and allowing terrorists into the United States, President Obama is demonstrating irresponsibility at the highest level." -- Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele on President Obama's national security speech on Thursday.

By washingtonpost.com editors  |  May 22, 2009; 7:11 AM ET
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COMMENTS

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If I remember correctly almost all the promoters of the Iraq war,including W. Bush,claimed the CIA "mislead" them. Is a mis lead the same as a lie? Pelosi has said she was lied to by these same CIA guys. So, did the lie to Bush cause damage to us? Yes,the Iraq war has recruited more terrorists and created more havoc then we ever imagined.
Did Pelosi cause serious damage due to her being lied to about torture? No,the torture was well under way before she was(or was not) told. Actually, the Bush group began trying to undo the torture methods in 2003.
The Republicans are desperate to get more believers since they are now downsized to 22%. Pelosi seems to be a good target since her popularity is down around the Republicans. At least they are picking on someone their size.

Posted by: ephetsgma | May 23, 2009 12:07 PM

i can't believe that anyone can be outraged that Ms. Pelosi said the cia lied to her. there have been many instances when republicans have made that same charge over the last few years. and was't VP Cheney in a running fued with the cia over it's intelligence. ask Colin Powell if the cia will mislead and lie to you.

Posted by: blinwilly | May 23, 2009 6:07 PM

The woman speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has brought shame and dishonor to her position. She should step down.

Colin Powell is a turncoat. Since his endorsement of BHO he is no longer credible. He is a "Benedict Arnold"....he was an awful Secretary of State too!

Posted by: WISEOWL1 | May 26, 2009 2:25 AM

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