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White House Cheat Sheet: Obama's Swing-State Road Show

President Barack Obama. Photo by Bill O'Leary of the Washington Post

When President Obama commemorates his 100th day in office next Wednesday with a townhall meeting in St. Louis, Mo., it will mark the eleventh state he has visited during the early months of his presidency -- nearly every one of which is expected to be hotly contested in his 2012 reelection race.

In a little more than three months in office, Obama will have visited Arizona (Phoenix), California (Costa Mesa/Los Angeles), Colorado (Denver), Florida (Fort Myers), Illinois (Springfield/Peoria), Indiana (Elkhart), Iowa (Newton), Missouri (St. Louis), North Carolina (Camp Lejeune), Ohio (Columbus), and Virginia (Langley/Springfield/Willamsburg/Fairfax).

Of those eleven, nine were decided by nine points or less in the 2008 election -- the only exceptions being California and Obama's home state of Illinois -- and five were decided by four points or less. (Also worth noting: all of those nine states were carried by George W. Bush in 2004; seven of the nine flipped to Obama four years later.)

No state was closer than Missouri where Obama lost to Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) by approximately 4,500 votes out of more than 2.8 million cast.

Is it then mere coincidence that Obama is choosing to commemorate his first 100 days as president with a stop in Missouri? White House aides insist that is the case but the Fix has followed politics long enough to know that coincidences like that don't just happen.

The most precious commodity in a campaign or in the White House is the time of the candidate/president so it's nearly impossible to think that Obama's domestic travel schedule has not been chosen with an eye toward 2012 and the states he will need to secure for reelection.

This is nothing new in politics: every first term president spends his first four years positioning himself to win a second four years.

Nor does Obama's swing state tour mean that the sole driving force behind his travel schedule is the 2012 election.

But, what his domestic travel schedule does serve to remind us is that Obama and his inner circle are not simply idealists operating in a world without politics. He and they also carry a strong pragmatic streak -- his decisions to reject public financing during the campaign and to oppose the creation of a 9/11-like commission to look into the harsh interrogations used under the Bush administration yesterday are just two examples -- and understand that without winning in the political arena, victory is not possible on the policy front.

What to Watch For:

Friday's Fix Picks: The football season may be over but the Fix's heart is still in Dillon.

1. Obama: No torture commission.
2. Kathleen Sebelius's confirmation vote on hold -- for how long? (Maybe next Tuesday?)
3. Is Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) in trouble?
4. Milbank on the David Plouffe-Steve Schmidt traveling road show.
5. Anoop!

Steelman Edges Closer: Former Missouri state treasurer Sarah Steelman is forming an exploratory committee to begin to raise money for a potential Senate bid, and has tasked veteran Republican operatives John Weaver and Ben Ginsberg to oversee its operations. Weaver served as the longtime political adviser to Arizona Sen. John McCain and Ginsberg is widely regarded as the top election lawyer for Republicans. Steelman's decision to form an exploratory committee comes roughly one week after Rep. Roy Blunt, the lone Republican in the race to replace retiring Sen. Kit Bond (R), released underwhelming fundraising numbers for the first three months of the year. If she runs, Steelman would be making her second consecutive primary bid against an establishment candidate. In 2008, she narrowly lost a gubernatorial primary to then Rep. Kenny Hulshof who went on to lose badly to Gov. Jay Nixon (D).

The Club's Congressional Scorecard: The Club for Growth, a powerful third party group advocating fiscal conservatism, has released its 2008 Congressional scorecard -- rating each Member of Congress for their adherence to the Club's principles. Not surprisingly, Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Tom Coburn (Okla.) -- the only two people the Club has endorsed so far this election cycle -- lead the way with scores of 100 percent and 95 percent respectively. More surprisingly, Sen. Arlen Specter, who is facing a serious primary challenge from former Club head Pat Toomey next year, isn't the lowest rated Republican by the Club. In fact, Sens. Norm Coleman (Minn.), John Warner (Va.), Susan Collins (Maine), Gordon Smith (Ore.) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) all score lower. The lowest rated senator by the Club? It's a five-way tie (at 0 percent), a group that includes now Vice President Joe Biden as well as Sens. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Bob Menendez (N.J.), the past and current chairmen of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

New Texas Senate Polling: Either state Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) or Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) would be favored to claim the seat being vacated by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R), according to a new poll conducted by Research 2000 for the liberal Daily Kos site. In general election matchups, Abbott leads Houston Mayor Bill White (D) by a 42 percent to 36 margin and has a similar 43 percent to 36 percent edge over former state Comptroller John Sharp (D). Dewhurst led Sharp by seven points and White by six points in the polling. It's not clear when (or if) there will even be a special election to replace Hutchison. She was initially expected to resign her seat early this year to focus full time on her race against Perry but the current thinking has her staying in the Senate at least through the fall. Democrats believe they have a real chance to score an upset in a special election scenario and both Sharp and White have already raised better than two million dollars for their respective Senate campaigns.

Dover Group Grows: The Dover Group, a Democratic consulting conglomerate, is finally coming to D.C.! The new office will be run by Meghan Gaffney, a fundraiser who has done work for Majority Action, a Senate focused 527 group, and for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Gaffney, whose title will be director of political operations, joins former DCCC spokesman Mark Nevins and former EMILY's List operative Chris Esposito, among others, at the firm. Its client list includes newly elected Rep. Mike Quigley (Ill.) as well as Joe Torsella who is running for Senate in Pennsylvania.

Stevens Schriefer Get Rational: The Stevens and Schriefer Group (SSG) is merging with Rational PR to form Rational 360 -- a new strategic communications firm. "Rational 360 brings together two outstanding veteran firms that both believe in a smart, modern-campaign style approach to solving client communications challenges," said Russ Schriefer. Schriefer and Stuart Stevens are well known figures in the world of political consulting, having handled the ad strategy for the unsuccessful presidential primary bid of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney among many other candidates. The campaign side of SSG will remain separate from Rational 360.

Best iPhone apps: The list rolls on. Have suggestions you haven't seen yet? Offer them at the Fix's Twitter feed. Your three apps for today: Evernote, AP Mobile News, and Crayon Ball.

Say What? "Bristol is focused on going to college, raising Tripp and advocating abstinence." -- Meg Stapleton, a spokeswoman for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), in response to Levi Johnston's appearance on "Larry King Live."

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 24, 2009; 5:42 AM ET
Categories:  Cheat Sheet Share This:  E-Mail | Technorati | Del.icio.us | Digg | Stumble Previous: Secession Divides Texas Republicans
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I believe many in the liberal wing forget how many times that the moderates and conservatives have joined together to oust them.. the Presidential election..if you would listen to the current chest beating.. should have been won by a much larger popular vote (landslide).. the anti-Bush vote was absolutely stunning as well as the empowerment of typically low turnout voters.. (early voting, modern telecom, drill down polling, near perfect electoral/district mapping).... the left's immediate and unbridled response to admittedly sparsely attened tea gatherings indicates that they fear any resurgence movement whatsoever....

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 25, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Great article in the LA Times today by Bill Maher ("GOP Divorced From Reality"). Maher's take, which has been well received--totally on target analysis:


"The conservative base is absolutely apoplectic because, because ... well, nobody knows. They're mad as hell, and they're not going to take it anymore. Even though they're not quite sure what "it" is. But they know they're fed up with "it," and that "it" has got to stop.

Here are the big issues for normal people: the war, the economy, the environment, mending fences with our enemies and allies, and the rule of law.

And here's the list of Republican obsessions since President Obama took office: that his birth certificate is supposedly fake, he uses a teleprompter too much, he bowed to a Saudi guy, Europeans like him, he gives inappropriate gifts, his wife shamelessly flaunts her upper arms, and he shook hands with Hugo Chavez and slipped him the nuclear launch codes."

Full article:

Bill's take wasn't that far from that of GOP analyst Steve Schmidt, who believes all but the Deep, Deep South is either part of O Nation or in play. There really are no Ohio/Florida-type swing states anymore.

Mrs. 44
Suspended CNN reporter Susan Rosegen (taking one for the team when she stood up to the Yahoos at the hate ral-, er, tea parties, and actually asked them questions like "Why are you doing this?)
Gene Robinson (for the Pulitzer)
Ed Schultz (His name is Mr. Ed...)
Randi Rhoades (back on the air via the same syndicator that handles Rush)
Legendary Marine Sergeant John M. Stryker

MSM idiots who chase down every Fox News bogus "story" (see alleged "bow," BHO shaking hands with Hugo, filling out an NCAA basketball bracket card, violating non-existent White House dress codes, BHO being well received in Europe and, well, every other place in Alpha Centauri)
Kathleen Parker (Juan Williams lifetime nonachievement award for bad, illogical, rambling writing)
Peggy (torture okay if kept "mysterious") Noonan
That bum who got Stryker when his back was turned

Posted by: broadwayjoe | April 24, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Personally I'm glad that the election of this fine President has dashed any hope of the zoukster retaing his composure, coherence or dignity. The dude is thoroughly unhinged. Oh well, if he's typing away furiously at least I have the solace of knowing that he's not out murdering doctors or burning crosses.

Posted by: benjaminanderson | April 24, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Chris, is this comment visible to you? Something funny is going on at the WP with posting of comments.

Posted by: svreader | April 24, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

half the posts here come from Keyboard Kommando zouk, posting from his mom's trailer. Keep it up, zouk, as long as readers associate the GOP with such idiocy it helps keep them out of office.

Obama Derangement Syndrome is a terrible thing, there will probably be federal clinics devoted to treating it, huge open wards with GOP trolls thashing against their restraints and shrieking about socialism, Nancy Pelosi, abortion, "Obmaniation," etc. Eight hundred mg. of Thorazine should keep them quiet so the nurses can read their Harlequin romances in peace.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | April 24, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Why does Sarah Palin's troglodyte teenage daughter rate a mention in a political column? Palin itself is dead air already, it already had its fifteen minutes, why should its incapable daughter rate a mention? The irony of the teen mom advocating abstinence isn't interesting, these four-leggers are too stupid to recognize irony.

If you want to keep Sarah the Snake-Handler in the public eye to help assure the GOP stays marginal, fine, but leaves its ever-growing family out, please, including the Downs thing.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | April 24, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

"But career buffoons like Perez Hilton are cowards, as well as hypocrites. The media coddle him by refraining from inquiring as to why he never slung such mud as “dumb b---h” (or worse) at Obama or Hillary Clinton"

I'll venture a guess that its pretty obvious that both of them support gay marriage, but aren't saying so for political reasons.

Posted by: DDAWD | April 24, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

bradcpa writes
"Anyone who says Colorado is Republican state has not been paying attention to the last couple of election cycles. It is a toss-up state that is trending Democrat. Ritter will have some work to do before 2010 but I think he will pull it off."

Brad- I think that's generally the way it happens. The 'analysts' look at the first 'unexpected' victory (in terms of party switch) as an outlier, and wait to change the status of each race until there's overwhelming data demonstrating the change. In other words, they do not anticipate or accomodate rapid shifts within the electorate. Some still claim this is a 'center right' country, yet the Dems control the House, Senate & White House. Seems like there's been a pretty rapid shift that the pundits haven't yet recognized.

Posted by: bsimon1 | April 24, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who says Colorado is Republican state has not been paying attention to the last couple of election cycles. It is a toss-up state that is trending Democrat. Ritter will have some work to do before 2010 but I think he will pull it off.

Posted by: bradcpa | April 24, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Nemo - I think KoZ should work on capitalization first. BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | April 24, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

oh king...my friend...
i'm in favor of virtually murdering you however !!!!! ((whoops!!)

---BTW.....class begins for grammar in one hour.
it is ARE

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 24, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

ritter is always in trouble...
(hearty laughs)
he's a dem in a repub state...

just ask Mr. Elway

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 24, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

My my my. Zouk's been busy today. Just to pick out one nugget - care to find the quote of Obama saying he would get a shelter dog? Even libs don't stoop to kicking a man's dog.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | April 24, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Oh wait. I forgot. Our enemy is veterans, 2nd amendment advocates. 1st amendment advocates. anyone who isn't in favor of murdering pre-born babies. Christians. talk show fans. fox news watchers. anyone who prefers lower taxes (excluding cabinet members for obvious reasons).

Posted by: king_of_zouk | April 24, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I am so proud of our new administration. Imagine releasing all the intelligence and spy information so that even clueless libs on moonbat blogs know as much as every spook over at CIA about our methods and tactics. Even Cheney knows less than the kooks on the Fix.

Of course there could be a small downside when the enemy figures this out.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | April 24, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Hey Mr. Fix:
For satire on Interror-Gate check out

Posted by: MM55 | April 24, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

What a load of zouk!

The L.A. attack was never more then a pipe dream and all intelligence extracted about it was gathered before torture.

Posted by: theamazingjex | April 24, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Something that has bothered me over the years is the way the lamebrains in the left-stream media invariably turn into unlicensed shrinks whenever a Republican is in the White House, but toss a dust cover over the couch as soon as he’s replaced by a Democrat.

For instance, how many times did we hear liberals babbling about the psychological demons George W. Bush had to contend with because of his allegedly troubled relationship with Dad? But the fact that Bill Clinton’s father was a drunken bully apparently left no emotional scars on Bill’s impenetrable psyche. Furthermore, I have yet to hear such eminent Freudians as Bill Maher, Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Frank Rich or Keith Olbermann, even suggest that being deserted by both his father and his step-father, spending his formative years in the alien culture of Indonesia, only to be dumped, at the age of 10, on his white relatives in Hawaii, may have turned Obama into a smooth-talking, narcissistic psychopath incapable of telling the truth even if it’s about something as relatively inconsequential as sending his kids to a public school and getting them a mutt from a shelter.

Go Bert

Posted by: king_of_zouk | April 24, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Take, for example, the Justice Department memo of May 30, 2005, that said, as reported in the Washington Post, "the CIA believes 'the intelligence acquired from these interrogations has been a key reason why Al Qaeda has failed to launch a spectacular attack in the West since 11 September 2001.'"

Once those techniques were used, they provided interrogators with the details of a plot to "use East Asian operatives" to crash hijacked airlines into buildings in Los Angeles. They "led to specific, actionable intelligence, as well as a general increase in the amount of intelligence regarding Al Qaeda and its affiliates," the 2005 memo said.

Obama considers these kinds of techniques to be torture. Intelligence officials say they are sometimes necessary to protect American national security in an age of nuclear and biological weapons that can kill millions of people.

Meanwhile, the administration remains dangerously divided on the use of coercive interrogation methods, Obama is flip-flopping to keep his left-wing allies on board, and Al Qaeda terrorists are using the interrogation memos he released to train their killers if they are ever taken prisoner.

Obama to country - screw you LA. I have flips to flop.

Moveon to Obama: dance puppet, dance

Al Queda to Obama: Praise allah for you.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | April 24, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

The interrogations affair is not the first time President Obama has proved unable to make the livid multitudes work for him. His attempt to lead the have-nots in the AIG-bonus class war delivered populist rage right to the White House doorstep when it was discovered that his administration was responsible for the $160 million loophole that allowed for executive bonuses. Another instance of anti-Bush policy gone wrong may be developing in regard to the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. On Thursday, an anonymous administration official told the New York Times, “We’re at a complete impasse,” on how to relocate prisoners, and added, “I don’t know that there’s a viable ‘Plan B.'”

Pelosi has soulmates in the indecisive admin. to kill a pirate or surrender to him. give me a few days to think about it. then I'll change my mind a few days after that. Lib decisiveness.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | April 24, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

But career buffoons like Perez Hilton are cowards, as well as hypocrites. The media coddle him by refraining from inquiring as to why he never slung such mud as “dumb b---h” (or worse) at Obama or Hillary Clinton yet feels disturbingly comfortable, confident and even giddy about abusing his position as a pageant judge to slash away at a contestant in such a nauseating manner. The compliant, enabling media are essentially cheering on the bully as he harasses the pageant contestant, engaging in rubbernecking rather than reporting.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | April 24, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

President Obama should focus more of his attention on Arizona then on Missouri. I think if McCain had been from any other state in the Union Obama would have carried Arizona last election.

Missouri on the other hand is always a battleground, but if the Democrats can lock up the mountain and southwest then they can ignore the show-me state and its more traditional conservative value voters.

Posted by: AndyR3 | April 24, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

parkerfl1 writes
"Do you think maybe it's sheer common sense instead of some political calculation from a sneering White House?"

Nevada and Michigan have been creamed by the economy, but haven't yet earned visits. Nevada is certainly a swing state, but with a smaller haul of electoral votes than those visited already.

Posted by: bsimon1 | April 24, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Idealists? Where do we find any idealists.. this is the most finely tuned Machiavellian political machine in the history of mankind.. Chris C. pleez.. you are talking to us..

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 24, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

parkerfl1, well said, Chris is pretty consistent with his obvious political bend, and the fact you pointed out, that these swing states are also the hardest hit, offers up a realistic and non-cynical reason for him going to these states. If he wasn't going, it would be "he doesn't care", or "so much for bi-partisanship," can't even go to states he lost", or "I thought he said he was everyones President?". Sigh, there are just no pleasing some red people. I wonder if he'll even let me post this or will I get the "too many postings in a short period of time">which is ludicrous cause I just signed in.

Posted by: katem1 | April 24, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse


"100 days" press conference question for POTUS

Mr. President:

The Senate Armed Services Committee report on "enhanced interrogation techniques" used at Guantanamo stated at least twice that detainees were subject to "induced physical weakness and exhaustion."

The report also stated that detainees were subject to "physiological and psychological pressures" and "environmental manipulation."

Has your administration inquired as to what "induced" these effects...

...and whether detainees were exposed to microwave radiation devices such as so-called "directed energy weapon" discharges... or any other type of radiation, including X-rays, gamma rays, sonic waves, or laser "dazzlers"?

If detainees were exposed to radiation, does that not constitute "torture" and "cruel and unusual punishment" in and of itself?



OR (if links are corrupted):


Posted by: scrivener50 | April 24, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Some of the swing states also happen to be states hit hardest by the recession; Missouri, Ohio, California, Indiana, Florida, etc.

Do you think maybe it's sheer common sense instead of some political calculation from a sneering White House? Go to Fox...


Posted by: parkerfl1 | April 24, 2009 8:10 AM | Report abuse

The Plouffe-Schmidt story was interesting and a quick read. I recommend it. David Brooks last night told Charlie Rose that yesterday the Admin got serious on not looking back to prosecute or have a "Truth Commission". He does not think that the Prez sees anything but a complete politicalization of any such move, especially after listening to the rhetoric this week.

Beyond the potential for disbarring and perhaps prosecuting Yoo, Addington, Bybee, et al, I agree there is no upside to confirming how bad we were through an exhausting process that will necessarily break down into an all consuming political circus. The difference for the lawyers is that punishing them for clearly giving advice to commit a crime has a prophylactic effect for a decade or so on the profession. If they had all done their duty the results would have been quite different.
Action against the attorneys might also help bury the heinous theory of the unitary executive.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | April 24, 2009 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Pelosi wants to investigate herself. Is there a person more daft? Perhaps Napolitano. Worst speaker in history. perfect for worst president ever.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | April 24, 2009 7:10 AM | Report abuse

Please let us know when this jerk tours all "57 States" IMPEACH obama!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: WRH51 | April 24, 2009 6:34 AM | Report abuse

The kids will be awake any minute, so I have to make this short: Club for Growth has yet to get a candidate elected in a statewide election. And endorsing incumbents as being 'their candidate' doesn't count, altho I'm sure they'd like us to think their backing was crucial.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | April 24, 2009 6:27 AM | Report abuse

Anoop, don't be a fool! There's money and job security in a Folk Lore degree!

Posted by: margaretmeyers | April 24, 2009 6:20 AM | Report abuse

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