Democrats huddle to chat 2012 message
A small group of Democratic strategists and members of Congress will gather this morning in Washington for a private strategy session aimed at beginning the process of coordinating party messaging around the economy -- among other issues -- heading into 2012.
The Strategy Group, as the cadre is known, is being convened by Stan Greenberg, a prominent Democratic pollster, and John Podesta, the head of the Center for American Progress, a liberal-leaning think tank.
Greenberg said the group has met on an "informal basis" for the last two presidential elections as well as the 2006 midterm elections, and past participants have included the likes of David Axelrod (during the 2004 election) and Rahm Emanuel (during 2006).
This is the first gathering of the group in the 2012 cycle, but those invited include New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and Reps. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) as well as former Clinton strategist Paul Begala, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's(Nev.) former chief of staff Susan McCue, Media Matters for America's David Brock, former Clinton White House political operative Doug Sosnik and Women's Voices Women Vote founder Page Gardner.
Greenberg said the group had "decided to focus on [the] economic narrative, messaging and issues because [that's] most important to get right." He added that Democracy Corps, a polling project he runs with Democratic strategist James Carville, had secured funding for "ongoing research on the economy."
One source familiar with the goals of the gathering was more blunt: "The general purpose is sharper, more focused messaging and coordinated integration."
Concerns have lingered in the wake of the 2010 election disaster about the efficacy of the party's messaging on major issues like the economy and health care.
Hoping to correct that problem, Reid tasked Schumer with leading the development and coordination of the party's message and, in so doing, merged the Democratic Policy Committee and the Senate Democratic Communication Center.
The Greenberg/Podesta gatherings are a companion effort to that overhaul of the Senate's messaging operation.
Begala, for one, expressed some skepticism about the stated goals of the group. "When people talk about message coordination among progressives, I am reminded of what Gandhi said when he was asked what he thought of Western Civilization: 'I think it would be a good idea,'" said Begala.
Republicans have begun a message/polling effort of their own via Resurgent Republic -- a GOP answer to Democracy Corps -- and American Crossroads, which spent tens of millions on the 2010 midterms and has set a $120 million budget for 2012.
Ante is raised in Wisconsin as GOP cuts collective bargaining rights: Wisconsin Senate Republicans used what Democrats are calling "the nuclear option" Wednesday night, manuvering to pass a controversial bill stripping public employee unions of collective bargaining rights.
By taking the measure out of a larger budget-cutting bill, Republicans were able to pass it without a quorum. Fourteen Senate Democrats have fled the state to prevent that quorum and stop Republicans from passing Gov. Scott Walker's (R) budget bill. Since the collective bargaining bill didn't cost any money, Senate Republicans were able to pass it without a quorum.
The move by the Senate Republicans was met with instant outrage by the unions and their supporters, who have been protesting for weeks at the state capitol.
Senate Democrats say they will return to the state, but they wont say when. "We now put our total focus on recalling the eligible Republican senators who voted for this heinous bill. And we also begin counting the days remaining before Scott Walker is himself eligible for recall," they said in a statement.
Walker's move further solidifes his non-compromising posture and is likely to only add fuel to the fire when it comes to the protests. Budget-cutting governors across the country will be watching how the situation plays out.
McCaskill will repay cost of flights: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) will pay $88,000 to cover the cost of charter flights she charged taxpayers for.
McCaskill came under fire Wednesday when it was reported that she expensed 89 charter flights to a company in which she and her husband have an ownership stake.
"She has only paid for the use of her plane as required by the Senate rules, and there has been no profit to her or her family," a McCaskill spokeswoman said. "She's glad there's transparency; that's why people can see this information."
McCaskill is a top Republican target in 2012.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) will not endorse in the 2012 GOP presidential primary.
Former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.) is the new finance chairman for the Louisiana GOP.
Conservative columnists are not impressed with Newt Gingrich's explanation for his infidelity. Gingrich noted his patriotism and work ethic in explaining why he engaged in affairs.
Gingrich is reportedly going to announce his presidential intentions in May.
Former Ohio governor Ted Strickland (D) thinks the talk of 33-year-old state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) (whom The Fix profiled this week) running for Senate is laughable. "I don't think that would be a contest at all. He's done nothing to indicate he's Senate material," Strickland said.
Seven Democrats will compete for the nomination in the special election in former Rep. Chris Lee's (R-N.Y.) district. The winner faces state Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, who is the Republican nominee and is favored to win the Conservative Party's nomination too.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), who has been ramping up his 2012 operation, has hired an online communications adviser: James Richardson, who was online communications manager for the RNC in the 2008 cycle.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (R) is now keeping the door open to running for retiring Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-Ariz.) seat. Arpaio previously had ruled it out.
"Political campaigns go viral" -- Karl Rove, Wall Street Journal
"Why I'm fighting in Wisconsin" -- Scott Walker, Wall Street Journal
"Senate rejects spending bills from both Republicans and Democrats" -- Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane, Washington Post
Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake
| March 10, 2011; 7:39 AM ET
Categories: Morning Fix
Save & Share: Previous: The political dangers of what happened in Wisconsin
Next: Redistricting targets could seek other opportunities