October 3rd, 2010
05:42 AM ET
4 years ago

State of the Union Early Bird

(CNN)–It’s early, and State of the Union is bringing you the best of the Sunday headlines to go with your morning coffee.

Some of the items on our radar this morning: The latest on Pakistan, the midterm elections, and possible shakeups in the White House. Check out what we’re reading and watch the show today at 9am/12pm ET.

PAKISTAN

CIA backed by military drones in Pakistan

The CIA is using an arsenal of armed drones and other equipment provided by the U.S. military to secretly escalate its operations in Pakistan by striking targets beyond the reach of American forces based in Afghanistan, U.S. officials said.

The merging of covert CIA operations and military firepower is part of a high-stakes attempt by the Obama administration to deal decisive blows to Taliban insurgents who have regained control of swaths of territory in Afghanistan but stage most of their operations from sanctuaries across that country's eastern border.

MIDTERMS

House Majority Remains Uncertain, Republicans Say

Yet even as spending from outside groups is threatening to swamp many Democratic candidates, Republican strategists estimated that only half of the 39 seats they need to win control of the House were definitively in hand.

Democrats playing on opponents' words

This in an election that was supposed to be all about the economy and jobs.

But in contests across the country, Republican candidates — particularly those aligned with the "tea party" movement — are finding themselves knocked off topic as they try to explain and revise a barrage of prior statements.

NEWSWEEK Poll: Anger Unlikely to Be Deciding Factor in Midterms

For the midterms, angry voters favor Republican candidates over their Democratic rivals, 73 percent to 19 percent. Three quarters want the GOP to win control of Congress. More than seven in 10 specifically describe themselves as angry with Obama and congressional Democrats, and a full 60 percent see their vote in November as a vote against the president.

Rendell: Dems were 'too scared' to hold tax cut vote before campaign recess

“I think we were too scared," he said on Bloomberg's "Political Capital" program that airs throughout the weekend. "And I think we also downgrade the public's ability to make decisions based on somewhat intricate stuff."

Dem leaders have full campaign schedule to try to keep majority

In messaging packets sent home with Democratic lawmakers, the caucus rank-and-file members were encouraged to tout the party’s efforts to create jobs, cut spending and rein in the deficit, as well as bills aimed at boosting small businesses and reducing outsourcing. The packet included pages of materials listing Democratic accomplishments, complete with job creation and deficit reduction estimates.

THE WHITE HOUSE

Bob Woodward says Barack Obama doesn't have the 'X-factor'

“The will to win is the X factor in lot of things – politics, war and journalism,” he says. "It can mean a lot, just because in any contest, the psychological dimension is important – it’s the ‘yes we can’,” he says, citing Obama’s vitalising slogan from 2008. Asked directly if Obama has that “X factor”, he checks himself and responds: “It’s not clear.”

“He realises how dreary it [the war] is, and he realises he’s been dealt a bad hand, but he can’t walk away, and so he’s committed but it’s not the George [W] Bush kind of ‘bring it on’ commitment.”

Gibbs eyed for DNC chairman

In response to POLITICO's report, he posted this on his Twitter feed: "I have not had any conversations about the future — it is a great honor to have the job I have right now, and I am very happy doing it."

The notion is being referred to internally as “the Ed Gillespie model,” after the longtime operative who served as Republican National Committee chairman during President George W. Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004, then later went into the White House in 2007 to succeed Dan Bartlett as counselor.

Third Party Rising

Obama probably did the best he could do, and that’s the point. The best our current two parties can produce today — in the wake of the worst existential crisis in our economy and environment in a century — is suboptimal, even when one party had a huge majority. Suboptimal is O.K. for ordinary times, but these are not ordinary times. We need to stop waiting for Superman and start building a superconsensus to do the superhard stuff we must do now. Pretty good is not even close to good enough today.

Obama signals continuity, for now, with staff changes


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