October 6th, 2010
04:20 AM ET
4 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.

WASHINGTON/POLITICAL
For the latest political news:  www.CNNPolitics.com

CNN: Poll Watch: Difference between likely voters and registered voters key
Only weeks before Election Day, a new poll shows victory likely hinges on the separation of views between registered voters and those likely to actually travel to the polls, especially on topics like Congress, candidates, and the economy. The ABC/Washington Post poll finds among all registered voters, more prefer Democratic congressional candidates. But the GOP benefits from an active base, as 77 percent of Republicans state they are absolutely certain to vote on Election Day, while only 61 percent of Democrats say the same, a telling spread of sixteen points. This is a bigger GOP lead than in 1994, the last time Republicans wrested control of Congress from Democrats.

New York Times: Obama Strains to Get Liberals Back Into Fold
With four weeks until Congressional elections that will shape the remainder of his term, President Obama is increasingly focused on generating enthusiasm within the base that helped put him in the White House two years ago, from college students to African-Americans. But Mr. Obama has aimed much of his prodding — and not a small amount of personal pique — at the liberals most deflated by the first two years of his presidency. Assuming that many independents are out of reach, White House strategists are counting on Mr. Obama to energize, cajole, wheedle and even shame the left into matching the Tea Party momentum that has propelled Republicans this year.

Wall Street Journal: Tea Parties Forge Alliances in Bid to Advance Agendas
The tea-party movement is turning more professional. Around the country, tea-party groups are building increasingly sophisticated political organizations and overcoming early bickering to push legislative platforms, elect their own delegates, shake up statehouses and even form alliances with the Republican Party establishment they profess to dislike.

CNN: Toomey reports biggest fundraising haul yet
Pennsylvania GOP Senate nominee Pat Toomey has out-raised his Democratic opponent for each of the first three quarters of 2010, according to fundraising numbers released by both campaigns Tuesday. Toomey brought in $3.8 million in the third quarter, bringing his total individual contributions to $14 million. His third quarter haul represents his biggest fundraising quarter since launching his campaign in April 2009. Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak raised $3.2 million from July to September.

Los Angeles Times: Donations to Whitman undercut her no-special-interests claim
Donors with business before the state and corporate leaders poured millions of dollars into Meg Whitman's campaign in the last three months, potentially undercutting her claim that her personal fortune makes her uniquely free of special-interest entanglements, campaign disclosure reports filed Tuesday show.

CNN: New Obama video for Boxer
Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer received some help from the president Tuesday in a new web video on her campaign website and on Youtube. The minute long spot, which is not airing on television, shows footage of Obama at a California campaign event earlier in the year. "You have in Barbara Boxer a sub-compact Senator with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy," Obama says in the video. "I expect you to be out there making phone calls and knocking on doors and rallying the troops to make sure that you return Barbara Boxer to the United States Senate."

CNN: Obama impersonator debuts in Kentucky Senate race
President Obama speaks on behalf of Kentucky's GOP Senate nominee in a new television ad. Well, kind of. Rand Paul's latest ad, a 30-second spot released Monday and airing statewide, features an Obama impersonator talking about the "stamp of approval" his Democratic opponent, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, has given to "more spending and debt, bigger government and higher taxes."

CNN: Feingold changes ad after NFL complains
Senator Russ Feingold's campaign is changing an advertisement which ran afoul of the National Football League Tuesday by using real game video without permission. The Wisconsin senator's campaign commercial shows several fictitious scenes of football players celebrating on the field –and also one real clip of the famous wide receiver Randy Moss. "In pro football, they call this excessive celebration," the Democratic incumbent intones over the video, saying players are penalized or fined for it. In the ad, Feingold goes on to accuse Republican opponent Ron Johnson and his corporate backers supporters of the "same kind of behavior," claiming: "they're dancing in the end zone because they think they're going to take down the U.S. Senator who's been named the number one enemy of Washington lobbyists."

CNN: NY congressional candidate backs out
Republican Doug Hoffman, who split the conservative vote in last year's special election for New York's 23rd congressional district handing the seat to a Democrat, has dropped out of this November's general election for the same seat. After losing the GOP primary last month to Matt Doheny, Hoffman decided to run as a Conservative, but on Tuesday he cleared the way for his fellow Republican. It was never my intention to split the Republican vote," Hoffman said in a statement. "Matt Doheny and I may have differed on some issues during the course of our primary race. Now, we must put those differences aside and do what is best for our nation."

The Hill: Frustrated House still waiting for Senate action on 420 bills
The House ran another legislative lap around the Senate in September, widening the gap in the number of bills the chambers have passed this Congress to more than 400. With only a lame-duck session remaining, the House since January 2009 has passed 420 bills that have sat on the Senate shelf, according to an updated list provided to The Hill. The gulf in productivity has led to an escalation in tensions between the chambers, culminating in a veritable staring contest last month over the expiring George W. Bush-era tax cuts.

The State: Haley: Tie unemployment benefits to drug tests
South Carolina’s more than 236,000 unemployed workers could have to take a drug test in order to receive jobless benefits, according to a proposal by Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley Tuesday.

Politico: Health care past clings to Mitt Romney
Six months ago, as the Republican base lined up against the Democratic health care overhaul, Mitt Romney stood by his signature achievement as Massachusetts governor, a comprehensive health care law that served as a model for the national program. That was then. Now, stopping “Obamacare” cold has become an article of faith on the right, and Romney is facing the prospect that his health care plan could be his undoing as a presidential contender.

CNN: Presidential seal makes a thud
"Was that my…uhhh…oh goodness," President Obama said as he looked around at the front of the lectern. When the presidential seal affixed to his lectern thudded to the floor mid-speech, Obama's serious tone at a business conference took a backseat to comedy for about a minute Tuesday night. "That's alright. All of you know who I am," he said to laughter and applause.

CNN: Biden's latest figure of speech
Vice President Joe Biden is known for his bluntness, and his comments Tuesday were no exception. "If I hear one more Republican tell me about balancing the budget, I am going to strangle them," Biden said at a fundraiser in Minnesota. "To the press: that's a figure of speech."

NATIONAL
For the latest national news:  www.CNN.com

CNN: Source: NJ governor set to stop train tunnel project
The nation's largest infrastructure project may be about to head off the rails as New Jersey Gov.Chris Christie prepares to pull the plug on a multibillion-dollar train tunnel beneath the Hudson River, a source close to the project told CNN Tuesday. Christie ordered a 30-day halt to all work on the Access to the Region's Core on September 10, amid concerns that the $8.7 billion public transportation project might run over budget by as much as a several billion dollars. The Republican governor ordered a review of the project because his state would have to commit to covering any cost overruns.

CNN: Supreme Court weighs extent of free speech rights at funerals
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday in a legal battle that pits the privacy rights of grieving families and the free speech rights of demonstrators. In 2006, members of the Westboro Baptist Church protested 300 feet from a funeral for Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder in Westminster, Maryland, carrying signs reading "God hates you" and "Thank God for dead soldiers."

CNN: Solar Power Plants to Rise on U.S. Land
Proposals for the first large solar power plants ever built on federal lands won final approval on Tuesday from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, reflecting the Obama administration’s resolve to promote renewable energy in the face of Congressional inaction. Both plants are to rise in the California desert under a fast-track program that dovetails with the state’s own aggressive effort to push development of solar, wind and geothermal power.

USA Today: $162 million in stimulus funds not disclosed
Recovery.gov promised transparency on how the government spends every dollar of stimulus money, but there's $162 million the website doesn't disclose. Recipients of 352 federal stimulus contracts, grants and loans have failed to report how they spent the money, the status of their projects or how many jobs were funded, according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Despite orders from the White House to crack down, enforcement is spotty.

Washington Post: Amid backlash and budget deficits, government workers' pensions are targets
Faced with deep budget deficits and overextended pension plans, state and local leaders are increasingly looking to trim the lucrative retirement benefits that have long been associated with government employment. Public employees are facing a backlash that has intensified with the nation's economic woes, union leaders say, because of their good job security, generous health-care and pension benefits, and right to retire long before most private-sector workers.

Newark Star Ledger: N.J. law may bar Gov. Christie, Mayor Booker from taking active role in $100M Newark schools grant
Two weeks ago, Gov. Chris Christie and Mayor Cory Booker appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and began a media blitz, proclaiming their pledge to jointly transform Newark’s failing public school system. One problem: State law does not allow for such an effort.

INTERNATIONAL
For the latest international news:  http://edition.cnn.com

CNN: Blasts in Kandahar kill 10
Nine children were among 10 people killed Tuesday when explosions rocked a residential area near the city of Kandahar, an Afghan government official said. Zalmai Ayoubi, spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor's office, said 25 people also were injured, including children and four police.

CNN: U.S. pressing to reopen key supply route into Pakistan
U.S. military operations in Afghanistan could continue to be fully supplied even if Pakistan refuses to open a major border post blocking hundreds of fuel tankers, the Pentagon said Tuesday. But the United States is hoping to resolve the matter and reopen the route soon. "We have been given indications that we are making progress on that front and hope to have the gate reopened as soon as possible," said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell.

Washington Post: Taliban in high-level talks with Karzai government, sources say
Taliban representatives and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai have begun secret, high-level talks over a negotiated end to the war, according to Afghan and Arab sources. The talks follow inconclusive meetings, hosted by Saudi Arabia, that ended more than a year ago. While emphasizing the preliminary nature of the current discussions, the sources said that for the first time they believe that Taliban representatives are fully authorized to speak for the Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban organization based in Pakistan, and its leader, Mohammad Omar.

CNN: Alleged leader of Congo militia linked to rapes is arrested
The suspected leader of an armed rebel group accused of committing mass rapes this summer in Congo was arrested Tuesday morning, a spokesman for the United Nations' stabilization mission to the African nation told CNN. The suspect, identified as Colonel Mayele, was arrested by U.N. and Congolese forces and is an alleged leader of the militia group Mai Mai Cheka, said Leocadio Salmeron, spokesman for the Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

CNN: Aid groups say lead poisoning has killed 400 children in Nigeria
As many as 400 children have died of lead poisoning-related illnesses in Nigeria since March, two international aid groups say, and as many as 30,000 people could be affected by lead contamination. The deaths occurred predominantly in children under the age of 5 in the state of Zamfara, according to Lauren Cooney, the emergency manager for Medecins Sans Frontieres. The group is also known by its English name, Doctors without Borders.

BUSINESS
For the latest business news:  www.CNNMoney.com

CNN Money: Is the Fed playing with fire?
The Federal Reserve is about to throw some more fuel on the fire it has been stoking for more than two years. But the expected move to pump more cash into the system might not do much good at this point, and the economy could get burned in the process. The central bank has pumped about $2 trillion into the economy since the recession began in September 2008, in a process known as quantitative easing - massive purchases of financial assets, like mortgages and Treasurys, designed to encourage spending through lower interest rates.

In Case You Missed It

"Parker Spitzer" goes toe to toe with Dick Armey, the man who wrote the manifesto of the Tea Party movement.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2010/10/05/ps.armey.tea.party.cuts.cnn

Sen. Alan Grayson defends his campaign ads, which some observers say are misleading.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2010/10/06/ac.grayson.ad.defense.cnn

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