Obama’s poll numbers inch up: President Barack Obama leaves Tuesday for a weeklong trip to Asia. After a quick stop in Washington state to view the aftermath of the Oso landslide, he’ll continue on to Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and Malaysia.
One focus of the trip will be to build support for a large Asia-Pacific trade group - the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
As he departs, Obama is seeing an ever-so-slight uptick - from 41.2% at the end of January to 42.4% - in domestic approval, according to Gallup, which conducts a daily tracking poll and noted a slight improvement for the President in the first quarter of 2014 after a year of decline.
The rise in his poll numbers in 2014 coincides with good news for the administration on Obamacare, the President’s signature legislative achievement, which enrolled more than 8 million people in private health insurance plans.
But in terms of Gallup, the President is still close to 10 percentage points off his 51.9% approval at the time of his 2012 re-election. Republicans continue to have momentum heading into the November midterm elections in which they expect to maintain their majority in the House of Representatives and gain seats or even wrest control of the Senate.
Politics and Keystone delay: The Obama administration announced late Friday it would delay indefinitely a final decision on whether to allow completion of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
The stated reason for the delay is to allow the Nebraska Supreme Court to make a decision in a case challenging the pipeline. But the real-world implication is that there will be no decision before those November midterms.
Environmentalists will continue to hold out hope that the pipeline will ultimately be scuttled. Supporters will continue to push for it.
Republican strategist Karl Rove said delaying the decision was a “stupid” move.
“The President’s concerned about the enthusiasm of Democratic voters going into the 2014 midterm elections, and he doesn’t want to do anything to depress that turnout,” Rove said on Fox News.
The delay will do more to energize Republicans, he said.
At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Monday the State Department is still in charge of the pipeline review process.
And he denied that politics had anything to do with the move.
“As I understand it … the issue here has to do with a court decision in Nebraska and its impact on the ability for the state process to continue, for agencies to be able to comment,” Carney said.
Candidate shoots drone in ad: We’ve already seen an Alabama House candidate shoot his rifle at the Obamacare bill and an Iowa Senate candidate tout her experience castrating hogs as a resume line for cutting pork in Washington.
But a new ad by Montana Republican state Sen. Matt Rosendale takes the violent campaign commercial to new heights.
The ad features Rosendale, who faces a crowded GOP primary field for his state’s sole seat in the U.S. House, and cuts between shots from him on the ground and those of him from a drone above. He refers to the unmanned aerial vehicleas a “government drone” and proceeds to shoot it down. The viewer sees the bullet hit the glass.
From a policy standpoint, Rosendale’s ad speaks to distrust of government and drones, particularly in ranching states such as Montana.
But the ad also says something about how the GOP has transitioned from the party of George W. Bush, who pioneered the use of drones to combat terrorism overseas before Obama made drones a focus of his anti-terror policies. Now, as The Washington Post’s Robert Costa said on CNNs’ “New Day,” he hears more candidates taking cues in primary season from Sen. Rand Paul than from the national party.
Brand Romney: Costa also reported this week on the guest list for Mitt Romney’s upcoming Utah gathering of political, business and sports leaders. Sports stars such as Peyton Manning will join political leaders such as Paul and Chris Christie. Bridging the two worlds, and also representing Democrats, will be Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star.
The meeting, paired with Romney’s recent interview blitz, his endorsement of a number of congressional candidates, and his tax day tweak of Sen. Harry Reid on Twitter, is yet another reminder that the former Massachusetts governor has no plans to fade into the woodwork after his loss in the 2012 presidential election.