CNN's John King and other top political reporters empty out their notebooks each Sunday on “Inside Politics” to reveal five things that will be in the headlines in the days, weeks and months ahead.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – New details on the 2016 chapter of the seemingly permanent presidential campaign, questions about Iraq’s political impact, and three intriguing 2014 calculations as we whipped around the “Inside Politics” table Sunday.
1. Iraq was a big issue in ’06 & ’08; what about in ’14?
Maeve Reston of The Los Angeles Times noted there was no rush of statements from candidates in top 2014 midterm races after President Obama authorized military airstrikes in Iraq.
That announcement came Thursday night, so it is going to take a while before we know if this becomes a passing or lasting issue in Washington and out on the campaign trail.
But as Reston smartly notes, the initial caution of some candidates suggests they worry a new Iraq debate could complicate their already difficult campaigns.
“They know they have their core Democratic voters who don’t want a greater incursion into Iraq and Republicans will have an opportunity to go after them by trying to tie them to Obama’s ‘weak foreign policy,’” said Reston.
2. Iowa campaign cash deluge
CNN’s Peter Hamby shared new insights on Iowa’s 2014 Senate battle, including another dustup involving Democratic candidate Bruce Braley and a dispute over chickens on his vacation property that has Republicans thinking victory is within reach.
Joni Ernst is the Republican nominee and one GOP worry has been less than stellar fund-raising by her team. But Peter notes that outside GOP groups see the race as an opportunity to pick up a seat, and are ready to spend on Ernst’s behalf.
“Outside Republican spending on this race has quintupled over the last month,” said Hamby. “I’m told outside groups are looking at going in even heavier in the coming months because of Braley’s self-inflicted wounds. “
“And I’m also told that Rand Paul, who we were just talking about, has another trip to Iowa in the works, so he’ll be going back out there in September/October to help the Republican nominee Joni Ernst, in a race that Republicans think is still on the table.”
3. Montana dirty tricks?
Politico’s Maggie Haberman shared a bit of palace intrigue on the topsy-turvy Montana Senate race.
Appointed Sen. John Walsh announced this past week he would not be a candidate for a full term, bowing out after a New York Times report revealing Walsh plagiarized much of his master’s thesis.
Walsh withdrew just before a state deadline allowing the Democratic Party to pick a replacement. Still a likely GOP pickup, but Maggie notes a lot of Republicans - convinced the damning information was leaked - are wondering why the timetable wasn’t pushed later so it would be harder or impossible to get a new candidate.
“It left a bit of wiggle-room that some Republicans are not totally comfortable with,” said Haberman. “They wouldn’t have minded seeing him stay in for, say, another week or so and then, when he couldn't get off the ballot, sort of seal the deal this way.”
4. New Hampshire stealing the 2016 spotlight
Iowa was crowded with 2016 GOP presidential prospects this past week, including a weekend event organized by Christian conservatives. Now, New Hampshire is about to steal the spotlight for a bit as the early 2016 jockeying intensifies.
I’m told Chris Christie, who just concluded his second summer New Hampshire visit, is setting up a third for early September. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is also coming back, and this next time – also in September – looking for as much a three days in the state, including private time with key activists.
Not to be outdone, a good GOP source says Texas Gov. Rick Perry is looking to add a second day to a trip already planned later this month, like Jindal hoping to mix in public events and some private activist courting.
On the Democratic side, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is back to help the New Hampshire Democratic Party next month.
Cartoonaday.com on the political tug-o-war between Iowa and New Hampshire:
5. Estranged in Alaska
Lisa Murkowski kept her Senate seat last time – in 2010 – by waging a write-in campaign after losing her GOP primary to a tea party candidate. She isn’t up for re-election until 2016, but is making an interesting 2014 play that could shore up her right flank but leave her vulnerable elsewhere.
Politico’s Manu Raju shared reporting on how Murkowski is sharpening her criticism of Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, who is up this year and is a big GOP target.
“She is refuting any suggestions that they work together as a team,” said Raju. “Now, this is a risk for Murkowski because when it comes time for 2016 she is going to have to run as a bipartisan moderate at a time when the conservatives are still angry at her for a number of votes she’s been taking over the years.”
Why does Murkowski think it’s a risk worth taking?
“If Begich loses and Republicans take the majority, she could become chairman of the Energy Committee, a very powerful perch in the next Senate,” said Raju.
One of the write in ads from her last campaign in 2010: