August 10th, 2014
09:48 AM ET
2 months ago

The “Inside Politics” Forecast: Could Iraq be a factor in tipping the 2014 midterm scales?

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:

Screen shot 2014-08-09 at 12 30 23 PM

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:


Filed under: Inside Politics
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Steve, New York City

    The 2003 invasion of Iraq was the most bluntly stupid US decision in modern history. The war-criminal Neo-cons were bent on bankrupting our government, and stoked post-9/11 paranoia in convincing people that Saddam was like Hitler.

    Saddam was no Hitler - he was much more like Tito. Now that the lynchpin is gone, Iraq seems more likely to be going the same route that we saw with Yugoslavia after Tito - disintegration!! Thanks Wolfowitz, for unleashing hell.

    August 10, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  2. Ian's Rushtache

    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.”
    ______________________

    Anyone remember the last time Republicans won a clean election solely off their positions?

    August 10, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  3. rick

    ??Yawn??? Getting tired of the same channel.. Getting some sleep. Maybe when wake up. The sun will shine on a new day. The last few have been nothing but rain and dreary. At least on the comedy channel sometimes something funny happens. But not this one. Might be time to get a new remote too. The mute button is just about wore off on this one...

    August 10, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  4. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP THE NATIONAL JOKE PARTY , WE WONT PASS ANYTHING AND STILLGET PAID

    It's time to ROLL OUT the B52s just like we did to the teliban and bomb them back to the Stone Age where they WANT to be. They exposed themselves all the way back to syeria. You couldn't have planned it any better!!!

    August 10, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  5. Nrd

    The bigger question is "could immigration?"

    August 10, 2014 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  6. Lizzie

    On Meet the Press this morning, David Gregory couldn't tell the difference between Rand Paul and Steve King, guess all republicans look alike.

    August 10, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  7. Lizzie

    Ian's Rushtache
    Anyone remember the last time Republicans won a clean election solely off their positions?
    - so why didn't the republicans wait, did they want the democrats to select another candidate, if it would have been the democrats THEY would have waited. When did they EVER win on THEIR positions.

    August 10, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  8. Klutch Cargo

    Um, no,
    Not in it's self. There is such a gaggle of problems for the left (What Else is New), that unless the peasants are still buying the Snake Oil of the left they are going to be like the left, left on the Trash heap of History. The Nuts and Bolts of the problems facing the country, and the people can't be swept under the rug indefinitely. People still need jobs. Instead they are getting Talking Points. The National Debt keeps going up. Anybody checked Food Prices lately? Brought to you by your local liberal.

    August 10, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  9. pjoe

    I support President Obama on this one.

    The world courts need to hold Saudi Arabia princes / billionaires accountable for funding these genocidal madmen and punish them accordingly for crimes against humanity and genocide.

    August 10, 2014 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  10. it must be said

    Oh don't worry people. Obama has no intention of actually doing anything substantial, or meaningful, like helping to decimate the most barbaric terrorists/army we have seen with US air power. It will be pin prick, pin prick, pin prick. Just enough to say he is doing something without actually accomplishing ANYTHING. If he does much more it might interfere with his vacations, golf outings and campaign fund raisers. He has stated his priorities and the rest of the world knows them as well.

    August 10, 2014 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  11. Smitty

    Was told terrorist were on the run ??? Was told the war was over ?? Wheres our prez ?? VACATION !! As usual our prez is last to find anything out!!

    August 10, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. Tom1940

    Iraq being a "tipping point" in the Mid-Term Elections? That horse has already left the barn. Obama's failure to secure a status of forces agreement causing the withdrawal of U.S. and Allied Forces was the tipping point. Just wanting to get out of Iraq at any cost, has now came back to haunt this Administration. With basing rights and etc., from a status of forces agreement, the U.S./Allies could have been the counter-balance and stabilizing mechanism throughout not just Iraq, but the entire Middle East. Now look at what has happened and can even the "low information voter" now understand just how crucial and necessary that agreement was? Come Nov 4th, we will find out.

    August 10, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  13. sheila hartis

    I, for one, cannot wait until the repubs win both houses. Then the exposure will begin. Like what solutions do they have for any of the very serious problems facing the nation, for instance. And the stock market falls like a lead balloon again, and the economy slows, and the poor get poorer, the middle class gets more screwed...and on and on. And we still have more and more illegal immigrants in a country that needs them no matter how you look at it. After all, who's going to harvest crops, wash the dishes, make food in restaurants and wait on us, build our roads, and, in fact, do most of the dirty work we won't do for the pennies they are paid? Who?? And they still pay taxes and support our economy....whoah....did anyone think of that? Oh yeah, the repubs also will try their best to impeach Obama. Just what we need to solve all our problems. Sure..

    August 10, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  14. CALIFORNIA

    Ending the war in Iraq isn't a feather in the democrats hats now.

    August 10, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  15. wasjustthinking

    This won't change anything. More people support this than not and it will not be the issue that a majority of people show up to the polls over.

    August 10, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  16. anthony78

    @Klutch Cargo

    Um, yes,

    Not in it's self. There is such a gaggle of problems for the right (What Else is New), that unless the peasants are still buying the Snake Oil of the right they are going to be like the right, left on the Trash heap of History. The Nuts and Bolts of the problems facing the country, and the people can't be swept under the rug indefinitely. People still need jobs. Instead they are getting Talking Points. The National Debt keeps going up. Anybody checked Food Prices lately? Brought to you by your local republican.

    Fixed it for you.

    August 10, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  17. SimplyPut

    Let's see: a draconian healthcare law, lax on enforcing immigration laws, IRS targeting, NSA, Fast and Furious, race baiting. No, I will still be voting GOP straight across the board in Nov. I'm by no means saying the Republicans are saviors, but at least they keep Obama from progressing his agenda – which I completely disagree with (I guess that makes me an "obstructionist".

    August 10, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  18. informed_in_michigan

    Hopefully Iraq is. The administration has no plan for nothing at all. The reason there is a Congress is to prevent one person or one party from doing what every they want. The Republicans are doing part of their job by not allowing the Democrats no limit tax credit card to go through. I once heard "8 trillion dollars in debt in Un-American", but now we are 16 trillion dollars in debt. Way to go liberals, JFK would be ashamed. I don't know how some of you get elected..........

    August 10, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  19. hussein ovomit

    You mean how obama draws a red line then stands around and watches 200,000 people getting slaughtered in syria, women stoned to death, crucified. Hes a weak and 200,000 peoples blood are his responsibility. USA is the best most powerful in the world and should and always have defended the defenseless until obama came along. And liberals act like there the nice good caring people. GEORGE W BUSH WOULD OF ENDED THE MESS AT 200 DEATHS NOT 200,000. OBAMA IS A DISGRACE

    August 10, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  20. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP THE NATIONAL JOKE PARTY , WE WONT PASS ANYTHING AND STILLGET PAID

    Show up at the polls in November!!!! It's the only time YOU will have to PUNISH the GOP for ALL their OBSTRUCTION and INCOMPETENCE over the last SIX YEARS AND THEIR STUPID 24 BILLION DOLLAR goverment SHUTDOWN . VOTE THE GOP party of STUPID OUT once and for all!!!!!!

    August 10, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  21. Smitty

    @ant78 typical lib, cant think for yourself, its ok, the world needs fodder, enjoy your role !!!!

    August 10, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  22. Mike

    All these conservatives shouting about how "weak" the president's foreign policy is? Here's what you do: 1) Immediately appropriate the billions or trillions of dollars to finance your grand schemes of dominion over the world; 2) Get in line FIRST to be the fighters sent overseas to execute your grand plans. And don't forget to take your children and grandchildren when you go – you'll need lots of bodies for the fighting. 3) Leave as soon as possible.

    August 10, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  23. Klutch Cargo

    AW, humm,
    anthony78 and now shelia hartis,
    I do believe you have finally got it! So what's your solution to high food prices? Um, sorry, also high and rising Health Care Costs. Some body's got to pay the Bills, ya know. Clue: The Liberal's and Democrats want to run the Country but they want the Conservatives and Republican's to pay for it. So far the big liberal plan is an 18 Trillion Dollar Federal Debt. Any more bright ideas ??

    August 10, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  24. SimplyPut

    @anthongy78
    "People still need jobs. Instead they are getting Talking Points. The National Debt keeps going up. Anybody checked Food Prices lately? Brought to you by your local republican."

    These problems fall squarely at the feet of the Democrats. We have a far left Democrat President and a Democrat majority Senate. All Obama does is give us Talking Points, part-time retail minimum wage jobs and increased debt. Food prices go up because oil process go up. Oil prices go up because Obama places more taxes and regulations on the energy industries.

    August 10, 2014 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  25. Thomas

    Why won't Rick Perry come out of the closet ?

    Rick Perry / Rand Paul
    AquaBuddha's for Peace 2016

    August 10, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
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