(CNN) – Some good news for embattled Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele: the national party said Friday it raised more than $5.7 million in April, and had $24.3 million cash-on-hand.
That's more than double the roughly $9.8 million Democrats had on hand in March, the last month for which the party's fundraising figures are available.
Many political observers expected Steele's biggest success would come as party spokesman, not on the fundraising front. Instead, the former Maryland lieutenant governor's public statements have frequently landed him in hot water - but, despite a push within the party to reclaim some control of the purse strings from the GOP leader, the RNC's bottom line remains surprisingly healthy thanks to better-than-expected fundraising success.
(CNN) – A few hours after Rush Limbaugh told listeners GOP leaders launching a Republican re-branding effort hated and feared Sarah Palin, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor announced that the Alaska governor had finally accepted an invitation to join the group.
On a conference call last week for the National Council for a New America, former Republican presidential candidate John McCain said he thought his running mate would probably be part of the effort as well - but there had been no immediate confirmation by her office.
The two groups of key Palin aides - those in the governor's office in Alaska, and at her Virginia-based political action committee SarahPAC - have often given very different messages on her participation in various efforts: Congressional leaders and conservative activists have both announced Palin's planned attendance at major events this year after receiving assurances from one set of advisors, only to learn later from other aides that she hadn't yet made a decision.
The governor's decision to join the NCNA's panel of experts was confirmed Monday by spokeswoman Meg Stapleton.
(CNN) - Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak told CNN Sunday that he wasn't sure Sen. Arlen Specter is really part of the Democratic Party, the latest in a series of tough comments aimed at his potential Senate primary rival.
"I'm not sure he's a Democrat yet," he told John King on State of the Union.
President Obama said earlier in the week that Specter had his support, with one administration official saying it took the president about "seven seconds" to make that decision.
Those remarks don't faze Sestak.
(CNN) – House Minority Whip Eric Cantor and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in an interview airing on CNN's State of the Union Sunday morning that the GOP wasn't directly responsible for much of the party's electoral misfortune in 2008.
"I frankly believe that much of what happened in the last election revolved around the fact that the economy fell apart at the time we were, if you will, holding the hot potato. Republicans and Democrats have been playing this game, passing the hot the potato, spending money like there was no tomorrow," Romney told John King.
"And the economy came crashing down while our party was holding the hot potato. And people said, hey, it's time for something else but I think if they took a good, hard look at what the - something else is planning on doing with regards to the massive borrowing, they are going to say, that is probably not the right thing for America's future."
(CNN) - Republican Sen. Richard Shelby told CNN Sunday his decision on President Obama's Supreme Court pick would not be affected by "payback" for the former Illinois senator's votes against Bush nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito.
"I’m not a payback type guy," he told John King on State of the Union. "I think you have to keep moving."
He was also pragmatic about the kind of nominee the Senate could expect to see. "I have no illusions about President Obama appointing a conservative like Alito or Roberts," he said. " But if he will appoint a pragmatist, someone who is not an ideologue, that someone is not just going to light all the lightbulbs in America on the left, I think that would be good for the country. He is very smart. He is very careful. I hope he is going to be careful in this appointment.”
Judiciary Committee Chairman, Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy suggested he knew some of the names on President Obama's Supreme Court shortlist, and planned to meet with the president this week to discuss the issue. He also said he was encouraging Obama to meet soon with leaders of both parties.
(CNN) – Last year - for the first time in U.S. history - black and white voters voted at roughly the same rates, according to a new study.
The overall turnout rate barely budged, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center - and turnout among white voters actually declined - but in another first, participation by black women was the highest of any gender or race. Nearly 69 percent of black women voted in November.
The difference between black and white turnout rates dropped from 7 percent in 2004 to less than 1 percent last year, a statistically insignificant gap.
(CNN) – After Arlen Specter bolted the GOP Tuesday, Republicans like party chair Michael Steele attacked him as a "leftist" with a history of "left-wing" stands.
That was yesterday.
Twenty-four hours later, his former colleagues in the Senate GOP are rushing to embrace Specter's past in a new campaign designed to highlight the consistency of his Republican record.
"In light of Senator Specter's changing political party, we felt it was our civic duty to adequately inform Pennsylvania Democrat primary voters about their new Senator's record and his close relationship with our former President George W. Bush," National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson said in a Wednesday announcement.
The effort includes a Web page featuring YouTube clips of Specter's positive comments about conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santorum, and criticism of Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. It also involves robocalls to Pennsylvania voters to "help you welcome your newest Democrat senator" that use audio from Specter's old campaign ads - audio featuring what the NRSC describes as "glowing support" from former President George W. Bush.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Over the past 24 hours, angry Republicans have thrown out a flurry of withering descriptions of the decision by Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter to renounce his GOP membership Tuesday to become a Democrat. Now Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is comparing the senator's action to one of the most storied betrayals in U.S. history.
"I hope Arlen Specter's party change outrages you. ...He told us all to go jump in the lake today," Steele wrote in a fundraising e-mail sent to Republicans Tuesday.
Facing the prospect of a primary loss because of "his left-wing voting record," said Steele, Specter had "peddled his services–and his vote–to the leftist Obama Democrats who aim to remake America with their leftist plan."
"You and I have a choice. Some will use Specter's defection as an excuse to fold the tent and give up. I believe that you are not one of those people. When Benedict Arnold defected to the British, George Washington didn't fold the tent and give up either.
"He grit his teeth more determined than ever to succeed. That's what I'm asking you to do today."
Steele has had a rocky start since taking the helm at the RNC, including the loss earlier this week of a hotly-contested House race in upstate New York.