Washington (CNN) - Six weeks before Election Day, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele was high-tailing it out of town for a 48-state campaign swing before Election Day.
"On the bus, baby," Steele said as his motor coach for the "Fire Pelosi Bus Tour" pulled away from Capitol Hill. "Leaving Washington."
He kidded that his staff was "trying to get rid of me" and seemed genuinely happy to be leaving behind the nation's capital - a town full of political professionals who are not necessarily Steele fans. "This isn't where the action is ... and this party needs to be where the action is."
Washington (CNN) - Pick up a television remote control in your Las Vegas, Nevada, hotel room today and you are guaranteed to find a program to teach you how to play craps, blackjack and roulette as well as be inundated with 30-second messages about who to vote for in the Nov. 2 election.
Wait, who to vote for? That's correct.
The television airwaves in Las Vegas are so saturated with political TV commercials that in the past week alone, these ads took up 180,600 seconds or 3,010 minutes, according to a new analysis of TV ads for CNN by Campaign Media Analysis Group.
Every afternoon, CNN Senior Political Editor Mark Preston takes you behind the headlines on a few top stories, looks ahead at what will makes news tomorrow and why it matters.
Obama's likability is no help for Democrats: People like the president, just not his policies. A new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll confirms this fact with 59 percent of Americans saying that he has the "personal qualities a president should have."
Good news? Well, not so fast. When asked, "Do you agree with Obama on issues that matter to you," only 42 percent answered yes. Ouch. And I mean ouch for Congressional Democrats, not the president.
Washington (CNN) - Bad timing: Carl Paladino's critical comments about gays couldn't have come at a worse time for him and other Republicans. Paladino is down double-digits to his Democratic opponent Andrew Cuomo in the New York governor's race, but beyond his own race why is this important? With 22 days to go until Election Day, GOP candidates in the Empire State and across the country would prefer to be talking about other things such as their plan to revive the economy – not Paladino's remarks.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/19/preston.conservative.blogging/art.preston.cnn.jpg caption="Patrick Ruffini, left, and David All are on the cutting edge of an evolving medium to connect with supporters."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As Republicans wrangle over the ideological direction of the party, a new generation of conservatives is reaching out to GOP activists and honing the use of a 21st century megaphone to promote Republican policy goals through new media networking tools.
Republicans received a wake-up call in 2008 after President Obama raised a historic sum of campaign cash and organized supporters like never before by mastering the power of the Internet.
Within days of losing the White House and additional seats in the House and Senate, prominent blogger and new media consultant Patrick Ruffini unveiled a Web site dedicated to helping restore the GOP to power.
The No. 1 priority listed on http://www.rebuildtheparty.com: "Winning the technology war with the Democrats."
Related: Liberal blogging in the era of Obama
"We kind of took a step back and said, 'Look, we're going to have a long debate over a number of years over where this party should go, where we should stand ideologically,' " Ruffini said. "But here's some basic steps that we can take now to re-engage our grassroots base and to rebuild our party infrastructure and to recruit new leaders so that when we have that ... unifying purpose ... we will be ready to go."
Ruffini and fellow blogger/new media consultant David All are on the cutting edge of a constantly evolving medium that includes long-form analysis through blogging to fast-paced snippets known as "tweets."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/09/preston.obama.blogging/art.moulitsas.cnn.jpg caption="DailyKos' Markos Moulitsas says bloggers face challenges as they try to hold President Obama accountable."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Liberal bloggers were the cyber cheerleaders for Barack Obama in the 2008 race for the White House. But now that he has won, these "netroots" activists face a major challenge: criticizing the new president and his administration.
It is an interesting dilemma for liberal bloggers who pride themselves on being independent, especially as it relates to the Democratic Party and its leaders.
Former President Bush served as the glue for the often divided liberal blogging community, whether it was their opposition to the Iraq war and domestic spying or frustration about Bush's approach to education and health care.
Liberal bloggers spoke early and often about holding the Bush administration accountable, but will they do the same to the Obama White House?
"I think our challenge is that line from destructive criticism to constructive criticism, because there is going to be criticism," Markos Moulitsas, founder of DailyKos.com, said in a recent interview. "The issue is how we manage that and it's a fine line and it's very tough sometimes."
Moulitsas and Jane Hamsher, founder of firedoglake.com, stopped by to talk about liberal blogging in the Obama era as well as their new political venture to help fund primary opponents against Democrats who they believe are not representing their constituents' views.
"We want to be responsive to people, to what constituents want," Hamsher said. "Not what the corporations want."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/26/preston.accountability.now/art.moulitsas.cnn.jpg caption="DailyKos' Markos Moulitsas says his online community is wary of Democrats being corrupted by power."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Call it a shot fired across the bow, or simply a stern warning to congressional Democrats: Power corrupts, and we are watching your every move. And if we think you are no longer representing the interests of your constituents, we will try to defeat you next year.
A Republican threat? Good guess, but no.
This is what Democratic activists are telling lawmakers of their own party, and they have formed a political action committee to raise money and help galvanize support for Democratic primary challengers in 2010.
Accountability Now PAC formally launched Thursday, creating a potential headache for Democratic leaders who would rather spend time focused on expanding their congressional majorities next year rather than defending Democrats from fellow Democrats.
Markos Moulitsas, founder of the DailyKos political blog, said that people in his online community are wary that Democrats are in danger of being corrupted by the ways of Washington.
"They want to hold Democrats accountable, knowing that if we do not hold them accountable we are going to become just like the Republicans did: corrupt, out of touch with their constituents and out of power," Moulitsas said.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/29/preston.gop/art.capitolday.gi.jpg caption=" Democrats control the Senate by a 58- to 41-seat margin over Republicans."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - The only bright spot in the nation's capital for Republicans these days seems to be a flame that burns 24 hours a day in the courtyard at the campaign headquarters for Republican senators.
The Eternal Flame of Freedom is near the National Republican Victory Monument, which commemorates the 1994 "Republican Revolution," when the GOP wrested control of Congress out of Democratic hands.
Even in the cold, snowy days of January, the flame blazes as a beacon of hope for some and as a memory of the days when Republicans were in power and called the shots in Washington.
Now, the GOP is taking orders from Democrats and doing a lot of soul-searching as it tries to right itself and return the party to its glory days.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/21/preston.politics/art.joebiden.gi.jpg caption="Joe Biden has long been a fixture on Capitol Hill and now assumes the role of vice president."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - It was a beautiful autumn day when I bumped into Sen. Joe Biden outside the U.S. Capitol, and I was desperately looking for information about questions that at the time were unanswerable.
People were fleeing the Capitol and scattering in different directions. They were headed anywhere but there - except for Biden.
At the time, I was working for the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, and I stopped and asked him "What do you know? You're the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee." He paused and said, "Let's talk down there," pointing to a location farther down the hill. "I was just told by the Capitol Police that there is an inbound plane headed for the Capitol."
That fateful day was September 11, 2001.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/19/art.stevensols1119.ap.jpg caption="Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens has lost a close election to Democratic challenger Mark Begich, the mayor of Anchorage."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Ted Stevens turned 85-years-old Tuesday, but his slice of birthday cake was served with a side of bitter. The one-time powerful lawmaker lost re-election to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.
He now heads home to Alaska, and quite possibly prison. Stevens was convicted last month on seven federal corruption charges for filing false statements on his Senate ethics forms.
It has been a hard fall for the one time chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Stevens was once one of the most influential lawmakers on Capitol Hill, if not in the nation’s capital. As oil poured south from the Alaska pipeline – “Uncle Ted” as he is affectionately known in his adopted home state – made sure federal dollars flowed north. His diligence in sending what some critics describe as pork dollars helped to build the infrastructure of modern-day Alaska, which won statehood in 1959.
On Tuesday, Stevens expressed his frustration to reporters including my colleague Ted Barrett about the toll this ordeal has taken on him.
“I wouldn’t wish what I’m going through on anyone, my worst enemy,” Stevens told reporters in the Capitol. He went on to complain that he has not “had a night’s sleep in almost four months.”
And it has been a lonely four months for the veteran senator, who saw his Republican colleagues distance themselves from him. This did change Wednesday morning as National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Ensign opened his political briefing by stating that Democrats would have at least 58 seats in the new Congress.
Now, Democrats are just two seats away from a filibuster-proof majority with unresolved races in Georgia and Minnesota determining what will happen.
It was a bittersweet loss for Ensign. Stevens’ troubles added to a long list of Republican ethical woes in the past few years that have helped tarnish the GOP brand. But had Stevens won, Ensign predicted the Alaska senator would have been expelled by his Senate colleagues thus creating a special election. Under this scenario, Ensign predicted that Republicans would have held onto the seat and limiting Democratic gains by at least one.
As of early Wednesday afternoon, Stevens had not conceded the race and Ensign said that he would leave that up to him. But as far as Senate Republicans are concerned they have moved on and now are solely focused on winning Georgia and Minnesota – two contests critical to helping the GOP stage a strong defense against Democratic policies and President-elect Barack Obama’s agenda.
What will happen to Stevens is still unknown. He has yet to be sentenced and his fate now lies in the hands of outgoing President George Bush - who could pardon the one-time Capitol Hill titan and spare him prison time.