Bill Clinton's Campaign Prowess Still Strong

Photo Courtesy - Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- He hasn't held public office for nearly a decade, but Bill Clinton remains the Democrats' top choice of attack this campaign season.

With three weeks to go until what Republicans are hoping will be a wave election, Democrats are bringing out their heavyweights in droves to help fledgling candidates.

President Obama has crisscrossed the country to rile up the base.  Vice President Biden has gone from coast to coast stumping for candidates.  Even first lady Michelle Obama has stepped up campaign events for embattled candidates.

But Clinton is by far the most active and in-demand personality, even in states where candidates are distancing themselves from Obama's agenda.

An ad appearance by Clinton for Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln helped the embattled senator achieve a narrow victory in the primary, and she's hoping to achieve the same surge with another ad featuring the former Arkansas governor, who remains a popular figure in the state.

Clinton's stump events by far outweigh those of any other Democrat.  By ABC estimates, he has attended or will go to more than 30 events, compared to 25 for Biden and Obama.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


US Chamber of Commerce Fires Back

Photo Courtesy - US Chamber of Commerce(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration has been on the warpath lately, charging the world’s largest business federation with accepting foreign donations in order to run campaign ads against Democratic candidates.  However, the White House hasn’t been able to validate its claims, and now the Chamber of Commerce is fighting back.

On Tuesday, Chamber president Thomas J. Donahue sent a stinging letter to its board of directors and member companies, charging the administration with a “smear campaign” and promising to “ramp up” political activity ahead of the midterm elections in which the Democrats stand to lose the House and Senate.

Donohue wrote in part, “The chamber does not use any foreign money to fund voter education activities - period...The administration and its Congressional allies are desperately trying to change the subject away from our stalled economy and nearly double-digit unemployment.”

The Chamber of Commerce has battled the White House since Obama took office nearly two years ago.  At the White House Tuesday, press secretary Robert Gibbs said that in the interest of full disclosure, the chamber should reveal the source of its anonymous donors, if it has nothing to hide.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Congressional Hopeful Opposes Nancy Pelosi As House Speaker

Photo Courtesy - Herron for Congress(JACKSON, Tenn.) -- Tennessee Democrat Roy Herron isn't likely to make fast friends with Nancy Pelosi should he get elected to the House next month.

The Tennessee state legislator said that he will not support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker if the Democrats maintain control of the House.  Herron joins a growing list of Democratic candidates who have either turned against Pelosi or are refusing to say whether they would get behind her speakership in the new Congressional session.

Herron, who is running to replace retiring Rep. John Tanner in Tennessee’s 8th district, told a crowd at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee Monday night that he would not support Pelosi or House Republican leader John Boehner for speaker, calling both “too extreme.”

"The people of my district are independent-minded folks who put patriotism above partisanship and are not looking to hire a yes-man for either party,” Herron said in a statement on Tuesday that confirmed neither Pelosi nor Boehner would get his support.
When asked if Herron had an alternative in mind for speaker, his campaign spokesman Brandon Puttbrese said that “hasn’t been a topic for conversation.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Obama Praises Congress Members for Putting Careers at Risk

Photo Courtesy - The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Three weeks before his party could take a tough hit in the voting booths, President Obama said Tuesday evening that a “pleasant surprise” of his job is seeing members of Congress cast tough votes over the past 20 months even though it might lead to their congressional demise.

“There are a lot of folks who took some really tough votes over the last 20 months knowing that it was bad for them politically, who voted for health care reform even though the polls said this would cause them problems in the next election, who voted for financial regulatory reform even though they knew that by supporting it it would impact big money pouring in and directing negative ads towards them,” the president said during a webcast town hall meeting from George Washington University.  "And they did it anyway. And that was risky for them.”

The president highlighted some of those members who cast votes that could put their congressional careers at risk.

‘There have been a surprising number of folks who have been willing to stand up,” Obama said mentioning specifically by name Alabama Rep. Tom Perriello, Ohio Rep. John Boccieri, and Colorado Betsy Markey.  “There have just been some folks who really stood up knowing that the might be putting their congressional careers at risk.  And that’s been a pleasant surprise.”

The president noted that while it is “fashionable” to get down on Congress, many members of Congress have been “courageous” over the last 20 months.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Minnesota Congresswoman Sets Fundraising Bar High

Photo Courtesy - Bachmann for Congress(WASHINGTON) -- Tea Party-backed Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota raised $5.4 million in the third quarter, possibly smashing a congressional fundraising record for a three-month period while pushing her total fundraising haul for this election cycle to almost $10 million.

Although Federal Election Commission financial disclosure reports are not due until Oct. 15, Bachmann's press secretary Sergio Gor confirmed to ABC News late Tuesday evening that Bachmann raked in the amount in the months of July, August and September.  Gor said he expected Bachmann to report that she has about $3.4 cash-on-hand in her campaign war chest, although he did not have exact figures readily available Tuesday evening.

Gor said the exact totals will be released with a full FEC report Wednesday and will show that the contributions are mostly small amounts from a wide base of supporters.

Bachmann’s challenger Tarryl Clark, a state senator from St. Cloud, has also enjoyed great success fundraising for the sixth district seat in what is likely the most expensive match-up among House races nationwide.  Clark’s efforts have been bolstered by campaign events with Vice President Joe Biden and former president Bill Clinton.  Another event with President Obama is planned before the November 2 midterm congressional election.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


On Question of Terror Trials, Carl Paladino Drops F-Bomb

Photo Courtesy - Paladino for the People(NEW YORK) -- No stranger to brash comments, New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino was caught on tape using a four-letter word to describe an Obama administration decision on where to try terror suspects.

Still facing a firestorm over recent comments some interpreted as anti-gay, Paladino finds himself again having to defend or apologize for impulsive comments.

Asked in March for his reaction to a since-shelved plan by Attorney General Eric Holder to hold trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees, like 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, in downtown Manhattan, Paladino gruffly replied: "F**k him. F**k him."

The video, though seven months old, was recently posted on YouTube and the National Journal website.

Calls and e-mail to Paladino's office for comment were not immediately returned.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Vice President Biden Keeps Hammering Away at Chamber of Commerce

Photo Courtesy - The White House | Sharon Farmer(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Biden Tuesday kept up his drumbeat against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and outside interest groups that he said are raising millions of dollars for negative campaign ads, without disclosing the donors and funding sources.

"Just tell us where the money's coming from," he told ABC News in an exclusive interview after a campaign event in Des Moines.  "Why can't the Chamber say, 'These are where the contributions are coming from?' Why can't Karl Rove tell us where the contributions are coming from?"

President Obama, Biden and top White House officials have in recent days made the Chamber and Rove, a former top strategist for former President George W. Bush, prime targets in campaign appearances by administration officials.

While the president seems to have backed off his charges against these outside groups, Biden continued with his calls for disclosure and said it was not a desperate argument.

"If you have folks contributing who say they want to maintain the tax credits and ship jobs overseas, well, then, you know, when you got a guy out there saying, 'No, no, I want to build jobs in America,' and he's being supported by the guy who says, 'No, I want to … keep the tax breaks overseas,' it gives new insight," the vice president said.  "It's just disclosure. Just tell us where. Show me. Show me."

Biden said there is no evidence that these outside groups have broken any laws, but said that's precisely the issue. "They can give money without disclosing."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


In South Dakota: Another Sarah Palin?

Photo Courtesy - Kristi for Congress(NEW YORK) -- If money is any indication, the hottest Republican House candidate in the country is Kristi Noem. The 38-year-old rancher has raised more campaign cash than any Republican House challenger in the country.

Noem has raised $1.1 million over the past three months, about twice as much as her opponent, Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, D-S.D., and that money will go a long way:  South Dakota's media market is one of the least expensive in the country.

Noem may need the cash. Herseth-Sandlin is a moderate Democrat with a proven ability to win -- and win big -- in South Dakota. She decimated her Republican opponent in 2008 with nearly 70 percent of the vote, even as the state voted overwhelmingly against Barack Obama.

Herseth-Sandlin is an avid hunter and one of the top conservative Democrats in the House.  She's also from a highly regarded South Dakota political family: her grandfather was a governor, her grandmother a South Dakota Secretary of State and her father a leader in the state legislature.

But Herseth-Sandlin has never faced a challenger like Kristi Noem.  She's a rancher, a mother of three, and a staunch conservative who is running on a platform of slashing federal spending and repealing the new federal health care law.  She's also an avid hunter known to hunt elk with a bow and arrow.  Her political views and physical appearance have led some to label her "South Dakota's Sarah Palin."

At her ranch in Castlewood, S.D., Noem told ABC News she wanted no part of that label and balked at the idea of the former Alaskan governor and Republican vice presidential nominee hitting the campaign trail for her.

"We're going forward making sure we're focused on the people here at home," Noem told ABC News. "I want them to know who I am and what I believe we should be doing and should be accomplishing rather than focusing on somebody else from out of state."

Shown on horseback in her ads, Noem's down-home image is accompanied by an anti-government spending message.

"I'm a firm believer that South Dakotans know better what to do with their money than the government does," she said.

The Republicans hold a sizable and unusual lead, evident in South Dakota in the disparate fundraising numbers between the two campaigns.  According to figures released by each campaign Monday, Noem has raised more than $1.1 million in the 3rd quarter, nearly twice the amount Herseth-Sandlin collected.  Noem has $777,000 cash on hand, compared to Herseth-Sandlin's $500,000.  As of right now, no other Republican house challenger raised more this quarter.

Herseth-Sandlin has been quite critical of parts of the Democratic agenda and the President, especially on the health care bill, which she voted against (although she stops short of calling for its repeal).  When asked by ABC News what grade she would give President Obama, she gave him a "C."

"I think on some issues, especially navigating some tough economic waters he inherited, he is doing better than people are giving him credit for," she explained.  "But on some of the other issues, I don't think he did a good job.  I think the leadership could be stronger."

Herseth-Sandlin is in fact making a campaign platform out of being willing to stand-up to the leadership in Washington, calling herself an independent, moderate voice for South Dakota.

"I've worked very hard the last six years to do what's right for South Dakota. I opposed the bailouts of Wall Street and the auto industry," Herseth-Sandlin told ABC News.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


WV Senate Candidate John Raese: I "Absolutely" Want to Abolish Minimum Wage

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Republican Senate candidate from West Virginia, John Raese, is taking aim at minimum wage, first signed into law by Franklin Delano Roosevelt as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

"The minimum wage is something that FDR put in place a long time ago during the Great Depression," Raese told ABC News.  "I don't think it worked then.  It didn't solve any problems then and it hasn't solved any problems in 50 years."

Raese continued, "The minimum wage is not something that you want to stay on as a permanent basis.  For example, if you have a minimum wage job, you don't stay there 20 or 30 years.  You don't put your children through college working on minimum wage.  One of the best things I can say, when you get the government out of micromanaging the economy -- you don't want government to set price controls, you don't want government to set wage controls.  It's an archaic system that frankly has not worked."

Asked if the federally mandated minimum wage should be abolished, Raese answered, "Absolutely."

Raese has surged in recent weeks by relentlessly arguing that Manchin, who has been a popular governor, would be a "rubber stamp" for President Obama if he were elected to the Senate.

Manchin is now touting his differences with President Obama -- in one recent ad he actually fires a bullet at the President's energy policy -- but Raese is not buying it.

"I always watch what people do and not what they say and we're talking earlier about Senator Clarke Goodman, I always like to get that name correct.  And since he's been appointed by Joe, he's done 100 percent of everything certainly President Obama wants," Raese said.

Senator Goodwin's first name is actually "Carte," not "Clarke," but he has consistently voted with the Democratic leadership since he was appointed by Governor Manchin to the Senate following the death of Senator Robert Byrd.

"Governor Manchin lines up right with President Obama," Raese said.  "So if it looks like a duck, it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, 9 times out of 10, it's a duck."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Court Orders Immediate "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Injunction

Photo Courtesy - ABC News Radio(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips on Tuesday ordered a permanent injunction barring enforcement of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, effective immediately. 

The court order, which would affect all service members abroad and in the United States, also requires the government to suspend and discontinue all pending discharge proceedings and investigation under "don't ask, don't tell."

"We have just learned of this ruling.  We are now studying it and will be in consultation with the Department of Justice," said Department of Defense spokesperson, Cynthia Smith.

The government will have 60 days to file an appeal.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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