Early Voting On Track To Set Midterm Election Record

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(FAIRFAX, Va.) -- With less than a week to go until Election Day, more than 9.4 million Americans have already cast their ballots in what experts say could be a banner midterm election season for early voting.

More than 1.5 million people have voted early in California, 1.2 million in Florida, 237,000 in Iowa and 266,000 in Nevada. Those numbers are likely to be lowball estimates, since some counties have been slow to report early voting statistics.

Local newspaper headlines from around the country tell the story. It's shaping up to be a record-breaking year in places like Polk County, Iowa; Kanawha County, West Virginia; Tazewell County, Illinois and Travis County, Texas. In St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, where early voting ended on Tuesday, the line to cast a ballot stretched out the door.

"It looks like we're on track to beat 2006," said George Mason University political scientist Michael McDonald, who has been tracking the early vote almost around the clock. "It's not clear if we're going to get up to 2008 levels yet."

Republicans and Democrats can point to key states and counties where they are out in front, and neither party has passed up the opportunity to spin the returns in their favor.

On Wednesday, the Democratic National Committee released a memo dismissing the notion that Democrats were the ones facing an enthusiasm gap this year, saying that in 11 key states Democrats were doing better than their GOP counterparts in early voting.

"The results to date are not only not consistent with the existence of a Republican enthusiasm gap," the DNC memo said, "they show that in key races Democrats are winning."

Democrats pointed to their early voting advantage in Nevada, Iowa, California Wisconsin, Washington state, Illinois and West Virginia.

"If Republicans were more enthusiastic in 2010, they would see significantly higher early vote across all levels of vote history than Democrats," said the DNC memo. "Most importantly, sporadic Republicans would consistently out-turnout sporadic Democrats in early voting. This hasn't materialized in early vote."

However, in other important states like Colorado, Florida and Pennsylvania, the GOP is in the lead -- a fact that the Republican National Committee highlighted in a memo on Tuesday that argued the Democratic enthusiasm gap was alive and well.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Exclusive: Democrats Ask Pentagon for Info on Potential Obama Challengers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Democratic National Committee formally has asked the Pentagon for reams of correspondence between military agencies and nine potential Republican presidential candidates, a clear indication that Democrats are building opposition-research files on specific 2012 contenders even before the midterm elections.

An internal Army e-mail obtained by ABC News indicates that the DNC has filed Freedom of Information Act requests for "any and all records of communication" between Army departments and agencies and each of the nine Republicans -- all of whom are widely mentioned as possible challengers to President Obama.

The agencies are asked to respond to the request by this Friday, just four days before Election Day.

The nine Republicans that Democrats are seeking information on are former Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska; former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass.; Gov. Haley Barbour, R-Miss.; Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn.; former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark.; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.; Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.; Gov. Mitch Daniels, R-Ind.; and Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La.

Such requests are typical in the world of opposition research, which involves casting a broad net for publicly available material that may at some point prove embarrassing or incriminating to political candidates.

The request isn't for details of military service or lack thereof, but appears to be designed to find information on letters and memos sent to and from the potential candidates in official positions they've held.

DNC officials declined to comment, but did not dispute that the information has been requested. An Army spokesman confirmed that the DNC's formal request for information has been received.

"We did receive a FOIA request, and now we are responding to that FOIA request," said the spokesman, Col. Tom Collins.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Police Consider More Arrests in Rand Paul Heckler Scuffle

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- Kentucky cops are considering charges against at least two more Rand Paul supporters caught on tape wrestling a political heckler to the ground while another man stomped on her head.

"At this point, the investigation is still ongoing," Lexington Police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts told ABC News. "We're looking into other individuals who may have been involved in the assault and could get charged."

A short, 50-second video clip of the scuffle shows a handful of people surrounding Lauren Valle, 23, a paid activist for the liberal group, as she is pushed to the ground Monday.

The incident occurred as Paul was arriving for a debate with his Democratic opponent, Jack Conway. The two men are campaigning for a Kentucky Senate seat.

One man in the video wearing a checkered shirt appears to wrestle Valle to the curb while a second man steps on her. The face of the man in the checkered shirt is partially visible, but neither man has yet been identified.

As the two men held Valle down, a third man, identified as Tim Profitt, stomped her twice in the back of the head.

Profitt was served a criminal summons Tuesday night and charged with a misdemeanor assault. He will have to appear in court to be arraigned, but a court date has not yet been set, said a Fayette County district court clerk.

The Paul campaign dropped Profitt as its coordinator in central Kentucky's Bourbon County and banned him from future campaign events.

In an interview with a Kentucky television station, Profitt admitted to stepping on Valle but said he was attempting to protect Paul and demanded the woman apologize to him.

"She's a professional at what she does," Profitt told WKYT. "When all the facts come out, people will see that she's the one who initiated the whole thing."

"I put my foot on her and I did push her down," he said. "I would like for her to apologize to me, to be honest with you."

Calls to Profitt for comment were not returned.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Carly Fiorina Released from Hospital; Will Return to Campaign Thursday

Photo Courtesy - Carly for California(LOS ANGELES) -- Carly Fiorina, R-Calif., was released from the hospital Wednesday after spending the night due to complications from an infection.

Fiorina was treated for an illness that developed "as a result of reconstructive surgery following her victory over breast cancer," said Fiorina's chief of staff, Deborah Bowker, in a written statement Wednesday.

"[Wednesday] morning, her doctors gave her the good news that she [would be] released from the hospital today and can resume her busy campaign schedule tomorrow....She is excited to get back to the campaign trail and move forward toward a triumph over Barbara Boxer next Tuesday."

Bowker also expressed Fiorina's gratitude for the "outpouring of well wishes and prayers from so many Californians."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Florida Senate Candidate Focuses on Tea Party 'Extremism'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(FLORIDA) -- A new campaign ad by a Florida Senate candidate aims to turn the November elections into a referendum on the Tea Party. In the ad, Independent Charlie Crist, who trails in the polls against Republican Marco Rubio, turns the focus to Sarah Palin and Tea Party “extremism.”

“Down one road is extremism,” said Crist. “That’s the road Sarah Palin, Marco Rubio and the Tea Party want to take us down. It’s a dangerous road and the polls say I’m the only one who can stop them.”

In recent days, Crist has likened Rubio to a “Sarah Palin fellow,” telling voters that they are responsible for choosing a path for Florida and the rest of the country on Election Day.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


New York City Mayor’s Endorsements Spark Rumors of Possible 2012 Run

Photo Courtesy - City of New York(NEW YORK) -- With endorsements running the political gamut, speculation has arisen over whether New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is gearing up for a possible 2012 presidential bid.

In a year of extremes, Bloomberg, an independent, has spent this election season endorsing moderate candidates for both parties. Such endorsements are, to many, evidence that Bloomberg is slowly expanding his political clout.

To date, his handpicked candidates include: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; Meg Whitman, the GOP gubernatorial candidate in California and former eBay CEO; Democratic gubernatorial candidates Andrew Cuomo in New York; John Hickenlooper in Colorado and Martin O'Malley in Maryland; Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo; Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., running for Senate in the Keystone State; and Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., running for Senate in the Prairie State. He has endorsed a sole Independent, Lincoln Chaffee, a candidate for governor of Rhode Island. 

Bloomberg’s centrist views may reflect those of a growing number of Americans, according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll. It suggests that the independent viewpoint is the fastest-growing political viewpoint in the United States.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Rahm Emanuel's Run for Chicago Mayor Gets Another Boost 

Photo Courtesy - Chicago for Rahm Emanuel(CHICAGO) -- Rahm Emanuel’s bid to replace outgoing Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley got a little easier Wednesday, when Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, a popular Democrat who was seen as Emanuel’s biggest competition, announced he will drop out of the race. Dart said he was unable to do his job as sheriff and still run in the February elections.

Dart's announcement followed Tuesday's decision by Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. not to enter the race. Jackson, who is running for re-election to Congress, bowed out amid allegations of involvement in the Rod Blagojevich scandal and reports of his relationship with a female "social acquaintance."

Emanuel now faces likely opposition from two prominent African-Americans: Rev. James Meeks, an Illinois legislator, and former U.S. Senator Carol Mosely Braun. Two Hispanic politicians, Chicago city clerk Miguel Del Valle and former city colleges president Gery Chico, are also running.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


VP Biden Battles Working-Class Anger

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WAYNE, Pa.) -- In front of a working-class crowd in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden tried to deflect anger over the economy and joblessness away from Democrats.

“They have reason to be angry, and I’m angry,” Biden said of the blue-collar friends he grew up with, reports the Daily Caller.  Biden blamed the “profligate bankrupt policies” of the Bush administration that “paid no attention in the years 2002 and 4 and 6 and 8 to people like my dad” for the struggles faced by American families.

The Scranton native said that voters should be upset with Republicans, not the current administration.

“These guys don’t get it,” Biden said, referring to Republicans. “A job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity. It’s about your pride.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Singing vs. McCain: Rodney Glassman Belts it Out in Arizona

Photo Courtesy - Rodney Glassman for Senate(PHOENIX) -- With Rodney Glassman trailing in polls against Sen. John McCain, the Democratic candidate for senate in Arizona is taking to song to try to oust the longtime incumbent.

Glassman became a YouTube mini-sensation with his rendition of “Sweet Home Arizona,” where he argues -- and shakes his hips along the way -- that it’s time to end McCain’s career.

On ABC’s Top Line Wednesday, he sang a few bars.

“Sweet home Arizona, where the skies are so blue; sweet home Arizona, John it's time to retire you,” Glassman sang.

When he wasn’t singing, Glassman made his case for why the polls might be off, saying his campaign will close with visits to Arizona’s biggest population centers.

“People are tired of the mud-slinging, and that's what McCain has become known for,” Glassman said.

“Arizonans know that after 30 years in DC, he is the federal government,” he added. “You can get rid of SB1070 [the state’s controversial immigration law], you can get rid of all the other issues going on, but at the end of the day, we need to retire McCain. We need to have a senator working in DC on federal immigration reform, because every Arizonan knows that it's the federal government’s responsibility to take care of it. It's very simple.”

And the singing, he said, will continue, so long as it helps draw attention to his campaign: “I'll sing it but I want everyone to go to our Web site and learn more about all of our issues,” he said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Palin Rally to Offer 'Northern Exposure' for Joe Miller

Photo Courtesy - Spencer Platt/Getty Images(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) -- Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, are scheduled to headline an all-star rally in Anchorage Thursday for Senate hopeful and Tea Party favorite Joe Miller. On Wednesday, the former Alaska governor announced she will be joined by actress Janine Turner, best known for her role on the Alaska-inspired program “Northern Exposure.”

“Who's the real Joe Miller? Janine Turner & I provide Northern Exposure tomorrow night @ Anchorage rally 2 expose truth & ‘refudiate’ the bull,” Palin posted on twitter.

The “Change D.C.” rally will also include video testimonials from other conservative heavy hitters, including Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

Although Palin’s support gave Miller a boost in the primary, she has recently kept a low profile in the Alaska Senate race. That changed on Monday, however, when Palin took to Facebook to defend Miller and attack the “gall” of his opponent, Senator Lisa Murkowski. Palin claimed Murkowski unfairly attacked Miller’s military record and accused Murkowski of contesting “the will of the people” by running as a write-in candidate after Miller’s surprise primary victory.

“I’ve seen some pretty ugly campaigning, and what they’re throwing at Joe right now is nasty. Joe’s opponents can’t run on the issues because they’re wrong on them – whether it’s repealing and de-funding Obamacare, fighting against cap-and-tax, protecting our borders, or pushing hard for responsible resource development. They can’t win in a fair fight on the issues, so they sling mud,” Palin wrote on Facebook.

Miller is also up against Democratic challenger Scott McAdams.

The 2008 vice-presidential candidate has been ramping up her public appearances in the countdown to next week’s midterm elections. Last week Palin joined the Tea Party Express in Phoenix and headlined an RNC fundraising rally in Orlando on Saturday.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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