NRSC Live Blog With John Ensign

Senator John Ensign joined a few bloggers to discuss current events. First, Chuck Schumer proposed today to raise taxes on the equity markets who helped raise funds for the DSCC. The more we see of the Democrats, Ensign says, the more we will see tax increases. Republicans traditionally trust families to make the best choices with their own money rather than government and calls this a fundamental difference between the two parties
He also acknowledged that the NRSC will have a tough road in 2008. He thinks that the GOP has an opportunity to do fairly well. Gordon Smith doesn’t have a tough opponent on the horizon. Norm Coleman also has a pair of nonentities squaring off to face him, and Democrats are nervous about Al Franken’s embarrassment factor. Maine looks solid, and says Susan Collins’ constituents know her very well. John Sununu will be the toughest incumbent race, probably neck-and-neck with a huge amount of money spent there.
The retirements will create some problems. Virginia will be their toughest contest, and the GOP needs their best candidate to beat Mark Warner. Ensign feels much more confident about Nebraska, and thinks the GOP will beat Bob Kerrey, if he jumps into the race. Ensign predicts that Colorado will go with the Republicans, mostly because the Democrats have selected a candidate who is too liberal for Colorado.
Other races …. The GOP feels that they can beat Mary Landrieu. She’s their #1 target. In South Dakota, Ensign saluted Tim Johnson’s recovery but promised to run a vigorous campaign. They want to avoid a primary fight if they can.
Ensign could not comment on the report that Pete Domenici had decided to retire. He wants to wait for an official announcement before speculating on how the retirement might affect his calculations. He also would not speculate on potential candidates in Virginia, preferring to see which candidates arise from the field.
On S-CHIP, will this issue resonate with voters? Ensign believes the Republicans have a winning position on S-CHIP. Poor is not defined as an $84,000 salary, and an attempt to make it so will not sit well in areas where real poverty exists. Republicans want to continue to cover poor children and offered an alternative that would have done that. The alternative package, which relies on tax deductions and credits, has his support. He wants to keep the focus on private-market insurance.
Ensign also said that Hillary would help the NRSC’s fundraising. The Democrats are outraising the Republicans, but the “current presumed nominee” would likely motivate donors in large numbers. That’s probably an understatement.

7 thoughts on “NRSC Live Blog With John Ensign”

  1. As a Democrat, hearing Ensign’s rah-rah speech (can’t decide whether it’s more for Republicans or for himself) makes me laugh.
    –In Minnesota, those “nonentities” are both holding Norm Coleman under 50 percent in current SurveyUSA polling, and Al Franken outraised Coleman in 2nd quarter fundraising (haven’t seen 3rd quarter numbers yet, though).
    –It’s probably true that Jeff Merkley isn’t the top-tier candidate the DSCC would have envisioned to take on Gordon Smith in Oregon, but in a presidential year, with Oregon likely to go blue at the top of the ticket, Smith will never have it easy.
    –Unless Mark Warner and Jeanne Shaheen drop dead between now and next November, Virginia and New Hampshire are done and done for the GOP, esp. the Granite State. Voters there tossed the party aside last year, and the political atmosphere there continues to be very toxic for anyone with an (R) after their name.
    –In Nebraska, I think Republicans should look at their upcoming knockdown, dragout primary fight between Jon Bruning and Mike “Never Saw a New Job I Didn’t Like” Johanns before worrying about Bob Kerrey, though, in a presidential year, Democrats surely have a disadvantage in Nebraska.
    –The problem with Ensign’s take on Colorado is that their candidate recruitment there hit a zero with Bob Schaffer. Anytime a GOP mouthpiece labels Mark Udall as “too liberal for Colorado,” I want to spit at them, but I restrain myself by saying that Bob Schaffer is much too conservative for today’s Colorado, which seems to have had its fill with Republicans running the show there.
    –I don’t see how Susan Collins looks all that solid in Maine, either, with her constant whining about the Tom Allen campaign sending staffers to tape everything she says in public, which is a pretty standard tactic used across the spectrum nowadays. Maybe she’s afraid of another Macaca moment, who knows? It also hurts Collins when she constantly votes with the President on his war, even though most of her constituents are not big fans of it.
    –The only place where it looks good for the GOP right now is Louisiana, but that’s going to be a hell of a race. Mary Landrieu was supposed to have lost in 2002, a banner year for the Senate GOP, but pulled it out in a runoff. With the demographic effects of Katrina, she will be hard-pressed to replicate her GOTV efforts. Of course, there’s always David Vitter to laugh at.
    –Unless Mike Rounds gets into the race against Tim Johnson in South Dakota, I don’t see where the GOP has any kind of bench to try to take him down.
    –And then there’s today’s news that Pete Domenici is going to retire tomorrow. Obviously, the dream sequence for the Democrats is that Bill Richardson sees the light and pulls the plug on his windmill quest for the White House and runs for the Senate. Failing that, I could see a free-for-all among New Mexico’s three members of Congress, with the two Republicans in a bitter primary battle, meeting the lone Democratic member, Rep. Tom Udall, cousin of the aforementioned Mark Udall. Oddly enough, they are also both cousins of Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon.
    –On SCHIP, I think the Republicans are making a huge political mistake if they vote to sustain the president’s veto. I can respect standing on principle, even when I think the principle is complete garbage, but the political insanity of doing so as the minority party, and in the face of overwhelmingly negative poll numbers (72 percent of the American people want SCHIP expanded, according to the WaPo’s poll out today), is simply off the charts. If the veto is sustained in the House, the Democrats will have a pretty big whooping stick with which to beat vulnerable Republican incumbents in 2008. Find the roll call votes in the House and Senate. All of the vulnerable Republican senators voted for the bill. They know which way the wind’s blowing on this one. So when Ensign runs his mouth on SCHIP, just remember that he’s doing so with over five years to go before he has to face the voters again.

  2. I haven’t missed a presidential election since 1980 but I may well sit 2008 out. Reagan twice, Bush 1, Perot (MGFM), Dole, and Bush 2 twice.
    Is it stupid to do so? Probably. Beyond stupid, how about unpatriotic? Un-American? Yep, probably. But maybe I want to feel like a congressman…
    Both parties have abandoned their oaths to support and defend the constitution and the security of the country.
    I heard Orrin Hatch defend SCHIP today.
    Sometimes you just have to let the wheels come off. I don’t think the Republicans have a clue what is about to happen to them. Or what harm is about to befall the citizens they swore to represent as a result of their cowardly, yet strangely cheerful abandonment of any pretense of principle or statesmanship.
    And I’ve got more news for the Republicans:
    When the next mass-casualty attack by al Q or whatever nutjob Islamist happens, it’s going to happen because our border security SUCKS because both parties are afraid of offending potential pander targets OR fundraising sources, to include foreign governments.
    But it was the Republican majorities and chief executive that had the conn on 9/11 and for six years after.
    When our friends or families are killed, we won’t be looking to burn the neighborhood Saudi-funded mosque.
    Not first, anyway.
    Democrats are expected to f*ck up national security, race relations, and the economy. It’s a feature, not a bug. It’s just that this time the bodies aren’t going to be back in a Cambodian jungle and the only power that will have the economic clout to ease an economic crisis here is RED CHINA.(They’ve dumped maybe six or seven mill into the political mix – that we can sorta/kinda track – over the last two decades and now they OWN our debt AND the leading socialist candidate. Now THAT’S wise investing!).
    Thus far the Reid and Pelosi Show has demonstrated a level of delusion normally seen only on a DU thread about the VP’s links to Satan, or maybe in the words of RNC strategists who peddle tripe like what you cited in your post. The Dems didn’t win anything. The Republicans gave it away.
    The worst of it all: the Republicans show no sign that they are aware in the least – none, zero, zilch, nada – that they still have a few floors left before the sidewalk.
    What a sad way to start a century. The last remaining hope for Western Civ melting down in a kindergarten squabble over who can be more socialist before the eighth century barbarians or the New Communist Empires strike.

  3. I’m curious to see how bad Romney and Guiliani’s 3rd quarter numbers really are. Holding out to release them until late in the week suggests they are trying to either bury the news with the weekend or still looking under the couch cushions for some loose change to pump up their totals. Not a good sign.

  4. Re: Norm Coleman’s re-election: Minnesotans haven’t re-elected a Republican Senator in 20 years.

  5. Maine looks solid, and says Susan Collins’ constituents know her very well.
    I kind of hope this is true. My history with both Collins and Snowe goes back quite a ways, to a time when I worked as a volunteer for a group involving both of them and Christie Todd Whitman. Many of us wanted one of that group to run against Clinton in 96.
    It still makes me sad, however, to see the treatment that Snowe and Collins recieve at the hands of “their” party most of the time. Every six years, it seems that the Republicans remember that they would like to hang on to those seats and will say a few nice things about them and possibly even toss a few bucks their way.
    The rest of the time, they get treated by the GOP like absolute crap. This is often reflected in the blogosphere by comments made by many people (including commenters right here at CQ) who call them both “Rinos” and “Useless” or worse. Why they continue to put up with this is a mystery to me. I could hardly blame them if they started indicating that they were considering running as indpendents next time out. Fine public servants, both of them, but they represent a very different, Northeastern type of Republican… not the type you find in the deep red states. The treatment they often receive sickens me.
    Democrats are quite nervous (and rightly so) about their newly minted Blue Dogs. You should all keep in mind that they are doing the job their constituents hire them to do and have a bit more respect. The same goes for Snowe and Collins. They deserve support all six years of their terms… not just on the eve of elections where you don’t want to lose their seat in the Senate.

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