Obama Approves Limited Offshore Drilling

President Obama today agreed to open parts of the Atlantic coast, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and parts of the north shore of Alaska to offshore oil exploration. exploration. Offshore drilling could provide enough oil to replace Middle East oil imports for 35 years, and it would also yield an 18-year supply of natural gas. Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the former Chairman of the Resources Committee, responded immediately by criticizing the Obama plan:

The President is essentially placing a moratorium on the Pacific Coast, delaying planned lease sales in Alaska, and subjecting previously studied areas to even more study , which is a waste of taxpayer time and dollars. Additionally, anything open to leasing will also be open to the inevitable lawsuits that will follow today’s announcement, so essentially we are back where we started. Sixty-eight percent of the American people support expanded offshore drilling, and yet not one lease sale in an area previously under moratorium will occur during President Obama’s term. This plan closes more than it opens, and is a complete farce. There is no question that this ‘Obama Moratorium’ will have dire impacts on the economic future of our country.

That was then, this is now
In 2008, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) said offshore drilling was “a political stunt.” Speaker Pelosi called Bush “the oilman in the White House,” and said offshore drilling was “a hoax.” At the same time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said off shore drilling was a give away to big oil. She was adamantly opposed to offshore drilling “because I’m trying to save the planet,” and “my flagship issue” is global warming.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called it “a cynical campaign ploy that will do nothing to lower energy prices and represents another big giveaway to oil companies already making billions in profits.” Reid described offshore drilling as “the same old ideas meant to pad the pockets of Big Oil. . . Bush-McCain Republicans just don’t get it. . . They want to feed our addiction to oil.” All of that is forgotten now with President Obama’s announcement today. In addition to blocking off shore drilling, Democrats in the past have also blocked drilling in ANWR, building oil refineries, nuclear energy production and clean coal production.
Offshore drilling would have to be approved by Congress, and some prominent Democrats have today come out in opposition. Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) both said they would oppose the Obama plan, and they are quoting the President.
In June 2008 the President said “Believe me, if I thought there was any evidence at all that drilling could save people money who are struggling to fill up their gas tanks by this summer or this year or even the next few years, I would consider it. But, it won’t.”
In a related development, the Department of Energy is saying world oil production could decline from 2011 to 2015 “if the investment is not there.” The decline would be due to the lack of investment in oil production capacity, which is another serious energy security issue.

Thank You President Bush: Iraq Is The Change We Can Believe In

The election in Iraq is a very important vindication of George W. Bush’s vision that the way to correct a lot of the instability in the Middle East is to bring democracy to countries that haven’t experienced it. American policy before that was set in effect by FDR in World War II—the view that we had a greater interest in stability in the Arab world than in change. Bush’s understanding was that this was NOT the best way to secure U.S. interests in the long run.
It’s amazing! There was an election in the Arab world in which no one knew what the outcome would be. This has never happened before. And next, they have to negotiate to form a coalition. Representative government is possible in the Arab world.
Also note that Iraq’s Shiites have taken to democracy in a vibrant way. People need to focus on what this means for a Shiite democracy across the border in Iran.
President Obama is a bit of a mix. He’s cut back on the democracy-building budget in the region. And I’ve been disappointed, to be honest, that the administration has not been as outspoken about promoting democracy in the region as Bush was.
– Ambassador Paul Bremer, Chief Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, 2003 and 2004.

Iraq has now completed its fifth election since 2005 and there will once again be a peaceful transfer of power to the opposition. Over 13 million people went to the polls and the turnout was 62%, which is better than the 52% average of Americans who participated in presidential elections over the past century.

  • The lead editorial in today’s Washington Post notes “Iraq held a competitive election that puts most of its neighbors to shame. On Iraq’s borders are, among others, a despotic theocracy in Iran, a despotic monarchy in Saudia Arabia and a despotic hereditary fiefdom in Syria. In Iraq, more than 6,000 candidates vied for 325 legislative seats. They represented parties of wide ideological range. Turnout was higher, proportionately, than for U.S. presidential elections. The voting and counting, according to international observers, were generally free and fair.”
  • From a U.S. viewpoint, the election was a huge success because Americans want a broadly based Iraqi government. The outcome is still not certain, but Iraqi’s are showing a willingness to compromise and the new government will be secular and it will not be based on sectarian or geographical considerations. It could well be a coalition which includes Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.
  • The top two vote-getters were coalitions which rejected ethnic and sectarian politics in favor of a national, multi-sectarian vision.
  • A significant difference between the 2005 and 2010 election is that this time there was no Sunni boycott. In 2010, there was a very high turnout in the Sunni provinces (Anbar, Nineveh and Salahuddin). The Sunni’s ran Iraq under Saddam Hussein by now they have adapted to the new system.
  • Iran was the big loser. As the Washington Post notes, the “results are a defeat for Iran’s efforts to unify Iraq’s Shiites into one bloc and then control Iraq through that bloc. The vote is at least potentially a victory for an Iraq in which members of all sects believe their voices can be heard.” The Iraqi National Alliance (which included Muqtada al-Sadr) and the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq both did poorly in the election. They lost many seats and their dream of a monolithic Shiite bloc has fragmented.
  • Newsweek said the election “most certainly is a watershed event that could come to represent a whole new era in the history of the massively undemocratic Middle East.”
  • Thomas Friedman of the New York Times says “Former President George W. Bush’s gut instinct that this region craved and needed democracy was always right.”
  • Many liberal politicians in both 2004 and 2006 claimed the United States was “imposing democracy on Iraq.” The results of this fifth election demonstrate that Iraqi’s are enthusiastic participants in the democratic process.
  • Vice President Joe Biden is now saying Iraq “could be one of the great achievements of this administration.” However, the credit clearly belongs to the Iraqi people and the Bush Administration.
  • Peter Wehner of Politics Daily noted: “We might be able to agree, too, that the new counterinsurgency strategy announced by President Bush in January 2007 — a strategy that was fiercely opposed by Messrs. Biden and Obama, by virtually the entire Democratic Party, the political class, and almost all of the foreign policy establishment — was a wise and politically courageous decision. . . But it’s clear, I think, that the commonly held view that Iraq was ‘probably the biggest foreign policy mistake in American history’ (Joe Klein) was wrong and foolish.”

Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch Blasts Obama's Treatment of Israel

Obama’s abysmal attitude toward the State of Israel and his humiliating treatment of Netanyahu is shocking. There is grave doubt among supporters of Israel that Obama can be counted on to do what presidents before him did — protect our ally, Israel. . . Supporters of Israel who gave their votes to candidate Obama — 78 percent of the Jewish community did — believing he would provide the same support as John McCain, this is the time to speak out and tell the President of your disappointment in him. It seems to me particularly appropriate to do so on the eve of the Passover.
“It is one thing to disagree with certain policies of the Israeli government. It is quite another to treat Israel and its prime minister as pariahs, which only emboldens Israel’s enemies and makes the prospect of peace even more remote. — Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch

The New York Post approved of the former Mayor’s statements and said “Koch is absolutely right. Obama and Clinton intentionally treated Netanyahu like dirt, then made sure the world knew. It wasn’t just bad manners. It was flashing a green light for Israel’s enemies. By broadcasting his wavering support, Obama made it more likely there will be a new war.
“He also undermines efforts to get Iran to stop its nuclear program and makes it more likely Israel will undertake military action. Yet Koch didn’t just criticize American policy. He went after Sen. Charles Schumer (D) and his rubberstamp, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), among others, for not standing up to the president. He elaborated during my call. ‘It’s their silence,’ Koch said to me yesterday. ‘I can’t figure out where they are. Take Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY). You’d think he’d be jumping up and down. But there’s nothing.'”
“Ed Koch is on fire. Here are a few of the bombshells he dropped yesterday. President Obama ‘wants to make Israel a pariah state.’ Hillary Clinton is a ‘disappointment’ and didn’t deserve the standing ovation she got from a leading Jewish group.
“Sen. Chuck Schumer has been silent on America’s tilt toward the Palestinians because he is ‘afraid of Obama.’ Anything else? Only that Clinton won’t answer his letters when he asks directly whether the United States is prepared to defend Israel from Iran.
“And Obama isn’t neutral in the Mideast. He’s pro-Arab.”
The New York Post also said: “It is odd but true: The fact that most Jews in Congress are Democrats is proving to be a liability to Israel.
“Silence is not a virtue. There is an obvious split in the administration, with Obama and Clinton the pro-Arab hawks, and Vice President Joe Biden and adviser Dennis Ross advocating a more Israel-friendly policy.
“The time to influence the outcome is now, with reasoned arguments — in public. That’s how critics would challenge a Republican president making the same mistake.
“Later, Sen. Schumer’s office issued a one-sentence statement in response to my request. It signals he will go public if his private efforts fail to change Obama’s policy:
‘If the administration continues along this line, everyone in the New York delegation will have no choice but to speak out.’
“Remember that promise. Koch certainly will.”

Was the Bush TARP Program a Mistake?

Many Republicans who supported the Bush Administration’s Troubled Assets Recovery Program (TARP) are now encountering GOP primary problems. Some of these GOP voters are lumping TARP into the same category as the Obama stimulus (which was opposed by every Republican), the $3.6 trillion budget, the costs associated with health care reform and the use of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to subsidize irresponsible lending. Some of these voters do not realize that there was a major difference in how TARP was administered by the Bush and Obama administrations.
The voters have already inflicted punishment on TARP backers. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) was called “Kay Bailout” by her primary opponent, and was defeated in her attempt to win the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nomination. TARP is also a major issue in the primary battles confronting Sen. John McCain (AZ) and Bob Bennett (UT).
Rep. Gresham Barrett (SC) is feeling the heat in his gubernatorial primary, and was booed of a stage because of his TARP support. Many Republicans supported TARP which was proposed by the Bush Administration. In 2008 it was endorsed by McCain and then Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK). Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) said supporting TARP was difficult for any Republican but it was the “correct and courageous” thing to do. Romney went on to say:

I hate the way TARP was administered, but I can tell you that we were on a precipice unlike anything we have known before in modern history with the potential of a complete collapse of our currency system and our financial system. Had we not taken action, you could have seen a real devastation. . . TARP prevented a systemic collapse of the national financial system. . . It was intended to prevent a run on virtually every bank and financial institution in the country.

Nicole Gelinas of the free-market Manhattan Institute noted: “We were never going to escape this debacle without pumping massive amounts of taxpayer money into the financial system.”
The first $350 billion TARP installment was spent by Bush and the second $350 billion installment went to the Obama Administration. TARP passed the Senate on October 1, 2008 on a 74 to 25 vote, and the House approved it on October 3 by a 263 to 171 vote.
TARP was supported by 34 Senate and 91 House Republicans, but public opinion was always strongly against TARP. TARP was designed to address the subprime mortgage crisis, and it was enacted during a year of tremendous upheaval on Wall Street.
This difficult year included the sale of investment banks Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch, the failure of Lehman Brothers and the government rescue of the American International Group, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. None of this halted the panic on Wall Street.
TARP was a capital investment in the financial system to prevent a huge collapse. It was essential to save the financial markets because they have an enormous impact on pensions, savings, investments and mortgages. In the fall of 2008 many experts said the worldwide banking system would collapse within days without TARP.
After Lehman Brothers failed in mid-September of 2008, all commercial credit in the United States came to a halt. With the credit markets frozen there was tremendous volatility in the stock market. Bush was told by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, that a failure to act decisively could plunge our nation into another Great Depression.
They said without a massive government intervention, America faced a total financial collapse because of lost confidence in the banking system. Bush said, “I readily concede I chucked aside some of my free-market principles when I was told by my chief economic advisers that the situation we were facing could be worse than the Great Depression.”
Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) spoke for many of the GOP TARP supporters in September of 2008 by saying “We’re on the cusp of a complete catastrophic credit meltdown. There is no liquidity in the market. We are out of time. Either you believe that fact, or you don’t. I do.”
Former Sen. John Sununu (NH) is one of the two Republican members of the TARP oversight panel. He says the program “did help to stabilize financial markets during the critical period of November and December in 2008.”
Republican primary voters are now attacking lawmakers in their own party for supporting a program that A) was created at the behest of a Republican President and B) was central to saving America from a serious depression. The infusion of $350 billion by the Bush Administration was the best way to slow the nation’s slide to the financial edge. The program worked and the Republicans should be glad it did.
UPDATE – TARP Ends, October 4, 2010
As of October of 2010, $67 billion remains outstanding of the TARP funds which went to the auto industry. GM is planning to raise funds through an IPO, an Initial Public Offering. The government is ultimately expecting to lose $17 billion on the auto loans, but at the same time they are making a $9 billion profit just from the money that was lent to Citibank. Treasury Secretary Geithner said:

The returns we’ll get from our investments in banks and AIG will be more than enough to cover the money we’ll lose in autos. The net costs of TARP will be a fraction of their original advertised cost, but profits aren’t the proper measure to use when evaluating TARP. I don’t like to focus too much on just the accounting cost. We weren’t in the business to make money. Even if they had lost much money, that would have been the right thing to do. I think it’s an excellent record for careful financial stewardship.

Geithner pointed to metrics such as the speed at which the price of borrowing came down in 2009, the resumption of economic growth in the second half of 2009, and the speed with which banks raised private capital to replace public funds. As Daniel Gross of Yahoo Finance has written: “TARP has been an enormous success from a policy perspective — it saved the financial system and averted a second Great Depression at a very low price to taxpayers. But politically, like the assets it was designed to remove from banks, it remains toxic.”

It should also be noted that TARP was not the only effort to unfreeze the credit markets. In the words of Robert Samuelson, the Federal Reserve also “devised ingenious ways to provide credit to parts of the financial markets (commercial paper, money market funds) that were being abandoned by private lenders. For almost two years, it held its short-term interest rate near zero. All this arguably averted a second Great Depression but obviously did not trigger a vigorous economic recovery.” In late 2008 the Fed authorized a $1.725 trillion purchase of Treasury bonds, mortgage backed securities and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds.

“The Tale of TARP”, Washington Post

Bush's $350 Billion TARP is About to Break Even

The Obama administration announced today that over the next year it will begin to sell the government’s 7.7 billion shares in Citigroup. The Citigroup shares are one of the last remaining legacies from Bush administration’s first installment of the Toxic Assets Recovery Program (TARP). The sale means the Bush outlay of $350 billion in TARP funds will break even, or result in a profit.
All of the major financial institutions which received funds from the Bush administration have been able to meet the requirements established by the Treasury Department. Over 80% of these funds have now been repaid with five percent interest, and the government earned $19 billion. All six of the biggest U.S. credit-card issuers have also returned their bailout money, and these initial TARP funds were repaid about a year after their distribution.
Citigroup was one of the hardest hit banks and they received $45 billion in bailout money, more than any other financial institution. The Treasury paid $3.25 a share for its stake in the bank during the 2008 credit crisis. The good news for the taxpayers is that the shares have increased steadily in value, and the government will receive a hefty profit of between $8 and $10 billion.
The remaining major question mark from the Bush TARP funds is the insurance giant AIG, which has been rapidly selling its assets. The taxpayers could still lose $12 to $20 billion on their AIG investment. If that does happen, it will be subtracted from the $29 billion in profits which were received from Bush’s TARP. Once again, the bottom line is that Bush’s TARP will break even or will result in a small profit. This is a far different outlook than what was predicted during the final months of the 2008 campaign.

Laura Bush’s “Spoken From the Heart” to be Released on May 4th


Former First Lady Laura Bush with her daughters Barbara and Jenna.

Former First Lady Laura Bush will have an extensive travel schedule in May and June as she promotes her new memoir, “Spoken From The Heart.” The book is being published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, and they will also release her husband’s memoir this fall. Mrs. Bush received a $1.6 million advance which is well below the $8 million which went to Hillary Clinton.
Mrs. Bush has rarely talked about herself, and since leaving the White House the former first couple has not made any derogatory comments about President Obama. Mrs. Bush now says the rhetoric from the current White House annoys and angers her. Readers will learn the then 32 year old Laura Welch was a liberal Democrat when she met George Bush in 1977 and agreed to marry him three months later. She changed her party registration and devoted most of her time to his losing 1978 Congressional campaign.
She had misgivings about his running for governor of Texas in 1994. She reluctantly agreed to endure the campaign as long as she did not have to give a political speech. She soon reversed that position, and Mrs. Bush would later address two Republican National Conventions. Some highlights of her career include:

    • As First Lady of Texas she took the unusual step of personally lobbying for an allocation of $215 million for reading programs among children and adults. The legislation was passed and is still known as “Laura Bush’s Bill.”
    • While Mrs. Bush is best known for her literacy programs, she also took an active interest in foreign policy and humanitarian relief efforts. The Bush administration doubled foreign aid in eight years. The growth rate was unprecedented and the only President who could match this record is Harry Truman’s Marshall Plan.
      The Bush White House revolutionized foreign aid with the creation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. This $6.7 billion public-private partnership for the first time tied aid to accountability based on a country’s governing well, fighting corruption and commitment to economic freedoms.
    • After the September 11, 2001 attack, Mrs. Bush became an outspoken supporter of the women of Afghanistan. In November of that year, she became the only First Lady to give the President’s weekly radio address, speaking out against the Taliban’s oppression of women and children. She traveled to Afghanistan three times and served as chair of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council. Under the Taliban, girls were forbidden to go to school, and they had to endure severe cruelty.
    • In 2006, she hosted the first-ever White House Summit on Malaria, which helped raise awareness of efforts to eradicate the disease. The Bush administration’s five-year, $1.2 billion campaign to combat malaria, provided 4 million insecticide-treated bed nets and 7 million life-saving drug therapies to vulnerable people. The World Health Organization now credits the Bush administration with saving over 10 million lives because of the anti-malaria campaign.
    • She visited Africa five times, and total US government development aid to the continent quadrupled from $1.3 billion in 2001 to more than $5 billion in 2008.


The former First Lady at the 2004 Republican National Convention.
    • Mrs. Bush made over 60 speeches to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, and the Bush administration spent over $15 billion on the global AIDS battle. George W. Bush had a low approval rating at home, but it was sky high in Israel and Africa. The number of Africans being treated with life-saving antiretroviral drugs went from 50,000 to 2.1 million.
    • She gave a high priority to the struggle for women’s equality. While visiting Amman, Jordan, she called for women to have “the right to speak, vote and worship freely,” and she repeated this basic message in travels to 76 countries.
    • Mrs. Bush traveled to the Thai-Burma border to meet with the thousands of refugees who fled the abuses of Burma’s military regime. She continued to focus global attention on the ruling junta’s oppression and organized a 2006 roundtable at the United Nations. She returned to Burma in mid-2007 and spoke out in support of the pro-democracy movement, and urged Burmese soldiers and militias to refrain from violence.
      In May of 2008 she once again strongly denounced the regime when they inexplicably denied aid to their own people in the aftermath of the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis. She was successful in finally getting them to accept international assistance.
    • Laura Bush’s current job approval rating is among the most positive Gallup has recorded for a former First Lady. A 2010 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found 82% of Americans approving and just 13% disapproving of the job Laura Bush did as First Lady.
    • Laura Bush has not abandoned her interests since leaving the White House. She continues to work on projects related to Afghanistan and Burma. She strongly encouraged her daughter Barbara to leave her job and to become president of the new Global Health Corps which deploys college grads to staff medical clinics around the world. Barbara had earlier worked in Africa with UNICEF and the U.N. World Food Program.
    • “Spoken From the Heart” will also reveal inside struggles within the Bush family. The former President says it was his wife who made him stop drinking in1986, and he also credits her with having a stabilizing effect on his private life. According to People magazine reporter Jane Simms Podesta, “She is the steel in his back. She is a civilizing influence on him. I think she built him, in many ways, into the person he is today.”
    • When asked about her legacy, Mrs. Bush said, “I hope people will remember me for being an open and caring person but also for standing with women around the world, women’s rights, democracy building and on what every mother wants, which is a good education for her children. Maybe if I have a regret, it’s just that I didn’t do more.”

The Big 10: After Years in Exile the GOP Heads Toward a Landslide


The Big 10 Conference states are heading toward a GOP landslide.

The political outlook in the industrial Midwest could change significantly before November, but as of today, the Republican Party is on the verge of a major comeback. The present survey research data is better than 1994 when the GOP reclaimed both the House and Senate. The polling numbers have not been this good for Republicans in the battleground Big 10 states since 1966.
In 2008, Barack Obama carried the entire Big 10. These states represent 117 of the 270 electoral votes necessary to elect a President. Now the outlook has been reversed dramatically. According to a memo released today by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling:

If the election was today Democrats would likely lose something they currently hold in every state where they have something to lose- Pennsylvania Governor and perhaps Senate, Michigan Governor, Ohio Governor, Indiana Senate, Iowa Governor, Wisconsin Governor and perhaps Senate, and Illinois Senate and/or Governor. Only Minnesota doesn’t join the party because Democrats have nothing to lose there.

Polling in every Big 10 state indicates a landslide is in formation.

    • OHIO GOVERNOR: Former Rep. John Kasich (R) leads Gov. Ted Strickland (D) by a 42-37 margin. Just 33% of voters approve of Strickland, with 47% disapproving. His own party is not enthusiastic about the Governor and he has poor numbers with independents at 28/54.
    • OHIO SENATE: In a Public Policy Polling survey out today, former Rep. Rob Portman (R) is leading Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D) by a 41% to 36% margin. Only 40% approve of President Obama while 53% disapprove.
    • PENNSYLVANIA SENATE: A new Franklin & Marshall College Poll shows former Rep. Pat Toomey (R) with a 33% to 29% lead over Sen. Arlen Specter (D).
    • PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR: Attorney General Tom Corbett (R) has an 18 point lead over his closest Democratic opponent. The frontrunning Democrat is Allegheny County executive Dan Onorato who trails by a 46% to 28% margin.
    • WISCONSIN SENATE: A survey of 700 voters, conducted March 20-21 by Public Policy Polling, shows Sen. Russ Feingold (D) narrowly ahead of former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) by a 47-44 percent margin. In November, Feingold held a 47 percent to 41 percent edge. Thompson was Governor from 1987 to 2001.
    • WISCONSIN GOVERNOR: A poll conducted last weekend of 700 likely voters by Public Policy Polling showed Mark Neumann (R) with 43% and Tom Barrett (D) with 38%. Republican Scott Walker topped Barrett 42%-39%. Neumann is a former congressman, Walker is the Milwaukee County executive and Barrett is the Milwaukee mayor and a former congressman. Neumann came close to defeating Sen. Feingold in 1998, and among Independents he is leading this year by 43%-26%. Gov. Jim Doyle (D) has a 29%-58% approval/disapproval rating.
    • INDIANA SENATE: This seat should have been an easy Democratic retention until Sen. Evan Bayh (D) bolted just days before the filing deadline. A new Rasmussen Reports survey released Tuesday shows Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) trailing all of the top three Republican candidates. According to the survey, former Sen. Dan Coats (R) leads Ellsworth 49% to 34%. One of the major issues hurting Ellsworth is his decision to support the health care reform package.
    • ILLINOIS GOVERNOR: A Rasmussen poll released 10 days ago found Sen. Bill Brady (R) leading Gov. Pat Quinn (D) 47 percent to 37 percent, with 6 percent preferring another candidate and 9 percent undecided.
    • ILLINOIS SENATE: This is Barack Obama’s old seat. Perhaps the only person that could win the seat for the GOP, Rep. Mark Kirk, is now the Republican nominee. This should have been a safe seat for the Democrats but now it is in tossup status. The Democatic nominee, State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, already has high negatives.
    • IOWA GOVERNOR: Terry Branstad (R), who was Iowa’s governor from 1983 to 1999, continues to hold a double-digit lead over Gov. Chet Culver (D) in the campaign to win back his old job, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted March 17. Branstad runs ahead of Culver by 52 percent to 36 percent, with 6 percent preferring another choice and 6 percent undecided. Branstad also had a 16 point lead in mid February.
    • MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: Term-limited incumbent Jennifer Granholm (D) is retiring. The bad news for Democrats is that all three candidates in the GOP primary have commanding leads of at least 15% in the general election.
    • MINNESOTA GOVERNOR: The Rasmussen poll of March 12th shows GOP State Reps. Marty Seifert and Tom Emmer both holding their own against the better-known Democratic front-runners: former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher. The race is essentially even and the poll found a huge number of voters haven’t decided on a favorite.
    • To win the presidency in 2012 the GOP will need to receive at least 30 of the 117 electoral votes in the Big 10. In 2000, George W. Bush was narrowly able to achieve that goal by winning Indiana (12) and Ohio (21). At that time there were GOP Governors in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania and California, but Bush lost all of those states.
  • The pattern was repeated in 2004 and Bush was then able to add Iowa (7) to his total. Once again, McCain won none of the Big 10 states in 2008. The 2012 GOP presidential nominee will probably look to the Big 10 for a running mate, and top contenders might be Ohio’s Rob Portman or Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett.