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Ted Cruz Signals ‘Go’ on White House Bid

Sen. Ted Cruz signaled he is moving the chess pieces into place for a White House bid in 2016 this week with some key staff re-arrangements that are viewed by analysts as typical steps taken by those who want personnel in positions to create a national campaign infrastructure.

Chip Roy, former aide to Gov. Rick Perry and currently Cruz’s Chief of Staff is being moved to his new role as ‘Senior Adviser’. While the titles may not seem much different, the key distinction is that the former role is strictly legislative while the latter is explicitly political in nature.

Cruz explained, “Chip Roy has played a vital role in the battles we’ve waged, the mountains we’ve climbed, and our remarkable successes. So, I’m very pleased that he will be applying his exceptional talents and passion toward fighting for conservative principles through our campaign arm.”

The move is similar to strategic steps also taken by Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) as they, too, are assumed to be positioning for a presidential run after the close of the November midterms.

Another Misstep for Landrieu in Latest Campaign Ad

As if the race to retain her Louisiana seat in the U.S. Senate were not already under the gun, Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu has made another misstep in a long list of tactics that have only added to the ammunition in the gun of her surging Republican opponent Rep. Bill Cassidy.

In her latest campaign ad, Landrieu attacks Cassidy as being weak on border security and portrays herself as pro-border fence and pro-border control.

With voter sentiments high in favor of securing the border and increasingly not high on any form of amnesty, this tactics might have been considered a smart move.

But the number one rule in campaign politics is never make a charge to which cannot anticipate the reply, and specifically don’t make a charge that opens up question about your own record. Alas, that’s precisely what Landrieu has done.

The Cassidy campaign quickly pounced on the opportunity to point out in a speech last year on the Senate floor, Landrieu wasn’t so hot on border security. In the speech Landrieu said,

“I voted for the dumb fence once. I’m not going to do it again because I learned my mistake when I went down there to look at it and realized that we could build two dumb fences or three dumb fences, and it’s not working. So I am simply not going to waste the money to do something that I know will not work.”

Having fueled more criticism of her growing reputation as out-of-touch, Landrieu must surely be mulling whether to pull the ad altogether in hopes that the damage to her failing campaign can be minimized. But with 56 days until the November 4th election, it may be too late. Recent polls have her trailing Cassidy in the possible runoff election in December.

Kansas Senate Race Increasingly In Doubt

As we reported last week, a key decision by Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to keep Democrat Senate candidate Chad Taylor on the ballot despite calling it quits could make the difference in whether Republicans retain the seat currently held by long-time Republican incumbent Senator Pat Roberts.

In a new poll that pits Independent candidate Greg Orman against Roberts, Orman leads by a single point. Though well within the margin of error, the poll reflects that Roberts has given up a 10-point lead since June.

As Republicans press hard to pick off one or two incumbent Democrat to seal a victory for control over the U.S. Senate, another potential loss of an incumbent seat threatens the entire operation.

Ultimately, should Roberts keep the race competitive, that Democrat Chad Taylor is still on the ballot could peel off just enough votes from Orman to allow Roberts to squeak by and retain his seat.

Americans Give Obama an ‘F’

According to a Washington Post/ABC poll, a majority of Americans give the president an ‘F’. With a margin of 52-42, respondents choose ‘failure’ over ‘success’ to define Obama’s tenure. Among registered voters, the numbers are even more bleak with the president receiving 55% score on ‘failure’.CIB091014-Failure

Among those giving the ‘F’ grade are 25% of Democrats, clearly showing that the president’s once loyal base has begun to abandon him.

This trend is showing no signs of abating, and the result could be that Democrat voters will stay home in the traditional low-turnout midterm elections in November, thus giving Republicans an advantage as they push to take back the U.S. Senate.

Franken Increasingly In Doubt for Senate

Though not formally on the list of toss-up states for Senate control, FoxNews Politics indicates that Minnesota is well within the crosshairs of the Republican Party as it looks to pick off a couple key Democrat incumbent senators.

Franken’s Republican opponent, Mike McFadden, is taking aim at Franken’s record and looking to exploit the fact that 54% of Minnesotans do not approve of Barack Obama.

McFadden’s spokesman explained, “We see that [Franken] is clearly afraid. This race is much closer than people realize.” And Franken’s spokesman agreed, “We’ve always known this was going to be a tough race and it’s clear we’ve got one.”

According to recent polls, Franken leads McFadden by 8 or 9 points, and the RealClearPolitics average puts the lead at 8. But as Obama’s number continue to slide, tagging Franken to the president may pull his numbers down as well.

If the margin between the candidates drops to 5 points, voter turnout could determine the outcome. Larry Jacobs of the University of Wisconsin explained, “Obama’s approval rating continues to sag. That certainly doesn’t help Franken. There’s a genuine concern from Democrats who are candid about turnout. I think those things could help McFadden.”

Though the race remains on the edge of potential Republican pick-up states, much can change in the 7 weeks remaining until election day.

Colorado Senator Takes a Hit

Among the now 10 toss-up states in the race for control of the U.S. Senate, the Democrat candidate in Colorado has hit the same pothole as did his counterpart in Alaska just a week ago.

Incumbent Sen. Mark Udall responded with an apology under public pressure for his comments during a debate following the murder by ISIS of two American journalists in Iraq.

During the debate Udall responded to a question concerning the ongoing crisis in Iraq explaining ISIS poses no imminent threat to the United States and that the beheaded journalists would agree.

“Steve Sotloff and James Foley would tell us, don’t be impulsive. Horrible and barbarous as those executions were, don’t be impulsive, come up with a plan to knock ISIL back.”

Udall’s Republican opponent Cory Gardner fired back the next day, reports Newsmax,

“It’s outrageous that Senator Udall would put words into the mouths of dead Americans.”

Udall quickly issued an apology,

“I should not have invoked the names of James Foley and Steven Sotloff. It was inappropriate and I sincerely apologize.”

According to RealClearPolitics, Udall and Gardner are in a statistical dead heat with Udall at 45 and Gardner at 42, well within the margin of error. Though Barack Obama won Colorado, Republicans see the state as a potential pickup given the clear anti-Obama climate and the expected high Republican turnout in the November election.

Bill Clinton Boosts Hillary’s 2016

With Hillary preparing a key visit to Iowa next week, doubt over whether she will decide to make another run for president in 2016 is quickly waning.

Bill and Hil’ will make a joint appearance again at the Harkin Steak Fry, an annual Democrat fundraiser which typically draws key Democrat elected officials and candidates.

Given Bill Clinton’s ongoing popularity among Democrats — Foxnews Politics reports an NBC poll put him at 55% approval among all voters this Spring — playing the sidekick once again is seen as a positive to Hillary’s eventual bid.

“They are tied at the hip, and for the most part he will help her. Bill is very good at firing up the base. And he has the best numbers of any Democrat, including Hillary,” explained Democrat pollster Ben Tulchin.

Republican strategist David Payne agrees,

“Given how out of touch Hillary Clinton has appeared this year — complaining about how ‘broke’ she was earlier in her political career while dashing off to collect her next six-figure speaking fee — having the former president at her side can only help. I’m confident that their joint appearance is one of many more to come, especially following the midterms when the 2016 campaign comes into view.”

Barack Obama was the keynote speaker at the event in 2006, which helped play a role in his eventual primary bid in 2008.

How the GOP Can Win the Senate

As the fight for control over the U.S. Senate continues to heat up, a clear path for GOP victory has been identified by analysts in terms of gaining the 6 net seats required to hold a 51-49 majority in the upper house.

First, as RealClearPolitics has identified, the races in West Virginia, South Dakota, and Montana are almost certain victories for the respective Republican candidates, all of which are states Obama lost by double-digits.

That leaves 3 more net gains in order to win control. Obama lost four other states in which there is an on-going battle for the Senate. Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska went Republican in the last presidential cycle and represent key Senate races where the Democrat nominee is fighting for his life.

A pickup in all of these states would be enough to flip the Senate, provided the GOP doesn’t lose any incumbent races. Currently Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, the open seat in Georgia and Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas are in a tough fight to hold Republican sway.

To hedge the bets, Republicans are making a push to pickup an open seat or two in states that Obama did win. In both Iowa and Michigan, Republicans see very good opportunities to win.

Finally, there are at least three opportunities to knock-off Democrat incumbents in key pro-Obama states. In Colorado, New Hampshire and North Carolina, the incumbent Senators are either within the margin of error or giving up gains to the Republican challenger.

Schultz Apologizes for Attack on Scott Walker

Last week, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz characterized Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as a promoter of the political equivalent of domestic violence. She has now apologized for the incendiary remarks which she made at a Democrat-sponsored media event, reports The Hill.

In a statement issued over the weekend, Schutlz said “I shouldn’t have used the words I used,” which amounted likely to the understatement of the year.

She then went on to defend her attacks in the face of Republican criticism, “As for the issue of domestic violence, it’s unacceptable that a majority of Congressional Republicans opposed this critical legislation, of which I was a proud cosponsor, after blocking its reauthorization for more than a year.”

How exactly she proposed to tie Scott Walker to a congressional vote not to her liking was unclear.

It’s Getting Hot in Alaska

Hearkening back to the infamous 1988 ad aired by the George H.W. Bush campaign, styled the ‘Willie Horton’, the Alaska race for the U.S. Senate has turned nasty as polls continue to show the candidates tied.

Democrat Senator Mark Begich released an ad over the weekend which attempted to link Republican nominee Dan Sullivan to the release of a convicted sex offender who ultimately was charged in the murder of a grandmother and rape of a 2-year-old girl.

The Sullivan campaign blasted back,

“He is lying to Alaskans and using the murder of an elderly couple and the sexual assault of a two-year-old for his own political gain, and it’s despicable.”

Since the ad aired, the attorney representing the victims in the case publicly called for the ad to be pulled, along with Sullivan’s response ad, out of respect for the victims and that the case is still on-going.

Both campaigns have complied with the request, but not before the mud slinging began. Like the 1988 presidential race, the ad could play a major roll in the ultimate outcome.

Begich has currently fallen behind Sullivan according to recent counts by CBS News/NYT/YouGov and Rasmussen poling.

Alaska is one of the 9-plus toss-up states in the fight for control of the U.S. Senate, along with Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan and North Carolina.