Welcome back to Hotline Sort. Feinstein's numbers are close to the danger zone, Christie hits an all-time low in New Jersey, Obama courts the Jewish vote while Jon Huntsman kicks off his campaign and defends his work for the president. Here's today's rundown:
10. Former Ambassador and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman will make it official at Liberty Park in New Jersey on Tuesday morning, formally announcing his campaign for president.
In his speech, he addresses the thorny issue of serving under President Obama as Ambassador to China and now seeking to run against him.
"I don't think you need to run down anyone's reputation to run for President," Huntsman is slated to say, according to excerpts of the speech provided by the campaign. "Of course we'll have our disagreements. I respect my fellow Republican candidates. And I respect the President. He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help the country we both love. But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is who will be the better President; not who's the better American."
9. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., scores among the lowest approval ratings in her career in the newly-released Field Poll. Her popularity has dipped substantially over the last year, with just 43 percent saying they'd support her, and 39 percent wanting someone else. Her job approval rating is a more respectable 46 percent, with 31 percent disapproving.
"With Feinstein, we've never seen these kinds of numbers before, where it's so close," Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo told the San Francisco Chronicle. A likely source of voters' dissatisfaction: Feinstein represents a state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.
8. A new Quinnipiac poll shows Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J, down to his lowest job approval of his tenure - 44 percent. There's a major gender gap in how he's viewed - 53 percent of men approve of his job, while just 36 percent of women feel the same.
7. George Allen's primary challenger Jamie Radtke, who has been courting Tea Party support in her underdog Virginia Senate campaign, appears in Sarah Palin's new movie, "The Undefeated." In the movie, she says Palin is "not a member of the permanent political establishment."
6. Add Rep. Morgan Griffith
, R-Va., to the list of likely Mitt Romney
endorsers. He has an unusual connection
to Romney: His son's allergist was Romney's mission partner in France.
5. Want another sign that straw polls aren't the most reliable indicator of Republican support? A New Orleans school board member bused in dozens of attendees to the Republican Leadership Conference with promises of free food and free tickets - with the express intent of supporting Huntsman, Politico
Huntsman finished second in the conference's straw poll, a surprising result given his limited ties to the party's activist base (especially in the South). The winner was Rep. Ron Paul, who also relies on a cadre of supporters who are focused on the straw polls.
4. Keith Olbermann
launched his new "Countdown" show on Current TV last night, featuring Michael Moore and Markos Moulitsas as guests. Check out the New York Times
' Alessandra Stanley's review
of the debut here.
3. Rep. Lynn Woolsey
, D-Calif., will be announcing her retirement from Congress Tuesday, according to the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat
. One of the most liberal members of Congress, Woolsey holds a safely Democratic seat that gave President Obama 70 percent of the vote.
Woolsey is only the second member of the House to retire outright, without seeking higher office, following Oklahoma Democratic Rep. Dan Boren
's decision to step down last week.
2. At a DNC event described as a pro-Israel dinner, President Obama
tried to reassure Jewish supporters that he's pro-Israel even though they may have "tactical disagreements" over his policies, the Wall Street Journal reports
Obama repeated most of his standard talking points on Israel, arguing the status quo in the region is unacceptable and restarting the peace process is essential. A new talking point was his reference to the Jews' historic Biblical connection to the land of Israel.
"But the broader vision, which is one in which Israel is a secure Jewish state, is able to live in peace with its neighbors ... where the hopes and dreams of the original travelers to Israel, the original settlers in Israel, that those hopes and dreams that date back a millennium, that those hopes are realized. That will remain our North Star. That will remain our goal," Obama said.
The DNC announced 80 people attended the fundraiser.
1. Obama is set to announce a decision about troop withdrawal on Wednesday, and National Journal
's Marc Ambinder
reports that Gen. David Petraeus
, who is expected to be confirmed as the new director of the CIA by September, would recommend the following: withdrawing one brigade combat team of about 5,000 troops by the end of 2011, another 5,000 by the spring of 2012, and the rest of the 30,000 troops committed as part of the 2009 surge by the end of 2012.
The Los Angeles Times
reports that's a bigger drawdown than Petraeus wanted. But he'll endorse a withdrawal of 30,000 troops by the end of next year, our own Marc Ambinder reported