Politics: White House

Obama Speaks to Firefighters in New York City on His Way to Ground Zero

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May 5, 2011, 9:01 a.m.

NV Gov. Jim Gib­bons (R) said 10/6 “he is still in pain and re­cov­er­ing from a broken pel­vis but that he is con­duct­ing state busi­ness while in re­hab­il­it­a­tion.” Gib­bons: “It’s one of the more pain­ful breaks you can have. I re­com­mend against it.”

Still, Gib­bons “said the in­jury isn’t pre­vent­ing him from con­duct­ing state busi­ness.” Gib­bon: “Oth­er than that, we’re car­ry­ing on the func­tions of gov­ern­ment every morn­ing.”

For this reas­on, Gib­bons “has to be very se­lect­ive about tak­ing paink­illers that dull the senses and reas­on­ing powers.” Gib­bons: “We make no de­cisions when there is pain medi­cine in­volved.” After he con­ducts busi­ness and “when he starts ther­apy, he said the pain pills are ne­ces­sary ‘to al­low your muscles to start work­ing.’”

Gib­bons, on horse ac­ci­dent: “I got one foot in the left stir­rup but when I reached up and grabbed the horn and pulled my­self up, it spooked her. She came out of that chute at 100 miles an hour and I still only had one leg in the stir­rup.” Gib­bons “said there was no way to get con­trol of the horse ‘so I de­cided to exit the horse.’” The horse then “kicked him in the stom­ach, caus­ing some in­tern­al bleed­ing to add to his in­jur­ies.”

He con­ten­ded “his pre-sur­gery X-rays showed the two halves of the pel­vic arch nearly 4 inches apart,” and doc­tors “in­ser­ted two 10 inch long bolts and fixed the pel­vic arch with a plate and sev­er­al more screws.”

Gib­bons: “My goal is to put that same saddle back on that same horse and ride. My goal is to fin­ish what I star­ted that day and, in the mean­time, I’m go­ing to fin­ish what I star­ted four years ago - mov­ing Nevada for­ward.”

More Gib­bons, on be­ing in a wheel­chair “for up to eight weeks”: “I’m go­ing to get red and blue lights and a siren on this thing” (Dor­nan, Car­son City Nevada Ap­peal, 10/10).

Last Fri­day’s drop in the un­em­ploy­ment rate from 8.5 to 8.3 per­cent marked the fifth con­sec­ut­ive month of de­clines in the job­less rate. This de­cline adds to a grow­ing body of evid­ence that there are some subtle but im­port­ant shift­ing sands in the 2012 elec­tion. The broad­er “U-6” in­dex adds up the per­cent­age of un­em­ployed people with those work­ing part-time who want full-time work, and with those who have giv­en up look­ing at all. This num­ber has dropped for four con­sec­ut­ive months from 16.4 per­cent in Septem­ber to 15.1 per­cent today. It is still a hor­rific­ally high rate but headed in the right dir­ec­tion. As the eco­nom­ic-con­sult­ing firm ISI Group has noted, last week marked the 18th con­sec­ut­ive week of more pos­it­ive than neg­at­ive eco­nom­ic news. As a res­ult, polls show an in­crease in the num­ber of Amer­ic­ans say­ing the coun­try is headed in the right dir­ec­tion, while the num­ber of those who say it is off on the wrong track are in de­cline.

Un­ques­tion­ably, there are a lot of eco­nom­ic dangers ahead, not the least of which is the like­li­hood of a re­ces­sion — and pos­sible fin­an­cial crisis — in Europe. Be­cause of this, many eco­nom­ists add a great deal of cau­tion to what little op­tim­ism they have. But the pub­lic is re­act­ing some­what less guardedly, with con­sumer-con­fid­ence rat­ings run­ning at their highest levels since May and with a bit of an up­tick in Pres­id­ent Obama’s job-ap­prov­al rat­ings. There were 23 con­sec­ut­ive weeks of Gal­lup weekly job-ap­prov­al rat­ings run­ning 44 per­cent or less since the week of Ju­ly 11-17. His ap­prov­al has now run 45 per­cent or high­er for six out of the last sev­en weeks. This past week’s (Jan. 30-Feb. 5) ap­prov­al rat­ing of 46 per­cent, with 47 per­cent dis­ap­prov­al, is still “un­der­wa­ter,” as poll­sters say. It does, though, re­flect a dif­fer­ent pat­tern than what had ex­is­ted since mid­sum­mer.

But the volat­il­ity that we have seen in the last three elec­tions still very much ex­ists: This is a very un­stable polit­ic­al cli­mate. One way of look­ing at it is that the fa­vor­ab­il­ity rat­ings of the Demo­crat­ic Party and Demo­crats in Con­gress are lousy, but those of the Re­pub­lic­an Party and Re­pub­lic­ans in Con­gress are even worse. Re­pub­lic­ans need to keep a close eye on the gen­er­ic con­gres­sion­al bal­lot. An as­sort­ment of firms — par­tis­an and in­de­pend­ent — and joint bi­par­tis­an polling ef­forts are show­ing an un­usu­ally wide range of read­ings on the gen­er­ic bal­lot test. Demo­crats are ahead by any­where from a stat­ist­ic­ally in­sig­ni­fic­ant 1 point in the Politico/GWU/Battle­ground poll, by the Re­pub­lic­an firm the Tar­rance Group and Demo­crat­ic firm Lake Re­search Part­ners, to a whop­ping 11-point mar­gin in the United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll. Even the Rasmussen Re­ports poll, which al­most nev­er has Demo­crats ahead on the gen­er­ic, re­cently put Demo­crats in front by a point.

My hunch is that the real­ity lies some­where in between. It is around the 3-point Demo­crat­ic ad­vant­age in the Demo­cracy Corps sur­vey, con­duc­ted by Demo­crat­ic poll­ster Stan Green­berg and strategist James Carville (which ac­tu­ally names the in­cum­bents in each race), and a 6-point ad­vant­age in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journ­al sur­vey, con­duc­ted by Demo­crat Peter Hart and Re­pub­lic­an Bill McIn­turff. Over the years, there seems to be a de­fault Demo­crat­ic ad­vant­age of maybe 3 points. But we are see­ing more cred­ible pub­lic and private polls com­ing in above that mar­gin than be­low. This may or may not be a trend. But polling also shows that there are con­sid­er­able weak­nesses in the Re­pub­lic­an mes­sage. In­de­pend­ents are un­happy with Pres­id­ent Obama and/or Demo­crats. At the same time, they are show­ing in­creased skep­ti­cism with the GOP mes­saging.

As it grows more ap­par­ent that former Mas­sachu­setts Gov. Mitt Rom­ney will be the Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­ee, he pre­sum­ably will have free­dom to start down­shift­ing his rhet­or­ic a bit and fo­cus­ing more on in­de­pend­ents. But he would do so with a con­ser­vat­ive base that is already highly sus­pi­cious of him, so he may have to make that shift from a nom­in­a­tion cam­paign to a gen­er­al-elec­tion cam­paign slower than oth­er­wise might be the case. Rom­ney also might have to take a longer time be­fore earn­estly pur­su­ing in­de­pend­ent voters.

In short, this cam­paign is at a new and dif­fer­ent place: The odds of it be­ing a very close race have gone up. A lot of Demo­crats didn’t want to ad­mit how much of an up­hill battle Obama faced for much of last year, but he really did. Now, sig­nals are more con­flict­ing. Many GOP strategists ex­press con­cern that the situ­ation has gone from one in which they were cau­tiously op­tim­ist­ic to one of un­cer­tainty as to where it is headed. That sounds right to me.

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