Mary Landrieu and the Art of Backing Away

The Democratic senator can’t run from her record of support for the Affordable Care Act. But she can distance herself.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 10: Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) leaves the U.S. Capitol for a meeting with the rest of the Senate Democratic conference and U.S. President Barack Obama on the government shutdown and debt limit increase October 10, 2013 in Washington, DC. Speaker of the House John Boehner said earlier today that he is prepared to offer a short-term increase in the debt limit in a separate meeting later today with Obama.
National Journal
Michael Catalini
See more stories about...
Michael Catalini
Nov. 18, 2013, 3:19 p.m.

Later this week, South­ern Me­dia & Opin­ion Re­search is ex­pec­ted to re­lease the first in­de­pend­ent poll as­sess­ing the match­up between Demo­crat­ic Sen. Mary Landrieu and Re­pub­lic­an op­pon­ents in next year’s Sen­ate race in Louisi­ana.

For Landrieu, the poll will il­lu­min­ate wheth­er her Obama­care strategy is work­ing, or wheth­er the health care law is go­ing to define her race and hurt her pro­spects. While the poll will be con­duc­ted by the in­de­pend­ent or­gan­iz­a­tion, GOP busi­ness­man Lane Grigsby is fund­ing the sur­vey, ac­cord­ing to sources in the Landrieu cam­paign.

“Up un­til now the is­sue was man­age­able for her,” said Louisi­ana polit­ic­al ana­lyst John Ma­gin­nis. “But now I just think that — not just Louisi­ana but every­where — the at­mo­sphere is pretty tox­ic. Obama’s al­ways been un­pop­u­lar [in the state], but now “¦ if the elec­tion were held today I think she’d be a gon­er.”

Landrieu can’t run from her re­cord of sup­port for the Af­ford­able Care Act, which is un­der at­tack thanks to a dys­func­tion­al web­site, poor en­roll­ment, and wide­spread in­sur­ance can­cel­la­tions. But she can dis­tance her­self from Pres­id­ent Obama and his sig­na­ture le­gis­lat­ive achieve­ment — and some say she’s try­ing.

Evid­ence that Landrieu was mov­ing in that dir­ec­tion presen­ted it­self re­cently when she ex­ited a closed-door Demo­crat­ic lunch­eon in the Cap­it­ol and walked up to the mi­cro­phone in the Ohio Clock cor­ridor usu­ally re­served for lead­er­ship. While Demo­crat­ic lead­ers have backed the ad­min­is­trat­ive “fix” to the law pro­posed by the White House, con­tend­ing that no le­gis­la­tion is needed, Landrieu made the case for her own bill, which lets poli­cy­hold­ers keep their cur­rent plans.

“Any­body that wants to work with me or any­body else to fix it, I’ll be will­ing,” she said.

The stakes are high head­ing in­to 2014 for Sen­ate Demo­crats and Landrieu her­self, who has drawn op­pos­i­tion from Rep. Bill Cas­sidy, R-La., and con­ser­vat­ive can­did­ate Rob Maness. Her reelec­tion ef­fort, along with that of three oth­er Sen­ate Demo­crats, has been among the most closely watched of the cycle.

Amer­ic­ans for Prosper­ity has be­gun air­ing ads against Landrieu in Louisi­ana — Ma­gin­nis de­scribed them as re­lent­less — link­ing her to the pres­id­ent and the Af­ford­able Care Act. “I think that’s just a taste of what’s to come,” Ma­gin­nis said.

Demo­crats, however, point to Landrieu’s war chest. With nearly $6 mil­lion in cash on hand to Cas­sidy’s $3.5 mil­lion, Landrieu is well-po­si­tioned to take on her well-heeled op­pon­ents, they ar­gue.

While the anti-Obama­care strain is strong in Louisi­ana, Landrieu’s camp points to the vic­tory of Re­pub­lic­an Vance Mc­Al­lister in the spe­cial elec­tion for Louisi­ana’s 5th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict over GOP state Sen. Neil Riser. Mc­Al­lister, who won the sup­port of a star on A&E’s Duck Dyn­asty, was cast as a prag­mat­ist. He told voters that al­though he op­poses the law, re­peal would likely be im­possible giv­en the polit­ic­al com­pos­i­tion in Wash­ing­ton.

Some ana­lysts say that’s a sign that voters won’t elect can­did­ates who call ex­clus­ively for re­peal.

Landrieu wel­comed Mc­Al­lister to the del­eg­a­tion in a state­ment and said she looks for­ward to find­ing “com­mon ground” with the newly-elec­ted con­gress­man, ac­cord­ing to The Times-Pi­cay­une. Still, with Demo­crat­ic lead­er­ship un­will­ing at the mo­ment to put her le­gis­la­tion on the floor for a vote, Landrieu’s op­tions to mit­ig­ate the dam­age are lim­ited, ana­lysts say.

“The prob­lem is kind of above her pay grade right now,” Ma­gin­nis said. “It’s go­ing to de­pend on people’s re­ac­tions to the Af­ford­able Care Act.”

Re­cently Landrieu skipped an event when Obama traveled to her home state, which led to me­dia spec­u­la­tion that she was avoid­ing the pres­id­ent for polit­ic­al reas­ons. But Landrieu re­coils at the no­tion.

“I flew down with him,” she told re­port­ers. “And I waved from the top of the steps. Did you see me with that big smile? Now did I hide from him? Did you see me hide from him? Was I smil­ing and wav­ing with the pres­id­ent? If I wanted to hide I wouldn’t have been there.”

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
When It Comes to Mining Asteroids, Technology Is Only the First Problem
23 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Obama Reflects on His Economic Record
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Reagan Families, Allies Lash Out at Will Ferrell
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."

Source:
PEAK CONFIDENCE
Clinton No Longer Running Primary Ads
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-ex­pec­ted primary battle be­hind her, former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton (D) is no longer go­ing on the air in up­com­ing primary states. “Team Clin­ton hasn’t spent a single cent in … Cali­for­nia, In­di­ana, Ken­tucky, Ore­gon and West Vir­gin­ia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “cam­paign has spent a little more than $1 mil­lion in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone back­er in the Sen­ate, said the can­did­ate should end his pres­id­en­tial cam­paign if he’s los­ing to Hil­lary Clin­ton after the primary sea­son con­cludes in June, break­ing sharply with the can­did­ate who is vow­ing to take his in­sur­gent bid to the party con­ven­tion in Phil­adelphia.”

Source:
CITIZENS UNITED PT. 2?
Movie Based on ‘Clinton Cash’ to Debut at Cannes
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."

Source:
×