The White House is out to kill talk that President Barack Obama might swap out Vice President Joe Biden for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012.
“There’s absolutely nothing to it,” senior adviser David Axelrod said Tuesday night. “The president is blessed to have a spectacular vice president and an outstanding secretary of state. They’re both doing great work, and he wants to keep them on the job.”
Advisers to Clinton said the same, and another Obama adviser called the idea “nuts.”
Where, then, is this fantastical rumor coming from?
A student of the Obama-Clinton relationship could trace its roots to the summer of 2008, when Clinton supporters lobbied for Obama to pick her as his running mate and he, after considering it, declined. Then, after he chose her to be secretary of state, people in her orbit started musing aloud that she could shift into a different role down the line, although Clinton never went near that idea.
But it wasn’t until this past summer that the Clinton-Biden swap narrative started to fully swirl. As Obama’s approval ratings sank, a variety of luminaries started promoting the idea of the ultimate “staff shakeup,” in some cases claiming to have inside knowledge that it was being discussed.
Ken Hodges, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, on Tuesday made another trip to the steps of the state Capitol, this time to celebrate his endorsement by the 5,000-member Police Benevolent Association of Georgia.
Last month, Hodges was in the same spot, showing off support from 94 of 159 sheriffs across the state, including many Republicans.
Outside the contest for governor, the race between Hodges and Republican Sam Olens may be the one to watch. A former Dougherty County prosecutor, Hodges has been the most aggressive of downballot Democrats in his pursuit of GOP support. The money race between Hodges and Olens is likely to be even.
Hodges’ rhetoric has been sharp as well. On Tuesday, the Democrat said Olens’ insistence on making a court fight against President Barack Obama’s health reform legislation amounted to “pandering” – since the legal battle was already underway, at no cost to the state.
Olens, meanwhile, is likewise out to undercut Hodges’ base. Spokesman Heath Garrett confirmed that Olens has had conversations with Columbus-area members of the NAACP, who are still angry over Hodges handling of the 2003 killing of Kenneth Walker, an African-American shot by a law enforcement officer.
“Sam has an open-door relationship with the NAACP that’s unique with Republican candidates,” Garrett said. However, some differences won’t be bridgeable, he admits. Olens favors the state’s voter ID law, and has endorsed an end to restrictions imposed by the Voting Rights Act.
Another element certain to enter the race for attorney general: An Albany accountant has petitioned Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, asking the high court to overturn an 11th Circuit Court of Appeal – which determined that Hodges and other prosecutors enjoyed absolute immunity “for damages caused by constitutional violations grounded in knowingly false testimony to a grand jury.”
The action stems from Hodges’ initiation of a criminal case against a local surgeon and Rehberg, his accountant, for anonymous criticism of the hospital’s financial policies.
Garrett confirmed that the case would become a part of campaign discourse.
Sunday’s series of debates hosted by the Atlanta Press Club and Georgia Public Broadcasting will have at least one empty chair. From the Savannah Morning News:
Citing a “family commitment,” Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow is skipping Sunday’s televised debate with Republican Ray McKinney….
It will be the second debate the Savannah lawmaker has passed over this year; he missed one with his primary opponent, Regina Thomas.
Barrow spokeswoman Jane Brodsky wouldn’t describe the family event other than to say it’s “something he has to attend.”
In July, House Minority Leader John Boehner privately advised a few male Republican colleagues that they should avoid being seen drunk and partying with female lobbyists while in Washington.
Which sounds like good advice. But The Hill newspaper in D.C. reports that female lobbyists are saying that overcautious members of Congress are cutting off all contact with them. Anywhere, at any time.
Two Georgia congressmen were included in the discussion:
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) said he errs on the side of caution and is careful about meeting alone with women. The approach doesn’t affect the way he does business in the least, he said, noting that he has more female legislative assistants than males.
“I usually just ride my bike home and work at nights,” he said. “I don’t do a lot of going out at night with anyone.”
Other members don’t adhere to a formal policy, though they say they do their best to avoid anything that could be misinterpreted as inappropriate.
Rep. Tom Price (Ga.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said temptation will always be present in different forms on Capitol Hill, but how you handle it is a matter of character.
“These issues get to the character of the individual — one should always conduct oneself in a manner that is beyond reproach,” he said.
Somehow, we missed last week’s announcement by Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, a Republican, that he will end the tradition of declaring April as “Confederate History Month.”
Instead, he’ll rename it “Civil War in Virginia Month.” The decision comes several months after McDonnell was forced to apologize for neglecting any mention of slavery in this year’s declaration.
Speaking at a scholarly conference about slavery hosted as part of Virginia’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War at Norfolk State University, McDonnell called this year’s proclamation an “error of haste, not heart.”
“My major and unacceptable omission of slavery disappointed and hurt a lot of people–myself included,” he said.
…[I]n brief remarks at Friday’s conference, McDonnell promised next year he will go [further], pledging to issue no proclamation honoring Confederate history, but rather one that acknowledges the broader sweep of the war in Virginia.
“One hundred and fifty years is long enough for Virginia to fight the Civil War,” he told the 1,600 attendees of the conference on “Race, Slavery and Civil War: The Tough Stuff of American History and Memory.”