Video: Crist, Emanuel making headlines

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    forget that. love.

    >>> the president came to washington talking about change and bipartisanship. and yet he chooses the most partisan figure as the guy he wants to back him up.

    >> i'm a fierce fighter for what i believe in. i'm a fierce fighter when the president lays out his agenda to get his agenda done. that doesn't mean i'm partisan. that means i'm very loyal to the set of ideas .

    >> all right. live look at the white house on this beautiful tuesday morning. joining us live from the white house right now, nbc news chief white house correspondent and political director, chuck todd . he's also cohost of msnbc's "the daily rundown."

    >> can i ask him about my great home state of florida which i love so much?

    >> sure.

    >> chuck todd , what's going on with charlie ? something, you know --

    >> something's in the air.

    >> something's in the air.

    >> i have an inkling.

    >> what's going on?

    >> reporter: well, it's now taken on a soap- opera quality. every day there's a new twist or a new way that charlie crist words whether he might -- you know, what is he doing today? he's listening to people, apparently making the case to him.

    >> he's on a listening tour.

    >> reporter: about running as an independent. what i don't understand is if this decision has been made -- and one would assume at this point, whatever he's going to do, he's made the decision , and now he's got to figure out how to lay the groundwork for it to sort of justify the decision . he doesn't seem to me, if the decision is running as an independent, it doesn't seem to me he is figuring out how to forcefully make the case that somehow his party left him. he's his own man. this and that. it doesn't feel like it's the same sense of urgency with what chris is doing than, say, what joe lieberman did when he did it. and something seems to be amiss there.

    >> there's something going on. i'm telling you, there's something we don't know about that's going on behind the scenes .

    >> reporter: i think there's two other options on the table. one is completely dropping out, and the other is running for re-election as governor.

    >> or something else?

    >> reporter: that wouldn't shock me.

    >> or something else could happen.

    >> reporter: what would be the "or something else"? i mean, i don't know if there's an "or something else."

    >> maybe -- i don't know.

    >> i don't know. how's rubio's campaign doing?

    >> reporter: well, they're sitting back and watching this.

    >> he's canceled a lot of events, right?

    >> reporter: well, he canceled some. i think he had a sick relative. i think his father had fallen ill. but now he's raking in establishment endorsements. he's now, by the way, the establishment candidate. he can no longer call himself an insurgent. mitt romney 's down there. i think eric cantor 's going to endorse him. he's obviously now the lone republican nominee pretty soon.

    >> that's a fascinating dynamic. a lot going on there. a lot going on there. a lot going on.

    >> i don't think we've seen the last twist and turn in this race.

    >> do you have a question for chuck todd on this issue?

    >> chuck , all these establishment candidates getting behind rubio, does that risk hurting him with rank-and-file voters on the conservative side?

    >> reporter: i doubt it really does at some point, but it really depends on what does the fall look like? look, i could make an argument that in a three-way race, if crist is running as an independent, then suddenly kenneth meek, the likely democratic nominee, has a clearer path, has an easier path to 36%. if you believe that 35% or 36% is the winning number in a three-way race, well, i tell you, he's got the easier path to 35% or 36% than rubio and crist since the two of them are sort of going after the same independent vote. meek doesn't have to do it at all. rubio both has to cater -- i think it really complicates things. at the end of the day , i assume charlie crist , if he runs as an independent, ends up finishing third. i think it's hard if you don't have a base to do this. how does he raise money ? that's a whole another story . he'll stay in two or three weeks -- that's what i wonder.

    >> that's what i wonder, too. first of all, you can just take that option off the board , charlie quitting and going home .

    >> no, he's not going to do that.

    >> reporter: i agree with that.

    >> charlie ain't going anywhere.

    >> reporter: correct.

    >> he's got a lot of money . i really have, i've been thinking all along, there just may be something out there. charlie is too calm.

    >> yeah.

    >> right now. i know charlie .

    >> willie , do you have a question?

    >> he may be holding four aces for all we know.

    >> chuck , i want to ask you about something. we were watching closely rahm emanuel on " charlie rose ." were you taken aback by his deck declaration that he wants to be mayor of chicago ?

    >> reporter: no, he has made that clear . he has said it publicly before, that someday he aspires to be mayor of chicago . i think everybody is hoping that somehow he gets to lead here by going to run for mayor of chicago . that there isn't this feeling that somehow he's got to leave with not his tail between his legs know, from there, i think he would immediately move back to chicago and run if daley didn't run.

    >> okay. interesting day. chuck todd live at the white house , thank you very much . we'll be watching you and savannah on "the daily rundown" right after " morning joe ."

    >>> and coming up, a big

updated 4/20/2010 11:02:49 AM ET 2010-04-20T15:02:49

Republicans once saddled with the burden of President George W. Bush's unpopularity are now experiencing a boon from another struggling president: Barack Obama.

The GOP senses rising fortunes from coast to coast, as one-time lawmakers such as Richard Pombo in California and Charlie Bass in New Hampshire look to capitalize on voter frustration that booted some of them from office in 2006. Others, long retired, see the Democrats' luster fading and with it a chance for them to return to Washington.

The time seems ripe for Republicans, who largely remain unified against Obama's domestic agenda, including health care overhaul. Both the president and his signature legislative achievement remain unpopular at this point in a midterm election year, according to a recent AP-GfK poll. Voters' opinions also have turned against Democrats and their stewardship of the economy; Obama's approval rating is at a new low.

That bodes well for — and feels familiar to — some Republicans.

"The race in 2006 was against a huge headwind," said former Rep. Rob Simmons, who is pursuing Connecticut's open Senate seat.

Simmons lost his House seat in 2006 by just 83 votes — out of almost a quarter million ballots cast — as voters seeking change in Washington rejected many candidates simply because they had the word Republican next to their name. The sentiment caught many by surprise; 30 Republicans were sent home.

"I didn't get the feeling in 2006 that I was a bum who needed to be thrown out," Simmons said.

But, he acknowledged in an interview, that mood now favors Republicans.

"A lot has happened in a very short time," he said.

Just 49 percent of people now approve of the job Obama's doing overall, and less than that — 44 percent — like the way he's handled health care and the economy. The news is worse for other Democrats. For the first time this year, about as many Americans approve of congressional Republicans as Democrats — 38 percent to 41 percent — and neither has an edge when it comes to the party voters want controlling Congress.

"I never thought I'd run for office again, but with the direction President Obama is taking the country, (wife) Marsha and I decided we had to stand up," former Sen. Dan Coats, running for an open Senate seat in Indiana after being gone for 12 years, told supporters in a campaign commercial. 2010 primaries to watch

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Former Rep. John Hostettler, voted out of office in the 2006 wave, is also trying to capture the Republican nomination in Indiana.

Democrats dismiss such GOP veterans as retreads who would revive the Bush agenda, hardly the change the electorate might crave.

In Ohio, former Sen. Mike DeWine is running for attorney general. Former Rep. John Kasich is eyeing the governor's office. Steve Chabot is looking for a rematch against the Democrat who ousted him from his House seat in 2008. And former Bush administration official and congressman Rob Portman is vying for the Senate seat incumbent Republican George Voinovich is vacating with his retirement.

In California, Pombo is looking to reclaim a seat he lost in 2006, as the wars' popularity waned and Republicans faced ethics accusations. Democrats painted Pombo as an associate of the toxic lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and he lost with 47 percent of the vote in 2006.

Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, another 2006 loser who was linked to Abramoff, now wants to return to Congress. He is challenging Obama's 2008 presidential rival, Sen. John McCain, in a bitter Republican primary in Arizona.

Abramoff was sentenced in September 2008 to four years in prison on charges of mail fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion. Since pleading guilty in 2006, the once-powerful lobbyist has cooperated with the federal investigation of influence peddling in Washington.

In New Hampshire, Bass is seeking the Republican nomination for a familiar seat in an all-too-familiar environment. He lost his seat with 46 percent of the vote in 2006.

"In some ways, it's all deja vu all over again," said Dante Scala, chairman of the University of New Hampshire's political science department. "He came in on a wave in '94, lost in the wave of 2006 and is now hoping for another wave."

Republicans seized control of Congress from Democrats in 1994, capitalizing on disenchantment with a party that had controlled the House for decades and fallout from President Bill Clinton's agenda. The GOP hammered Clinton, whose Gallup poll approval rating in October of that year was 48 percent — similar to Obama's now.

The GOP ran on the Contract With America, a package of conservative promises that included term limits for powerful committee chairmen and elimination of some government departments. The package found almost uniform support among Republicans and drew enough independent votes to toss Democrats out of the majority.

Then in 2006, Democrats took back Congress, winning the House and Senate with a resounding rebuke of Bush's handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and capitalizing on ethical woes of some GOP lawmakers, including the Abramoff-tainted lawmakers.

Veteran candidates include former Reps. Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania and Tom Campbell in California, both making second bids for the Senate. They and others come with scores of votes or post-congressional careers that draw scrutiny.

Ohio's Kasich worked for Lehman Brothers; its failure in September 2008 was the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history and triggered the financial meltdown that plunged the economy into the most severe recession since the 1930s. Coats has worked as a lobbyist.

"What the retread Republicans are indicating: If you get a Republican Congress, it would be the same old George W. Bush agenda," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the Maryland Democrat who heads the House election committee.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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