Video: Democrats' midterm 'cavalry' not coming?

  1. Closed captioning of: Democrats' midterm 'cavalry' not coming?

    >> president's speech in a moment. charlie, i want to ask you about the midterms you're writing today saying the calvary doesn't appear to be coming from the democrats.

    >> they needed so many things to happen. they needed unemployment to come down, attitudes towards health care reform to change, they needed to sort of seize control of the agenda and stabilize things in washington . none of those things have happened in times getting short.

    >> and let's ask you specifically about the race up in alaska where lisa murkowski finally conceded last night. a lot of people didn't see this coming. a lot of people didn't see joe miller coming as early as the night before.

    >> there were no warning signs. and nobody ever hit the panic button . we are hearing afterwards people within her campaign tried to kind of shake it loose, but the panic button never got it. willie, a funny story, i was walking -- sarah palin had an uninstrumental role in murkowsky's defeat. the night sarah palin got the nomination, i was walking through the lobby center in st. paul, and senator murkowski says, look, i want to tell you what a great choice sarah palin is and she'll do a great job for the ticket. she's really terrific. and i'm thinking, sarah palin beat your father. wow, you are taking one for the team big time now. and now palin does in the daughter. i thought, no good deed goes unpunished.

    >> she did tweet in addition to her other tweets, sarah palin , thank for your service, senator murkowski , now back to november.

    >> lisa murkowski said she won't run on a third party ticket, et cetera . there was a usa today gallop poll that says on seven to nine key issues, the americans trust the republicans more than democrats. terrorism, 39 republicans. job creation , 46 to 31. the democrats are having a bad september.

    >> the number mark halperin has been throwing around is 60 in the house. numbers like that, maybe not to 60 but close?

    >> when we do the race by race, we call it the first district of alabama and end up in wyoming, we are not quite to 40 yet. but when you start factoring in turnout when you talk about independents swinging over in the last it gallop poll by 17-point margins that favor republicans, that's how you get up into the 50s where 60 is not crazy.

    >> joe, here's the question. you indicated that the murkowski campaign didn't see this coming until it was too late. martha cokely running for ted kennedy 's seat never saw scott brown coming until three or four days were left in the campaign. how did people in politics miss this volatile cocktail that's out there?

    >> i can explain alaska way easier than massachusetts where there's not a lot of polling, there's not -- the press corps is not as vigilant in massachusetts with the globe and the harold and all of that. so that if something is going to bite everybody on the rear end and surprise us, it can happen in alaska more than any other state of the union . but i think if you don't want to see something coming, then you don't see it coming.

    >> we've got some live pictures -- are these live pictures of the ceremony? they are live. vice president joe biden is there, also secretary gates is there handing over control to the iraqis. norah o'donnell in washington , we have been talking about the president's address last night looking to turn a page away from this iraq war .

    >> yeah, there's no doubt, and i think not only does the president want to turn the page , he wants to do that so he can begin a new chapter when it comes to talking about the economy here at home. i mean, this all goes to the democrats here in washington . they recognize their outlook is very, very bleak. the president wanted to turn the page and wanted to say this is a campaign promise i fulfilled and i think the white house has struggled the past six months. and not by their own design, but by all the news of the bp oil spill or what has happened overseas with the economy to try to stay on message and try to talk about jobs. the recovery summer, which we have been talking about, didn't turn out to be much of a recovery summer. so the white house is trying to struggle to pivot to talk about the issues that voters care about. jobs and the economy, that will come because congress now has to tackle the expiration of the tax cuts, so get ready for what will be a heated debate on that.

    >> norah, you talk about pivoting in the economy, charlie cook and i were just talking about apparently a huge republican year in november. is the white house prepared to deal with the government going forward with the republican house where all the money bills start, medicaid, social security , power of subpoena in the house with republicans, are they prepared for this?

    >> you know, i think that they are prepared but you can't anticipate what's going to go on. and i think one of the great fear factors is that republicans will have subpoena power. darrell isa is going to be head oaf oaf the oversight committee and will investigate, investigate, investigate. that can cause the white house a lot of problems because they have to turn over a lot of documents, be called to testify, it can create a lot of news, especially in the new 24/7 media culture. that's a problem. the white house for them has been an issue of focus, and i don't mean to put the blame on the white house team, but communicating a sense of focus just because of all the challenges that a white house has. so when you have a republican-led house investigating you, it makes it all the more difficult to try to communicate a message, especially on the economy and jobs.

    >> i want to look back on the live pictures here of the ceremony taking place in iraq because it is a remarkable moment from march 19th 2002 , here we are september 1st , 2010 , as a man who was there in the oval office when decisions were made, what are your thoughts this morning?

    >> i'm glad it is happening. america never wants to commit forces to war, and when we do, we want to win and go home. it is appropriate to be marked. the military deserves the high praise that the president gave in his speech last night. and we want them to come home. so i'm enjoying seeing this. it is the right thing for america.

    >> there's you in happen per happier times.

    >> i had a lot more hair.

    >> i wouldn't say a lot.

Image: Lisa Murkowski
J. Scott Applewhite  /  AP
Sen. Lisa Murkowski had been fighting an uphill battle to overcome the lead that challenger Joe Miller had after the initial vote counting.
updated 9/1/2010 1:46:29 PM ET 2010-09-01T17:46:29

Backed by the Tea Party Express and Sarah Palin, a little-known conservative lawyer from Alaska became the latest newcomer to the national political stage to take down an incumbent in 2010.

In arguably the biggest political upset of the year, Joe Miller claimed the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate when incumbent GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski conceded Tuesday evening. Murkowski gave up after failing to gain much ground in an count of outstanding absentee ballots.

Miller will be the favorite in November in strongly Republican Alaska against Democrat Scott McAdams, the mayor of Sitka.

But Senate Democrats moved quickly to see whether Miller's victory could give them an opening in an otherwise difficult campaign season, conducting a poll to gauge the potential competitiveness of the race. Even before Murkowski conceded, Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of the Democrats' campaign committee, said in an interview his organization might come into the state behind McAdams.

Image: Joe Miller
Michael Dinneen  /  AP file
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Joe Miller

Any attempt to elect McAdams would involve gaining the support of independents, disappointed Murkowski supporters and other voters fearful that Miller's calls for cuts in government spending would hurt a state that as long benefited from federal largesse.

Miller's win was a major victory for the tea party movement and marked the first time it had defeated a sitting senator in a primary.

Tea partiers had knocked off Utah Sen. Bob Bennett at a state convention in May, and emboldened organizers now have their sights set on Delaware, where they are backing Christine O'Donnell against the more moderate Rep. Mike Castle in the GOP Senate primary.

Miller, 43, told The Associated Press by phone late Tuesday that he'll campaign this fall on transferring power and control over resources from the federal government to Alaska and the other 49 states.

Murkowski concedes, tea party gains

The state has long been heavily reliant on federal money to run — a legacy largely carved out by former Sen. Ted Stevens before his death in an August plane crash.

But the government's impending financial crisis will eventually force a reduction in funding to the state, Miller said.

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"We have to be prepared for that, and the way to do it, of course, is to progressionally transfer holdings of the federal government to us," he said. "And of course, also by reducing federal regulatory burdens over the lands that we do control so that we can develop them more freely and more economically."

Murkowski is the third senator to lose this year amid deep dissatisfaction with the Washington establishment. Bennett and Arlen Specter, D-Pa., were the others.

She trailed Miller — an Ivy League-educated lawyer, West Point graduate and decorated Gulf War veteran — by 1,668 votes after the Aug. 24 primary.

Election officials began counting absentee and outstanding ballots Tuesday, and Murkowski made slight gains. But after more than 15,000 ballots were counted, she remained 1,630 votes behind.

"We all know that this has been a long week, a terribly long week," she said at campaign headquarters while conceding.

She said that while there were still outstanding votes, "I don't see a scenario where the primary will turn out in my favor, and that is a reality that is before me at this point in time."

"And for that reason, and for the good of the state of Alaska ... I am now conceding the race for the Republican nomination."

The stunning result was a huge validation of the political power of Palin as the former Alaska governor has been playing kingmaker in midterm elections ahead of a potential 2012 White House run.

Miller cast Murkowski as too liberal and part of the problem in an out-of-control Washington. It is a campaign strategy that has helped oust other incumbents this year and that Republicans will employ again in November as they look to take back Congress.

McAdams, a former commercial fisherman, was given little chance against Murkowski, and as of June 30 had raised less than $10,000.

But Democrats figure his chances are better against Miller, and they plan to present him as a moderate, rational alternative.

"Lisa Murkowski is a class act who always put Alaska first," McAdams said in a statement late Tuesday. "By contrast, lawyer Joe Miller ran an unfair, nasty campaign that didn't extend to Lisa Murkowski the respect she deserves."

After keeping a low profile for much of the race, Palin recorded a robocall for Miller in the campaign's final days and touted him as a "man of the people" on her Facebook page. She also repeated a claim that Murkowski had waffled on her position on repealing the federal health care overhaul — claims the senator has called false.

Aside from a failed legislative bid in 2004, the Kansas-raised Miller had no experience running in political races before jumping into the race to take on Murkowski. He is friends with Sarah and Todd Palin, and they both endorsed him.

Miller also had the blessing from within the tea party crowd. The California-based Tea Party Express said it spent nearly $600,000 to help Miller — most of that in the race's final weeks, when Miller's camp said it sensed momentum was on its side and that Miller would win. 

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


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