Vice President Biden will headline a fundraiser for Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias's Senate campaign this month, the strongest show of support so far by the Obama administration.
The event, set for June 21 in Chicago, was disclosed this week by Giannoulias via his Twitter account. "Very excited to announce that Vice President Biden will be coming to Chicago for a special campaign event!" the candidate told supporters.
The vice president was already scheduled to be in town for a fundraiser to benefit Dan Seals, the Democratic nominee in Illinois's 10th Congressional District. But Biden's appearance on Giannoulias's behalf signals to Democratic donors that the administration views the nominee as a viable candidate against Republican Rep. Mark Kirk, who has been wounded in recent weeks by stories that he embellished his military record.
The Obama team plans to deploy other significant fundraising help for Giannoulias: Education Secretary Arne Duncan is set to stump in Chicago on June 17, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina on June 19, and former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe on June 30. (Chicago Sun-Times, 6/14)
Meanwhile, President Obama is expected to make another visit to Las Vegas in early July to give Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid a further boost in his tough re-election bid.
Reid has been getting substantial election-year support from Obama, who also went to Las Vegas in February. Since then, first lady Michelle Obama has visited Reno and Las Vegas to stand by Reid, and Bill Clinton told a gathering of more than 700 in the city last week that they need to spread the word that Nevada can't afford to lose the most powerful senator in the nation. (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 6/15)
Guns And The Governor
Ohio's governor, Democrat Ted Strickland, picked up the support of the National Rifle Association this week, offering voters a reminder of his culturally conservative views as he battles Republican John Kasich for re-election.
In backing Strickland, the NRA cited his vote against the 1994 assault weapons ban when he served in the House. "Our members will interpret your A+ rating and endorsement as an indication that you are a pro-Second Amendment, pro-hunting candidate who supports sportsmen and gun owners on every issue," Chris Cox, chairman of the NRA's Political Victory Fund, wrote in a letter to Strickland.
Kasich, who was also in Congress in 1994, voted for the assault weapons ban and earned an F from the NRA that year, although his ratings have since climbed. "John is a strong Second Amendment supporter, is a gun owner, and is proud to have received NRA support in the past," Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said.
The NRA endorsement is the second bit of good news for Strickland in recent days. Late last week, his campaign announced that it had $7.7 million on hand, a $2 million advantage over Kasich. Both campaigns collected about $1.3 million during the most recent fundraising period. (Political Ticker, CNN, 6/14)
Hey, Big Spender
Meg Whitman, the billionaire former CEO of eBay, has written another big check for her campaign to be California's next governor, this one for $20 million.
The contribution, reported this week on the California secretary of state's website, brings the Republican nominee's contributions to herself to $91 million, $17 million short of the record for self-funding. That mark was set last year by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a multi-billionaire businessman, in his successful bid for a third term. That race personally cost Bloomberg about $185 per vote.
In defeating state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner in the June 8 GOP primary, Whitman spent about $56 per vote out of her own pocket.
Whitman in November will face state Attorney General Jerry Brown, the former Democratic governor. She has vowed to write checks totaling as much as $150 million; that means she'll likely surpass Bloomberg's record sometime this summer. (San Jose Mercury News, 6/15)
Not Seeing Eye To Eye
Rand Paul, who touts his career as an eye doctor as part of his outsider credentials in his campaign for Kentucky's open Senate seat, isn't certified by his profession's leading group.
Paul attempted this week to bat away questions raised by a report in Louisville's Courier-Journal, saying that the scrutiny stemmed from his challenging a powerful medical group over a certification policy he thought was unfair. The libertarian-leaning Republican helped create a rival certification organization more than a decade ago. Paul said that his group has since recertified several hundred ophthalmologists, despite not being recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.
"It's a personal assault on my ability to make a living," Paul said of questions about his certification. "You vilify me and make it out to sound, 'Oh, there's something wrong with him as a physician because he chose not to register" with the American Board of Ophthalmology.
Paul said he helped set up the rival National Board of Ophthalmology because the established ABO exempts older ophthalmologists who were certified before 1992 from recertification. Paul, a graduate of Duke University's medical school, said he was board-certified by the ABO for a decade, but in the late 1990s, he became a driving force behind forming the NBO to protest the ABO's exemption policy. "I don't think that some people should recertify and others shouldn't," he said. "And I don't choose to give my money to a private group that discriminates."
The campaign manager for Paul's Democratic rival, state Attorney General Jack Conway, said that the episode raises serious questions about Paul's character. "It is clear that Rand Paul does not think the rules apply to him," Jonathan Drobis said. (Associated Press, 6/14)
"In any high-pressure working environment, tensions can surface." --former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, on reports that she "forcefully pushed" an employee in 2007 (New York Times, 6/15)
"No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response." --Rep. Bob Etheridge, D-N.C., after an online video showed him grabbing a student who questioned him on the street (Associated Press, 6/15)
"Look, I regret this whole situation. I gave people the opportunity to talk about something petty and superficial." --former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, on her criticism of Sen. Barbara Boxer's hair (Fox News Sunday, 6/13)
"In an interview on Fox News, Sarah Palin denied the rumor that she got breast implants. Palin said, 'Not only are they real, they are fair and balanced.' " --comedian Jimmy Fallon (Late Night, NBC, 6/10)
The author is a senior editor with The Hotline, National Journal Group's daily briefing on politics.