John King, USA

The latest political news and information on the most important stories affecting you.
January 25th, 2011
08:57 PM ET

Sen. Webb running in 2012?

Washington (CNN) – Should he decide to seek another term in 2012, Virginia Democratic Sen. Jim Webb has ruled out the possibility of running as an independent.

"I've been through a journey in my life on this. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's probably my role model. He was very comfortable serving in a Republican administration. I'm very proud to have served in the Reagan administration. But in terms of the political values – when they're implemented properly – the Democratic Party is the party that I identify with," Webb told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King Tuesday.

In the interview, which aired on Tuesday's "John King, USA," Webb expressed ambivalence about running again, but he was clear that he will make his decision by March 31st of this year.

"We're still talking about that particularly inside my family," he said. "It's an eight year commitment for us. People get excited about elections, but it's eight years, so I've said that I'll make a decision before the end of the first quarter, and we will."

His 2006 foe and former Republican Sen. George Allen's interest in a rematch will not affect Webb's decision-making. Webb said, "That's not even in the formula, it's whether or not we want to make the decision to be up here for another eight years and do what it takes to do that."

When pressed on his slow fundraising operation, the senator explained, "Well, I don't want to be asking people for money unless they can you know be certain I'm going to use it for a campaign."

However, should he decide to run, Webb added, "When you go back to the '06 campaign, I announced nine months almost to the day before the election with zero dollars and no campaign staff, and we were 33 points behind, raised enough money to win. I don't want to go through that process again, but I'm not worried about the fundraising side, this is a personal family decision that we have to resolve."

On President Obama, Webb told King, "The president, I think, finally hit that spot in the lame duck when he brought people together on the extension of the Bush tax cuts but also the provisions in there that extended unemployment and gave business credits and those sorts of things." He continued, "I hope you're going to hear tonight that same sort of formula. We've got to come together for the good of the country despite philosophical differences and move things forward."

However, he added, "This is not a parliamentary system. He is not the prime minster so I am not obligated to agree with the president at every issue either so I'll be looking very carefully at what he's proposing and I hope to be able to agree with him but I don't feel obligated to."

As for the new bipartisan date fad striking the U.S. Capitol for the big speech, Webb indicated he is going stag. "It's a little silly but it's not harmful," he said. "I've got a lot of friends who are Republicans, and I don't quite see walking up to them and asking them if they want to sit with me. I have my favorite spot which is fairly close to the door – I'll probably stay in that spot."

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Filed under: Interview
January 25th, 2011
06:53 PM ET

Behind the Scenes with JKUSA

CNN's John King sets up on Capitol Hill for special coverage of President Obama's State of the Union address.
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Photo courtesy of Dave Robinson

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Photo courtesy of Dave Ruff

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Photo courtesy of Dave Ruff

CNN's John King sits down with Sen. Tom Udall, (D) New Mexico, to preview the State of the Union address.
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Photo courtesy of Dave Ruff

Rep. Mike Pence, (R) Indiana, talks to CNN's John King about what President Obama will discuss in the State of the Union address.
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Photo courtesy of Dave Ruff


Filed under: JKUSA
January 25th, 2011
06:36 PM ET

Webb: “Not obligated to agree” with Pres. Obama

Washington (CNN) – Virginia Democratic Sen. Jim Webb said Tuesday he is going to the State of the Union stag. “It's a little silly but it's not harmful,” he said today of the new bipartisan date fad striking the U.S. Capitol for the big speech. “I've got a lot of friends who are Republicans, and I don’t quite see walking up to them and asking them if they want to sit with me. I have my favorite spot which is fairly close to the door – I'll probably stay in that spot.”

Webb spoke today with CNN’s Chief National Correspondent John King in an interview to air tonight at 7pmET on “John King, USA.” They also discussed his views on Pres. Obama and the 2012 election year – a race in which he will be up for reelection, should he decide to run.

On Obama, Webb told King, “The president, I think, finally hit that spot in the lame duck when he brought people together on the extension of the Bush tax cuts but also the provisions in there that extended unemployment and gave business credits and those sorts of things.” He continued, “I hope you're going to hear tonight that same sort of formula. We've got to come together for the good of the country despite philosophical differences and move things forward.”

However, he added, “This is not a parliamentary system. He is not the prime minster so I am not obligated to agree with the president at every issue either so I'll be looking very carefully at what he's proposing and I hope to be able to agree with him but I don't feel obligated to.”

Still almost 23 months away, the Virginia race is already shaping up to be one of the most fascinating Senate races of 2012. Although Webb defeated former Republican Senator George Allen in 2006, Allen sent strong signals Monday that he was readying for a rematch. Only 9,300 votes decided their last match up, and since that race, the state turned blue for Obama in 2008, only to elect a Republican governor in 2009. What remains unknown is how a ballot with President Obama at the top of the ticket will affect Webb. There is the added dynamic of a possible Tea Party challenge to Allen in the primary, and Webb’s decision on whether or not he will seek another term.

When King asked about his intentions and relatively slow pace fundraising, Webb said he had started slow and been counted out before when he challenged – and beat – Allen the last time.

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Filed under: JKUSA
January 25th, 2011
03:34 PM ET

Be in the know: Today's political bullet points

Everyday we ask influential politicos to send us their top three bullet points that are driving the day's conversation in and outside Washington.

RedState.Com Editor Erick-Woods Erickson:

– The President is going to talk a lot about "investment" tonight. It is unclear how he will distinguish his plans from his stimulus, which has yet to spend all its money.

– Watch for the President, in his speech, to talk about the private sector. Note that his plans necessarily involve public-private cooperation using big companies at the expense of the little guy.

– Michele Bachmann will give the tea party response. It is important to remember that the tea party movement wants to be and will continue to be on the outside of the GOP.

Senior Political Columnist for TheDailyBeast.com John Avlon:

– The State of the Union – This is the biggest day in domestic politics that doesn’t have an election or an inauguration. It’s the Super Bowl for policy wonks. President Obama is entering the arena in a position of surprising strength given the shellacking of just three months ago. This speech is his chance to get the agenda for 2011 and continue his move to the center with substance. Under the umbrella theme of making America more competitive in the 21st century, keep en eye out for policy specifics. Along with targeted ‘investment’ will the president open the door to tax reform, using the corporate tax rate as a leading indicator? Will he show an openness to entitlement reform as a Nixon in China play to deal with long term deficits and debt without impacting short term economic growth? The stakes will be whether the president solidifies his 15 point gain among independents over the past month or whether that will fade on the basis of their distrust of how he’s dealt with the budget deficit to date.

– Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party Response – Republican divisions have been elevated into outright message chaos with the self-appointed response by Michele Bachmann after the official response by Paul Ryan. Her recent Iowa trial balloon speech devoted to slavery metaphors sent a bad message for 2012 – a Palin light with Tea Party support and an investment in the talk radio approach to politics in which there is no such thing as too extreme. A list of Bachmann’s howlers are too numerous to list here, but repeatedly calling the Obama administration a ‘thug-ocracy’ and calling on her constituents to be ‘armed and dangerous’ in opposition to an energy tax are minor low-lights. Everyone is focused on how Bachmann is a distraction and an embarrassment for the GOP – but so far no one’s asking what I think is the more interesting question: when will the Tea Party realize that they have a Michele Bachmann problem. Their libertarian rhetoric and professed sole focus on fiscal responsibility has a much better steward in Paul Ryan but their elevation of Michele Bachmann threatens to confirm their worst negative stereotypes to country.

– Rahm Emanuel in a Fight for His Political Life: With the stunning court decision to take him off the ballot currently under appeal with the state Supreme Court, we will know the fate of Rahm’s ambition to be mayor by the end of the week. First, he needs four votes from the Supreme Court members to hear his appeal – and then the hearings will begin with expedited speed – absentee voting begins on the 31st. The biggest benefactors if Rahm is denied the right to run? Former Senator Carol Moseley Braun and Daley family ally Gary Chico, who had been passed over for Rahm. An added dose of intrigue – one of Chico’s strongest allies (and Emanuel’s strongest local opponents) is Alderman Ed Burke, and his wife Anne is one of the Supreme Court Justices who will be deciding Rahm’s political fate. This is Chicago.


Filed under: Bullet Points
January 25th, 2011
03:32 PM ET

Webb: Not obligated to agree with Obama

Here's an early look at our interview with key Democratic Sen. Jim Webb, who is up for reelection in 2012. He talks about what he wants to hear from the President tonight in the State of the Union Address. To see the full interview tune in to John King, USA tonight @ 7p ET.


Filed under: Interview • JKUSA