John King, USA

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September 8th, 2010
10:50 PM ET
September 8th, 2010
06:26 PM ET

McConnell: GOP will be 'very competitive' in November

(CNN) – Minority leader Mitch McConnell is cautiously optimistic that he will lead a "larger group" than he does now after the November midterm elections, but stopped short of saying the Republicans will definitely win back the majority in an interview that will air on CNN's John King, USA at 7 p.m. EST.

"I think we can safely say is the wind is at our back and we're going to be very, very competitive," McConnell told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.

"Number one, we will not lose a single Republican incumbent senator in November. Number two, we have five open republican open seats, including here in Kentucky. We will win all those. And, we are competitive in the following places where there are Democratic Senators: California, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Dakota, Arkansas, Wisconsin, and probably in Connecticut and maybe West Virginia. …And we will win a number of them, and we will be a more influential group in the next congress," McConnell predicted.

But McConnell acknowledged that the makeup of the Republican Party in the next Congress will be diverse, especially if many of the conservative-leaning Tea Party candidates who have won state primaries make it to Washington.

Many Tea Party candidates – including Rand Paul of McConnell's home state of Kentucky – have built their campaigns on distancing themselves from Washington, and their own party's establishment. But that sets up potential dissonance among Republicans in the next Congress.

When asked by King in an interview if he would vote for McConnell for leader, Alaska Senate nominee Joe Miller replied "let's just wait and see what happens." Miller beat the party-backed incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the GOP primary last month.

McConnell is taking a diplomatic approach to his party's newest members, telling King that the current Republican Party already has a broad "ideological diversity," and that any Republican gains would be positive.

"Look, I'm for Joe Miller whether he's for me or not. I already have enough votes to be reelected leader, and I will be, and we'll work with him no matter what his view may be," McConnell said.

McConnell also said that while he isn't satisfied with the economic proposals Obama introduced this week, he is willing to work with the President.

"What I'm hoping is that he becomes a born-again moderate, moves to the center as he campaigned in 2008, and if he does that, we'd be happy to meet him there."

In a speech in Cleveland, Ohio Wednesday, Obama outlined a new $350 billion plan to boost the economy. The proposal includes $200 billion in tax cuts for businesses to purchase new equipment and write off 100 percent of new investments through the end of 2011.

"We're always happy to talk to him about what can be done. It sounds to be like it's sort of Election Eve conversion here. We'll take a look at what he's got to offer but I think a lot better way to go would not be raising taxes in the middle of what most Americans think is a recession," McConnnell said.

Obama also announced in the speech that he plans to stand by his plan to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for people making over $250,000, while extending the cuts for those making less, a move that Republicans have fiercely opposed.

Nonetheless, McConnell suggested that his working relationship with the Obama Administration might improve after the November elections.

"Look, I don't want the president to fail. I want the president to change. He needs to move dramatically away from this leftward drift that tried to turn America into a western European-type country, and come back to the middle," McConnell said. "There are a number of things that we can do where there are similar interests. It's just that he hasn't chosen to do any of those things in his first two years.

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September 8th, 2010
03:50 PM ET

COLUMBUS, OHIO: Strickland not running from Obama


Editor's note: Look for regular Trail Running field updates from CNN's anchors, correspondents and producers spread out across the country covering politics on the campaign trail. As always, the CNN Political Ticker is your source for up-to-the-minute political news– now even more so.

Count Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland among the Democrats who have decided to play the hand he has been dealt – meaning not running from the party label and the White House economic record and message.

In an interview Tuesday night, the embattled incumbent said there are hundreds of auto workers in his state whose jobs would "not exist today had it not been for the administration."

"You know, I'm not going to be overly critical because I think what he has done has been of help to us," Strickland said on the eve of President Obama's latest visit to the state.

Ohio has a double-digit unemployment rate, and Strickland trails Republican John Kasich heading into the final eight weeks. "I think people in Ohio and in America are upset with all of us," Strickland said of the tough climate for incumbents and particularly Democrats. "There are no easy answers."

September 8th, 2010
03:43 PM ET

NEW ALBANY, OHIO: Coffee with Kasich


John Kasich is no fan of the Obama economic program, but says perhaps this time the president has an idea worth considering.

The former GOP congressman is running for Ohio governor now, and says he wants to study the proposal President Obama is set to unveil Thursday near Cleveland.

The president is to propose a new research and development tax credit, in an effort to spur hiring. But the GOP congressional leadership has all but ruled out cooperating on any major Obama economic initiatives before Election Day.

"Better late than never as far as I am concerned," Kasich told CNN on Wednesday over coffee. "I need to see the details – these things are always in the details. … I've never been somebody who opposes an idea just because it happens to come from somebody in another party."

That said Kasich was scathing in his take of the Obama economic record so far:

"The tragedy here is it's almost a blown two years," the former House Budget Committee Chairman said. "When you take a look at the taxes in the health care bill, when you take a look at the amount of additional regulations on businesses and the Bush tax cuts are going to be repealed. Uncertainty strikes fear in the heart of businesses particularly small businesses and it strikes fear into the hearts of Americans"

Kasich labels incumbent Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland as anti-business, arguing the state's tax and regulatory climate discourages investments and job growth. Strickland disputes that, and in turn labels Kasich a pawn of Wall Street, citing his past work for Lehman Brothers.

Asked how he would be different from Strickland, Kasich said:

"Well the government is going to be modernized and shrunk," he said. "The taxes are going to be reduced. The regulations that get in the way of small business will be systematically repealed," Kasich said. "You're going to have a governor that actually understands business. He'll talk the language of business."

September 8th, 2010
03:29 PM ET
September 8th, 2010
12:28 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:

– Harry Reid says his job is to create jobs. Nevada unemployment is the highest in the nation. Look for a new angle of attack from Sharron Angle based on Harry Reid's failure to live up to his own job description.

– Were the election held for Sheriff today in Mayberry, NC, Sheriff Andy Griffith would probably lose. It's gotten so bad for Democrats that the Charlotte Observer notes Andy Griffith's popularity in the state has plummeted 25 points since he began serving as spokesman for the Democrats' health care plan.

– If Lisa Murkowski jumps to the Libertarian Party in Alaska as some news reports are suggesting, that'll be the third candidate backed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee to go jump to a different party with Arlen Specter and Charlie Crist being the other two. But if the GOP makes great gains in November, we can expect the NRSC to try to take all the credit.

Firedoglake.com Blogger/Founder Jane Hamsher:

– Daley retires and the beltway is a-buzz about Rahm's future. The rest of the American people are afraid for theirs.

– BP Deepwater Horizon report says failure has many mothers. In their heads they're whining: "But Mom, they did it too!"

– Will the GOP call for the execution of Dove Church pastor for treason just as they did for Wikileaks' Julian Assange?


Filed under: Bullet Points
September 8th, 2010
12:18 PM ET

September 7: John's playlist

Big Country, "In a Big Country"
Guns N' Roses, "Welcome to the Jungle"


Filed under: JKUSA • Playlist