John King, USA

The latest political news and information on the most important stories affecting you.
September 28th, 2010
05:16 PM ET

Midterms underway in Ohio

(CNN) – Statewide absentee or early voting in the midterm elections kicked off Tuesday in the perennial swing state of Ohio.

Ohio joined Nebraska this week in allowing early voting, which is also underway in Georgia, South Dakota, Iowa, Vermont and Wyoming.

Roughly another two-dozen other states will allow early voting in October.

In Ohio's first year of early voting in 2006, 17 percent of voters took advantage of being able to vote 35 days before the election, according to the secretary of state's office. That number jumped to 30 percent in the 2008 election. Of the nearly 5.8 million votes cast two years ago, over 1.7 million were early votes.

CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

September 28th, 2010
05:09 PM ET

Democrats highlight outsourcing in ads

(CNN) – With little more than a month to go before Election Day, Democrats in the Rust Belt and elsewhere are latching onto a strategy they believe will help deflect voter criticism over the sluggish economy: accusing opponents of helping to outsource jobs.

At least 26 Democratic candidate or committee-sponsored ads about outsourcing have aired in hotly contested races since the beginning of September, according to a CNN count.

Earlier this month, the ads were focused in Rust Belt states such as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Now, however, they've made their way to the coasts, from California to South Carolina. Phrases such as "ship our jobs overseas," "sent jobs to China," and "outsourcing jobs" are now common refrains in closely contested districts and states nationwide.

"Democrats are still looking for a message," said Evan Tracey, head of the Campaign Media Analysis Group. "Their signature issue has been health care, and the fact is, they have passed a bill and lost the issue."

Anything Democrats "can tie Republicans to, whether it's free trade or tax credits, they're going to," Tracey added. "Trade is part of their core message to labor and outsourcing jobs. They're banking on getting the economically worried independent voters and the base fired up."

Potentially aiding the Democratic effort: Senate Republicans on Tuesday successfully blocked a bill from coming to the Senate floor that Democrats claim would help keep American jobs from going overseas.

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Filed under: JKUSA • John King
September 28th, 2010
04:50 PM ET
September 28th, 2010
01:45 PM ET

Emanuel all but certain to run for Chicago mayor

Three Democratic sources close to Rahm Emanuel tell CNN that the White House chief of staff informed senior colleagues he is all but certain to run for mayor of Chicago, and will leave the White House to take the final exploratory steps.

Close associates are already building a campaign team according to sources.

An announcement by Emanuel is expected to be scheduled for Friday, sources said.

One of the sources, a prominent Democrat close to the White House chief of staff, told CNN, "We see nothing that will stop a run. But you don't announce a campaign for mayor of Chicago in Washington, D.C. You leave and go home and finish your business there."

The second source said Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg's research of a possible mayoral run for Emanuel was "very positive. He has some obvious things to deal with, but it was very encouraging."

Asked what the potential issues were, the source said "nothing you wouldn't expect. Just reminding people Chicago always was before Washington."

Assuming there is no hitch - and none is expected - longtime Obama adviser Pete Rouse is in line to be tapped as interim chief of staff, two of the sources said.

All of the sources spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the White House personnel turnover and the campaign planning.

September 28th, 2010
12:13 PM ET

Be in the know: Today's political bullet points

UPDATE 5:00pm: Senator Feingold tweets that he is “proud to join President Obama at my alma mater” and catches a flight home to Wisconsin after the Senate wraps up some votes. So don’t count him among the Democrats shying away from POTUS in the final stretch!

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

I’m tempted on this day to tell my favorite stories of each chapter of Rahm Emanuel’s life in politics: the onetime ballerina turned fund-raiser for Gov. Bill Clinton, then a hard-nosed White House staffer who helped craft the post 1994 Clinton “relevance” comeback, then off to a rising power in the House, and back to 1600 Pennsylvania as chief of staff. Now, the next chapter awaits ... And his many fans and many critics will be watching, and remarking. But, let’s get to the pressing business at hand. It’s a big back-to-the-future day for President Obama, who could use a little youthful burst of enthusiasm to help the Democratic cause. Most Democratic strategists, however, aren't betting on success as Mr. Obama goes back to campus for a GOTV push. Bullet points: the right and the center – Erick and John, respectively, agree that Alan Grayson has more than crossed a line. Wouldn’t it be nice if the left would join in and for a moment, just a moment, create a shared sense of basic decency in our politics. Like John, I love the Kentucky Senate race as a test of how long the Tea keeps its strength. Happy Tuesday — five weeks to go! -John King

Senior Political Columnist for John Avlon:

– Call it a Horse race: Jack Conway neck and neck with Rand Paul in Kentucky Senate Race – surges 15 points in three weeks, taking a lead among women. The great state that gives us Bluegrass and Bourbon looks like it might give us a photo-finish in this high stakes senate race.

– Rise of Partisan Media and the Road to the White House – smart Politico article lays out an uncomfortable and unprecedented fact: all the GOP presidential hopefuls currently out of office – with the exception of Mitt Romney – are under contact at Fox News. This is uncharted territory for our democracy, but they did stop using the 'fair and balanced' tag-line a while back.

Alan Grayson Hits a New Low – the bomb-throwing liberal freshman congressman from a Florida swing district is catching some well-deserved blowback for an ugly negative ad which refers to his opponent Dan Webster as "Taliban Dan" – this, of course, in the middle of a surge against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Added bonus – it's untrue – the Annenberg Center condemned Grayson for "using edited video to make his rival appear to be saying the opposite of what he really said."

– And in News of the Weird – the new Karzai family lawyer/PR flack is "Miami Babylon" author and ex-columnist Gerald Posner – Seriously. Apparently, the study of South Beach can prepare a person for the palace intrigues of Kabul.

RedState.Com Editor Erick-Woods Erickson:

– Alan Grayson (D-FL) is at it again. His latest campaign ad very selectively edits his opponent, Daniel Webster, to sound like Webster is saying precisely the opposite of what Webster actually said. Next, Grayson will be accusing Webster of having a daughter that's a thespian.

– Democrats may be gaining back some ground in California, Washington, and Delaware, but they are losing ground in Connecticut, West Virginia, and Illinois. Just how bad will November be?

– Russ Feingold is, yet again, skipping an Obama rally in Wisconsin. What's he afraid of?

Filed under: Bullet Points
September 28th, 2010
07:39 AM ET