How much of a problem does President Obama have with his own party?
September 20th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

How much of a problem does President Obama have with his own party?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

There are a lot of unhappy Democrats these days, and they are setting their sights directly on President Obama.

A group of liberal leaders says they want to field a slate of candidates against President Obama in the primaries. Just what he needs.

Ralph Nader tells the Washington Times that without an intraparty challenge, the liberal agenda will be ignored.

Nader - who has repeatedly been ignored by the voters in presidential elections - says Obama running unopposed will kill voter enthusiasm and that voters won't get to see the real differences between the democrats and republicans.

More than 45 liberal leaders support this idea. They point to President Obama's handling of the Wall Street bailouts, the wars, Libya, the extension of the Bush tax cuts and the debt ceiling deal... just a short list of grievances.

Meanwhile the head of the Congressional Black Caucus says unhappy members of his group would probably be marching on the White House if Mr. Obama weren't president.

Black leaders have been begging the president to address unemployment among African-Americans - which is close to 17%. Almost double the national average.

Finally - one of Mr. Obama's hometown newspapers, The Chicago Tribune, is running a column called Why Obama Should Withdraw.

Columnist Steve Chapman suggests not running for re-election might be a sensible thing for Obama to do.

He says the president might do his party a favor by stepping aside, taking the blame and letting someone else replace him at the top of the ticket. Someone like, oh, say, Hillary Clinton.

Here’s my question to you: How much of a problem does President Obama have with his own party?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Should another Democrat challenge President Obama for the nomination – and if so, who?
August 18th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Should another Democrat challenge President Obama for the nomination – and if so, who?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With the 2012 campaign well under way, the Republican candidates are out there daily tripping all over themselves and each other to win their party's nomination. As the incumbent, President Obama is expected to be the Democratic nominee. But what if he's not?

Consider this - a new CNN-ORC poll shows 70% of Democrats want the president to be the party's nominee. That number may sound high, but it's actually down 11 points since June. Working in the president's favor, only 57% of Democrats wanted the party to renominate Bill Clinton in 1994... and we all know how that turned out.

However - there are other bleak signs on the horizon for President Obama. His job approval rating continues to decline, hitting a new low of 39% for one 3-day period last week according to Gallup.

And Americans are increasingly unhappy with Mr. Obama's handling of the economy - the number one issue in the country.

According to Gallup, he gets a lousy 26% approval rating on the economy, 24% for his handling of the federal budget deficit and 29% for job creation. These are terrible numbers.

As if to confirm them, Morgan Stanley was out with a report this morning that says the United States is "dangerously close" to a recession in the next 6 to 12 months.

President Obama says he has a plan for job growth... but he's waiting until after Labor Day to tell us.

Why is he waiting? The unemployment rate is 9.1%. Do you suppose there are millions of Americans who would like to know how the government will create jobs now? Not after the President's vacation to Martha's Vineyard.

We do know the president hopes to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits; spending additional hundreds of billions of dollars we don't have.

Here’s my question to you: Should another Democrat challenge President Obama for the nomination – and if so, who?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


August 11th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Would Hillary Clinton have been a better choice for Democrats?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Looks like some Democrats are having buyer's remorse when it comes to President Obama and wishing they had gone with Hillary Clinton instead.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/08/11/art.hillary.jpg caption=""]
The recent negotiations over the debt ceiling are being seen by many as the lowest point in Mr. Obama's presidency. And it's not just Republicans who are comparing Barack Obama to Jimmy Carter or saying he'll be a one-term president.

One Democratic strategist tells the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph that Democrats are worried that the president "looks weak. He doesn't say anything that grabs you, and people are looking for some kind of magic."

Apparently some Democratic activists are asking if the party needs someone tougher to fight the tea party. Someone, say, like Hillary Clinton. They point out that Hillary, like her husband Bill Clinton, has tougher political instincts than President Obama.

During the 2008 campaign, Hillary Clinton claimed that although then-candidate Obama might be able to inspire the masses, she was the one who had the experience to get the job done.

Hindsight is 20-20, but it's easy to see why some Democrats are now nervous about the president's re-election chances. His approval ratings are at or near all-time lows for his presidency and only one-third of Americans approve of how he's handling the economy, which is the No. 1 issue.

What's more, one recent poll showed 44% of registered voters say they are more likely to vote for a generic Republican in 2012. That's compared to 39% who say they're more likely to vote for Mr. Obama.

When you lose in a hypothetical matchup against an unknown opponent, that's not a good starting point from which to seek to be re-elected.

Here’s my question to you: Would Hillary Clinton have been a better choice for the Democrats?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Filed under: 2010 Election • Democrats • Hillary Clinton
April 21st, 2011
04:47 PM ET

Which will cause GOP more problems in 2012: Dems or Tea Party?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Despite last year's midterm shellacking of the Democrats and record low approval ratings for President Obama, there is a big potential problem for Republicans heading into the 2012 presidential election. Other Republicans.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/04/21/art.tea.party.jpg caption="Last week's 2011 Palm Beach County Tax Day Tea Party."]
More specifically, the Tea Party; that grassroots movement that helped the GOP win the House last fall and weaken the Democrats' hold on the Senate. These days they are all but driving the Republican agenda. They want big spending cuts and a much smaller government. The thing is a lot of Americans agree with them. And many of the newly-elected lawmakers who ran on those platforms have proven they're willing to stick to the budget-slashing principles even if it effectively paralyzes Congress.

Fifty-four Republicans in the House voted against last week's budget bill and for a government shutdown, a sign that upcoming battles like raising the debt ceiling and reforming Medicare could get very ugly.

The old line establishment Republicans aren't nearly so extreme, and that could become a problem when it comes time for the GOP to run against the Democrats in next year's elections. Potential GOP candidates like Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, and Donald Trump have all made appearances at Tea Party events this month. Others like Mitt Romney and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour have chosen to steer clear of events, while still speaking favorably of the group.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research poll, just 32% of Americans have a favorable view of the Tea Party, while 46% have a favorable view of the Democratic party and 44% have a favorable view of Republicans.

Here’s my question to you: Which will cause Republicans more problems next year: Democrats or the Tea Party?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Democrats • GOP • GOP Ticket • Republican Party • Republicans • Tea Party
April 18th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Should Dems seek someone to run against Obama in 2012?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama is hitting the road this week to speak at town hall meetings in Virginia, California and Nevada. His goal is to push his deficit reduction plan while trying to reconnect with voters.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/04/18/art.obama.jpg caption=""]
Last week, when the president laid out his plan to cut $4 trillion from the deficit over the next 12 years, it was mostly greeted with a yawn and criticized as being more of a re-election plan than a fiscal discipline plan.

While the country struggles with a debt crisis, President Obama has problems of his own. A new Gallup Poll shows just 41% of Americans approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president. That ties his all-time low rating. He's bottomed out at 41% three other times - twice in August 2010 and once in October. And while the approval rate remains high among Democrats at 77%, only 35% of independents think he's doing a good job.

Perhaps even more troubling is a previous Gallup Poll that shows President Obama's support has slipped dramatically among blacks and Hispanics as well.

But he is the incumbent and therefore presumably the Democratic candidate for 2012. Or is he?

A lot of Americans are fed up with the president's unwillingness to admit the mess this country is in. And it's not just about debt. It's about his ineffectiveness when Congress couldn't agree over spending cuts and his lack of leadership on the Libyan conflict. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to step in and take care of that. And it's about the overall promise of change Obama made to American voters in 2008, one he has not delivered on. Three wars instead of two, Guantanamo's still open.

Transparency? Not! And deficits and a national debt the likes of which we've never seen before.

A second term is far from a sure thing.

Here’s my question to you: Should Democrats seek someone to run against President Obama next year?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


January 5th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Moderate Senate Democrats already looking ahead to 2012?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As the new Congress convenes today, the next election in 2012 already looms as a possible impediment to the Democrats' Senate majority.

Politico reports that several moderate Democratic Senators up for re-election in two years will be more likely to buck their own party in order to save their seats.

And it's already started. During the lame duck session of Congress, when Harry Reid tried to prevent an extension of the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy, three moderate Democrats defected. When the Republicans proposed deep spending cuts, two more Democrats joined them. And yet another moderate jumped ship when Reid pushed through President Obama's tax compromise.

In all, 21 Senate Democrats - plus two Independents who caucus with them - will be up for re-election in 2012.

You can bet these Democrats are well aware of the "shellacking" their party took in the midterms; and they don't want to be the next casualty. As Senator Claire McCaskill - who is up for re-election herself - puts it: "If you're in re-elect mode, there's a tendency around here just to hide under a chair instead of making the tough calls."

Meanwhile Republicans are worried that Senate Democrats may try to eliminate the use of the filibuster now that they have a smaller majority of 53 seats. Some Democrats are proposing a rule change that would require only a simple majority of 51 votes - instead of 60 votes - to break a filibuster.

The GOP calls this a "naked partisan power grab."

Here’s my question to you: How effective can Senate Democrats be if some moderate members are already looking ahead to 2012?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: 2012 Election • Democrats • Senate
November 3rd, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Lame-duck Congress' first order of business?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Despite the fact that the Democrats took a real beating yesterday, the Democratic-led Congress will soon be back in Washington for a lame-duck session. Heavy emphasis on the word, "lame."

Because this Congress allowed so much unfinished business to pile up before the elections, there'll be no shortage of things to do should they actually decide to tackle some of the people's business.

There are the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire at the end of this year. If nothing is done, the biggest tax increase in American history will land on our doorsteps January 1.

There's the issue of expiring unemployment insurance for two million Americans.

And don't forget about the budget. Lawmakers need to either pass another temporary measure to keep the government funded - or pass the remaining spending bills for fiscal year 2011. The second won't happen, the first has to.

Other pending issues include the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax.

Don't hold your breath on any of this stuff. Congress will only be in session for a few weeks before the Christmas recess.

Plus, insiders say this lame-duck session could be more unpredictable than most since the balance of power is shifting. They say Republicans could spend at least a week figuring out who will take leadership roles in the next Congress.

More importantly, it's likely the Republicans won't be in the mood to do much cooperating, since they'll be running the show come January.

Here’s my question to you: What should be the lame-duck session of Congress' first order of business?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Congress • Democrats • Republicans
November 1st, 2010
05:28 PM ET

Has Democratic leadership been "authoritarian" and "closed?"

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

A candid Congressman... it's an endangered species in Washington. Unless they're retiring and have nothing to lose by being honest.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/11/01/art.baird.jpg caption="Representative Brian Baird (D-WA)."]
The Wall Street Journal interviewed Congressman Brian Baird, a six-term Democrat from Washington State who's retiring at the end of this term.

Baird calls out the Democratic leaders, saying they're "authoritarian" and "closed." He says they've repeated some of the Republicans' errors: "We've made some of the same damn mistakes, and we were supposed to be better. That's the heartbreak."

And we're talking about a loyal Democrat here. Baird voted for all of the Democrats' legislative priorities - including the stimulus bill, health care reform and cap and trade. Although he does admit that all three have serious flaws.

Baird says he was very excited when his party won control of Congress in 2006, but saw troublesome signs early on. For example, right after the election, he says Speaker Nancy Pelosi abandoned all work on a rules package to make the House more ethical. He says the leaders told party members to quote "trust them to clean things up."

That worked out well, didn't it?

Baird says he was optimistic when President Obama was elected. But the White House's decision not to make job creation its top priority made him lose hope pretty quickly.

His advice for incoming Republican members of Congress is to "treat the voters like adults."

Now there's an idea.

Here’s my question to you: One retiring Democratic congressman says the party's leadership has been "authoritarian" and "closed." Is he right?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Congress • Democratic Race • Democrats
November 1st, 2010
05:00 PM ET

If Dems get crushed, how much is Pres. Obama to blame?


President Obama speaks to supporters while Vice President Biden looks on during the 'Moving America Forward' rally at Cleveland State University. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

What a difference two years makes.

In 2008, President Obama rode into the White House on a wave of broad voter enthusiasm, the likes of which hadn't been seen in this country in decades.

Fast forward two years, and the president's party is expected to get crushed in Tuesday's midterm elections. The latest USA Today/Gallup Poll shows the largest Republican margin in House voting in several generations.

And regardless of the turnout, it's looking more and more like Republicans will win more than the 39 seats needed to gain control of the House.

Experts in both parties keep revising their estimates upward. Many now believe the Democrats will lose more than 50 seats, and some are putting that number as high as 70.

Meanwhile, critics are heaping a lot of the blame on the president.

A piece in the London Telegraph suggests that by abandoning his own talk of bipartisanship, President Obama divided the country and set his party up for defeat.

The piece points out how Bill Clinton has held more than 100 events around the country while President Obama is mostly limiting himself to the friendly blue states. This is striking because Barack Obama rose to fame as a state senator by shooting down the notion of a red America and a blue America.

Many also feel the president didn't use his office to address the most pressing issue, the economy. Instead he focused on the "grand issues," such as health care.

And how's this for symbolism: . In Cleveland, Ohio, on Sunday, he spoke in an indoor arena that was nearly half-empty. And on the eve of the midterm elections, President Obama - the leader of the Democratic party - has no public events on his calendar.

Here’s my question to you: If the Democrats get crushed tomorrow, how much blame does President Obama deserve?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


October 26th, 2010
05:53 PM ET

Election already over for Democrats?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/10/26/top.dems.gi.jpg
caption= ]

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

There are only seven days to go before the midterm elections, and President Obama has a quiet day at the White House. Maybe too quiet.

On his schedule: only meetings with advisers and Cabinet members. No campaign rallies. No fundraisers.

Howard Kurtz writes in "The Daily Beast" that heading into the midterms, the White House feels so beat up by the press and unable to push its own narrative that its gone into "bunker mode."

"What's fascinating is the belief that the bully pulpit has been permanently downsized, forcing the leader of the free world to shout for attention in a cacophonous world."

And it's not just President Obama who seems to be feeling the pain here. Bill Clinton spoke at a campaign event the other day in a high school gym in Detroit that was nearly two-thirds empty. When was the last time Clinton spoke to an almost empty house?

Even some Democrats are voicing their frustration. Frank Caprio, who is running for governor in Rhode Island, says President Obama can "take his endorsement and really shove it." Lovely. This after the president didn't endorse him.

And there are plenty of reasons for all this angst among the Democratic Party. The conventional wisdom is that Democrats are in for a real bruising next Tuesday.

A new USA Today/Gallup Poll shows Democrats face a record "enthusiasm gap." Only 37 percent of Democrats say they're more enthusiastic about voting this year than usual - compared with a whopping 63 percent of Republicans.

Polls also show congressional Republicans holding their lead in generic ballot match-ups against Democrats.

Here’s my question to you: Is the election already over for the Democrats?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Filed under: 2010 Election • Democrats
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