The Morning Line: Bennet’s Victory in Colorado Gives Team Obama a Boost

BY Quinn Bowman  August 11, 2010 at 8:24 AM EDT

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee and the White House joined Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., in scoring a big victory last night.

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The incumbent appointed senator was able to fend off a feisty and strong challenge by former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff and with a decisive 54 percent to 46 percent victory.

Bennet’s victory also showed that President Obama still has some political mojo: He raised $700,000 for Bennet during a campaign stop this year, appeared in TV ads and direct mail and dialed in to a tele-town hall meeting to praise Bennet in the closing days of the campaign.

To be sure, Mr. Obama’s political pull in the context of a Democratic primary is quite different from what it is in a general election, and Sen. Bennet seems to recognize that.

Responding to a question on ABC’s “Good Morning America” about whether he’ll ask for President Obama to campaign for him in the general election, Bennet said, “We’ll have to see. We’ll obviously do what’s right for the campaign. He’s been a huge help and I appreciate his endorsement, and we’ll see what happens between now and November.”

“I just won the primary about 6 minutes ago, so we’ll have to give it some thought,” he added.

Perhaps more important than defeating a primary opponent, national Democrats can take some joy in Republican Party results in Colorado in both the senate and gubernatorial contests.

Former Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, a Tea Party favorite, upended the GOP establishment’s preferred candidate, former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, 51 percent to 48 percent.

And businessman Dan Maes bested former Rep. Scott McInnis after McInnis was exposed in a scandal over plagiarism. Many leaders in the Colorado Republican Party are concerned that Maes cannot win a general election against Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, who coasted to the Democratic nomination without a challenge.

Colorado may be the proving ground for Democrats at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Democrats have long been pushing the idea that Tea Party enthusiasm is causing Republicans to nominate candidates in primaries who will have a far tougher time in a general election wooing the middle of the electorate. It will be a key dynamic to watch in the coming 83 days.

In Connecticut, former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon defeated former Rep. Rob Simmons for the Republican nomination in the Senate race. McMahon spent $22 million of her own money on her victory and plans to spend more than that over the course of her general election battle against Democrat Richard Blumenthal.

In Georgia, we still don’t know who will emerge as the winner in a runoff for the GOP nomination for governor. Former Rep. Nathan Deal is sitting on a roughly 2,500-vote lead over Karen Handel, who is running with the support of former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

ROBERT GIBBS DOES THE WALKBACK AGAIN

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs angered liberal journalists and activists Tuesday when he said critics on the “professional left” who compared President Obama to President Bush should be drug tested.

“They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality,” Gibbs told the Hill newspaper. Gibbs was reflecting on criticism from the left on the lack of a public option in the health care reform bill, the failure to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay and the perceived sluggish approach to ending the ban of openly gay service members in the military.

The article sent of a cascade of outrage among liberals who have criticized the president. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, a champion of liberal issues on cable news, said the White House was making itself look like the “amateur left.”

“We have readers, Mr. President, hundreds of thousands of readers. That doesn’t happen just because we are professionals, but because people want to know what we think. You don’t.”Wrote blogger masaccio on the popular liberal site firedoglake.com.

Even Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., joined in and called for Gibbs to resign.

“This is not the first time that Mr. Gibbs has made untoward and inflammatory comments, and I certainly hope that people in the White House don’t share his view that the left is unimportant to the president,” Ellison said. “I understand him having some loyalty to the president who employs him, but I think he’s walking over the line.”

Gibbs walked back the comments on Tuesday, telling the Huffington Post what he said was “inartful” and that he probably watches too much cable.

Gibbs got himself into hot water in July when he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that it was possible Republicans could win back the House of Representatives. Democratic members of the House, already annoyed at all the tough votes they took on for the president’s agenda, were outraged. Gibbs made nice by saying he predicted his party would hold the House in November.

THE LIFE OF TED STEVENS

Former Sen. Ted Stevens died Monday evening in a plane crash in Alaska. Stevens served as Alaska’s senator from 1968 until 2009 — the longest-serving GOP senator in history.

Take a look at some of the stories about Stevens’ life — and examinations of his record and legacy.

Washington Post — Ted Stevens, 86; longtime GOP senator showered funds on Alaska

The New York Times — Ted Stevens, Longtime Alaska Senator, Dies at 86

NPR — Stevens Leaves Behind ‘King Of Alaska’ Legacy

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner — Ted Stevens helped shape Fairbanks, Alaska military bases

Legal Times — Ted Stevens Became a Symbol for Prosecutorial Misconduct

Los Angeles Times — Ted Stevens, grandfather of net neutrality, dies as Internet debate reemerges

Foreign Policy — RIP Ted Stevens, architect of the Alaskan petrostate