From ‘Yes We Can’ to ‘Yes We Can, but…’

BY David Chalian  October 28, 2010 at 8:46 AM EDT

President Obama and Jon Stewart

President Obama appears on Wednesday’s “Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

For the White House, the closing days of the midterm campaign is all about turning out key blocks of the Democratic base. Looking to energize younger voters who enthusiastically supported him in 2008, President Obama went on the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” Wednesday night to give a forceful defense of his first two years in office.

In the 2008 election, Mr. Obama won a convincing 66 percent of 18-to-29-year-old voters — a group that also happens to be the target audience for Stewart and his Comedy Central compatriot Stephen Colbert, who together have planned a weekend rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

But if the president was hoping Stewart would go easy on him, he had another thing coming. The host repeatedly pressed President Obama to explain how the lofty rhetoric of the presidential campaign had turned into a political environment in which Democrats now “seem to be running on, ‘Please, baby, one more chance.’”

Stewart asked the president whether if having a do-over, would he run as a pragmatist with the tag line, “Yes we can, given certain conditions.”

The president responded, “No, I think what I would say is, ‘Yes we can, but it’s not going to happen overnight.’”

One exchange produced quite a bit of laughter: Stewart asked the president what kind of message he was sending by hiring people from past administrations, like outgoing economic advisor Larry Summers.

President Obama defended Summers’ record as director of the National Economic Council, saying he’s done “a heckuva job.”

Stewart quickly shot back, “You don’t want to use that phrase, dude,” a reference to President George W. Bush’s use of the phrase when he told then-FEMA director Michael Brown that he was doing “a heckuva job” in managing relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina.

You can watch the entire interview below:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Barack Obama Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Barack Obama Pt. 2
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Barack Obama Pt. 3
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS

There are two big national polls out Thursday indicating that President Obama and his party face significant trouble heading into Election Day.

A CBS News/New York Times poll shows that key components of the winning Democratic coalition of past elections have moved — in some cases, dramatically — to the Republican Party.

“Republicans have wiped out the advantage held by Democrats in recent election cycles among women, Roman Catholics, less affluent Americans and independents. All of those groups broke for Mr. Obama in 2008 and for Congressional Democrats when they grabbed both chambers from the Republicans four years ago, according to exit polls,” write the New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg and Megan Thee-Brenan.

And there’s this stunning finding: “If women choose Republicans over Democrats in House races on Tuesday, it will be the first time they have done so since exit polls began tracking the breakdown in 1982. “

Both the CBS/Times poll and a new Bloomberg poll show Republicans winning the generic congressional ballot among likely voters by a significant margin — enough for a likely Republican takeover of the House. The Republicans need a net gain of 39 seats to become the majority.

The Bloomberg poll also finds that winning an election and having the support of the American people to pursue an agenda are not the same thing.

From Bloomberg: “The poll finds Republicans in an unusual position: on the brink of making political gains while the party and its policies are unpopular. Likely voters are evenly divided on the Republican Party, with 47 percent holding a positive opinion,” write John McCormick and Heidi Przybyla.

More from Bloomberg: “Republicans have said they want to cut $100 billion from the federal budget as early as January. That would amount to 21 percent of the government’s so-called discretionary spending and target programs such as college loans for low-income students or medical research at the National Institutes of Health.

“Less than one-third of poll respondents — 31 percent — say they support cutting federal spending in areas such as education and health care, excluding Social Security, Medicare and defense.”

ALASKA, AGAIN

Sen. Lisa Murkowsk, R-Alaska, scored a big victory Wednesday night when Alaska’s Supreme Court ruled to block a lower court ruling, allowing voters to look at a list of possible write-in candidates at their polling site.

As Murkowski tries to become the first U.S. Senator elected as a write-in candidate since Strom Thurmond in South Carolina in 1954, a list containing her name will be a huge boon to get voters to remember to write in her name (and spell it correctly) on Nov. 2.

This legal development comes just as a Hays Research poll shows Republican nominee and Tea Party-backed candidate Joe Miller facing some hurdles.

Miller’s negative ratings are climbing in light of reports about misusing a government computer and lying about it. The latest poll shows “write-in candidate” winning with 34 percent of the vote, compared to Miller’s 23 percent and Democratic candidate Scott McAdams at 29 percent.

Miller is expected to get a high-wattage boost on the trail Thursday when Sarah and Todd Palin headline a campaign rally for him.

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.