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Capitol View Commentary: Friday, November 2, 2012

Capitol View Commentary: Friday, November 2, 2012

CREATED Nov 2, 2012

CAPITOL VIEW

By Pat Nolan, Senior Vice-President, DVL Public Relations & Advertising

November 2, 2012

FLYING BLIND TO THE END; INSIDE POLITICS; DROPPING THE OTHER SHOE; KEEP ON KEEPING ON

FLYING BLIND TO THE END

With the most densely populated part of the nation recovering from a massive super storm that struck the East Coast (especially the New York City area and New Jersey), the presidential race took a back seat in the news most of this past week, with both candidates off the campaign trail for multiple days and some national polling services shutting down (in particular, Gallup which has been the most favorable survey for Mitt Romney in recent weeks).

The President stayed busy and in the news trying to lead the national relief effort. For the most part that has seemed to go well, so it's probably a small boost to the President politically (assuming that continues up to Election Day). Who would have thought that one of the enduring photo ops and sound bites in these closing days of the presidential race would be one of Mitt Romney's strongest surrogates (New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie) praising the President repeatedly for his help and leadership while together they toured the storm's destruction? Talk about an October surprise.

All that and the late endorsement of Mr. Obama by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City are not likely to have a huge impact on the overall race (they both represents strong blue areas any way) but any positive news for either of the candidates helps, at least a little, especially late in a race this tight.

For Mr. Romney other than holding events to help with the relief effort, he was left on the sidelines without much a clear role for a day or so. He also decided to avoid clarifying earlier comments he made during a primary debate that federal emergency relief might best be left to the states or the private sector.

Add it up and where are we in this final weekend of the election? Still very, very close with both candidates having plausible reasons to think they can win Tuesday. The latest and last jobs report before the vote (released Friday) was the usual mixed bag, with the President being able to claim another month of modest job growth (171,000) but Mr. Romney pointing to an overall increase in unemployment (from 7.8% to 7.9%) and tens of millions still out of work.

While there remains some disagreement between the national and state polls, it does appear to me there has been some small tilt back towards the President in recent days. Real Clear Politics (RCP) (November 2) has it 47.5% Obama to 47.2% Romney (how's that for close), with an electoral count of 290-248 for the President. Electoral-vote.com has it 281 Obama to 215 Romney with 42 electoral votes still up for grabs (Florida, North Carolina and Virginia).

 

Meantime one of the more favorable political media sites for the President throughout the campaign continues to be that way. (As of Friday afternoon) Fivethirtyeight.com of the NEW YORK TIMES has it 303, Obama, 235 Romney with the President carrying the popular vote to 50.5% to 48.6%. As for the "insider" odds of who wins the race on Tuesday, In-Trade has it (Friday afternoon) 66.9% to 33.2% for the President, Fivethirtyeight favors Mr. Obama 81% to 19%. Both numbers have risen slightly for the Democrat the past few days as has the RCP average which had favored Romney slightly until earlier this week.

But it all comes down to votes, not polls, so turnout in the battleground states will tell the story, especially in Ohio, Florida, Colorado and Virginia. As we discussed briefly last week, there is a late movement by the Romney campaign to widen the battleground race to include Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Polls have tightened there and new TV ad buys have been placed by both sides. Even candidate capital is being committed with the Democrat's number one surrogate, former President Bill Clinton campaigning in Wisconsin while Governor Romney is off to Pennsylvania on Sunday. Is this a real breakthrough for Romney or a last minute fake (ala John McCain in 2008), or is it a calculated risk to find states to carry if Ohio cannot be won for the GOP.

We probably won't know for sure until the votes are counted Tuesday. So join the NEWSCHANNEL5 NETWORK team and CBS for full coverage beginning with local and national returns on THE PLUS beginning at 7:00 p.m. then continuing on the main channel from 8:00 p.m. onward to the 10 PM News and who knows how long until we know a winner?

INSIDE POLITICS

As the 2012 election cycle enters into its final days, we were pleased to have a national presidential candidate, Jill Stein of the Green Party booked to be as one of our guests on INSIDE POLITICS this weekend. She is one of seven candidates seeking votes for president on the Tennessee ballot. But late Thursday afternoon, her campaign dumped us so (they said) the candidate could take an earlier flight out of town.

Bummer. Maybe she went to some place where her small vote total could possibly tip the state to either Obama or Romney (Florida and Ohio get mentioned). Or maybe she just didn't want to stay in Nashville overnight. Too bad, I am sorry our audience didn't get the chance to see her or hear what she has to say.

We worked hard to find other guests, but all the hot political races we tried to feature found one of the candidates unable to book it into their schedules, so we are going with an encore performance of a previous INSIDE POLITICS show. The weekend before the election that's not preferable for sure, but unfortunately it happens sometimes I guess.

The show we will encore this weekend is the one we did in late June celebrating Metro Nashville government's 50th anniversary. As guests, we have the three chairs of that celebration, State Senator Thelma Harper, Nashville's journalism icon, John Seigenthaler, and Metros' first vice-mayor George Cate. The political story of how Metro came to be is fascinating and worth watching again I think. This is also the last show I did before having my stroke and taking a medical leave.

INSIDE POLITICS can be seen several times each weekend on the NEWSCHANNEL5 NETWORK. Our air times include 5:00 a.m. Sunday on the main channel, WTVF-TV NEWSCHANNEL5. We are also on NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS at 7:00 p.m. Friday, 5:00 a.m. & 5:30 p.m., Saturday, and 5:00 a.m. & 12:30 p.m., Sunday. THE PLUS is on Comcast Cable channel 250, Charter Cable channel 150 and NEWSCHANNEL5 over-the-air digital channel 5.

DROPPING THE OTHER SHOE

I sort of thought this might happen.

A second female former patient of Tennessee Congressman Dr. Scott DesJarlais has come forward to say she had sex with him while under his care (a violation of DesJarlais' and the state of Tennessee medical ethics).

Not only that but the new patient says during their six-month affair back in 2000, the Doctor/later Congressman smoked marijuana with her, prescribed pain killers for her while on a date and that there was "mutual illicit drug use" according to an article by THE CHATTANOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS (October 28).

The Congressman's re-election campaign responded by saying the women had reached out to both the current Congressman's wife and the paper to express concerns about her statements in the article being taken out of context and that there were factual inaccuracies

But the reporter who wrote the article (Chris Carroll) says despite reaching out to her and the DesJarlais campaign "neither …has responded to my inquiry: "What was inaccurate in the article?" Then he added this:" My editors and I stand by my story." (The woman 10/31 has now told the newspaper its original story is accurate).

And so it goes, as the congressional election between Republican DesJarlais and Democratic State Senator Eric Stewart heads into its final days. As more national campaign money comes into the race to air TV ads on Stewart's behalf, it remains unclear how this ongoing scandal for the first term Congressman will shake out at the ballot box.

DesJarlais' campaign has released a poll indicating he remains well in front (but what else would they say?). The Congressman has also been endorsed by the NRA, which can't hurt in his conservative district. Meantime, state Democratic Party leaders are demanding the Congressman resign immediately and that state GOP leaders (such as Governor Bill Haslam) join in that call. Of course that isn't going to happen, although there is evidence from my sources that uncertain Republican voters are being told to hold their noses to vote for DesJarlais (to keep his seat for the GOP and for Speaker John Boehner to keep his leadership job). There are also indications that some GOP officials (Senator Jim Tracy among others) in Rutherford County (the newest and largest part of the district) are already moving around assessing support to oppose DesJarlais two years from now in the August, 2014 primary.

Late in the week former Democratic governor Phil Bredesen was featured in new radio ads supporting Stewart, while the well-respected national Cook Political Report has moved the race to "lean Republican" after earlier assessing the contest as "solid Republican', then "likely Republican". But while the race continues to tighten, will it tilt enough for Stewart to earn an upset victory Tuesday?

And as for Dr. DesJarlais, even if he wins November 6, it appears his problems will be far from over. Late Friday, the Tennessee Democratic Party sent out a press release claiming "DesJarlais' medical practice shows a history of lawsuits, malpractice claims."

 

KEEP ON KEEPING ON

As a part of my ongoing stroke recovery, I have decided the time I want to do a weekly workout with my personal trainer at the Green Hills YMCA.

It's 7:00 a.m., Monday morning!

Yeah, I said "ugh" too the first time I thought about it.

And all I can say about this past Monday (October 29), the first day I did it, is this. It sure is dark at that hour and cold (which is not likely to improve as we head into the winter months)! I had to get up at 5 in time shower, get dressed, take my blood pressure/ medicines, eat breakfast, read the papers and drive over.

But I survived. I am kind of a morning person. Just never been a morning exercise person…or an anytime exercise guy, really. But I can already feel, with just two sessions under my belt that this effort is going to help my strength, posture and overall conditioning.

I can also complete the workout, I think, in time to get to the office before our Monday morning staff meeting begins…and that's good too.

The things that help keep me going these days, are all the positive notes of encouragement I am getting from readers. Let me share a few e-mails I've received (no names) that mean a lot to me.

From one long-time, out of town friend and former co-worker: "I never thought I'd see the day, but congrats on your commitment to the workout. And to Betty Lee (my wife, who is also doing workouts at the YMCA) because it is SO much easier when your partner is on the journey with you. "

I got this from another friend and column reader: "Pat, I have really enjoyed following you on the road to recovery and I agree you should give us periodic updates on how your exercise routine is coming along. You are right about two things: exercise and Krispy Kremes in moderation are good!"

In that regard, I have some other good news! My therapists at the Pi Beta Phi Rehabilitation Institute at the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center sent me a very nice hand-written note after my trip there last week bearing treats at the end of my treatments. The note read: "Thank you so much for the thoughtful gift of donuts. They were delicious! It was a pleasure working with you. You had an amazing recovery and we're glad to have been a part of it."

Me too, and I am glad I resisted the strong temptation to "field sample" the Krispy Kremes before I left them!

I had several other readers share their best wishes. One, a former boss said: "You're to be congratulated for committing to exercise. I wish I would do the same."

 

Thanks, I hope I can stick it out.

Another reader was even more direct about the need to do the right thing and exercise, citing his own experience: "….I wish I had dealt with eating healthy and exercising a lot sooner. It is hard. It is not fun. But it is the only real control you have winning the battle."

"And you are right….you will not be successful doing it alone. Work with the trainer. Go to the Y. Whatever that costs is a small investment in staying alive. And ultimately feeling better physically and emotionally"

This writer added: "I do most of my exercise via hiking and with a low key weight machine routine. And I struggle with discipline, but I know I gotta do it."…So I will get off my soap box, except to say, "Hey man, you got a second shot. WALK in it."

Actually I do hope to start doing some indoor walking at the Y soon, along with checking out the twitter site this same reader recommended. He says the title is: "Eat this, not that. An excellent source of learning how to eat healthy and still eat good stuff (no Krispy Kremes though). "

Darn!

Speaking of eating and drinking the right thing, one other friend and reader suggested to me (I think with tongue in cheek): "For election night, just get a case of Red Bull under the desk and you'll do fine. "

I'll probably stick with some coffee (no soft drinks) to supplement my usual adrenaline.

Finally, here is the reader e-mail from a long-time friend that really caught my attention:

"Pat, take that exercise advice seriously. I am 84 years old. I walk one and a quarter miles every morning. I do back exercises for 15 minutes before I walk, Other than normal aches and pains, I'm in pretty good health."

And that's exactly where I want to be when I'm that age!

Thanks to everyone who reads the column and e-mails me! More are welcome!

MORE TO COME AS MY STROKE RECOVERY JOURNEY CONTINUES