1. By most accounts, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker performed ably in his first debate against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, his Democratic challenger in the recall election. But how many people really watched a Friday night debate before Memorial Day weekend? The scheduling gave Walker a good dry run before the next debate, when presumably more people will be paying attention.
2. The Texas Republican Senate primary will take place immediately after Memorial Day, with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst hoping to avoid a runoff against Tea Party-backed conservative Ted Cruz. Dewhurst has been hovering around the necessary 50 percent mark in some surveys, so he has moved in for the kill by trying to associate Cruz with amnesty for illegal immigrants and calling Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert a liberal. Cruz has fired back that Dewhurst is trafficking in bigotry. From my view, Dewhurst’s ad is misleading and Cruz’ charge is a risky one in a GOP primary.
3. Barack Obama’s weak showing in last week’s Democratic primaries in Arkansas and Kentucky, following similar problems in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Alabama, North Carolina, and Louisiana, raises red flags for the incumbent president. Of these states, only North Carolina will actually be in play this fall. But it does speak to Obama’s problems appealing to a kind of voter that will be well represented in genuine swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. Sean Trende covered this well in an analysis for RealClearPolitics.
4. On ABC this morning, George Will asked a pertinent question: Why would it be divisive for the Supreme Court to overturn Obamacare by a 5-4 decision, but not divisive for the court to uphold the unpopular law by 5-4?
5. All week long, Obama faced surprising Democratic backlash against his attacks on Mitt Romney’s Bain record. Cory Booker and Harold Ford have frequently tried to appeal to centrists, but Ed Rendell is a pretty partisan figure.
6. A worthwhile statement from Rep. Jeff Miller, the Florida Republican who chairs the House Veterans Committee, about this weekend: “This Monday, as a nation, we will observe Memorial Day. Memorial Day is not just for barbeques, shopping, or having the day off from work. It is the day of the year all Americans should remember and reflect upon those who have fought for our country and who now lay in peace.”
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