Is the “Big Sky Buyoff” one step closer to reality following the nomination hearing for Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) to serve as US ambassador to China? Red state Democrats are seeking distance from President Obama following the State of the Union. Politico covers the (not so) tough questions that faced Baucus. And, “no show” Walsh (Dem senate candidate, Lt. Gov John Walsh) is still asking for the US Senate seat. That and more is below.
The Hill: Baucus’s exit gives Dems more hope
“It’d have huge consequences on the race. It’d give John Walsh an opportunity to raise his profile and introduce himself to Montanans as their U.S. senator,” said one Washington-based Democratic strategist with Montana ties. “[It] gives him a huge platform and helps him raise the resources to be competitive.”
But a Walsh appointment hardly makes him the favorite. He would still likely face an uphill campaign against the well-funded Daines even if he gets some of the temporary benefits that come with incumbency. The Democrat has had a rough spell on the campaign trail because of questions about whether he abused his position as head of the Montana National Guard.
In a telltale sign, Walsh has yet to release his fourth-quarter fundraising figures — candidates often wait until the last minute to put out less-than-impressive numbers, and Friday is the reporting deadline.
The Hill: Red-State Dems Seek Distance From Obama
Some red-state Democrats are putting distance between themselves and President Obama following the his annual State of the Union speech.
Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Senate candidates John Walsh of Montana and Natalie Tennant of West Virginia both put out statements challenging the president following his Tuesday night address.
Walsh, running in libertarian-leaning Montana, challenged Obama on the National Security Agency’s domestic spying program.
Politico on the (not so) tough questions that faced Baucus:
Testifying on Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Baucus (D-Mont.) brushed aside questions from Republicans about whether Democrats orchestrated his move to China. Some have suggested President Barack Obama made the appointment so Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh could be installed in the Senate, giving him a boost ahead of the November election in which he hopes to win Baucus’ seat for a full term.
Still, he stumbled into a gaffe, at one point telling Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) that he is “no real expert on China.”
After hearing Baucus’s answer to Johnson, McCain said he was “concerned” over the Montana senator’s answers and warned him to be skeptical when dealing with the country’s leadership.
Video from Gannett Newspapers (covers DC for The Great Falls Tribune) of Sen. Baucus after the hearing:
Coverage from Malia Rulon Herman in The Great Falls Tribune:
Baucus did stumble once, at one point telling Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin that he was “no real expert on China.”
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said he was “concerned” about Baucus’ answers. He warned Baucus to be skeptical in dealing with China’s leaders.
“This isn’t a matter of, if they’re as proud as we are proud,” McCain said. “This is a matter of a rising threat or challenge to peace and security in Asia because of the profound belief in Chinese leadership that China will regain the dominant role” in Asia.
Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh says winning an interim appointment to succeed outgoing Sen. Max Baucus would help build his name recognition ahead of the closely contested November election for the Senate seat, and that he’s already told the governor, a fellow Democrat, that he’s interested in the spot.
But Walsh has been hit with a spate of bad headlines as of late; on Sunday, he held a news conference to release hundreds of pages of his military records to push back against reports that he had improperly pressured troops to join the National Guard Association of the United States in 2010.
While Republicans believe a Walsh selection would undermine his message of running against Washington, they also accuse national Democrats and the White House of orchestrating the Baucus nomination to help them in a tough Senate race.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/montana-john-walsh-senate-102661.html#ixzz2rhQGmvez