The newly configured Hillary Rodham Clinton may not be playing so well in Peoria. And elsewhere. The former first lady, senator and secretary of state has become a polished, confident public entity in recent days, joyous in demeanor and freshly coiffed — as opposed to her "what difference at this point does it make?" meltdown moment before Congress over Benghazi. That was a mere six months ago, incidentally.
"Hillary Clinton's public image has slumped in recent months, with younger voters, Democrats and independents taking a less enthusiastic view of her," says Peter Nicholas, a Wall Street Journal political analyst who provides evidence of same in a new joint poll from his news organization and NBC News.
"Overall, 46 percent registered a positive view of the ex-secretary of state, compared to 33 percent who expressed a negative opinion. As recently as April, 56 percent saw Mrs. Clinton in a positive light," Mr. Nicholas says.
Why the drop? Looks like a change in political climate. Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster who provided advice for the survey, explains, "pure and simple, she's gone from being the nonpartisan secretary of state to potentially a partisan Democratic nominee for president."
Campaign posturing runs like clockwork, though.
Mrs. Clinton continues to make significant speeches. In six months, she will issue yet another memoir, scheduled for bookshelves on June 1 from publishing giant Simon & Schuster. It does not have a title yet. But, hey, what difference at this point does it make? The book is already available for preorders, and most certainly has an agenda, showcasing her candid reflections and "thoughts about how to navigate the challenges of the 21st century," the publisher says.
EVERYBODY DOES IT?
Do allies and enemies alike "spy" on U.S. leaders? Voters themselves appear to agree that clandestine activities are a reality of life these days for those at the highest echelons of power, according to a wide ranging new survey. A few of the many numbers:
50 percent of registered U.S. voters say the United Kingdom "probably or definitely" spies on American leadership.
59 percent say the same of Germany and 58 percent for France; 79 percent say the same about Iran; 80 percent say the same for China as well as Russia.
30 percent of the respondents felt that world leaders were "truly angry" over revelations that the National Security Agency had targeted their private cellphone conversations; 28 percent of Republicans and 31 percent of Democrats agree with this.
20 percent said they were vexed that leaders were "posturing for the media"; 28 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Democrats agree.
36 percent said the leaders were doing both of these things; 33 percent of GOPers and 37 percent of the Dems agree.
But manners still matter. Overall, 53 percent say President Obama should apologize for the phone incidents; 52 percent of Republicans and 50 percent of Democrats agree.
The Economist/YouGov survey of 662 registered voters was conducted from Oct. 26 to 28.
IT'S A DATE
There are no pin-up girls. But it is must see. That would be the 2014 calendar for the U.S. House of Representatives, just released by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and available in printable month-by-month and one-page formats, as well as through a downloadable Google or Outlook formats.
The Virginia Republican had some stern words for his peers.
"This calendar also ensures that we, as elected officials, never lose touch with our constituents while completing our work here in Washington," Mr. Cantor wrote in a letter to fellow lawmakers.
"The House's calendar cannot work unless the members, themselves, have input. The 2014 calendar reflects the input of this chamber's membership and we will continue to ensure that it facilitates a productive legislative body."
Let's hope so. Details for those who would like to subscribe to the calendar or download information can be found here: majorityleader.gov/calendar
ROLLING WITH A CAUSE
Rolling Thunder is back in the nation's capital. Known for the thunderous "Ride for Freedom" that draws several hundred thousand motorcycle riders each Memorial Day, the nonprofit national group is back in Washington for its annual conference to tend to the real business at hand: veterans affairs, plus ongoing POW and MIA issues. The tenacious membership is particularly interested in how Obamacare will affect vets, and will be on Capitol Hill throughout Friday.
"Everything we do is meant to remember and honor our POWs, MIAs and all of our veterans," say former U.S. Army Sgt. Artie Muller, who founded the organization in 1987 and named it for a U.S. bombing campaign over North Vietnam more than two decades earlier.
"I lost a whole lot of guys in that war. I never forget that I made it back but they didn't," he adds.
Their Saturday night meeting begins with the Pledge of Allegiance and includes a moment of silence, a prayer, a recognition for Gold Star Mothers and a formidable guest speaker. On hand: retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, former chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff.
"Gen. Myers has ridden on numerous occasions with Rolling Thunder in the annual Ride for Freedom. And we thank him for his dedication and support," a spokeswoman says.
"Reboot the government."
— Bumper sticker spotted in Reading, Pa.
Halloween flew by in the preoccupied nation's capital, but not without a little gift from White House executive pastry chef Bill Yosses. He has revealed his basic recipe for the butter cookies served at the famous domicile; the cookies made their appearance Thursday, and will have many command moments with and without frosting and/or decorations as the holidays unfold.
And now, the verbatim recipe for "White House Sweet Dough Butter Cookies":
Ingredients: 1 pound sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2 pounds butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 eggs, 3 pounds all purpose flour.
Mix the butter and sugar till soft and well beaten. Then add eggs, vanilla, salt and half the flour. Beat on slow speed till mixed, then add the rest of the flour and mix until incorporated.
Push flat onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate overnight. Roll out to one quarter inch thick and cut out cookie shapes with cookie cutter. Bake at 350F for 14 minutes and then allow to cool.
POLL DU JOUR
• 79 percent of likely U.S. voters say it's still important to find out exactly what happened in the terrorist attack on Benghazi.
• 72 percent have been following the news of Benghazi closely.
• 52 percent believe that the attackers "are unlikely to be caught."
• 43 percent think that Benghazi will have a negative impact on Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign for president, if she runs; 65 percent of Republicans agree.
• 43 percent overall rate the White House explanation of the Benghazi events as "poor."
• 41 percent say that Benghazi will have no effect on Mrs. Clinton's possible presidential campaign.
• 37 percent are satisfied with the White House explanation of the Benghazi attack; 58 percent of Democrats agree.
• 4 percent overall say the Benghazi events "will help Clinton's candidacy."
Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters conducted Oct. 28-29.
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