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  G.O.P. Congressman From Buffalo Region Decides To RetireMarch 20, 2008 21:57 Representative Thomas M. Reynolds, a five-term Republican legislator from the Buffalo area and perhaps the most influential New Yorker in the House until his party lost control of the chamber, said on Thursday that he would step down at the end of the year.

The decision by Mr. Reynolds, 57, who was nearly defeated in 2006 and was bracing for another tough re-election fight this year, further complicates the Republican Party’s efforts to try to regain control of the House in November.

In addition, Mr. Reynolds, a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, has come under intense criticism from Democrats because the treasurer of the committee under his chairmanship is being investigated in connection with the embezzlement of several hundred thousand dollars.

In making the announcement of his departure plan on Thursday in Williamsville, a suburb of Buffalo, Mr. Reynolds acknowledged that his decision had been strongly influenced by the difficult electoral climate that his party is facing this fall. A savvy politician who measures his words carefully, Mr. Reynolds said that it was “time to face reality.”

Mr. Reynolds, at one time considered a possible speaker of the House, is the 29th Republican member of the House to announce retirement plans since the party lost power in the 2006 election. The retirements underscore the low morale among Republicans heading into a presidential election and saddled with an unpopular war and a troubled economy.
  Poll: Bush's Approval Hits New LowMarch 19, 2008 14:50 Just 31 percent of Americans approve of how President Bush is handling his job, according to a poll released Wednesday, the fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war.

Sixty-seven percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey disapprove of the president's performance.

The 31 percent approval number is a new low for Bush in CNN polling, and 40 points lower than the president's number at the start of the Iraq war.

"Bush's approval rating five years ago, at the start of the Iraq war, was 71 percent, and that 40-point drop is almost identical to the drop President Lyndon Johnson faced during the Vietnam War," said CNN polling director Keating Holland.

"Johnson's approval rating was 74 percent just before Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution in 1964, which effectively authorized the Vietnam War. Four years later, his approval was down to 35 percent, a 39-point drop that is statistically identical to what Bush has faced so far over the length of the Iraq war," he said.
  Florida Democrats Won’T Vote Again, Official SaysMarch 17, 2008 19:29 The Florida Democratic Party chairwoman on Monday officially buried the possibility of redoing the state’s disputed January presidential primary, saying there was no practical or affordable way to conduct a new election.

The chairwoman, Karen L. Thurman, essentially threw up her hands after failing to secure approval for a new election from state officials or the campaigns of Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

She said in a statement late Monday that party officials in Florida had proposed such a plan last week. It was unceremoniously shot down, she said.

“Thousands of people responded,” Ms. Thurman said. “We spent the weekend reviewing your messages, and while your reasons vary widely, the consensus is clear: Florida doesn’t want to vote again. So we won’t.”

The decision leaves the fate of the state’s 211 Democratic convention delegates in limbo, with no plan on the table for determining whether or how they will be seated at the Democratic National Convention in August. Ms. Thurman said the matter would now go back to the national party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee — the same body that stripped Florida and Michigan of delegates in the first place.
  Obama on McCain Tax Cut ReversalMarch 13, 2008 13:29 Barack Obama suggested Thursday John McCain reversed his position on the Bush tax cuts in order to win the Republican nomination.

Speaking with reporters on his campaign plane, Obama noted the Arizona senator was a onetime opponent to the tax cuts, and said he has since reversed his position for political reasons.

"That was how, I guess, you got your ticket punched to be the Republican nominee," he said. "But he was right then, and he's wrong now."

McCain has said he supports the tax cuts now because of the economic slowdown and the stimulus potential they offer.

Obama also said he is against the tax cuts because they are an example of a "flawed fiscal policy."

"The notion that we would pile up more mounds of debt, literally borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for tax breaks for people who don't need them and weren't even asking for them I think is unfortunate," he said. "And I think it's an example of the kinds of flawed fiscal policies that have gotten us in such a hole under this administration and a republican congress."