First Read Flash: Summers break

Updated
Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers speaks during a discussion about tax codes and revenue hosted by the Brookings Institute, on May 3, 2012 in...
Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers speaks during a discussion about tax codes and revenue hosted by the Brookings Institute, on May 3, 2012 in...
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Summers withdraws name for Fed Chair

NBC News: “Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has withdrawn his bid for consideration to succeed Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chairman — a move that allows the administration to sidestep a potentially contentious confirmation process.”

New York Times: “After weeks of opposition to his candidacy from an array of progressives, the president’s inability to rally Congressional Democrats on Syria persuaded Mr. Summers that his most important audience — the Senate, which must confirm a Fed chairman — probably could not be won over. He concluded that the White House was also unlikely to overcome opposition to his candidacy from many of the same Democrats, who view him as an opponent of stronger financial regulation, according to supporters who insisted on anonymity to describe confidential conversations with him.”

Syria violence intensified over last week 

Los Angeles Times: “The U.S., Britain and France pledged Monday to push for a strong, enforceable United Nations resolution demanding that Syria give up its chemical weapons, and insisted that “all options must remain on the table” if Damascus fails to comply. The three nations, permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, want international military intervention to remain a possibility if Syrian President Bashar Assad drags his feet or refuses to abide by the resolution. But China and Russia, which also hold veto power on the council, are unlikely to agree.”

Washington Post: “As negotiations to avert a U.S. strike against Syria ramped up last week, so, too, did the action on the ground. Warplanes dropped bombs over far-flung Syrian towns that hadn’t seen airstrikes in weeks, government forces went on the attack in the hotly contested suburbs of Damascus, rebels launched an offensive in the south, and a historic Christian town changed hands at least four times. At the close of a week hailed in Moscow and Washington as a triumph of diplomacy over war, more than 1,000 people died in the fighting in Syria, the latest casualties in a conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people and can be expected to claim many more.”

Biden stokes 2016 flames in Iowa

NBC’s Alex Moe: “ A familiar face returned to the first-in-the-nation caucus state Sunday afternoon, flipping steaks and wooing Iowans nearly three years before the next presidential election: Vice President Joe Biden….While Biden has not announced his intentions for 2016 -– he even brushed off a question about it Sunday -– he has definitely encouraged the speculation he might launch a third bid for the White House. ‘Oh, I’m ready for winning some House and Senate seats now,’ Biden said when asked if he was ready for 2016.”

Des Moines Register: “Biden credited President Barack Obama on Sunday ‘for leading the world by the power of our example,’ with a clear vision on Syria, the economy and the future of America…On Sunday, the five-year anniversary of the Wall Street meltdown, amid angst over how to punish the Syrian regime for a gas attack on its civilians and worries about the looming budget showdown, Biden centered his speech on listing Democratic accomplishments.”

New York Times’ Jonathan Martin writes that “the dissonance between Democrats’ professed fondness for Mr. Biden and their unwillingness to support his presidential hopes is also reflected in polling data beyond this state, whose caucuses begin the race for the White House. If the party primary process is akin to a high school popularity contest — and it can be — Mr. Biden would be the guy the girls all found likable, outgoing and funny, but wanted only as a friend.”

At the Races: The return of Martha Coakley

IOWA. Des Moines Register: “Vice President Joe Biden called on Democrats to support Bruce Braley’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate on Sunday, warning of threats to the party’s achievements if Republicans gain control of the chamber….’This is not your father’s Republican Party,’ he said. ‘We’re dealing with a different breed of cat, as my uncle used to say. These guys aren’t bad. I’m not making moral judgments, but they have a fundamentally different view of America than we do — a fundamentally different view.’”

MASSACHUSETTS. Martha Coakley is back, with the Democratic attorney general launching her bid for governor today with a video, seeking “to position herself as a resilient figure poised to lead a state on the upswing,” the Boston Globe writes. “In a promotional video posted online Monday morning, Coakley tried to shake the perception from her devastating 2010 Senate loss that she is aloof. The footage shows her out and about with voters, shaking hands on street corners, and in MBTA stations and coffee shops.”

MICHIGAN. Washington Post: “Oakland County District Court Judge Kim Small (R) has decided not to run for Michigan’s open Senate seat, according to two people with knowledge of her plans…Small’s decision comes as a big break to former secretary of state Terri Lynn Land, who remains the GOP front-runner and is unopposed.”

WEST VIRGINIA. Charleston Daily Mail: “Secretary of State Natalie Tennant is expected to announce her candidacy Tuesday for the Democratic nomination to become West Virginia’s next U.S. senator. Long rumored to have interest in running, Tennant began calling Democrats across the state Friday to let them know her plans, said an unnamed Democrat.”

VIRGINIA. The Washington Post takes a fascinating look at how “High-powered Terry McAuliffe supporters made a furious attempt over the weekend to reverse a Washington area business group’s endorsement of Republican Ken Cuccinelli II for governor, with state legislators warning that ‘doors will be closed’ to the group if it sticks by its choice. The pressure exerted on the Northern Virginia Technology Council’s political arm, Tech PAC, by a U.S. senator, a Republican lieutenant governor at odds with Cuccinelli and several others suggests that McAuliffe’s campaign is worried that a Cuccinelli endorsement could undermine the central premise of the Democrat’s campaign — that he, an entrepreneur who started his first venture at 14, is the pro-business candidate and that Cuccinelli, a social conservative popular with the tea party, is too extreme for the state’s centrist business leaders….The reasoning behind the NVTC TechPAC’s nod — Cuccinelli had detailed responses to questions in candidate interviews, three board members said, while McAuliffe was uninformed and superficial — bolsters the view that the Democrat’s breezy style doesn’t sit well with some Virginians.” Among the revelations – those lobbying for McAuliffe to NVTC included Bill Bolling, “first public indication that Bolling, the Republican lieutenant governor who said he would not endorse Cuccinelli after being outmaneuvered by him in the primary fight, is actively pulling for McAuliffe.”

Politico looks at why Cuccinelli is still trailing in the race though. “More than a dozen interviews last week with longtime Republican insiders around the Commonwealth yielded near-unanimous consensus that their candidate, state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, lost significant ground over the summer and would lose if the election were held today.”

And National Journal writes that the “governor’s race in the consummate swing state of Virginia is increasingly looking like a fluke rather than a bellwether with national implications for the 2014 and 2016 elections.”

First Read Flash: Summers break

Updated