- Chamber of Commerce a major player in the 2014 fight for control of the Senate
- Insiders in the Kansas GOP say Pat Roberts is shaking up his entire campaign
- Harry Reid turns his state's national political importance into a boon for local political causes
- No one expects a budget shutdown but GOP leadership is on pins and needles
Major decisions abroad for President Obama, a peek inside Pat Roberts' new campaign playbook, and reminders of how important Nevada and Iowa are in national politics -- just some of the topics that emerged from our trip around the "Inside Politics" table. Plus, a digital extra from Politico's Maggie Haberman shows new signs that Hillary Clinton supporters are ready to get more aggressive.
Chamber's next play: Iowa's Senate battle
The Chamber of Commerce continues to be a major player in the 2014 fight for control of the Senate, with its next move to be a multimillion-dollar ad buy for Republican Joni Ernst in Iowa's Senate contest.
Ernst is running against U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley.
The Iowa play comes on the heels of a Chamber ad buy in New Hampshire featuring a Mitt Romney testimonial for GOP Senate candidate Scott Brown.
With 58 days to Election Day, one reason Republicans feel good about their odds of capturing the Senate majority is the fact that Iowa and New Hampshire, two states President Obama won handily twice, remain within reach for the GOP.
Inside Pat Roberts' new playbook
Robert Costa of The Washington Post spoke with insiders in the Kansas Republican Party and they say that Roberts is shaking up his entire campaign.
"He brought in Chris LaCivita, who got to Kansas this weekend, a consultant from Virginia, and they got rid of Leroy Towns, Roberts' longtime confidant and campaign manager," said Costa. "And look for them this week to try and define (Greg) Orman, the independent candidate."
Who is behind that effort to define Roberts' opponent? Costa reports that Lee Atwater protege Gary Maloney is coming in to help with opposition research and get Roberts back on track.
Nevada gets help from ambitious Democrats
Politico's Manu Raju took us inside Sen. Harry Reid's strategy of turning the national political importance of his state, Nevada, into a boon for local political causes.
Hillary Clinton, he reports, is in discussions to raise money soon for the Nevada Democratic Party. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Vice President Joe Biden already have attended fund-raisers of late.
"The reason why that's important for Harry Reid is that he needs his candidates in this November's location, local candidates, to win," said Raju. "Because if they do, his chances of survival in 2016 really improve."
The key race in Reid's Election-Day calculations is the lieutenant governor's race. Reid is concerned that Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval may try to grab his Senate seat in 2016. The thinking is that if a Democratic lieutenant governor is elected this year, Sandoval won't want to leave the Governor's Mansion in two years and hand it over to a Democrat.
GOP leadership on 'pins and needles' over budget showdown
Will another budget deadline at the end of this month lead to another government shutdown?
Molly Ball of The Atlantic reports that no one expects a shutdown, but the GOP leadership is on pins and needles about being able to get the continuing resolution passed.
"They don't have a game plan for how they are going to get House conservatives to fund the government," said Ball.
"As we mentioned on immigration, it's riled up the right and emboldened a lot of conservatives to make demands. The Export-Import Bank is also a really tough issue and the leadership has signaled they're going to try to get it reauthorized in the continuing resolution."
So there may be fireworks on Capitol Hill this month -- stay tuned.
The 'Putin Problem' isn't going anywhere
Peter Baker of The New York Times shared smart insights suggesting the "Putin Problem" is likely to carry over into the next administration -- even if the newly announced ceasefire in Ukraine holds.
"The problem is that that doesn't end the story; it doesn't solve the fundamental issues," said Baker.
"That's why what I think we're going to see is what we call 'frozen conflict,' as we see elsewhere around the former Soviet Union, in which it remains a continuing set of tensions and frictions basically for now and the next few years to come."
Clinton gets a little help from her friends
We knew the onetime pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA had morphed into a pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC. But after a relatively quiet 2014, Politico's Maggie Haberman shared reporting that the group is prepared to get more aggressive, meaning prepared to inject itself into the 2016 Democratic primary competition.
"It was made very clear at a private meeting of people involved with it several weeks ago that they are prepared to spend in the primary to defend her," said Haberman.
"That means this is much more like what we saw with Mitt Romney and the super PAC that went after Newt Gingrich in a devastating way in the 2012 election cycle, and less like something that's just on hold to attack the Republican nominee."