31 January 2008

Separated at birth?

This is just for laughs.

No hidden messages or political commentary.

I was watching the Republican debate from California last night and kept thinking to myself that Ron Paul (on the left) reminds me - a lot - of someone.

This morning, I remembered who. Comedian Pat Paulsen, who took six -- tongue-in-cheek -- stabs at the presidency from 1968 through 1996 (excluding 1984 for some reason).

We can be pretty sure they weren't separated at birth though. Paulsen was born in 1927 and Paul was born in 1935.

30 January 2008

Rudy endorses McCain, Is Ahhnold next?; Is Ralph Nader rearing his head?

As expected, Rudy Giuliani exited the GOP presidential race today and endorsed John McCain, who is the frontrunner after his win last night in Florida.

Now there is talk the
California Gov. Arnold Shwarzenegger is likely to be the next big name to jump on the McCain bandwagon.

On Democratic side today,
John Edwards called it quits, opening the door for --- Ralph Nader? Well, at least that's what ABC's Rick Klein is reporting. Klein reports Nader has formed an exploratory committee and will win if he determines he can raise enough money.

Nader said to Klein:

"When Kucinich threw in the towel, now you have Edwards gone — who's going to carry the torch of democratic populism against the relentless domination of powerful corporations of our government?"

And he's already got a Web site up and running.

After taking a few minutes off for some kind words for Edwards - who both remaining Democrats will now court for his endorsement - things went back to being nasty the Democratic campaign trail.

Barack Obama called Hillary Clinton divisive and - in a twist on Bill Clinton's old "Bridge to the 21st Century" campaign theme said;

"I know it is tempting — after another presidency by a man named George Bush — to simply turn back the clock, and to build a bridge back to the 20th century,"

In a rather clever retort, and with a twist of her own on the title of Barack Obama's book, Clinton called Obama's comments "audacious but not very hopeful."

And, just one more little piece of weirdness before we go. The New York Post has endorsed Obama in the Democratic primaries next Tuesday.

"We urge them to choose Obama - an untried candidate, to be sure, but preferable to the junior senator from New York.

Obama represents a fresh start.

His opponent, and her husband, stand for déjà vu all over again - a return to the opportunistic, scandal-scarred, morally muddled years of the almost infinitely self-indulgent Clinton co-presidency.

Does America really want to go through all that once again?"

Just another day on the trail.

29 January 2008

Florida flop spells the end for Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani put all of his money on Florida – and lost.

The former New York City mayor’s presidential aspirations suffered a mortal wound with his disappointing finish in Florida’s GOP primary contest Tuesday, and Giuliani is widely reported to be on the verge of dropping out of the race and endorsing Tuesday night’s winner, Arizona Sen. John McCain.

With their votes, Florida Republicans likely ended Giuliani’s hopes for the nomination, severely damaged former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s chances and left McCain in a fierce battle for the nomination with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who finished a solid second in the Florida contest.

With 90% of the precincts counted, McCain led Romney 36% to 31%. Giuliani was in third place at 15%, just ahead of Huckabee at 14%.

For now, Giuliani remains in the race. But in addressing his supporters in Florida Tuesday night, he spoke in the past tense about his campaign.

“The responsibility of leadership doesn’t end with a single campaign. If you believe in a cause you continue to fight for it, and we will,” Giuliani told the cheering crowd.

Huckabee, like Giuliani, did not pull out of the race Tuesday despite being bereft of cash and without a victory since the Iowa caucuses at the beginning of the month. But, unlike Giuliani, he made it clear he intends to remain in the hunt.

“We’re in this game for all nine innings,” Huckabee told a subdued crowd of Florida supporters, as he headed off for California for another GOP debate tomorrow night.

Meanwhile Giuliani’s campaign manager Mike DuHaime, in an interview on MSNBC, said the plan is for his candidate to head to California as well.

However, several news outlets reported late Tuesday night that Giuliani is expected to drop out of the race and endorse McCain Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif., the sight of Wednesday night’s debate.

If Giuliani does pull out of the race, it will mark the end of a once high-flying campaign that crumbled in the space of one month.

The former mayor led the national polls for virtually all of last year. As late as Dec. 17, Giuliani was atop a USA Today/Gallup national poll by 11 points over Huckabee, his closest competitor at the time.

In Florida, opinion polls were portending a four-man scrum as late as mid-January.

But, as Giuliani turned in one poor performance after another in the primaries and caucuses earlier in the month – all single-digit finishes – his Florida campaign began to come apart.

Giuliani eschewed campaigning in the early-voting states and spent nearly all of January in Florida, which he hoped to use a springboard to Tsunami Tuesday, next week’s 22-state delegate bonanza.

Dr. Chris Malone, a political science professor at Pace University, said Giuliani is a victim of his own strategy.

“He thought he’d do well in Florida, which is winner-take all, and then move on to other big states like New York, New Jersey and California on Feb. 5,” Malone said. “It doesn’t seem to have worked out that way.”

In the Sunshine State’s Democratic primary, Sen. Hillary Clinton handily defeated Sen. Barack Obama in a race that offered no delegates.

Florida’s delegates will not be seated at the party’s national convention, a sanction imposed by the Democratic National Committee to punish state party officials for moving up the date of Florida’s primary in violation of party rules.

The Democratic candidates all pledged not to campaign in the state. Clinton did stop in Davie, Fla. after the polls closed for a victory rally. She also made two fundraising appearances in the state Sunday night, which were not in violation of the pledge signed by the candidates.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was initially written for purposes other than this blog, purposes which required me to focus on the Giuliani angle of the story rather than McCain's win.

While we'll probably be on to tomorrow's endorsement and debate by the next time I get behind the keyboard, I will also try to find time to focus more on the results and exit polls from tonight.

With one job, one graduate school class, two blogs a wife and three kids, time may be a difficult commodity to come by, but I'll do my best.

28 January 2008

Name-calling in Florida

The Democrats have been getting all the headlines about their fussing and feuding, but the top two Republican candidates have been sparring too.

Today it got just plain ugly,

Send the kids out of the room, or at least shield their eyes. You won't believe the language coming out of their mouths.

Within the space of a couple hours down in the Sunshine State today John McCain and Mitt Romney called each other - oh, dare I say it? - liberal. Or at least they intimated that the other had liberal tendencies.

Is it genetic, or a behavior of choice? I guess we'll never know.


We covered the Kennedy endorsement of Barack Obama yesterday so I think we'll skip that for today.

Just a few bits and pieces to report.

After Saturday's huge defeat in South Carolina, the Clinton campaign is re-thinking the role of husband Bill. Rather than the family pit bull - the role he's been playing lately -the New York Times reports today that the former president will be going back to playing the role of the little (wo)man that he played prior to Hillary Clinton's loss in Iowa.

Al Sharpton, on The View today, offered some unsolicited advice to Bill Clinton - just shut up!

And, as long as we're keeping it light today, if you are among the many out there having trouble choosing your candidate as Tsunami Tuesday approaches here's a pretty good quiz that will help you sort it out. I took it and it matched my actual preferences almost exactly.

Oh ya. Tonight is George W.'s last State of the Union address. And you thought this day would never arrive.

27 January 2008

(Update: Monday's Zogby Poll, the third of a three-day tracking series, shows John McCain back on top in the Republican race in Florida. The poll has McCain at 33%, Mitt Romney at 30%, Rudy Giuliani back in third place at 14% and Mike Huckabee in fourth at 11%. Eight percent remain undecided one day prior to the election. )

McCain, Romney tied in Fla., Giuliani slips to fourth in latest poll

I've spent my day playing catch-up on the Democratic side of things (see previous posts below), but I haven't been so busy as not to notice a couple of significant developments in the GOP race for Florida.

The latest Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby tracking poll shows Mitt Romney and John McCain dead even at 30% in Florida.

And, the news has gotten worse for Rudy Giuliani, who has slipped behind Mike Huckabee by one point in what looks like a race for third place.

This is the second of three one-day Zogby tracking polls heading into Tuesday's primary. In yesterday's poll McCain led Romney 31% to 28%, while Giuliani was third at 15% and Huckabee fourth at 10%.

McCain got a rather last-minute, but still-helpful endorsement from Florida's Republican governor, Charlie Crist last night.

On Friday, Sen. Mel Martinez, a Republican from Florida, also endorsed McCain. Martinez's endorsement is seen as helpful in the Cuban community in Miami, an important voting block.

A message to the Clintons to cool it?

By giving Barack Obama an overwhelming win in South Carolina yesterday, voters there sent two clear messages.

They liked what they saw from Obama as a candidate.

They also seemed to be saying they didn't care for the way the Clintons conducted themselves in the state and they'd like to see the Clintons scale back the negative campaigning that has dominated their efforts in the past few weeks.

But neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton seem to be listening.

If you doubt that Obama's two-to-one win over Clinton was, in part, the result of the blowback against the politics of race and misrepresentation practiced mostly by the former president, consider these numbers from the exit polls yesterday.

Seven in 10 of those polled felt that Hillary Clinton unfairly attacked Barack Obama during the South Carolina campaign.

Obama, who chose to respond in-kind, was seen by 53% of those polled as having attacked Clinton unfairly.

Some 54% of those who saw Clinton's criticism of Obama as unfair voted for Obama; another 21% voted for John Edwards.

But of those who saw Obama's attacks as unfair, 41% voted for the IIllinois senator anyway, perhaps suggesting that they felt it necessary for Obama to hit back - unfairly or otherwise.

Of those polled, 58% said Bill Clinton's campaigning had an important or somewhat important impact on their vote. Among those who felt that, 48% voted for Obama and another 15% voted for Edwards. The rest went for Hillary Clinton.

While it would have been nice for the pollsters to have taken it one - obvious - step further and asked voters if the Bill Clinton affect was positive or negative, they didn't. But from the numbers above I think it's safe to assume Bill Clinton's campaign conduct did not help his wife.

But, if the voters were indeed sending the Clinton's a message about poor behavior on the stump, they don't seem to be getting it.

As the results were beginning to become clear, at around dinner time last night, Hillary Clinton bolted from South Carolina and never did offer up the customary concession speech. Bill Clinton made quick mention of Obama's victory in a later appearance.

Earlier in the day Clinton tried to dismiss Obama's victory as a win for the black guy in a state dominated by black Democratic voters. He likened it to Jesse Jackson's one-shot wins in the state in 1984 and 1988.

Earlier last week, Sen. Clinton ruffled feathers among Democrats by suggesting that Michigan and Florida be permitted to seat their delegates at the party convention.

The national party had ruled long ago that delegates from the two states would not be seated at the convention because party officials in the two states moved their primaries into January against national party rules.

At the time, all the major Democratic candidates agreed not to participate in the state's primaries. None campaigned in Michigan, but Clinton was the only major candidate to keep her name on the ballot.

She won the state handily, and is well ahead in the polls for this week's tainted Florida vote.

Whatever you think about the national party's decision to disenfranchise voters in the two states, all the candidates went along with the plan. Now Clinton wants to change rules im the middle of the game.

As an indication that she is not bothered by the negative reaction to her call to count the delegates from the two non-cooperative states, Clinton announced today on CBS's Face the Nation that she intends to be in Florida on Tuesday, the day of the primary.

For two people as politically astute as the Clinton's, they don't seem to understand that the Democrats they hope to once-again lead have been burned badly in the past presidential elections by Swift-boating, push polling and all manner of dirty tricks cooked up by Karl Rove and company.

They don't seem to get that Democrats are not in the mood to watch the same kind of tactics be employed in-house on one Democrat by another.

Further reading:

Bill Clinton's L
ost Legacy; Vaughn Ververs CBSNews.com

Tonight in South Carolina; Joe Klein Time magazine
One Kennedy On Board For Obama, Another Just About There

(UPDATED: Includes Clinton endorsements from the RFK branch of the Kennedy clan at bottom of this post)

ABC News is reporting that Ted Kennedy will endorse Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination tomorrow.

The original scoop on this belongs to Time magazine, but frankly I've scoured the Time Web site for about 30 minutes now to put up the link and can't find it.

That might explain why the weekly news magazines are having a rough go, even as they try to move into the 21st Century with their own Web sites.

On ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos Obama sidestepped the
question about the anticipated announcement from Kennedy.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's advisors say they don't think it's true.

The news about Ted Kennedy comes on the heels of an op-ed piece in the New York Times this morning by Caroline Kennedy - daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy - saying she supports Obama because she is inspired by him the way others were inspired by her father.

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible. We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama.

There's more than a little irony here, since a fairly significant presence in the Clinton camp has often said that he himself was inspired by JFK.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal's Web site is reporting today that members of the Robert F. Kennedy branch of the Kennedy clan are endorsing Hillary Clinton for the nomination.

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reports Ted Kennedy's endorsement will involve active campaigning by the Massachusetts senator who plans to concentrate his efforts on Hispanic voters and labor unions.

25 January 2008

NY Times Endorses Clinton, Whacks Giuliani

The Old Gray Lady has smiled on one of New York's presidential candidates while giving the back of her hand to the other.

The New York Times today endorsed Hillary Clinton's bid for the Democratic nomination, but went with John McCain on the Republican side instead of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.

But the Times GOP endorsement was more a repudiation of Giuliani...

"The real Mr. Giuliani, whom many New Yorkers came to know and mistrust, is a narrow, obsessively secretive, vindictive man who saw no need to limit police power. Racial polarization was as much a legacy of his tenure as the rebirth of Times Square. Giuliani’s arrogance and bad judgment are breathtaking."

than it was a thumbs-up for McCain....

"We have strong disagreements with all the Republicans running for president. The leading candidates have no plan for getting American troops out of Iraq. They are too wedded to discredited economic theories and unwilling even now to break with the legacy of President Bush. We disagree with them strongly on what makes a good Supreme Court justice. ... Senator John McCain of Arizona is the only Republican who promises to end the George Bush style of governing from and on behalf of a small, angry fringe."
It's seems reasonable to assume that the timing of the endorsement - nearly two weeks before the New York primary but only four days ahead of the Florida vote - is an attempt by the Times editorial board to step on Giuliani's fingers as he tries desperately to hold on in a state that he must win to continue his presidential bid.

This may, however, be another instance of the Times having an exaggerated view of its own importance. In fact, rather than grease the skids for Giuliani, the Times may be doing him a favor.

The paper, after all, is not overly popular or respected by the elephant-cuff-link set. The editorial board may have done the former mayor more good than harm.

As for the Democrats, at many points in the Times editorial it appears as though the editorial board ripped a page out of Clinton's daily talking points - the one about experience - and pasted it into the newspaper. You know, the bit about being able to lead "from day one."

The potential upside of a great Obama presidency is enticing, but this country faces huge problems, and will no doubt be facing more that we can’t foresee. The next president needs to start immediately on challenges that will require concrete solutions, resolve, and the ability to make government work. Mrs. Clinton is more qualified, right now, to be president.

The timing of the editorial doesn't hurt Clinton, with John Edwards beginning to nip at her heels for the No. 2 spot in South Carolina tomorrow.

21 January 2008

Florida or bust for Giuliani?

Has Rudy Giuliani's Florida-only strategy squeezed the juice out of the former New York City mayor's presidential campaign?

A major pollster shows Giuliani well behind John McCain in New York today and that - coupled with the latest numbers from New Jersey, California and at the national level - makes you wonder.

Giuliani made early, half-baked overtures in a couple of the key early states - most notably New Hampshire and South Carolina. But he finished among the bottom wrung in those states.

Giuliani has spent most of the past month campaigning in Florida with the idea that he could make a big splash there and carry it into Tsunami Tuesday, when he would grab control of the Republican race with big wins in his home state of New York, neighboring New Jersey, California - where Gov. Schwarzennegger has his back - and other large, diverse states that are not top-heavy in evangelical voters.

But somewhere along the way that strategy seems to have withered on the vine.

Giuliani once dominated the national polls, as well as New York, New Jersey and California - the three states at the corner of his Tsunami Tuesday strategy.

In Florida, Giuliani seems to be in the thick of a four-man race

But he has not held the lead in a national poll since mid-December. Ditto for California.

Giuliani lost his grip on New Jersey earlier this month.

And today comes compelling evidence that his home state is slipping away as well.

A WNBC/Marist poll shows McCain ahead of Giuliani in New York by a fairly solid 34% to 19%. Mitt Romney is tied for second with Giuliani and Mike Huckabee comes in fourth at 15%.

The poll shows McCain with a substantial 33% to 15% lead over Giuliani in the upstate counties, where most of New York's Republicans reside. Mitt Romney is second upstate at 20%.

McCain and Guiliani are in a virtual tie in New York City as well as in the suburban counties north and northwest of the city.

There's one silver lining for Giuliani in the poll. While only 21% of his supporters say they could change their mind before the Feb. 5 primary, 31% of McCain's backers and 36% of Romney's said their decision could be altered.

Siena College also put out a New York poll that shows a remarkable turnaround in New York. The poll shows McCain leading Giuliani by 12 points after trailing him by 33 points just one month ago.

If things don't pick up - and soon - for Giuliani it just may be that Giuliani's Sunshine State strategy was a real lemon.


Just FYI, on the Democratic side the WNBC/Marist poll shows Hillary Clinton with a 48% to 32% lead over Barack Obama in Clinton's home state. John Edwards is third at 8%.

In the Siena poll, Clinton leads Obama by two-to-one in New York.

19 January 2008

McCain toughs out win in South Carolina

It was - as predicted for much of the past week - a nip-and-tuck race on a long night, but John McCain pulled out a win tonight in South Carolina.

And so the state that killed off his candidacy eight years ago has propelled him to the top of the Republican

Much like eight years ago, McCain had to fend off push polling and other dirty-tricks politics in the state, as well as a hoard of evangelical voters, to pull off the win in South Carolina.

Exit polls showed that 59% of those who braved awful weather in the Palmetto state Saturday to cast a vote in the GOP race described themselves as evangelical Christians.

The exit polls showed that group went for former preacher Mike Huckabee 40-27 over McCain.

So McCain will head to Florida as a the front runner, if only nominally.

Mitt Romney has won three states - Montana, Nevada and most notably Michigan -
and will lead the delegate race at the end of the day today.

Mike Huckabee has won only one state, but he too is ahead of McCain in the delegate count.

Huckabee lost in a state where a majority of GOP voters were evangelicals,
and is fourth in the polling in Florida. But Huckabee could find himself the only social conservative in Florida, while fiscal conservatives Romney, McCain and Rudy Giuliani pound on one another. If that's enough to propel him to the top in Florida, he lives on. If not, he likely doesn't.

The big thing going for McCain is his victories in two high-profile states - New Hampshire and South Carolina. After all, as we were told 10,000 times by the media this week, the eventual GOP candidate has won South Carolina in each race since 1980.

The conventional wisdom tomorrow morning will be that McCain is the front runner and that he will solidify that status if he wins in Florida.

That sounds about right.

But I think Romney's is still in very good shape even if he doesn't finish well in Florida.

South Carolina should spell the end for Fred Thompson, who really needed to come up better than the mid-teens to keep going.

Should he depart, his absence could make some difference in Florida, where he's polling in the high single digits.

Thompson, most believe, would back McCain if he gets out. Other's say he would do McCain more good to stay in and take away some of the conservative votes in central Florida.

Of course, Rudy Giuliani could win the winner-take-all Florida race, which would return the chaos to a GOP race which seems, tonight at least, to be clarifying itself at least a little.

My guess is - barring an embarrassment for Giuliani in Florida - there will be three viable candidates on Tsunami Tuesday - McCain, Romney and Giuliani.
Clinton beats Obama in Nevada

Hillary Clinton will go into next Saturday's South Carolina primary with a westerly wind at her back.

When all is said and done, Clinton will take the Nevada caucuses by 5 or 6 points, taking about half the votes in a three man race.

Clinton will get about 50% and Barack Obama 45%.

So, Clinton heads to South Carolina with two wins to Obama's one. That makes her the frontrunner overall.

Or so says the media.

But I think that characterization needs to be questioned a bit.

A few weeks ago Clinton was a prohibitive favorite in Nevada.

Then came Iowa and the Obama bump that came with it.

Suddenly the Nevada race looked a lot closer and the results bear that out.

In addition, Clinton got one fewer delegate in Nevada than did Obama - 12 to 13. If you strip out all the so-called super delegates, Obama has 38 delegates and Clinton has 36 in the three states that have weighed in.

Whether or not Nevada makes Clinton the frontrunner - as the media insists it does - she is the underdog in South Carolina,
at least based on all the recent polls. Any momentum Clinton takes from Nevada may be checked with a loss in South Carolina.

On the other hand, the Nevada results provided the first test of the Democrats in a state with a diverse population.

Clinton did well among whites while Obama did well among African Americans. That's no surprise.

Perhaps the big news here is that Clinton took the Hispanic vote by a 2.5-or-3 to 1 margin.

Hispanics are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the electorate. They are likely to be an important factor in a number of the big states that will hold primaries on Tsunami Tuesday.

If the preferences displayed by the Hispanic voters in Nevada carry over to other contests, that could be the biggest news to come out of today's results.
Romney takes Nevada

Mitt Romney is the projected winner in the GOP cacuses in Nevada.

All the networks projected Romney the winner pretty much as the caucuses came to a close.

As I write this only 20% of the vote has been counted and Romney is at 55%.

Ron Paul and John McCain are in a tight race for second, each with about 12%.

Everyone else is in single digits.

Mormons made up about about 25% of those who showed up for the GOP caucuses according to The Associated Press, and nearly all voted for Romney, who is a Mormon.

This was kind of an unusal event because 31 committed delegates will be chosen today, but only Romney spent any notable time in the state. Perhaps that's because he's the only one of the top GOP candidates who didn't see much point in making a hard push in South Carolina, which is holding its primary today as well.

Still Nevada's 31 committed delegates top the 24 available in South Carolina, so Romney got a freebie here. Delegate allocations are not available yet.

The Democrats did have quite a battle here, complete with legal wrangling and name-calling (you Reagan lover you!) and their results wont be out for a little while yet. The party's South Carolina primary is not until next week.

We'll be back later with a look at the Dems and a more comprehensive look at what today's GOP races mean once the South Carolina numbers come in tonight.

18 January 2008

Today's Dem campaign mantra: distort and confuse

Barack Obama gave his two chief Democratic opponents an opening the other day and they are driving a big old Mack truck right through it.

Obama likened the Democrats' opportunity this year to that enjoyed by Ronald Reagan and the GOP in 1980.

Back then there was a tired, old party in charge, with the same old ideas to offer and an unpopular president leading the way.

Sounds a lot like today, except that in 1980 the old, tired party was the Democrats.

That, pretty much, is what Obama meant when he said the following on the campaign trail in Nevada the other day:

"The Republican approach I think has played itself out. I think it's fair to say the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time over the last 10 or 15 years, in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom. Now, you've heard it all before. You look at the economic policies, when they're being debated among the presidential candidates, it's all tax cuts. Well, we've done that, we've tried it."

Pay special attention to the first sentence, and the last three. Does he seem to you to be saying the Republicans had GOOD ideas? I didn't think so either.

Yet out on the campaign trail today, the Clintons and John Edwards made statements obviously intended to distort what Obama was saying.

Here's Hillary:

"I have to say, you know, my leading opponent the other day said that he thought the Republicans had better ideas than Democrats the last ten to fifteen years. That's not the way I remember the last ten to fifteen years.

"I don't think it's a better idea to privatize Social Security. I don't think it's a better idea to try to eliminate the minimum wage. I don't think it's a better idea to undercut health benefits and to give drug companies the right to make billions of dollars by providing prescription drugs to Medicare recipients. I don't think it's a better idea to shut down the government, to drive us into debt."

And then there's Bill:

"I can't imagine any Democrat seeking the presidency would say they were the party of new ideas for the last 15 years. But it sounded good in Reno I guess.So now it turns out you can choose between somebody who thinks our ideas are better or the Republicans had all the good ideas."

Go back and re-read Obama's comment. Does he say anywhere in there that the Republicans ideas were better? Or was he simply saying they were offering a clear change in direction when the electorate was ready for one?

It's no accident that this stink is being brewed in Nevada, a place where union support is key and where Obama has the support of the state's largest union.

Do you think that could be why Edwards made the following statement?

"Ronald Reagan, the man who busted unions, the man who did everything in his power to destroy the organized labor movement, the man who created a tax structure that favored the richest Americans against middle class and working families, ... we know that Ronald Reagan is not an example of change for a presidential candidate running in the Democratic Party,"

And no one - certainly not Barack Obama - said he was.
GOP Race Tightens In South Carolina

Looking at the headline on our last post ("Polls Point McCain's Way") I thought it might be a good idea to update that a little.

While the road to Tsunami Tuesday still looks a lot less bumpy for John McCain than for Mike Huckabee, the latest polls out of South Carolina show Huckabee is in position to throw up a roadblock in the Palmetto State.

In polls released yesterday, it appears things have gotten tighter in the state, which holds its primary tomorrow.

A Survey USA poll puts John McCain ahead of Mike Huckabee 29%-27%; A McClatchy- MSNBC poll has the Arizona senator leading Huckabee 25%-23%; and the latest Rasmussen poll has the two tied at 24%.

All three polls produced virtual ties for the top spot.

One other poll released yesterday still shows McCain with some breathing room in South Carolina. A Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll has him up 29%-22%.

And, while this has nothing to do with South Carolina, Rasmussen has some interesting numbers on New Jersey. Their first poll in the Garden State shows McCain leading Rudy Giuliani on what is essentially Giuliani's home field.

16 January 2008

Polls point McCain's way

With the Republican race wide open and three more primaries on the docket before Tsunami Tuesday on Feb. 5, John McCain got a lift from a few polls unearthed today.

Reuters/C-Span/Zogby poll shows McCain leading in South Carolina, which votes on Satu

The polls show the Arizona senator with 29% of the vote, Mike Huckabee with 23%, Mitt Romney at 13% and Fred Thompson 12%.

Political Wire got a look at a Strategic Vision poll which shows McCain ahead in Florida at 27%. Mike Huckabee is second at 20%. He's followed by Rudy Giuliani at 18%, Mitt Romney at 17% and Fred Thompson at 10%.

Two things to notice here besides McCain's lead in both states.

Neither poll - obviously - was taken after Romney's win in Michigan last night, so there's no "bounce" recorded yet. However, Romney is far enough back it's not clear how much a jolt from Michigan will help in either of these two southern states.

The other thing to notice is that Giuliani is nine points behind McCain in Florida. If Giuliani can't pump up those numbers in the next 10 days, Florida will not only be his first stand, but perhaps his last.

Romney, on the other hand, has a lead in the latest Nevada poll, by American Research Group, with
28%, followed by John McCain at 21%, Fred Thompson at 13%, and Rudy Giuliani at 11%.

In this poll 10% of those polled are undecided and 46% said they could change their minds by Saturday.

All the
national polls released in the past week favor McCain, with Huckabee several points behind and Romney in third, polling mostly in the low to mid-teens.

Was Michigan really meaningless for Dems?

Exit polls from Michigan's Democratic primary yesterday - the one that didn't count for anything - are providing the first indication that Hillary Clinton may have been hurt by the sniping about race that took place over the weekend on the campaign trail.

Clinton was on the ballot in Michigan against Dennis Kucinich, Chris Dodd (who has already dropped out of the race) and "uncommitted."

Clinton managed to smoke "uncommitted" 55% to 40%, but looking inside the numbers there's some reason for concern for Clinton.

According to the Detroit Free Press, exit polls show 68% of black Michiganders who voted in the Democratic primary chose to vote "uncommitted" while 30% voted for Clinton.

Among women, 71% of white women voted for Clinton, while 34% of non-white women went for the New York senator.

Obama's campaign had urged voters who were in his corner to vote "uncommitted."

The Illinois senator, and former senator John Edwards removed their names from the ballot when the state party was sanctioned by the national party for holding its primary too early, violating national party rules.

There was plenty of good news for Clinton in the exit polls as well.

Voters were asked who they would have voted for if all the candidates had been on the ballot. Clinton prevailed with 46% to Obama's 35%. Edwards finished well back in third at 12%.

I'm not really sure how much can be read into all that, but the black vote can not be seen as good news for Clinton.


On another matter, we're going to try a "quote of the day" feature. It sounds like fun and just may be, but it could be more time consuming than I can handle, so let's just give it a shot and see how it goes.

Today's quote comes from Karl Rove - who needs no introduction. No longer in the Bush administration - officially at least - Rove has even more time to sling mud than he did when he was a government official. A scary thought.

Check it out in a panel to the right, just under the picture of the White House.

15 January 2008

Romney wins in Michigan

There have been three major GOP contests in this primary season and - with Mitt Romney's win tonight in his boyhood home - three different winners.

Romney in Michigan, John McCain in New Hampshire and Mike Huckabee in Iowa.

Romney also won in Wyoming's caucus, but there wasn't that much at stake in the state and some Republicans are questioning the process there and the actual winner.

So three winners in three states it is.

As I write this, it appears Romney will likely win by eight or nine points tonight, which is a bit contrary to the polls, which showed the Romney-McCain race much closer.

The general consensus is that lousy weather kept independents at home and turnout down, which was helpful to Romney.

In addition, 40% of those polled said Romney's ties to Michigan did have at least some influence on their decision.

Some had Romney's political obituary written and ready to publish had he not come in first tonight, and they may well have been right in their estimation.

But the bottom line is he won and the GOP race is even more widen open than it had been.

Polls in Nevada have been few and far between and - frankly - not worth much.

Mike Huckabee had a notable lead for a while in South Carolina, but John McCain now seems to be ahead in the state that did him in eight years ago. Mitt Romney doesn' figure to do well there.

After Nevada and South Carolina comes Florida, the place where Rudy Giuliani is placing all his bets. If you look at the most-recent polls in the state - those taken in January - Florida looks like a four-way tossup involving Giuliani, McCain, Romney and Huckabee.

Heading into Feb. 5, it is conceivable there will be four different winners in the five major GOP races to that point - Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, South Carolina and Florida.

But it is also possible McCain will have notched three wins.

There's also a chance, but much less so based on the latest polls, that Huckabee could have three wins or Romney could have two under his belt heading into Tsunami Tuesday.

So, in addition to breathing renewed life into his own campaign, Romney with his win in Michigan tonight has assured that the only thing we know about the GOP race is that we have no idea where it's heading.

And that's fun for a change.


One other note.

As I write this I'm listening to the Democrats debate on MSNBC. While it seems the three candidates are having good nights, I'd say the moderators can't make the same claim.

For the first 23 minutes of the debate, Tim Russert and Brian Williams did their damndest to stir up the ill feelings about the injection of race, sex and other controversy into the campaign in recent days.

The two seem to have confused their role tonight. They should not be trying to make news by sparking a controversy. They are supposed to be on the podium to ask the questions we as citizens would like to ask ourselves.

From where I sit, they wasted nearly a quarter of the debate on a bald-faced attempt to get feathers flying.

14 January 2008

Obama Camp Girds for Battle in Clinton Country

It was a good weekend for the Obama campaign in the heart of Hillary Clinton’s turf.

The New York Times ran a story Saturday about the strides the Illinois senator’s presidential campaign is making in New York.

On Sunday, the Daily News followed up with a poll showing Barack Obama has cut Clinton’s lead in New York by 11 points in the past month and overtaken her among African American voters in the state, posting a 42-point swing from a Sienna College poll taken a month ago.

And that all coincided with the ramp-up of the Obama campaign in the state, as campaign offices are opening around New York and volunteer lists are burgeoning.

“Sen. Obama is on the ballot in all 29 Congressional districts in the state, so the depth of excitement, enthusiasm and receptiveness is really strong everywhere in New York,” said Richard Fife, a spokesman for the Obama campaign from his office in lower Manhattan.

Fife says the campaign has opened about 10 offices in all parts of the state and 750 volunteers are already knocking on doors, ringing up phones and greeting commuters.

One of those volunteers is Rose Cohen, who is helping to drum up votes literally in Clinton’s back yard. The Chappaqua resident says she was hooked on Obama the first time she heard him speak.

"I saw him speak and I was very impressed by the way others responded to him," said the resident of Clinton's home town. "He resembled John F. Kennedy who I saw as a very little girl. I was just impressed with the way he could move people. I haven't seen that in a politician in a very long time."

Judy Aydelott of Katonah ran for Congress in New York’s 19th District two years ago and is a delegate for Obama on this year’s ballot in the district, which straddles five counties north and northwest of New York City.

Aydelott was attracted to Obama because, she says, he’s the one candidate who can bring the country together and move it forward.

“He can’t do it by himself but he has the ability to motivate people, bring them together and help him to bring about the change we need,” she said.

Of the large swing among black voters in recent weeks, State Sen. Bill Perkins of Harlem, a Democrat and Obama supporter, said voters are beginning to believe the senator can win.

“He’s obviously catching on especially after Iowa and the very close race in New Hampshire, which is an extraordinary accomplishment running against the so-called inevitable Democratic choice,” Perkins said.

But can Obama win in Clinton’s home state, where Clinton is popular among Democrats of all stripes?

Perkins thinks he can:

“He has broad support of both black and white, independents, young people. Hey,
Iowa is 97% white and that’s a lot whiter than New York.”

11 January 2008

Kucinich seeks recount in New Hampshire

It's an absurd headline on its face since Dennis Kucinich got only 1% of the vote.

You, no doubt, are asking, "Why is the bozo blogger leading with such a ridiculous story when there's so many other things to talk about today."

True enough.

I could be taking about how John McCain - fresh off his win in New Hampshire- has taken the lead nationally over Rudy Giuliani on the GOP side.

Or, I could write about how McCain has vaulted ahead of Giuliani in Rudy's must-win state - Florida- and has caught him in on his home turf in New York.

I could be talking about how Giuliani apparently won't be able to pay the higher-ups in his campaign this month.

Or I could be talking about how the Clintons spent a good deal of their day trying to smooth over their relations with African-American leaders as the campaign moves into states where black people actually live.

I might even mention how one of those leaders is threatening to end his neutrality and back Barack Obama because of some comments made by Hillary Clinton that he didn't like.

I might even mention that Obama did receive the endorsement today of Arizona's governor, Janet Napolitano, which could help him in Nevada and should help him in Arizona.

But I choose instead to focus on Kucinich's call for a recount.

My intial reaction is that Kucinich, who has always been a little on the oddball side, is just seeking publicity. Having covered him when he was mayor of Cleveland in the late 70s I can say there is probably a little bit truth to that notion.

But in making his request for a recount in New Hampshire, Kucinich raises some very good questions - questions which were prompted by the failure of not only the pre-election polls but also the exit polls, which have a long history of precision.

Exit polls have been used for decades not only so news networks in the U.S. can tell you who won before the polls close, but also as a gauge of the fairness of elections in places around the globe where elections are often not on the up-and-up. If the final results stray too far from the exit polls, the international watchdogs on the scene (usually Jimmy Carter) call the results into question.

At the heart of Kucinich's concerns are "unexplained disparities between hand-counted ballots and machine-counted ballots," Kucinich wrote in a letter to state election officials which is posted on his Web site.

"I am not making this request in the expectation that a recount will significantly affect the number of votes that were cast on my behalf. But, serious and credible reports, allegations, and rumors have surfaced in the past few days…It is imperative that these questions be addressed in the interest of public confidence in the integrity of the election process and the election machinery – not just in New Hampshire, but in every other state that conducts a primary election.” --Kucinich in his letter to New Hampshire Attorney General William Gardner

The events of Tuesday night in New Hampshire were very much like a replay of Election Night in 2004.

Anyone surfing the net and watching the cable talk shows in the late afternoon and just prior to the closing of the polls in East was expecting a somewhat early night back in 2004, with exit polls showing John Kerry winning virtually all of the six or seven battleground states.

Seven years - and one war - later we all know that was not what happened when the votes were counted.

The New Hampshire experience was very much the same, with the TV pundits perplexed all night that Obama wasn't overtaking Clinton as the vote tallies grew larger.

Just as there were questions about the accuracy of electronic voting machines in 2004, those same questions are being raised about New Hampshire. It was not only the pre-election polls, but also exit polls, that indicated Obama would have a big night.

Frustrated and disappointed Democrats across the nation raised questions of a stolen election in 2004.

All Kucinich want's to know - and what we all should want to know - is were those electronic voting machines fixed, or do they just need fixing? Or is the concern about the machines a lot of bluster about nothing?

10 January 2008

Can MSNBC keep Chris Matthews on the campaign beat?

There's an incredible video clip making the rounds on the Internet and it raises serious questions about whether MSNBC can continue to allow Chris Matthews to cover this campaign.

On the cable network's 'Morning Joe' show the morning after the New Hampshire primary, Matthews talked about Hillary Clinton's surprising win.

Matthews, who was as befuddled as anyone about the breakdown of the polling that pundits like himself depend on in making their living, declared that Clinton's victory - and in fact her entire political career- came down to her tenacity, but also to sympathy for her over her travails during the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Here's the clip.

Here's a verbatim quote of the key parts of the clip:

Let's not forget -- and I'll be brutal -- the reason she's a U.S. senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around. That's how she got to be senator from New York. We keep forgetting it. She didn't win there on her merits. She won because everybody felt, "My God, this woman stood up under humiliation, right? That's what happened."

I watched MSNBC's coverage of New Hampshire most of the night. It was a far cry from the days of David Brinkley and Howard K. Smith and Walter Cronkite.

Matthews, who was supposed to be the grounding wire for a collection of fringe characters from each end of the political spectrum, seemed himself to be going off the deep end through much of the evening. (Check out this clip from the Daily Show. You have to scroll forward to the 5 minute mark to get to Matthews)

Keith Olberman was doing his schtick most of the night, while also attempting to blend in a bit of serious evaluation. And, as we said, the rest of the cast was comprised of fringe characters who spent the night spinning and not evaluating.

And then there was Tom Brokaw - the only real journalist on the MSNBC podium that night - trying desperately to bring some order to the chaos and add reasoned analysis.

The old-line, over-the-air networks seem to have ceded the political coverage to their wacko siblings on their cable outlets so the networks themselves can keep running Can You Dance Better Than A Fifth Grader without interruption.

If you want unvarnished, insightful - if a bit pompous - analysis on election night, these days it appears you are just out of luck.

Good news or bad?

I'll report and let you decide.

Sen. John Kerry - the Dems' 2004 candidate for president - endorsed Barack Obama's bid today.

It was Kerry who helped launch Obama onto the national stage by choosing him to give the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention. That speech was widely praised and put Obama on the national political map.

Kerry still has a broad base of supporters organized through his Web site, which could provide Obama with additional infrastructure in the states that will be voting down the road.

But Kerry, just by being Kerry, seems to play into the hands of the right-wing slime machine as we saw in 2004 and beyond.

If I were the Obama folks, I'd thank Kerry for his endorsement and keep him as far away as possible from a microphone or an Obama event.


Today marked the end of the line for the campaign of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, perhaps the most qualified candidate in either party.

Richardson has been a legislator, a governor, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N and Energy Secretary during the Bill Clinton era. He was also chosen as a negotiator in hostage-taking incidents in a few places around the globe.

For whatever reason - my guess is name recognition in a star-studded field - Richardson never got noticed. I'm sure he's being noticed by those who will be helping one of the other candidates pick a VP nominee.

09 January 2008

Runner-ups Making Some Changes

Coming off second-place finishes last night in New Hampshire's presidential primary, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney have some changes in store.

Obama's are rhetorical. Romney's are strategic, and a bit more drastic.

AP reports Romney is pulling TV ads from South Carolina and Florida and will run more ads in Michigan.

This means at least two things: even Romney's pockets are not bottomless, and the former Massachusetts governer needs a win - badly and right away.

Michigan is next up and it is a becoming a must-win for Romney.

Romney grew up in the state and his father was a popular governor there in the '60s. Still, he and Mike Huckabee are polling about even there, and last night's winner John McCain is nipping at their heals.

Romney is well behind in South Carolina and Florida, which come later this month. So, given his need for a big win, the strategy would seem to make sense.

It would also seem to indicate just how much trouble Romney is in.

Meanwhile, Obama is hinting there may be a sharper edge to him in the very near future, telling the AP today:

"I think that Senator Clinton, obviously, is a formidable and tough candidate, and we have to make sure that we take it to them just like they take it to us. I come from Chicago politics. We're accustomed to rough and tumble."

Getting a bit tougher as Clinton pushes from her end is probably unavoidable. But I think it would be a mistake for Obama and his team to make too many changes based on a three-point loss in New Hampshire.

Without all the pre-election hype of an Obama tidal wave, the three-point loss would not have been such a big a deal. Obama's camp shouldn't try to fix what aint broke.

And they're going to have to stop saying stupid things like this - perhaps some of the most asinine words uttered in this campaign to date.

One other note of interest. Despite his loss last night, Obama did pick up the endorsement of Nevada's largest labor union today - the Culinary Workers Union, which represents hotel, restaurant and laundry workers in Nevada's casinos.