2008 Archives

August 3, 2005

Is It 2008 Already?

Gallup has decided to get a head start on the next presidential election by beginning to build its polling data now to read trends and create projections for later in the cycle. However, one handicap presents itself -- a lack of declared candidates. Instead of waiting for volunteers, Gallup simply picks the two likeliest candidates from each side, in its own humble opinion, and asks registered voters who they prefer. Gallup predicts that John McCain and Rudy Giuliani will emerge as the GOP frontrunners. For the Democrats, Gallup predicts that Hillary Clinton will face John Kerry in the primaries as her biggest rival. In that, they must be the only people other than Kerry himself to take his remaining potential as a major candidate seriously. Their own polling shows that; for the first time ever, more voters disapprove of Kerry than approve of him (48-42). And Kerry hasn't even begun...

August 24, 2005

The Ruffini Poll

I have been remiss in not providing a link to the Ruffini Poll on the 2008 Presidential election. I think it's too early to take much of this seriously; after all, we need to find out who can get themselves re-elected in their current positions, and we have plenty of time for those who look like a lock now to do something foolish and take themselves out of the running. A great example would be John McCain, who torpedoed himself by jumping in front of the Gang of 14 earlier this year. Bear in mind that this poll isn't scientific, and really only reflects the hyperaware readers of the blogs -- all you highly educated and supremely tasteful CQ readers, for instance, across the entire political spectrum. If you hit the poll from the above link, we should be able to track the CQ preferences for the 2008 race. When...

August 26, 2005

Ruffini Calls Me Out

Patrick Ruffini has wrapped up his highly successful and intriguing presidential straw poll, designed to not only determine the front-running Republicans in the blogosphere but to break down the demographics in several categories. Readers can see the results at this post, and use the drop-down boxes to see the breakdowns. Patrick even compares the results based on blogger endorsements, noting that I had withheld mine and asking me for it now. The win for Rudy Giuliani surprised me, given the less-than-centrist nature of the blogosphere. I love Rudy; he showed the world in the hours, days, and weeks after 9/11 that Americans would not allow themselves to be defeated. His grit, determination, and courage inspired all of us. He's great on the stump, too, one of the best speakers we have in politics on either side. But that's the problem with Rudy -- he's on either side in too many...

October 12, 2005

I'm With Stupid

That may be the only campaign slogan left for John Kerry as he picked up an endorsement for the 2008 Presidential campaign -- even though he hasn't declared whether he'll run again. Ted Kennedy has decided to volunteer as anchor for the Kerry bandwagon by declaring his support for his fellow Bostonian three years in advance: Sen. Edward Kennedy (news, bio, voting record) said Wednesday he would back fellow Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 even if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton also pursues a White House bid. "If he runs, I would support him," Kennedy told The Associated Press in an interview at his Boston office. While Kennedy has frequently entertained the New York senator and her husband, former President Clinton, he said his loyalty is to Kerry. Early polling shows Clinton and Kerry among the favorites for their party's nomination in 2008, but...

November 23, 2005

The Turkey-In-The-Straw Poll?

Hugh Hewitt has a Thanksgiving straw poll starting on his blog tonight, taking over for Patrick Ruffini now that Patrick has taken his official role for the Republican Party. Hugh's added a few twists of his own, of course, as he will! Use the link on this post to check out the selections, and we can see how CQ readers see the various GOP presidential elections. Also, don't forget about the 2005 Weblog Awards at Wizbang -- and feel free to nominate CQ for any of the many categories in which we might qualify ......

November 24, 2005

Richardson Balks With Phony Draft

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has received plenty of media attention for his centrist politics and his national appeal as a possible alternative to Hillary Clinton for the 2008 Presidential campaign. That may now be over for the former college pitcher, who has long claimed to have been drafted by the Kansas City Athletics as part of his biography. He now admits that the claim was a lie: For nearly four decades, Richardson, often mentioned as a possible Democratic presidential candidate, has maintained he was drafted by the Kansas City Athletics. The claim was included in a brief biography released when Richardson successfully ran for Congress in 1982. A White House news release in 1997 mentioned it when he was about to be named U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. And several news organizations, including The Associated Press, have reported it as fact over the years. But an investigation by...

January 25, 2006

Democrats Catching Up To Hillary's Negatives (Updated And Bumped)

Hillary Clinton may cruise to re-election for the Senate in New York, but the Democrats have grown increasingly nervous about the prospect of her run for the Presidency in 2008. The New York Sun reports that internal and external polling show that Clinton faces a hostile electorate, particularly in the South and Midwest, and would lose against most Republicans despite her predicted strength in the primaries: Senator Clinton's emergence as the early and perhaps prohibitive favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 is fueling anxiety among Democratic strategists and operatives who are worried she would lose to a Republican in the general election. Recent polling underscores some of those worries. In a CNN/USA Today/ Gallup poll made public yesterday, 51% of voters said they would definitely not vote for Mrs. Clinton if she chooses to run for president in 2008. In a separate nationwide poll conducted this month for...

February 9, 2006

Hillary Meter Slipping To New Lows

Rasmussen reports that its polling shows support for a presidential run by Hillary Clinton at its lowest point in over a year. Only 27% would "definitely" vote for the former First Lady, while 43% have no intention of ever casting a vote for her: Support for Hillary Clinton's Presidential bid has slipped over the past month to the lowest levels recorded in two dozen surveys over the past year. Today, just 27% of Americans say they would definitely vote for the former first lady while 43% would definitely vote against. Still, 59% of Americans believe it is somewhat or very likely that she will be the Democrat's nominee in 2008. Among Democrats, the number who would definitely vote for Clinton dropped 11 percentage points over the past two weeks. Eleven points in two weeks is more than a statistical anomaly -- that's quite a meltdown. Hillary has had an eventful...

February 13, 2006

Hillary, You Are No Bill Clinton

The London Times reviews the performance of the presumed front-runner for the Democratic ticket in 2008 and finds her performance wanting. Gerard Baker, the editor for its American desk, notes that Hillary Clinton not only cannot connect well in her appearances but cannot even escape the long shadow cast by her husband and most potent political asset: Few deny that Mrs Clinton is razor-sharp and politically savvy. But even supporters worry about her personal skills, at least before a large audience. She is a somewhat wooden speaker with a hectoring style at times more reminiscent of Al Gore than her husband. And unlike Bill, she projects a lofty, distant air that has been likened to the Queen of Sheba in a power suit. Last weekend Ken Mehlman, the Republican National Committee chairman, homed in on Mrs Clinton’s personality, saying that she was too angry. His aim was both to pinpoint...

February 21, 2006

Will McCain Successfully Woo Conservatives?

ABC News profiles the efforts of John McCain to attract conservative support for his expected run at the 2008 presidential nomination, an effort that looked like a dead letter several months ago. After angering the base on several issues -- campaign finance and judicial nominations chief among them -- McCain now wants to consolidate his support among moderates while attracting enough conservatives to remain viable: In recent months, McCain has taken several steps to court his party's base: he has endorsed teaching intelligent design alongside evolution; he has backed a ban on gay marriage in his home state of Arizona; he has met with the Rev. Jerry Falwell. He has also described former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., as "the finest leader we've had" and questioned the commitment of media darling Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., to ethics reform . And to top it off, he recently said he wouldn't...

February 23, 2006

Al Gore On The March?

According to Dick Morris, former Vice President and lunatic-for-hire Al Gore may have enough momentum to steal the nomination away from Hillary Clinton in 2008. Morris postulates that Gore has picked up enough credibility on the Left that he can make himself the frontrunner by just entering the race: The former vice president’s slashing attacks on the administration and his stalwart, if misguided, opposition to the Iraq war leave him without the complications and complexes that will devil Clinton as she seeks to appeal to the unforgiving left of the Democratic Party. And Gore may be a man whose time has come in his party. It was he who warned of climate change and predicted its consequences. Hurricane Katrina was just a fulfillment of the prophesies Gore wrote about in his late-1980s book Earth in the Balance. He has been an energy-conservation nut for years, and his obsessions with alternatives...

March 10, 2006

Why Has McCain Become A Bush Cheerleader?

Chris Matthews reports at MS-NBC that John McCain plans to instruct delegates at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference to vote for George Bush as a write-in candidate instead of voting for him as the preferred nominee for 2008. Matthews says that McCain asks this to show support for the President, presently in a rough patch, and to keep the GOP's focus on 2006: It's early on at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference down here, but already we've learned some big news. Sources tell me that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., plans to shock his supporters tonight by asking them to NOT vote for him in the presidential straw poll that will be conducted by The Hotline on Saturday. Instead, McCain will urge his followers to write in President Bush's name. McCain will tell his supporters that this is not about 2008, but rather about 2006 and supporting the president. According to...

March 12, 2006

Romney Stuns In Straw Poll

In the first event of the 2008 presidential run for the GOP, Bill Frist won the Southern Republican Leadership Conference straw poll as expected, with 36% of the vote going to the Tennessee native in Nashville. However, instead of supposed frontrunner John McCain or southern favorites George Allen or Mike Huckabee grabbing the second spot, Governor Mitt Romney of Massachussetts rolled in right behind Frist with 14%: Frist won 36.9 percent of the 1,427 ballots cast here by delegates to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. The shocker of the evening was that Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney placed second, besting far better-known rivals Arizona Sen. John McCain and Virginia Sen. George Allen. Romney finished with 14 percent of the vote. Third place was shared by Allen and President Bush, each of whom won 10.3 percent of the ballots cast. Bush, who of course is not eligible to run again for president,...

Going To War With New Hampshire

The urge of Democrats to tinker with their primary season continues unabated. The Rules and Bylaws Committee has decided to schedule more caucuses ahead of the New Hampshire primary, which by their rules has to hold the first primary election in the party's presidential run. The introduction of more caucuses will dilute the impact of New Hampshire's primary, leading to a threat of escalation by the Granite State: The Democratic Party's Rules and Bylaws Committee yesterday dealt a blow to New Hampshire Democrats hoping to keep their coveted place in the presidential nominating schedule, agreeing by voice vote to a plan that would place one or two caucuses between the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 14, 2008, and the New Hampshire primary eight days later. The proposal, which grew from recommendations by a commission studying how to make the nominating process more diverse both racially and geographically, would also add one...

March 16, 2006

Hillary Benefactor Tied To Korean Slush-Fund Scandal

Hillary Clinton has attended fund-raisers for her Senate re-election campaign that were hosted by a South Korean businessman tied to a slush-fund scandal in Seoul, Meghan Clyne reports in today's New York Sun. The accusations involve the use of a cultural-exchange program aimed at improving relations with Pyongyang but actually operated as an illegal funding source for South Korean politicians: The contributions in question come from a New York-based real estate investor, Hyung Young "Daniel" Lee. According to records on file with the Federal Election Commission, Mr. Lee, 44, donated $4,100 to Mrs. Clinton's 2006 Senate re-election campaign through Friends of Hillary in May 2005. His wife, Eva, donated $5,100 in four separate contributions between August 2004 and May 2005. FEC documents show that the Clinton campaign refunded Mrs. Lee $1,000; FEC regulations cap donations to a candidate at $4,200 for an individual contributor during an election cycle. According to...

April 5, 2006

Feingold Claims The Fringe Left

Russ Feingold has decided to embrace the far-left fever swamp in hopes of building momentum for his run at the Presidency in 2008, and yesterday announced his support for gay marriage as another step in that strategy. The Washington Post reports that Feingold blames Republicans for using the controversy as a wedge issue, but also notes that his fellow Democrats have not lined up in support of gender-neutral marriage either: Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), a prospective 2008 presidential candidate, said yesterday that he thinks bans on same-sex marriages have no place in the nation's laws. Feingold said in an interview that he was motivated to state his position on one of the most divisive social issues in the country after being asked at a town hall meeting Sunday about a pending amendment to the Wisconsin state constitution to ban same-sex marriages. Feingold called the amendment "a mean-spirited attempt" to single...

April 9, 2006

McCain Shifting Gears

John McCain still garners the most media attention of all prospective Republican candidates for the presidential nomination in 2008. His long-cultivated relationship with the media and his reputation as a "maverick" has provided endless fascination and a large boost to his prospects for capturing the ticket. However, now that he has to come to terms with his party, McCain now risks the very assets that propelled him to the top of the media dance card. The New York Times profiles McCain in transition in its Sunday edition: Senator John McCain began his week by embracing the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the conservative religious leader he once denounced as polarizing. He ended it by joining Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the liberal Massachusetts icon, in a fight for an immigration bill opposed by many conservatives. Mr. McCain has long sought to present himself as a singular sort of American politician — straight-talking, iconoclastic...

The Hollywood And Hillary Rift

It appears that one of Bill Clinton's power bases has soured on Hillary and her bid to win back the White House. The Observer (UK) reports that the glitterati in Hollywood have turned their backs on the putative Democratic front-runner, considering her too unreliable as a liberal to support: With its liberal politics and radical attitudes, Hollywood should be one place in America where Hillary Clinton can count on fervent and loyal support. But as the former First Lady gears up for a run at the White House her nascent campaign has hit an unexpected roadblock. A lengthening list of top Hollywood celebrities have publicly criticised her ambitions. From George Clooney to Sharon Stone to Susan Sarandon, the Beverly Hills set has turned on Clinton. Nor are they alone. Vast swaths of American liberals have begun to snipe at their former heroine, attacking her for supporting the war in Iraq...

April 12, 2006

The Corporate Hillary

Hillary Clinton may want to run for president as a banner-carrier of populist fervor -- can Democrats run as anything else these days? -- but her corporate ties may trip her campaign before it even gets running. The New York Times reports today on her cozy relationship with Corning, a major employer in New York and one of her biggest contributors. It turns out that the benefits have flowed bidirectionally between Hillary and Corning: In April 2003, a month after Corning's political action committee gave $10,000 to her re-election campaign, Mrs. Clinton announced legislation that would provide hundreds of millions in federal aid to reduce diesel pollution, using, among other things, technology pioneered by Corning. It was one of several Congressional initiatives Mrs. Clinton has pushed that benefit the company. And in April 2004, Mrs. Clinton began a push to persuade the Chinese government to relax tariffs on Corning fiber...

April 23, 2006

John Kerry Was Against Leaking Before He Was For It

We should consider ourselves fortunate to live in John Kerry World. Most of us thought that we would have lost the humorous inanity that the Senator and erstwhile presidential candidate brought us throughout 2004, but he has been considerate enough to continue with his silly pronouncements well past his expiration date. Today on ABC's This Week, Kerry gave George Stephanopolous a tortured explanation of how he opposes leaks in all circumstances while trying to excuse Mary McCarthy for hers: SEN. KERRY: Well, I read that. I don't know whether she did it or not so it's hard to have a view on it. Here's my fundamental view of this, that you have somebody being fired from the CIA for allegedly telling the truth, and you have no one fired from the white house for revealing a CIA agent in order to support a lie. That underscores what's really wrong in...

April 28, 2006

Goodman: Stop Kerry Before He Runs Again!

With John Kerry making more high-profile appearances and having his opinions published in the New York Times, everyone assumes he plans to make another presidential run in 2008. Despite having the advantage of Bush Derangement Syndrome on his side, not to mention CBS' 60 Minutes Wednesday, Kerry could not win the general election in 2004. Boston Globe columnist and Kerry supporter Ellen Goodman sees no reason to believe he could do better in 2008, either: The signs that John Kerry is going to run for president in 2008 are rising faster than the pollen count. There was the requisite New York Times op-ed -- How many days late? How many dollars short? -- on getting out of Iraq. There was the Globe op-ed that preceded the speech supporting war dissenters at Faneuil Hall to an audience of groupies yelling ''Run" and ''2008." There was Ted Kennedy's remark, ''If he runs,...

May 7, 2006

Clift: Hillary Is The New Reagan

Newsweek's Eleanor Clift reports on the nascent Hillariphobia creeping through the ranks of Democrats as they begin to seriously consider their presidential prospects in 2008. Clift tries to sell the idea that Hillary Clinton somehow represents the Democratic version of Ronald Reagan, divisive yet full of courageous leadership that her party can ill afford to discard at this political juncture: The late great Jerry Garcia used to say the Grateful Dead were like black licorice. People who loved them loved them a lot. People who hated them really hated them. "Hillary Clinton is black licorice," says a Democratic strategist. "There's a huge upside, and there's a huge downside. And we don't know how it will balance out." When was the last time we had such a dominant front runner this early who raises such anxiety about electability? The answer is Ronald Reagan. It took a leap of imagination to believe...

May 8, 2006

Meet Hillary's Backers, Dear John Edition (Bumped!)

Hillary Clinton may have owe a few explanations for the company she kept on her path to the Senate and her presumed presidential bid in 2008. The explanation for John Burgess and International Profit Associates will make for an interesting read, as the company's owner -- a convicted thief and john of an underage prostitute -- has emerged as one of Hillary's most prominent contributors: John R. Burgess makes for an improbable courtier of presidents, or of a senator who might become one. A disbarred New York lawyer with a criminal record for attempted larceny and patronizing a 16-year-old prostitute, Mr. Burgess owns International Profit Associates, a management consulting company in Illinois. Federal authorities are pressing a sexual harassment suit against the company on behalf of 113 former female employees. The Illinois attorney general is investigating accusations of deceptive marketing tactics, officials say, and the company has been the subject...

May 31, 2006

Fineman Pumps Dodd

Howard Fineman uses his column at Newsweek to pump some much-needed drama into the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, but instead reveals how desperately dull their prospects outside of Hillary Clinton truly are. The candidate Fineman highlights in his look at the Anyone But Hillary sweepstakes is Senator Chris Dodd, a man who exists to make Joe Biden look exciting: In presidential politics there are a series of concentric elections until the final one (in the Supreme Court.…). Money comes just after—and in conjunction with—the creation of buzz. Can Dodd create any? Unless you live in Connecticut, or followed the insider mechanics of the 1996 Clinton re-election race (when Dodd served an unhappy year as party chairman) you probably have no idea who he is. Let me tell you, briefly. At 62, with snowy white hair, Dodd is a lifer in politics and government, an insider’s insider—very...

June 17, 2006

Kerry Loses The Center-Left

If the lopsided vote against a duplicate of John Kerry's amendment to the defense authorization bill signaling surrender in Iraq didn't tell him that he had joined Fringeland, then a scolding from Martin Peretz at The New Republic should correct any misunderstandings. Peretz not only dislikes Kerry's stand on the war, but he believes that Kerry is the wrong messenger for the message: John Kerry can be trumped by just about anybody. But today, the titular leader of the Democratic Party was trumped by Mitch McConnell, consummate cynic and the second-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate. Kerry had announced that he would soon offer a measure requiring the administration to withdraw almost all of the American troops now in Iraq by the end of the year. What was in the tactical side of his brain when he made this pronunciamento before he had figured out the details of his proposal?...

June 19, 2006

Hillary, Kerry, Gore Face Near-Majority No Votes

In an early poll determining the strengths and weaknesses of the various potential candidates for the 2008 presidential race, both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry face a skeptical electorate. Both candidates have at least 47% of the voters opposing them already, the second-highest of any would-be Democratic contenders. Another previous nominee takes first prize, while a presidential brother takes the top spot for the GOP: With the presidential election more than two years away, a CNN poll released Monday suggests that nearly half of Americans would "definitely vote against" Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Respondents were asked whether they would "definitely vote for," "consider voting for," or "definitely vote against" three Democrats and three Republicans who might run for president in 2008. Regarding potential Democratic candidates, 47 percent of respondents said they would "definitely vote against" both Clinton, the junior senator from New York who is running for re-election this year,...

June 26, 2006

Kerry Splits Democrats With Renewed Presidential Aspirations

John Kerry has split Democrats with his race to the left in order to gain some traction for the 2008 presidential nomination, his hometown newspaper reports. The Boston Globe notes some approbation coming from the antiwar netroots, but the party establishment has little trust in the man they think blew a winnable 2004 election: Senator John F. Kerry has intensified his quest to regain the Democratic presidential nomination with a sharp move to the left, presenting himself in high-profile speeches and Senate debates as an unfettered lawmaker and would-be presidential candidate who learned from his 2004 loss that he must fight harder for what he believes. In passionate remarks on the Senate floor and before party faithful last week, Kerry spoke directly to grass-roots Democrats, many of whom remain angry over his defeat in an election they believe Kerry was capable of winning. ``I think I'm a much better candidate...

July 8, 2006

Rudy Running?

Robert Novak hears the talk around the campfire, and the chatter says that Rudy Giuliani, America's Mayor, will run for the presidency in 2008. Novak says that the road will be difficult for one of the nation's most admired men: Well-connected public figures report that they have been told recently by Rudolph Giuliani that, as of now, he intends to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. The former mayor of New York was on top of last month's national Gallup poll measuring presidential preferences by registered Republicans, with 29 percent. Sen. John McCain's 24 percent was second, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich third at 8 percent. National polls all year have shown Giuliani running either first or second to McCain, with the rest of the presidential possibilities far behind. Republican insiders respond to these numbers by saying rank-and-file GOP voters will abandon Giuliani once they realize his...

July 9, 2006

Er, What Resumé? (Updated)

Leave it to Newsweek to burnish the reputation of a single-term politician with no legislative record whatsoever to report that the presidential candidate has a "retooled resumé". John Edwards has hit the presidential campaign trail again, making him perhaps the only politician in US history to have twice as many runs at the presidency as terms in any electoral office: It's Friday night in Iowa and an old politician is trying some new tricks. John Edwards is back—back, with the familiar deep drawl, dark tan and honeyed hair. Gone, though, are the old catchphrases—"two Americas" and "hope is on the way." In their place: a long meditation on America's moral obligation to confront the plight of its poor. "Thirty-seven million of our people, worried about feeding and clothing their children," he said to his audience. "Aren't we better than that?" It's not the stuff of great sound bites, but it's...

July 10, 2006

The Hillary-Gregory Connection To The Pardons

Yesterday I wrote about the obvious quid pro quo between Bill Clinton's presidential pardon of Edgar and Vonna Jo Gregory and the loans given to Hillary Clinton's brother, Anthony Rodham, starting two months later. Clinton pardoned the Gregorys in March 2000 for bank fraud convictions going back to 1982. Without that pardon, United Shows (owned by the Gregorys) could not procure state contracts for handling carnivals. In May 2000, United Shows started issuing a series of loans to Rodham that eventually totalled $107,000, loans for which they never demanded payment and which Rodham never paid on his own. It was not until United Shows went into receivership that the loans came to light, and the receiver filed claims against Rodham for repayment of the $107,000, plus another $46,000 in interest. United and the Gregorys never intended to demand repayment of the loans, which is why they never tried to collect...

July 19, 2006

Gallup Shows Rice Among Presidential Frontrunners

A new Gallup poll measures the viability of potential presidential candidates in 2008, and it contains a number of surprises. Gallup did not ask respondents to endorse one particular candidate but instead to indicate their acceptability or unacceptability as a potential party nominee. One name comes as a minor surprise for the Republicans: A recent Gallup Panel poll asked Republicans and Democrats whether they would find each of several possible contenders for their party's 2008 presidential nomination to be "acceptable" nominees. Unlike other nomination ballot questions that measure respondents' first choice from among a list of possible candidates, this question paints a broader picture of the level of potential support and opposition for each candidate. Hillary Clinton is the clear front-runner among Democrats when voters are asked to choose which one candidate they would prefer for the Democratic nomination for president, but the current poll finds Democrats are about equally...

August 21, 2006

McCain Burnishing Bush Credentials, But Why?

John McCain continues his efforts to lock up the Republican nomination for President as early as possible, and as the New York Times reports, he's doing so by hiring political operatives before his competitors. McCain has leveraged his PAC money and his connections in DC to create a network of campaign support far ahead of most other presumed candidates: Senator John McCain is locking up a cast of top-shelf Republican strategists, policy experts, fund-raisers and donors, in a methodical effort to build a 2008 presidential campaign machine, drawing supporters of President Bush despite the sometimes rocky history between the two men. Mr. McCain’s effort to woo a diverse lineup of backers and scare off rivals has augmented his travel schedule on behalf of Republicans — which this week and next includes trips to Iowa, Louisiana, Virginia, South Carolina, Ohio and Florida. The effort is fueling a fund-raising operation that has...

August 25, 2006

McCain's Less Than Straight Talk Express (Updated)

Updated -- see below. John McCain has used the nickname "Straight Talk Express" for his campaigns for years, but it may now be a violation of truth-in-advertising regulations, if they applied to poltical statements. McCain has hired Democratic political operatives (see update, not hired) after denying any interest in them to at least one reporter who specifically asked about it: Senator McCain's latest additions to his 2008 presidential campaign team — a veteran of Democrat Howard Dean's presidential campaign, and a former Bush administration State Department official — are setting Washington to speculating about the ideological direction Mr. McCain's run for the White House might take. The new pledges of support for the Arizona Republican came from an Internet guru best known for Governor Dean's upstart presidential campaign in 2004, Nicholas Mele, and from a former State Department official and veteran trade negotiator, Robert Zoellick. ... "I have long admired...

September 3, 2006

Will Hillary Pass On Presidential Race?

The Times of London joins a growing number of media outlets that report on Hillary Clinton's supposed reluctance to run for President, in 2008 or anytime else. The Democrats share this reluctance based on consistently high negatives in polling and want her to stay in the Senate -- but another Clinton wants to live in the White House again: FRIENDS of Hillary Clinton have been whispering the unthinkable. Despite her status as the runaway frontrunner for the 2008 Democratic nomination for president, some of her closest advisers say she might opt out of the White House race and seek to lead her party in the Senate. The former first lady longs to return to the White House with husband Bill as consort. Only last week she told television viewers America would be led by a woman one day. “Stay tuned,” she said. First, however, she has to win the election....

September 28, 2006

Twin Cities Nod A Bipartisan Win

How did the Twin Cities land the Republican National Convention for 2008? It took a bipartisan effort that predicated itself on a gentleman's agreement: all Minnesota politicians would support bids for both conventions, and whichever party chose first would get unanimous support. The combination worked better than anyone could have hoped, as the Twin Cities made both short lists. However, in the end, Howard Dean's inability to make a decision cost the Democrats the spot: On an October day last year, Tom Mason, who served as Gov. Tim Pawlenty's chief of staff, finished breakfast at St. Paul's Downtowner with Pawlenty and visiting Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman and offered Mehlman a lift. While he drove, Mason listened as Mehlman raved about Minnesota's beauty, its fall weather and its political value as a swing state and thought "Gee, we might have a shot at long last." Mason's next call was...

September 29, 2006

Has Frist Made The Case For 2008?

Senator Bill Frist will retire from Congress at the end of the year, and he's widely rumored to be considering a run for the Presidency in 2008. Last year, Frist had plenty of critics, including me, for failing to get judicial nominations or much of the original agenda through the Senate. Now, however, Frist appears to be firing on all cylinders. He has pushed through the detainee bill, a border barrier, and the on-line federal budget database, among other accomplishments. Some of these bills appeared to have little chance of avoiding filibusters and delaying tactics, but the tall Tennessean worked some magic, or twisted some arms, to get real accomplishments out of this session. Here's a question for CQ readers: has Frist's valediction made the case for a 2008 run at the Presidency?...

October 4, 2006

Rudy Gets A Majority

It's early, but it's consistent with other polling taken over the last few months. The front-runners for the 2008 nominations are Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, and only Giuliani gets majority support in a general election, according to the latest Marist poll. Republicans who want to hold the White House need to look at these numbers; they're amazing. Giuliani gets majority support for his political views across almost all political demographics, and a plurality of Democrats. Thirty-two percent of Democrats want him to run in 2008. His candidacy has gained support from last year, something that only Newt Gingrich can say, and then only from fourth place. John McCain has suffered a significant drop in his support from February; perhaps his new emphasis on conservative values has caused some revisionism among his former fans on the Left. I like Rudy, but his positions on guns bother me. I'm not as...

October 9, 2006

Did 9/11 Put Teflon On Rudy?

The New York Times, never one of Rudy Giuliani's fans, does a profile of the former mayor today that reports on an intriguing quality Giuliani seems to have gained after 9/11. His performance under fire appears to have forged a political suit of Teflon for Rudy, one that deflects a number of issues that would derail other candidates: For many loyal Republicans — and more than a few independents and Democrats — his national security message seems to work, blotting out the central question facing his candidacy: whether a supporter of legal abortion, gay civil unions, immigrants’ rights and gun control; a thrice-married, Catholic New Yorker whose split with his second wife took place publicly and none too neatly, can win Republican presidential primaries and caucuses. “I’m well to the right of Rudy on social issues,” said Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the Republican Party in Palm Beach County, Fla., after...

October 11, 2006

GOP Straw Poll (Updated)

GOP Bloggers have a new straw poll, and these are getting more and more sophisticated. We will be able to track responses by CQ readers as the poll continues. I'll check on it later this evening and update my post with the trends. UPDATE 9 PM CT: In 14 hours, CQ readers have cast over 4200 votes, and the results are interesting. In the votes for acceptability, Giuliani and Romney come close to a tie (2685-2650, Romney). However, in the first-choice selections, Giuliani leads substantially with 35.9% of all CQ readers. Romney drops back to 20.9%, barely ahead of Newt Gingrich with 19.9%. George Allen gets 6.8%, and everyone else winds up in the hash. The highest unacceptability ratings came from a surprising source. 54.2% of all CQ readers found Chuck Hagel unacceptable. George Pataki got 45.6% disapproval, and John McCain came in third at 42.3%. Bill Frist got 23.8%...

October 13, 2006

Warner Declines

Virginia Governor Mark Warner bowed out of the 2008 presidential race yesterday, stating that he wanted to spend more time with his family rather than pursue the White House. By vacating the center, Warner has left a hole in the party's offerings -- and an opportunity for at least one Democrat to seize the moderate position: Mr. Warner, who five years ago became the first Democrat elected governor of Virginia since 1989, had drawn broad interest among party leaders assessing the potential 2008 field, both as a centrist elected in a Southern state and as a wealthy entrepreneur able to finance his own campaign. But at a news conference in Richmond and in a subsequent interview, he said he had increasingly turned against the idea of running as he found that the obligations of even exploring a candidacy were consuming him and taking him away from family obligations. He said...

October 15, 2006

Low Blow

Looking decidedly un-Presidential this weekend is Hillary Clinton and her camp, after Maureen Dowd related a quote from one of the Senator's advisors that belittled John McCain for a tape his North Vietnamese captors forced him to make while a POW. The Daily News blog pointed out the quote on its site yesterday: Privately, Hillary’s camp was not overly upset by the McCain swipe because it suspected he was doing the bidding of the White House and that he ended up, as one adviser put it, “looking similar to the way he did on those captive tapes from Hanoi, where he recited the names of his crew mates.” The "McCain swipe" was McCain's reaction to Hillary blaming the North Korean nuclear test on the Bush administration. McCain pointed out that the Kim regime had been violating the Agreed Framework signed by the Clinton administration as far back as 1997 according...

October 23, 2006

The Depth Of The Democratic Bench

Yesterday's big political news came from Meet the Press, where Senator Barack Obama raised a few eyebrows with an admission of presidential ambitions. Obama, a first-term member of the upper chamber, contradicted earlier statements that indicated that he would not run in 2008 for the Democratic Party nomination: Sen. Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat who won instant celebrity after his keynote address to the 2004 Democratic national convention, said Sunday he might run for president in 2008. "I don't want to be coy about this," Obama said on NBC's Meet the Press. "Given the responses that I've been getting over the last several months, I have thought about the possibility." After initially ruling it out, he said, the door has opened "a bit." The 2008 presidential race is wide open, and Obama has been urged by many Democrats, such as fellow Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, to run this time rather...

November 10, 2006

GOP Straw Poll

Republicans can be forgiven for not showing much enthusiasm for a poll this week, but in this case, we can guarantee that a Republican will win. This is the latest in a series of blogospheric straw polls on the 2008 Presidential nomiation, and obviously the first one since the midterm meltdown last Tuesday. GOP Bloggers has again staged this for the conservative bloggers and their readers to give their support to their favorite Republican candidates. I'll run this on top for the rest of the day, and we'll see how CQ readers feel about the national candidates after the Congressional switch. Be sure to leave your comments here as well....

Looking At The Results

Polls have usefulness as a thermometer of sorts; they measure the political temperature at any one moment, but it's tricky to use them to predict the temperature in the future, especially two years out. That's true of the so-called scientific polling, and more so of the self-selected sampling that occurs with these Internet straw polls. However, they do provoke interesting discussions about our political assumptions and attitudes. Take today's poll, just below us. GOP Bloggers registered 10,263 responses across the blogosphere in the last 24 hours -- and over 3600 came from CQ readers. The CQ results show some surprising strength for Rudy Giuliani, who garnered 30% of first-choice selections, followed by Newt Gingrich at 25% and Mitt Romney at 24%. Those three potential candidates were the only ones who scored positive on acceptablity, with Romney oddly winning that category with 62%, compared to 59% for Rudy and 44% for...

November 12, 2006

The Cheese Stays Put

Russ Feingold has announced that he will stick with his current office of Senator from Wisconsin and forego a run for President in 2008. He told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he didn't have the fire in the belly necessary for a grueling national campaign: Sen. Russ Feingold will not seek his party's presidential nomination in 2008, the Wisconsin Democrat told the Journal Sentinel on Saturday. "I never got to that point where I'd rather be running around the country, running for president, than being a senator from Wisconsin," Feingold said in a phone interview from Madison. Feingold, 53, conceded that he faced long odds of winning the nomination. "It would have required the craziest combination of things in the history of American politics to make it work," he said. But Feingold said waging an underdog campaign appealed to him. What didn't appeal to him, he said, was "the way in...

November 21, 2006

Brownback The Great Conservative Hope?

Calling himself a "full scale Ronald Reagan conservative," Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas tossed his hat into the ring for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. Brownback, who has a consistent record of conservative positions, hopes to emerge as the strongest conservative in the race against a field that appears to tilt significantly towards Rockefeller Republicanism: Sen. Sam Brownback, who is considering a White House bid in 2008, said Monday the Republican field has room for a "full-scale Ronald Reagan conservative" and pledged to make a final decision next month. The Kansas senator said he was not discouraged from running by the Democrats' strong gains in this month's midterm elections, including majority control of the House and Senate. "It does not make it less likely," he said in an interview. "I really believe that the basic conservative ideas and ideals were not repudiated. Our execution was." ... Brownback, who was elected...

The Decline Of The Democrats' Diva

The 2008 presidential primaries had long been considered a coronation process for Hillary Clinton. Certainly, other names have surfaced as contenders for the throne, but most of them have been revealed as pretenders instead. John Kerry and Al Gore garner laughs and shudders, while Barack Obama just got to Washington two years ago. John Edwards has disappeared from view after his attempt to leverage half of his first term in any political office to become the Vice President -- except for that incident where his staffer went to the Evil Empire (Wal-Mart) to buy his kids a new game system. Part of the consideration of Hillary's inevitability came from the massive war chest she amassed for her re-election bid to New York's Senate seat in the midterms. Facing no real competition, analysts presumed she would retain most of it for the 2008 primaries, giving her a huge head start and...

December 1, 2006

The 2008 Lineup Looks Pretty Centrist So Far

My friend John at Power Line has an interesting look at the Republican contenders for the presidency in 2008, and wonders where the conservatives might turn. It's a little too long to excerpt to any good effect, so be sure to read it in its entirety. Conservatives appear to have some slim pickings, at least thus far. John McCain, who could reasonably compete as one, instead had better hope for independent and centrist support after his campaign reform legislation curtailed political speech, and his Gang of 14 shenanigans derailed more than a couple of fine judicial nominees. John refers to his willingness to sell out the Republicans in order to feed his own self-interest, and that's certainly the perception. Even if I was not willing to go as far as John, and I probably am, he's certainly proven himself fairly unpredictable, even on core issues such as tax cuts. Romney...

Poaching? Maybe Just A Little

The Republican Governors Association meeting attracted attention from a wide range of people ... even presidential aspirants who have never served as governor. While many expected the RGA meeting to serve as another platform for outgoing Massachussetts executive Mitt Romney for his presidential bid, John McCain raised a few eyebrows by spending heavily on receptions and leaning on his personal connections to steal a little of Romney's thunder: Last anyone checked, Senator John McCain of Arizona is not — and has never been — a governor. But no matter. Mr. McCain turned up on Thursday morning at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa here for a guerrillalike visit to the annual meeting of the Republican Governors Association. That is a group headed by Mitt Romney, the Massachusetts governor who is widely viewed as Mr. McCain’s chief rival for their party’s 2008 presidential nomination. As Mr. Romney gamely presided over the...

December 2, 2006

Mowergate?

The latest story on Mitt Romney has the appearance of an early opposition attack on his presidential hopes, and in this case a rather silly attack. Echoing the travails of Kimba Wood, Bill Clinton's first nominee for Attorney General, the Boston Globe reported yesterday that Romney employed illigal immigrants as landscaping workers: As Governor Mitt Romney explores a presidential bid, he has grown outspoken in his criticism of illegal immigration. But, for a decade, the governor has used a landscaping company that relies heavily on workers like these, illegal Guatemalan immigrants, to maintain the grounds surrounding his pink Colonial house on Marsh Street in Belmont. The Globe recently interviewed four current and former employees of Community Lawn Service with a Heart, the tiny Chelsea-based company that provides upkeep of Romney's property. All but one said they were in the United States illegally. Wood had to withdraw her nomination when reporters...

Postponing The Immaterial

The Boston Globe reports that John Kerry has decided to postpone the decision on his expected run for the presidency in 2008. Sources claim that the fallout of calling servicemen lazy idiots has stunned him: Senator John F. Kerry's election-eve "botched joke" about the war in Iraq -- and the fierce denunciations his comments drew from fellow Democrats -- has led him to reevaluate whether to mount a run for the presidency in 2008 and has led him to delay an announcement about his decision, according to Kerry associates. The Massachusetts Democrat is now leaning toward waiting until late spring before declaring his intentions, even as other candidates jump into the race and begin building organizing and fund-raising teams in early-primary states. Before the joke derailed his comeback, Kerry had signaled that he would decide whether to run by the end of January. Kerry -- who had methodically resurrected his...

December 4, 2006

It's The Electability, Stupid

Rumors have swirled around HIllary Clinton regarding her presumed run for the presidency in 2008, with some saying that a Barack Obama run will keep her out of the race and that she has not discovered the inner fire for the grueling campaign, a la Mark Warner. Now, however, she's begun meeting with Democratic power brokers, indicating that she's plowing ahead -- but Democrats do not appear completely thrilled by the prospect. So who's meeting with Hillary? Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has begun a calculated series of meetings with top New York Democratic officials to signal that she is likely to run for the presidency in 2008 and to ask for their support if she does, according to one state Democratic official who spoke with her and two others who have been briefed on her plans. Senator Clinton met last week with Charles B. Rangel, the dean of the New...

How Desperate Are The Democrats?

As I note below, Hillary Clinton has sucked most of the oxygen out of the discussions over the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2008, despite some major misgivings. A significant portion of the party wants to find some alternative to Hillary, and Barack Obama has materialized to help fill that need. Using terms like "rock star", Democrats have boosted Obama as a potential savior who can help bridge constituencies: Senator Barack Obama’s announcement that he might run for president is altering the early dynamics of the 2008 Democratic nominating contest. The move has created complications for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as she steps up her own preparations and is posing a threat to lesser-known Democrats trying to position themselves as alternatives to Mrs. Clinton, Democrats said Sunday. The declaration six weeks ago by Mr. Obama, an Illinois Democrat, has set off a surge of interest in Democratic circles, which...

December 9, 2006

Romney's Past Catching Up?

Mitt Romney has worked to position himself as a conservative alternative to John McCain and an ideological opponent of the more liberal Rudy Giuliani in the 2008 Presidential sweepstakes with Republican voters. He has successfully challenged both enough to get himself into the top tier for the nomination in these early days. However, the emergence of correspondence between Romney and the Log Cabin Republicans of Massachussetts in 1994 threatens to make Romney look like a (gasp!) libertarian: Gov. Mitt Romney, the Massachusetts Republican who has built a presidential campaign on a broad appeal for conservative support, is drawing sharply increased criticism from conservative activists for his advocacy of gay rights in a 1994 letter. Mr. Romney’s standing among conservatives is being hurt by a letter he sent to the Log Cabin Club of Massachusetts saying that he would be a stronger advocate for gay rights than Senator Edward M. Kennedy,...

December 11, 2006

GOP Straw Poll For December

GOP Bloggers has their monthly Presidential Straw Poll running again, square in the middle of voting season here on the blogs. Once again, blog readers can cast their votes from their favorite blogs in order to allow analysis from each blog about their readers' choices. It looks like the latest entrants into the race have been added this time: Speaking of voting, John Hawkins has the results of his Warblogger Awards for 2006. CQ gets a few honorable mentions, for which I thank the judges, so be sure to check out the winners. And, as long as we're talking about voting, don't forget to cast your ballots for your favorites in the 2006 Weblog Awards. CQ is running in third place for Best Conservative Blog. The folks at The Moderate Voice have repeatedly boosted my blog for the awards, but they seem to have decided to end their own run...

Obama Campaigns In New England

The coyness continues from Barack Obama, who took his "aw, shucks" campaign to New Hampshire this weekend. In two appearances, he appeared humble and somewhat mystified about his sudden popularity -- but he used it to attempt to move the debate to the left: Senator Barack Obama came to New Hampshire for the first time in his life on Sunday, selling a message of hope while proclaiming himself wary of the wave of hype that surrounded his visit. His visit gave Democrats in two sold-out halls a chance to inspect the man who has emerged as their party’s strongest alternative to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as a presidential contender. “It is flattering to get a lot of attention, although I must say it is baffling,” Mr. Obama said here late Sunday afternoon. “I think to some degree I’ve become a shorthand or symbol or stand-in for a spirit that the...

Kennedy Backs Away From Kerry

John Kerry took another body blow to his hopes for another presidential run in 2008. With almost no one but John Kerry taking the idea seriously, Ted Kennedy strongly hinted that he has read the writing on the wall: Senator Edward M. Kennedy Monday dropped his public commitment to support Senator John F. Kerry in a 2008 presidential race, saying that he won't wait "indefinitely" for Kerry to declare his intentions while the Democratic primary field takes shape. Kennedy said he doesn't currently plan to endorse another candidate and still might support Kerry if Kerry decides to run. But in an hourlong interview with the Globe's Washington bureau, Kennedy offered strong praise for two of Kerry's possible presidential rivals: senators Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, calling them "formidable figures" who are connecting with rank-and-file Democrats. Kennedy said his oft-stated commitment to support Kerry again...

December 13, 2006

A McCain-Pawlenty Ticket?

Jim Geraghty looks at the dynamic between Senator and presidential hopeful John McCain and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and reaches a conclusion that I suggested almost two weeks ago. Pawlenty's early commitment to endorse McCain and his work on McCain's exploratory committee looks like a partnership meant for larger purposes -- and McCain himself seems to hint that Pawlenty could be his running mate in 2008: Mr. Pawlenty's presidential buzz was silenced by his political near-death experience this year. Despite the St. Paul Pioneer Press declaring: "Gov. Tim Pawlenty was a Republican rock that withstood a Democratic tidal wave washing across the state and nation Tuesday," talk of his presidential aspirations abruptly ended. In the meantime, the Republicans committed to holding their 2008 convention in St. Paul. The early contours of the GOP's 2008 strategy suggest that it wants to win over the remaining blue parts of the Upper Midwest...

December 14, 2006

Is McCain Inevitable?

Robert Novak sees the beginnings of a GOP effort to consolidate itself behind one candidate for 2008 even this early in the primary process, paralleling similar efforts in 1996 (Robert Dole) and 2000 (George Bush). In this case, the "corporate" choice might be John McCain: Some 30 invited corporate representatives and other lobbyists gathered at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning to hear two senior mainstream Republican senators pitch the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain. They were selling him to establishment Republicans as the establishment's candidate. Nothing could be further from McCain's guerrilla-style presidential run in 2000, which nearly stopped George W. Bush. Invitations to Tuesday's event were sent by Trent Lott, the newly elected Senate minority whip. Over coffee, Lott and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) pushed McCain, though neither previously was seen as a McCainiac. They were not for McCain in 2000, and neither...

December 15, 2006

Scandal On The Edge Of Tomorrow

Barack Obama has enjoyed a boomlet in the opening days of the 2008 Presidential campaign, becoming the not-Hillary of the moment. He has positioned himself well for at least a shot at the VP slot on the ticket, and despite his lack of experience and youth (two years in national office and 45 years old) has become a serious contender for the top position. He generates crowds and energy, and the money will not be long in following. However, he has a potential scandal that has nibbled on the edges of political consciousness for the last few months. John Dickerson in Slate brings it a little closer to the center of debate for the 2008 race, wondering if it will prove damaging enough to Obama's hopes that it stops him: The Chicago Tribune broke the story back in November. It begins in 2004 with Obama's $1.9 million book advance for...

December 18, 2006

Everyone First

Thanks to the compressed news cycle and the impatience of the political class, we have seen the earliest serious launch of a presidential season in long memory. Normally candidates play coy until no more than eighteen months before a presidential election, but this cycle already has declared candidates and exploratory committees abound. In this rush to commitment, Newt Gingrich has decided to take a different and somewhat novel approach: A former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, said yesterday that he will consider entering the race for the Republican presidential nomination only if no other potential candidate looks to be a prohibitive favorite by September 2007. In an interview on NBC's "Meet The Press," Mr. Gingrich also praised several Republican politicians who are expected to make announcements soon about their presidential plans, Governor Romney of Massachusetts, Mayor Giuliani, and Senator McCain of Arizona. "Romney's had a good year. He's emerging...

December 19, 2006

Early Setback For Brownback

In an attempt to set himself apart from the GOP field in the upcoming Presidential race, Brownback put a hold on a judicial nomination for her attendance at a same-sex union ceremony. However, Brownback overreached when he demanded that Janet Neff recuse herself from all cases regarding gender-neutral marriage issues: Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, who blocked the confirmation of a woman to the federal bench because she attended a same-sex commitment ceremony for the daughter of her long-time neighbors, says he will now allow a vote on the nomination. Mr. Brownback, a possible contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, said in a recent interview that when the Senate returned in January, he would allow a vote on Janet Neff, a 61-year-old Michigan state judge, who was nominated to a Federal District Court seat. Mr. Brownback, who has been criticized for blocking the nomination, said he would also...

December 20, 2006

His Record Is Enough

Barack Obama has had a dramatic effect on the blogosphere since dropping his fat hint that he might run for president in 2008. I've written about Obama on more than a few occasions, since I think Obama will be with us for the long run, especially given the political balance in Illinois and his potent speaking skills. The port side of the blogosphere has mostly swooned over his steadfast support for the liberal party line, while the starboard side has started to look unhinged over his potential candidacy in 2008. The latest round started with Debbie Schlussel, who insists that Obama is a closet Muslim: I decided to look further into Obama's background. His full name--as by now you have probably heard--is Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. Hussein is a Muslim name, which comes from the name of Ali's son--Hussein Ibn Ali. And Obama is named after his late Kenyan father,...

December 21, 2006

Not All Obama Nonsense Resides On The Right

It's refreshing, if a little disheartening, to see that the nonsense about the true identity of Barack Obama is not limited to the fringes of the conservative blogosphere. Agence France Presse provides an interesting analysis of Obama's early support, which does not include the demograhic one would assume: US political darling Barack Obama has received enthusiastic support for a possible 2008 presidential bid -- except from fellow African-Americans, a group many believed would be among his staunchest backers. In contrast to the effusive reception Obama has received from white Americans, many US blacks so far have been cool, saying that while they may share skin color with Obama, they do not have a common culture or history. "Obama did not -- does not -- share a heritage with the majority of black Americans, who are descendants of plantation slaves," wrote African-American newspaper columnist Stanley Crouch last month in an article...

January 6, 2007

Hillary No Favorite Of Anti-War Activists

Hillary Clinton appears to be the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic nomination for the 2008 Presidential campaign, but she has not won over the most activist part of her party. ABC reported yesterday that protestors picketing speeched by John McCain and Joe Lieberman did not spare Hillary from criticism: "I'm scared to death of Hillary Clinton," said Kirsten Loken of Falling Waters, W.Va. "She is a divider." Loken, a self-described feminist who has supported the National Organization for Women for many years, said she would "absolutely love" to see a female president of the United States. "But not Hillary Clinton," she said, "not Hillary Clinton." Loken is one of four West Virginians who met in 2004 while helping Sen. John Kerry's (D-Mass.) general-election campaign against Bush. The four women, who traveled by car for more than an hour to Friday's protest organized by MoveOn.org, said they would "love" to...

January 7, 2007

Columbia Journalism Lecturer Al Gore Bans The Press At Event

Al Gore has banned coverage of an event again, this time in our neighboring South Dakota. Gore joined the Columbia School of Journalism as a lecturer in 2001 after his loss to George Bush and placed a gag order on his students, an ironic twist for students steeped in First Amendment principles. Now Gore has excluded journalists and TV cameras from his appearance at Augustana College for his latest lecture on the environment (via TMV): Reporters and TV news cameras will be banned from almost all of former Vice President Al Gore's appearance Jan. 23 in Sioux Falls. Gore is the Boe Forum speaker at Augustana College and plans a talk called "Thinking Green: Economic Strategy for the 21st Century." Kalee Kreider, a Gore staffer in Nashville, confirmed by e-mail that news media will be asked to leave his talk after the introduction and that Gore will not hold a...

January 9, 2007

Romney Launch Surprises

Governor Mitt Romney conducted the first big fund-raiser of the 2008 Presidential campaign, and the Romneyites surprised even themselves with a spectacular success. They collected $6.5 million from their Boston Convention event, far surpassing their goal: White House hopeful Mitt Romney and 400 of his backers raised more than $6.5 million on Monday in a glitzy fundraising blitz that will force all Republican rivals to take notice. "They've come together and blown us away today, and humbled us at the same time," said the former Massachusetts governor as he clutched the hand of his wife, Ann. The figure dwarfed the $2 million that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., raised and the $1 million collected by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Like Romney, the two have created committees exploring bids for the GOP's presidential nomination. While Romney said he was not trying to send a message to anyone but his supporters,...

Still Delaying The Inevitable

I'm not sure how many more of these stories the American media can produce, but the Boston Globe seems intent on telling us -- again -- that John Kerry still has not decided to run for President in 2008: After sending strong signals for two years about a second run for the presidency, Senator John F. Kerry has held no public political events in more than two months, even as his potential rivals ramp up their own campaigns. Behind the scenes, Kerry has been more active, hiring several top operatives and hosting several major fund-raisers with Democratic activists, including a breakfast yesterday in New York City and a birthday event at his Beacon Hill home last month, where he raised $250,000. Aides to the Massachusetts Democrat said he is still mulling whether he should run again for president in 2008. A decision is likely to be made before the end...

Still Delaying The Inevitable

I'm not sure how many more of these stories the American media can produce, but the Boston Globe seems intent on telling us -- again -- that John Kerry still has not decided to run for President in 2008: After sending strong signals for two years about a second run for the presidency, Senator John F. Kerry has held no public political events in more than two months, even as his potential rivals ramp up their own campaigns. Behind the scenes, Kerry has been more active, hiring several top operatives and hosting several major fund-raisers with Democratic activists, including a breakfast yesterday in New York City and a birthday event at his Beacon Hill home last month, where he raised $250,000. Aides to the Massachusetts Democrat said he is still mulling whether he should run again for president in 2008. A decision is likely to be made before the end...

January 10, 2007

Romney Uses Podcast To Respond To YouTube

The upcoming presidential election will hinge on the use of technology and the rapid response to potentially damaging imagery. When a video clip from Mitt Romney's debate with Ted Kennedy in 1994 got YouTubed, opening another question about his pro-life credentials, Romney turned to Glenn Reynolds and a Podcast to set the record straight. Be sure to check out the Glenn & Helen Show....

January 11, 2007

GOP Bloggers Straw Poll For January '07

Each month, the GOP Bloggers blog conducts a straw poll to take the temperature of the blogosphere for the upcoming Republican presidential primaries. They generally update the list each time to capture any new potential candidates; for instance, Jim Gilmore. the former Governor of Virginia, is included this time. The poll allows bloggers to conduct a survey of their own readership, which always produces some intriguing results. Keep checking back to see the results, and I will probably review them in the next 24 hours....

January 12, 2007

Democrats Made A Good Decision

The Democrats selected Denver as their host city for their 2008 national convention, bypassing New York City in order to bolster their Western credentials. The move reflects shifting fortunes for both parties and follows Howard Dean's efforts to build national credibility for the Democrats: The Democratic Party chose Denver over New York on Thursday as the site for its next national convention, capping months of debate about which city had better logistics, deeper pockets and a more compelling backdrop to frame the party’s message. “If we’re going to have a national party, we’re going to have to have Westerners vote for us on a consistent basis,” the Democratic national chairman, Howard Dean, said in a telephone news conference. “At the end of the day,” Mr. Dean added, “that’s what tipped it to Denver.” Denver economic development officials said that by one important measure, the convention, to be held Aug. 25-28,...

Is Hillary The New Kerry?

The Washington Times reports that Hillary Clinton is slipping in polls for the first states in next year's presidential primaries, and that populists such as John Edwards and Barack Obama appear to be eclipsing her. One pollster draws comparisons between Hillary and the previous Democratic nominee that hardly intend to flatter her: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's popularity in Democratic presidential-preference polls has fallen in the nation's first caucus and primary states in the face of increasing support for her chief rivals for the 2008 nomination. Pollsters said her weaknesses in Iowa and New Hampshire were the result of the growing popularity of two major opponents -- former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama -- and their populist economic messages, as well as a deepening antipathy toward her among Democratic-leaning independents who dislike her support for the war in Iraq and who question her electability. "I think...

January 13, 2007

That Didn't Take Long

Yesterday I wrote about Hillary Clinton's troubles in the 2008 presidential campaign and how she has lost ground to the populists in Iowa and New Hampshire. Her deliberate centrism has undermined enthusiasm for her run at becoming the nation's first female President, and nothing touches off the MoveOn faction more than her support for the war in Iraq. It didn't take long for Hillary to start trying to turn that around, apparently: In an exclusive interview with ABC News in Baghdad, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., called the situation in Iraq "heartbreaking" and said she doubts Congress and the American people believe the mission here can succeed. "I don't know that the American people or the Congress at this point believe this mission can work," she said. "And in the absence of a commitment that is backed up by actions from the Iraqi government, why should we believe it?" Clinton spoke...

January 16, 2007

Romney Moves Ahead In On-Line Straw Poll

Last week I featured the monthly straw poll at GOP Bloggers, and once again CQ readers turned out in force to cast their ballots. Over 12,000 votes got cast for the January poll, and almost a third of them came from this blog -- and the results are a little surprising. Both among CQ voters and overall, Mitt Romney moved ahead of Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, and especially John McCain. The overall percentages are: Romney - 27.6% Gingrich - 24.3% Giuliani - 21.1% CQ polling shows a little different order: Romney - 31.7% Giuliani - 25.4% Gingrich - 23.2% In candidate acceptability, Romney won by a landslide among CQ readers. His rating, 63.2%, outstrips his nearest competitors by almost 10 points. In fact, only the top three candidates had positive acceptability ratings. John McCain had a -23%, but Chuck Hagel and George Pataki continue to score even worse than McCain....

The Year Of Nick The New Guy

Barack Obama sort of ended all the suspense this morning, by doing exactly what everyone expected, only a little sooner. Obama announced that he would create an exploratory committee as the first step towards running for President in 2008: Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, whose best-selling books and political travels generated huge pressure to run for the White House, joined a crowded Democratic field yesterday, vowing to advance "a different kind of politics" in a campaign that could make him the nation's first African American president. Obama, a state legislator just three years ago, announced that he has formed a presidential exploratory committee, accelerating his already rapid emergence in national politics and establishing him as his party's most formidable rival to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, the Democratic front-runner. Obama, 45, portrayed his youth and short tenure in Congress as an asset in a statement distributed via Web...

January 17, 2007

Don Tancredo

One of the more amusing aspects of any presidential campaign is the people who believe they have a chance to win the nomination. This year, we already have one from each party. The Democrats have Chris Dodd, a man so non-descript that even his own constituents have trouble recognizing him. The Republicans now may have its own Don Quixote in Tom Tancredo, who announced the formation of an exploratory committee that will have to include windmills and some heavy-duty tilting: Colorado's Tom Tancredo took his first official step Tuesday toward running for president. The Republican congressman from Littleton - known for his hard-line stance on immigration - announced his plan to file paperwork for a presidential exploratory committee. He set up a website and within four hours, he said, collected about $10,000 in campaign contributions. After spending the weekend in Iowa, where the earliest presidential nominating caucus is to be...

January 19, 2007

Hillary Loyalists Mostly Loyal

The New York Sun reports that some Clinton administration officials have decided to seek employment in other campaigns rather than join their old bosses. While Hillary's campaign says this reflects prior ties to the other candidates, one has to wonder what kind of time frame predates 1993: One of the biggest advantages Senator Clinton enjoys as she launches her presidential bid is the vast web of politically active Democrats who worked in the federal government under her husband, President Clinton. But not everyone who served during the Clinton years is promoting a reprise. A handful of top Clinton administration officials and a smattering of lower-ranking ones have taken up with Mrs. Clinton's rivals for the Democratic nomination. Most cite pre-existing personal or professional loyalties. In some instances, however, the Democratic activists seem to have concluded that they will have more of an impact in the leaner ranks of a rival...

January 20, 2007

Stop The Presses -- Hillary Announces!

In what has to be one of the most anticlimatic campaign announcements since Ronald Reagan in 1979, Hillary Clinton officially announced her candidacy for the 2008 Presidential nomination. The official notice came as a posting on her website: Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton embarked on a widely anticipated campaign for the White House on Saturday, a former first lady intent on becoming the first female president. "I'm in and I'm in to win," she said on her Web site. Clinton's announcement, days after Sen. Barack Obama shook up the contest race with his bid to become the first black president, establishes the most diverse political field ever. Clinton is considered the front-runner, with Obama and 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards top contenders. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who would be the first Hispanic president, intends to announce his plans on Sunday. "You know after six years of George Bush,...

January 21, 2007

The Joe Lieberman Of 2008?

Another candidate entered the race for the Democratic nomination for President in 2008 today, even if few notice it. The splashy entry of Hillary Clinton yesterday overshadowed the announcement of New Mexico governor Bill Richardson today: Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., said Sunday he is taking the first step toward an expected White House run in 2008, offering extensive experience in Washington and the world stage as he seeks to become the first Hispanic president. "I am taking this step because we have to repair the damage that's been done to our country over the last six years," said Richardson, a former congressman, U.N. ambassador and Energy Department secretary. "Our reputation in the world is diminished, our economy has languished, and civility and common decency in government has perished," he said in a statement. This should be the candidate that really worries the Republicans in 2008. Hillary sucks up most of...

January 22, 2007

Is Richardson Hillary's Worst Nightmare?

Early on, it looks like Hillary Clinton's status as front-runner would only get a serious challenge from Barack Obama, the single-term Senator that has the media abuzz with delight. Obama looks to be the only candidate that can draw from the left and center in the Democratic Party enough to threaten HIllarys chances in the primary. However, the advent of Bill Richardson's candidacy may pose much more difficult problems for Hillary, if Richardson chooses to play hardball in the primaries: Richardson spent 15 years in Congress before being named U.S. ambassador to the United Nations by President Bill Clinton in 1997. A year later he was appointed energy secretary. Richardson returned to elected office in 2002, winning the gubernatorial race. Last fall he cruised to a second term with 69 percent of the vote. Throughout his career in public life, Richardson has also served as a roving diplomat, dispatched to...

January 23, 2007

Bill Richardson Revisited

My Examiner column today focuses on Bill Richardson's quest for the Presidency and its threat to both the Republicans and Hillary Clinton. It's a distillation and extension of my thoughts over the past two days since Richardson announced for the race: The Republican front-runners have better track records than their Democratic counterparts, at least for the moment. Between them, Hillary Clinton, former Sen. John Edwards, and Obama have a total of 14 years of national office and only 21 years of electoral office experience. By comparison, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been in the Senate for more than 20 years, Rudy Giuliani served as mayor of New York City for eight years and Mitt Romney has one four-year term as governor of Massachussetts. Between them, these three GOP candidates have a dozen years just in executive experience, which the Democratic front-runners completely lack. McCain and Giuliani have notable biographies of...

January 25, 2007

The Conservatism Of Rudy Giuliani

Many people have dismissed Rudy Giuliani's run for the presidency, calling the former mayor of New York too liberal to win in the primaries. Critics point to his messy personal life and his centrist positions on abortion and gun control as insurmountable liberalism for a true Republican's vote. Steven Malanga responds with an intriguing portrayal of America's Mayor as an effective, pragmatic conservative during his terms in office running America's largest city: By the time Giuliani challenged Dinkins for a second time, in 1993 (his first try had failed), the former prosecutor had fashioned a philosophy of local government based on two core conservative principles vastly at odds with New York’s political culture: that government should be accountable for delivering basic services well, and that ordinary citizens should be personally responsible for their actions and their destiny and not expect government to take care of them. Giuliani preached the need...

Hillary, You're No Bill

Hillary Clinton may have expected a return to the kind of support enjoyed by her husband when he ran for President last decade, but she discovered yesterday that a key source of energy for Bill's campaign may not support her at all. Hollywood seems more taken with Barack Obama than in another triangulist, and they have begin to put their money where their mouths are: Is Hollywood abandoning Hillary? On Wednesday morning, hundreds of Hollywood's movers and shakers received an invitation that they may find hard to refuse. They've been invited to come meet Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic Party's new superstar. He already has the buzz, but can he bring home the prize? Movie moguls Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg want their Hollywood peers to join them at a Feb. 20 fundraiser the three are throwing for Obama. This presents a huge problem for Hillary. A large...

The Silliness Of Early Polls

One of the topics we will discuss tonight on my regular-schedule debut of CQ radio at 9 pm CT will be the GOP slate of candidates for the Presidential nomination in 2008. Time Magazine did some early polling, and they see John McCain edging Rudy Giuliani for the ticket. These are early polls, and the numbers will shift widely over the next year, but some things will remain the same ... such as the silly questions pollsters will ask prospective voters: If the election were held now, Rudy Giuliani appears to have the support of the greatest number of respondents of both parties, with 56% indicating they would "definitely" or "probably" support him — followed by Hillary Clinton (51%) John McCain (50%) and Barack Obama (50%). But Clinton has a strong edge when the question is which presidential candidate people would most like to have over to their homes for...

January 26, 2007

Hillary, The Pardon Scam, And Why It Matters

Yesterday, ABC News reported that the court-appointed trustee for a bankruptcy judgment asked the court to schedule a hearing in the case against Hillary Clinton's brother Tony Rodham: A court-appointed bankruptcy trustee asked a federal judge this week to schedule a new court date in a case against Tony Rodham, the brother of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., accused of failing to repay $109,000 in loans from a carnival company whose owners received controversial pardons issued by President Bill Clinton in the last hours of his presidency. According to documents filed in the case, Rodham received the loans, before and after the pardons were granted, from United Shows of America, Inc., owned by Edgar Gregory and his wife, who had been convicted of defrauding several banks. ... With the company now in bankruptcy and Gregory dead, the court-appointed federal trustee for United Shows, Michael Collins, has spent two years trying to...

Hillary As The New Kerry, Take 2

Two weeks ago, I asked whether Hillary Clinton will be 2008's John Kerry. With polls showing Hillary starting to sink in Iowa and New Hampshire and populists Barack Obama and John Edwards taking advantage, her front-runner status looks suddenly shaky, just as John Kerry's did after Howard Dean caught fire in 2003. Now one of the dextrosphere's most prominent bloggers also draws uncomfortable, and unflattering comparisons between the 2004 nominee and the presumptive favorite for 2008. Arianna Huffington told Der Spiegel that Hillary risks the same fate as Kerry from their shared trait -- disingenuity: SPIEGEL ONLINE: Right now, Sen. Obama appears to be faring better in the blogosphere than Hillary Clinton -- he's getting more mentions in blogs. Why? And how much influence does that blogging have on the general public? Huffington: Primary elections are always influenced by those who are the most politically engaged. Blogs are just another...

January 27, 2007

Mitt Romney Interview

Governor Mitt Romney was our guest on today's Northern Alliance Radio Network, and we spoke with him for eighteen minutes as the Presidential candidate made his way between flights. Despite the frantic nature of his schedule today, Romney presented a calm, thoughtful, and unhurried demeanor as we introduced our audience to one of the presumptive Republican front-runners. Here's the entire interview, podcasted for your convenience: Romney Interview One of the more intriguing questions Romney answered had little to do with his own campaign. I asked him why the election cycle seems to have started so early in both parties, and instead of giving the usual analysis about the 24-hour news cycle and the rise of the bloggers, he said that the lack of a vice-presidential presumptive nominee seems to have forced everyone to start raising funds earlier. That got Mitch and I wondering later in the show about when we...

January 28, 2007

Hagel As The New McCain

The media spent the middle Bush years fawning over the President's former primary rival, John McCain, as a Republican rebel. He garnered so much good press over his disagreements with the administration, as well as his "reform" efforts on campaign finance and political speech, that they often overlooked his hawkishness on the war and his opposition to abortion. They glorified his speeches against the Bush tax cuts and his tough-minded efforts against wasteful government spending -- until it became clear that he would run for President in 2008 and have the unmitigated gall to campaign as a Republican. Now, however, the media has discovered a new and shiny Republican maverick, and guess what? He's running for President, too! Chuck Hagel wears pain on his face. The senior senator from Nebraska earned two Purple Hearts in Vietnam, where a mine blew out his eardrums and delivered a sharp burn up the...

What's The Rush?

In a month where everyone and their brother has announced the creation of exploratory presidential committees, one man gets the New York Times' attention for not making a decision on entering the campaign ... even though he formed his committee last month. Rudy Giuliani gets the Gray Lady treatment for not doing what hardly anyone else has done -- explicitly declaring his candidacy (emphasis mine): Rudolph W. Giuliani, who developed a national reputation for decisive and reassuring leadership after 9/11, now faces the odd challenge of having to reassure some supporters that he can be decisive about a very different issue: running for president. Even as his fellow Republican John McCain and fellow New Yorker Hillary Rodham Clinton have all but formally declared their candidacies, Mr. Giuliani has proceeded more cautiously. Since last month, he has formed an exploratory committee, more aggressively recruited a campaign staff and moved to divest...

Romney Acknowledges Shift On Abortion

Attempting to defuse a controversy that threatened his claim to Republican conservatism, Governor Mitt Romney acknowledged that his views on abortion had changed during his years of public service. At the National Review's Conservative Summit, he gave his explanation of his transformation: "On abortion, I wasn't always a Ronald Reagan conservative," Romney told a gathering of conservatives. "Neither was Ronald Reagan, by the way. But like him, I learned from experience." During his 2002 campaign for Massachusetts governor, Romney said that while he personally opposed abortion, he would leave the state's abortion laws intact. In his speech Saturday, he said he had had a change of heart after a discussion with a stem cell researcher. Romney had to come up with an explanation for his change of heart on abortion. Pro-life conservatives would not have trusted Romney with the nomination unless they understood the shift in his position as coming...

January 29, 2007

The Wisdom Of Keeping The Powder Dry

The early start to the 2008 Presidential campaign has presented many bloggers with a challenge, especially the bloggers that identify with the GOP. Based on some reading of blogs, links back to my posts, and a slew of e-mails already hitting the In box, it appears that some people have felt the pressure to start endorsing candidates a full year before the first primary -- a move that I believe to be a mistake, both for independent bloggers and for the blogosphere as a whole. Center-right and conservative bloggers have not had any experience with a wide-open primary season. In 2000, the blogosphere hardly existed, and by 2004 we knew that George Bush would have no serious competition for his renomination. The 2008 campaign is tabula rasa for Republican bloggers, more so since we have no incumbent Vice-President vying for the nomination. As I wrote over the weekend, that situation...

The Cure Is Worse Than The Disease

Earlier, I posted about the pressure on bloggers that the early start to the 2008 Presidential nomination has created, and what I believe the solution to that pressure should be. Does the early start and long campaign constitute a serious problem for the United States? The New York Times believes it does, and its editors believe the federal government should fix it for all of us: The biggest factors, though, are money and an ever-compressed schedule. California, Illinois, Florida and New Jersey are all maneuvering to move up their primaries to next February. That has candidates rushing to lock up the big donors — and bypassing the public finance system. Senator Clinton has already made clear that she will be opting out for both the primary and the general election. Senator John McCain, a major supporter of campaign finance reform who is no longer sponsoring a big reform bill that...

January 30, 2007

With Just A Year To Go ...

Is it too early for polling in the Presidential race? You bet it is. Does that stop anyone from quoting the polls? Absolutely not. So, just for fun and not for serious consideration, take a look at this New Hampshire poll from Boston's CBS television affiliate, via Rich Lowry at The Corner: Sen. Clinton is the choice of 40 percent, followed by Sen. Barack Obama with 25 percent, and 2004 vice-presidential nominee John Edwards at 23 percent. Only nine percent preferred someone else. That's a strong showing for Obama, a newcomer to a state where Clinton and Edwards have campaigned for years. But the numbers could be a nightmare for him too. ... Our survey of Republicans shows former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani in a virtual tie with Sen. John McCain, 33 to 32 percent, with former governor Mitt Romney up sharply over recent polling at 21 percent. For...

January 31, 2007

Slow Joe Crashes In Record Time

I've commented before that the 2008 Presidential primary campaign seems very accelerated, but even I couldn't have predicted the parabolic trajectory of the Joe Biden campaign on its first official day. Biden has now apologized for his description of primary opponent Barack Obama as the first mainstream clean African-American: Sen. Joseph Biden has launched his bid for the White House on the issue of Iraq, but Wednesday his campaign was sidetracked over race. Like everybody these days Biden declared online, but it was old media that got him in trouble: Personal comments he made about another White House hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, recorded by a reporter for the New York Observer. "I mean, you've got the first sort of mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a story-book, man," Biden said. ... Fearing the political damage of his comments Wednesday night,...

February 1, 2007

Hey, Big Spender

With the presidential primary race well under way, the meter has started running on fundraising and spending. Ironically, deficit hawk John McCain has taken the lead on the latter, lapping his competition while doling out over $7 million for his start-up and support for Republicans in the midterms: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) spent $7.8 million last year to assist other politicians and get his fledgling presidential bid underway, an early sign of the intensity of the spending that is expected to become a fixture of the 2008 campaign. Among those candidates who had filed 2006 year-end reports with the Federal Election Commission late yesterday, none had come close to spending so much so early on the preparations for the presidential election. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) spent $3.4 million, ex-New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) spent $2.4 million and ex-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) had spent $2.1 million from his...

February 2, 2007

Obama Can't Count On The Black Vote?

The New York Times indulges itself in the latest oddity of racial politics today regarding Barack Obama. The meme that he will struggle to find support in the black community has floated in the media for the past few weeks; I noted an article from Agence France Presse on the topic six weeks ago. At the time, African-American radio host Stanley Crouch had written a column that rejected Obama's inclusion in black America as lacking the shared background and experience of the descendants of slaves. It turns out that he's not alone: The black author and essayist Debra J. Dickerson recently declared that “Obama isn’t black” in an American racial context. Some polls suggest that Mr. Obama trails one of his rivals for the Democratic nomination, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, in the battle for African-American support. And at the Shepherd Park Barber Shop here, where the hair clippers hummed and...

February 3, 2007

Rudy's Polling Indicates Strength In Key Races

Yesterday, the Rudy Giuliani campaign promoted the results of polling by several groups last month, surveys which shows that Giuliani has more strength in traditionally blue states than other Republicans, especially the former "maverick" John McCain. Once expected to be the centrist candidate of choice, and even a risk for an independent bid that would capture the center from both parties, McCain seems to have ceded most of that ground to Giuliani, at least at this early stage of the campaign: StateMayor GiulianiClosest CompetitorSourceCalifornia33%19% (Gingrich)ARG - Jan. 11-17Florida30%16% (Gingrich)ARG - Jan. 4-9Illinois33%24% (McCain)ARG - Jan. 11-14Michigan34%24% (McCain)ARG - Jan. 4-7Nevada31%25% (McCain)ARG - Dec. 19-23, ‘06New Jersey39%21% (McCain)Quinnipiac – Jan. 16-22North Carolina34%26% (McCain)ARG - Jan. 11-15Ohio30%22% (McCain)Quinnipiac - Jan. 23-28Pennsylvania35%25% (McCain)ARG Jan. 4-8Texas28%26% (McCain)Baselice Jan. 17-21 The Battleground Poll, one of those cited by the Giuliani campaign, makes a less impressive case for Giuliani as the front-runner. The analysis by Ed Goeas...

Rudy On Judges

Given the more liberal tendencies of Rudy Giuliani on abortion and guns, conservatives have expressed serious misgivings about his run for the nomination. However, the main effect that a President can have on these issues involves his or her outlook on the judiciary. The federal court system has been the main battleground for both issues, with Roe specifically precluding any kind of legislative action. Court nominations have become one of the essential considerations for presidential contenders -- and it may be more important for Giuliani than any other Republican candidate. Giuliani has hinted that he would nominate jurists in the mold of Antonin Scalia and John Roberts. Today, at a visit with the South Carolina GOP Executive Committee, an audience member pressed him for his position. His campaign office has supplied us with the transcript of his answer: On the Federal judiciary I would want judges who are strict constructionists...

February 5, 2007

Please, Please, Please Say You'll Run

Ralph Nader has not gone quietly into that good night, and instead might consider another round of rage against the dying of the political light. He refused to rule out another run for the White House, and punctuated it with a pithy deconstruction of the current Democratic Party front-runner: Asked on CNN's Late Edition news program if he would run in 2008, the lawyer and consumer activist said, "It's really too early to say. ... I'll consider it later in the year." Nader, 72, said he did not plan to vote for Clinton, a Democratic senator from New York and former first lady. "I don't think she has the fortitude. Actually she's really a panderer and a flatterer. As she goes around the country, you'll see more of that," Nader said. On whether he would be encouraged to run if Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, Nader said, "It would make...

Rudy's In, Mostly

Rudy Giuliani ended most of the speculation by amending his exploratory committee papers today to include a "statement of candidacy". It moves him closer to the eventual commitment to run, but Giuliani all but made that tonight on Hannity & Colmes on Fox News Channel: Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who became a national hero for his response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, suggested Monday that a formal presidential announcement was a matter of when, not if. "Today we just took another step toward running for president," the Republican said, hours after filing a so-called "statement of candidacy" with the Federal Election Commission, which moved him closer to a full-fledged campaign. "It's a big step, an important one. Quite honestly, we're probably ahead of schedule," Giuliani told reporters in Long Island while campaigning with a state Senate candidate. "We still have to think about a...

Continue reading "Rudy's In, Mostly" »

February 6, 2007

Shifting Blame

It has been amusing to see Democrats in Congress attempt to explain away their votes for the war in Iraq over the past year. Most of them have settled on the excuse that the Bush administration deceived them in October 2002 into authorizing military force based on the exact same intelligence that moved them to declare official American policy of regime change in 1998. The Democrats won a majority in the midterms by stoking Bush Derangement Syndrome, but for 2008 they face a daunting task -- winning elections without using the retiring George Bush as a bogeyman. John Edwards has found a solution by shifting blame yet again, and in the process exposing the "Bush lied" meme as a hypocritical dodge. In his Sunday appearance on Meet the Press, Edwards attempted to excuse his vote on the AUMF by blaming Clinton administration officials for confirming the intel coming from the...

The Impact Of Blogger Outreach

Earlier today, I had an opportunity to participate in a conference call involving the John McCain campaign and several prominent bloggers. David All live-blogged the event, in which the McCain staff solicited our unvarnished opinions regarding McCain, his campaign efforts, his prospects for promotion through the blogosphere, and what we felt we would need from his campaign. I won't attempt to recreate David's excellent coverage, so I'll give you my overall evaluation of the event. It shows that McCain and his staff understand the need to address the skepticism (and in some cases, outright hostility) of the conservative blogosphere. Even though McCain enjoys a substantial level of support among voters at the moment, his numbers among blog readers have been abysmal. One person on the call noted that a recent straw poll put him at the same level as Fred Dalton Thompson, who is closer to running for an Emmy...

Mary Katherine On McCain

I linked to David All's live-blog of the conference call several bloggers held with the John McCain campaign earlier today. Mary Katherine Ham also participated in the call, and has a somewhat different take on the effort to engage conservative bloggers: Here's the deal. McCain wants to start a friendlier relationship with us bloggers, right? Now, when a man goes to his angry wife or ticked off girlfriend and says, "Baby, let's work this out. What's wrong?," what does she do? She yells at him, gets some things off her chest, maybe cries a little about how little he truly cares about her, right? We got that far on the call. I'm not gonna tell you who cried. But what's the next step? When you're talking to your girlfriend, even if you think she's being crazy and unreasonable (which I, for the record, do not think conservative bloggers are being),...

February 7, 2007

Republicans Want To Like Rudy, If They Can

John Podhoretz explains the surprising popularity of Rudy Giuliani in the early stages of the 2008 presidential primary campaign, writing that Republicans want to like Rudy -- if he'll let them. In his New York Post column, Podhoretz notes more than a few of the hurdles that Giuliani faces, but insists that neither conservatives nor Giuliani want to go to war over them: Republicans not only like Rudy, they want to like him. Conservative Republicans want to like him. Socially conservative Republicans want to like him. In this respect, he represents a momentous change from prior candidates hailing from outside the party's socially conservative wing. Past "liberal" GOP candidates and would-be candidates have sought the nomination by taking strong stands counter to the views of the party's conservative base - like Elizabeth Dole opposing handguns in 2000. Those candidates, that is, were engaging in battle against the social conservatives. They...

Edwards Campaign Reconsidering Blogger Hires

The campaign of John Edwards, hailed for hiring two progressive bloggers for his 2008 Presidential campaign, has now said they will reconsider that decision in light of the blogging history of Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan. The episode reveals the lack of vetting done by the Edwards campaign before hiring the two bloggers, and sets back the ability of bloggers to mainstream themselves into traditional political roles: Two bloggers hired by John Edwards to reach out to liberals in the online world have landed his presidential campaign in hot water for doing what bloggers do — expressing their opinions in provocative and often crude language. ... The two women brought to the Edwards campaign long cyber trails in the incendiary language of the blogosphere. Other campaigns are likely to face similar controversies as they try to court voters using the latest techniques of online communication. Ms. Marcotte wrote in December...

Missing The Point Twice Over

The apparent firing of two bloggers by the John Edwards campaign has generated a predictable debate in the blogosphere. Those who find themselves in sympathy with Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, either because or in spite of their inflammatory attacks on Christians in general and Catholics in particular, claim that the Edwards campaign surrendered to right-wing attacks. Some go further and try to pass off the entire incident through some weird filter of relativism. Alex Koppelman and Rebecca Traister at Salon claim that the "right-wing blogosphere has gotten its scalps", and try to pass off Marcotte's earlier writings as the equivalent of Michelle Malkin's on the latter's blog -- although neither can apparently come up with an example. Media Matters has leapt to Marcotte's defense by going through the writings of Patrick Hynes, John McCain's new media coordinator, and discovering that he called Chelsea Clinton "ugly". Somehow, the writings of...

February 8, 2007

Florida Shines For Giuliani

The 2008 primary campaign still seems pretty young to lend much weight to state by state polling -- but we won't let that stop us from having fun with it anyway. Quinnipiac released its results for Florida, a key state for both parties and a must-hold for the GOP. Rudy Giuliani came out on top in the poll, besting Hillary Clinton within the margin of error, the only Republican to do so: In an early look at the 2008 presidential race in Florida, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has a razor-thin 47 - 44 percent lead over New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, while Sen. Clinton edges Arizona Sen. John McCain 47 - 43 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. These results are close to those in a January 30 poll of Ohio voters by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll, where Clinton squeaks past McCain...

Stop The Presses!

The New York Times has a hot scoop on the 2008 Presidential campaign that will blow all of us away. It's a secret that may undo the efforts of Mitt Romney to challenge for the nomination. In fact, the news may wind up challenging American ideals of political access and religious tolerance in ways we have not seen in decades. Are you ready for this big scoop? Can you handle the truth? Well, okay, here it is -- Mitt Romney is a Mormon: As he begins campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, is facing a threshold issue: Will his religion — he is a Mormon — be a big obstacle to winning the White House? Polls show a substantial number of Americans will not vote for a Mormon for president. The religion is viewed with suspicion by Christian conservatives, a vital part of the...

Edwards Backs Down

We'll be discussing this on CQ Radio at 9 pm CT tonight, with Daniel Glover of Beltway Blogroll. Be sure to join the conversation by calling 646-652-4889. John Edwards had to pick between two bad choices today in order to contain the damage from the controversial prior writings of two bloggers hired by his campaign as liaisons to Internet activists. The former VP nominee, stuck between offending Christians and angering the progressive community that the two bloggers were hired to engage, made the best possible lemonade from the lemons handed him by Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan. He announced that, while he was "personally offended" by their attacks on Catholic and Christian belief, he would keep them on the staff: Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said Thursday he was personally offended by the provocative messages two of his campaign bloggers wrote criticizing the Catholic church, but he's not going to...

February 9, 2007

CBS News On McCain Outreach

CBS News interviewed me after the conference call hosted by the John McCain campaign, involving several prominent conservative bloggers, including myself. David Miller interviewed Power Line's Paul Mirengoff as well, and wrote an interesting article about the intersection of political campaigns and independent bloggers -- a timely piece, given the controversy over John Edwards and his recent hires. Miller asked me what I thought the campaign hoped to accomplish by engaging with bloggers who had expressed serious criticism of their candidate: Republican John McCain's campaign faces a different problem: Despite leading in polls of GOP primary voters, many conservative bloggers don't like him and don't trust him. In particular, they take issue with the campaign finance overhaul law he co-sponsored in 2002. A frequent complaint on blogs is that the measure curtails free speech and — hitting closer to home — contains provisions that threatened to severely restrict the activity...

February 10, 2007

Even John Edwards Can't Appease The Trial Lawyers

The Washington Post reports on an odd development in the 2008 Presidential primary race to acquire endorsements early in the cycle. The populist personal-injury attorney turned politician, John Edwards, had locked up the backing of the American Association for Justice in 2004 when he ran for President. Now, however, the litigator's group has decided to keep an open mind, and even bypassed Edwards for the keynote speech in favor of Joe Biden: In the last presidential election, John Edwards had the powerful support and deep pockets of the nation's trial lawyers behind him. But when the lawyers gather for their winter conference today in Miami Beach, it will be Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) delivering the meeting's keynote speech. Edwards, a trial lawyer who became a senator and now a presidential candidate, will be there, too. But the North Carolina Democrat no longer has a lock on the backing...

Obama Makes It Official

He only has two years of national office under his belt, and has not even faced a credible opponent. He has few legislative accomplishments for his resumé, and no executive experience at all. For the Democratic Party in 2008, that apparently makes Barack Obama the #2 candidate for the Presidential nomination behind Hillary Clinton, a position Obama assumed with his official announcement of candidacy a few minutes ago: Democrat Barack Obama declared himself a candidate Saturday for the White House in 2008, evoking Abraham Lincoln's ability to unite a nation and promising to lead a new generation as the country's first black president. The first-term senator announced his candidacy from the state capital where he began his elective career just 10 years ago, and in front of the building where in another century, Lincoln served eight years in the Illinois Legislature. "We can build a more hopeful America," Obama said...

February 11, 2007

Even Our Friends Should Butt Out Of Our Politics

Am I the only conservative with misgivings regarding John Howard's proclamation about Barack Obama? Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia and a great friend to the United States, wants to wage an aggressive war against al-Qaeda and radical Islamist terrorists. Australians have been brutally targeted twice in Bali, with hundreds of them dead from suicide bombers, and their proximity to Indonesia makes them well aware of the dangers of appeasement to Muslim extremists. However, I think Howard went too far today in involving himself in the next American election: Australia's conservative prime minister slammed Barack Obama on Sunday over his opposition to the Iraq war, a day after the first-term U.S. senator announced his intention to run for the White House in 2008. ... Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a staunch Bush ally who has sent troops to Iraq and faces his own re-election bid later this year, said Obama's...

McCain Backing Away From Campaign Finance Reform?

Conservatives have mistrusted John McCain for five years, ever since he teamed with Russ Feingold to pass the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. The pair intended on ending checkbook politics by restricting the rights of groups to advertise their political arguments while mentioning incumbents in the final 60 days of a campaign, among other restrictions. Well, time has a way of changing things. The Washington Post reports today that McCain has reversed himself in fact if not in policy by actively pursuing some of the same checkbooks the BCRA supposedly excluded from politics: Just about a year and a half ago, Sen. John McCain went to court to try to curtail the influence of a group to which A. Jerrold Perenchio gave $9 million, saying it was trying to "evade and violate" new campaign laws with voter ads ahead of the midterm elections. As McCain launches his own presidential campaign, however,...

Rudy Pumps Up California GOP

Can Rudy Giuliani inspire the Republicans in the bluest of regions but with the reddest of blood? He seems to have answered that question in Sacramento, where the enthusiasm for his speech contrasted sharply with the polite but tepid response to one given earlier by the Republican Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger: Rudolph W. Giuliani came west to learn whether his brand of Republican politics has a chance among party members significantly more conservative than himself. By the time he had received a fourth standing ovation Saturday at the California Republican Party convention, the answer seemed clear. Equating the U.S. fight against terrorism with the Civil War and the Cold War, Giuliani told about 750 of his party's faithful that failure in Iraq would turn that country into a "massive headquarters for terrorism." "Having had a job where I didn't have any choice but to make a decision," the former mayor of...

February 12, 2007

A Response From Team McCain

Yesterday I wrote about the Washington Post article that reported on the financial alliances John McCain has begun to build with financiers he previously criticized for their involvement in 527s. Later that evening, I received a note from the McCain campaign complaining that the Post article had been unfair in its treatment of McCain, and I offered an opportunity for a rebuttal. I had planned to add it to the original post, but it makes more sense to offer it as a separate thread for CQ readers: The story's headline and central premise are inaccurate. This notion that there is a wide gulf between McCain the reformer and McCain the candidate is not borne out by the facts. Sen. McCain recognizes that if the FEC and Congress do nothing on 527s then Democrats and Republicans alike will use them. This is hardly an endorsement of 527s and the article would...

Obama Goes After Hillary

The Democrats can forget about the 2008 primary being a love-in. The same weekend that Barack Obama threw his hat into the ring, he also aimed a few brickbats at the front-runner over her vote on the war in Iraq. Obama wants to make a clear delineation between himself and Hillary Clinton as the obvious standardbearer for the Left: Senators Obama and Clinton banged heads over the Iraq war yesterday, marking their first dustup since the start of the presidential campaign. Just a day after officially announcing his candidacy in Illinois, Mr. Obama took aim at Mrs. Clinton's vote to authorize the war, saying, "I think the war was a tragic mistake and it never should have been authorized." Mrs. Clinton's vote is the one issue that has been dogging her thus far in the campaign. Otherwise, enthusiastic crowds have been giving her standing ovations on her proposals covering everything...

Giuliani On Non-Binding Resolutions

Well, this is about as pithy as it gets: Several potential Republican presidential candidates, including Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as well as Giuliani, have supported Bush's plan to add more than 20,000 troops to U.S. forces in Iraq. The major Democratic candidates have opposed the move. Several are senators who have advocated a nonbinding resolution condemning the buildup. "In the business world, if two weeks were spent on a nonbinding resolution, it would be considered nonproductive," Giuliani told the lunch crowd, setting off a burst of laughter. He called the concept "a comment without making a decision." America, he added, is "very fortunate to have President Bush." "Presidents can't do nonbinding resolutions. Presidents have to make decisions and move the country forward, and that's the kind of president that I would like to be, a president who makes decisions." That's the difference between legislators...

GOP Straw Poll For February

Once again, the folks at GOP Bloggers take the temperature of the conservative blogosphere in another straw poll of primary candidates. Results will be reported by state and blog, which gives CQ readers a chance to see where the candidates stand with our own community. Obviously this is not scientific, but it's always interesting to see the results:...

Marcotte Quits, Sun To Rise In East In The Morning

Amanda Marcotte resigned her position in the John Edwards presidential campaign today after spending the last week defending her past essays on her group blog. Having weathered the initial storm, Marcotte apparently decided that the controversy would prove too distracting for the Edwards campaign: One of the chief campaign bloggers for Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards quit Monday after conservative critics raised questions about her history of provocative online messages. Amanda Marcotte posted on her personal blog, Pandagon, that the criticism "was creating a situation where I felt that every time I coughed, I was risking the Edwards campaign." Marcotte said she resigned from her position Monday, and that her resignation was accepted by the campaign. Kate Bedingfield, a spokeswoman for the Edwards campaign, confirmed that Marcotte was "no longer working for the campaign." She declined additional comment. ... "No matter what you think about the campaign, I signed on...

February 13, 2007

The Last Refuge Is The Scoundrel

Hillary Clinton apparently feels the heat from Barack Obama already. Campaigning in New Hampshire, where her husband won the nickname of Comeback Kid with his second-place finish in 1992 after the first of the bimbo eruptions, she hid behind Bill's, er, skirts to pump up her own candidacy: As she made her first outing to New Hampshire as a presidential candidate last weekend, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton left her husband at home, yet she tried to tap his old political magic at nearly every turn. Mrs. Clinton, Democrat of New York, mentioned Mr. Clinton at least eight times on Saturday — at one point talking about “Bill’s heart surgery” to illuminate her own travails with health care bureaucracy — and a few times on Sunday, most memorably when she said of Republicans, “Bill and I have beaten them before, and we will again.” For the first time in her bid...

The Republican Runner Round-Up

Today brings news from all three major Republican primary candidates in the 2008 Presidential race. It started with a formal announcement from Mitt Romney of his candidacy for the nomination, followed by an unusual endorsement for Rudy Giuliani, and winds up tonight here at CQ with a preview of an in-depth interview I conducted with Governor Tim Pawlenty, John McCain's national co-chair of his exploratory committee. I'll be playing the entire interview on my Thursday night talk show, CQ Radio: TP: On campaign finance reform, you have a lot of conservatives who are concerned about it from a First Amendment standpoint. I think it is fair to say that some reforms were in order, because you have interest groups that were wielding so much clout, leading to so many scandals that a cleaning up of the process, or at least an improvement of the process was in order. I don't...

February 14, 2007

Black Politician Says Black Nominee Would Drag Down Democrats

Two prominent black politicians from South Carolina endorsed Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama yesterday, but one of them Bidenized himself by declaring the Democrats losers if they nominated a black man for President. Robert Ford told the Associated Press that he wouldn't "kill himself" by endorsing Obama: Two key black political leaders in South Carolina who backed John Edwards in 2004 said Tuesday they are supporting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. State Sens. Robert Ford and Darrell Jackson told The Associated Press they believe Clinton is the only Democrat who can win the presidency. Both said they had been courted by Illinois Sen. Barack Obama; Ford said Obama winning the primary would drag down the rest of the party. "It's a slim possibility for him to get the nomination, but then everybody else is doomed," Ford said. "Every Democrat running on that ticket next year...

The Giuliani Papers, Redux

Confidential campaign documents have again surfaced from the Rudy Giuliani campaign that will embarrass the candidate and provide fodder for his opponents. A month after a recent campaign strategy book fell into the hands of the New York Observer, a private evaluation of Giuliani by his mayoral campaign in 1993 wound up on The Smoking Gun yesterday: Sometimes in politics, the most damaging accusations come from your own staff. Rudolph W. Giuliani learned that lesson again yesterday when a "vulnerability study," including warnings about his "weirdness factor" and other perceived liabilities, surfaced from his second campaign for New York mayor, 14 years ago. Last month, the New York Daily News obtained a secret blueprint for Giuliani's expected Republican presidential bid that detailed concerns such as his liberal views on social issues and his messy divorce from his second wife, Donna Hanover. The 1993 report by two aides in Giuliani's mayoral...

February 15, 2007

The Evolving Clinton Position On Military Force

Eli Lake makes an important point in today's New York Sun about Hillary Clinton's zeal to restrict the military options of President Bush against Iran. When Hillary pronounced that Bush would have to come to Congress before launching any sort of attack against another country, specifically Iran, she seems to have forgotten the precedent set by her own husband eight years ago, and defended by her in October 2002: "It would be a mistake of historical proportion if the administration thought that the 2002 resolution authorizing force against Iraq was a blank check for the use of force against Iran without further congressional authorization," Mrs. Clinton said. "Nor should the president think that the 2001 resolution authorizing force after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in any way authorizes force against Iran. If the administration believes that any, any use of force against Iran is necessary, the president must come to...

Giuliani Announces, Mostly, And Bashes Bush On War Strategy

See lengthy update. One of the more tiresome aspects of Presidential campaigns is the Kabuki dance performed by the candidates regarding their status. Rudy Giuliani has come in for more criticism than most, although he has shown clearly that he intends to run for the Republican nomination. He made it even more clear on the Larry King show last night on CNN: Mr. Giuliani has behaved like a presidential candidate for months, forming an exploratory committee, raising money, building a campaign staff and making appearances around the country. But until now, he has repeatedly stopped short of a definitive statement of his intentions — even joking about his nondeclarations in recent days. Republican activists and consultants, citing his early withdrawal from the 2000 Senate race, said he needed to put to rest fears that he might not follow through. But in characteristic fashion, Mr. Giuliani said he would do things...

February 16, 2007

Tim Pawlenty On John McCain, Part III

Ed Morrissey: What do you see, going back to the election here, what do you see as John McCain's toughest hurdles in winning the nomination and how do you see yourself as being part of the solution to help him overcome them? Tim Pawlenty: Well I think Senator McCain is going to do very well in this process because people are going to -- you know, evaluate him again not just in a vacuum compared to their idea of the perfect, but they are also going to -- and I think he is, like I said in my view, a once in a generation leader. Someone who is I think right for the time both for the nation and for our party. But I think his biggest challenge is going to be to make sure that that his message of commonsense conservatism actually is heard by republican activists and republican...

Tim Pawlenty On John McCain, Part II

Ed Morrissey: Well lets talk a little bit about the couple of issues that have -- conservatives concerned about John McCain's campaign. Tim Pawlenty: Sure. Ed Morrissey: That would be Campaign Finance Reform, which he pushed in 2002 and got passed the BCRA and integration reform which he partnered up with Ted Kennedy on last year, it didn't go through but it's certainly probably going to go through this year. Tim Pawlenty: Yeah, on Campaign Finance Reform, you know, you have the -- a lot of conservatives who are concerned about it from a first amendment standpoint. I think it is fair to say that some reforms were in order because you have interest groups who were -- you know, yielding so much cloud and leading to -- I think -- back in old days number of scandals, that some cleaning up of the process or with improvement in the...

Tim Pawlenty On John McCain, Part I

Below is the transcript of the interview I conducted of Tim Pawlenty, broadcasted yesterday on my CQ Radio show. I've broken it up into three posts. Be sure to listen to the podcast on my site for the live interview and my commentary. Ed Morrissey: This is Ed Morrissey and I'm welcoming Governor Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota Governor and National co chair of the John McCain for President campaign. Welcome Governor Pawlenty. Tim Pawlenty: Well thank you Ed and of course at this point I'm just co chair of the exploratory committee because Senator McCain hasn’t yet announced his candidacy. But we are hoping that he will soon. Ed Morrissey: That's a good point to make. And that brings me to actually my first question. It seems to me that the presidential cycle has really been expended and accelerated in this particular 2008 campaign. Does it seem that way to you...

February 17, 2007

Trouble For McCain At Home?

John McCain enjoys wide popularity in Arizona as one of the two Republicans it sends to the Senate, the other being Jon Kyl. He regularly gets 70% or above in approval ratings, and has made himself almost as much of an institution as Barry Goldwater there. However, trouble has been brewing for his Presidential aspirations as Republican organizers in Arizona have begun planning some unpleasant surprises for their favorite son: No doubt about it, Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who would like to be president, is a popular man in his state, having won re-election in 2004 with about 76 percent of the vote. But a vocal slice of the state’s most conservative Republicans, reflecting concerns about Mr. McCain held by some conservatives nationwide, are agitating against him in a way that they hope might throw off his incipient presidential campaign. In a recent telephone poll by Arizona State...

February 18, 2007

CBS Poll: Giuliani Up 50-21 Over McCain

I guess if we're going to have to have an early primary race, we'll have to have early primary polls. CBS indulges us with its latest poll of Republican primary voters, although in the end that sample seems very small. CBS News polled 1142 adults, only 314 of which were Republican primary voters, too small to make a substantial national correlation. For what it's worth, then, here's how CBS sees Republican primary voters swinging: Senator John McCain of Arizona and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani – two of the front-runners for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008 – both enjoy favorable views from both Republican primary voters, a new CBS News poll finds, but early on in the race, voters favor Giuliani in a head-to-head match up. Views of Giuliani are especially positive among both moderates and the conservatives that he and McCain are courting. ... If the...

February 19, 2007

Making Their Runs To The Right

John McCain and Mitt Romney spent their weekends jogging -- to the right. McCain made his clearest statement yet on abortion, and Romney backpedaled from his previous stand on allowing gays to openly serve in the military. Both men appear to understand that the primaries will require significant support from social conservatives in the GOP, a group both men have eschewed at times during their careers. McCain's statement will probably end his reputation as a Republican maverick: Republican presidential candidate John McCain, looking to improve his standing with the party's conservative voters, said Sunday the court decision that legalized abortion should be overturned. "I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned," the Arizona senator told about 800 people in South Carolina, one of the early voting states. McCain also vowed that if elected, he would appoint judges who "strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States and...

The Best Endorsements Money Can Buy

The surprise endorsement of Hillary Clinton last week by two prominent African-American politicians in South Caroline raised eyebrows for one's statement that a black nominee would doom the Democratic ticket across the nation. Robert Ford's odd diatribe might have been the lighter part of the story. Earlier today, the AP challenged Hillary to explain a $10,000-per-month consulting contract with Darrell Jackson, the other state legislator who eschewed Barack Obama to endorse Hillary: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday denied that her campaign traded money for an endorsement from one of South Carolina's most influential black politicians. In an interview with The Associated Press, Clinton responded to questions about the consulting contract her campaign negotiated with state Sen. Darrell Jackson, who last week endorsed her candidacy rather than of top rivals John Edwards or Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. "Senator Jackson was someone who was involved in my husband's campaigns....

February 21, 2007

Ruth Marcus, Arbiter Of Pro-Life Authenticity

Ruth Marcus takes a spin at the flip-flop of a Massachussetts politician on an important national issue. No, it's not John Kerry, but Mitt Romney, and she sets the stage by recalling an interview Romney did with Washington Post reporters two years previously: Precisely two years ago, Mitt Romney, then the governor of Massachusetts but already eyeing a 2008 presidential bid, sat in the coffee shop of a Washington hotel, doing his best not to explain his views on abortion. Romney was speaking to a few of us from The Post, and my colleague Dan Balz noted the similarity between Romney's expressed views on abortion rights and the stance of another Massachusetts politician, Sen. John F. Kerry: Both men said they were personally opposed to abortion but did not support making it illegal. From there, Romney proceeded to expound one of the odder positions I've heard in years of listening...

It's Her Party, And She'll Cry If She Wants To

It's difficult to figure out what Hillary Clinton hopes to gain with her spectacular temper tantrum today, directed as it is against the wrong man. After Maureen Dowd briefly achieved relevancy by relating some tough criticisms of Hillary by Hollywood mogul David Geffen, the Democratic front-runner blamed Barack Obama for his newfound Geffen support. And make no mistake, Geffen drew blood: Maureen Dowd's column in The New York Times today, in which she quoted former Bill Clinton supporter David Geffen offering a few caustic comments, has incited a strong Hillary Clinton campaign attack on Geffen -- and the candidate he now favors, Sen. Barack Obama. Then Obama's team fired back. "Everybody in politics lies, but they [the Clintons] do it with such ease, it’s troubling,” Geffen had said. Geffen said more than that, and most of it underscores the Democratic Party's unease with her rise to presumptive frontrunner for the...

February 22, 2007

Read Their Lips?

The two Republican frontrunners have not yet signed a no-new-taxes pledge, despite the adoption of the pledge by rivals in the campaign. John McCain and Rudy Giuliani so far have not answered the query sent by the Americans for Tax Reform, usually an automatic for GOP nominees: The two front-runners for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination -- Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani -- have not signed an anti-tax-increase pledge that has been embraced by several of their rivals. The reluctance of the party's two leading candidates to sign the pledge, which has been signed by every Republican presidential nominee since 1988, raised concerns among conservative tax cutters about Mr. McCain's and Mr. Giuliani's commitment to reduce tax rates at a time when all of the Democratic presidential contenders have vowed to raise income taxes if they are elected. ... The pledge, which asks...

The Democratic Non-Debate

Talk about an accelerated campaign cycle! The Democrats rushed into their first debate almost a year before the first primaries, and did so in a format that took the debate out of the debate. Instead, the Los Angeles Times describes a round-robin press conference where most of the argument took place in the hallways after the event: The format, with contestants appearing one after another, was not a debate. Eight speakers — all the announced candidates except Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois — took turns giving set remarks and answering questions. Many were submitted by members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which hosted the forum. The closest public encounter between participants came as Clinton swept out of the Carson City Community Center to a clatter of camera shutters while Edwards stood talking to reporters about 10 yards away. Neither could see the other. ... The...

Did Hillary Buy More Endorsements In South Carolina?

On Monday, I posted about the curious relationship between the Hillary Clinton campaign and Darrell Jackson, an African-American state legislator from South Carolina who had surprised some by endorsing Hillary over John Edwards and Barack Obama. Robert Ford, another black legislator in the same state, joined Jackson in dumping Edwards for Hillary, and explained that an Obama-led ticket would get killed in a general election. However, it turned out that Jackson had more mercenary motives for his endorsement of Hillary -- namely, a $10,000-per-month consulting contract. Today, Hillary faces new questions about other South Carolina endorsers who also will benefit from the same consultancy: Two more black South Carolina lawmakers endorsing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton have ties to a media consulting firm hired by the White House hopeful. However, both the lawmakers and the campaign said Thursday their support has nothing to do with any business dealings. Clinton's campaign announced...

February 23, 2007

Who Wins In The Democratic Feud?

The eruption of hostilities between the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns this week potentially creates an opening for another candidate to exploit to match or best the two front-runners. Josh Gerstein makes the case that John Edwards will gain the most traction from a Hillary-Barack feud, relying on a man with unfortunate experience in campaign meltdowns: As the dust settles from the first showdown between the presidential campaigns of Senators Clinton and Obama, political analysts are wondering who will benefit from protracted wrangling between the two top contenders for the Democratic nomination. A former senator of North Carolina, John Edwards, is emerging as one potential beneficiary of the spat that broke out over critical comments from a Hollywood supporter of Mr. Obama, David Geffen. Mr. Edwards "is clearly adept at letting two other candidates go after each other and slipping up the middle," a Democratic campaign adviser, Joseph Trippi,...

Giuliani: Consistency Trumps Pandering

The London Telegraph has an interesting profile of Rudy Giuliani, using a South Carolina campaign stop to spotlight the paradoxes of his run at the Republican nomination. While the Telegraph describes Giuliani somewhat hyperbolically as refusing to kowtow to the GOP's conservative base -- Giuliani never says anything like that in the article -- it does point up Rudy's consistency as his greatest asset on the stump: Whereas his rivals John McCain and Mitt Romney are engaged in attempts to disavow previous statements and recast themselves as social conservatives, Mr Giuliani's pitch is that "for most it's never about one issue" and consistency is preferable to pandering. "I believe you've got to run based on what you are, who you really are," he told The Daily Telegraph. "I find if you do it that way even people who disagree with you sometimes respect you." Mr Giuliani noted that his pro-choice...

Giuliani Wins The Election! (Of February 2007)

There's nothing more predictive than a hot, breaking poll less than 90 weeks before an election, so let's be sure we give this Rasmussen poll the attention it deserves. Okay, we'll give it more attention than it deserves, but we'll just say we're doing it for the practice. Snark aside, Rasmussen's new head-to-head polling on general election matchups shows an interesting phenomenon ... a strong streak of opposition to Hillary Clinton. That shines through the results of a Giuliani-Clinton matchup that may incentivize Hillary's Democratic primary opponents (via Hot Air): In a match-up between the early 2008 frontrunners, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) leads New York Senator Hillary Clinton (D) 52% to 43%. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds Giuliani’s lead growing in recent months. His current nine-point advantage is up from a six point lead in January and a four-point lead in December. Giuliani...

February 24, 2007

At Least He Gave It His All

If anyone doubts the ridiculous nature of the 2008 Presidential election cycle, the capitulation of Tom Vilsack eleven months before the first caucus gathers should confirm it. In a race where everyone expected Hillary Clinton and John Edwards to have high-profile campaigns, Vilsack withdrew because he hadn't raised enough money ... by February 2007: Former Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa ended his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on Friday, saying the crowded field had made it impossible for him to raise enough money to remain competitive in an accelerated coast-to-coast campaign. After making his announcement, Mr. Vilsack spent the afternoon taking calls from former rivals. They sent their best wishes, even as they began seeking his endorsement in Iowa, where the caucus early next year will kick off the process of selecting a nominee. “I’m not thinking about that today,” Mr. Vilsack said in a telephone interview, pausing for...

... And Brigham Young's Great-Great-Great-Grandson Won A Super Bowl

Are the media really this desperate to find some dirt on Mitt Romney? I guess they must be: While Mitt Romney condemns polygamy and its prior practice by his Mormon church, the Republican presidential candidate's great-grandfather had five wives and at least one of his great-great grandfathers had 12. Polygamy was not just a historical footnote, but a prominent element in the family tree of the former Massachusetts governor now seeking to become the first Mormon president. Romney's great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, married his fifth wife in 1897. That was more than six years after Mormon leaders banned polygamy and more than three decades after a federal law barred the practice. Uh, okay. So? What exactly does that have to do with Mitt Romney and the race for the presidency? According to the Nosey Parkers at Cal State Fullerton -- my alma mater, natch -- it shows that it was...

February 25, 2007

The Full Bill

One of the motivations behind the Hillary Clinton campaign's reaction to David Geffen's barbs this week was to mark the boundaries for the debate in the primaries and general election. Hillary has a better reason for that than most; she wants to avoid any debate or discussion of her husband's impeachment. Other Democrats, however, wonder how she can justify that while trotting Bill onto the hustings: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has a new commandment for the 2008 presidential field: Thou shalt not mention anything related to the impeachment of her husband. With a swift response to attacks from a former supporter last week, advisers to the New York Democrat offered a glimpse of their strategy for handling one of the most awkward chapters of her biography. They declared her husband's impeachment in 1998 -- or, more accurately, the embarrassing personal behavior that led to it -- taboo, putting her rivals...

February 26, 2007

Giuliani And CQ At CPAC

Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani has garnered some mild criticism for maintaining a fairly safe appearance schedule since forming his exploratory committee for his Presidential campaign. Conservatives have wondered when he would begin making appearances at events targeted at the conservative community. They can rest easy now; Giuliani has announced that he will speak at The American Conservative Union's CPAC event this weekend. Patrick Ruffini e-mailed me last night to point out the announcement on The Politico. If this is Giuliani's coming-out party, he's not alone. Mike Huckabee has been added to the CPAC agenda, a good event for the Arkansas governor. Newt Gingrich has signed up for the closing speech to the conservatives gathered there. Jim Gilmore, the former Governor of Virginia and a Presidential candidate who has not garnered much attention, will also deliver a speech. So far, no word on whether John McCain or Mitt Romney will become...

February 27, 2007

Rudy Going Reaganesque

Rudy Giuliani, out to an early and somewhat surprising lead in the Republican presidential primary race, has begun addressing conservative groups to make his case for the nomination. The New York Sun reports that Giuliani has adopted a vision-style approach while retaining his strengths in policy, painting a future for the GOP as the party of freedom: Mayor Giuliani is calling on the Republican Party to redefine itself as "the party of freedom," focusing on lower taxes, school choice, and a health care system rooted in free market principles. Delivering a policy-driven overview of his presidential platform yesterday, Mr. Giuliani outlined the agenda in a Washington speech before a conservative think tank that sought to make clear distinctions between his vision and that of the Democrats, if not his rivals for the Republican nomination in 2008. The former New York mayor's proposed redefinition of the Republican platform would signal a...

Look Who's Coming -- And Not Coming -- To CPAC

The American Conservative Union must have its staff on call this week, because they keep getting last-minute RSVPs for the CPAC event that starts Thursday. No, I don't mean attendees, I mean speakers -- especially those who want the Republican nomination for the Presidential election next year. In the past couple of days, almost every GOP candidate announced and presumed have been added to the CPAC agenda. Today both Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo announced their addition to the list of impressive speakers addressing conservative activists: ALEXANDRIA, VA—The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) announced today that California Congressman Duncan Hunter will address the nation’s oldest and largest gathering of conservatives on Saturday, March 3, 2007 at 8:30 a.m. in the Omni Shoreham Hotel’s Regency Ballroom in Washington D.C. “For more than a quarter of a century, Congressman Duncan Hunter has been a strong and reliable voice in the U.S. House...

February 28, 2007

Early Polling Shows Obama Gaining On Hillary

Keep in mind that polling this early in a presidential cycle has the same level of predictive value as Uncle Earl's trick knee has in alerting you to bad weather. With that in mind, if not in knee, the front-page article at the Washington Post on their latest polling does show some developing storms for the presumed frontrunner in the Democratic Party nomination race: The latest poll put Clinton at 36 percent, Obama at 24 percent, Gore at 14 percent and Edwards at 12 percent. None of the other Democrats running received more than 3 percent. With Gore removed from the field, Clinton would gain ground on Obama, leading the Illinois senator 43 percent to 27 percent. Edwards ran third at 14 percent. The poll was completed the night Gore's documentary film "An Inconvenient Truth" won an Academy Award. Clinton's and Obama's support among white voters changed little since December,...

March 1, 2007

McCain Announces On Letterman

Don't miss the update below! I missed this yesterday while I traveled to Washington DC for the CPAC conference, but John McCain explicitly announced that he would run for President in 2008. One might think that CPAC would have provided a good platform for that event, but instead he chose Late Night with David Letterman: Setting aside any doubt, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona announced Wednesday he would seek the presidential nomination. McCain, who had a presidential exploratory committee, made the declaration on the "Late Show with David Letterman," taped earlier Wednesday. "We are going to formally announce it in early April," John Weaver, a top adviser to McCain, told CNN. Obviously, Letterman's show has national reach, but it seems more than a little strange in two ways. First, it reminds people of Arnold Schwarzenegger's announcement on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, but with little of the surprise....

Huckabee Interview Set For Tonight (Bumped)

Show starts at 10 pm ET! I've completed my interview with Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, one of the presidential contenders in the GOP that has not garnered as much attention. It's not for lack of intelligence and commitment, as listeners will hear on tonight's show. Huckabee makes the case for a principled conservative, answers some of his critics, and insists that the Republican Party should nominate a Republican for President. Be sure to check out Mike Huckabee's website for more information on his campaign. In the second half of the show, I'll be joined by NZ Bear to discuss CPAC and the Victory Caucus. We'll also be taking your calls at 646-652-4889. Remember, the show airs live at 10 pm ET, and podcasts within minutes of its end....

March 2, 2007

Clinton White House Suppressed Hillary's Senior Thesis

The Hillary Clinton campaign will have a few more questions to answer about her husband's tenure in office after MS-NBC reported this morning that his administration demanded the suppression of her senior thesis at Wellesley: "I got a call from someone at the White House — I don't remember who — shortly after the inauguration, saying the Clintons had decided not to release her thesis," professor Alan H. Schechter told MSNBC.com. "I said, 'Why? It's a good thesis.' I got some mumbo jumbo about how they were beginning to work on health care and she had criticized Sen. Moynihan in the thesis, and didn't want to alienate him.'" In fact, the thesis from 1969 contains not a negative word about Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the Democratic senator from New York, and Schechter allows that the real source of fear must have been the subject of the academic paper: Chicago radical organizer...

March 6, 2007

In Case It Was Still In Doubt

Rudy Giuliani appears to be all in for the 2008 Presidential campaign, and he's got the receipt to show it. Giuliani divested his lucrative investment-banking business for an undisclosed sum, widely seen as a necessary step to his candidacy: An Australian-based firm bought Giuliani Capital Advisors LLC for an undisclosed amount. A source close to the Republican candidate who spoke on condition of anonymity said the sale is intended to free Giuliani from distractions as he pursues the White House. "This enables him to sustain his intense focus on his candidacy," the source said. Others viewed the sale as Giuliani's first step away from the lucrative private-sector career he built during the years he spent outside the public spotlight. Eric Abrahamson, a Columbia Business School professor, said he thinks Giuliani will have little choice but to start building a higher wall between his campaign and his business activities. ... The...

March 7, 2007

McCain Pursuing Rule Changes To Attract Independents

John McCain wants to get rule changes passed in California that will allow independents to vote in the Republican presidential primaries in order to defend against Mitt Romney, the Washington Times reports today. The "stealth" campaign would benefit McCain, his campaign believes, belying his stance that McCain represents the true conservatives in the primary: Sen. John McCain's campaign is mounting a stealth effort to change Republican presidential nomination rules in California to allow independents to vote in the Feb. 5 primary, party and campaign officials in the state have told The Washington Times. The impact could be huge -- and potentially damaging to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, currently the most acceptable to traditional-values voters among the three top-tier Republican presidential candidates. "If California changes its delegate selection rules to allow independent voters to participate in the Republican primary, it would be very helpful for McCain and for Rudy Giuliani,...

March 8, 2007

Identity Politics Gone Wild

First we had the strikingly pale Bill Clinton proclaimed as America's First Black President by Toni Morrison as an odd reward for pandering to identity politics. Now, the New York Sun reports that the First Woman President may well have a Y chromosome, if John Edwards wins the White House: Toni Morrison famously dubbed President Clinton America's "first black president." With that barrier broken, the comments of a prominent feminist are provoking debate about who may lay a similar claim to the title of America's first woman president. The candidate being touted as a torchbearer for women is not Senator Clinton, but one of her former colleagues, John Edwards. At a rally near the University of California, Berkeley campus this week, a veteran of the abortion-rights movement, Kate Michelman, asked and answered the question she gets most frequently about her decision to back the male former senator from North Carolina....

March 9, 2007

Checking His Baggage At The Door

One of the most effective strategies for defusing potentially damaging information is to have the person it damages release it early, before his opponents have the chance. It works equally well in litigation as well as in politics, if it gets out very early. Newt Gingrich knows this full well, and yesterday employed the strategy in dealing with a messy chapter in his own life: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich acknowledged he was having an extramarital affair even as he led the charge against President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair, he acknowledged in an interview with a conservative Christian group. "The honest answer is yes," Gingrich, a potential 2008 Republican presidential candidate, said in an interview with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson to be aired Friday, according to a transcript provided to The Associated Press. "There are times that I have fallen short of my own standards....

So Then The Rino Walks Up To The Podium And Says ...

... I will run for President in 2008: Nebraska's Chuck Hagel, the Senate Republican most outspoken in opposition to President Bush's March 2003 decision to invade Iraq, is expected to announce Monday that he will make a bid for the Republican Party's presidential nomination. ... The question on nearly every Republican's lips yesterday was whether Mr. Hagel can raise the $100 million-plus that campaign analysts say will be needed by the end of this year to be a serious 2008 nomination contender. Bwa-ha-ha! Stop it, you're killing me! Oh, wait ... he's serious? The big question isn't whether Hagel can raise $100 million for a credible campaign. The question is whether Hagel can beat Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo for last place. (via Power Line)...

March 10, 2007

Where Have You Gone, Fred Dalton Thompson?

The runors have flown for weeks that Hollywood celebrity and two-term Senator Fred Dalton Thompson might decide to run for President -- not on The West Wing but in the Republican primary. Yesterday, The Hill reported that the rumors may have more substance than first thought: Former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) is contacting powerbrokers in the Republican Party to build support for a 2008 presidential campaign by his one-time protégé, former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.). Baker, who Wednesday made a visit to the Senate, was asked by several Republicans about his involvement on Thompson’s behalf. “He said, ‘I am making a few calls and I think it’s a great idea,’” said one Senate Republican who heard Baker discuss his efforts to advance Thompson’s prospects. One Republican who discussed a possible bid with Thompson described his interest and Baker’s queries as “a friendly exploration.” Baker is a close friend...

Crazy, Unlike A Fox

Democratic actiivists have rejoiced this week in the cancellation of a presidential campaign debate in Nevada, arranged by the state party to air on Fox. They demanded that the candidates reject the debate even before Fox executive Roger Ailes made a controversial joke about Barack Obama, but the effort gained so much steam afterwards that all of the candidates acquiesced. Nevadans who had hoped to host an important party function are now outraged over the end of the event, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal has special derision for the activists who screeched with outrage over Fox's involvement: Hard-core liberals can't stand the Fox News Channel. Passing a television that's tuned to the conservative favorite forces many of them to close their eyes, cover their ears and scream, "La la la la la la la la la!" Then they dash to their computers and fire off 2,500 e-mails condemning the outlet,...

March 11, 2007

Thompson Says He's On Call

Newt Gingrich has reviled the extended primary season, calling it a jobs program for political consultants. Although widely expected to run for the presidency himself, he insists he will not make any announcements until autumn. Observers believe that this could be a brilliant strategy to allow the current front-runners to tire themselves out and jump into the race as a white knight just before the primaries. It seems that Gingrich may not be the only Republican thinking along those lines: WALLACE: There's been a lot of buzz, as we said, in Republican circles that there's no true conservative in the GOP presidential field. Now some top Republicans, including your friend former Tennessee senator Howard Baker, are putting out trial balloons about you possibly entering the race. Question: Are you considering running for president in 2008? THOMPSON: I'm giving some thought to it. Going to leave the door open. WALLACE: Well,...

March 12, 2007

Another Billionaire Independent Bid?

Michael Bloomberg, New York Citry's billionaire mayor, will consider a run for the Presidency as an independent if he feels the two major-party nominees are too extreme, according to a key ally. His deputy mayor also keeps talking up an outsider bid, even though Bloomberg won the mayor's office as a Republican: Mayor Bloomberg is 80% likely to launch a bid for the White House if the two major candidates come from the "extreme wings" of their party, one of his first-term advisers said. The comment from a Columbia University professor, Ester Fuchs, keeps alive the notion that Mr. Bloomberg is mulling the possibility of entering the 2008 race even as the Democrats and Republicans who have already declared are traveling the country and campaigning. According to ABC News, which reported the comment on its Web site, Ms. Fuchs said it was "80% probable" that Mr. Bloomberg would run as...

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way Home From The March

Robert Novak points out some inconsistencies in Hillary Clinton's proclaimed personal history on the campaign trail. The woman who famously claimed to have been named after Sir Edmund Hillary after his ascent to the top of Mount Everest -- which happened when she was eight years old -- has attempted another bit of revisionism, this time on civil rights. After her attempt last week in Selma to drawl out her teenage epiphany from listening to Martin Luther King in 1963, Novak notes that she supported one of King's opponents: While Hillary Rodham Clinton came out second best to Barack Obama in their oratorical duel at Selma, Ala., a week ago, the real problem with her speech concerned her claimed attachment to Martin Luther King Jr. as a high school student in 1963. How, then, could she have been a "Goldwater Girl" during the following year's presidential election? The incompatibility of...

Journalism 101: Not A Prerequisite For The Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Times visits the bubbling controversy over Rudy Giuliani's judicial appointments to the municipal bench while mayor of New York City, an issue that has some conservatives concerned over his presidential aspirations. Giuliani has sworn to nominate strict constructionists to the federal appellate bench if elected President, but the Times finds four appointments -- out of 127 -- that fail to fit that mold. And Tom Hamburger and Adam Schreck manage to miss a critical fact about judicial appointments in their supposedly comprehensive look at Giuliani's appointments: Rudolph W. Giuliani, in an effort to temper his support for abortion rights and his other socially liberal stances, has been assuring conservatives that as president he would appoint "strict constructionists" to the federal bench, in the tradition of Supreme Court jurists Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and John G. Roberts Jr. But now, some prominent conservatives are...

Dennis Kucinich, Profile In Courage

Who would have guessed that of all the candidates in the Democratic presidential primary race, Dennis Kucinich would show the most testicular fortitude? The man who demands a Department of Peace and the establishment of "peace math", etc, called out his fellow Democrats for redeploying over the debate horizon after left-wing extremists demanded that they pull out of a debate televised by the Fox News Channel: “If you want to be the President of the United States, you can’t be afraid to deal with people with whom you disagree politically,” Kucinich said. “No one is further removed from Fox’s political philosophy than I am, but fear should not dictate decisions that affect hundreds of millions of Americans and billions of others around the world who are starving for real leadership.” Kucinich said “the public deserves honest, open, and fair public debate, and the media have a responsibility to demand that...

Thompson Gets His First Frist Endorsement

With the growing rumors of a Fred Dalton Thompson run at the GOP nomination for the 2008 presidential race, it was only a matter of time before he started lining up endorsements. The first appears to be Bill Frist, his Tennessee colleague and friend, who announced on his blog that he wants to see Thompson jump into the race: I believe Fred Thompson should run for President. I've not talked with Fred personally about a potential run, so I am basing my thoughts simply on knowing him well, having worked with him in policy and politics everyday for 8 years, and knowing the people across America want a genuine leader who represents them. Fred understands real people and they understand him. He understands the legislative process and has a strong bipartisan appeal, though he is a real conservative. He has the experience of government service with a real appreciation for...

March 13, 2007

Chuck Hagel's Bogus Journey

I didn't blog about this yesterday, probably because (a) I was laughing too hard, and (b) how does one write about a non-event? Dana Milbank does a pretty good job answering the latter in his look at Chuck Hagel's much-ballyhooed press conference yesterday, when the nation's news organizations met to see the Senator show why he isn't qualified for an executive position: The 19th-century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a giant in the field of logic. The 21st-century philosopher Chuck Hagel? Not so much. The Republican senator from Nebraska, flirting with a 2008 presidential run, scheduled "an announcement on my political future" for yesterday morning in Omaha. Media types flew in from across the country. The state's governor and attorney general, along with 15 television cameras, crowded the room. Cable networks carried the event live while pundits went wild: Would Hagel jump into the race? Run for reelection?...

Hillary And Her Conspiracy Theory

Hillary Clinton has returned to her "vast right-wing conspiracy" theme, a development that will keep Beth blogging for at least another four years. She used her favorite bogeyman on the campaign trail this morning while speaking with municipal officials in New York City: Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton told Democrats Tuesday the "vast, right-wing conspiracy" is back, using a phrase she once coined to describe partisan criticism. Speaking to Democratic municipal officials, the New York senator used the term to hammer Republicans on election irregularities. ... On Tuesday, she asserted the conspiracy is alive and well, and cited as proof the Election Day 2002 case of phone jamming in New Hampshire, a case in which two Republican operatives pleaded guilty to criminal charges, and a third was convicted. "To the New Hampshire Democratic party's credit, they sued and the trail led all the way to the Republican National Committee," Clinton...

March 15, 2007

Novak: DeLay Not Likely To Endorse Gingrich

Apparently, Tom DeLay has some small amount of bitterness over his change in fortunes. According to Robert Novak, DeLay will blast Newt Gingrich as morally flawed, ineffective, and dishonest when DeLay's book hits the shelves next week -- setting back Gingrich's presumed plans to run for President: Newt Gingrich's attempted phoenix-like rise from his own political ashes to a presidential candidacy will run next week into a harsh assessment by his former House Republican colleague Tom DeLay. The former majority leader's forthcoming memoir assails Gingrich as an "ineffective" House speaker with a flawed moral compass. Gingrich is not the only erstwhile political ally to feel DeLay's wrath. In "No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight," DeLay is even more critical of his predecessor as majority leader, Dick Armey, and assails George W. Bush as being more compassionate than conservative. Even the man DeLay handpicked to succeed Gingrich as speaker, J....

March 17, 2007

Thompson Indicates A Move Away From The BCRA

Fred Dalton Thompson's flirtation with a presidential run has conservatives hopeful for a white knight in a field of compromise candidates in the GOP. The man whose career has spanned both Washington and Hollywood, and who has championed both conservatism and clean government, has a resumé that would make for compelling political theater. However, one issue in particular dogs every mention of his potential, and that is his support for the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, or McCain-Feingold -- the main reason conservatives distrust John McCain and have not supported his own presidential campaign. That may be changing. John Fund interviewed Thompson for the Wall Street Journal, and Thompson acknowledged the futility of the BCRA's approach: On issues, he addresses head-on the major complaints conservatives have about his record. He was largely stymied in his 1997 investigation of both Clinton-Gore and GOP campaign fund-raising abuses: Key witnesses declined to testify or...

March 18, 2007

The Beautiful American?

Americans have heard for decades about our reputation as travelers abroad -- encapsulated by the monicker, "the ugly American". The term, which actually came from a more complex novel than the name implies, now gets used to describe American foreign policy, especially regarding the war in Iraq. John McCain told the Sunday Telegraph that he wants to change how our allies and enemies abroad view us: John McCain, formerly the leading Republican presidential contender, has told The Sunday Telegraph that restoring America's sullied reputation abroad will be "a top priority" if he wins the White House. The Arizona senator, an Iraq war hawk, was talking aboard the revived Straight Talk Express - the vehicle that made his name during the 2000 presidential election and that he hopes will revive his faltering fortunes this time round. The bus ferried the senator, his aides, and journalists, to a series of public meetings...

March 19, 2007

Rudy Responds On Citgo

Rudy Giuliani responded yesterday to criticism for his indirect involvement to lobbying efforts on behalf of Citgo, the subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned petroleum company. Speaking with reporters in Tampa, he shrugged off the issue, saying that his firm tried to protect American jobs in Texas: Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani on Sunday defended his law firm's role in representing Citgo Petroleum Corp., which is ultimately controlled by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, saying it was helping protect American jobs. Giuliani acknowledged though, that his opponents will try to exploit the news that a lawyer with Bracewell & Giuliani of Houston has been representing Citgo before the Texas legislature. The firm has had a contract with Citgo since before Giuliani joined it. "Oh, they'll exploit everything," Giuliani said in an interview. "There are things that make sense and things that don't make sense and that doesn't make any sense. It was one...

Another Silly Obama Meme

The early primary race is often called the silly season, but it seems that the campaign of Barack Obama inspires silliness in a league of his own, on both Left and Right. We've already heard carping about Obama's "authenticity" as an African-American on one hand, and breathless speculation as to whether Obama visited a mosque at age eight on the other. Now, to add to the circus of irrelevancy, David Ehrenstein scolds people for supporting Obama out of a desire to find the Magic Negro: AS EVERY CARBON-BASED life form on this planet surely knows, Barack Obama, the junior Democratic senator from Illinois, is running for president. Since making his announcement, there has been no end of commentary about him in all quarters — musing over his charisma and the prospect he offers of being the first African American to be elected to the White House. But it's clear that...

Guest Post: Rep. Duncan Hunter

For this extended primary season, we have an extraordinary opportunity to get acquainted with the men and women who want to run for the Presidency. I have extended invitations to all campaigns to have their candidates post their messages to CQ readers. Today, I'm happy to introduce Representative Duncan Hunter, in an exclusive post regarding the surge strategy in Iraq. An Exclusive Post For Captain's Quarters On The Surge In Iraq I would like to thank Ed Morrissey for giving me the opportunity to write a guest blog at Captain’s Quarters about the surge in Iraq. The courtesy is much appreciated. Now, let me take a moment to talk about Iraq. What we're doing in that country is following the same basic pattern that we've used to expand freedom around the world for more than 60 years in places like Japan, Europe, and El Salvador. First, you stand up a...

Support, Si! Pander, No!

Memo to Presidential candidates: it is dangerous to use foreign-language slogans without learning the nuances of their history. Mitt Romney either never learned that or decided to try out his new Fidel Castro impersonation in front of the wrong audience (via SWLiP): People chuckled when presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a Mormon raised in Michigan and elected in Massachusetts, bungled the names of Cuban-American politicians during a recent speech in Miami. But when he mistakenly associated Fidel Castro's trademark speech-ending slogan -- Patria o muerte, venceremos! -- with a free Cuba, listeners didn't laugh. They winced. Castro has closed his speeches with the phrase -- in English, ''Fatherland or death, we shall overcome'' -- for decades. ''Clearly, that's something he was ill-advised on or didn't do his homework on,'' said Hialeah City Council President Esteban Bovo. ``When you get cute with slogans, you get yourself into a trap.'' It goes deeper...

March 20, 2007

Is Obama More Liberal Than Kucinich?

No wonder Dennis Kucinich scolded Democrats for deploying over the debate horizon when confronted with Fox News Channel's cameras for their Nevada debate. It turns out that Kucinich has harbored a secret conservative streak -- at least compared to the supposedly moderate Barack Obama. McClatchy reports on a National Journal analysis of the declared candidates for President from both parties and ranks those who have served in Congress (via Memeorandum): The most liberal member of Congress running for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination isn't Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. It's Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. And the Republican candidate who's grown less conservative over his years in Congress? Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Those are among the interesting findings in a recent analysis of votes by all the members of Congress who are running for president. They cut to the heart of debates going on among activists in both major...

March 21, 2007

But Will They Stop Taking His Money?

George Soros wrote an article for the New York Review of Books that attacked the US for its pro-Israeli policies. The Democratic Party underwriter made clear that he felt the US should start dealing directly with Hamas, despite its existence as a terrorist organization, and complained about the influence of AIPAC. That created a problem for Barack Obama, who has received support from Soros, as well as many other Democrats: Leading Democrats, including Senator Obama of Illinois, are distancing themselves from an essay published this week by one of their party's leading financiers that called for the Democratic Party to "liberate" itself from the influence of the pro-Israel lobby. The article, by George Soros, published in the New York Review of Books, asserts that America should pressure Israel to negotiate with the Hamas-led unity government in the Palestinian territories regardless of whether Hamas recognizes the right of the Jewish state...

Obama: Against The Funding Before He Was For It

Do you want to know why we don't elect Senators and Congressmen to the Presidency? Mainly, they have to cast votes that appear contradictory, or in some cases, actually are contradictory. In 2004, John Kerry got hoist on that particular petard when he told reporters that he "voted for the $87 billion [war supplemental] before I voted against it". Now Barack Obama might have the same problem in reverse, after ABC News uncovered a video of Obama insisting in 2003 that Congress should not have approved that supplemental -- before he voted four times for Iraq war funding himself: In video obtained by ABC News of a Winnetka, Ill., Democratic event from Sunday, Nov. 16, 2003, then-state senator Obama told a cheering crowd that it was wrong to vote to fund the war. "Just this week, when I was asked, would I have voted for the $87 billion dollars, I...

March 22, 2007

Edwards To Withdraw? (Updated & Bumped)

I'm no fan of John Edwards, but I hope his press conference today doesn't have the kind of bad news that rumors have indicated. After both he and his wife Elizabeth had to change their schedules to confer with her doctors, Edwards scheduled a presser to discuss developments in her health: John Edwards, the North Carolina Democrat making a second bid for the presidency, announced late Wednesday night that he would hold a news conference Thursday, a day after he and his wife, Elizabeth, visited Mrs. Edwards’ doctor to assess her health following her recovery from breast cancer. Mrs. Edwards, in a brief interview from her home in Chapel Hill, said she and Mr. Edwards would discuss her health at the news conference, but she declined to elaborate. ... The Edwards campaign announced the news conference at the end of a day when Mr. Edwards canceled a campaign appearance to...

March 23, 2007

Living In A BCRA World

Only in a political climate managed by the McCain-Feingold Act could a homemade video like "Vote Different" make national headlines for days on end. Instead of simply getting a chuckle and quickly disappearing from the national consciousness, people have obsessed on the origin and nature of the ad, resulting in the creator's termination from his job. Now the Washington Post wonders whether "old-fashioned political chicanery" was at work on an ad that said almost nothing about anything: The instant popularity of an attack video that mocked Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) prompted plenty of talk this week about how an ordinary citizen can influence political discourse by tapping into the power of the YouTube culture. But the unmasking of the filmmaker as an employee of a company on the payroll of Clinton's Democratic presidential rival, Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), raises questions about whether the more old-fashioned art of political chicanery...

March 24, 2007

The Politics Of Edwards' Decision

After the initial outpouring of sympathy for Elizabeth Edwards and the impact her new cancer diagnosis will have on her family, people have begun to consider its impact on the campaign of her husband. John Edwards announced the decision to continue his campaign for the presidential nomination, and Democrats found themselves wondering just how much the issue should be debated: After an early flurry of good wishes directed toward the Edwards family, political operatives have begun the awkward process of asking an inevitable question: How will news of Elizabeth Edwards's cancer recurrence, and her husband's decision to continue campaigning for president, affect the race for the Democratic nomination? Several Democratic operatives agreed that the couple's headline-grabbing appearance in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Thursday would probably boost former senator John Edwards at least temporarily, producing a groundswell of sympathy and raising his public profile. ... [T]he Edwards campaign, fresh off the...

March 25, 2007

Those Left Behind By Evolution

Mitt Romney has described the shift in his positions on abortion and other issues as an evolution, a gradual change that occurred when he broadened his perspective as time passed. Romney hopes that this evolution will please conservative Republicans enough to support him against the more liberal Rudy Giuliani and the mistrusted John McCain. However, in this case, Romney's evolution has left some bitterness behind in Massachussetts, as the Los Angeles Times reports: Though Romney's policy shifts have become widely known, his meetings with activists for abortion rights and other causes — which have received far less attention — show he put much work into winning support from Massachusetts' liberal establishment only a few years ago. Making personal appeals on the state's liberal touchstones — gay rights, abortion rights and the environment — Romney developed a persuasive style, convincing audiences that his passion matched theirs and that he was committed...

The Other Side Of The LA Times' Story

Earlier today, I wrote about the issues Mitt Romney would have to face in his presidential campaign regarding the evolution of his positions over his political career. This prompted some spirited discussion about the nature and value of consistency around the blogosphere and in the comments section here at CQ. This afternoon, I got a response from the Romney campaign regarding the points raised by the Times article, and I thought it intriguing enough to share. The response comes in three parts. First, while Romney did make overtures to NARAL on abortion, NARAL wound up endorsing Romney's opponent, calling Romney dangerous: “'He was very clear. He said over and over again that he supports the status quo in Massachusetts. He's not going to be a leader on this issue,' said Melissa Kogut, head of Mass NARAL's political action committee, referring to recent statements by the candidate. She called that stance...

March 26, 2007

Constitutional Relativity

A grad-school thesis has once again made its way into the 2008 Presidential race. Previously, a 40-year-old treatise by Hillary Clinton lauding a radical leftist caused a few moments of consternation for her campaign, mostly because her husband's administration kept it suppressed until now. This time, Barack Obama may have to answer some questions regarding his views from law school about the elasticity of the Constitution, views which are less than two decades old: Is Barack Obama a space cadet? The man who would become senator of Illinois and a top Democratic presidential contender was credited for editorial or research assistance in a page-one footnote of what may be the zaniest-titled article ever published by the Harvard Law Review: "The Curvature of Constitutional Space: What Lawyers Can Learn From Modern Physics," authored by noted legal scholar Laurence Tribe. The 39-page densely argued treatise — think "The Paper Chase" meets "Star...

Poll: Thompson Pulls Giuliani Votes, McCain Holds Steady

USA Today and Gallup offer their latest in polling for both parties in the extended presidential primary race, and a couple of changes have raised eyebrows. First, even the rumor of a bid by Fred Thompson has dented Rudy Giuliani's momentum, while John McCain's decline in support appears to have leveled off: On the Republican side, former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson shook up the field with his announcement that he would consider getting into the presidential race. Thompson is familiar as the actor who plays District Attorney Arthur Branch on NBC's Law and Order. Chosen by 12% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters, Thompson is third in the Republican field. He trails former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, at 31%, and Arizona Sen. John McCain, at 22%. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich is at 8%. Thompson's support seems to come largely from voters who had supported Giuliani. In the USA TODAY...

March 27, 2007

Turning The College Kids Into Pros

No, I'm not talking about college athletes in high-revenue sports, such as basketball and football players, getting a share of the millions their schools make. Mitt Romney wants to pay college students who raise funds for his campaign a percentage of what they generate for his campaign: A millionaire thanks to his work as a venture capitalist, Mitt Romney is acutely aware of the motivating power of money. His presidential campaign hopes it will have a similar effect on college students, which is why it's offering them a cut of their fundraising. Participants in "Students for Mitt" will get 10 percent of the money they raise for the campaign beyond the first $1,000. While candidates often offer professional fundraisers commissions up to 8 percent, campaign experts believe the Massachusetts Republican is the first to do so with the legion of college students who have historically served as campaign volunteers. "For...

Punching Above His Weight

The AP wonders whether the Barack Obama boomlet has run its course. According to political reporter Nedra Pickler, Democrats have been wondering where the beef is, too: The voices are growing louder asking the question: Is Barack Obama all style and little substance? The freshman Illinois senator began his campaign facing the perception that he lacks the experience to be president, especially compared to rivals with decades of work on foreign and domestic policy. So far, he's done little to challenge it. He's delivered no policy speeches and provided few details about how he would lead the country. ... The differences were on display Saturday in Las Vegas, where the Democratic candidates answered questions about health care. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, the only other candidate to serve less time in elective office than Obama, described in detail his health care plan to provide insurance for all Americans. New...

March 28, 2007

Blankley: Don't Count On Obama To Take Out Hillary

Tony Blankley, the editor of the Washington Times, warns Republicans to get their act together now if they expect to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2008 for the White House. The Bush administration has begun playing into her one strength -- competence -- and the Republicans cannot rely on Barack Obama or John Edwards to stop her march to the Oval Office: With every passing week it becomes more likely that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic Party nominee for president. This thought, alone, should provide the strongest possible motivation to the Bush administration and the Washington Republicans to get their acts together so that the eventual Republican nominee for president doesn't start the general election campaign in too deep a hole. The polls that show half the country saying they won't vote for Hillary should be discounted. At the election, the choice will not be Hillary or not Hillary --...

Rudy Hits A Homer

Rudy Giuliani has made a surprising entry into the primary race for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Not known as a conservative, Rudy has nonetheless stuck to his public policy stands -- and has been rewarded with broad, if not deep, support from the GOP. He has built momentum despite expectations that he will eventually falter on the basis of his pro-choice, gun-control past. Now he has garnered an endorsement that will not fail to impress fiscal conservatives: Fiscal conservative Steve Forbes on Wednesday endorsed former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani's bid to become the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 race for the White House. Forbes, chief executive of Forbes magazine who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination in 1996 and 2000, is considered a leader of the party's pro-business and tax-cutting wings. "He is the man who can lead America in a world that is uncertain, fight the...

Maverick Is His Name?

Past Democratic Party leaders tell The Hill that John McCain negotiated for two months with them to abandon the Republican Party at around the same time that Jim Jeffords crossed the aisle. Tom Daschle and Tom Downey told Bob Cusack that unlike their efforts with Jeffords and Lincoln Chafee, McCain's top aide came to them: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was close to leaving the Republican Party in 2001, weeks before then-Sen. Jim Jeffords (Vt.) famously announced his decision to become an Independent, according to former Democratic lawmakers who say they were involved in the discussions. In interviews with The Hill this month, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and ex-Rep. Tom Downey (D-N.Y.) said there were nearly two months of talks with the maverick lawmaker following an approach by John Weaver, McCain’s chief political strategist. Democrats had contacted Jeffords and then-Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) in the early months of 2001 about...

March 30, 2007

Two For The Price Of One, Redux

Rudy Giuliani told Barbara Walters in an interview that will air tonight that his wife Judi will be welcome to attend Cabinet meetings. Judi Giuliani, a nurse prior to her marriage to Giuliani, has said that she will take a special interest in health-care policy, which raises the specter of a Republican Hillary: Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani told ABC News's Barbara Walters that he would welcome his wife, Judith, at White House Cabinet meetings and other policy discussions if he were elected president next year. "If she wanted to," Giuliani said in the "20/20" interview to be broadcast tonight. "If they were relevant to something that she was interested in. I mean that would be something that I'd be very, very comfortable with." Giuliani, who is leading the Republican field in early polling, called his wife an important adviser to him. His wife, a nurse, said that...

April 1, 2007

Tommy Thompson Hits The Hustings

Add another entrant to the 2008 Republican Presidential Sweepstakes, and another Thompson. Former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson has entered the primary race, declaring himself the "reliable conservative" in a race that has seen a few candidates claim that mantle: Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson on Sunday joined the crowded field of Republicans running for the White House in 2008 and proclaimed himself the "reliable conservative" in the race. Thompson, who was health and human services secretary during President Bush's first term, also said he is the only GOP candidate who has helped assemble both a state and federal budget. Since announcing last year he was forming a presidential exploratory committee to raise money and gauge support, Thompson has lagged behind better-known rivals. Thompson, 65, has focused his strategy on Iowa, which holds the nation's first caucuses for presidential nominees. He has made weekly visits to the state and sought to...

April 2, 2007

Barone: Nation Shifts Democratic

The invaluable Michael Barone takes a look at the latest polling and sees trouble for the Republicans in 2008. Over the last five years, party identification in the US has shifted in favor of the Democrats. Part of it, Barone says, comes from a lack of demonstrated competence on the part of the administration, which erodes one of the GOP's key arguments for Republican rule. Will this allow the Democrats to sweep the 2008 elections? Barone looks at a similar situation in Britain and thinks not: In the early 1990s, Britain's Conservatives were regarded as nasty but competent. Then, Britain was forced to devalue its currency. Mortgage payments shot up, and the Conservatives' reputation for competence vanished. The result: Tony Blair's Labor Party won huge victories in 1997, 2001 and 2005. The scenario here would be for Democrats to enlarge their congressional majorities and sweep to a 40-state presidential victory...

Hillary Smashes Fund-Raising Record (Caption Contest!)

Hillary Clinton has announced the results of her fund-raising efforts for the first quarter of 2007, and it smashes the old record for contributions in the first quarter of a year prior to an election. Of course, many candidates will be able to say that this year due to the unprecedented early start of the 2008 primaries, but Hillary did pull in an impressive amount: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination said Sunday that it had raised $26 million during the first quarter of this year, about three times as much as the previous record at this stage of a presidential race. Officials from several other Democratic primary campaigns voluntarily announced their fund-raising totals as well, just hours after the quarter closed at midnight on Saturday night. Former Senator John Edwards raised over $14 million, about twice what he raised in the same quarter for his...

Romney Racks It Up

In a surprising turn, the biggest fundraiser in the Republican primary race turns out to be Mitt Romney. Earlier today, the Romney campaign announced that they had raised $23 million in the first quarter of 2007, far outstripping frontrunner Rudy Giuliani, who didn't get his money machine into full swing until last month: Republican Mitt Romney reported raising $23 million for his presidential campaign during the first three months of the year, shaking up the GOP field and rivaling the total reported a day earlier by Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. Meanwhile, the Republican front-runner in the polls, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said his donations totaled $15 million — including more than $10 million raised during March alone. Both Republican numbers blew away past party presidential fundraising standards, while Romney's figure put the former Massachusetts governor in competition with Clinton, the Democratic front-runner. The New York senator on Sunday...

April 3, 2007

Florida Is Rudy Country

The key state in the last two presidential elections has been Florida, and pollsters have focused more attention on the Sunshine State the last few years to test the electoral mettle of candidates declared and presumed. Quinnipiac takes the latest look at Florida's political temperature, and it finds Rudy running hot: Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has opened double-digit leads over top 2008 Democratic presidential contenders in Florida, beating either New York Sen. Hillary Clinton or former Sen. John Edwards 50 - 40 percent, and topping Illinois Sen. Barack Obama 52 - 36 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. This compares to a 47 - 42 percent Giuliani lead over Sen. Clinton in a March 7 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University. ... In this latest survey, Giuliani leads the Republican pack with 35 percent, followed by Arizona Sen. John McCain with 15 percent, former...

Kerry's Magic Veep

Jonathan Singer at MyDD published an interview with John Kerry today that has sent ripples through the blogosphere. In the interview, Kerry claimed that John McCain approached him about being Kerry's running mate in the 2004 election, contrary to a number of published reports at the time: Jonathan Singer: There's a story in The Hill, I think on Tuesday, by Bob Cusack on the front page of the paper talking about how John McCain's people -- John Weaver -- had approached Tom Daschle and a New York Congressman, I don't remember his name, about switching parties. And I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what your discussions were with him in 2004, how far it went, who approached whom... if there was any "there" there. John Kerry: I don't know all the details of it. I know that Tom, from a conversation with him, was in...

April 4, 2007

Brownstein Waxes Nostalgic

I had to read Ronald Brownstein twice today to make sure the Los Angeles Times had not started a new satire section. The Times' political analyst writes an entire column decrying the lack of intimacy in the 2008 Presidential primary race, and blames ... well, everybody: And yet the size, scope and speed of the 2008 race are transforming the process of picking the president in discouraging ways. Intimate events aren't extinct; Democratic contender Barack Obama, who has drawn the largest crowds, heard impassioned and sometimes wrenching pleas for a single-payer healthcare system at a forum limited to 100 people in Portsmouth on Tuesday afternoon. But even in Iowa and New Hampshire, the traditional citadels of person-to-person politics, such opportunities for close encounters with a candidate are diminishing. Just as important, the top candidates are losing the chance to spend quiet time listening to the problems and concerns of voters...

Why Tom Tancredo Is Not A Serious Candidate

Tom Tancredo announced his intention to run for President this week, which initiated the question of credibility. After all, Tancredo is mostly known for his hard-line views on illegal immigration and his threat to bomb Mecca, and most candidacies of sitting Congressmen have amounted to little more than vanity tours. Tancredo appears to have answered that in an interview with Hugh Hewitt and his reaction afterwards: Of over 25 radio programs that Tancredo was on yesterday, it was Hugh Hewitt Show that had the chance to illuminate an issue that millions of Americans support us on, but instead he chose to educate Tancredo about the merits of supporting an illegal alien amnesty bill. After talking with Congressman Tancredo he told me his response to Hewitt's show: "Why would we come back on his show? I know it makes good radio to be engaged in an hour for a yelling match...

Obama Right Behind Hillary

Barack Obama has raised $25 million for his presidential bid, coming in only a million behind Hillary Clinton's record-breaking performance. What makes it even more impressive is the number of donors who contributed to the total: Sen. Barack Obama raised at least $25 million for his presidential campaign in the first quarter of the year, putting him just shy of Sen. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, who made a splash with her announcement Sunday that she had drawn a record-breaking $26 million. Obama (D-Ill.) appears to have surpassed Clinton in several ways: He raised $6.9 million through donations over the Internet, more than the $4.2 million than Clinton (N.Y.) raised online. He reported donations from 100,000 people, double the 50,000 people who gave to Clinton. And of Obama's overall receipts, $23.5 million is eligible for use in the primary contests. Clinton officials have declined to disclose how much of her...

Where Rudy Lost His Groove

What a shame; Rudy Giuliani had been doing so well in convincing conservatives that he could represent them even while differing on social policy. He had advanced the argument that he would appoint strict constructionist judges to the federal bench, relying on textual references for Constitutional debates rather than "living document" notions that have driven conservatives up the wall. All of that work appears to have flown out the window with this CNN interview today: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told CNN Wednesday he supports public funding for some abortions, a position he advocated as mayor and one that will likely put the GOP presidential candidate at odds with social conservatives in his party. "Ultimately, it's a constitutional right, and therefore if it's a constitutional right, ultimately, even if you do it on a state by state basis, you have to make sure people are protected," Giuliani said...

April 5, 2007

Giuliani Transcript On Abortion

After Rudy Giuliani's surprising statement on federal funding for abortions yesterday, several commenters expressed reservations about the credibility of CNN to report what Rudy said honestly. Here is the transcript from the relevant portion of the interview, so that we can see the remark in context: BASH: There's something on -- you know, on YouTube from 1989. It's flying around the Internet. It's -- it's a clip of you. [tape]GIULIANI: There must be public funding for abortions for poor women. We cannot deny any woman the right to make her own decision about abortion because she lacks resources. [applause] I have also stated that I disagree with President Bush's veto last week of public funding for abortions. BASH: Is that also your -- going -- going to be your position as president? [live]GIULIANI: Probably. I mean, I have to reexamine all those issues and exactly what was at stake then....

The Welcoming Void

The New York Sun reports that recent polling has encouraged Fred Thompson to seriously consider a run for the Republican Presidential nomination. Jim Geraghty, the blogger behind NRO's HillarySpot, says that Thompson fills a void left by the unexpected loss of George Allen in last year's midterm elections: When George Allen fell to Jim Webb in the Virginia Senate race, it opened up a slot in the upcoming Republican presidential primary: the role of the reliable longtime lawmaker who has no serious disagreements with the conservatives who make up the party's base. That slot is moving closer to being filled by a former senator of Tennessee, Fred Thompson. The potential candidate is about "50–50" on running "because the polls have caught his eye," a source close to Mr. Thompson told National Review. The AP suggested this week that a bid by the former "Law and Order" actor would be hindered...

Giuliani On Federally-Funded Abortions, Take 3

It appears that Rudy Giuliani, intelligent man that he is, understands the damage he did to his efforts to connect with conservatives in his CNN interview yesterday. As Kathryn Jean Lopez posted at The Corner, Giuliani has started to climb down from his support of funding abortions with tax dollars: MAYOR GIULIANI: What I said yesterday is what I've been saying throughout, I think in the last number of months publicly and privately for quite some time, which is I'm against abortion, I hate it, I wish there never was an abortion and I would council a woman have an adoption instead of an abortion but ultimately I believe an individual right and a woman can make that choice. I also, on public funding or funding of abortion said I would want to see it decided on a state by state basis. And what that means is I would leave...

April 6, 2007

Romney Fundraising A Spook Story For The NYT

The New York Times appears willing to damn Romney for being rich and both using his own money for his presidential campaign and not using his own money for his presidential campaign. In seeking to explain Romney's success at fundraising, David Kirkpatrick doesn't give Romney much benefit of the doubt in an article headlined, "Romney Used His Wealth to Enlist Richest Donors": Mitt Romney, the multimillionaire founder of a giant private equity firm, knew he did not need other people’s money to mount a presidential campaign. But as they began planning a campaign more than two years ago, Mr. Romney and his advisers wanted to avoid the fate of two other millionaires, Steve Forbes and Ross Perot, whose self-financed campaigns went down as quixotic indulgences. “By Mitt or anyone else self-funding, you don’t have a lot of people making investments in you,” said Spencer Zwick, 28, the campaign’s fund-raising director...

Blaming Bloggers For Discussing The Issues?

Did Rudy blame bloggers for his tough week after his remarks on abortion and federal funding? Some apparently believe so, including Matt Lewis , who read Roger Simon's report for The Politico. Roger asked Rudy about whether he realizes how tough the race will get, and he got this response (via The Corner): Has it crossed your mind that this may be an extremely rough primary in 2008? I asked him. "It has, and it will be," Giuliani replied. But he also said he did not think the attacks would come directly from other Republican presidential candidates. "I think more of this comes from the atmosphere in the blogging atmosphere, in the instant news atmosphere, and the minute analysis atmosphere," he said. If Rudy spoke in reference to the abortion debate this week, then I would agree with Matt. It's hardly an "attack" to discuss the policy positions of the...

April 7, 2007

Not Time To Panic For McCain

John McCain's campaign will try to re-establish itself after a tough first quarter, the Wall Street Journal reports, and as the WSJ notes, he needs the re-set. His fundraising hasn't met expectations, and McCain's efforts to support the war has apparently alienated some of the moderates he hoped to attract: In short order, John McCain has gone from Republican presidential front-runner to political death watch. On Wednesday, the Arizona senator kicks off a month of high-profile events, seeking a resurrection of sorts. He badly needs it. Mr. McCain just reported raising $12.5 million for the first-quarter -- behind Republican rivals Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, as well as Democrats Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. Most analysts won't go so far as to bury Mr. McCain, citing his Republican rivals' own baggage: Both Mr. Romney and Mr. Giuliani are suspect among social conservatives for their records supporting abortion and...

Fred Thompson, Redstate, Red Meat

Fred Thompson, who has flirted with the notion of entering the Republican presidential primary race as a conservative savior, has his first blog post on Redstate today. He digs right into the war on terror and national security, the focus of GOP voters in this primary season, by going after the Iranian mullahcracy: Tony Blair doesn't appear to be in much of a mood for celebrating. I don't know how he could be, given the troubling spectacle of British soldiers shake the hand of their kidnapper as a condition of release. In the old days, they would have kissed his ring -- but wearing Iranian suits and carrying swag more appropriate to a Hollywood awards ceremony may have been as embarrassing. Ironically, Blair's options are fewer by the day as his own party moves to mothball the British fleet, once the fear of pirates and tyrants the world over. Some...

April 9, 2007

Why Is The Media Obsessed With Mormons? (Bumped)

The New York Times features yet another editorial by yet another journalist giving yet another slate of advice for Mitt Romney to address his "Mormon problem". This time Newsweek's Kenneth Woodward, their reporter on religion, offers all of the reasons that Americans are apparently hysterical about the prospect of having an LDS president: IN May, Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2008 Republican presidential hopeful, will give the commencement address at Pat Robertson’s Regent University. What better opportunity for Mr. Romney to discuss the issue of his Mormon faith before an audience of evangelicals? When John F. Kennedy spoke before Protestant clergymen in Houston in 1960, he sought to dispel the fear that as a Catholic president, he would be subject to direction from the pope. As a Mormon, Mr. Romney faces ignorance as well as fear of his church and its political influence. More Americans, polls show, are...

April 10, 2007

Rethinking McCain

Jonah Goldberg warns conservatives not to ignore John McCain in the presidential primary race in his latest LA Times column. Conceding that McCain has angered the Republican base on a number of occasions, he also advises that McCain has a long track record of supporting most of the conservative agenda. And on the all-important issue of terrorism and the war, Goldberg asks which of the present candidates has put more on the line to support it than Barry Goldwater's successor in the Senate: In the eyes of his conservative detractors — among whom I've long counted myself — McCain has a maddening habit of proving his political independence by winning accolades from the New York Times editorial board. On campaign finance reform, global warming and opposition to tax cuts, the "maverick" has too often racked up points by scoring against his own team. Sometimes he stands to the right of...

Competence And The Mayor

John Podhoretz, who has supported Rudy Giuliani since he wrote Can She Be Stopped? about Hillary Clinton early last year, wants to brace America's Mayor after a tough two weeks. John writes an open letter to Rudy in today's New York Post, making it clear that Giuliani has to show his normally encyclopaedic grasp of issues and details and demonstrate a high degree of competency if he hopes to win conservatives in the Republican primary: So where is it now? The vision seems to be there. But not the competence. ... [T]he answer to your pro-choice difficulty with social conservatives on the matter of abortion isn't to blather about how much you "hate it" and then ruminate on whether the government should be responsible for helping pay for one. That's what you did last week, and you must never, ever do anything like it again - if, that is, you...

Democrats Fear Fox, Part II

Democrats have once again gone running in fright from Fox News Channel for a political debate -- or more accurately, have run from fear of their anti-war base. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama join John Edwards in refusing to appear on Fox for a debate sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus: Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) yesterday joined former North Carolina senator John Edwards (D) in deciding to skip a debate scheduled for September that Fox News is co-sponsoring with the Congressional Black Caucus. Liberal activists, particularly the online group Moveon.org, have called for Democratic presidential candidates not to participate in debates by Fox, which they say is biased against Democrats. Clinton campaign aides said she would participate only in the six events sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee and two other events she had already agreed to. Several candidates, including Edwards, last month withdrew from...

Gallup Polling: The Rich Get Richer ...

... and the challengers fall back. According to Gallup's latest surveys on the presidential primaries, Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton put more distance between themselves and their nearest challengers, despite missteps by both candidates since the last polling. The results tend to contradict some of the analyses published since the first-quarter fundraising numbers got released last week. First, the GOP: The April 2-5 Gallup Poll finds 38% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents favoring Giuliani for the 2008 nomination, well ahead of his closest pursuer, McCain (16%). Two unannounced but potential candidates -- Gingrich and Thompson -- tie for third at 10%. The remaining 10 candidates tested in the poll all score below 10%, led by Mitt Romney at 6%. Romney had drawn the most money out of Republican donors in the last cycle, while McCain had finished weakly, but it has not changed Romney's relative position at all. Despite his...

The Tragedy Of Consistency

I'm an avid reader of E.J. Dionne, not because I sometimes agree with what he writes, but because he writes one of the most reasoned liberal columns. Today, Dionne looks at what he sees as a tragic transformation of John McCain, and laments McCain's missed opportunity to tell truth to power: There is another tragic element: McCain suffered mightily during the 2000 presidential primaries at the hands of George W. Bush's political machine, which smeared the senator on everything from his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam to the racial identity of his adopted daughter. Yet McCain is being dragged down now by his loyalty to the very same Bush and his policies in Iraq. Earlier in the war, McCain was a fierce critic of the president's strategy and tactics. But those criticisms count for little now. Bush destroyed McCain's candidacy by design the first time and is...

April 11, 2007

Fred Has Manageable Cancer (Update: Fred's Showing His Hand)

See below for updates. Fred Thompson, whose potential entry into the 2008 presidential race has him already third in Republican polling, announced today that he has a manageable form of lymphoma: Republican Fred Thompson, the actor-politician who is considering a bid for president, said Wednesday he has lymphoma, a form of cancer. In an interview with Fox News, the former Tennessee senator said he is in remission and the diagnosis shouldn't affect his life expectancy. Thompson, 64, told Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto that he has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, but hasn't been ill or had any symptoms. ... Some of these subtypes are termed "indolent," meaning they typically respond well to treatment — patients often go into remission for long periods, but the disease is not cured and may need to be battled back again periodically. This may throw some cold water on the Thompson boomlet. Some voters have expressed reservations...

McCain: I Blame Rumsfeld For Iraq

I took part in a blogger conference on my lunchbreak today with Senator John McCain on the topic of Iraq. McCain, who gave a speech on Iraq at the Virginia Military Institute earlier today, wanted to reach out to New Media sources for his perspective on the progress of the war, the critical nature of our effort there, and the need to persevere until we succeed. McCain did not pull many punches in this call. Speaking as bluntly as I have heard in some time, he acknowledged the credibility deficit of the Pentagon and White House on the war. Saying that “too often, we misled the American people in the past” about deadenders, mission accomplished, and so on, McCain said that the press has become too reluctant to report actual progress in Iraq. He feels that bloggers and radio hosts can help get real information to the American people and...

April 12, 2007

Hoffa: We'll "Blow Up" Denver For Dem Convention (Updated)

The Democrats may stage an homage to Chicago 1968 in Denver for their 2008 convention. The AP reports that the party's union base objects strongly to the selection of the right-to-work city for the convention and are threatening to disrupt the proceedings if Denver doesn't start using closed shops: The Democrats' choice of Denver to anoint their presidential nominee in 2008 has stirred up angst among unions, one of the party's core groups, because of Colorado's reputation as an unfriendly place for organized labor. ... Last month, the AFL-CIO threatened to force Democrats to abandon Denver after Colorado's Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter vetoed a bill making it easier to set up all-union workplaces. "Unless we can be assured that the governor will support our values and priorities, we will strongly urge the Democratic Party to relocate the convention," said the AFL-CIO's executive council. Teamsters President James Hoffa chimed in last...

LA Times Poll: Fred Gains As McCain Drops Back

The Los Angeles Times reports on its latest polling for the Republican presidential primaries, and the only one who should be smiling is the scowlin' Volunteer, Fred Thompson. Rudy Giuliani polls at less than 30%, while McCain drops behind his good friend into a distant third place: Sen. John McCain, once considered the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, has fallen to third place in a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll, and is running behind Fred Thompson, an actor and former senator who has not even entered the race. Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani leads the crowded field of announced and potential contenders with support from 29% of probable Republican primary voters surveyed, followed by Thompson with 15% and McCain with 12%. Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and a fundraising powerhouse, had 8%. The Arizona senator's showing in the poll is his lowest in any national survey...

April 14, 2007

Is Fred 'Someone Else'?

The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes takes a look at the Fred Thompson phenomenon in the Republican presidential primary race and concludes that he embodies None of the Above, at least for the moment. Make no mistake, Hayes warns -- he won't play that role for long. If conservatives find themselves disheartened by the passive (or nonexistent) conservativism of the Bush era, Thompson promises a more assertive, robust form that could hearken back to Ronald Reagan: The presence of the cigars and the absence of a press chaperone were clues that Thompson is taking a different approach to his potential candidacy. A campaign flack would have insisted on hiding the cigars--Senator, how did you get those Cuban cigars? Isn't there a trade embargo?--and might have dampened Thompson's natural candor. On subjects ranging from Social Security to abortion, the CIA and to Iran, there would be lots of candor over the next...

April 15, 2007

Thompson On Taxes

Fred Thompson appeared on the pages of the Wall Street Journal yesterday to assess tax policy and its impact on the American economy. To no one's great surprise, Thompson favors tax cuts to incentivize capital investment -- and to no one's great surprise, he articulates that vision very, very well: The results of the experiment that began when Congress passed a series of tax-rate cuts in 2001 and 2003 are in. Supporters of those cuts said they would stimulate the economy. Opponents predicted ever-increasing budget deficits and national bankruptcy unless tax rates were increased, especially on the wealthy. In fact, Treasury statistics show that tax revenues have soared and the budget deficit has been shrinking faster than even the optimists projected. Since the first tax cuts were passed, when I was in the Senate, the budget deficit has been cut in half. Remarkably, this has happened despite the financial trauma...

Hillary's Conundrum

Hillary Clinton has had a difficult conundrum facing her ever since the beginning of her presidential campaign. Her vote to authorize the use of force against Iraq and Saddam Hussein in October 2002 has the anti-war base revved up to defeat her in favor of a more capitulationist candidate like Barack Obama or John Edwards. She has tried to alternately defend the vote and claim that she was misled as a defense against the activists within her own party. Last night. however, she ran into someone who refused to buy what she's been selling (via Instapundit): After fielding many questions ranging from mental health care to veteran affairs at a Town Hall Meeting in Hampton, NH, Senator Hillary Clinton received a heated question about Iraq. A woman who had traveled from New York asked Sen. Clinton if she had read the report given to her in 2002 on intelligence and...

April 16, 2007

Such A Tease!

The Republicans' dream candidate gave yet a further hint yesterday that he will run for the presidential nomination for the 2008 ticket. Was it Newt Gingrich? Perhaps Fred Thompson got spotted having lunch with Mitch McConnell? Did Jeb Bush change his last name to Reagan? No -- this is even better than that (via Memeorandum): Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) reopened the door to a possible 2008 presidential campaign during a book signing in Denver and then again, in an interview with 9NEWS. The 2004 Democratic nominee told a crowd of more than 250 at the Tattered Cover bookstore in lower downtown Denver that he had no desire to endorse any candidate for the office right now, choosing to wait to see how they addressed the issue of global warming. ... Afterwards, while answering a question from a viewer on the program YOUR SHOW about why he chose not to run,...

Hillary Losing Donors To Obama

Hillary Clinton and her supporters had thought that the 2008 primary race would be nothing less than a coronation march, as the supporters of her husband all came together to return the White House keys to the Clinton family. It turned into a dogfight instead, and some of her husband's former colleagues have decided to back another dog in the fight. Barack Obama has managed to convince some of Bill's big fundraisers to support his candidacy over that of the former First Lady: As Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton seeks to reassemble the Democratic money machine her husband built, some of its major fund-raisers have already signed on with Senator Barack Obama. Among the biggest fund-raisers for Mr. Obama’s campaign are as many as a half-dozen former guests of the Clinton White House. At least two are close enough to the Clintons to have slept in the Lincoln bedroom. At minimum,...

McCain Tackles The Tax Code

John McCain, looking for some conservative mojo to break out of an early slump on the stump, will outline his plan to overhaul the federal tax code at a speech today in Memphis. Speaking in the heart of what may soon become Fred Territory, McCain will pledge to end the "Byzantine" tax laws that have created an entire industry out of determining how to pay Uncle Sam: In a major economic policy speech today, Senator McCain will pledge to fix what he calls an "incomprehensible" and "Byzantine" federal tax code, casting himself as the candidate who will fight for changes that others have failed to achieve. The speech to the Economic Club of Memphis is the second in a series of substantive addresses Mr. McCain is delivering in an effort to revive an ailing campaign and recapture the sharp-tongued candor that won him support in his first presidential bid eight...

Did Rudy Tell Pro-Lifers To Get Over Themselves?

The Des Moines Register reported that Rudy Giuliani told a crowd that social conservatives had to "get beyond issues" like abortion in order to elect Republicans. Thomas Beaumont's report sent a few shock waves through the blogosphere: Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani warned GOP activists in Des Moines on Saturday that if they insist on a nominee who always agrees with them, it will spell defeat in 2008. “Our party is going to grow, and we are going to win in 2008 if we are a party characterized by what we’re for, not if we’re a party that’s known for what we’re against,” the former New York mayor said at a midday campaign stop. Republicans can win, he said, if they nominate a candidate committed to the fight against terrorism and high taxes, rather than a pure social conservative. “Our party has to get beyond issues like that,” Giuliani said,...

April 17, 2007

The Party Of Government

John McCain continues his efforts to assume the mantle of fiscal discipline in the Republican presidential primary. In a speech yesterday in Memphis, he assured his audience that a McCain presidency would exhibit responsible stewardship of the nation's treasury -- and scolded Republicans for becoming the "party of government": Senator John McCain of Arizona acknowledged Monday that his fellow Republicans “forgot who we were” in recent years by spending too much, and said that as president he would rely on low taxes, greater fiscal restraint and free trade to lift the nation’s economy. Mr. McCain, whose presidential campaign has been viewed with suspicion by some conservatives because of his initial opposition to the Bush administration’s tax cuts, used the first major economic address of his campaign to reaffirm his commitment to the free market but said he would move to overhaul the nation’s unemployment programs to help people find jobs...

He Likes Bagels, Too

Former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson discovered the perils of paying compliments to ethnic groups in a speech yesterday in Washington, DC. He told an audience at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism that he admired Jews for their ability to make money: Former Wisconsin governor and Republican presidential hopeful Tommy Thompson told Jewish activists Monday that making money is "part of the Jewish tradition," and something that he applauded. Speaking to an audience at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington D.C., Thompson said that, "I'm in the private sector and for the first time in my life I'm earning money. You know that's sort of part of the Jewish tradition and I do not find anything wrong with that." Thompson later apologized for the comments that had caused a stir in the audience, saying that he had meant it as a compliment, and had only wanted...

April 18, 2007

How Many Donors Paid For Edwards' Hair?

I'm the last person who should tallk about hair, I suppose, although I can talk a good game of scalp. The only reason I pay as much as I do for haircuts these days is because my stylist charges a finder's fee. Still, I pay the square root of what John Edwards pays for his haircuts, and unlike Edwards, I'm not using political contributions to pay for mine: Looking pretty is costing John Edwards' presidential campaign a lot of pennies. The Democrat's campaign committee picked up the tab for two haircuts at $400 each by celebrity stylist Joseph Torrenueva of Beverly Hills, California, according to a financial report filed with the Federal Election Commission. FEC records show Edwards also availed himself of $250 in services from a trendy salon and spa in Dubuque, Iowa, and $225 in services from the Pink Sapphire in Manchester, New Hampshire, which is described on...

Obama: Insults, Outsourcing 'Violence'

The culture of victimhood has a new champion, according to the Texas Rainmaker, and that champion is Barack Obama. Faster than someone can say "Ismail Ax", Obama used the Virginia Tech massacre to decry violence in American lives -- but as it turns out, "violence" covers a lot of ground in Obama's political lexicon: Dem presidential hopeful Barack Obama condemned a violence obsessed culture in his first Wisconsin campaign stop, reflecting on the shooting deaths of more than 30 people at Virginia Tech earlier in the day. ... The Senator described a culture in which "the violence of children and communities" is ignored, working class jobs are outsourced overseas, and foreign policies are put into place favoring military responses. Obama also referenced comments radio host Don Imus made last week about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. "There’s a lot of different forms of violence in our society, and so...

April 19, 2007

A Contrarian Position Conservatives Might Like

John McCain appears to have decided on a more aggressive approach on the campaign trail, and an avoidance of political correctness. Just two days after the massacre at Virginia Tech has people talking about enacting stricter gun control measures, McCain gave a forceful defense of gun rights at an appearance in Summerville, South Carolina. Saying that we need to improve our ability to identify dangerous people before they can kill, McCain insisted that restricting gun ownership would not solve the problem of shooting sprees: Republican presidential candidate John McCain declared Wednesday he believes in "no gun control," making the strongest affirmation of support for gun rights in the GOP field since the Virginia Tech massacre. The Arizona senator said in Summerville, S.C., that the country needs better ways to identify dangerous people like the gunman who killed 32 people and himself in the Blacksburg, Va., rampage. But he opposed weakening...

Giuliani Slips In Latest Polling

The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that Rudy Giuliani has started coming back to the pack after a surprisingly successful first quarter. John McCain has managed to hold his ground, and Fred Thompson appears to be the beneficiary of Rudy's retreat. Meanwhile, Hillary has widened the gap between herself and #2 Barack Obama, but because Obama lost a little ground since the previous poll in February. First, the Republicans: Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's lead over his Republican presidential rivals has narrowed considerably, while Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) has maintained her advantage in the race for the Democratic nomination, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), whose candidacy has been buffeted by lackluster fundraising and his embrace of President Bush's troop surge policy in Iraq, runs a solid second among GOP hopefuls. But there is fresh evidence in the new survey...

April 20, 2007

Don't Cry For Her, America

Just in case the thought of Hillary Clinton's devastation if she loses the 2008 nomination for the presidency keeps you up nights, Bill Clinton offers some soothing words. He told Larry King that Hillary will have no problem resuming her Senate term if she doesn't win the election, and that the two of them will "have a great life": Former President Bill Clinton told CNN Thursday his wife, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, will have no qualms about returning to the Senate if she loses her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. "You know she's not -- some people who run for president can't wait to get out of the Senate, or out of whatever other job she's got. She loves it. She's still doing it. She's still going to her committee meetings, going to upstate New York and trying to run for president as well," Clinton told CNN's Larry...

April 22, 2007

Gore To Run For 2008 Nomination

Al Gore has insisted that he has no interest in returning to electoral politics and wants to focus on his media interests and on solutions to global warming. The former Vice President has shown no inclination to run against the wife of his former boss, at least not publicly. However, the London Telegraph reports that Gore has secretly begun to recruit a campaign staff and will challenge Hillary Clinton for the nomination: Friends of Al Gore have secretly started assembling a campaign team in preparation for the former American vice-president to make a fresh bid for the White House. Two members of Mr Gore's staff from his unsuccessful attempt in 2000 say they have been approached to see if they would be available to work with him again. Mr Gore, President Bill Clinton's deputy, has said he wants to concentrate on publicising the need to combat climate change, a case...

McCain Falters In Former Stronghold (Updated)

John McCain will formally announce his candidacy for the 2008 Presidential nomination in South Carolina next week, but the state's Republicans made it clear he should have showed up this week. Instead of appearing for the party's straw poll yesterday, McCain sent former Oklahoma governor Frank Keating -- and South Carolina sent him a third-tier finish: The weekend before Arizona Sen. John McCain makes his official presidential announcement in South Carolina, polls show he's not popular with local Republican voters. The Republican parties in Greenville, Spartanburg and Richland counties held conventions Saturday, where the candidates had the chance to speak and voters participated in polls. McCain did not attend and opted to send former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating to appear in his place. Spartanburg County Republican Party Chairman Rick Beltram blamed McCain's absence for his poor showing. "I thought that McCain missing these South Carolina conventions was a major error...

April 24, 2007

Hillary Losing Critical Constituency

During the first quarter of this extended presidential primary season, people discounted Barack Obama's candidacy for a number of reasons, but one related to his supposed lack of resonance in the African-American community. The New York Times reported in early February that Obama was not considered "black enough" by activists within the African-American community. Now, less than three months later, the Gray Lady reports that they have discovered that Hillary looks a lot more pale in comparison: Only a few months ago, the vast majority of black elected officials in New York were expected to support the presidential candidacy of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. But no longer. In a series of interviews, a significant number of those officials now say they are undecided about whether to back Mrs. Clinton or one of her main rivals for the Democratic nomination, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, the only black politician in the...

April 25, 2007

Rudy: Democrats Want A 9/10 World

Of all the candidates running for president, Rudy Giuliani knows best what a 9/10 mentality means in an age of radical Islamist terror. He had to deal with the aftermath of bureaucratic confusion and politically-correct counterterrorism on 9/11 and the weeks afterward as the mayor of a city who saw almost 3,000 of his citizens killed by terrorists. So when Giuliani talks about the folly of returning to the defense against terrorists, he knows of what he speaks: Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani wrapped up a day of campaigning in New Hampshire on Tuesday night by issuing a stark warning that Democrats would put the country on defense in the campaign against terrorism and needlessly prolong a conflict that he said America can and must win. ... "If one of them gets elected, it sounds to me like we're going on the defense," he said. "We've got a...

McCain Announces Today

John McCain makes his formal entry into the presidential race today from Portsmouth, New Hampshire this afternoon: Republican John McCain — senator, ex-Navy pilot and former Vietnam captive — is casting himself as the most qualified person to lead the country in wartime as he officially opens his second presidential bid and tries to succeed where he once failed. ... McCain was largely using the speech and a four-day romp through early primary states and his Arizona home to make the case for his candidacy, outline his vision for the country and promise "common sense, conservative and comprehensive solutions" to the nation's problems. The high-profile events also give McCain an opportunity to restart his campaign and inject momentum into it after a troubling four-month period. He went from presumed front-runner for the GOP nomination at year's end to trailing former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in national polls and...

April 27, 2007

Debate Drones

I skipped watching the first Democratic presidential debate, but according to all accounts, I didn't miss too much. The New York Times tried to frame the evening in the best possible light, but even the Gray Lady conceded that it turned into an ennui to forget: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was professorial and emphatic as she spoke Thursday night about health care, Iraq and whether Wal-Mart was good for America (a “mixed blessing,” she decided) . Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, by reputation a dynamic performer, was reserved and cautious as he talked about a donor with a shady past, how he would respond to a terrorist attack on American shores and his biggest mistake (not doing more to stop Congress from intervening in the Terri Schiavo case, he said). The setting was the first Democratic presidential debate of the 2008 campaign, a surprisingly sedate and meandering affair, filled with...

April 28, 2007

Did Obama Blow The Debate?

That's the question I pose at Heading Right, after the Washington Post reports that Hillary Clinton has focused on Barack Obama's less-than-muscular response to a hypothetical question about a terrorist attack on the US. What did Obama miss that Hillary, John Edwards, and Bill Richardson get right -- and is it the Kitty Dukakis question of this primary season?...

April 29, 2007

The New Reagan?

Fred Thompson has captured the imagination of conservatives who find themselves dissatisfied with the current crop of presidential contenders. They want to find a nominee who combines the charisma of Rudy Giuliani, the firmness on the war of John McCain, and the conservative domestic policies of Duncant Hunter and Mike Huckabee. In short, conservatives want another Ronald Reagan. According to some of those who worked for Ronald Reagan, they may have it in Thompson: Ronald Reagan's closest allies are throwing their weight behind the White House bid by the late president's fellow actor, Fred Thompson. The film star and former Republican senator from Tennessee will this week use a speech in the heart of Reagan country, in southern California, to woo party bigwigs in what insiders say is the next step in his coming out as a candidate. A key figure in the Reagan inner circle has now given his...

Obama, The Neocon (Updated)

Is Barack Obama an interventionist neocon in sheep's clothing? Robert Kagan apparently thinks so, and makes his case in today's Washington Post. I provide an answer at Heading Right, and note that one speech does not a hawk make. UPDATE: With Democrats howling over the supposedly unprecedented politicization of the Bush White House -- as if they'd forgotten all about James Carville and Vernon Jordan -- Newsweek reminds them that Democrats hardly qualify as ethics scolds: Sen. Barack Obama vows to bring a "new kind of politics" to Washington. But a copy of a 36-page fax from Obama's Senate office, obtained by NEWSWEEK, shows that the rookie presidential candidate, riding the biggest wave this side of his native Hawaii, needs to keep a sharp eye on the details of his own campaign. Senate ethics rules allow senators with active campaigns to "split" the work time and salary of official schedulers...

April 30, 2007

Edwards: Clinton Tax Levels Are Just The Beginning

John Edwards has a refreshing strategy in the presidential primaries: pretend the center doesn't exist. He wants to win the Democratic nomination by running hard to the left, especially on economics. In that vein, he told California Democrats at their state convention that not only will he raise taxes on high-income families, he considers that just a starting point: Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards said yesterday raising taxes for higher-income families back to their levels under the Clinton administration is a floor, not a ceiling, and he would consider even higher tax increases. "What I believe is the starting place is to go back to the Clinton levels," Mr. Edwards told reporters after addressing the 2,000 delegates to California's state Democratic Party convention. ... "I believe it is more important to bring about the transformation," he said, pointing to his universal health care plan, achieving independence from foreign energy and...

A Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy?

Hillary Clinton has complained for years that her critics come from a vast right-wing conspiracy to discredit and defame her and her husband. Will she now add Carl Bernstein to the conservative cabal out to get her? Bernstein will soon release an extensively-researched biography of the Democratic front-runner, and the Watergate reporter apparently has discovered a number of discrepancies between her official biography and the records he found. I posted about this at Heading Right, the group blog of the conservative talk show hosts at Blog Talk Radio. Given the solidly liberal background of Bernstein, Hillary will have a difficult time escaping the impact of an exposé....

GOP Straw Poll (Update & Bump)

It's time again for another GOP straw poll from our friends at GOP Bloggers. Actually, it's past due; I haven't kept up with the monthly polls. In the meantime, they've added a couple of new options, including Fred Thompson and Jim Gilmore. As always, the poll will count the selections for Captain's Quarters readers separately, allowing us to take the temperature of the CQ community. Tomorrow, I'll report on the results from the first day of polling. UPDATE & BUMP, 4:20 PM CT: Once again, CQ has generated the largest number of straw-poll votes on the first full day, and it's a runaway for Fred Thompson. He has 55.9% of the first-choice CQ vote, followed by Rudy Giuliani at 20.9%. Mitt Romney comes in third at 8.7%, while McCain trails (None) with only 2.2%. Acceptability ratings gives Rudy better news. Sixty-one percent of CQ readers thus far consider Rudy acceptable,...

May 1, 2007

McCain Ditching The UN?

File this one under Conservative Red Meat -- John McCain wants to form a League of Democracies to take action when the UN fails to do so. Warning that the US has to find a global structure for its security policies, McCain told a Stanford University audience that lasting peace comes from spreading freedom: Republican presidential candidate John McCain envisions a "League of Democracies" as part of a more cooperative foreign policy with U.S. allies. The Arizona senator will call for such an organization to be "the core of an international order of peace based on freedom" in a speech Tuesday at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. "We Americans must be willing to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies," McCain says, according to excerpts his campaign provided. "Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we...

Fred Doesn't Chase The Gray Ladies, Though

The New York Times finally weighs in on Fred Thompson, the conservative hope for the 2008 Republican presidential primaries, and they hit below the belt. Actually, that's true literally but not figuratively, as their profile actually remains balanced and positive, with the one exception about discussing his personal life between marriages: Making speeches at carefully chosen appearances, doing an occasional interview and fielding questions from Republican congressmen, Mr. Thompson, 64, is running something of a guerrilla exploratory effort. He even weighed in recently on a conservative blog to offer a detailed defense of his ideas on federalism. Behind the scenes, Mr. Thompson has been consulting with his inner circle — including former Senators Bill Frist and Howard H. Baker Jr. of Tennessee and experienced Washington aides like Mark Corallo, a former Justice Department official — about how he could pull together the money and staff he would need to run....

May 3, 2007

Quinnipiac Poll Shows Rudy Coming Back To The Pack

On the eve of the first televised debate for the Republican presidential contenders, Quinnipiac shows that the race continues to fluctuate in the early primary season. Rudy Giuliani has lost significant ground over the last month to the undeclared Fred Thompson, but neither John McCain nor Mitt Romney has taken advantage: Giuliani leads the Republican field with 27 percent, down from 40 percent, followed by 19 percent for Arizona Sen. John McCain, 14 percent for former Sen. Fred Thompson and 8 percent each for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. The Democrats have not changed positions much at all. Hillary Clinton leads the pack with a substantial 14-point lead over Barack Obama (32%-18%), despite other polling that indicated Obama had caught up to Hillary. Al Gore comes in third with 14%, meaning that the #3 person in both parties is an undeclared candidate -- not...

Debate Live-Blog -- Debate Central Wrap-Up Next!

Were live-blogging the debate at Heading Right. Come by and join us! We're starting the post-debate discussion at 9 pm CT -- be sure to join us!...

Debate Analysis: Romney Wins

The first Republican debate has finished, and the analysis and spin will begin in earnest. I'm sure that by morning, my e-mail will be filled with messages insisting on promoting one candidate over another, but I already have a few conclusions to share with CQ readers and to inspire debate in this comment thread. * Who won? -- Mitt Romney won this debate. He looked relaxed, answered clearly, showed real warmth and a sense of humor, and actually answered the questions asked of him -- even the stupid ones, to which I'll return shortly. After Romney, one has to think that Jim Gilmore and Mike Huckabee may have made some strides in breaking out of the third tier. They also showed that they could connect emotionally to the audience and give clear, thoughtful answers. * Who lost? -- Not everyone who didn't win lost, but a couple of candidates obviously...

May 4, 2007

NRO Debate Forum

Last night, I had the pleasure of analyzing the debate with my excellent co-bloggers at Heading Right as it happened, and then recapping it at Debate Central in a half-hour roundtable which has now been podcasted by BlogTalkRadio. Afterwords, National Review offered me the opportunity to participate in their Symposium on the Reagan Library Debate, along with Yuval Levin, Kathleen Parker, John F Pitney Jr, Peter Robinson, Lisa Schiffren, and of course, Kathryn Jean Lopez. The consensus appears to be that the debate format was so awful as to make it almost inconsequential. Everyone agreed that Rudy did not help himself, although apparently Survey USA's snap poll showed Rudy winning the debate among California watchers. Perhaps that was because he didn't get to talk as much as the other candidates, as Chris Matthews at times seemed to play keep-away from Rudy. After that, the responses vary, and all are intriguing....

Cinema Fredité

I see the Los Angeles Times has spent decades living in and reporting on the film community without learning anything about acting. In their Celebrity News section, Tina Daunt wonders whether voters will confuse Fred Thompson the politician with the roles performed by Fred Thompson the actor. She speaks with a USC professor who apparently doesn't understand the difference, either (via Hot Air): But in the age of YouTube, this performance could raise an intriguing political question: How does a performer eyeing a presidential run deal with a video history that can be downloaded, taken out of context, chopped into embarrassing pieces and then distributed endlessly though cyberspace? Some conservative political blogs are already considering the problem. "Not only do politicians have to worry about getting comfortable with a crowd and saying something that might be caught on tape," said USC professor Leo Braudy, a pop culture expert, who has...

May 5, 2007

Fred's Debut

Fred Thompson appeared last night at the Lincoln Club, an influential group of California power brokers in the GOP, giving a speech which broadly outlines his agenda. Given that the Lincoln Club could have invited almost any of the 2008 primary candidates to speak at their annual dinner, the choice of Thompson gives the impression of a tacit endorsement of his candidacy -- and the Lincoln Club’s endorsement (tacit or otherwise) carries a powerful weight to anyone fortunate enough to receive it. The speech itself serves as an excellent entrée into the race. On the Iraq war, he remained steadfast in its central importance to American global security. On economics and taxes, he stayed close to the federalist philosophies that have become his hallmark. Thompson also attacked government waste, red tape, and its intrusion into areas without a Constitutional mandate -- and its poor performance when it does. I've extensively...

May 6, 2007

Fred And John

Readers can tell that the media has begun to take Fred Thompson seriously as a candidate, because the profiles on him have become more sharp and land on the front pages. Today, the Washington Post takes a turn at Fred, noting the similarities between his positions and that of his friend and colleague, John McCain -- and wonders why the base pines for Fred and mostly eschews McCain: Fred Thompson fervently backed the Iraq war, railed against an expanding federal government, took stands that occasionally annoyed his party and rarely spoke about his views on social issues during his tenure as a senator from Tennessee or in his writings and speeches since leaving office. In short, the man some in the GOP are touting as a dream candidate has often sounded like the presidential hopeful many of them seem ready to dismiss: Sen. John McCain (Ariz.). With some in the...

Newsweek Practicing Early For Poll Follies

Newsweek publishes a breathless account of how George Bush's approval rating has dropped to 28%, and how leading Democrat contenders now outpoll the Republicans across the board for the 2008 presidential race. Coincidence, Newsweek asks? They should have asked that question of their pollsters: It’s hard to say which is worse news for Republicans: that George W. Bush now has the worst approval rating of an American president in a generation, or that he seems to be dragging every ’08 Republican presidential candidate down with him. But According to the new NEWSWEEK Poll, the public’s approval of Bush has sunk to 28 percent, an all-time low for this president in our poll, and a point lower than Gallup recorded for his father at Bush Sr.’s nadir. The last president to be this unpopular was Jimmy Carter who also scored a 28 percent approval in 1979. This remarkably low rating seems...

May 7, 2007

Richardson: Strength Through Surrender

Bill Richardson made his appearance on BlogTalkRadio's Heading Left show this afternoon, and he spoke about his position on the Iraq war. Not surprisingly, he favors a complete deauthorization of the war, along the lines proposed by Hillary Clinton and Robert Byrd. However, Richardson would go even farther than most Democrats. He would pull American troops out of Baghdad, but also from Anbar and Diyala, where they face al-Qaeda terrorists and where we have made a lot of progress in engaging the local tribes. Here's Richardson on his vision for Iraq: What I would do is call for a deauthorization on the war, on the basis of the authorization is now, I believe invalid, because there were no weapons of mass destruction, as that language indicated, in the initial war authorization. So I would deauthorize the war, I would set a timetable of all troops out by the end of...

May 9, 2007

The Rest Were Pledged

When evaluating leadership, people usually value two traits the most -- getting the facts straight and remaining calm enough to absorb them. Barack Obama failed in both yesterday, as he used the Kansas tornadoes as a talking point on the campaign trail and informed the audience that 10,000 people had died in them( via QandO): Barack Obama, caught up in the fervor of a campaign speech Tuesday, drastically overstated the Kansas tornadoes death toll, saying 10,000 had died. The death toll was 12. "In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died - an entire town destroyed," the Democratic presidential candidate said in a speech to 500 people packed into a sweltering Richmond art studio for a fundraiser. His campaign manager later said that Obama had meant "at least ten". Well, why not just get the facts straight and say twelve? That...

May 10, 2007

Rudy To Embrace Pro-Choice

Rudy Giuliani has had a tough four weeks on one particular issue. In trying to make his pro-choice positions more palatable, he has damaged the image of consistency and toughness that makes his candidacy compelling in the first place. During the last debate, he fumbled on a question about whether a repeal of Roe v Wade would be beneficial, which made him look confused. Apparently, Rudy has had enough of ducking and weaving, and has decided to hit the abortion issue head-on in an attempt to get it behind him: After months of conflicting signals on abortion, Rudolph W. Giuliani is planning to offer a forthright affirmation of his support for abortion rights in public forums, television appearances and interviews in the coming days, despite the potential for bad consequences among some conservative voters already wary of his views, aides said yesterday. At the same time, Mr. Giuliani’s campaign —...

May 11, 2007

Edwards To Grow The Federal Government By 36%

For those who believe the federal government has grown too large and its budget a threat to the nation's economic health. neither party has offered much in the way of good news over the last few years. The Republicans offered tax cuts while increasing spending at an astonishing rate for supposed small-government conservatives. The Democrats have been worse, wanting to rescind the tax cuts so they can spend the extra money they believe the new taxes will raise. However, as bad as both parties have been, John Edwards promises something new and different. He promises to make it worse by adding so much new spending that it would create a budget 36% larger than FY2007, within just eight years: Presidential candidate John Edwards is offering more policy proposals than any other candidate in the primary and his ideas are winning loud applause from Democratic audiences. The question is whether other...

May 12, 2007

When Sports Analogies Attack!

If politicians insist on using sports analogies, they should at least tailor them for the audience they intend to impress. Unfortunately, Sam Brownback may have learned that lesson the hard way today. The presidential aspirant from Kansas called an Indiana quarterback the best ever in front of a Wisconsin crowd, and got booed as a result: Note to Sen. Sam Brownback: When in Packerland, don’t diss Brett Favre. The Kansas Republican drew boos and groans from the audience at the state Republican Party convention Friday evening when he used a football analogy to talk about the need to rebuild the family. “This is fundamental blocking and tackling,” he said. “This is your line in football. If you don’t have a line, how many passes can Peyton Manning complete? Greatest quarterback, maybe, in NFL history.” How did Brownback manage to get this one wrong? I'd bet that at least 10% of...

Should Candidates Release Their Tax Returns?

Ever since Watergate, presidential candidates have released their tax records in order to show that they have nothing to hide. Only one major candidate refused to do so in the last twenty years, and Bill Clinton changed his mind for his re-election bid in 1996. This year, however, it looks like anyone releasing that information will be the exception rather than the rule (via Instapundit): In a break with the tradition of recent presidential campaigns, most of the major presidential candidates aren't releasing their income-tax filings. Edwards has indicated that he will keep his tax returns private, and while Romney is still considering his options, he has never released his returns in previous runs for office. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., aren't saying whether they will or not, but neither has released income tax forms filed this year. That means voters are likely to know less...

May 15, 2007

Hagel To Tilt At Windmills, Bloomberg To Be Sancho Panza

It's not too early to get some laughs from the presidential primaries. I missed this yesterday, but Chuck Hagel has begun mulling over an independent run for the presidency -- and apparently already has a running mate in mind: The Republican Party has been "hijacked" and led away from its core values, Chuck Hagel, the Republican Senator from Nebraska, said Sunday on Face The Nation. Hagel, who is still considering his options for the 2008 race, left open the possibility of becoming an independent and sharing a ticket with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "I am not happy with the Republican Party today," Hagel said. "It's been hijacked by a group of single-minded almost isolationists, insulationists, power-projectors." My friends at Power Line already have had their laughs over the "insulationists" part of Hagel's comment, but the rest of it makes no sense either. Hagel complains about isolationism and power...

Fred! Overshadows The Debate ... Again

Michael Moore challenged Fred Thompson to a debate. Fred Thompson replied --- and once again managed to cast his long shadow over the Republican presidential debate. It's 38 seconds of a down-home rhetorical spanking that manages to both address Moore and belittle him. I'm thinking Jack Palance in City Slickers, telling Bill Crystal, "I crap bigger than you." In Moore's case, though, it would be strictly figurative. Which do you think will have a more positive and lasting impact on Republican voters -- these 38 seconds or anything said in tonight's 90-minute debate? Oh, now, let's not always see the same hands ... UPDATE: Man, I could watch this over and over again. Talk about pitch-perfect ... and if you're wondering who Thompson references, there's a short explanation here. Thompson himself wrote about Guillen almost two weeks ago....

Debate Live Blog At Heading Right, Roundtable At Blog Talk Radio

Tonight, the second Republican presidential primary debate airs at 8 pm CT -- and Blog Talk Radio and Heading Right will team up to cover it. The entire team at Heading Right will be posting live at the site, offering a running conversation as the 90-minute debate progresses. Over a dozen top conservative BTR hosts will debate the debate, live, at the site. In fact -- we've already begun! At 10 pm CT, about thirty minutes after the end of the event, we will meet at Debate Central, the new live Internet debate forum for BTR. I will moderate a post-debate roundtable with a number of BTR hosts for 30 minutes. We'll talk about the highs and lows, who gained and who lost ground, and the impact on the early primary efforts. We can even take your calls, live, to address how you felt about the debates -- so...

Giuliani Wins, But Paul Threw The Game

Team Rudy should send a hundred roses to Ron Paul -- yellow roses, of course -- after the Congressman essentially tossed the debate to Giuliani. Rudy had a pretty good night going anyway, but when Paul as much as said that the terrorists had a point in killing 3,000 Americans, Rudy let fly with the righteous indigation that an entire nation was busily hurling at their television screens. Ron Paul -- the Black Sox of Republican debaters. Rudy needed a good night after a lackluster first debate, and he got it. He also managed somehow to be the only candidate to criticize a Democrat on specific policy stands. However, he wasn't the only candidate who benefitted. John McCain did considerably better than his Angry Man performance in the first debate, coming across as measured and poised. Mitt Romney continued to show that he has mastered the format. Even Mike Huckabee,...

May 16, 2007

Gallup On GOP Race: Already Outdated?

Gallup reports on a survey taken last week on the presidential primary races that shows Rudy Giuliani dipping down to his lowest level of the campaign, while John McCain seems to be rebounding a bit. Rudy took a nine-point hit over the past five weeks, while McCain went up seven: The national front-runners for the 2008 presidential nominations continue to be former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the Republican Party and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party. Giuliani's pro-choice views were openly vetted during the Republican debate held earlier this month at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, and he has since tried to clarify them. It is not yet clear whether the resulting controversy has significantly harmed him among Republican voters. ... Some of the changes in Giuliani's and McCain's support levels can be attributed to support for actor and former Tennessee Sen....

May 18, 2007

Fred: Kucinich Is Chavez Lite

Normally I'd put a post about the Fairness Doctrine in the First Amendment category, but not this one. Fred Thompson serves up more red meat, this time on Dennis Kucinich's back, by comparing the Democrat's efforts to revive the speech-limitation legislation to Hugo Chavez' media clampdown in Venezuela: I had planned on talking a bit today about Venezuela. The president there doesn’t like the way his media is covering him, so he’s doing away with the free press. He’s established rules on what he thinks is fair, and he’s denying licenses to television and radio stations that don’t play by government rules. I can’t criticize him now, though. After all, how would it seem for me to complain about another country, when our own congressional leadership is trying to put the same sort of rules in place here? To do so, they’re pulling the Fairness Doctrine out of the dustbin...

May 21, 2007

Mitt's Move

This far out from the primaries, most polling has little significance. It takes a national temperature for a process that plays out very carefully through selected states, and at a time when most people still have yet to see the candidates speak directly to them. However, the Des Moines Register knows how to poll Iowa caucus voters, and so far, Mitt's the man: Mitt Romney has sprinted ahead of presidential competitors John McCain and Rudy Giuliani in a new Iowa Poll of likely Republican caucus participants. The Des Moines Register poll shows Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is the top choice of 30 percent of those who say they definitely or probably will attend the leadoff Iowa caucuses in January. McCain, a U.S. senator from Arizona, nips former New York Mayor Giuliani for second place — 18 percent to 17 percent. This should get more serious analysis. Mitt has hardly...

May 22, 2007

Ron Paul Boomlet To Implode In 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ...

I have watched with some amusement as centrist, liberal and uncategorizable blogs attempt to herald Ron Paul as a reasonable conservative, especially after his statement in the last debate that claimed that American foreign policy invited the 9/11 attacks. That blame-America, 18th-century isolationist thinking appeals to a large subset of the voting population, and for the past week we have been treated to an avalanche of paeans to Ron Paul in the blogosphere. However, Republicans have always known that Ron Paul is a loose cannon waiting to blow up in the face of unsuspecting followers. Some intrepid bloggers, such as Curt at Flopping Aces, have a few more examples of Ron Paul's "truth-telling" that will also surely get the endorsement of these same bloggers. Right? Eleven years ago, the Houston Chronicle reported that Ron Paul's newsletter highlighted what he saw as a criminal community (emphases mine): Paul, writing in his...

Getting Rich Off Of Poverty

It turns out that poverty can be a lucrative industry -- if one charges colleges $50,000 to talk about Two Americas. Carla Marinucci reports from her San Francisco Chronicle blog that John Edwards charged that much to speak at UC Davis in January 2006 on the topic of poverty (via Memeorandum): Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who as a Democratic presidential candidate recently proposed an educational policy that urged "every financial barrier" be removed for American kids who want to go to college, has been going to college himself -- as a high paid speaker, his financial records show. The candidate charged a whopping $55,000 to speak at to a crowd of 1,787 the taxpayer-funded University of California at Davis on Jan. 9, 2006 last year, Joe Martin, the public relations officer for the campus' Mondavi Center confirmed Monday. That amount -- which comes to about $31 a person in...

May 24, 2007

Team Hillary Dumping Iowa?

Hillary Clinton's campaign tried to do damage control after an internal memo revealed that they have considered stiffing Iowa caucus voters in January. Thus far, Hillary has not captured the imagination of Iowans, and her third-place status behind John Edwards and Barack Obama had at least one of her advisors considering a retreat: Aides to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) scrambled late yesterday to control the fallout from a leaked memo advocating that she pull her campaign out of Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses, where she is trailing in polls. The memo, written by Clinton deputy campaign manager Mike Henry, exposed a rift among Clinton advisers over her approach to the first real test of the presidential campaign. Henry advocated focusing the senator's resources on the Jan. 22 New Hampshire primary and the wave of states that follow with contests on Feb. 5. Skipping Iowa would be a stunning move for the...

May 25, 2007

Fred Tries To Touch All The Bases

Fred Thompson continued his pre-campaign campaign for the Republican presidential nomination yesterday in Connecticut, giving a speech to a gathering of state Republican activists. Ryan Sager at the New York Sun attended the speech, and gives it rather high marks for both delivery and content, in contrast to his Lincoln Club speech in California earlier this month. Fred gave a rather flat delivery of a good speech in terms of content in that venue, but this time delivered on the enthusiasm that his efforts have produced among his supporters. However, Fred seems to want everyone to love him, except perhaps Democrats. Despite scorching some fellow Republicans for the immigration reform compromise, he led off the speech by hailing Rep. Chris Shays for his work in Congress. As I explain at Heading Right, Shays hardly provides a model of conservative tenacity. He co-sponsored the House version of the BCRA, and the...

May 29, 2007

Choosy Social Cons Choose Rudy

According to Pew Research and the Politico, a significant part of Rudy Giuliani's national polling lead comes from conservatives at odds with his domestic policy views. Rudy gets 30% of the social conservatives in the GOP, a factor which keeps him in the lead over John McCain, who gets only 19% of that bloc. What does that tell us about the Republican primary voter base? Has pragmatism won out over ideology, or is there an overriding ideology that commands that support? At Heading Right, I take a look at some of those dynamics and propose my own analysis....

Romney Pulls Into Second Place

Just a few days ago, I asked Duane "Generalissimo" Patterson why Romney had such a difficult time progressing in the polls. He seemed mired at 8% support despite having the best organization and fundraising operations in the GOP. Now, however, a new Rasmussen poll shows that Romney may have found some wind for those massive sails as he outpolled John McCain and moved into second place by a razor-thin margin: The immigration reform debate may be shaking up the race for the Republican Presidential nomination. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has inched past Arizona Senator John McCain for second place in the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone poll. Just two weeks ago, Romney was in fourth place among GOP hopefuls. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) remains on top with 25% support. That’s essentially unchanged from last week. In fact, Giuliani has been at 25% or 26% in...

May 30, 2007

Fred Takes The First Step (Updated)

Fred Thompson will take the first step towards declaring himself a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, according to Ryan Sager at the New York Sun. After reportedly meeting with campaign-finance advisors, Thompson will launch a presidential pre-exploratory committee, in a move that will delight Republicans and satirists in equal measure: Speculation over whether Fred Thompson is serious about running for president just went toes-up. Mr. Thompson's not-yet-a campaign has confirmed: He's dipping his toes in. Specifically, a Thompson adviser told The New York Sun yesterday, he will announce the formation of a presidential "testing-the-waters" committee early next week — possibly as early as Sunday. A "testing the waters" committee is a step before the more familiar presidential exploratory committee. It allows the former Tennessee senator to raise money and hire staff. But it also prevents him from doing a number of other things: advertising his candidacy, referring to himself...

The Romney Interview

I just finished my one-on-one exclusive interview with Governor Mitt Romney as we traveled between campaign stops in West Des Moines. The weather turned poor and we battled road noise, but in 15 minutes, Romney gave an impressive performance as a man with a solid grasp on policy -- and of someone completely confident in his ability to master it. This comes as no surprise, of course. Romney built a billion-dollar business, rescued the Salt Lake City Olympics, and won the governor's race in Massachussetts as a Republican. Someone with that kind of resumé could be forgiven a little cockiness, but Romney comes across as completely grounded and accessible, even in the tight confines of a minivan, talking with a citizen journalist. I asked Governor Romney some tough questions regarding his immigration stance. Readers of Heading Right have already learned of Romney's specific issues with the current immigration proposal....

May 31, 2007

Thompson Gets Serious

Up to now, Fred Thompson has brilliantly remained coy about his presidential ambitions -- to the point of exasperation among some of his would-be fans. Now, however, Fred has made clear that he intends to run, and in a USA Today interview, how he plans to do it: In an interview with USA TODAY, however, the former Tennessee senator not only makes it clear that he plans to run, he describes how he aims to do it. He's planning a campaign that will use blogs, video posts and other Internet innovations to reach voters repelled by politics-as-usual in both parties. ... Thompson could reshape a GOP contest in which each of the three leaders has significant vulnerabilities and none of the seven second-tier contenders has broken through. Without formally joining the race — he's preparing to do that as early as the first week of July — Thompson already is...

June 3, 2007

Giuliani Lead Steady But Softer

A new ABC/Washington Post poll shows Rudy Giuliani maintaining a strong lead over most of the Republican challengers for the presidential nomination. However, the underlying internals of the poll show that his popularity has softened, which leaves room for Rudy's opponents to make inroads on his lead: A softening of underlying confidence in Rudolph W. Giuliani, including some damage on the abortion issue, could hearten his current -- and future -- opponents for the Republican presidential nomination. Giuliani's hardly in trouble; he maintains large leads over his opponents on key personal attributes including leadership and electability. But he's lost ground on empathy, honesty and inspiration; his support is not strong -- and a third of Republicans now flatly rule him out because of his position on abortion, up from just under a quarter earlier this year. Giuliani remains the Republican frontrunner, with overall candidate preferences stable compared with an ABC...

June 4, 2007

Is It Newt's Time Yet?

Newt Gingrich hinted in even stronger terms this weekend that he will run for President. He plans to spend the summer lecturing, and after a workshop series in late September will make his decision, he told Fox News: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) fueled further speculation Sunday about entering the Republican race for president by taking shots at the Bush administration. “The government is not functioning,” Gingrich said on Fox News. “It’s not getting the job done, and Republicans need to confront this reality.” The face of Republican opposition to President Clinton’s administration, Gingrich said he will hold workshops on Sept. 27 and 29 to discuss “fundamental change.” He hinted he will make a decision about running after the workshops. Asked about his favorites in the GOP race, Gingrich said Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and prospective candidate Fred Thompson each “bring their unique strengths." But they need to do...

Mitt Romney Interview Transcript Published

The transcript from my one-on-one interview with Mitt Romney is now available at Heading Right, and I think that CQ readers and CQ Radio listeners will find it very revealing. As I noted when I first broadcast the interview, I wanted to press Romney on foreign policy, a topic that has not received much attention so far in this campaign other than the war on terror. Before we got to that, though, I asked the Governor about immigration. He had talked about his opposition to the current compromise under consideration in the Senate based on the Z-visa plan, and I asked him to elaborate on how he would change that part of the legislation: EM: ... Now, your main problem in this bill as you explained in the interviews today, has been the “Z” provisions which is something that kicks in, it’s supposed to kick in after the triggers but...

Four-State Fred

The strategy for Fred Thompson's presidential run has begun to coalesce, reports the Wall Street Journal, and to no one's great shock, it relies heavily on the Internet. However, the WSJ points out an opening that hasn't seen much reporting -- and one that Fred could easily use to his advantage: As a late entry into the crowded, expensive, presidential campaign, Fred Thompson's first big test of viability will be his ability to raise money quickly. A major part of the former Tennessee senator's strategy is a heavy reliance on the Internet to get his message out and to raise funds. He is also trying to tap into the large number of well-heeled Republican financiers who have yet to commit to a 2008 hopeful, amid widespread disaffection among party loyalists with the current field. Yet a late start and signs that Mr. Thompson may adopt an unconventional campaign style --...

June 5, 2007

Flashback To Impotence

The Bush administration has rightly scotched the idea of a revival for a particularly inane Jimmy Carter policy -- the Olympic boycott. Both the White House and the USOC have immediately rejected a suggestion by Governor Bill Richardson that the US boycott the Beijing Olympics for its indifference to the genocide in Darfur: The Bush administration and American Olympic officials are rebuffing calls to consider a boycott of the Olympic Games in Beijing next year to protest China's sluggish response to the genocide in Darfur. The U.S. Olympic Committee pointedly rejected the idea of a boycott, which was floated by Governor Richardson of New Mexico on Sunday night during a debate for Democratic presidential candidates. "We completely disagree with the point of view expressed by Governor Richardson," a spokesman for the committee, Darryl Seibel, said yesterday. "The Olympic movement is about sport, not politics, and, as has been demonstrated in...

Fred Moves Into Second

It's amazing how far a non-candidate can go in a race. Fred hasn't begun to run for the Republican presidential nomination, and Rasmussen shows him almost within the margin of error for the lead: With former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson taking his first formal steps towards a Presidential run and the immigration debate creating challenges for Arizona Senator John McCain, the race for the Republican Presidential nomination has an entirely different look this week. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) remains on top, but his support has slipped to 23%. That’s down two points from a week ago and is his lowest level of support all year. Earlier, Giuliani had consistently enjoyed support in the mid-30s. That was before Thompson’s name was added to the mix and before Giuliani stumbled on the abortion issue in the first GOP debate of the season. Thompson, who just formed an exploratory...

Debate Live Blog And Roundtable At Heading Right & BTR

Tonight, the crew at Heading Right will live-blog the Republican presidential debate ob CNN. Afterwards, we'll conduct a roundtable with Rick Moran, Frank P, Macranger, and Jim Lynch at Debate Central, starting at 9 pm ET. Be sure to join the conversation!...

Post Debate Analysis: Giuliani Keeps The Crown For Now

The third GOP debate is over, although there may be some who haven't realized it yet. What it lacked in firepower, it more than made up in pointlessness. And while CNN may not have been anywhere near as bad as MS-NBC, they should still be embarassed that their audience asked better questions than CNN's journalists. The format for tonight's debate seemed forced and odd. First, Wolf Blitzer promised everyone that he wouldn't let the candidates dodge questions -- and then asked questions that made little sense. He wanted the candidates on stage to talk about Fred Thompson. He wanted answers on Genesis, and he wanted them now. Romney got to answer the same old question about his Mormonism. The audience participation section went better than it did with MS-NBC -- and in fact better than the first half of CNN's show. The candidates got to actually answer questions on policy...

June 6, 2007

Fred Kicks Off

Fred Thompson took another small step towards his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination yesterday. He launched his new web site, I'm With Fred, the first overt act he's made since dropping big hints in March. Right now, the site has little content, other than his introductory message. He has a postscript to it that promises "a lot more coming," and asks viewers to return often. The site has functions for donations and volunteers, and even includes a web widget for supporters to place on their websites to pass through donations to his campaign. Given the amount of essays Fred Thompson has written in the last few weeks, I'm guessing the content -- his policy positions -- will shortly arrive. In the meantime, for those interested in supporting Fred, the website gives them the opportunity....

Pew Poll: Most Voters Dim

Last night, I complained about the repetitive nature of the questioning at the debates. For the third straight debate, Rudy Giuliani had to state his position on abortion, and Mitt Romney had to answer for his change of position over the last two-plus years. As it turns out, though, CNN may have had a good reason to ask the same plodding questions over and over again, as Pew Research discovered that less than half of the voters have paid attention: The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted May 30-June 3 among 1,503 adults, finds that overall voter engagement in the presidential campaign remains somewhat limited, despite intense press coverage of the race. Just 33% of all voters say they have given a lot of thought to the presidential candidates, up only modestly from December (27%). However, Republican voters have caught up...

Have The Democrats Leapt To Faith?

To read Ruth Marcus this morning, one would believe that the Democrats had begun a revival tour rather than a presidential primary. She describes the latest talk from the campaign trail as a conversion movement that will roll holy rollers to the Democrats, but manages to miss the fact that none of these stories involve any influence on actual policy: You know it's a different kind of candidate forum when Hillary Clinton allows that she sometimes prays (no doubt, she says, to some divine eye-rolling) "Oh, Lord, why can't you help me lose weight?" and describes how "prayer warriors" sustained her through the public dissection of her husband's infidelity. When Barack Obama muses on the nature of good vs. evil. When John Edwards recounts that he "strayed away from the Lord" in adulthood, only to find that "my faith came roaring back" after the death of his 16-year-old son. ......

June 7, 2007

Go Away, Kid, Ya Bother Us

Robert Novak reports that John Edwards has problems within the Democratic Party, even though his candidacy seems to have gained some momentum in Iowa. He has disenchanted the power brokers with his move towards class warfare, and the revelations of his financial dealings make the Democrats very nervous about Edwards as a potential nominee: Even though Edwards may end up being the party's nominee, prominent Democrats are surprisingly candid about him. Mark Siegel, a 35-year party insider, told me: "He came to Washington as a 'New Democrat,' but he's not that kind of Democrat anymore. He's into class warfare." Edwards has not worn well with party colleagues. Campaign consultant Bob Shrum was enthusiastic about Edwards after working on his 1998 Senate victory in North Carolina and unsuccessfully advised Gore to make him his 2000 running mate. But Shrum chose Kerry over Edwards as his 2004 presidential client. In his newly...

June 8, 2007

The Next Children's Crusade

In the thirteenth century, the fabled (and almost certainly mythical) Children's Crusade set out to bring peace to the Holy Land. According to the legend, a young boy proselytized throughout central Europe that Jesus had told him in a vision that an army of pure children could liberate Jerusalem just by showing up, and that the waters of the Mediterranean would part to greet them when they arrived in Italy. They set out in boats instead, sail to Tunisia -- where they all get sold into slavery and are never heard from again, even in legend. One might think that anyone relying on this kind of strategy 800 years later would automatically discredit himself as a leader. However, John Edwards thinks this is a better way to fight terror than actually fighting terror: Senator Edwards is outlining a new national security strategy that hinges on the creation of a 10,000-person...

Will Fred Damage McCain? (Update: No Big Loss?)

The advent of Fred Thompson has been seen by analysts as a challenge to the top three Republican candidates for the presidential nomination -- Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. Conservatives dissatisfied with the options have wanted a traditional conservative with less political baggage to enter the race as a white knight, and so far, Thompson fits the bill. Today, though, the Washington Post reports that McCain may be especially vulnerable to Fred's entry, especially at the organizational level: John Dowd represented Sen. John McCain in his darkest hour, the "Keating Five" scandal. He supported McCain the first time he ran for president in 2000 and signed up to be a major fundraiser for him in this year's presidential race. But when former senator Fred D. Thompson began thinking about running, the Washington lawyer changed his mind. For McCain (Ariz.), who started off as the favorite to win the...

The Culture Of Corruption, Presidential Version

The midterm election theme of the "culture of corruption" functioned as an argument for Democratic control of Congress, after several scandals rocked the Republican caucuses. The Democrats apparently like the theme so much that they plan to incorporate it into their presidential campaign -- but perhaps not in the manner some might expect (via Big Lizards): The Clinton Campaign today announced that Florida Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Congressman Alcee Hastings have been named national Campaign Co-Chairs. "We need a leader with a clear vision and sound judgment, who can work with a Democratic Congress to renew the promise of America. Hillary is that leader," Rep. Wasserman Schultz said. Rep. Hastings said, "When we elect the next President Clinton, this country will be a much better place for the African-American community, Floridians and all Americans." Both Reps. Wasserman Schultz and Hastings serve in the Democratic leadership in the House of...

June 10, 2007

The Fred Movement Started Early

Stephen Hayes reviews the Draft Fred movement, which most believe started last March, but in reality began just after the midterm elections. In one sense, the narrative Hayes gives Weekly Standard readers shows that the notion of a draft is somewhat fanciful, but it also shows that the grassroots response to the Fred Thompson candidacy has exceeded everyone's expectations: On November 29, 2006, Tennessee senator Bill Frist said that he would not be running for president. The same day, the Wall Street Journal noted that the announcement "leaves a Republican void in the South, and underscores the absence of any major center-to-right Southern figure in the Republican Party's presidential field thus far." Others saw the same void. Thompson fielded calls from several friends and former colleagues in the following days. Spencer Abraham, who had resigned as George W. Bush's secretary of energy shortly after the 2004 election, knew Thompson from...

Continuing The Bigotry

Sally Denton uses today's Los Angeles Times op-ed page as a launching pad for the movie based on her book, "American Massacre: The Tragedy at Mountain Meadows, September 1857," and as a means to propagate more anti-Mormon bigotry at the expense of Mitt Romney. Denton insists that Romney has to respond about the nature of his faith if he expects to win the nomination for the Presidency -- and uses a lot of 19th-century examples to "prove" her case: MITT ROMNEY'S Mormonism threatens his presidential candidacy in the same way that John F. Kennedy's Catholicism did when he ran for president in 1960. Overt and covert references to Romney's religion — subtle whispering as well as unabashed inquiries about the controversial sect he belongs to — plague his campaign. None of his responses so far have silenced the skeptics. Recent polls indicate that from 25% to 35% of registered voters...

June 11, 2007

Is Colin Powell An Obama Advisor?

See Eli Lake's response below. The New York Sun offers a tantalizing headline that makes it appear that Colin Powell has changed his political affiliation from Republican to Democrat. In an Eli Lake article titled "GOP's Powell Is Now Advising Obama", the Sun appears to report that Powell has joined Obama's team: Colin Powell, who only a decade ago was being discussed as a possible Republican presidential nominee and who more recently served as President Bush's first secretary of state, is advising a Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Obama of Illinois. Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday, Mr. Powell said it was "too soon" to say whether he would endorse the Republican nominee for president, and he added that he is reserving judgment for now. Lake doesn't clarify what this means until the third paragraph: "I've been around this town a long time, and I know everybody who is running...

Will Swings And Misses

George Will attempts to pop the Fred Thompson boomlet in his latest Newsweek column. Unfortunately for Will, Fred Thompson is not the lightweight cipher he dismisses so casually, and the normally excellent Will winds up looking a little bit of a lightweight himself: Some say he is the Republicans' Rorschach test: They all see in him what they crave. Or he might be the Republicans' dot-com bubble, the result of restless political investors seeking value that the untutored eye might not discern and that might be difficult to quantify but which the investors are sure must be there, somewhere, somehow. One does not want to be unfair to Thompson, who may have hidden depths. But ask yourself this: If he did not look like a basset hound who had just read a sad story—say, "Old Yeller"—and if he did not talk like central casting's idea of the god Sincerity, would...

June 12, 2007

LA Times Poll Spells Trouble For Democrats

The new Los Angeles Times poll shows Democrats in trouble in both Congress and the presidential race. Support for Congress has dropped to historic lows, and the luster has worn from Nancy Pelosi's historic win as House Speaker. Hillary Clinton looks stronger than ever for the nomination -- but that may be bad news as well. At Heading Right, I dissect the poll, check the sample, and determine that it looks better for Republicans than one might think. One Republican will certainly delight in the survey -- and may light up a cigar to celebrate. UPDATE: Meanwhile, Rasmussen has even better numbers for Fred (via Hot Air): Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has to share his spot atop the field of Republican Presidential hopefuls this week. The newest face in the race, former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, is now tied with Giuliani. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone...

June 13, 2007

Post Scolds Hillary On Trade

Hillary Clinton announced her opposition to a free-trade deal with South Korea this weekend, citing concerns over reciprocity and an imbalance in existing trade. Today, the Washington Post editorial board scolds her for short-sightedness, and wonders what kind of pandering to both labor and manufacturing we can expect from her as President: THERE ARE pluses and minuses, it's often said, to having a former first lady running for president. On the debit side, for example, is the oligarchical aura of two families passing the presidency back and forth for 24 or possibly 28 consecutive years. On the positive side is the experience Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) gained during eight years in the White House, experience that ought to translate into a broader national perspective than a senator or governor can attain. But has it? That's the question raised by Ms. Clinton's announcement over the weekend that she will oppose...

The Problem With Primary Oppo (Updated)

Fred Thompson’s entry into the presidential race will raise the flag on another feature of the campaign: opposition research and attack. The Politico reports that other campaigns have prepared for Fred’s entry, and they are poised to dent his momentum by focusing on his professional career and his track record, certainly legitimate targets. Some of the selected topics appear overblown, however, and veer more into the nature of personal attack -- such as Thompson's status as a trial attorney and his limited lobbying career. However, the nature of these pushbacks may backfire on the other campaigns, and calls into question whether they have forgotten the long-term goal of the primaries. At Heading Right, I ask whether this will help the party elect a Republican to the White House, and also talk through some of the points that the other campaigns hope to use as traction against Fred. In short, they...

June 14, 2007

The Wrong Direction

Yesterday I explained at Heading Right that primary campaigns should chiefly focus on positive promotion of their own candidates rather than spend much of their time attacking their colleagues in the primaries. According to The Politico, John McCain's campaign has not taken that advice. Instead, they have decided to focus their guns on another Republican presidential hopeful -- and it's not even one that's ahead of them: In another sign of John McCain's plan to assault former Mitt Romney over his alleged flip-flops, the Arizona senator's campaign has purchased the website "www.mittvsfact.com" and will launch it in the coming weeks as a compendium of what they say are the former governor's differing stances. The McCain camp yesterday attacked Romney on abortion under a "Mitt vs Fact" letterhead that aped their rival's campaign logo. Late in the day, a tipster pointed out that a URL of the same had been purchased...

June 18, 2007

Obama Recedes, Fred Surges

The new Gallup poll for the presidential campaigns shows the front-runners, Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, still leading their respective races. The action takes place below as the contenders jockey for position -- and Obama has dropped off the pace just a little: A USA Today/Gallup Poll conducted earlier this month found Clinton's chief rival, Sen. Barack Obama, pulling even with Clinton. However, in the current poll Obama has fallen back to a tie for second place with former Vice President Al Gore. At 21%, current support for Obama is near the low end of the support range seen for him since January, while Gore's 18% ties with an early March poll as his best result. Former Sen. John Edwards, once tied with Gore for third place, has been stalled in the 11% to 12% range since May. The only other candidate earning the support of at least 5% of...

More Rezko Woes For Obama

Barack Obama has worked mightily to distance himself from former fundraiser Tony Rezko, but the Chicago Sun-Times keeps finding more bread crumbs between the two. According to their sources, the indicted businessman contributed three times as much money to Obama's campaigns, including some critical assistance in the primaries for his current position in the Senate: During his 12 years in politics, Sen. Barack Obama has received nearly three times more campaign cash from indicted businessman Tony Rezko and his associates than he has publicly acknowledged, the Chicago Sun-Times has found. Obama has collected at least $168,308 from Rezko and his circle. Obama also has taken in an unknown amount of money from people who attended fund-raising events hosted by Rezko since the mid-1990s. But seven months ago, Obama told the Sun-Times his "best estimate" was that Rezko raised "between $50,000 and $60,000" during Obama's political career. Obama, who wants to...

June 19, 2007

Hillary -- Inevitable?

The line on Hillary Clinton in this election cycle has her as an inevitability for the Democratic presidential nomination. Despite misgivings over her strong negatives, the Democrats have not seen any candidate of substance challenging her in the primaries. Her two closest announced challengers have a grand total of eight years' experience in national office combined, and Hillary has run an adept and disciplined campaign. However, as Howard Kurtz points out, that still hasn't ended the questions about Hillary's negatives and the nagging feeling among some Democrats that they are heading for a fall: That, at least, is the consensus view of media wizards, strategists, pollsters and other kibitzers, that HRC is a virtual lock for the nomination. An official with a rival campaign told me that Hillary has an 80 percent chance of being the party's candidate, and most neutral observers would probably go with a higher number. So...

Thompson Hits #1 With A Bullet

Rasmussen's latest polling shows that enthusiasm continues to build for a Fred Thompson candidacy. In fact, Fred pushed his way to the top of the poll, dislodging Rudy Giuliani from the top spot for the first time: The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson earning support from 28% of Likely Republican Primary Voters. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani attracts support from 27%. While Thompson’s one-point edge is statistically insignificant, it is the first time all year that anybody but Giuliani has been on top in Rasmussen Reports polling. A week ago, Thompson and Giuliani were tied at 24%. It remains an open question as to how Thompson will hold up once he actually enters the campaign and has to compete directly with other candidates. To date, he retains the allure of the new kid in town while GOP voters already know the...

Rudy's Very Bad Day

When Rudy Giuliani has a bad day, he goes all out. America's Mayor spent June 19th parrying three different national stories, all of them reflective on his campaign for the presidency, and none of them complimentary. The first story was his sudden drop into second place in the latest Rasmussen poll. The second was his sudden departure from the Iraq Study Group: Rudolph Giuliani's membership on an elite Iraq study panel came to an abrupt end last spring after he failed to show up for a single official meeting of the group, causing the panel's top Republican to give him a stark choice: either attend the meetings or quit, several sources said. Giuliani left the Iraq Study Group last May after just two months, walking away from a chance to make up for his lack of foreign policy credentials on the top issue in the 2008 race, the Iraq war....

June 20, 2007

Democratic Fire Sale Renewed

Remember the 1992 presidential campaign, and the two-for-one deal offered by Bill Clinton? A vote for Bill also got Hillary as a bonus. Now, Carl Bernstein tells the London Telegraph, Hillary has renewed the offer -- but Bill will run the White House behind the scenes. At Heading Right, I look at the implications of this end-run around the 22nd Amendment. If Bill has better political judgment than Hillary, then why isn't the Democratic Party looking for a President who can stand on his/her own two feet instead? UPDATE: 22nd Amendment, not 25th. Back to civics class! Thanks to CQ commenter AA for the correction....

Rudy: Against The Line-Item Veto Before He Supported It?

Rudy Giuliani has had a tough week, and he's making it even more difficult. Today, Giuliani sang the praises of the line-item veto, an idea conservatives have boosted even during Democratic administrations. However, Rudy omitted a little personal history regarding the line-item veto that Congress passed in 1995: In his speech, Giuliani called for the country to enact a constitutional amendment that allows for a line-item veto so the president could strip wasteful spending from legislation. "The president doesn't have that power under our Constitution," he said. "You're only going to change that with a constitutional amendment." As mayor in the 1990s, Giuliani successfully sued to challenge the constitutionality of the line-item veto that would have given President Clinton that such power. Technically, this isn't entirely inconsistent. Giuliani wants a Constitutional amendment adding the line-item veto -- so that people like Rudy Giuliani can't sue to end it if it...

June 21, 2007

Arising From The Dead Yet Again

Ralph Nader has Democrats looking for a wooden stake and a truckload of garlic. Nader, who helped bury two Democratic presidential campaigns, threatens to run again -- and has already taken aim at the frontrunner: Ralph Nader says he is seriously considering running for president in 2008 because he foresees another Tweedledum-Tweedledee election that offers little real choice to voters. "You know the two parties are still converging -- they don't even debate the military budget anymore," Nader said in a 30-minute interview. "I really think there needs to be more competition from outside the two parties." ... And while Nader, 73, realizes he might once again be accused of being a "spoiler" candidate, he says the Democrats could win in 2008, unless they spoil things for themselves. "Democrats have become, over the years, very good at electing very bad Republicans," Nader said. "Democrats always know how to implode, how...

June 22, 2007

Helping Others By Helping Himself?

It looks like John Edwards believes that charity begins at home after all, even when home is a 28,000-square-foot mansion. Edwards' Two Americas rhetoric has given him a reputation as a voice for the poor, but the New York Times reports that his non-profit for fighting poverty mostly benefitted the vote-poor John Edwards: John Edwards ended 2004 with a problem: how to keep alive his public profile without the benefit of a presidential campaign that could finance his travels and pay for his political staff. Mr. Edwards, who reported this year that he had assets of nearly $30 million, came up with a novel solution, creating a nonprofit organization with the stated mission of fighting poverty. The organization, the Center for Promise and Opportunity, raised $1.3 million in 2005, and — unlike a sister charity he created to raise scholarship money for poor students — the main beneficiary of the...

Look Who's On BlogTalkRadio!

Arkansas Governor and Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has discovered the power of BlogTalkRadio! The Huckabee team has created a BTR channel for their campaign to keep their supporters informed of Governor Huckabee's activities. Their premiere show aired today at 10 am CT, and they have another scheduled for tomorrow morning at 2:30 pm CT. Of course, just as with any other BTR show, you can download the podcasts and bookmark the RSS feed -- so be sure to add it to your feedreader. CQ Radio listeners can listen to my BTR interview with Gov. Huckabee here. UPDATE: I had the times wrong; the Huckabee show for Saturday will air live at 2:30 pm CT....

June 24, 2007

You Go, Boyfriend!

Guess whose ex-GFs think he's all that -- and a cowboy hat? According to the Times of London, Fred Thompson has attracted the beautiful women, and the beautiful women still appear charmed by the chivalrous Tennessee lawyer years later: IN the battle for the women’s vote, Fred Thompson has a secret weapon against Hillary Clinton - the legions of former girlfriends who still adore him and who want him to be president. The Hollywood actor and former Tennessee senator racked up an impressive list of conquests during his swinging bachelor days in the 1990s, but he appears to have achieved the impossible and kept their friendship and respect. Lorrie Morgan, a country singer who dated Thompson and considered marrying him in the mid1990s, told The Sunday Times: “I couldn’t think of a bad word to say about Fred if somebody put a gun to my head. “Fred is a perfect...

June 25, 2007

Don't Bet On It

The Times of London lost track of the calendar yesterday in their analysis of the presidential campaign. Sarah Baxter claims that John McCain may drop out of the race after the latest fundraising numbers come out next week, as pundits predict another lackluster quarter for McCain's campaign. Did they notice that it's still only June? THE former presidential front-runner, John McCain, may drop out of the 2008 race by September if his fundraising dries up and his poll ratings continue to drop, according to Republican insiders. The speculation, vigorously denied by McCain’s camp, is sweeping Republican circles after a disastrous few weeks in which the principled Arizona senator has clashed with the party’s conservative base on immigration and also alienated independent voters by backing President George W Bush’s troop surge in Iraq. Randy Pullen, chairman of the Arizona Republican party, said: “He’s a battler, so I’d expect him to carry...

Democrats Fret Over Fred

How do Republicans know when a good candidate has entered the primary race? If the Democrats start launching attacks before his official entry, that's a good indication that they're worried about him. Today they opened up on Fred Thompson, painting him as a lobbyist who has no qualms about whom or what he represents: Even before his expected July announcement, Fred Thompson's all-but-declared entry into the Republican presidential stakes has prompted the Democratic National Committee to attack him as a potential GOP front-runner and to use his prospective candidacy to raise money. Democratic strategists say Thompson's populist style and show-biz allure could prove extremely appealing in a general election at a time when voters are so down on Washington. So the party has launched a preemptive campaign against him that includes a DNC fundraising e-mail branding Thompson, "The inside-outsider." "Remember the Republican culture of corruption?" the letter asks. "The revolving...

June 26, 2007

The Hillary-Carmela Connection

Did Hillary Clinton inadvertently underscore the ambivalence felt by some Americans over her role in her husband's scandals in a humorous campaign ad last week? Margaret Carlson believes that Hillary made a mistake in playing the Carmela role in her Sopranos spoof, and that voters may see her in a similar light to Edie Falco's compromised and enabling wife: The ad touches close to the mother lode of Hillary's vulnerability among some women. When you ask them why they don't like her, they say it's because they don't understand why she makes goo-goo eyes at a guy who broke her heart multiple times and humiliated her daughter. After that, pretending to be a teenager in love makes them wonder what else she might be faking. The Carmela-Hillary juxtaposition has been made before by others, and not in Hillary's favor. For staying with a repeat philanderer, Carmela got to live in...

Visiting Misery On The Twin Cities

The anarchists and anti-globalists have already started organizing for next year's Republican National Convention, according to the Star-Tribune. Have they started getting signs printed and policy position papers ready to engage in an intellectual challenge to the GOP? Not quite: Anarchists and antiwar organizations preparing for the Republican National Convention are planning dozens of traffic blockades, are targeting perceived vulnerable spots in the Twin Cities metro area and are readying to spring from Internet promises to real-world action. An online posting by a group called Unconventional Action notes "the narrow on and off ramps" of Interstate Hwy. 94 and that Minneapolis and St. Paul are "12 miles apart, separated by a wide river spanned by 5 bridges and connected primarily" by I-94. "For these and other reasons, many believe that the RNC presents strategic vulnerabilities unique to any trade summit or party convention of recent years," the posting said. Basically,...

June 28, 2007

Auditioning For Second Fiddle?

Bill Richardson has failed to gain much traction in the Democratic primary race, remaining mired in single digits. A majority of respondents have never heard of Richardson, the two-time Governor of New Mexico and the owner of perhaps the best resume in either primary campaign. Dana Milbank reports that Richardson has the look of a candidate who's hoping for second best: Running for the vice presidency is a delicate operation, but Bill Richardson seems to be getting the hang of it. The New Mexico governor is running for president, of course, but should that fail he has already mastered the first responsibility of the running mate: Don't overshadow the top of the ticket. This trait was in evidence yesterday when Richardson gave a lunchtime foreign policy speech in Washington at the exact moment Hillary Clinton was giving one of her own. Leading a detailed, hour-long discussion about Iran in which...

June 29, 2007

Giuliani Claims Centrist Position

Rudy Giuliani either has given up attempting to sound conservative or has forgotten that all presidential primary politics is national in today's media environment. While trying to woo Californians, Rudy claimed that he would govern in the same manner as Arnold Schwarzenegger has in the Golden State -- a promise that may not thrill Republicans in or out of California: Mayor Giuliani is telling California voters wondering what kind of president he would make that they need to look no further than their popular Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. "I governed very much like your governor does," Mr. Giuliani said as he described his tenure as mayor of New York from 1994 to 2001. "I got results and I want people to look at that and say that's the way I would govern as president of the United States. I would get results," he said. In a deft bit of political...

Gore Clears His Schedule? (Update: Gore Says No)

A blurb in the Taipei Times may telegraph a shakeup in the Democratic primary race, which has settled into a contest for the second spot already. Hillary Clinton may have a tougher fight on her hands, as a cancellation in Al Gore's schedule portends a presidential bid by the former Vice President (via Power Line and The Corner): ■ ENVIRONMENT Al Gore visit postponed Former US vice president Al Gore will not be able to make it to Taiwan this September to address the issue of global warming, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said yesterday. Tien, who invited Gore to visit Taiwan to promote awareness on global warming, told reporters yesterday that she received an e-mail from the Harry Walker Agency, which has the exclusive right to arrange Gore's speeches, saying that Gore had canceled all his scheduled events in the next six months. The visit to Taiwan...

Which Candidate Benefits From The Immigration Bill's Demise?

Now that the comprehensive immigration reform bill has died, analysts have looked at winners and losers of the contest. Almost certainly, one of the main losers has to be George Bush, who pushed hard publicly and privately for its passage. US News says, "Bush Sinking Along With Immigration Bill," a fairly clear conclusion based on the extensive roundup they provide. He put his credibility on the line for this bill, and in the end could not even get a majority of his own Senate caucus to support him. But which of the candidates to replace Bush gained the most from the bill's failure? The Politico argues that could be John McCain: While his office put out the requisite statement expressing disappointment that the immigration compromise failed, a McCain aide I talked with sounded more relieved that the issue was off the table. While lamenting that its failure was "bad for...

Hillary's Baggage Bigger Than Previously Thought

Hillary's reign at the top of the polls for the Democratic primary has always worried party activists, knowledgeable of her negatives in a general election. The sense of her inevitability has been tempered with the recognition of the high hurdles between winning a nomination and winning a general election with a large number of voters hostile to her candidacy. Now NBC reports that a new poll puts that number at a majority: According to a new Mason-Dixon survey, given exclusively to NBC/MSNBC and McClatchy newspapers, Clinton is the only major presidential candidate -- either Democrat and Republican -- for whom a majority of likely general election voters say they would not consider voting. In addition, she's the only candidate who registers with a net-unfavorable rating. In the poll, 48% say they would consider voting for Clinton versus 52% who say they wouldn't. By comparison, majorities signal they would consider voting...

June 30, 2007

Losing Momentum?

The presidential campaigns have a deadline approaching for announcing their second-quarter fundraising numbers, and they have already begun jockeying to manage expectations. Hillary Clinton surprised pundits by announcing a firm number early -- $27 million -- and then telling everyone they could that they expected Barack Obama to do better than that. Now Mitt Romney's campaign has started to get the word out that fundraising efforts had dropped off from their impressive Q1 totals: Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who led Republican candidates in money raised during the first three months of the presidential race with $21 million, told top fundraisers yesterday that his campaign will bring in less during the second quarter and that he continues to lend money from his personal fortune to ensure that more voters hear his message. "This tells only part of the story given this cycle's unprecedented nature, and the competing needs of less...

A Fred Of Two Tales

Fred Thompson paid a visit to New Hampshire this week, his first as a certain presidential candidate -- and he got a taste of what media coverage would be like from this point forward. One reporter from McClatchy did his best to pour cold water on Fred's appearance, while the New Hampshire Union-Leader's editorial page editor pronounced it a rousing success. First, McClatchy's Steve Thomma focused on the brevity that was the soul of Fred's wit: When Fred Thompson made his debut on the presidential stage here this week, he left some Republicans thinking he needs more work before his nascent campaign matches the media hype it's gotten in advance. The former Tennessee senator with the baritone drawl showed up Thursday in New Hampshire, the site of the first primary voting, and gave a speech that lasted only nine minutes, skipping over hot-button issues such as Iraq and immigration to...

July 2, 2007

Obama Raises The Stakes

The presidential campaigns continue to release their second quarter numbers, but Barack Obama has put an exclamation point on Q2. His announced total, $31 million, exceeded expectations again, both in total and in organization, and the gap between himself and Hillary is even more significant than it looks. Their combined draw sends a big message to the GOP, too: Sen. Barack Obama raised $31 million for his presidential primary campaign over the past three months, surging past Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's fundraising machine by nearly $10 million for the quarter to take the lead in contributions in the crowded Democratic field. Obama became the first Democrat to surpass $30 million in a quarter during a non-election year, a feat his campaign said was accomplished not just with help from wealthy, traditional donors but also with a strong showing among small contributors. The Illinois senator trails Clinton in most polls, but...

Another Swing And A Miss At Thompson

Apparently the New York Times has not found much on Fred Thompson to derail his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination -- so the Gray Lady decided to take on his sons. The lobbying careers of Tony and Daniel Thompson get a load of innuendo, but in the end, the Times can't even find smoke, let alone fire: But attending Brentwood Methodist Church in Nashville that night, Tony Thompson ran into the departing incumbent senator, Harlan Mathews, a Democrat. Mr. Mathews invited Tony to join him in a Nashville lobbying business, a job that would let him capitalize on his father’s new position. “I don’t just believe in the tooth fairy,” Mr. Mathews said. “A lot of people were seeking access — not necessarily unfair access, but seeking access — so Tony was employed in a number of areas where his father had made a reputation or his father’s advice...