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click on each candidate to see today's news stories (caricatures by Linda Eddy)


Monday, Feb. 11, 2008



Obama gains on Clinton as 'Potomac Primary' looms

Both candidates were out campaigning in Virginia Sunday, which holds primaries Tuesday along with its Potomac River neighbors, Maryland and the US federal capital, Washington, DC.

Obama, who seeks to become the first black US president, is considered the favorite to take Maryland and Washington, DC, which have large African-American populations.

The former first lady also looks vulnerable in Virginia as an average of opinion polls showed Obama leading by 17 percentage points.

Maine caucus shatters turnout record

Despite snowfall, Democrats in Maine more than doubled the state’s previous turnout record for presidential caucuses Sunday as Barack Obama defeated Hillary Clinton for the majority of the state’s delegates.

With 97 percent of caucus precincts reporting, 46,000 Maine Democrats had participated in the nominating contest compared with 17,000 in 2004, the state’s previous record, according to the Maine Democratic Party.

The high turnout in Maine follows a record-breaking turnout for Democrats in the Washington caucus Saturday, and Nebraska caucuses that saw participants overflowing election sites and caucusing outside.



Bush offers nod to McCain (and Huckabee)

“I think that if John’s the nominee, he’s got some convincing to do to convince people that he is a solid conservative,” Mr. Bush told the Fox host, Chris Wallace. “And I’ll be glad to help him if he’s the nominee, because he is a conservative.”  ... “I know him well,” Mr. Bush said. “I know his convictions. I know the principles that drive him. And no doubt in my mind he is a true conservative.”

... Mr. Bush took pains to describe Mr. Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas who is trailing far behind Mr. McCain in the race for delegates, as “a good, solid conservative person.” Asked about Mr. Huckabee’s accusation that the White House exhibits an “arrogant bunker mentality” with respect to foreign policy, Mr. Bush dismissed it.

“Yeah, I think he’s tried to walk back that position,” the president said.






Mike Huckabee... today's headlines with excerpts

Paul Weyrich to endorse Huckabee

Huckabee just said Paul Weyrich, a prominent conservative, called him and will endorse him.

This comes on the heels of McCain today picking up an endorsement from conservative Gary Bauer.

Huckabee calls for full investigation into Washington vote

Huckabee's campaign chairman, Ed Rollins, said Luke Esser, Washington's Republican Party chairman, chose to call the race too quickly for McCain.

Rollins said Huckabee was losing by 242 votes with 87 percent of the vote counted. He said there were another 1,500 or so votes that were apparently not counted.

Rollins said the Huckabee campaign's lawyers will be on the ground in Washington soon to see why the count took so long, and why the vote-counting was stopped prematurely.

"It would be a disservice to every voter in Washington state to not pursue a full accounting of all votes cast," Rollins said. "... As I said, we are prepared to go to court, and we are also prepared to take our case all the way to the Republican National Convention in September."

see also: Huckabee not ceding Washington state

              Huckabee camp says caucus results 'dubious'

TIME: Huckabee seeks his miracle

... what is candidate Huckabee to do, when the odds go from bad to worse to damn near impossible? As the last week has made clear, he does not flinch or throw up his hands in exasperation. He seems to get even more excited, relishing his role as a modern day David staring down a growing Goliath. Then he talks about tornados, a yard sign and miracles.

... In an appearance on NBC's Meet The Press Sunday, Huckabee rejected as "nonsense" the notion that his continued battle against McCain could weaken the Republican party or drain resources from the general election effort. "If our party can't have a thoughtful discussion and some meaningful debate and dialogue about the issues important to us as a party, then we are really not prepared to lead," he said. He has also been quick to reject any notion that could perhaps be endangering his own, long-term political viability at the forefront of the conservative movement, drawing explicit comparisons between his candidacy and Ronald Reagan's in 1976 against the incumbent Gerald Ford. "[The establishment] had all begged him to get out of the race in '76 and not take it to the convention, but he had convictions, and he stood by those convictions," Huckabee told reporters this past weekend. "And now when you talk to Republicans, the Reagan name is the gold standard," he said.

Huckabee on God and State

“I always cringe when I hear people talk about throwing away the vote when they vote their conscience,” Mike Huckabee told reporters today. “That’s what voting is – voting is voting with your conscience, it’s voting with your convictions.”

Earlier, he spoke at Thomas Road Baptist Church, the pulpit of the late Dr. Jerry Falwell. Lacing together the relationship between religion and state, he delivered a short speech about how moral clarity decreases the need for more government and more law.

“Frankly, we really don’t need a lot of law if we are people of morality,” he said to the congregation of over 7,000. “There are only ten basic laws that we need. If you think about it, the Ten Commandments cover it all.”

“The reason law gets more complicated is because we try to figure out clever ways around those ten,” he said to applause.


John McCain... today's headlines with excerpts

Gary Bauer endorses McCain

Conservative Gary Bauer is endorsing Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

The prominent abortion foe says in a statement that McCain "has dedicated his life to defending human rights around the world, including the rights of the unborn." The McCain campaign released Bauer's statement.

Bauer himself ran for president in 2000.

McCain's embarrassing defeats signal challenges

Just as Senator John McCain appeared poised to become the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, he was reminded over the weekend that many Republican voters still have not climbed aboard his bandwagon.

Mr. McCain suffered embarrassing losses in the Louisiana primary and the Kansas caucuses on Saturday to former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas.

The Huckabee campaign announced Sunday on its Web site that it would challenge the results of the Washington caucuses. At issue are 1,500 votes that the Huckabee campaign says were not counted.

McCain still dogged by conservatives' ire

Ever since he became the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain has had a rough ride, and the bumps continued through the weekend.

Last week, he was booed at the premier convention of conservatives and endured harsh criticism from conservative leaders and talk-show hosts. And then over the weekend he lost two of three states to Mike Huckabee.

In a third state, Washington, election officials declared Mr. McCain the winner, but the Huckabee campaign said all ballots hadn't yet been counted and the vote remained too close to call. The campaign promised to explore all legal options. Either way, almost twice as many voters in Washington chose either Mr. Huckabee or iconoclastic Texas Rep. Ron Paul than the man who seems certain to capture the Republican nomination.

... At issue: a string of matters where Mr. McCain has broken with party orthodoxy including immigration, campaign finance, tax cuts, stem-cell research and his role forging a middle ground on Senate confirmation of judges. Yesterday, Mr. Huckabee cited some of those issues in making his case.



Ron Paul... today's headlines with excerpts

Ron Paul vows to remain a Republican in race

Ron Paul said he will not run as a third-party candidate in a new message to supporters that seems to recognize his slim chances at getting the Republican nomination.

The Texas congressman wrote on his Web site Friday that he is making cuts to his national campaign staff and that he must also stay focused on not losing the primary for his House seat.

... Paul wrote that while he does not denigrate third parties he is committed to staying a Republican. His campaign supports low taxes and reduced government spending.

Paul's latest entry on his Web site also included a request that supporters not neglect his other "priority," which is making sure that the 10-term congressman remains in office.

"If I were to lose the primary for my congressional seat, all our opponents would react with glee, and pretend it was a rejection of our ideas," Paul wrote. "I cannot and will not let that happen."




Hillary Clinton... today's headlines with excerpts

Clinton calls on allies to avert Obama sweep on Tuesday

With Sen. Barack Obama looking to sweep tomorrow's Potomac primaries, Sen. Hillary Clinton unleashed powerful allies in Maryland yesterday for a strategic push aimed at traditional Democratic groups who have helped her in other states.

Former President Bill Clinton crisscrossed Maryland, calling his wife "the best change-maker I ever saw" during a speech at the Charlestown Retirement Community in Catonsville. Daughter Chelsea Clinton made appearances in Baltimore's Belvedere Square shopping district and later went to the University of Maryland, College Park.

The vigorous activity - intended to keep Clinton competitive in the hunt for delegates even if she loses the popular vote in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia - illustrated the importance of tomorrow's regional contests in the presidential race.

Hillary seeks to cast herself as underdog vs Obama

The Clinton campaign has labeled the Illinois senator the "establishment" candidate as she tries to wrest from him the message of a vow to bring change to Washington.

But political analysts saw some irony in the New York senator's effort to seek the status of a challenger to the establishment, given that she has been a household name since her husband, Bill Clinton, ran for president in 1992.

Clinton courts Edwards' support

In light of the secret Edwards-Clinton pow wow last week in Chapel Hill, Clinton's pro-Edwards comments yesterday in Lewiston, Maine, become that much more interesting. NBC News also confirmed that Obama will meet with Edwards there today.

Ever since the former North Carolina senator dropped out, both Clinton and Obama have been making a point of hailing his campaign against poverty and his work to bring the issue to the forefront of American politics again. Yesterday in Maine, during the question and answer session, a former Edwards supporter said she's supporting Clinton now because she's "a fighter" hopes Clinton will support some of Edwards’ policies. Clinton said she'd ask Edwards to be part of "anything I do.”

Bill takes to the churches

After losing two caucuses and a primary to Senator Barack Obama Saturday, Senator Hillary Clinton’s campaign seemed like it might need a prayer. Or two. And so Bill Clinton started off his day of Potomac Primary campaigning with a stop at the Temple of Praise, an African-American church in Washington, DC.

Then he attended services — again — at another church: The Greater Mt. Nebo African Methodist Episcopal Church in Bowie, Maryland

... “Now God works in mysterious ways,” he told the D.C. congregation. “All my life, I have wanted to vote for a woman.”

“And all my life, I have wanted to vote for an African-American,” he continued.

He added, then laughed: “I wonder why God gave us this dilemma.”

Clinton campaign gets shakeup

Hillary Clinton's campaign manager stepped down Sunday, a mark of the strain on a campaign that had been structured to lock up the Democratic presidential nomination on Super Tuesday.

In an e-mail to Clinton campaign staff, Patti Solis Doyle cited the heavy demands of a historically long and intense race. She was replaced by Maggie Williams, a former top aide to Clinton in the White House.

Meet Maggie Williams, new campaign manager

Among Billaryland's inner circle, Maggie Williams is renowned as the ultimate Hillary loyalist, fierce and unwavering in her devotion for nearly 25 years.

As the First Lady's chief of staff, her office was in the West Wing, right next to Hillary's.

Her title gave away the extent of her clout: assistant to the President as well as Hillary's gatekeeper and chief enforcer.

Even detractors agree with her admirers that Williams would go to the mat for Hillary.

A Kansas City native, Williams, 53, was a central player in the Clinton damage-control machine during the White House years.

In 1995, a uniformed Secret Service officer swore under oath he saw her leave White House lawyer and Hillary confidant Vince Foster's office carrying documents after Foster committed suicide. Williams denied it.

Hillary badly needs Virginia victory Tuesday

Clinton – whose campaign is reeling after a high-level staff shakeup and weekend loses to Obama in Maine, Washington State, Nebraska and Louisiana – has all-but-conceded defeat in Maryland and the District.

She has campaigned hard in Virginia, where her campaign has a strategy to keep things competitive, but it’s already looking ahead to March 4 contests in Ohio and Texas as a firewall of sorts.

see also: Clinton's worst month yet


Bill says he understands the 'immense pride' of black vote

"I understand the immense pride that he has generated in the African American community.... "I mean, they have been voting for white candidates a long time, and they got him, and they are proud of him and a lot of people will support him," he said. "All that I can do is go and say why I think that Hillary will be a better president."



Barack Obama... today's headlines with excerpts

Obama rides momentum before 'Potomac Primaries'

"We have now won on the Atlantic coast, we've won on the North Coast, we've won on the Pacific Coast, and we've won in between those coasts," Obama said at a rally in Virginia Beach, Virginia after the Maine results were announced.

Obama takes delegate lead

Barack Obama finished a series of weekend primary and caucus contests undefeated as he bested Hillary Clinton in Maine today, according to CBS News estimates.

Obama’s victory in the Maine caucuses follow on the heels of his Saturday sweep in which he won Louisiana’s primary contest as well as caucuses in the states of Washington and Nebraska.

In the delegate chase, Obama has pulled ahead of Clinton, even when the support of uncommitted super delegates is figured in. According to CBS News estimates, Obama holds a razor-thin lead with 1,134 delegates overall to 1,131 for Clinton.


Obama ties Clinton to past

"I think it's very hard for Senator Clinton to break out of the politics of the past 15 years," Obama said.

"Senator Clinton starts off with 47 percent of the country against her," the Illinois senator told 3,000 people at a high school gym in Alexandria, Va., just outside Washington. "That's a hard place to start."

"Hillary and I both want universal health care," he said. "But unless we can put a working majority together, it doesn't matter what plan is adopted" because Congress will not pass it.


Michelle Obama solidifies her role in the election

On the campaign trail, she has emerged as an influential adviser whom aides watch as a barometer for how both they and the candidate are doing. They watch for "the look" between her and Mr. Obama, on stage or in private moments, as an indication of his mood.

Inside the campaign, she's been dubbed "the closer" because she often pushes harder to seal the deal with voters than he does. But worries about her sarcastic humor being taken the wrong way have forced her to cut back some of her public candor, she admits.

... The Obamas present themselves as equals. "We're two well-versed lawyers who know each other really well," Mrs. Obama says in an interview. "We each think we're right about everything, and can argue each other into a corner." Friends and campaign aides describe them as a high-powered team built on contrasts: She's the heart to his head, the enforcer to his lapses, regimented to his laid-back, critic to his ego, details to his broad strokes, sarcasm to his sincerity, toughness to his cool vibe.

Paper: Obama a cult figure

Obama is part politician, part cult. Supporters wearing T-shirts with an Andy Warhol like pop-art image of his face testify to that. But then they - him - were once easy to dismiss until people realised Obama's charisma was being matched by one of the most sophisticated ground operations ever seen. It is one that is outsmarting the Clinton machine. He's marrying inspiration and cult with old-fashioned political grunt.

One would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by Obama on the stump. It's not so much by what he says but it's the way the crowds respond to his words. When 16,000 people, without prompting, start shouting some of his keynote phrases as he delivers them, you know something special is going on.

The atmosphere at his events is such that one wonders if Obama is about to walk out with a basket with some loaves and fishes to feed the thousands.

And therein lays the danger for Obama. The Obama shuttle has made it into orbit but at some point he's going to have to land this thing back on Earth.



Obama beats Bill and Jimmy for Grammy

Barack Obama topped a Clinton in another contest Sunday - the Grammys.

The presidential candidate beat both former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter to win best spoken word album for his audio version of his book "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream."

Clinton was nominated for his book "Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World" and Carter for "Sunday Mornings in Plains: Bringing Peace to a Changing World." Also nominated was Maya Angelou and Alan Alda.




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