Iowa... Where Presidents Begin

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


Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2008


Today: 'Potomac Primaries'
Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia

Campaigns cover the region in last effort to charm voters

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama offered himself as "something new" at a pair of spirited, arena-size rallies in Maryland yesterday, while his primary rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton, portrayed herself as a "battle-scarred" fighter for the middle class at more intimate events held across the region on the eve of today's primaries.

As the closing arguments were made to voters in Virginia, Maryland and the District, election officials were predicting a heavy turnout for the first-ever "Potomac Primary," and a great deal was at stake for the two Democratic candidates.

Gallup national poll: Obama edges ahead of Clinton, McCain consolidates gains

Democrat Barack Obama has edged past Hillary Clinton for the first time in a new nationwide USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. He had 47% to 44% for Clinton among Democratic adults or those who lean Democratic.

Obama's lead was well within the margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Among Republicans and people who lean Republican, John McCain led Mike Huckabee 53%-27%. It was the first poll since Mitt Romney dropped out and the pair appeared to divide his support -- McCain picking up 11 points, Huckabee 9 points.

see also: USA Today poll: Dems like choices, McCain measures up

AP poll: Obama narrowly lead McCain nationally

Barack Obama would narrowly defeat Republican John McCain if they were matched today in the presidential election, while McCain and Hillary Rodham Clinton are running about even...

Newsweek DEM national poll: Obama 42%, Clinton 41%

Democratic Party supporters in the United States are almost evenly split in their presidential preferences, according to a poll by Princeton Survey Research Associates released by Newsweek. 42 per cent of respondents want Illinois senator Barack Obama as their nominee this year, while 41 per cent prefer New York senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Obama, Clinton set debate dates

Texas: Feb. 21; Ohio: Feb. 26

Clinton, Obama spar over who's stronger in the general election

CLINTON: "Sen. Obama has never had, I don't think, a single negative ad ever run against him," Clinton said. "Until you've been through this experience, you have no idea what it is like, and he hasn't been. He's never had to face this. I am much better prepared and ready to . . . withstand whatever comes my way."



OBAMA: "Going up against the Clinton machine is no cakewalk," he told interviewer Steve Kroft. Noting that Clinton disparages him for a supposed inability to withstand "the withering scrutiny," Obama said of the Clintons, "They're pretty serious about winning, too. They can play rough, and there's nothing wrong with that."




Hillary, Obama already targeting March 4

Hillary Clinton is counting on the almost-Super Tuesday primaries March 4 for another comeback, as she and rival Barack Obama both begin ads in Texas and Ohio, the day's biggest prizes.

Barring an upset win for Clinton in the next five Democratic contests, she could well have suffered 10 straight defeats by the time Democrats begin voting March 4 in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont — the biggest single day left on the Democratic nominating calendar.

... Neither Clinton nor Obama could win enough delegates that day to clinch the nomination, but the outcome could sway increasingly crucial superdelegates — the party officials who are not bound by primary and caucus voting and may end up picking the nominee.

Both campaigns planned to launch TV ads Tuesday in Texas and Ohio, where voters will select 193 and 141 delegates, respectively. Between them, the two states have another 55 superdelegates.

see also: Clinton, Obama debut Texas ads today





Mike Huckabee... today's headlines with excerpts

Potomac Primary losses could spark pressure on Huckabee to withdraw

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee could soon find his phone ringing off the hook as Republicans of all stripes ask him to abandon his bid for the presidency for the good of the party.

Even though Huckabee continues to rack up wins, picking up weekend victories in Kansas and Louisiana, the remaining number of delegates at stake makes his shot at the nomination a near impossibility.

Many Republican officials, wary of the energy and shocking fundraising numbers Democrats are enjoying, are eager for the party to coalesce around McCain, and they see Huckabee as an obstacle to that effort at unity.

see also: Despite GOP's push, Huckabee won't pull out of race


John McCain... today's headlines with excerpts

McCain likes the math

A longstanding alliance of convenience and admiration between John McCain and Mike Huckabee has exhibited its first fissures after Huckabee announced plans to contest McCain's weekend victory in Washington state's caucuses.

"I think it's pretty clear that we won," McCain responded ...

Even a successful challenge would probably have little effect on the outcome of the contest. McCain advisers, along with outside observers, believe it may now be mathematically impossible for Huckabee to accumulate the necessary 1,191 delegates to clinch the nomination, given the remaining primary calendar, but the former Arkansas governor reiterated yesterday that he intends to remain in the race until one candidate passes that threshold.



Ron Paul... today's headlines with excerpts

Ron Paul declares he WON'T back McCain

Paul, a Texas congressman, said he will not back McCain if he is the party's nominee unless the Arizona senator "has a lot of change of heart."

"I cannot support anybody with the foreign policy he advocates, you know, perpetual war. That is just so disturbing to me," Paul said in a Monday telephone interview. "I think it's un-American, unconstitutional, immoral and not Republican."



Hillary Clinton... today's headlines with excerpts

For Hillary, bid hinges on Texas and Ohio

Hillary Clinton and her advisers increasingly believe that, after a series of losses, she has been boxed into a must-win position in the Ohio and Texas primaries on March 4, and she has begun reassuring anxious donors and superdelegates that the nomination is not slipping away from her...

Clinton held a buck-up-the-troops conference call on Monday with donors, superdelegates and other supporters; several said afterward that she had sounded tired and a little down, but determined about Ohio and Texas.




Clinton campaign emits end-of-the-line vibes

Suddenly, against all odds, the once-mighty Clinton campaign is beginning to feel like the last days of Pompeii.

... in a year where many Democratic elders salivate over winning back the White House and plumping up their congressional majorities, a growing sense of doom and dread surrounds the Hillary campaign.

"I think it's over for her," a fanatical Hillary loyalist glumly guessed on the eve of the next three Democratic contests. "He's going to win."

... Four days before the Iowa caucuses, she confidently predicted to her old comrade George Stephanopoulos, "It'll be over by Feb. 5." It wasn't. Now, she should beware the fourth of March.

Hillary accuses Obama of cutting deals with contributor

"Sen. Obama has some questions to answer about his dealings with one of his largest contributors Exelon, a big nuclear power company; apparently he cut some deals behind closed doors to protect them from full disclosure of the nuclear industry," she said.

Clintons, Obama 'waxed' at Madame Tussauds

The Washington branch of Madame Tussauds, the world’s leading purveyor of life-size, realistic wax sculptures, on Monday unveiled its Barack Obama figure. The museum timed the debut to correlate with the local primary elections that’ll take place Tuesday in the District, Maryland and Virginia.

For Mr. Obama’s premiere, museum curators decided to stand him behind the desk of the museum’s Oval Office stage. He’s flanked by the museum’s pre-existing figures of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton on the left, and John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy on the right.



Barack Obama... today's headlines with excerpts

Obama: McCain is "The Past"

“We are the party of tomorrow, he’s the party of yesterday. He’s the past, we’re the future,” Obama said. Since McCain became the presumptive Republican nominee, Obama has ratcheted up his criticism of him, referring to McCain at every campaign stop.

Obama said that he can take on the Republicans in general elections, joking that he’s “skinny but tough.”

“Don’t mess with me! Let them bring it on, who they got, John McCain? I respect John McCain for his half century of service but he’s on the wrong side of history right now,” Obama said.

Obama favored in Potomac Primaries

The campaigns of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama are gearing up for today's presidential primary in Virginia, a key Southern state rife with knotty demographics and shifting party loyalties.

Both camps view the Democratic vote in Virginia as their toughest matchup in the so-called Potomac primaries, a stretch of contests that also includes Maryland and the District of Columbia, where large and passionate constituencies among black voters and college students make Obama a heavy favorite.

Obama faces uphill fight to win over Texas Hispanics

In more than 30 years of political organizing in South Texas, and with four trips in the past 16 months, the Clintons could write chapter and verse about the Rio Grande Valley.

Barack Obama, who has never been south of San Antonio, is just opening the cover. And that very fact could help determine the outcome of Texas' March 4 primary fight between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama. ..





Seeking unity, Obama feels pull of racial divide

While Mr. Obama has made great strides in appealing to white and black voters, his campaign has proved less effective in drawing Latino support. While a few experts point to longstanding rivalries between blacks and Hispanics over jobs and other opportunities, most faulted him as doing too little, too late...

Obama's extraordinary wave fails to sink extraordinary foe

After storming five presidential-nominating contests over the weekend, Sen. Barack Obama is favored to take three more primaries today and two later this month -- a potential 10-contest run that will give him wins in nearly half the states compared with Sen. Hillary Clinton's total of just 10 wins since voting began in Iowa.

In another year, against another candidate, Illinois's Sen. Obama might be on the verge of nabbing the Democratic nomination. A few Democratic strategists, and some Republicans, think he is almost there now. But Sen. Clinton is no average candidate, and party rules give the New York senator enough convention delegates to weather February's squalls until contests in March...


Fixing error gives Obama sweep of all Washington's counties

It turns out Barack Obama did win every county in Washington state's Democratic caucuses on Saturday.

The state Democratic Party had initially reported that Hillary Rodham Clinton won just a single county, Douglas, in Eastern Washington by a 53-32 count of delegates.

But now party leaders say someone misreported the results. The correct tally in Douglas County, according to state party Executive Director Jaxon Ravens, is 65 delegates for Obama and 37 for Clinton, completing Obama's sweep of all 39 Washington counties.

Can the Muslim smear hurt Obama?

[Newsweek's Andrew Romano:] 

After a few months on the trail, I'm starting to worry that there are national-security swing voters out there who will be suspicious of someone who has ANY links to the Muslim world--as irrelevant as those links may be. I wish it wasn't true, but over the past two months, I've had at least a dozen people respond to my rote question--What do you think of Barack Obama?--by worrying aloud about his "Muslim background."

I'm always quick to tell them that he's not a Muslim, but it rarely makes a difference.

Take Vicki Hercsky, 47, a teacher from Boca Raton, Florida. "Obama, I don't even know how he got where he is," she told me after a Rudy Giuliani event late last month.

"Why do you say that?" I asked.

"He's Muslim," she replied, matter-of-factly.

I stammered. "Well, um, his father was raised Muslim but was an agnostic by the time Barack was born," I said. "Obama is a Christian."

Hercsky wasn't swayed. "Yeah, but he has it in his blood," she said. "You can't take away what's given to you. It's given to you for a reason, and that's who you are. That's who he is."

I'm not sure what she meant by "it," or "who he is"--and I'm not sure I want to know...

Obama's students, independents erode Hillary's Wisconsin base

Wisconsin has lots of blue-collar, older and female voters who form the backbone of Hillary Clinton's base. It also has plenty of college students, progressives and upper-income independents who favor Barack Obama.

With an earlier start and more support from the state's political establishment, including the governor, Obama may have the edge in Wisconsin's Feb. 19 contest for the Democratic presidential nomination.


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