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


Friday, Feb. 15, 2008


Texas anger: Obama-Clinton debate closed to public

... ever since it was announced that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would hold a presidential debate on the campus of the University of Texas on Feb. 21, the city of Austin has been abuzz with anticipation and excitement. That infectious enthusiasm, however, quickly turned to disappointment after debate organizers announced the event would be closed to the public...



McCain-Obama race could redraw electoral map

In recent presidential elections, the electoral map largely has been fixed, with certain regions predictably loyal to one party or another and the competition narrowed to fewer than 20 battleground states.

But Barack Obama's success in rallying African-Americans and John McCain's difficulty with conservative evangelicals raise an intriguing question: Would a general election between the two put additional states -- particularly in the South -- into play?

McCain and Obama skirmish on financing

John McCain’s presidential campaign said Thursday that it stood by a year-old pledge made with Barack Obama that each would accept public financing for the general election if the nominee of the opposing party did the same. But Mr. Obama’s campaign refused to reaffirm its earlier commitment.

update: Obama would seek McCain deal

Poll: Obama would beat McCain or Huckabee

The Zogby Interactive poll showed that Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, would beat McCain, the GOP front-runner, or Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor.

Obama would beat McCain in a national election, with 47 percent supporting Obama and 36 percent supporting McCain, the poll indicated. In a match-up with Huckabee, Obama would win 49 percent to 34 percent.

The poll also found that presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton would lose to McCain, but narrowly defeat Huckabee, in the general election.

Clinton, Obama offer similar economic visions

Clinton and Obama both promised that they would make the tax code more middle-income-friendly and would protect consumers from threats -- including predatory credit card companies and rapacious college lenders. Both candidates condemned corporate tax breaks that they say send jobs overseas. Both pledged to protect homeowners and said they would repeal President Bush's upper-income tax cuts while extending those for the middle class. Both promised to rein in credit card companies that arbitrarily raise interest rates, sending families into a downward spiral of debt.

Meet the superdelegates: Dem governors evenly endorsing Obama and Clinton

Overall, 11 governors are behind Clinton, but only 10 are able to vote for her at this time...

Obama has the support of 10 governors, picking up Washington State's Gov. Chris Gregoire before the state's caucuses last weekend and receiving an endorsement from Puerto Rican Gov. Aníbal Acevedo-Vilá on Wednesday. He is also backed by Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty, who, according to Democratic Party rules, is considered a "governor" for all practical purposes. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who boasts that he was the first official outside of Illinois to endorse Obama, is also a supporter.

Ten others have chosen not to bet on a horse just yet, including New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who at one time was seeking the nomination himself.

*see also: White men hold superdelegate power balance

Superdelegates get campaign cash

Obama's political action committee has doled out more than $694,000 to superdelegates since 2005, the study found, and of the 81 who had announced their support for Obama, 34 had received donations totaling $228,000.

Clinton's political action committee has distributed about $195,000 to superdelegates, and only 13 of the 109 who had announced for her have received money, totaling about $95,000.





Mike Huckabee... today's headlines with excerpts

Huckabee says Romney part of 'me-too' crowd

"Right now there’s a great big me-too crowd coming together," said Mike Huckabee who said he wasn't surprised by Mitt Romney's endorsement of John McCain.

"There’s a lot of the folks sort of in the establishment of the party that is now not wanting to be left out," he said.




Despite impossible odds, Huckabee supporters still plan to vote for him

Most didn’t care; others, resolutely defiant. When told that Mike Huckabee didn’t have much of a shot at winning the nomination, supporters said they were voting for him anyway.

... “In many ways, the discussion over the next several weeks is not just about the next election, it is about the next generation,” Huckabee said. “It’s not just about the politics of the Republican party, it’s about the principles of the Republican party. It’s not just about winning and losing an election, it’s about winning and losing a culture. It’s about whether or not we will stand for something or whether we will fall for anything just so that we can beat the other guys.”

NH Huckabee backers see no reason to give up

Mike Huckabee's top New Hampshire supporters, like their candidate, are a "never-say-die" group.

Even as John McCain yesterday won the support of Mitt Romney and, presumably, the bulk of Romney's 286 national convention delegates, Huckabee's New Hampshire faithful refused to urge the former Arkansas governor to end his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

"No, I really think Huckabee should stay in," said former Executive Councilor Ruth Griffin, who backed the former Arkansas governor last October.

"You have to have someone and something to stimulate people and give them something to think about besides what the anointed one says," said the former member of the Republican National Committee.

What Huckabee hopes to win

... as he battles onward, Huckabee, 52, is gaining something else: A chance to be seen as a national leader of conservative evangelicals -- a potent force in the Republican Party -- and perhaps as their standard-bearer in a future presidential race.

Fueled by support from evangelicals, he won two Republican contests Saturday -- in Louisiana and Kansas. He gave McCain another scare in Virginia on Tuesday, even though he lost.

Bob Wickers, a Huckabee strategist, said the former Arkansas governor still hoped to best McCain, but added that there were "bigger issues here about the next generation."

"It's about conservatives," Wickers said. "It's about the movement. It's about people under-represented in the party who need a voice, and him being that voice."

If Huckabee can pick up another 39 delegates -- his best shots will come next month in Texas and Mississippi -- he also would get the satisfaction of surpassing the total collected by Mitt Romney, who dropped out of the race.



John McCain... today's headlines with excerpts

McCain: early withdrawal from Iraq would mean genocide

"Both Senator Obama and Clinton want to set a date for withdrawal. That means chaos. That means genocide," the 71-year-old Arizona senator told CNN's Larry King late Thursday.

"That means undoing all the success we've achieved, and Al-Qaeda tells the world they defeated the United States of America. I won't let that happen, as president of the United States."




Former President Bush to endorse McCain

Former President George H.W. Bush will endorse John McCain in Texas on Monday. The endorsement represents another step in McCain's tightening grip on the Republican presidential nomination.

McCain calls on Obama to disclose 'pork' projects

“The senator from Illinois, because he is a junior, had only gotten about $92 million, according to that [Washington Post] article,” McCain said. “And the senator from Illinois, who says that he wants transparency in government, will not reveal the number of earmarks that he received in 2006 and 2005. Is that transparency in government? I don’t think so. I don’t think so!

“So I call on the senator … to go ahead and tell people how much money in earmarked projects and pork barrel projects that he got for his state and what they were for. And my friends, examine my record on pork barrel projects and you will see a big fat zero.”


Once derided as idealist, McCain hands label to Obama

John McCain's first broadside against Barack Obama, as a bearer of only "rhetoric rather than sound and proven ideas," was grounded in a familiar critique: the idealist driven by ego and elevated by media coverage into a messenger for a purer brand of politics.

In his first presidential race eight years ago, opponents pinned that caricature on McCain. This week, he used it on Obama.

... "I do not seek the presidency on the presumption that I am blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save my country in its hour of need," McCain said....

Romney releases his delegates, backs McCain

Mitt Romney made a Valentine's Day endorsement of John McCain on Thursday, ending a bitter, year-long rivalry and handing over almost enough delegates to guarantee McCain the Republican presidential nomination.

Romney released the 280 delegates he had won from their pledge to support him and urged them to back McCain. He called McCain a "true American hero" and said the party needs to unify behind him.

McCain aide says he will quit if Obama gets nod

Mark McKinnon, a top adviser to Republican presidential front-runner John McCain, says he will quit the campaign if Barack Obama wins the Democratic nomination.

McKinnon — a Democrat-turned Republican who was President Bush’s chief media adviser in 2004 — told National Public Radio he would leave the McCain team to avoid involvement in any attacks on Obama.

“I met Barack Obama. I read his book. I like him a great deal,” he said.

“I disagree with him on very fundamental issues. But I think … it would be a great race for the country and I would simply be uncomfortable being in a campaign that would be inevitably attacking Barack Obama.

Warring on McCain, Limbaugh see no reconciliation

“It’s entirely possible I will go the distance without saying I support a candidate,” he said, still sweating from his three-hour performance, his blue-and-white striped dress shirt untucked and draped over dark dress slacks.

The effect of Mr. Limbaugh’s resistance could be substantial, serving, at the least, to reinforce doubts among other conservatives about Mr. McCain, who would seem to need the party’s conservative base to turn out in force in November.

Asked what Mr. McCain might do to change his mind, Mr. Limbaugh said: “I don’t think there’s anything he could do. If he did do it, he would be accused of selling out.” Then, in a familiar baritone as resonant as it is on the air, he added, “If I were to endorse McCain based on the current circumstances, I’d be looked at as a party hack.”




Ron Paul... today's headlines with excerpts



Hillary Clinton... today's headlines with excerpts

Noonan: Confidence or derangement?

Her whole life right now is a reverse Sally Field. She's looking out at an audience of colleagues and saying, "You don't like me, you really don't like me!"

... imagine if she tried honesty and humility. When everyone in America knows you're in a dreadful position, admit you're in a dreadful position. Don't lie about it and make them roll their eyes, tell the truth and make them blink.

Hillary's new anti-corporate, populist rhetoric

Earlier in the race, Clinton defended her relationships with business lobbyists, telling a blogger convention this summer that many of them “represent real Americans.”

But she took a very different stance today as she delivered as she delivered a “Solutions for the American Economy” address to General Motors employees in Warren, Ohio.

Here are the areas she is vowing to take on: big oil companies, credit card companies, insurance companies, drug companies, Wall Street, student loan companies.

Putin vs. Clinton

When Hillary Clinton said, way back in New Hampshire, that Vladimir Putin "doesn't have a soul," I figured that would be the sort of thing the Russian wouldn't be pleased about. But when I called the foreign ministry the next day for comment, it was Orthodox Christmas, and I let it slide.

He was asked about the remark at his press conference yesterday, however, and indeed wasn't pleased.

The former KGB lieutenant colonel appeared to lash out at U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton — a leading Democratic candidate for president — when one reporter quoted her as saying that former KGB officers have no soul:

"At a minimum, a head of state should have a head," Putin said.

Hillary seeks to regroup in ad wars

... with the race seemingly on the line March 4, the Clinton campaign followed Mr. Obama onto the air by just a day with local TV spots in Texas and Ohio. Wednesday, in a tonal shift that may be a sign of things to come, the Clinton campaign released the first attack-oriented ad of the Democratic race.

The ad, airing in Wisconsin, questions why Mr. Obama declined to debate Mrs. Clinton before the Feb. 19 election in the state. He has agreed to two other debates before March 4.

The Clinton campaign is betting that going toe-to-toe with Mr. Obama on the airwaves in Texas and Ohio, where Mrs. Clinton enjoys wide leads in the polls, will deny him the sort of uncontested opening that helped him narrow similar deficits in previous states. But doing so will be expensive.

Hillary bets big on Ohio, Texas

Hillary Clinton's public bet that Ohio and Texas will be the firewall that salvages her presidential hopes from immolation is shaping up to be the biggest gamble of her campaign -- and perhaps the decisive one.

... The March 4 votes in Ohio and Texas, with 389 total convention delegates between them, offered the first realistic prospect for Sen. Clinton to make her comeback....

Hillary steps up rhetoric against Obama

"Now, over the years, you've heard plenty of promises from plenty of people in plenty of speeches," Clinton told the auto workers. "And some of those speeches were probably pretty good. But speeches don't put food on the table. Speeches don't fill up your tank, speeches don't fill your prescription, or do anything about that stack of bills that keeps you up at night.

"That's the difference between me and my Democratic opponent," she said, using some of her strongest language yet against the Illinois senator, who has won eight straight primaries and caucuses. "My opponent makes speeches, I offer solutions. It's one thing to get people excited; I want to empower you."

John Glenn endorses Hillary

Hillary Clinton's effort to win Ohio's critical presidential primary got a boost Tuesday when former senator and astronaut John Glenn endorsed her candidacy.

Hillary airs military ad in Texas

The spot highlights her championing of a bill to expand healthcare for National Guard and Reserve members. It uses uplifting music, as well as images of soldiers in the field, an injured service member walking down a hallway, and a military retiree hugging Clinton.

Bill and Hillary launching hectic fundraising schedule

Either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Clinton will headline fund-raisers almost every day through the end of February as they try to cut into the financial edge of several millions dollars that Mr. Obama is believed to have in campaign cash...

Civil Rights leader Lewis drops Clinton support for Obama

Representative John Lewis, an elder statesman from the civil rights era and one of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s most prominent black supporters, said Thursday night that he planned to cast his vote as a superdelegate for Senator Barack Obama in hopes of preventing a fight at the Democratic convention.

*NOTE: story not confirmed by Lewis

"It is plain there is a lot of enthusiasm for Barack Obama," Lewis spokeswoman Brenda Jones said. But, she said, "those things are observations," not statements of preference. She said Lewis has left the option of changing his superdelegate support for Clinton on the table, but made no decisions.

Black lawmakers rethink Clinton support

Rep. David Scott's defection and Rep. John Lewis' remarks highlight one of the challenges confronting Clinton in a campaign that pits a black man against a woman for a nomination that historically has been the exclusive property of white men.

"You've got to represent the wishes of your constituency," Scott said in an interview in the Capitol. "My proper position would be to vote the wishes of my constituents." The third-term lawmaker represents a district that gave more than 80 percent of its vote to Obama in the Feb. 5 Georgia primary.

Lewis, whose Atlanta-area district voted 3-to-1 for Obama, said he is not ready to abandon his backing for the former first lady. But several associates said the nationally known civil rights figure has become increasingly torn about his early endorsement of Clinton. They spoke on condition of anonymity, citing private conversations.

Clinton camp may regret largely turning its back on caucus states

Like Obama, Clinton threw everything possible into the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, spending $20 million to $25 million on what turned out to be a losing effort. The experience seemed to sour the Clinton campaign on caucuses -- she has repeatedly disparaged the caucus process in public remarks -- and ever since, her team has largely ignored them in favor of states with primaries. If the Democratic race is all about delegates, as the Clinton campaign declared shortly after the Jan. 8 New Hampshire contest, the decision has given Obama an unexpected gift...

New Mexico finally called - for Hillary

Hillary Clinton was declared the winner of the New Mexico caucuses, a Feb. 5 state that took its time tallying the results...

Clinton strategist tied to nuclear energy company

Earlier this month, Hillary Clinton’s chief campaign strategist, Mark Penn, circulated a memo calling attention to a New York Times article about Senator Barack Obama’s dealings with Exelon Corporation, a nuclear power company.

The article showed how legislation sponsored by Mr. Obama regulating radioactive leaks at power plants was changed to reflect the views of its opponents, including Exelon, “the company whose plants created the issue and whose key executives are big contributors and bundlers to his campaign,” Mr. Penn wrote. The article also pointed out that Mr. Obama’s chief campaign strategist, David Axelrod, was a consultant to Exelon.

Now it turns out that Mr. Penn’s company, Burson Marsteller, has also been an Exelon consultant. An Exelon spokesman confirmed a report today on the Huffington Post that Mr. Penn’s firm was recently paid $230,000 for public relations work last year in New Jersey, where Exelon was seeking to renew a license for one of its nuclear plants.

Mr. Penn’s memo also left out another inconvenient fact, one that had been mentioned in The Times article: Mrs. Clinton was a co-sponsor of Mr. Obama’s radioactive-leaks bill.




Barack Obama... today's headlines with excerpts

Obama takes lead in Texas

American Research Group: Obama 48%, Clinton 42%

Clintonite Lewis to cast superdelegate vote for Obama

Georgia Congressman John Lewis, the Civil Rights movement veteran whose early and until-now steady support helped Hillary Clinton maintain a measure of political credibility in the African-American community, has announced that he will cast his superdelegate vote at this summer's Democratic National Convention for Barack Obama.

*NOTE: story not confirmed by Lewis

"It is plain there is a lot of enthusiasm for Barack Obama," Lewis spokeswoman Brenda Jones said. But, she said, "those things are observations," not statements of preference. She said Lewis has left the option of changing his superdelegate support for Clinton on the table, but made no decisions.

Barack takes Valentines Day off - to be with wife and daughters

In the thick of his primary battle with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama is taking Valentine's Day off. Obama and his wife of more than 15 years, Michelle, are spending the afternoon with their two daughters, Sasha and Malia, before going out to dinner in Chicago, according to his campaign. No events, no interviews, no nothing -- just a little family time and a little romance. No word yet on gifts, or whether he's still got that BlackBerry on his hip.




Hillary ad pushes Obama to agree to more debates 

Hillary Clinton has called for more debates with Obama and her campaign stepped up the call today in a broadcast ad that notes the former first lady has accepted an invitation in Wisconsin to debate.

"Hillary Clinton has said yes," the announcer says. "Barack Obama hasn't."

"Maybe he'd prefer to give speeches than have to answer questions," the announcer adds in the 30-second spot.

"Wisconsin deserves to hear both candidates debate the issues that matter. . . . And that's . . . not debatable."



Obama responds:

Barack Obama's campaign responded today to a TV ad in which Hillary Clinton chides him for declining to debate in Wisconsin with a spot of its own pointing out the two leading Democrats are already on track to debate 20 times.

"After 18 debates, with two more coming, Hillary says Barack Obama is ducking debates?" the narrator says. "It’s the same old politics, of phony charges and false attacks."

Then, the ad (watch it here) aims criticisms at Clinton.

"On health care, even Bill Clinton’s own labor secretary says Obama covers more people than Hillary and does more to cut costs, saving $2,500 for the typical family," the announcer says. "Obama’s housing plan, it stems foreclosures and cracks down on crooked lenders. That’s change we can believe in."

Large union backs Obama, another likely to do same

Giving Senator Barack Obama new momentum, one of the nation’s largest labor unions, the United Food and Commercial Workers, endorsed him on Thursday. Another giant, the Service Employees International Union, was on the brink of backing him.

The endorsement of the service employees, which with 1.9 million members is seen as the nation’s most politically potent union, would be considered a special boon. Members of the service employees’ board were casting votes by e-mail and fax on Thursday night, and two top S.E.I.U. leaders said an Obama endorsement was likely.

The man behind Obama's message

David Axelrod is described as Obama's answer to Karl Rove and the most powerful political consultant not on a coast. And at a time when New York Sen. Clinton is shaking up her own campaign staff, he is someone, said one political observer, who "ain't going to be fired."

Former  GOP senator Chaffee endorses Obama

Former Rhode Island Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee endorsed Democratic candidate Barack Obama on Thursday, setting the groundwork for a fight in the upcoming Rhode Island primary on March 4.

"I believe Senator Obama is the best candidate to restore American credibility, to restore our confidence, to be moral and just, and to bring people together to solve the complex issues such as the economy, the environment and global stability," Chafee said.

Obama vows $210 billion for environmental and construction jobs

Barack Obama said that as president he would spend $210 billion to create jobs in construction and environmental industries.

Obama's investment would be over 10 years as part of two programs. The larger is $150 billion to create 5 million so-called green-collar jobs; $60 billion would go to a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank to rebuild highways, bridges, airports and other public projects. He estimated it could generate about 2 million jobs, many of them in the construction industry.

"This agenda is paid for," Obama said. He said the money for his spending proposals would come from ending the Iraq war, cutting tax breaks for corporations, taxing carbon pollution and raising taxes on high-income earners



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