Iowa... Where Presidents Begin

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


Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008


NY Times: McCain affair with lobbyist?

Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.

It had been just a decade since an official favor for a friend with regulatory problems had nearly ended Mr. McCain’s political career by ensnaring him in the Keating Five scandal. In the years that followed, he reinvented himself as the scourge of special interests, a crusader for stricter ethics and campaign finance rules, a man of honor chastened by a brush with shame.

But the concerns about Mr. McCain’s relationship with Ms. Iseman underscored an enduring paradox of his post-Keating career. Even as he has vowed to hold himself to the highest ethical standards, his confidence in his own integrity has sometimes seemed to blind him to potentially embarrassing conflicts of interest.



Obama opens up 14-point lead nationally

Barack Obama has surged past Hillary Clinton to open a big national lead in the Democratic presidential race, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

The poll showed Obama with a 14-point edge over Clinton, 52 percent to 38 percent, after being in a statistical tie with the New York senator last month.

Obama also leads Republican front-runner John McCain in a potential November election match-up while Clinton trails McCain, enhancing Obama's argument he is the Democrat with the best shot at capturing the White House.

Obama, McCain win Wisconsin primary

Barack Obama swept to a double-digit victory in the Wisconsin primary Tuesday, turning aside a fierce effort by Hillary Clinton and further propelling his campaign as the Democrats head toward epic contests in Ohio and Texas.

John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, defeated Mike Huckabee, 55% to 37%, in their party's contest in Wisconsin. McCain also won the GOP's Washington primary, moving him closer to formally clinching the nomination, even as Huckabee continued to resist pressure to withdraw in the cause of unity.

*McCain's remarks     *Obama's remarks

Delegate scorecard (from WashingtonPost)

Obama: 1423 (169 superdelegates)   Clinton 1297 (239 superdelegates)

McCain: 942 (73 unpledged dels.)   Huckabee: 245 (5 unpledged dels.)


Texas and Ohio are where all the action has gone

In Ohio, Hillary Clinton spoke of her plans to revitalize the ailing Ohio economy with investments in wind and solar power, medical research, advanced automotive technology and low-cost home loans to protect people from foreclosure. Ohio has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation. Texas, Barack Obama talked about the crisis affecting subprime borrowers. Mr. Obama pledged to penalize predatory lenders, offer a tax credit to cover 10 percent of interest on mortgages of struggling homeowners and make an additional $10 billion in bonds available to help buy first homes or avoid foreclosure.

...the Ohio and Texas primaries will be held March 4, along with those of Rhode Island and Vermont. ... The four states together will decide 370 pledged delegates, the second-largest trove after the 22 contests on Feb. 5. Depending on the popular vote outcome and the complex delegate math, the March 4 votes could give Mr. Obama a commanding lead, put Mrs. Clinton ahead or leave them essentially tied and looking toward the next big-state contest, Pennsylvania on April 22.





Mike Huckabee... today's headlines with excerpts

Huckabee: Raul Castro is a 'tyrant and dictator' just like big bro Fidel

Mike Huckabee may have had a down day in Little Rock while he awaited for the Wisconsin election results, but he jumped in full force and joined the sharp criticism against Raul Castro’s apparent ascension as leader of Cuba, now that his brother Fidel is stepping down after decades at the helm.

In a statement provided by the campaign, Huckabee called Castro a ” tyrant and dictator”  just like his brother Fidel.

... “The sad thing is that Raul is not going to be much better than his brother Fidel. And especially, if you look at Raul’s personal involvement in the shooting down of the aircraft operated by ‘Brothers to the Rescue’, ” Huckabee said.” That was sheer murder, I personally would like to see Raul Castro indicted for that murder. I think that to shoot down  a civilian aircraft,  that was unarmed, over international waters is an act of not just aggression, its an act of murder. And we shouldn’t be all that happy if Raul becomes the new dictator.” 

Heading to Texas, Huckabee remembers the Alamo

Huckabee headed to Texas on Tuesday, a state where he feels he can pick up conservative votes because “Texas is a state where independence matters a lot, people there don’t like to be told what to do, how to think, how to vote. I think we’ll find a very welcome atmosphere.”

He will also visit the Alamo on Thursday, invoking symbolism he feels is appropriate, “There’s a lot of history there, a lot of history of courage, of valor and also of people who stood by their convictions no matter what.”'

Huckabee says passion keeps him in the race

"Let me assure you that if it were about ego, my ego doesn't enjoy getting these kinds of evenings where we don't win the primary elections," Huckabee told reporters at a Little Rock hotel. "So it's got to be about something more than that, and it is. It's about convictions."

The former Arkansas governor said he still wanted to deliver his message about issues important to him, such as opposition to abortion and a revised U.S. tax policy.

"We're going to keep marching on," Huckabee said. He already has campaign appearances scheduled in Ohio and Texas, which hold primaries March 4.





John McCain... today's headlines with excerpts

McCain turns fire on Obama: "eloquent but empty"

Following his win in Wisconsin, John McCain immediately turned his fire on Democrats, and particularly Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), dismissing what he said was an "eloquent but empty call for change that promises no more than a holiday from history and a return to the false promises and failed policies of a tired philosophy that trusts in government more than people."

Exit polls: McCain takes Wisconsin by wide margin

Self-identified Republicans made up more than 7 of 10 voters, and they went for McCain by 22 points - 58 percent to 36 percent for Huckabee.

Conservatives also went for McCain by 4 percentage points, and among those voters who consider themselves somewhat conservative McCain wins 55 percent to Huckabee’s 38 percent.

McCain even wins among frequent conservative talk radio listeners. These voters make up 28 percent of primary participants, and they went for McCain over Huckabee by 20 points.

Again today, the retired naval aviator garners the support of veterans. Vets make up almost one quarter of voters, and they chose McCain over Huckabee by a significant 63 percent to 31 percent.

Voters also clearly think that McCain is the best Republican to defeat the Democratic nominee in November. A solid majority of more than 8 of 10 voters picked McCain.

see also: McCain heads off Huckabee surprise in Wisconsin

Cindy McCain responds to Michelle Obama's late-breaking pride in America

“I am proud of my country. I don’t know about you? If you heard those words earlier, I am very proud of my country,” Mrs. McCain said while revving up the crowd and introducing her husband.

When asked at a media availability afterward if they were responding to Michelle Obama’s comments Monday that this election is the “first time” she was “really proud” of her country, Sen. McCain deferred to his wife–who reiterated her previous words.

“I just wanted to make the statement that I have and always will be proud of my country,” McCain said.

Speaking in Wisconsin Monday, Michelle Obama caused a stir when she said, “for the first time in my adult lifetime I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.”

see also: Comments bring Michelle Obama, Cindy McCain into fray in Wisconsin

McCain wins Washington state's GOP primary

John McCain won Washington state's primary, CNN and Fox News projected, shoring up his front-runner status in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

McCain, 71, defeated former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas. A total of 19 delegates are at stake in the primary. Another 18 delegates are picked through a caucus system, which began on Feb. 9.

McCain may upset Dems' strategy

For Democrats, 2008 was supposed to be the year of the Mountain West, when three years of relentless Republican attacks on undocumented immigrants would fuel a backlash among Hispanics that would change the playing field in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, and perhaps alter the landscape of presidential politics for a generation.

But the emergence of John McCain as the likely standard-bearer for the GOP may have scrambled the equation, cooling a potential political revolt among Hispanics and sending Democrats in search of a new playbook.

"It completely screws it up," said Charles Black, a senior McCain adviser. "We nominated the one person who will not suffer that backlash." ...

McCain promises to be a uniter

John McCain may be closing on the magic number of delegates to claim the GOP presidential nomination, but he's not taking anything for granted. Even before the polls closed in Wisconsin, he arrived here to kick off his campaign for Ohio's delegates.

McCain will spend much of the next three days in Ohio, though with a leisurely schedule that alternates campaign events with fund-raising activities here and in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. Speaking to reporters after he flew to Ohio's capital this afternoon, McCain acknowledged that he still needed to energize a Republican electorate that was dismayed by GOP missteps in recent years.

"Our base was dispirited by the spending and corruption," McCain said, arguing that scandals largely explained the loss of GOP control in Congress. "We have a lot of work to do with our base. We have to unite it and we have to energize




Ron Paul... today's headlines with excerpts



Hillary Clinton... today's headlines with excerpts

Ron Fournier: It's panic-button time

After 10 consecutive defeats — including a heartbreaker in tailor-made Wisconsin on Tuesday — Hillary Clinton win the nomination unless Obama makes a major mistake or her allies reveal something damaging about the Illinois senator's background. Don't count her out quite yet, but Wisconsin revealed deep and destructive fractures in the Clinton coalition.

... In a sign of desperation, the Clinton camp floated the idea of poaching delegates that Obama earned via elections. While allowable under Democratic National Committee rules, the tactic would likely divide Democrats along racial lines and set the party back decades.

It would be the ultimate act of selfishness and foolishness. Even Clinton must realize there is little she can do to win the nomination. She can only help Obama lose it.

Hillary Clinton defiant after Wisconsin loss

Hillary Clinton has gotten good over the last few weeks at fleeing a primary state she has just lost and trying to turn the page.

This time around, she did not even wait for the results to come in.

Instead, on Tuesday night, Clinton announced that she would give a "major address" in Manhattan on Wednesday morning and delivered what aides described as a "preview" in Ohio. It seemed clearly designed to be a pre-emptive strike against the news that Clinton had lost yet another primary race.

Wisconsin exit polls spell trouble for Clinton

Barack Obama neutralized Hillary Clinton’s strength with women and devastated her among men in the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday, according to exit polls. ..

Wisconsin beginning of the end for Hillary Clinton?

"Her coalition just is not holding," said Lawrence R. Jacobs, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for the Study of Politics and Governance. "This could be -- I wouldn't say her Waterloo, but maybe the battle before the Waterloo."
Clinton has tried to stop Obama's momentum in Wisconsin by suggesting he borrowed speech excerpts inappropriately from his political ally, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. The New York senator also opened a TV ad attack on Obama in Wisconsin that slammed him for refusing to debate in the state.

Hillary in Ohio: Work not words

"It's about picking a president who relies not just on words -- but on work, hard work, to get American back to work," ..."Someone who's not just in the speeches business -- but will get America back in the solutions business."

... The aim of the Clinton speech -- and the reason it was released before the Wisconsin results were known -- is to show that regardless of what happened tonight Clinton is committed to driving a serious contrast between herself and Obama in the two weeks before Ohio and Texas vote.





Barack Obama... today's headlines with excerpts

Teamsters Union to endorse Obama

Barack Obama is slated to pick up the endorsement of the powerful Teamsters, the second major union endorsement for the Democratic front-runner in a week, union officials told The Associated Press on today.

Obama is meeting with Teamster President James P. Hoffa in Austin, Texas, today. The endorsement is expected to come soon thereafter, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the planned formal announcement.

The Teamsters represent 1.4 million members.

Union support will be key in the Democratic primaries in the next few weeks, particularly in Ohio on March 4 and Pennsylvania on April 22. Ohio and Pennsylvania have some of the nation's largest number of union workers, with more than 15 percent of the workforce unionized in Pennsylvania and just over 14 percent in Ohio.

Obama takes 10 in a row!

Barack Obama (Ill.) swept to victories in Wisconsin and Hawaii yesterday, bringing to 10 the number of consecutive contests he has won over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and raising the stakes for crucial votes in Ohio and Texas next month...

see also:

Victorious Obama: "We have lift-off"

Wisconsin and Hawaii hand victories to Obama

Obama win sets stage for showdowns in Texas, Ohio

His win sets the stage for showdowns in Texas and Ohio on March 4, two states Clinton's supporters acknowledge she must win.

The timing of the two candidates' evening speeches indicated that both are readying for a bruising two weeks. In a small breakdown of political etiquette, Clinton stepped to the podium in Youngstown, Ohio, soon after polls closed in Wisconsin, to open what her campaign billed as a major new front against Obama. And Obama began his own speech in the middle of hers, causing cable networks to interrupt her talk and cut to his.

Obama chips away at Clinton's usual hard core of supporters

... yesterday the senator from Illinois broke deep into Clinton's base in Wisconsin. He solidified gains he made in last week's Potomac Primary, proving competitive among some key Wisconsin voting blocs that had been backing the senator from New York and overtaking her among others.

"He's making a real assault on the Clinton coalition for the first time," said Mark Mellman, an independent Democratic pollster whose Wisconsin clients date to the 1980s.

In a state in which nearly 9 in 10 Democratic voters are white, Obama won more than 6 in 10 of the votes of white men, while Clinton held only a narrow edge among white women. And he defeated her by double-digit margins among those voters with family incomes less than $50,000 and among those without college degrees, exit polling shows.

Obama says Clinton's housing plan helps rich

Barack Obama accused rival Hillary Clinton on Tuesday of rewarding the rich and hurting future mortgage seekers with her plan to end the U.S. housing crisis.

"It will reward people who made this problem worse but it will also reward people who are wealthy and don't need it," Obama, who would be the first black president, told a small group gathered to discuss the economy in San Antonio.

"A blanket freeze like she's proposed will drive rates through the roof on people who are trying to get new mortgages to buy or refinance a home," he said.

"Experts say the value of homes will fall even more, and even more families could face foreclosure."

Dana Milbank: Obama by the numbers - twice-told tales

Obama had a ready answer for the questions about his originality: another big primary win.

... A chant of "Yes, we can" filled the arena, and Obama, emerging underneath a banner honoring basketball great Hakeem Olajuwon, enjoyed a reception the Houston Rockets would envy. "The American people have spoken out, and they've said we need to move in a new direction," Obama told the arena.

Whoever first uttered the words that followed, it didn't much matter: On the arena floor, they were drowned out by deafening cheers.

Obama opens 2-front fight

... an increasingly confident Obama is beginning to battle on two fronts, holding off Clinton with one arm as he takes increasingly frequent swings at McCain with the other. At Obama rallies, McCain has become a foil, the object of boos and hisses for the partisan faithful. But Obama appears to believe he has found the way to attack, even as he continues his outreach to Republicans.

"I revere and honor John McCain's service to his country. He's a genuine hero," Obama told a packed house at Houston's Toyota Center Tuesday night, during his roughly 45-minute post-Wisconsin victory speech. "But when he embraces George Bush's failed economic policies, when he says he's willing to send our troops into another 100 years in Iraq, then he represents the party of yesterday, and we want to be the party of tomorrow."

It helps that Obama now lumps both his opponents into the same camp, the Washington establishment that voted for war in Iraq and has catered to special interests.

"The last thing we need is to have the same old folks doing the same old things, making the same mistakes over and over again," he said in Houston.

Obama defends wife on matter of pride

Barack Obama sought Tuesday to clarify his wife's statement that she is proud of the U.S. "for the first time in my adult life." He said her newfound pride is about the political system and was not meant to disparage her country.

He commented after Cindy McCain, wife of Republican presidential candidate John McCain, made a veiled reference to Michelle Obama's recent remarks.

Cindy McCain told a Wisconsin rally on Tuesday: "I'm proud of my country, I don't know about you, if you heard those words earlier."

Barack Obama, interviewed on WOAI radio in San Antonio, Texas, expressed frustration that his wife's comments became political fodder.

"Statements like this are made and people try to take it out of context and make a great big deal out of it, and that isn't at all what she meant," Obama said.

"What she meant was, this is the first time that she's been proud of the politics of America," he said. "Because she's pretty cynical about the political process, and with good reason, and she's not alone. But she has seen large numbers of people get involved in the process, and she's encouraged."



tracking the Larry Sinclair/Obama limo-cocaine-sex story -- as the mainstream media steadfastly refuses to report it:

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