Iowa... Where Presidents Begin

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


Saturday, Feb. 9, 2008



Obama wins Louisiana!

Obama wins Virgin Islands - 90% of the vote for him

Obama: 1772 votes (89.9%)
Clinton: 149 votes (11.6%)

Obama wins Nebraska - more than 2 to 1 margin

Obama wins Washington

Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois won caucuses in Nebraska and Washington Saturday as his too-close-to-call race with Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York moved to three new battlegrounds.

Some 158 delegates were at stake in Nebraska and Washington, plus a primary in Louisiana. Caucuses in the Virgin Islands offered three more.




Huckabee wins Kansas - 3 to 1 over McCain

Mike Huckabee won the Kansas caucuses by a wide margin Saturday, showing he is still attracting voters even as the majority of the Republican Party is beginning to coalesce around John McCain as the nominee.

At a news conference after his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington earlier in the day, Mr. Huckabee told reporters he had no intention of dropping out until one of the Republican candidates amassed the 1,191 delegates needed to be the nominee.





5 states take their turn this weekend:

DEMS: Louisiana (56 delegates), Nebraska (24 delegates),
Washington (78 delegates), Virgin Is. (3 delegates), Maine (24 delegates)

GOP: Kansas (36 delegates), Louisiana (20 delegates),
Washington (18 delegates)


Sunday talk show guests:

Fox News Sunday: President Bush

NBC Meet the Press: Mike Huckabee

CBS Face the Nation: Mike Huckabee, Joe Trippi, Karl Rove

CNN Late Edition: Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Colin Powell

ABC This Week: Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Sen. Bob Kerrey



Goose bumps, tears as historic day arrives in Washington state

Either way, Washington, today you make history.

It could be the history that led dozens of moms to drag their elementary-age daughters out onto a blustery waterfront pier Thursday night to see Hillary Rodham Clinton. "Because this nation needs a mother as commander-in-chief," said one, when I asked why she was there.

Or it could be the history that compelled Gina Nelson to pull her 14-year-old son, DaShawn Vinson, out of high-school classes Friday to hear Barack Obama.

"My son's barely even had any black teachers, and now he might have a black president," said Nelson, 34, of Kent. "I never thought I'd be alive to see this day. A woman and a black man. You could knock me over right now."

I glanced at Nelson when Obama started speaking. There were tears in her eyes.

Yes, there's a high-stakes political campaign on, with all its spinning and jockeying and bickering. It's worth setting that aside, though, to revel in these past two days. Nobody here has ever seen a political moment like this...

Democrats' concern: 11th-hour deadlock

... "We're headed for a train wreck if we don't get this resolved," said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., referring both to the role of superdelegates and to the DNC's decision to penalize his state. "It is a flawed system that has to be changed."

Donna Brazile, who ran Al Gore's 2000 campaign and is herself a superdelegate, threatened to quit her leadership post in the party if the nomination were to be decided by insiders rather than the broader group of Democratic voters who have turned out in huge numbers.

see also: Obama, Clinton head toward contested convention

Jonah Goldberg: a dull 'debate'

If substance were water, the Democratic campaign would be a desert.

Novak: battling over McCain's intro at CPAC

John McCain's managers, fearing an unfavorable reaction at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Thursday, wanted to precede his speech with a video of Ronald Reagan praising McCain. Talk-show host Michael Reagan, the late president's son, offered his own video criticizing McCain. David Keene, chairman of the sponsoring American Conservative Union, turned down both.

Keene also rejected a plea from the McCain camp for 10 conservative supporters to be seated on the dais. Instead, McCain settled for an opening speech by former Sen. George Allen of Virginia and an introduction by Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma - both conservatives.

Allen asked for five minutes, was given two and talked for more than 10. After McCain left the rostrum, he apologized to Keene for presentations by Allen, Coburn and McCain himself exceeding the allotted time.

Wall Street Journal on Dobson's choice

... t's up to Mr. McCain to convince Mr. Dobson that he's worthy of his vote. But for the network of socially conservative activists who are now such a large part of the Republican Party, this is also an instructive moment. They have to decide if they care more about achieving their policy goals than they do about being kingmakers within the GOP.

... Mr. Dobson and other social conservatives may decide they can't vote for Mr. McCain for any number of reasons. What they can't do with any credibility is claim that helping to elect a liberal President will further the causes that these conservatives claim to believe most deeply in.

Bush urges Republicans to unite

Mr Bush said "prosperity and peace are in the balance" in the US election this November and told conservative Republicans to unite around their nominee - but he did not mention John McCain.

The president's comments came on Friday, a day after Mr McCain effectively took the party's presidential nomination as his former rival Mitt Romney pulled out of the race.

Mr Bush spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, where Mr McCain was booed on Thursday when he mentioned immigration.





Mike Huckabee... today's headlines with excerpts

Huckabee tries to calculate path to nomination

A reporter asked Mike Huckabee to work us through the math on how he could win the nomination.

"I was never that good in math. I'm more into miracles than math," said Huckabee. "Miracles, I understand. Math is a little harder."

Huckabee challenged a list of assumptions that factor into John McCain's status as the presumptive nominee.

"People have said well, you gotta have anywhere from 70 to 80 percent of all the rest of the delegates. That's assuming no other delegates leave the people they've supported so far, let's say the Romney delegates. It also presumes that, at the convention, people don't change their mind. There are a lot of presumptions."

Huckabee continued, "It presumes John McCain continues to have a campaign that doesn't have a flaw. But as we all know, a candidate can say one word, do one thing, have one particular moment that can end his whole career so, you know, I'm not saying I'm just driving behind him at the NASCAR race waiting for him to lose a tire. But crazier things have happened. So, the crazy thing for me would be to pull off in the pit crew, get out of the car and go take a shower and say, it's over. And then him lose a tire and I've lost the race, not because I couldn't win but because I wouldn't stay in the game and finish."

Huckabee: I'm a Wal-Mart, not a Wall Street Republican

Mike Huckabee says he still has a chance -- and whatever Kansas Republicans do at the caucuses today is a big part of it.

So when he took the stage in a hangar at Col. James Jabara Airport in northeast Wichita on Friday, he reached out to one of Kansas' most reliable political forces -- conservative Christians.

He thumped the bass guitar to some popular classic rock covers. Then he grabbed the microphone and cast himself as an outsider -- a former governor running against current senators, a guy who grew up poor now fighting the elite.

He said he may know some folks on Wall Street.

"But I've made it clear I'm really not a Wall Street Republican," he said. "I'm a Wal-Mart Republican."

Janet Huckabee: "You never quit"

Janet Huckabee, wife of Republican candidate Mike Huckabee, appeared today before a standing-room-only crowd who spilled out of an auditorium at Northwest University, a Christian college near Interstate 405.

Huckabee said there was an obvious answer to the obvious question: Why is her husband still in the presidential race, despite his trailing position behind Sen. John McCain?

"You just never know. People deserve a choice," she said. "The final buzzer hasn't rung. You never quit."

Huckabee said that viewpoint has been reflected throughout the lives that she and her husband have led, from her fight against cancer as a teenager to her husband's recent battle against diabetes.

Huckabee on Colbert, Tyra

Mike Huckabee has become an unlikely muse for the New York talk- show circuit, so it was only a small surprise that the former Arkansas governor showed up in Manhattan on Thursday to tape two of the city’s more popular gab-fests.

video... Mr. Colbert and Mr. Huckabee engaged in a heated game of air hockey, using the state of Texas as a puck. Goofy metal music blared in the background. “Why do you think the people of Texas will go for your message?” Mr. Colbert asked.   “Because,” Mr. Huckabee replied, “I understand barbecue.” 



... TYRA BANKS: So, on your way to the Tyra Show, Mitt Romney drops out.

GOVERNOR HUCKABEE: He heard I was coming on the show, Tyra, and he said if he’s on Tyra’s show, this is done for me.

TYRA BANKS: Are you pumped about being here?

GOVERNOR HUCKABEE: I am. You know, I actually said, the next time I’m in New York, find out if I can get on Tyra’s show.

TYRA BANKS: Oh, are you serious?

GOVERNOR HUCKABEE: My staff has been trying for a long time, and I think when Mitt heard that I was on, he’s said I’m out and here I am, on the way to the White House from here.


Why isn't Huckabee throwing in the towel? f

... or many who have watched Huckabee rise to the top tier of candidates only to see McCain emerge as the presumptive nominee, the question has become: Why keep going?

"I still believe that we can win," Huckabee told listeners at one of his Friday gatherings.

Few share that view. Many say that Huckabee's only rationale for staying in the race is to gain leverage for the vice presidential spot.

... virtually no one sees Huckabee positioned to stem McCain's march toward a majority of convention delegates. Some party operatives say Huckabee could jeopardize the clout he has gained if he stays in the race much beyond the upcoming contests.

"He and McCain appear to have a very cordial, respectful and almost affectionate relationship at the moment," said GOP strategist Whit Ayres, who is nonaligned in the race. "It would be wise not to undermine that if you're in Huckabee's shoes."

Long live Huckabee!

If Mike Huckabee didn’t exist, John McCain would have had to invent him.

... from this point forward, the former Arkansas governor becomes even more valuable to Senator McCain. ... he also needs a platform from which to deliver that message and a foil against whom he can frame it. Mr. Huckabee provides him with both.

If Mr. Huckabee were to withdraw from the race, the media coverage of Senator McCain’s candidacy would shrivel as the cameras immediately turned their full attention to the Clinton-Obama brawl.


John McCain... today's headlines with excerpts

McCain discounts ticket balancing

John McCain fended off discussion of specific potential running mates but made clear he sees no requirement to pick someone from a different region.

... "From a practical standpoint, I think former President Clinton and Vice President Gore showed us you don't have to be regionally different," McCain said. "I think America is such that, quote, regional differences don't play the role that maybe they did in earlier times." Clinton, who was Arkansas governor, and Sen. Al Gore of Tennessee made the first national ticket entirely from the South.

"The fundamental principle behind any selection of a running mate would be whether that person is fully prepared to take over and shares your values, your principles, your philosophy and your priorities," McCain said.

McCain campaign manager not taking 'anything for granted'

“It is mathematically impossible for anyone else to get the nomination,” said Rick Davis, McCain campaign manager. “Well, look you don’t want to take anything for granted. At the end of the day, until we get to that magic number ... he is not the presumptive nominee of the party. The last thing that this campaign and John McCain is ever going to is take things for granted. We are the ones who came back from a near-death episode.”

DNC: John McCain's big Bush bear hug

"The more voters get to know the real John McCain the more they see him for the Bush Republican he is," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Damien LaVera. "President Bush wants Republicans to support John McCain because he knows that a vote for McCain is a vote for four more years of the same failed Bush policies that have undermined our economy and made America less secure."

McCain not dismissing Huckabee threat

John McCain said Friday he isn't counting Mike Huckabee out, even though it's now nearly mathematically impossible for the former Arkansas governor capture the Republican Party's nomination.

"Gov Huckabee is still in this race, and he is a viable candidate and I'm sure will continue to show strength and that's why we're moving forward with our campaigning," McCain said. "Obviously we are pleased with the events that have happened, but we still have a ways to go and we'll continue campaigning."

Conservative Keene urges McCain not to pick Huckabee for VP

"Mike Huckabee increases rather than diminishes the problems'' because of differences with conservatives over taxes and immigration, Keene said in an interview on Bloomberg Television's ``Political Capital with Al Hunt,'' scheduled to air today. Sanford, a tax-cutter and champion of school vouchers and similar social initiatives, satisfies ``all of the factions of the movement,'' Keene said.



Ron Paul... today's headlines with excerpts

Paul concedes race, sort of

In a message to supporters sent just before 11 p.m. Friday night, Representative Ron Paul, a long-shot G.O.P. candidate from Texas, basically conceded that he’s not going to win the party’s nomination.

That said, he’s scaling back his campaign — but not entirely.

He said:

With Romney gone, the chances of a brokered convention are nearly zero. But that does not affect my determination to fight on, in every caucus and primary remaining, and at the convention for our ideas, with just as many delegates as I can get. But with so many primaries and caucuses now over, we do not now need so big a national campaign staff, and so I am making it leaner and tighter.

Mr. Paul clearly stated that he will not run as a third-party candidate. Right now, his priorities are serving the residents in his Texas congressional district and winning re-election.

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.

From what we can make of the letter, Mr. Paul is staying in the race on a peripheral level, just so he can keep participating in policy discussions (and maybe use up all that money he’s amassed?).




Hillary Clinton... today's headlines with excerpts

Clinton popular vote lead: less than 4%

Through last Tuesday’s contests, Hillary Clinton has 48.3% of America’s Democrats and Independents behind her, compared to 44.6% for Barack Obama.




Clinton team braced for Obama to take the lead

Hillary Clinton's campaign team is bracing for Barack Obama to take the lead later this month for the first time in the battle for the all-important delegates who will decide the Democratic nomination.

The race looks poised to swing his way after a series of votes, beginning today with caucuses in Washington state, Nebraska and the Virgin Islands and a primary in Louisiana.

The Clinton campaign team anticipates that she will lose her lead in the delegate count this month but is banking on her regaining the lead in the mega-states of Texas and Ohio on March 4 and Pennsylvania on April 22.

Clinton camp floats NBC ban over remark

On a conference call today communications director Howard Wolfson said NBC hosts including “Hardball” host Chris Matthews, have shown a “pattern” of making offensive comments about the Clintons and later apologizing. “It’s the kind of thing that should never be said on a national news network,” Wolfson said. He added that the campaign would like a personal apology. “I’m not aware that they’ve apologized. I haven’t received any phone call. I’m not aware Sen. Clinton or Chelsea Clinton have received any phone call. I’m not familiar with any apology.”



MSNBC's apology over Shuster comment:

On Thursday's "Tucker" on MSNBC, David Shuster, who was serving as guest-host of the program, made a comment about Chelsea Clinton and the Clinton campaign that was irresponsible and inappropriate. Shuster, who apologized this morning on MSNBC and will again this evening, has been suspended from appearing on all NBC News broadcasts, other than to make his apology. He has also extended an apology to the Clinton family. NBC News takes these matters seriously, and offers our sincere regrets to the Clintons for the remarks.

see also: Clinton may spurn debate over remark

Hillary blasts Obama over health care... again

Without mentioning Obama by name in her speech, Clinton told her Tacoma audience, "My opponent's plan would leave out at least 50 million people, 750,000 right here in the state of Washington." Her plan, she said, "bans insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions."

see also: Clinton says Obama saying 'No, we can't' on healthcare

Hillary says 'not yet' to releasing tax returns

Despite pressure from Sen. Barack Obama, the Clinton campaign said Friday that it wouldn't not release Sen. Hillary Clinton's tax returns unless she secures the Democratic nomination.

For Clinton, Latino vote could swing the deal

For decades, much has been said about the potential power of Latino voters, but rarely has their impact lived up to expectations.

This year is different, according to political analysts and leaders of Latino activist organizations. While many Latinos like and admire both of the leading Democratic candidates for president, these authorities say, their years-long connection to former President Bill Clinton could deliver the party’s nomination to Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York.

Catholic vote is harbinger of Clinton's success

Hillary Clinton has run away with the votes of Roman Catholic Democrats in nearly all the primaries, often beating Barack Obama by two to one or better, exit polls show. In New York, she received 66 percent of the Catholic vote to his 30 percent.

The news was greeted by harsh rejoinder from Obama's campaign “Why should Democratic voters have to wait until after the primary campaign is over to find out important information about Senator Clinton's finances that Senator Obama has already disclosed?" said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor.

"For someone who claims to be fully vetted, hiding a campaign loan from voters until after Super Tuesday and refusing to release your tax returns until after the primary doesn't seem like the best way to prove that there are no surprises for the Republicans to find once they start digging,” Vietor said.





Barack Obama... today's headlines with excerpts

TIME: Obama's weekend to win

For all of his attempts to downplay expectations, Senator Barack Obama is heading into a weekend that will probably make him look like anything but the underdog. Democrats in four more states are scheduled to cast their ballots, and while they will not be the deciding factors in what remains a virtual dead heat between him and Hillary Clinton, the contests could give Obama an extra boost heading into next week's important Potomac primaries of Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. On a conference call with key Clinton donors on Thursday, the campaign's senior strategist Mark Penn admitted as much; "I think we'll have some bumps in the road, some difficult states in the next week or two."




Obama leads Clinton by only 2 delegates

Three days after the voting ended, the race for Democratic delegates in Super Tuesday's contests was still too close to call. With nearly 1,600 delegates from Tuesday contests awarded, Sen. Barack Obama led by two delegates Friday night, with 91 delegates still to be awarded. Obama won 796 delegates in Tuesday's contests, to 794 for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to an analysis of voting results by The Associated Press.



Over 18,000 turn out for Obama in Seattle

Barack Obama rocked an overflow crowd at KeyArena on Friday in one of the biggest political rallies Washington state has ever seen. So many people showed up to catch a glimpse of Obama, police had to help keep the peace after thousands were shut out.

"I'm fired up. I'm ready to go," Obama said as he took the stage to a deafening roar from the crowd of more than 18,000 inside the arena.

... KeyArena was filled to capacity hours before Obama took the stage. Some 3,000 people listened from an overflow area outside.

It was the latest in a string of huge rallies for Obama. In the week leading up to Super Tuesday, he drew monstrous crowds at most stops — including 14,000 in Boise, Idaho.

... "We've got people coming out of the woodwork," said state Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz. "The energy in this state is the highest I've ever known it to be.

Michelle Obama: Barack has more legislative experience

“As we talk about experience, the truth of the matter is that Barack has more legislative experience than his opponent,” she said. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a president of the United States who understands how federal law impacts local government? Barack is the only candidate who brings that kind of perspective.”

JFK's speech writer helping Obama

It's no accident the Kennedy magic has infused itself into the campaign of Barack Obama.

Theodore "Ted" Sorensen, the adviser whom John F. Kennedy once called his "intellectual blood bank," is lending his unabashed support -- and eloquence -- to the Obama campaign.

... The legendary speechwriter helped Kennedy craft the now-famous 1961 Inaugural address in which the new president proclaimed, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

At the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis -- when Sorensen was 34 -- he penned the letter to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev that historians say saved the world from nuclear destruction.

Today, at 79 years old and blind, Sorensen has a new mission: to resurrect Camelot. And it seems the Obama campaign is listening.

"I've given them a phrase or suggestion or two," Sorensen admits.




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