Iowa Presidential Watch
Holding the Democrats accountable


June 15, 2006  

"There's a long way to getting to 2008," former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani said.

"There will not be progressive change in this country this year or any other year if we think we can win by default, or by running out the clock," Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) said.

"For a long time, we've been told that Iraq and Vietnam were different. But in telling and very tragic ways now, they are converging," Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said.


J U S T   P O L I T I C S


Cut & run Democrats

The Washington Post covers the simultaneous debate on a non-binding resolution that affirms Congress’ support for the War on Terrorism in Iraq. A vote against the resolution will be sure to be shown as those who would cut and run in Iraq:

Nearly four years after it authorized the use of force in Iraq, the House today will embark on its first extended debate on the war, with Republican leaders daring Democrats to vote against a nonbinding resolution to hold firm on Iraq and the war on terrorism.

In the wake of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death and President Bush's surprise trip to Baghdad, Republican leaders are moving quickly to capitalize on good news and trying to force Democrats on the defensive. Bush continued his own campaign with a morning news conference and a White House meeting with congressional leaders from both parties, while House leaders strategized on today's 10-hour debate.

A memo from House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) urged House Republican members Tuesday to make the debate "a portrait of contrasts between Republicans and Democrats." After Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) was booed this week by liberal activists for her failure to resolutely oppose the war, Republicans hope to present a united front that highlights the fractures in the Democratic Party.

"As a result of our efforts during this debate, Americans will recognize that on the issue of national security, they have a clear choice between a Republican Party aware of the stakes and dedicated to victory, versus a Democratic Party without a coherent national security policy that sheepishly dismisses the challenges America faces in a post-9/11 world," Boehner wrote.

Vilsack’s travels

The Des Moines Register covers Governor Tom Vilsack’s travels to Washington, D.C.:

Vilsack rebuffed skepticism that governors lack the background to offer foreign policy expertise in a national race.

"I'm here to make the case the world has changed," he said, citing the need for governors to deal with the consequences of federal decisions on homeland security as well as states' dependence on international investments.

Vilsack, perhaps taking a swipe at some of his potential opponents, said that Congress also had a responsibility when it came to going to war in Iraq. "Clearly the checks and balances system of our government works best when the other branch of government asks tough questions," he said. "There ought to be a review of the War Powers Act to determine how we can bring Congress back into this mix."

Feingold cheered

The Associated Press reports Sen. Russ Feingold’s reception at the Take Back America Conference was better than Hillary (who was booed):

"Run, Russ, run," some chanted as the Wisconsin senator stepped to the podium. Others wore buttons and stickers with the same sentiment.

"They got it wrong in Iraq," Feingold said to applause. "Iraq was a mistake."

And he reiterated a theme he's made in recent speeches, exhorting Democrats to show some backbone. Everywhere he goes, Feingold said, people ask him the same question: "When are you guys going to stand up?"

Vilsack in New Hampshire

The Des Moines Register covers Governor Tom Vilsack’s maiden voyage to New Hampshire. Vilsack is one of two candidates for his party’s nomination who hasn’t been to New Hampshire. With his visit, only Hillary Clinton has not voyaged the state:

Vilsack's travel to key political states has accelerated in the past year, especially since taking the chairmanship of the Democratic Leadership Council, a centrist national policy group.

The travel also has put him in touch with prominent donors who have helped him raise more than $2 million for his national fundraising organization, Heartland PAC, which is paying for this week's trip. Last weekend, he attended a conference of party bloggers in Las Vegas, a nod to the growing influence of Internet activists, also called netroots.

And Tuesday he joined party figures who included U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry and U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at a gathering of liberal activists in Washington, D.C.

Vilsack's two-day tour of New Hampshire originally was scheduled for September 2005 but was scrubbed when people displaced by Hurricane Katrina were expected to arrive in Iowa.

Vilsack’s betrayal

Governor Vilsack did not receive a friendly greeting during his visit to New Hampshire when he brought up the doubtful nature of New Hampshire keeping its first in the nation status next to Iowa.

Iowa’s Democrat representatives to the committee sold out the long-standing agreement Iowa and New Hampshire made to support each other in being first. Therefore, the Governor received a scorching review in the New Hampshire Union Leader:

Vilsack told a political breakfast forum in Bedford, "I sincerely hope that as the Democratic National Committee continues its deliberations about the (nominating calendar), it recognizes the unique responsibility New Hampshire and Iowa have had for so long and preserves the ability of Iowa and New Hampshire to do what they’ve done so well — start the process."

Sounded good — but the trouble is, Vilsack’s people on key national Democratic panels have opposed retaining that one-two tandem. They’ve gone along with the majority in early key votes that would dilute the traditional impact of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary by shoving it down the nominating calendar to third or fourth place.

In key votes in December and March, Vilsack’s Iowans voted with the majorities to place an additional caucus or two between the Iowa caucus and the primary.

The plan has yet to be made final by the rules committee and the full DNC, but New Hampshire Democrats widely viewed the Iowa votes as a clear break from the decades-long alliance between the two states to work together to protect their early positions.

New Hampshire Democratic Chair Kathy Sullivan, herself a member of the DNC rules committee, said:

"There are a number of New Hampshire Democrats who are disappointed that the Iowa commissioners and member of the rules committee have not voted with New Hampshire on these things."

Speechwriter leaving

The NY Times reports on White House wordsmith leaving:

Michael Gerson, the White House speechwriter and policy adviser who shaped nearly every major address of George W. Bush's presidency, said Wednesday that he was leaving the administration to pursue new career options.

Mr. Gerson has been one of Mr. Bush's closest aides and is credited with giving voice to both the "compassionate conservatism" that Mr. Bush espouses and his more hawkish lines, like "axis of evil."

Murtha may testify

The Washington Times reports that Rep. John Murtha may be compelled to testify in Marine investigation:

A criminal defense attorney for a Marine under investigation in the Haditha killings says he will call a senior Democratic congressman as a trial witness, if his client is charged, to find out who told the lawmaker that U.S. troops are guilty of cold-blooded murder.

Attorney Neal A. Puckett told The Washington Times that Gen. Michael Hagee, the Marine commandant, briefed Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, on the Nov. 19 killings of 24 Iraqis in the town north of Baghdad. Mr. Murtha later told reporters that the Marines were guilty of killing the civilians in "cold blood." Mr. Murtha said he based his statement on Marine commanders, whom he did not identify.

Huckabee lands Iowa operative

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a potential 2008 presidential contender, has hired former Waterloo Courier political writer Eric Woolson to coordinate his political action committee’s activities in Iowa and other states. Woolson was press secretary to former Governor Terry Branstad.

Woolson will work for Hope for America, which assist state and local GOP candidates.

"Keeping our majority is absolutely critical to our party's future," Huckabee said. "I am very pleased that we were able to draft such great local talent as Eric Woolson to help us build our grassroots team in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota."

Woolson said his top priority will be helping Huckabee's PAC maximize its influence on races in the 2006 cycle.

Guiliani in the money

NY Post covers Rudy Guiliani’s fundraising clout:

Potential White House hopeful Rudy Giuliani raised an eye-popping $2 million to spread to Republican campaigns last night at his first fund-raiser in over a year.

The haul for Giuliani's political-action committee, Solutions America, demonstrated "America's Mayor's" cash-raising prowess.

Gravel in Iowa

The little known former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-AL) is traveling through Iowa campaigning for his party’s presidential nomination.

"The younger people, they might not know me, but they know the system is broken," Gravel said. "And they want to bring the power back to the people."

The Des Moines Register reports that Gravel is visiting: Des Moines, Ames, Cedar Rapids and Davenport.

Pataki’s Iowa team

Governor George Pataki released his Iowa PAC team announcement. "State Senator and Former Majority Leader Stew Iverson (District 5) will serve as the PAC's Iowa Chairman. Ed Failor, Jr., Executive Vice President of Iowans for Tax Relief will join as Senior Political Advisor to the PAC. Longtime political activist Diane Crookham-Johnson will be the PAC's Iowa Executive Director. Stew, Ed and Diane will be joined on the PAC's Iowa leadership team by Benton County Republican Chairman Loras Schulte and JoEllen Hill, Republican campaign manager and activist."


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