Iowa... Where Presidents Begin

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


Monday, March 3, 2008



Ohio: tense Dem race hinges on grassroots organizers

The nerve centers for both campaigns operate two blocks from each other, on the ragged fringe of downtown Columbus, the state capital.

... both offices have the chaotic feel of a college dormitory lounge the night before finals. They are packed with the young and the earnest, all of them hunched over laptops, cellphones pinched between shoulder and ear; every flat surface is littered with neglected sandwiches, empty bottles of microbrewery beer and maps of the 18 Congressional districts that are the state’s geographic battlefields...

see also: Dem primary could hinge on county with troubled elections

               Ohio Democrats' love is tough to win

Texas: Clinton's veterans test Obama's rookies

... a well-prepared Clinton campaign has relied on longtime friendships and deep connections to the state’s party operation here, especially in the highly organized, heavily Hispanic cities of South Texas. At the same time, the Obama campaign nearly always feels smaller — sometimes even makeshift, despite its considerable money advantage — but it also seems remarkably self-generating, drawing hundreds of the first-time campaign volunteers that have fueled his success elsewhere.

see also: Texas Latinos look for a president with answers

              NAFTA bashing ends at Texas line


Florida Gov. Crist: supports repeat of Florida Dem primary

Gov. Charlie Crist said he'd support a repeat of the Democratic presidential primary in Florida so the state's delegates can be counted at the party's national convention.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said he's open to the possibility. Primary elections are paid for by a state's taxpayers, so the offer from Crist, a Republican, is "very helpful" because money is an issue, Dean said.






Mike Huckabee... today's headlines with excerpts

Huckabee poised to lead revival of conservative evangelical wing

Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign may be nearing its end, but those around him say he won't disappear and is poised to claim political leadership of conservative evangelicals.

Mr. Huckabee's inner circle says he's the perfect bridge to re-establish the Christian right, which has suffered over the last decade, as a political force that speaks for millions of voters.

"He has become the leader of a new generation of Christian conservative voters," said Rex Nelson, who was communications director when Mr. Huckabee was Arkansas' governor. "The old leadership has either passed on in the case of [the Rev. Jerry] Falwell or become either irrelevant or out of touch — the Pat Robertson endorsement of Rudy Giuliani proves that."

Huckabee says no rush to end White House bid

Mike Huckabee indicated Sunday he was in no hurry to shelve his long-shot bid for the White House.

Huckabee hopes that by winning the Texas primary Tuesday he will keep McCain from getting the delegates required to become the GOP presidential candidate. Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island also have primaries Tuesday.

Huckabee suggested it is far too early to quit.

"I'm not understanding why some people are in such a rush to get this settled when I don't know there is a bomb sitting under anybody's chair that's going to go off if we don't have the nominee all settled," he said during a Houston news conference.

see also: Huckabee: what's the hurry?




John McCain... today's headlines with excerpts

Politico: McCain campaign stumbles early

The rollout of John McCain’s general election campaign in the weeks since he became the de facto Republican nominee has not exactly been a textbook exercise in positive messaging. ..

Gloria Steinem says McCain's POW cred is overrated

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem took to the stump on Hillary Clinton’s behalf here last night and quickly proved that she has lost none of her taste for provocation...

Referring to his time in captivity, Steinem said with bewilderment, “I mean, hello? This is supposed to be a qualification to be president? I don’t think so.”



McCain's 'Press-friendly Express'

In recent days it has become clear that McCain will contrast his style with that of Democratic front-runner Barack Obama. In his speech after winning the Potomac primaries, McCain criticized the Illinois senator for minimizing his exposure "to questions from the press and challenges from voters who ask more from their candidates than an empty promise of 'Trust me, I know better.' "

Even before McCain raised the issue, the media had been battling with Obama's campaign for greater access. Journalists had complained for weeks that the Democrat had been distant and inaccessible during much of his campaign. Those complaints have been muted as Obama has held four question-and-answer sessions with the media in six days.

McCain's press 'grilling'

At his weekend cabin just outside Sedona on Sunday afternoon, McCain took a break from campaigning and grilled baby-back ribs and chicken for three dozen reporters, some staffers and a few friends from the Senate.

... The afternoon barbecue for the press was on the record -- sort of.
Tape recorders were prohibited (though a few popped up.) Pictures were not allowed for publication. There were no television cameras. And McCain's aides kept urging reporters to put away the notebooks.

The idea, McCain said, was to allow reporters to get to know him and his staff under less stressful circumstances. (The fact that the press spent the weekend at a resort called "Enchantment" where many sipped wine and enjoyed lengthy deep-tissue massages probably contributed to that feeling.)

McCain fending off 'mischaracterizations'

The Arizona senator's campaign is busy fielding questions over his decision to pull out of the public financing system, his support of the Iraq war, lobbyists working in his campaign, an endorsement from a controversial evangelical, and even his place of birth.

It's not defense, McCain press secretary Brooke Buchanan said. Instead, the campaign is moving ahead in the face of "mischaracterizations" of "issues that are so in the weeds."

"We are not going to let the Democrats define us," she said. "We are going to define ourselves."

McCain VP buzz continues

Republican pollster Whit Ayres said McCain's choice may well depend on whether Democrat Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton wins the nomination.

"A vice presidential nominee against one might not be the best choice if you're running against the other," Ayres said. "If it's Clinton, it might place a higher premium on a woman. If it's Obama, it might place a higher premium on an African-American."



Ralph Nader... today's headlines with excerpts

Bill O'Reilly: Nader - perennial thorn in the Left's side

I’ve known Nader for decades and he is a hard-core socialist, a man who fervently believes the government must control evil corporations, regulate wages and even set prices for what consumers buy. Nader has far more in common with Raul Castro than Howard Dean. He thinks the Dems are almost as bad as the Republicans when it comes to exploiting folks.

That’s why Nader’s presidential announcement was a one-day story. No New York Times profile for him, not this year. No NBC News feature story. Ralph Nader is going to be mighty lonely on the campaign trail because the far-left has abandoned him.

Feeling sorry for the guy, I called him a few days ago and asked him to appear on my syndicated radio program, heard on more than 400 stations. At first, Nader’s “person” was excited. Free media! But a short time later she told us Ralph was “unavailable.” Perhaps a conference call with Raul?

The reason, I believe, that Nader passed on the Radio Factor was that he knew I would poke a bit of fun at him. Let’s face it, Jane Fonda has a better chance of winning the presidency than Ralph. But unlike the lefty media, I have no problem with Nader running. He entertains me. I never know what he’s going to say or whom he’s going to hammer. Give him points for that.





Ron Paul... today's headlines with excerpts





Hillary Clinton... today's headlines with excerpts

Hillary holding edge in Ohio

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton leads Sen. Barack Obama by 52 percent to 40 percent in a poll of Ohioans likely to vote in the state's Democratic primary tomorrow, a Suffolk University poll released last night found.

Hillary under pressure to quit

Top supporters of Senator Barack Obama, joined by at least one prominent but uncommitted Democrat, raised the pressure Sunday on Senator Hillary Clinton to bow out of the presidential nominating race if she fails to score clear victories in two big-state primary contests Tuesday.

"I just think that D-Day is Tuesday," said Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a former Democratic presidential hopeful who has yet to throw his weight behind either leading candidate. He said the increasingly negative campaign advertisements aired by both Democrats made it more urgent that the party unite quickly behind a nominee.



Clinton says Obama Muslim rumor not true ‘as far as I know’

On 60 Minutes, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, was asked about rumors that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, is a Muslim.

She took a hardline stance against the rumor…then seemed to walk it back, injecting a note of ambivalence.

... To be fair, Clinton went on to say that having "been the target of so many ridiculous rumors... I have a great deal of sympathy for anybody who gets, you know, smeared with the kind of rumors that go on all the time."

That said, it's the "as far as I know" that has some Obama supporters up in arms.

Hillary campaigns as if momentum is hers

Hillary Clinton does not look like a candidate who might drop out of the presidential race as early as Wednesday.

... If many of her advisers are worried and even gloomy about her prospects on Tuesday, Mrs. Clinton appears charged up (to the point where her voice is increasingly hoarse). She is talking to reporters and joking around more, not less, and she has been taking time to show good cheer on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend and on “The Daily Show” on Monday.



How did the Clinton campaign get here?

Hillary Clinton may be one of the most disciplined figures in national politics, but she has presided over a campaign operation riven by feuding, rival fiefdoms and second-guessing of top staff members.

Those tensions partly explain why Clinton today stands where, just a few months ago, few expected she'd be: struggling to catch up to Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination...

... As the race unfolded, neither Clinton nor anyone else resolved the internal power struggles that played out with destructive effect and continue to this day

Private worries as team Clinton looks for best case scenarios

In their best case scenario, Clinton aides hope she could win Ohio by 3 to 6 points and squeak out a victory in Texas.  They would consider that a good night and reason to fight on to Pennsylvania, which holds its primary on April 22.

Other scenarios, they admit, are not so pretty.

"If she wins Texas and loses Ohio, it becomes a harder argument to make that she can win Pennsylvania," said the senior advisor.

And pressure among fellow Democrats is mounting...

Penn as bystander?

In a front-page stunner, Clinton campaign message guru Mark Penn e-mails the L.A. Times over the weekend to say that he had "no direct authority in the campaign," describing himself as merely "an outside message advisor with no campaign staff reporting to me."

"I have had no say or involvement in four key areas — the financial budget and resource allocation, political or organizational sides. Those were the responsibility of Patti Solis Doyle, Harold Ickes and Mike Henry, and they met separately on all matters relating to those areas," the e-mail said, as quoted by the paper.

Drift from Hillary frustrates many women

As they see her chances slipping, some feel old wounds: an older, more experienced woman is pushed aside to make way for a younger male colleague...

Jack Nicholson for 'sexy' Hillary - new video

Screen star Jack Nicholson, having previously endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton for president in the 2008 election, has returned with an additional endorsement, this time in the form of one-liners, including from his roles as Batman villain The Joker, and Col. Jessup from A Few Good Men.





Barack Obama... today's headlines with excerpts

Obama: "I pray to Jesus every night"

Barack Obama yesterday lashed out at political enemies who are spreading false rumors that he's a closet Muslim as he proclaimed, "I pray to Jesus every night."

"I am a devout Christian," he told voters in this key state.

"I pray to Jesus every night and try to go to church as much as I can."

Obama looms as giant-killer in Ohio, Texas as Clinton star dims

If Barack Obama defeats Hillary Clinton in Texas or Ohio tomorrow, he will take control of a unified Democratic Party and enter the race against John McCain with an already-established reputation as a political giant- killer...

Obama slams Clinton on homestretch

Barack Obama worked to fend off an intensified attack on his foreign policy credentials from rival Hillary Clinton on Sunday as their paths crossed two days ahead of a potentially race-ending showdown in Ohio and Texas.

"What precise foreign-policy experience is she claiming that makes her qualified to answer that telephone call at 3 a.m. in the morning?" Obama asked ...

The Illinois senator also sought to ease lingering Internet-fed concerns about his religion, in particular whether he was a closet Muslim.

"I am a devout Christian. I have been a member of the same church for 20 years. I pray to Jesus every night," he declared at an earlier appearance in the rural southern Ohio town of Nelsonville. He said he wanted to halt "confusion that has been deliberately perpetrated."

see also: Obama seeks to reverse the question

Obama banks on unions' support

Mr. Obama hopes the unions still have enough juice left to help him grab come-from-behind victories over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton tomorrow in Ohio and Texas, where the SEIU is spending $1.4 million on his behalf.

For black superdelegates, pressure to back Obama

While Obama's candidacy has often united blacks and whites at the ballot box, it has driven a wedge through the black political establishment, exposing a rift between a new generation, whose members see their political horizons as limitless, and their predecessors, who have struggled to establish a following outside of heavily African American areas.

Obama tends toward mainstream on foreign policy

...for all the criticisms leveled at Obama, and his own professions of being the candidate of change, most of the policies outlined in his speeches, in the briefing papers issued by his campaign and in the written answers he gave to questions submitted by The Washington Post fall well within the mainstream of Democratic and moderate Republican thinking. On a number of issues, such as the Middle East peace process, Obama advocates a continuation of Bush administration policies but promises more energetic and intense presidential involvement.


Obama camp objects to Politico story on Catholic support

The heated interaction between Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign and Politico's national political editor Saturday afternoon and evening was in many ways routine. But it was also a window into aspects of the political process outsiders do not usually see or understand.

Obama to be in background of Rezko trial

As Tony Rezko's trial opens today with jury selection, Obama will be barnstorming in Ohio or Texas.

Although the senator won't be the focus of testimony, pretrial filings make clear that the nature of Illinois politics will be at the forefront. Much of what prosecutors allege took place occurred when Obama was in the Illinois state Senate. As Judge St. Eve said last week, "There are going to be a lot of names in this trial."

see also: Chicagoans in Obama's life likely targets of McCain, GOP

              Newsweek: Who is Tony Rezko?






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