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


Monday, March 17, 2008



Obama plans major race speech tomorrow

Barack Obama will give a major speech on "the larger issue of race in this campaign," he told reporters in Monaca, PA just now.

He was pressed there, as he has been at recent appearances, on statements by his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

"I am going to be talking about not just Reverend Wright, but the larger issue of race in this campaign," he said.

He added that he would "talk about how some of these issues are perceived from within the black church issue for example," he said.

He also briefly defended Wright from the image that has come through in a handful of repeatedly televised clips from recent Wright sermons.

"The caricature that’s being painted of him is not accurate," he said.

The speech could offer Obama an opportunity to move past the controversy over his pastor, and to turn the conversation to a topic he'd rather focus on: his Christian faith. But the speech also guarantees that the Wright story will continue to dominate political headlines.




White male vote especially critical

In the fierce campaign between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, a battle dominated by questions of race and gender, white men have emerged as perhaps the single critical swing constituency.



Clinton, Obama court Catholics

The Clinton campaign argues that its strength among Catholics in the primaries could mean Sen. Clinton is a stronger candidate in the general election against presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain.

... The Obama campaign is trying to show that its message resonates with Catholic voters. In the coming weeks in Pennsylvania, the campaign says it will send mailings to religious voters and launch a Catholic-specific phone-banking system. The campaign recruited Vicki Kennedy, the wife of Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy -- an Obama supporter and perhaps the country's best-known Catholic Democrat -- to hold roundtable discussions with Catholic women before the April 22 Pennsylvania primary.


Michigan legislation in limbo over do-over

Matt Marsden, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, also said that both presidential camps need to give the go-ahead before legislators forge a bill.

"Unless there is guaranteed sign-off by both candidates, I'm not sure what is the point of circulating legislation," Marsden said. "And there's no reason for us to get involved until the Democrats work it out internally."

Hunter labeled charges by some Clinton allies that Obama allies like himself are trying to derail the proposed primary because Obama can't win Michigan as "ludicrous and preposterous."


More election troubles in Florida - good for Crist?

Many Republicans think Mr. McCain could beat Mrs. Clinton in Florida, which might explain Florida's Gov. Charlie Crist’s push to get the Democratic delegates seated. Meanwhile, helping to prolong the Democratic battle over delegates — instead of advocating that they simply not be counted, as the current rules require — could be the governor’s way of making trouble for the Democrats on behalf of Mr. McCain.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if he was having some fun with this,” said Rick Wilson, a Republican consultant here. “When your two enemies are beating each other to pieces, enjoy the show.”






John McCain... today's headlines with excerpts

McCain visits Iraq

John McCain arrived in Iraq on Sunday morning on a trip that was described as a visit by an official Congressional delegation, but that also served to showcase his foreign policy credentials as he campaigns for the White House.

Mr. McCain was scheduled to meet with officials including the American ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, and the senior American military commander in the country, Gen. David H. Petraeus. He was also scheduled to meet with the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, said Yaseen Majid, a media adviser to Mr. Maliki.




McCain talks progress in Iraq

"We could have a presence here for many years," McCain told ABC News. "We've been in Germany for 60 years. But the point is if we can reduce and eliminate American casualties, then Americans will be satisfied with an American presence here. If the casualties continue, their frustrations will continue and they will be very dissatisfied to say the very least. They are frustrated because of four years of failure. For four years we failed. Now this new strategy -- the surge -- is working and I hope they'll understand the progress we're making."





The specter of McCain Democrats

A recent Pew Research Center survey has 20 percent of white Clinton voters saying that if their candidate does not get the Democrats' nomination, they might vote for McCain. Older, lower-income and less-educated Democrats also indicated some willingness to support McCain if Obama is the candidate. These are your Reagan Democrats -- blue-collar voters who responded to the broad appeal of Ronald Reagan.

... Lots can happen between now and November. But if Obama is the nominee, a chunk of the Democrats' heartland could well be up for grabs.




Hillary Clinton... today's headlines with excerpts

Obama accuses Hillary of withholding vital data

Sen. Barack Obama's campaign on Sunday boosted its efforts to paint Sen. Hillary Clinton as a secretive politician who has failed to disclose vital information, a charge that prompted her camp to complain of negative campaigning.

Many voting for Hillary to prolong battle, boost GOP

Republican voters have cast an awful lot of ballots lately for Senator Hillary Clinton: About 100,000 GOP loyalists voted for her in Ohio, 119,000 in Texas, and about 38,000 in Mississippi, exit polls show.

... Spurred by conservative talk radio, GOP voters who say they would never back Clinton in a general election are voting for her now for strategic reasons: Some want to prolong her bitter nomination battle with Barack Obama, others believe she would be easier to beat than Obama in the fall, or they simply want to register objections to Obama.




Bill Clinton: 'chill out,' let voters decide

"The voters get to decide. I think we should just celebrate this," Clinton said. "If we just chill out here and let all the voters have their say, my gut is it's gonna come out all right."

"I expect a spirited election in the fall, no matter what happens," Clinton said. "But we should just let the Dems decide. This is a tough choice for them. They got two candidates, they basically like them both, and they have different strengths," he said. "And they have to decide which skilll set is more important, number one, for the country's welfare in the long run, and which one is more likely to be elected. And you know I have my strong convictions, but I might be wrong."


Bill Clinton defends stance on Obama

Clinton declared that he has been inaccurately portrayed as attacking Obama during the South Carolina primary. The issue is sensitive because Clinton’s aggressive campaigning has threatened his overwhelming popularity in the African American community.

“Contrary to the myth, I went through South Carolina and never said a bad word about Sen. Obama — not one,” Clinton said.



Bill's image damaged by campaign role

Bill Clinton’s reentry into the political arena appears to have come at some cost to his legacy. New polling now suggests that Clinton’s involvement in the Democratic nomination battle between his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Barack Obama, has significantly tarnished the former president’s image.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Thursday found that more Americans view Bill Clinton negatively than positively, 45 to 42 percent. It marked the first time since January 2002 that a plurality of Americans disapproved of the former president.

Hillary backs Michigan revote plan

"It needs to get resolved and hopefully Michigan by the end of this week will have done that," Clinton told reporters. "I think they are moving in an appropriate direction to have a revote."




Barack Obama... today's headlines with excerpts

Fox News Sunday prods Obama on no-show

Host Chris Wallace said Sunday that Obama promised him in March 2006 that he would come on the show, but Obama has since demurred.

... "Many of you have sent us e-mails asking why the senator won't come on 'Fox News Sunday' and face tough questioning," Wallace said toward the end of the hourlong broadcast. "It has now been 730 days, 13 hours, 53 minutes and nine — no, 10 seconds and counting since Obama agreed to be a guest on 'Fox News Sunday.'"

Fournier: Obama walks arrogance line

Arrogance is a common vice in presidential politics. A person must be more than a little self-important to wake up one day and say, "I belong in the Oval Office."

But there's a line smart politicians don't cross — somewhere between "I'm qualified to be president" and "I'm born to be president." Wherever it lies, Barack Obama better watch his step.

He's bordering on arrogance...

Obama: No to 'forces of division'

Obama sought to portray Wright as more than a polarizing figure — someone who bears the scares of racism — while conceding that “if all I knew was those statements that I saw on television, I would be shocked.

“And it just reminds me that we’ve got a tragic history when it comes to race in this country. We’ve got a lot of pent-up anger and bitterness and misunderstanding.”

With all that, Obama drew loud cheers when he added, “But what I continue to believe in is that this country wants to move beyond these kinds of divisions.”

Obama's Wright ties may be 'big problem,' some say

Critics say Obama may not have ended the controversy because he has had a relationship with Wright for nearly two decades. Obama had described Wright as his spiritual mentor. He was married in the church, and Wright was a member of Obama's African American Religious Leadership Committee.

"This is a man who he chose to be associated with. It's not a family member," said Juan Williams, a Fox News analyst and National Public Radio correspondent. "It could be a big problem."

He said Obama's relationship with Wright "speaks to his character, and it speaks to the judgment which is the basis on which Barack Obama has been running."

There were hints the controversy may be taking a toll on Obama's candidacy and prospects against presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen's tracking polls of the presidential race, published on his website, showed McCain had moved from a tie with Obama nationally, 44%-44%, on Thursday, to a 47%-43% lead on Sunday.

Obama under fire as personal ties stir controversy

The fallout from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy could largely be determined by Sen. Obama's response, and whether voters see it as sincere.

"Being a voice of unity is a part of Obama's brand, and anything that injures that is a serious blow," says Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster who isn't affiliated with either candidate.

... The controversy over the minister's sermons erupted just as Sen. Obama answered anew questions about his relationship with Mr. Rezko, a Chicago developer and former Obama fund-raiser who is on trial in federal court, accused of soliciting kickbacks in return for Illinois state contracts.

In interviews with two Chicago newspapers Friday, Sen. Obama said that Mr. Rezko's political patronage for all of his past political campaigns totaled around $250,000. The campaign had previously estimated the figure at $150,000 and said it had donated that amount to charity.

Obama's church blames media

Barack Obama's church, Trinity United Church of Christ, responds to the media coverage of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's more inflammatory comments:


Nearly three weeks before the 40th commemorative anniversary of the murder of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.’s character is being assassinated in the public sphere because he has preached a social gospel on behalf of oppressed women, children and men in America and around the globe...  read full response

see also: Pastor defends his predecessor at Obama's church

              Church accuses media of 'crucifixion'




Ralph Nader... today's headlines with excerpts




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