Friday, November 30, 2007

Send Hillary To Mars

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's response to a question asking about funding space exploration generated cheers from the audience:

Maybe Hillary could be on the first rocket to Mars.
More seriously, Huckabee said he supported expanding the space program because of how it has dramatically improved our lives:
Whether we ought to go to Mars is not a decision that I would want to make, but I would certainly want to make sure that we expand the space program, because every one of us who are sitting here tonight have our lives dramatically improved because there was a space program -- whether it's these screens that we see or the incredible electronics that we use, including the GPS systems that got many of you to this arena tonight.[From the CNN/YouTube Republican presidential debate transcript]
Tancredo was dismissive of sending Americans to Mars:
We can't afford some things, and by the way, going to Mars is one of them.
I couldn't disagree more with Tancredo about going to Mars.

Here's the video of Question 29 - What is your vision for human space exploration?

USA Today Quotes California Yankee

In an article about on Bill Clinton's claim that he was against the Iraq war from the start and what this means for Hillary's Presidential run, USA Today's Jill Lawrence quoted from my "There He Goes Again" post:

"Bill Clinton Rewrites History on Iraq?" wondered ABC News' Political Radar blog. "A political blunder of monumental proportions," Dan Spencer wrote at the conservative At liberal, the headline was "Bill Clinton's 'truthiness' problem."
I guess it's time I start posting under my own name.

Fred Attacks

Fred Thompson attacks his fellow Republican candidates so the Dems don't have to.

This is more of Thompson's 12th Commandment. I prefer Reagan's 11th Commandment — Never speak ill of a fellow Republican, but I'm not running.

Voters Prefer Romney For Bar Fight

According to the Onion News Network, whether a candidate seems like they could take a sucker punch in a drunken brawl is extremely important to voters.

Poll: Mitt Romney Is Candidate Most Voters Want To Get Into Bar Fight With

Obama Would Hire Clinton/Gore

In an interview with the New York Post, Democratic Presidential wannabee Barack Obama - asked whether he would hire Bill Clinton for a job in an Obama administration were he to win in 2008 - said, "In a second."

Obama also said he would bring on former Vice President Al Gore "in a minute," citing Gore's work on climate change and global warming.

You can't make this stuff up.

Timing's Everything

With the Democrats' Defeatocrats' plans to force our surrender in Iraq setback by all the progress recently reported from Iraq, the Dems decided to change the subject:

This underscores the party leadership’s concern to avoid getting bogged down in more debate about Iraq and to make sure it is President Bush and Republicans who are blamed in the 2008 election for voter anxieties about the economy.

No sooner did The Hill report on the Congressional Democrats attempt to change the subject and seize on public fears of an economic downturn, than the Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy expanded at the fastest pace in four years during the third quarter, growing at a real annual rate of 4.9%.

Edwards' Dark Side

Remember John Edwards, the sunny candidate with a positive tone? Things have changed.

Edwards has moved to negative aggressive tactics that are described by some as angry and by others as effective:

"Hell yeah I'm confrontational and I'm not ashamed of it," Edwards said. "We need a fighter in the White House."

In the Democratic debates, no one punches harder, especially when the target is front-runner Hillary Clinton, who accuses Edwards of throwing mud.

"She continues to defend a system that does not work, that is broken, that is rigged, and is corrupt," Edwards said.

CBS's Chip Reid reports:

Edwards has no choice but to go negative. If he fails to win in Iowa, after campaigning there practically nonstop since he and Kerry were defeated by Bush/Cheney, Edwards is toast. Desperate times....

Bill Clinton Says He Was Against the War

ABC's Good Morning America reports on Bill Clinton's claim that he was against the Iraq war from the start and what this means for Hillary's Presidential run.

My post on why Clinton's claim he was against the war from the beginning was a political blunder of monumental proportions is available here.

There He Goes Again

Bill Clinton made a political blunder of monumental proportions when he claimed that he "opposed the war in Iraq 'from the beginning,'" A statement even the New York Times found "is more absolute than his comments before the invasion in March 2003."

Is More Absolute?

"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is" - President Clinton

At Time, Mark Halperin reminds us that Mr. Clinton said he supported the War in 2003. On April 14, 2003, Clinton praised President Bush:
“In his first speech in Minnesota since leaving office, former President Bill Clinton on Sunday praised President Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq. But he criticized Bush’s domestic priorities and urged the administration to offer North Korea aid and a pledge of nonaggression in exchange for an end to that country’s missile and nuclear weapons programs." [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 4/14/03]
On May 19, 2003, the Associated Press reported Clinton said he supported President Bush:
"Former President Bill Clinton accused President Bush of spending more time fighting the war on terrorism than on domestic issues during a commencement speech at Tougaloo College. 'I supported the president when he asked for authority to stand up against weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but we can’t be forever strong abroad if we don’t keep getting better at home,' Clinton said Sunday to a crowd of about 8,000. […] The Bush administration, Clinton said, 'is still focused on defeating terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, and that’s good, but not good enough. The power of our example is just as important as our military might.'"
Clinton may have questioned the timing of the invasion, but Clinton didn't oppose it "from the beginning."

On June 23, 2004, CNN reported Clinton revealed that he continues to support President Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq:
"I have repeatedly defended President Bush against the left on Iraq, even though I think he should have waited until the U.N. inspections were over," Clinton said in a Time magazine interview that will hit newsstands Monday, a day before the publication of his book "My Life."

Clinton, who was interviewed Thursday, said he did not believe that Bush went to war in Iraq over oil or for imperialist reasons but out of a genuine belief that large quantities of weapons of mass destruction remained unaccounted for.

Noting that Bush had to be "reeling" in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, Clinton said Bush's first priority was to keep al Qaeda and other terrorist networks from obtaining "chemical and biological weapons or small amounts of fissile material."

"That's why I supported the Iraq thing. There was a lot of stuff unaccounted for," Clinton said in reference to Iraq and the fact that U.N. weapons inspectors left the country in 1998.

"So I thought the president had an absolute responsibility to go to the U.N. and say, 'Look, guys, after 9/11, you have got to demand that Saddam Hussein lets us finish the inspection process.' You couldn't responsibly ignore [the possibility that] a tyrant had these stocks," Clinton said.

The former president's blunder could not have come at a worse time for Hillary's race for the presidency. Her campaign has stalled. In Iowa Obama has tied Hillary in the most recent polling, some are predicting Obama will beat her in Iowa, and Hillary is bracing for defeat.

As Hillary campaign teeters on defeat and needs to rely upon the political prowesses of the infamous "comeback kid," he stumbles. Clinton reminds everyone, as Hillary's Democratic opponents continue to repeat - the Clinton's have trouble giving straight answers - Clinton admitted that answers he gave about Ms. Lewinsky during a 1998 deposition were false and that he "knowingly gave misleading and evasive answers."

For the extremist Liberal/Progressive Democrats Defeatocrats the timing is even worse. Now, on top of all the reports about the progress in Iraq Clinton has provided an opening to refute the left wing's attempt to rewrite history with the false allegation that we were mislead into the war. Thanks to Clinton's latest lie, we will be reminded again and again that everyone thought Saddam was much too dangerous to be allowed to keep the weapons of mass destruction everyone believed he still had at the time of the invasion.

Also Posted at RedState and Examining Presidential Politics.

UPDATE: More at Captain's Quarters, Hot Air, and Outside the Beltway

Hillary's Nixonian Health Plan

McClatchy Newspapers reports that Hillary's new health-care plan bears a striking resemblance to the health care plan proposed by President Richard M. Nixon:

Nixon introduced his Comprehensive Health Insurance Act on Feb. 6, 1974, days after he used what would be his final State of the Union address to call for universal access to health insurance.

“I shall propose a sweeping new program that will assure comprehensive health-insurance protection to millions of Americans who cannot now obtain it or afford it, with vastly improved protection against catastrophic illnesses,” he told America.

Nixon said his plan would build on existing employer-sponsored insurance plans and would provide government subsidies to the self-employed and small businesses to ensure universal access to health insurance. He said it would not create a new federal bureaucracy.

Fast-forward 33 years to the American Health Choices Plan, which Clinton outlined Sept. 17, and to similar plans by Democratic rivals Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.

[. . .]

Like Nixon, Clinton said that her plan “is not government-run. There will be no new bureaucracy.”

Nixon’s plan did not require all Americans to purchase health insurance, as Clinton’s does. Edwards also favors government-mandated purchases of health care. Obama would mandate only that all children be insured.

Like today’s Democrats, however, Nixon sought help for small businesses and sole proprietors to pay for insurance.
Maybe that's what Bill Clinton meant when he said Hillary will bring America "back to the future." Or was it the Clintons inconsistency on supporting the war?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Iowa Race Is Close

Political Wire got an advance look at a new Strategic Vision poll in Iowa that shows Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama tied in the Democratic presidential race at 29%, with John Edwards trailing at 23%.

On the Republican side it shows, Mitt Romney barely leading with 26%, followed closely by Mike Huckabee at 24%, Rudy Giuliani at 14%, Fred Thompson at 10% and Sen. John McCain at 7%.

That's quite a move on the Republican race. Strategic Vision's previous Iowa poll found Mitt with an 11 point lead:

Mitt Romney 30%
Mike Huckabee 19%
Rudy Giuliani 12%
Fred Thompson 11%
John McCain 7%
Ron Paul 5%
Tom Tancredo 2%
Duncan Hunter 1%
Undecided 13%

The Democratic race is more settled with Hillary stalled:
Hillary Clinton 29%
Barack Obama 27%
John Edwards 20%
Bill Richardson 7%
Joseph Biden 5%
Chris Dodd 1%
Dennis Kucinich 1%
Undecided 10%

Perhaps Newt's prediction wasn't such a stretch and we can see why Hillary is bracing for a loss.

Democrats Ignore African Americans

Jesse Jackson complains the Democratic candidates -- with the exception of John Edwards are ignoring African Americans:

Can Democrats get the votes they need simply because they're not Republicans? You might think so in this presidential campaign.

[. . .]

Yet the Democratic candidates -- with the exception of John Edwards, who opened his campaign in New Orleans' Ninth Ward and has made addressing poverty central to his campaign -- have virtually ignored the plight of African Americans in this country. The catastrophic crisis that engulfs the African-American community goes without mention. No urban agenda is given priority.

[. . .]

The Rev. Martin Luther King saw the movement to end segregation and gain voting rights as the first stage of the civil rights movement. The second stage -- to gain economic justice and equal opportunity in fact -- he knew would be more difficult. Now, 40 years later, it is no longer acceptable for candidates to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to entrenched discrimination and still expect to reap our votes.
Jesse Jackson's lament may help explain why Black evangelicals find themselves torn between parties.

Another Jackson, Pastor Harry R. Jackson Jr., has stood with Republicans to help serve as the "moral compass of America:"
In his rhetoric and his political agenda, Jackson has much in common with other evangelical Christians who are part of the conservative wing of the Republican party, except that Jackson is African American and so is his congregation at Hope Christian Church in Prince George's County.

Jackson, head of a group of socially conservative black pastors called the High Impact Leadership Coalition, in many ways personifies the possibilities that Republican strategists such as Karl Rove have seen in appealing to the social conservatism of many African American churchgoers. Blacks overwhelmingly identify themselves as Democrats and typically support Democratic candidates, but optimists in the GOP think one way to become a majority party is to peel off a sizable segment of black voters by finding common ground on social issues.

As a group, blacks attend religious services more frequently than whites and are less supportive of gay rights. In a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation-Harvard University poll this summer, 43 percent of white Democrats supported same-sex marriage, about double the percentage of black Democrats who said they do. More than half of blacks said they oppose both same-sex marriage and legal recognition of same-sex civil unions.
In the 2004 election, President Bush appealed to those differences and increased his share of the black vote. He did so by questioning black voters support for Democrats at Democratic strongholds such as the Urban League's annual convention, where the President quoted Charlie Gaines:
Blacks are gagging on the donkey but not yet ready to swallow the elephant.
During this campaign, Pastor Harry R. Jackson Jr. is pushing an issues agenda rather than "carrying the water for the Republican party," he said. "They are not reliable enough."

The Republican candidates need to follow President Bush's example and reach out to conservative African Americans.

Gingrich Predicts Obama Win

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich predicts Barack Obama will win the Democratic Caucuses in Iowa:

"My guess is Senator Obama's going to win Iowa and that he's going to win it by a surprising margin," the former Speaker of the House told ABC News' Diane Sawyer on "Good Morning America."

[. . .]

Pressed on whether the Oprah-factor would "tip" the nomination toward Obama, Gingrich replied, "I think it's a significant asset to (Obama) and he's not married to her."

"I think there's a double-edged sword when President Clinton shows up because he also reminds you, do you really want two presidents in the White House?
The latest ABC News/Washington Post Iowa poll found Obama ahead of Hillary.

Huckabee Plays The Religion Card

Republican presidential wannabee Mike Huckabee has played his experience as a Southern Baptist minister and president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention into second place in Iowa polls.

Huckabee has moved from about 8 percent last summer, to 24 percent in a recent Washington Post-ABC News survey.

The Los Angeles Times reports Huckabee being backed by 44 percent of evangelical Protestants, who make up four in 10 Republican caucus goers. But the Times points out there are doubts about Huckabee:

Some conservatives are leery of his views on taxes, pointing to his Arkansas record.

The Club for Growth, which advocates limited government and lower taxes, points out that as governor he increased taxes on sales, gasoline, cigarettes and nursing homes. He says he had little choice because of court-ordered spending increases or rising federal entitlement spending for programs "over which you don't have executive control."
That's an issue which was hammered home by conservative columnist By Robert Novak in an article titled, "The False Conservative:"
Huckabee is campaigning as a conservative, but serious Republicans know that he is a high-tax, protectionist advocate of big government and a strong hand in the Oval Office directing the lives of Americans. Until now, they did not bother to expose the former governor of Arkansas as a false conservative because he seemed an underfunded, unknown nuisance candidate. Now that he has pulled even with Mitt Romney for the Iowa caucuses and might make more progress, the beleaguered Republican Party has a frightening problem.

The rise of evangelical Christians as the force that blasted the GOP out of minority status during the past generation always contained an inherent danger: What if these new Republican acolytes supported not merely a conventional conservative but one of their own? That has happened with Huckabee, a former Baptist minister educated at Ouachita Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The danger is a serious contender for the nomination who passes the litmus test of social conservatives on abortion, gay marriage and gun control but is far removed from the conservative-libertarian model of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.

There is no doubt about Huckabee's record during a decade in Little Rock. He was regarded by fellow Republican governors as a compulsive tax-and-spender. He increased the Arkansas tax burden 47 percent, boosting the levies on gasoline and cigarettes. When he lost 100 pounds and decided to press his new lifestyle on the American people, he was hardly being a Goldwater-Reagan libertarian.
Huckabee's new ad, which starts with a close-up of Huckabee and speaking directly to the camera and then superimposes the words "CHRISTIAN LEADER" over an image of Huckabee on a farm, may highlight his beliefs and appeal to his evangelical targets in Iowa, but it will frighten more voters in the end:

The New York Times reports the ad is clearly using Huckabee's faith to differentiate himself from his Republican rivals. Americans want their leaders to have a faith, but they don't care for leaders who are perceived as, well, too evangelical.

The National Right to Life Committee has endorsed Thompson, Bob Jones III and Moral Majority co-founder Paul Weyrich backs Romney, and televangelist Pat Robertson supports Giuliani.

In his "Bad for Huckabee, good for America," Dan Gilgoff writes that this picking and choosing among candidates is a sure sign that many evangelical leaders have moved beyond mere identity politics and toward an overdue openness to compromise in a political system that's built on it:

Does a proudly pluralistic nation want candidates openly appealing to voters on sectarian grounds -- as Huckabee seemed to do at the Values Voter Summit -- so that evangelicals back only solidly evangelical candidates, Catholics support orthodox Catholics and Jews vote for faithful Jews?

Perhaps Huckabee didn't intend to ask for votes on the basis of church membership. Perhaps he merely wanted to communicate that he's more solid on hot-button social issues like gay marriage and abortion than his GOP competitors. On that grounds too, the failure of his ideological purity to translate into more Christian right support is still good news for American politics.
Gilgoff has it about right. The religion card Huckabee played is too sectarian.

Is Huckabee on the path blazed by Pat Robertson in 1988, when Robertson finished second-place in Iowa then stalled?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fred Claims Fox Bias

In an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson accused the network of bias against his campaign.

During the interview, Chris Wallace pressed Thompson on how some conservatives have lambasted Thompson's campaign and showed clips of Fox conservative commentators Charles Krauthammer and Fred Barnes criticizing the former senator. Fred responded by attacking Fox:

"This has been a constant mantra of Fox, to tell you the truth." He noted that other conservatives have praised his bid for the GOP nomination and took issue with a Fox promo that focused on polling in New Hampshire, where Thompson is registering in the single digits.

He said he is running second in national polls and has been leading or tied for the lead in South Carolina for "a long, long time."

Thompson, in a firm, but measured tone, scolded Wallace: "...for you to highlight nothing but the negatives in terms of the polls and then put on your own guys who have been predicting for four months, really, that I couldn't do it, kind of skew things a little bit. There's a lot of other opinion out there."
Fred didn't come off well in the exchange, which reminded me a little of Bill Clinton's temper tantrum during a Wallace interview.

You can watch a video clip of the exchange below:

Romney's Perfection

Does Mitt Romney appear too perfect? The Los Angeles Times suggests the answer is yes:

Mitt Romney arrives at his campaign headquarters here 10 minutes early, a knife-blade crease in his khakis, winter tan, lots of hair, all of it in place. He skips the coffee and doughnuts in favor of skim milk and the home-baked granola sent along in a zip-lock baggie by his wife. That's Ann, his high school sweetheart -- the mother of his five handsome sons -- with whom he says he has never had a serious argument in 38 years of marriage.

[. . .]

Romney's life looks like a photo album of the American dream: two homes, one in a posh Boston suburb and the other on a New Hampshire lakeside; four cars (he drives a red Mustang, Ann a Cadillac SUV); a friendly dog, big Christmases, church every Sunday, meaningful family discussions (Web viewers can watch as the Romneys gather on the sofa to ponder his run for president). If he has a vice, it's chocolate malts.

At the same time, his glide path was remarkably free of hardship, not the Horatio Alger story Americans sometimes warm to in a candidate. The son of Michigan governor and former American Motors Corp. Chairman George Romney, Willard Mitt Romney was born into privilege, raised in a devout Mormon home and educated at Harvard. He made a fortune in business and then entered politics, just like his dad. His first real tragedy was his wife's 1998 diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, which he calls the worst day of his life. (Her illness is in remission.)

Romney runs his campaign operation like the business executive he was: disciplined, on message and on time -- often early.
Romney's not perfect, but his storybook personal life could backfire on his presidential campaign. I hear many people refer to Romney's presidential appearance as "too slick." According to the Times, when Rudy Giuliani warned voters this week to beware "this pretense of perfection," he mentioned Democratic candidate Barack Obama's acknowledgment of past drug use, but he was really aiming at Romney's picture-perfect past.

As Giuliani implies we don't need a paragon of virtue for president, but I like the fact that there are no Clintonesque scandals in Romneys past.

Hating Hillary

We have discussed Hillary haters and her extraordinarily high negatives. But those cold polling statistics are nothing compared to what the Daily Telegraph's Toby Harnden found in his tour of America's flyover country. Harnden crisscrossed America from Portland, Maine, to San Diego and from Seattle to Merritt Island on Florida's Atlantic coast.

After visiting the America where "people shop at Wal-Mart, eat at Dairy Queen, work two jobs to make ends meet and have a Bible at home," Harnden concludes "America hates Hillary Clinton and Co.:"

Mrs Clinton might be the frontrunner in the polls, but almost everywhere we went people questioned her candidacy. Many stated bluntly that they did not want a woman in charge. "It's a man's world," said Hugh Laflin, 62, a Kansas truck driver. "Would a Middle East sheikh talk to a lady president?"

A Vietnam veteran in Arizona and a Florida gun-shop owner were among those who made crude jokes about America "going to war every 30 days" under a female president. We never brought up Bill Clinton's sexual dalliances, but many ordinary Americans did. "She couldn't keep her own home together, so how can we trust her to manage America?" asked Micki Martinson, a housewife in Somerset, Pennsylvania.

While we found many people who hated Mrs Clinton, those who loved her were few and far between. Certainly, many said they would vote for her, but the reasons cited tended to be her status as the top Democrat, the fact that she was battle-tested against Republicans and - for some women - the fact that she would be the first female president.

Such support might register in the opinion polls, but could melt away should the former First Lady lose in Iowa. And the frequently expressed nightmare for Democrats is that she will win their party's nomination but lose to a Republican next November when most Americans decide they don't much like her.
Obama has recently overtaken Hillary in Iowa. In response the Hillary campaign has started lowering expectations, preparing for a possible loss in Iowa.

Nor does Harnden have good news for Barack Obama:
Beyond the coasts and outside the college towns, Obamamania was difficult to find. His lofty, professorial manner has made it difficult for him to connect with ordinary Americans and he could well go the way of earlier "outsider" Democrats running on a platform of change, including Gary Hart, Paul Tsongas and Bill Bradley. Obama's lack of experience was a staple of conversations about him.

Although few people cite Obama's race as a negative factor, there are clearly worries about whether he is too exotic a creature for Middle America. Some openly speculated that he was a Muslim - the result of snippets from his background cited in emails that have dropped into inboxes everywhere.

A childhood in Indonesia and Hawaii and mixed-race parentage in some ways epitomize modern America. But voters are often most comfortable with the candidate they can best relate to - something Bush tapped into in 2000 when he played down his Yale education and chose not to reveal how often he had traveled abroad.
Harnden did find support for Giuliani:
The great and the good of Washington decreed long ago that Mr Giuliani, who favors abortion and gay rights and has previously advocated gun controls, was too liberal to secure the Republican nomination. Not so in the flyover states, where in the post-9/11 world, defending America trumps everything else among conservatives.

"I have always admired Giuliani, especially after 9/11," said Grita Poehle, a German-born new citizen in San Diego. "If he can do for America what he did for New York, that would be good."
I grew up in flyover counter. I agree with Harnden, flyover folks don't care much for Hillary and remain security voters first.

Biden's Heartache

I've never had much use for Democratic presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden. I simply can't get past his plagiarism.

Nevertheless, I found this article by the Des Moines Register's Abby Simons very moving:

But ask him about that day in December 1972, a week before Christmas, six weeks after he was elected to the U.S. Senate at age 29. Ask him about when a drunk driver slammed into a car his family was riding in, killing his wife, Neilia, and 13-month-old, Naomi, and leaving sons Beau and Hunter hospitalized for months.

Then he does something very un-Biden-esque. He clams up.

"I just don't ... it's hard to talk about. It's just hard ..." Biden trails off, pauses for several seconds, and clears his throat. His wife, Jill, looks on patiently.

"Whenever you talk about it, you relive it. It doesn't matter whether it was a day ago, a month ago or, in my case now, 34 years ago."

[. . .]

He's a senator who has more than once been called a braggart, yet now speaks in passing - if at all - of the wreck that could have put his life in shambles. Nor does he speak of the brain aneurysms that nearly killed him weeks after he dropped out of the 1988 presidential race following accusations that he used plagiarized portions of a campaign speech. The dropout was a blessing in disguise, said Biden's wife, Jill, whom he married in 1977. Reaching the top may have killed him, as the aneurysm occurred the day before the New Hampshire primary.

[. . .]

"If this doesn't work, look at what we have," Jill Biden said. "We have a great marriage, we have wonderful kids and grandchildren, we have our health. It's not like 'Oh God, this is going to affect us, we have a really positive attitude about new directions, new things to do. The whole family obviously thinks Joe should be our next president. But if it doesn't work, we're happy."
Read the whole thing.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hillary Bracing For Loss In Iowa

Sun-Times Columnist, Jennifer Hunter, writes that Hillary must be worried.

The latest poll from the Washington Post and ABC News finds Barack Obama ahead in Iowa.

Over the last few weeks, Hillary has increased her Iowa field staff and opened new offices.

Edwards has been campaigning in Iowa nonstop since right after the 2004 presidential race. Edwards has visited Iowa more than any other candidate, a total of 61 days. Obama started his Iowa campaign in Iowa as soon as he decided to run. He has visited Iowa 33 times.

The Iowa caucuses are more important in winning the Democratic nomination. In addition, Hillary's Democratic challengers see Iowa as their best shot to overcome Hillary's inevitability campaign.
As the Iowa causes finally get near, Hillary has hit a bumpy stretch. Her Democratic opponents are taking shots at her, hitting her where she is most vulnerable -- her reputation as too cautious and calculating. Hillary, with her double talk, provided the needed ammunition.

As a quote from the Hunter article demonstrates, the Hillary campaign is lowering expectations, preparing for a possible loss in Iowa:

"Our definition of success doesn't necessarily mean coming in first," explains Clinton spokesman Mark Daley. "As long as we have a strong showing on caucus night."

The Progress In Iraq Is Finally Reported

The last ten days have seen a sea change in the mainstream media's coverage of the war.

On Thanksgiving, ABC and NBC described the improving security situation in Iraq:

NBC Nightly News said Thanksgiving in Baghdad was "almost a celebration," adding, "Today we see traffic jams where Al Qaeda once saw targets." ABC World News led with a story that noted that "last year, on this day, Baghdad was in lockdown, after one of this city's deadliest suicide bombings." But "the headlines in recent weeks have been different." Yesterday, ABC's Baghdad correspondent, Terry McCarthy, "got an extraordinary look at the country, traveling with the number two US general there, Ray Odierno. They made nine stops, visiting several communities that have been notorious for violence. And...the optimism, among Americans at least, is spreading. ... the message we get from US commanders outside of Baghdad is pretty much the same wherever we go, cautious optimism. ... Civilian deaths in Baghdad are down 65% compared to six months ago. Car bombs are down 47%."
ABCNEWS reports General Raymond Odierno sees a "window for success in Iraq:"
Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno will not say the U.S. is winning the war in Iraq, but he clearly thinks it.

"I think we have created a window. I think we can be successful here," he told ABC News today during a whistle-stop Thanksgiving tour of 9 U.S. military bases in and outside Baghdad.

Other top military and civilian leaders have talked up the situation in Iraq in the past. But Odierno, the number two general in Iraq under General David Petraeus, is known as a straight shooter - not given to hype.

His barely suppressed optimism was reinforced by a series of interviews with commanders on the ground. Casualties and roadside bomb attacks are down. An increasing number of local citizens are abandoning the insurgency and coming over to the American side, registering as community policemen to bring back security to their neighborhoods.

The Los Angeles Times reports the recent reduction in terrorist attacks has allowed Iraqi oil production to exceed 2.1 million barrels per day, which will enable Iraq to improve the country's infrastructure:
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is proposing a $7.4-billion boost in public spending next year in an aggressive budget designed to stimulate industry and speed up repairs of this country's tattered roads, sewers and utilities.

It would also give more fiscal power to the country's 18 provinces by increasing their budgets more than 50% on average.

The increased spending, which raises Iraq's annual budget to $48 billion, would largely be financed by a projected 12% increase in oil revenue as well as funds that were not spent last year because of inefficiency.

The budget's optimism is driven in part by the expectation that oil prices, now at record levels, will stay high. In addition, Iraq's crude production, which dipped this year, has rebounded since August, climbing slightly above the target of 2.1 million barrels a day, according to a U.S. State Department report.
The Guardian reports 1,600 Iraqi refuges are returning home every day:
Slowly, cautiously, but unmistakably, thousands of Iraqis who moved abroad to escape the violence are going home, stemming an exodus that has seen 4.2 million people leave since the 2003 war. According to the Iraqi government, 46,000 returned from abroad to Baghdad in October - the first month of the new school year, though it has not produced a statistical breakdown.

Iraq's displacement and migration minister, Abdul Samad Sultan, said this week that 1,600 people were returning every day. The UNHCR, the world body's refugee agency, said yesterday it could not confirm the figure because it has no permanent access to the border - though a day of monitoring suggested it could be true.
The BBC describes the "din of normality:"
All the indicators for violence are down.

Compared to the beginning of the year, attacks against Iraqi civilians have declined by 55% in the country as a whole and by 75% in Baghdad, according to US military figures confirmed by the UN.

US military casualties are also dramatically reduced. October was one of the least bloody months since the beginning of the invasion.

[. . .]

Military commanders on the ground are very careful not to crow about the successes. Nor is the White House doing so. They are hoping that the facts will eventually speak for themselves.

In the past, boastful words have turned to dust almost as soon as they were uttered.

So what has caused this decline? An extra 30,000 US troops on the ground since the beginning of the so-called surge have certainly made a difference.

Shuttered Baghdad markets have re-opened for business. Silent streets have come to life with the sound of children playing football and mothers yelling for attention. The din of normality has trumped the silence of fear.

In Anbar province - which used to be the heart of the insurgency - Sunni leaders are fed-up with the high-handed brutality of al-Qaeda's fighters, deemed to have abused their hospitality and outstayed their welcome.
The Associated Press reports Iraq is offering free trips home for Iraqi refugees in Syria:
With violence down in Iraq, the country's embassy in Damascus is starting to organize free trips home for Iraqis who fled the conflict and now want to return, an Iraqi diplomat said Wednesday.

Free convoys and even airplane tickets are part of a new push by the Baghdad government to reach out to Iraqi refugees in Syria, said Adnan Shourifi, commercial secretary at the Iraqi Embassy.
The New York Times reports security improvements are real:
The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real. Days now pass without a car bomb, after a high of 44 in the city in February. The number of bodies appearing on Baghdad’s streets has plummeted to about 5 a day, from as many as 35 eight months ago, and suicide bombings across Iraq fell to 16 in October, half the number of last summer and down sharply from a recent peak of 59 in March, the American military says.

As a result, for the first time in nearly two years, people are moving with freedom around much of this city. In more than 50 interviews across Baghdad, it became clear that while there were still no-go zones, more Iraqis now drive between Sunni and Shiite areas for work, shopping or school, a few even after dark. In the most stable neighborhoods of Baghdad, some secular women are also dressing as they wish. Wedding bands are playing in public again, and at a handful of once shuttered liquor stores customers now line up outside in a collective rebuke to religious vigilantes from the Shiite Mahdi Army.
The Chicago Tribune reports on the sharp decline of violence in Iraq:
Attacks in Iraq have fallen 55 percent, to a level not seen since January 2006. Violence has fallen in some areas to its lowest levels since the summer of 2005. The number of Iraqi civilian casualties has fallen 65 percent, and Baghdad has witnessed a 75 percent drop since June.
The New York Times reports the drop in violence is better than proponents of the revised strategy predicted:
“These trends are stunning in military terms and beyond the predictions of most proponents of the surge last winter,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution, referring to President Bush’s troop reinforcement plan. “Nobody knows if the trends are durable in the absence of national reconciliation and in the face of major U.S. troop drawdowns in 2008."
The Los Angeles Times reports Sunnis and Shiites work together at the local level to protect their neighborhoods from insurgents and militias:
Despite persistent sectarian tensions in the Iraqi government, war-weary Sunnis and Shiites are joining hands at the local level to protect their communities from militants on both sides, U.S. military officials say.

[. . .]

Here in Qarghulia, a rural community east of Baghdad, the results are palpable. Killings are down dramatically and public confidence is reviving. "Sunnis-Shiites, no problem," said Obede Ali Hussein, 22, who stood at a checkpoint built by the U.S. Army along the Diyala River. "We want to protect our neighborhood."
Agence France Presse reports on the neon lights, bustling streets of Baghdad's resurgent night life:
"Even two or three months ago we would have been afraid to come here at night," said 20-year-old Hussein Salah, an off-duty soldier, slurping a milkshake with his wife, Shihad, at the Mishmesha (apricot) juice bar in Baghdad's relatively safe Karrada suburb.

"Now we sometimes sit outside here till one or two in the morning. It is quite safe. The security situation is vastly improved," said Salah, the orange light from a nearby flashing palm alternatively brightening and dimming his clean-shaven face.

Declines in Iraqi civilian casualties and a sharp reduction in bomb and mortar attacks have sparked optimism that the capital is at last starting to revive.

US military commanders attribute the fall in violence to a "surge" of American troops on the ground, their decision to set up small military posts in neighbourhoods, and the increasing number of Iraqis joining US forces in anti-insurgent alliances.
Reuters reports Baghdad's ambulance drivers can now catch their breath:
“With violence levels dropping across the city, Baghdad's hard-working ambulance drivers now find time to sit and sip tea instead of each rushing to four or five emergency calls a day. ‘Today the situation has changed for the best. There are ambulances that sometimes do not go out on duty for two days,’ said Kais Mohammed, head of an emergency services centre that covers all of southern Baghdad and some areas west.”
The Investor's Business Daily points out the New from Iraq gets better by the day:

• In Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, British Major Gen. Graham Binns said that attacks against British and American forces have plunged 90% since the start of September.

• Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki reported that terrorist attacks of all kinds are down almost 80% from last year's peak — thanks directly to the U.S. surge of 30,000 new troops.

• Amid growing signs that even Iraq extremists have tired of terrorism and killing, a Sunni religious group closed down the high-profile Muslim Scholars Association because of its ties to terrorists.

• U.S. Major Gen. James Simmons, speaking in Baghdad, said Iran's pledges to stop sending weapons and explosives into Iraq "appear to be holding up." Roadside bombs, the leading killer of U.S. troops, have plunged 52% since March, he added.

• Perhaps most touching, according to a report from Michael Yon, that Muslims are asking Iraqi Christians to return to help build Iraq.

• Douglas Halaspaska, a reporter on the Web site U.S. Cavalry ON Point found so much has changed.
Because the progress, troops are being withdrawn.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving 2007

The traditional Thanksgiving story is that some time in the fall of 1621, the settlers at Plymouth, Mass., held a feast to thank God they'd survived their harrowing first year in the New World.

They invited neighboring Indians, who had taught them agricultural skills critical to their survival. Together they celebrated their good fortune with a three-day feast.

There is a problem with the traditional story - no one invited the Indians.

The settlers threw the party for themselves. Members of the local Wampanoag tribe arrived only after hearing the English firing their arms in celebration. This view may be historically accurate.

A firsthand account of the original Thanksgiving is provided in "Mourt's Relations," a series of letters written in 1620 and 1621, primarily by settler Edward Winslow.

He writes of a harvest celebration, "at which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor."

Actually, the harvest of 1621 wasn't great at all. The barley, wheat, and peas the Pilgrims brought with them from England had failed. Fortunately, the corn did well enough that they were able to double their weekly food rations. The Pilgrims were happy to be alive: The previous winter had wiped out 47 people--almost half their community.

What people are thankful for changes from year to year. The Pilgrims were happy to be alive. The Founding Fathers were happy to have established a government. And Lincoln's Thanksgiving proclamation expressed thanks that the Civil War had not destroyed the country.Freedom_from_want

On January 6, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed Congress. His "Four Freedoms" offered a vision in which the American ideals of individual liberties were extended throughout the world:

Four Freedoms
We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression--everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way-- everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want . . . everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear . . . anywhere in the world.
The speech inspired Norman Rockwell to create a series of paintings on the "Four Freedoms," including "Freedom From Want."

In his Thanksgiving Day, 2007 Proclamation, President Bush reminds us that we have much to be thankful for:
Americans are a grateful people, ever mindful of the many ways we have been blessed. On Thanksgiving Day, we lift our hearts in gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy, the people we love, and the gifts of our prosperous land.

Our country was founded by men and women who realized their dependence on God and were humbled by His providence and grace. The early explorers and settlers who arrived in this land gave thanks for God's protection and for the extraordinary natural abundance they found. Since the first National Day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed by President George Washington, Americans have come together to offer thanks for our many blessings. We recall the great privilege it is to live in a land where freedom is the right of every person and where all can pursue their dreams. We express our deep appreciation for the sacrifices of the honorable men and women in uniform who defend liberty. As they work to advance the cause of freedom, our Nation keeps these brave individuals and their families in our thoughts, and we pray for their safe return.

While Thanksgiving is a time to gather in a spirit of gratitude with family, friends, and neighbors, it is also an opportunity to serve others and to share our blessings with those in need. By answering the universal call to love a neighbor as we want to be loved ourselves, we make our Nation a more hopeful and caring place.

This Thanksgiving, may we reflect upon the past year with gratefulness and look toward the future with hope. Let us give thanks for all we have been given and ask God to continue to bless our families and our Nation.
As we gather together with family friends and family, let's take a few minutes and contemplate our many blessings and give thanks.

Image courtesy of the National Achieves.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Obama Overtakes Clinton In Iowa

A new ABC New/Washington Post poll in Iowa finds Barack Obama ahead of Hillary. Obama is supported by 30% of likely Iowa voters compared to 26% for Hillary and 22% for John Edwards:

The results are only marginally different from a Post-ABC poll in late July, but in a state likely to set the tone for the rest of the nominating process, there are significant signs of progress for Obama -- and harbingers of concern for Clinton.

The factors that have made Clinton the clear national front-runner -- including her overwhelming leads on the issues of the Iraq war and health care, a widespread sense that she is the Democrats' most electable candidate, and her strong support among women -- do not appear to be translating on the ground in Iowa, where campaigning is already fierce and television ads have been running for months.

At the heart of the Democratic race has been the dichotomy between strength and experience (qualities emphasized by Clinton, Richardson, and Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut in their appeals) and the ability to introduce a new approach to governing (as Obama and Edwards have promised to do).

Iowa Democrats are tilting toward change, and Obama appears to be benefiting from it.

Fifty-five percent of those surveyed reported that a "new direction and new ideas" are their top priority, compared with 33 percent who favored "strength and experience." That is a shift from July, when 49 percent sought change and 39 percent experience.
The poll also found Hillary vulnerable on questions of character:
Thirty-one percent found Obama to be the most honest and trustworthy, about double the percentage who said the same of Clinton. While about three-quarters credited both Obama and Edwards with speaking their mind on issues, only 50 percent said Clinton is willing enough to say what she really thinks. Forty-five percent said she is not sufficiently candid.
Iraq and health care dominate as the campaign's top issues.

ABC World News reported the new poll has even more bad news for Hillary, only half of Iowa Democratic caucus goers say she's willing to say what she really thinks. Watch the video of the ABC report.

The perception that Hillary won't say what she really thinks was damningly illustrated in her pathetic performance at the Democrats' debate at Drexal university. You can see highlights of that Hillary's failure to give straight answers during that debate here, here and here.

The survey was conducted November 14 to 18 and has a margin of error of plus or minus four percent.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Rudy's Leadership Ad

The Giuliani campaign is running this new television ad entitled, “Leadership,” in New Hampshire and Boston.

width="425" height="355">

Compare Rudy's 27 years of public executive leadership experience to Hillary's unique inexperience.

Agreeing With Joe

The Democratic Presidential candidates agree: Joe is right.

Thanks to Peter Hauck for the tip.

A Day At Hillquarters

Mary Katherine Ham tours Hillary's office.

Thanks to Orlando at Fort Hard Knox for the tip.

More Progress In Iraq

The Investor's Business Daily points out the New from Iraq gets better by the day:

• In Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, British Major Gen. Graham Binns said that attacks against British and American forces have plunged 90% since the start of September.

• Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki reported that terrorist attacks of all kinds are down almost 80% from last year's peak — thanks directly to the U.S. surge of 30,000 new troops.

• Amid growing signs that even Iraq extremists have tired of terrorism and killing, a Sunni religious group closed down the high-profile Muslim Scholars Association because of its ties to terrorists.

• U.S. Major Gen. James Simmons, speaking in Baghdad, said Iran's pledges to stop sending weapons and explosives into Iraq "appear to be holding up." Roadside bombs, the leading killer of U.S. troops, have plunged 52% since March, he added.

• Perhaps most touching, according to a report from Michael Yon, that Muslims are asking Iraqi Christians to return to help build Iraq.

• Douglas Halaspaska, a reporter on the Web site U.S. Cavalry ON Point found so much has changed.

So why do the Democrats not only refuse to admit that the revised strategy is working, but pretend that things are getting worse:

"It's not getting better; it's getting worse," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat. "The goal remains out of reach."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said the reduced violence in Iraq wasn't enough to win her support for the mission.
The Democratic leaders are in deep denial. House Minority Leader John A. Boehner puts it this way:
Democrats can't acknowledge the fact that our troops are winning the war against al Qaeda in Iraq without admitting that they've been dead wrong on the biggest national challenge of our generation at the same time.
But Connecticut's Independent Democratic Senator, Joe Lieberman put it even better:
"Even as evidence has mounted that General Petraeus' new counterinsurgency strategy is succeeding, Democrats have remained emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq, reluctant to acknowledge the progress we are now achieving, or even that that progress has enabled us to begin drawing down our troops there," he added.

Hillary Plant Speaks

The Grinnell College student, Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff, who asked ask a "planted" question by the Hillary campaign speaks with CNN about the experience. You can watch the video here.

Obama Lost Los Vegas

I watched most of Thursday's Democratic Debate. Hillary performed much better than she did at the Drexal University debate two weeks ago. Most pundits say Hillary won the debate. The Frank Luntz FOX News focus group, confirms Hillary had a good night. Did Hillary finally knock Obama out of contention?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Lou Dobbs for President?

Friends of Lou Dobbs say he is seriously contemplating running for president:

After months of telling reporters that he "absolutely" would not consider leaving his highly-rated CNN show in which he crusades against free trade and illegal immigration, Mr. Dobbs posted a commentary on his Web site last week predicting a surprise new presidential candidate in 2008. The mystery candidate is an "independent populist . . . who understands the genius of this country lies in the hearts and minds of its people and not in the prerogatives and power of its elites."

Friends of Mr. Dobbs say he is seriously contemplating a race for the first time, although it's still unlikely. They spin a scenario under which the acerbic commentator would parachute into the race if Michael Bloomberg, the New York billionaire and favorite of East Coast elites, enters the field as an independent.
That web commentary Dobbs posted is available here.

At The Caucus, Katharine Seelye reports Dobbs isn't interested:
"I don’t know where this is coming from," he said in a quick phone interview. "I have no interest in running, and I’ve said that throughout."
I think Dobbs is just trying to sell his new book.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Planting Hillary

John Edwards takes on Hillary's "Politics of "Planting:"

His campaign today announced it has created a website that jabs his fellow Democrat's campaign for admitting that it planted a question at an Iowa event with a college student.

With tongue firmly in cheek, Edwards' camp calls an one-stop shop: "Potential plants can listen to testimonials from past plants, read the 'Top 10 Questions Plants Should Never Ask Hillary,' learn how to recognize other plants at Senator Clinton's events, submit suggestions for planted questions, and purchase the soon to be released 'Questions are plant them' T-shirt."

The website features a video, titled "The Politics of Planting," a sequel to "The Politics of Parsing" video highlighting Hillary's failure to give straight answers during the Democrats Drexal University debate.

The new video highlights Senator Clinton's evolution from parsing answers to answering planted questions.

The Hillary campaign was forced to admit that it planted a global warming question in Newton, Iowa, during a town hall meeting to discuss clean energy.

CNN reported that a Grinnell College student, Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff, had been encouraged to ask a "planted" question by a Clinton employee:
Gallo-Chasanoff, whose story was first reported in the campus newspaper, said what happened was simple: She said a senior Clinton staffer asked if she'd like to ask the senator a question after an energy speech the Democratic presidential hopeful gave in Newton, Iowa, on November 6.

"I sort of thought about it, and I said 'Yeah, can I ask how her energy plan compares to the other candidates' energy plans?'" Gallo-Chasanoff said Monday night.

According to Gallo-Chasanoff, the staffer said, "I don't think that's a good idea, because I don't know how familiar she is with their plans."

He then opened a binder to a page that, according to Gallo-Chasanoff, had about eight questions on it.

"The top one was planned specifically for a college student," she added. "It said 'college student' in brackets and then the question."

Topping that sheet of paper was the following: "As a young person, I'm worried about the long-term effects of global warming. How does your plan combat climate change?"
The student who asked the question told CNN "voters have the right to know what happened" and she wasn't the only one who was planted.

According to the New York Times the Grinnell College plant-gate wasn't the only time the Clinton campaign planted questions:
Last spring, an Iowa Democrat, Geoffrey Mitchell, said that a different Clinton aide encouraged him to ask Mrs. Clinton about Iraq policy during a campaign event, according to a news account at the time and a report Saturday on Fox News.
Mr. Miller told ABCNews about that incident:
Geoff Mitchell, a minister who recently moved to Hamilton, Ill., from Iowa, told ABC News that he was approached this spring by Clinton's Iowa political director Chris Haylor to ask Clinton a question about war funding.

Mitchell, 32, said that the request "did not sit well with me in the tradition of the Iowa caucus."

"I grew up in Iowa and I value the tradition of the caucuses of answering the questions of the people," Mitchell said.

Mitchell said he introduced himself to Haylor because he had heard of him before and knew that he had worked on Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh's campaign.

Before the campaign event, Haylor asked Mitchell if he would pose a specific question about Iraq. The question was about how Clinton would be tough on President Bush about funding the Iraq war, Mitchell said.
Planting questions is dishonest and inexcusable. This despicable conduct just reinforces the perception that Hillary's campaign is manipulative and schemes to bend the rules in order maintain her lead in the polls. It's also more evidence of Hillary's hypocrisy. Last month, Hillary attacked someone at a town hall for asking a question that she alleged was planted. Watch the video.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hillary Plays Leadership Card

In a very public "strategic memoranda" Hillary's chief strategist Mark Penn today announces Hillary will try to play the the leadership card in tonight's Democratic debate:

Poll after poll shows it's leadership that people see in Clinton, her pollster says.

He cites a number of independent media polls to make his case.
Penn didn't do his homework on all those polls.

A recent Gallup poll found Hillary, Obama and Rudy Giuliani all rate "roughly the same'' on the question of leadership.

Marc Ambinder has posted an annotated version of Penn's strategic memo.

To paraphrase President Clinton, it all depends on the meaning of leadership.

Americans Expect U.S. To Be In Iraq For Years

A recent Gallup Panel survey finds that most Americans expect the United States to have a significant number of troops in Iraq several years after the 2008 election, regardless of which party wins the presidency:Iraq111507graph1

Gallup polling shows that relatively few Americans favor an immediate withdrawal, but most Americans currently prefer that the United States reduce its troop levels. Regardless of their preferences, the data presented here indicate that most Americans expect the United States to have a significant military presence in Iraq through much if not all of the next president’s first term. And the data also suggest that Americans appear willing to accept a continued presence in Iraq until that time, but probably not longer than that.
Americans believe the withdrawal process will happen more quickly if a Democrat rather than a Republican is elected president.

Watch the video report:

So why have Pelosi's Liberal/Progressive Democrats renewed their legislative push to force a withdrawal from Iraq.

Obama's Chance

Obama will begin airing a new ad on education in New Hampshire, called, “Chances I had.”

NBC’s Domenico Montanaro says this ad could spur attacks on Obama:

"The one thing I was able to get was a great education." But Obama went to an elite prep school in Hawaii -- not a public school. Can't you just hear Republicans in a general election, "You did get a great education... at a prep school, which is why we should be for vouchers."

McCain's Outrageous Ad

Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign today released a new television ad, entitled “Outrageous.” The new ad focuses on John McCain’s commitment to ending wasteful pork-barrel spending in Washington and of course takes a shot at Hillary:

A million dollars for a Woodstock museum in a bill sponsored by Hillary Clinton: Predictable.

Solving Illegal Immigration

While Romney and Giuliani go at it over the "sanctuary state of mind: "

As for Mr. Romney, he spared no political stripe in denouncing candidates on the subject:
"We’re not going to give people who are here illegally drivers licenses, nor are we going to give them tuition breaks in our institutions of higher learning,” Romney said. “This ‘sanctuary state of mind’ which exists from Hillary Clinton to Mayor Giuliani to Governor Huckabee is simply an attitude we’re going to have to change."

Updated 4 p.m. Maria Comella, spokeswoman for the Giuliani campaign, shot back this afternoon at Mr. Romney’s criticisms:

"Once again Presidential Trail Mitt Romney completely ignores the record of Governor Mitt Romney. Under Governor Mitt Romney the number of illegal immigrants skyrocketed, while he recommended millions of dollars in state aid to numerous sanctuary cities and to companies employing illegal immigrants, not to mention the illegals working on his own lawn."

Fred Thompson airs a new ad in which he talks about how to solve the illegal immigration problem - securing the border, enforcing the la, and w opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Thompson has proposed the government should take away federal dollars from cities and states that don't report illegal immigrants. Under his proposal, so-called "sanctuary cities" would lose discretionary federal grants, as would colleges and universities that allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition.

Makes sense to me.

McCain Nearly Quit

Robert Draper, GQ correspondent and author of "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush," has an interesting article in GQ about the McCain Presidential campaign - "The Unmaking of a President."

Draper takes us back a year, when McCain was the GOP's top fund-raising attraction and poised to defeat Hillary Clinton by double-digits. More than 4800 words into this summary of McCain's presidential campaign, Draper gets to the New York Times' July 10th report that "McCain had placed a call to donors while in the Senate cloakroom — which, if it involved soliciting donations, violated federal law. But it didn’t: McCain was just assuring them that the campaign was healthy despite the staff changes." As Draper puts it:

McCain was ready to quit the campaign then and there.
There is much more to this account of McCain's nearly failed presidential campaign.

The McCain campaign was supposed to model the fabled Bush '04 operation:
Bush had Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman; McCain would have Weaver and Nelson. Bush had Pioneers and Rangers as big donors and bundlers; McCain would have Admirals and Lieutenants.
Terry Nelson was Bush’s national political director.

Even in December '06 the writing was on the wall. As late as mid-December, not a single fundraiser had been scheduled for January. According to Weaver, “we’d joke that we’re turning into the Yankees:”
In other words, McCain was spending like Bush but collecting checks like Ron Paul.
Fast forward to spring '07.

On March 26, McCain told conservative critic Bill Bennett that “there are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk today, ” which CNN’s Michael Ware mocked as “beyond ludicrous.” A week later, McCain described his visit to Baghdad’s Shorja market as an unfettered stroll, when in fact he’d been escorted by twenty-two soldiers, ten armored Hummvies, and two Apache attack helicopters. As support for the war fell, so did support for McCain.

On May 13, McCain gave a commencement speech at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, a bland discourse on civility:
By all means, let us argue.… But let us remember, we are not enemies.
To critics the Liberty speech was a "calculated effort to shore up votes from religious conservatives."

If McCain was pandering to conservatives, he was doing a lousy job at it:
The campaign wasn’t attracting new donors, and all the negative press was hitting him in the pocketbook.

Unlike the McCain campaign’s chosen model, Bush ’04, no one at McCain headquarters was monitoring the discrepancy between dollars in and dollars out.

During the Bush '04 campaign Ken Mehlman developed daily, weekly, and monthly budgets for every campaign division, reviewed bank-draft statements daily, and readjusted the budgets accordingly. The McCain campaign continued to spend as if there was $150 million to burn.

Bad news continued. Anemic first-quarter showing had forced the senator to lay off nearly fifty staffers. Then there was the failed immigration reform.

At the third GOP debate in Manchester, McCain caught a break. His republican rivals went after McCain on immigration reform, but they didn't hurt him. During the town hall portion of the debate, Erin Flanagan took the microphone:
Her little brother had been killed in Iraq. “As a member of an American family who has suffered so greatly at the choices made by the current administration,” Ms. Flanagan asked the ten candidates, “I desperately would like to know what you, as commander in chief, would do…to bring this conflict to a point at which we can safely bring our troops home.”

Duncan Hunter responded first, followed by Sam Brownback. Throughout, Salter was watching McCain sitting in his chair—locked in on her, leaning into the question—and Salter could feel it coming, this is it this is it this is it…

McCain then stood and walked to the edge of the stage. “Ma’am”—and like that, it was as if there were only two people in the auditorium now, the senator with his halting voice and the young woman with her sad brown eyes—“I want to tell you thank you for your brother’s service and sacrifice to our country. We are proud of you and your endurance, and we’re proud of your sacrifice. This war—I’m going to give you a little straight talk. This war was very badly mismanaged for a long time, and Americans have made great sacrifices, some of which were unnecessary. … I believe we have a strategy which can succeed, so that the sacrifice of your brother would not be in vain. …”
A McCain Moment!

But it wasn't enough. On July 6, McCain returned from another trip to Iraq:
He was impressed with the surge’s progress, depressed by the Maliki government’s shiftlessness—but most of all, pissed off at his senior campaign staff. The second-quarter results were in. And after all assurances to the contrary, the campaign hadn’t exceeded, or even met, the paltry receipts of the first quarter. They’d brought in $11 million but spent $13 million. There was almost nothing in the bank.
That brings us to the point where McCain nearly quit.

Draper continues:
Despite his universal name recognition, his more extensive experience as a high-stakes campaigner, and his superior national organization, McCain couldn’t outraise Giuliani or Romney.

[. . .]

For all his overt admiration of the impervious “Bush model,” his had become the least Bushlike of the three leading Republican candidacies.

“I think he panicked,” says an outside adviser. “After all the challenges he’s faced, it’s almost like he expected the presidency to be a coronation.” Confronted with hard calls, the Straight Talker proved not to be a straight thinker.

[. . .]

McCain made a mistake in not being more decisive and clear.
There are things I like and there are things I don't like about Senator McCain. If Draper's article paints an accurate portrait about McCain's failure to effectively oversee the finances of his presidential effort and McCain's inability to hold staff accountable, I have more reservations about his ability to run the enterprise we call the federal government.

Rudy's First TV Ad - "Tested"

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will begin advertising this week in New Hampshire with a commercial that presents him as the man who turned around a crime-ridden and unmanageable city in spite of typical human foibles:

The spot features gritty, black-and-white images of New York — a Harlem movie house marquee and the words, “Sex World;” riot police struggling with an unseen perpetrator — as Mr. Giuliani describes a mess that he inherited: “They used to call it unmanageable, ungovernable. A large majority of New Yorkers wanted to leave and live somewhere else. It was a city that was in financial crisis, a city that was the crime capital of America.”

Then the screen floods with color and brilliant images of New York City — a new-model Volvo cruising along Park Avenue with virtually no traffic and a light-filled and crowd-free Grand Central Terminal — and the music becomes decidedly upbeat.

“By the time I left office, New York City was being proclaimed as the best example of conservative government in the country,” Mr. Giuliani says, adding,

“We turned it into the safest large city in America, the welfare-to-work capital of America, and most importantly, the spirit of the people of the city had changed. Instead of being hopeless, the large majority of people had hope.”

The New York Times finds "Tested" reminiscent of the famous 1984 Reagan reelection ad “Morning in America,” which featured a flag being raised into a blue sky and inspirational music.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Spitzer Can't Take The Heat

On Saturday I asked if New York Democratic Governor Eliot Spitzer could take the heat over his very unpopular plan to issue driver's licenses to illegal aliens.

Today we learn the answer is no.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer is abandoning his plan to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, saying that opposition is just too overwhelming to move forward with such a policy.

[. . .]

“You have perhaps seen me struggle with it because I thought we had a principled decision, and it’s not necessarily easy to back away from trying to move a debate forward,” he said.
If Spitzer's position was truly principled, should it not be worth fighting for to the better end? The truth is more likely that Spitzer's decision is simply unprincipled and poll-driven:
Mr. Spitzer’s decision to abandon his plan comes as a poll released Tuesday by Siena College found that seven in 10 New York voters who had heard about it — and more than 80 percent of the 625 registered voters polled had — opposed it. It also found that for the first time, more people viewed the governor unfavorably than favorably.
Steven Greenberg, Siena New York Poll spokesman said, "voters think the Governor is wrong on the policy and on the rationale for the policy:"
"One year ago, Eliot Spitzer won 69 percent of the votes for Governor. In January, 75 percent of voters gave him a favorable rating. Only five months ago, 64 percent viewed him favorably and 55 percent gave him a positive job performance rating," Greenberg said. "All that’s changed in a New York minute."

"Eliot Spitzer’s standing with voters has fallen faster and further than any politician in recent New York history," Greenberg said. "Everything may not have changed on day one but from the voters’ perspective, everything about Governor Spitzer changed in year one."

[. . .]

The Governor’s fall is directly tied to his license proposal.
Even Democrats can't understand why their party's national leaders embrace driver's licenses for illegal aliens, and see driving illegals as "de facto amnesty" and political poison.

National Right To Life Committee Backs Thompson

The National Right to Life Committee endorsed Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson.

This is a big deal. With 3,000 local chapters in 50 states, National Right to Life is the nation's largest antiabortion group; it publishes a monthly newsletter, funds radio and TV broadcasts and organizes local activists. Supporters donated more than $9.7 million in 2005, according to the latest available tax records. The group's political arm spent $4.4 million in the 2004 election cycle to support antiabortion candidates and causes.

Some were taken aback by Fred winning this endorsement. Huckabee thought Fred didn't handle the abortion issue well on NBC's "Meet the Press:"

MR. RUSSERT: Let me ask you about an issue very important in your party’s primary process, and that’s abortion.


MR. RUSSERT: This is the 2004 Republican Party platform, and here it is: “We say the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution,” “we endorse legislation to make it clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. Our purpose is to have legislative and judicial protection of that right against those who perform abortions.” Could you run as a candidate on that platform, promising a human life amendment banning all abortions?


MR. RUSSERT: You would not?

MR. THOMPSON: No. I have always—and that’s been my position the entire time I’ve been in politics. I thought Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. I think this platform originally came out as a response to particularly Roe v. Wade because of that. Before Roe v. Wade, states made those decisions. I think people ought to be free at state and local levels to make decisions that even Fred Thompson disagrees with. That’s what freedom is all about. And I think the diversity we have among the states, the system of federalism we have where power is divided between the state and the federal government is, is, is—serves us very, very well. I think that’s true of abortion. I think Roe v. Wade hopefully one day will be overturned, and we can go back to the pre-Roe v. Wade days. But...

MR. RUSSERT: Each state would make their own abortion laws.

MR. THOMPSON: Yeah. But, but, but to, to, to have an amendment compelling—going back even further than pre-Roe v. Wade, to have a constitutional amendment to do that, I do not think would be the way to go.

MR. RUSSERT: I went back—we went back to your papers at the University of Tennessee and read through them. This is what you said back in 1994 as a candidate. Here’s the first one: “I’m not willing to support laws that prohibit early-term abortions. I’m not suddenly upon election as a senator going to know when life begins and where that place ought to be exactly. It comes down to whether you believe life begins at conception. I don’t know in my own mind if that is the case so I don’t feel the law ought to impose that standard on other people.”


MR. RUSSERT: So you yourself don’t know when life begins.

MR. THOMPSON: No. I didn’t know then.

MR. RUSSERT: You know now?

MR. THOMPSON: I, I, I—my head has always been the same place. My public position has always been the same. I’ve been 100 percent pro-life in every vote that I’ve ever cast in, in my service to the United States Senate.

MR. RUSSERT: But, Senator, you say that you’re for states having...

MR. THOMPSON: Well, no...

MR. RUSSERT: Let me finish, because this is important. You’re for allowing states to have pro-abortion rights, and you yourself, and I have 10 different statements from you, say that you would not ban abortion, it’s a woman’s right, and you would not ban it in the first trimester.

MR. THOMPSON: No, no. Well, you just said two different things here. You know, it’s a complex issue concerning whether or not you’re going to have a federal law, whether or not you’re going to have a federal constitutional amendment, those kinds of things. Nobody’s proposed a federal law on this. Nobody’s recently proposed a, a federal constitutional amendment. I, I, I had an opportunity to vote on an array of things over eight years, whether it be partial birth abortion, whether it be Mexico City policy, whether it be transporting young girls across state lines to avoid parental notification laws and all that--100 percent pro-life.

But let me finish on my point, and, and, and my legal record is there, and that’s the way I would govern if I was president. I would take those same positions. No federal funding for abortion, no nothing that would in any way encourage abortion. When I saw—and again, all consistent with what I’ve said. I—people ask me hypothetically, you know, OK, it goes back to the states. Somebody comes up with a bill, and they say we’re going to outlaw this, that or the other. And my response was I do not think it is a wise thing to criminalize young girls and perhaps their parents as aiders and abettors or perhaps their family physician. And that’s what you’re talking about. It’s not a sense of the Senate. You’re talking about potential criminal law. I said those things are going to be ultimately won in the hearts and minds of people. I’m probably a pretty good example of that. Although my, my, my head and my legislative record’s always been the same, when I saw that sonogram of my little now four-year-old, it’s, it’s, it’s changed my heart. It’s changed the way I look at things. I was looking at my child when, when, when I, when I saw that. And I knew that, and I felt that. And that’s the way I feel today. And I think life begins at conception. I always—it was abstract to me before. I was a father earlier when I was very young. I was busy. I went about my way. One of the, one of the maybe few advantages you have by getting a little bit older.

MR. RUSSERT: So while you believe that life begins at conception, the taking of a human life?

MR. THOMPSON: Yes, I, I, I, I do.

MR. RUSSERT: You would allow abortion to be performed in states if chosen by states for people who think otherwise?

MR. THOMPSON: I do not think that you can have a, a, a law that would be effective and that would be the right thing to do, as I say, in terms of potentially—you can’t have a law that cuts off an age group or something like that, which potentially would take young, young girls in extreme situations and say, basically, we’re going to put them in jail to do that. I just don’t think that that’s the right thing to do. It cannot change the way I feel about it morally, but legally and practically, I’ve got to recognize that fact. It is a dilemma that I’m not totally comfortable with, but that’s the best I can do in resolving it in my own mind.
You can watch the video of this exchange below. The abortion discussion begins at 1:33:

Pro-lifers are split among the Republican presidential contenders with Robertson backing Giuliani and Brownback endorsing McCain.

At RedState, Eric has the inside scoop on the National Right to Life Committee endorsement of Fred.