Monday, December 31, 2007

Fred's Powerful Pitch

Fred makes his pitch as to why he's the best candidate for the presidency.

Seventeen minutes may sound long, but it's not too much time to invest in selecting a president. Watch it:

Fred's pitch is very powerful. I wish Fred gave a speech like this when he addressed the Lincoln Club of Orange County's annual dinner in May.

Hillary's Californicators Campaign In Iowa

Hillary's favorite Californicators, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, are in Iowa along with Hillary's adulterer in chief, former president Bill Clinton.

Newsom and Villaraigosa are both national co-chairs of Hillary's campaign. Both Californicators are sorry examples of family values.

Villaraigosa's adulterous affair with Telemundo reporter Mirthala Salinas resulted in the break up of Villaraigosa's marriage and with Salinas leaving Telemundo, where she was a rising star.

Newsom is the poster for San Francisco values. He betrayed his campaign manager Alex Tourk, who was also one of Newsom's best friends, by sleeping with Tourk’s wife. Newsom is best known nationally for openly defying California state law in 2004 by directing clerks at City Hall to sanction same-sex unions. According to the Chronicle, Newsom's flaunting of the law made him a pariah within the Democratic Party. Some observers credit President Bush's reelection and the passage of constitutional amendments banning gay marriage in 11 states that same year on a backlash triggered by Newsom's lawlessness.

Why is it that Hillary continues to associate herself with political adulterers? Republican strategists couldn't be happier about Hillary's willingness to accept support from the Californicators. As far as the GOP is concerned, the more face time the pro-gay-marriage, pro-sanctuary-city, pro-gun-control mayor of the most leftist, liberal city in America spends with Hillary, the better. The Republican National Committee recently previewed what may become a general election theme in a press release titled "Hillary's San Francisco Treat." The release highlights Newsom's plan to issue identification cards to illegal aliens, saying Newsom's plan picks up where New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's failed attempt to issue drivers licenses to illiegals left off. Hillary said Spitzer's plan made "a lot of sense," But that was before she denied she said that it made sense:

Hillary's campaign continues to embrace the Californicators. Continuing to rely on Newsom, who stands for things Hillary says she opposes, such as same-sex marriage, may hurt Hillary in general election. But at least she would carry San Francisco.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Huckabust, Edwards Surge

The first Iowa poll after Christmas campaign break finds the Huckabee implosion has begun in the Republican contest with Romney regaining the lead and a dead-heat among the three leading Democratic candidates>:

“On the Democratic side, the race is about as close as it can get, but keep an eye on Edwards,” said Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, which conducted the survey. “Edwards has really moved up since our last poll. Obama and Clinton have each slipped a little bit.”

[. . .]

While the survey shows a virtual statistical tie, it also shows Edwards with some momentum heading into the final days. He's gained 3 percentage points since McClatchy-MSNBC polled Iowa before the holidays, while Clinton lost 4 points and Obama lost 3 points.

Also gaining were Richardson and Biden, each picking up 3 points.

The second tier is particularly important in Iowa’s Democratic caucuses, where a candidate can win delegates only if they register at least 15 percent support in each town hall-like precinct meeting. Voters whose candidates don’t make that threshold can support someone else.

As of now, that appears to help Edwards.
In the Republican contest, Huckabee’s support dropped 8 percent in the last three weeks. While Huckabee's support fell, Romney regained 7 percent:
Iowa Republicans gave him their highest favorable rating, and he ranked first among GOP voters looking for experience, leadership and the ability to win in November. He also led among voters who ranked immigration, taxes or terrorism their top concerns.

A key gain: He now has the support of 27 percent of the state’s evangelical Christian Republicans, up sharply from 8 percent several weeks ago. Concerns about his Mormon faith appear to have ebbed.
Don't bet the farm on these poll numbers. Polling for the Iowa caucuses isn't easy and the voters remain fickle. One in three Iowa Republicans and one in five Iowa Democrats say they might still change their preference.

Dodd Says It's All About Experience

Chris Dodd says Hillary is taking credit for her husband Bill Clinton's achievements while he was president as she campaigns on experience:

"I'm far more experienced," Dodd said, adding that his wife Jackie "wouldn't take credit for the Family Medical Leave Act" that Dodd authored.

In the following video, Dodd says Hillary's experience as first lady is similar to that of Laura Bush:

I couldn't agree more with Dodd's analysis of Hillary's experience. As I have said before, Hillary is uniquely inexperienced to be president.

Dodd also says the Bhutto assassination has caused voters to focus on foreign policy, which Dodd says could strengthen his campaign in the final few days before the Iowa caucuses:
"What's been brought home to us, in very stark ways in the last 48 hours, is the importance of proven experience and ability in dealing with domestic and foreign policy issues," he said. "Caucusgoers had a sobering experience with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and they're now going to think twice about maybe earlier choices, or they will solidify their decision to go with a lesser-known candidate but a more experienced one."
Dodd may be right that the Bhutto assassination will remind the voters that we are still in a war against extremists. That is not going to help Dodd's campaign. Dodd has consistently polled poorly in Iowa. I expect Dodd to withdraw from the race shortly after the New Hampshire primary.

Democrats Hurt Troop Morale

Bill Gertz reports Democratic attacks on the war undermined troop morale:

Cpl. Goldich, who returned from Anbar province in November after about 300 combat patrols, stated in a candid account that negative comments by Democrats had "a dramatic effect on morale, especially on troops who are otherwise indifferent and disdainful of politics in general."

"I cannot tell you how many times I have overheard Marines and soldiers talking about various inconsiderate comments made from the likes of [Sen.] John Kerry [Massachusetts Democrat], [Rep. John P.] Murtha [Pennsylvania Democrat], [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid [Nevada Democrat], and [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi [California Democrat] about how we cannot win, how we should be brought home, etc.," he said.

[. . .]

There is a widespread perception amongst the Marines I know, even those uninterested in politics, that the Democratic Party does not want us to win in Iraq for whatever reason. This is true even amongst Democrats who still maintain the party viewpoint on almost every other issue but the war. Morale is always a tricky issue to deal with, and it is difficult to tell a Marine to buck up when he sees important people back home undercutting his primary reason for existing at the moment.

The troops reserve special scorn for John Kerry and his stuck in Iraq comment, which Kerry tried to pass off as a botched joke:
The Kerry comments really cemented his reputation with the troops and upset people more than anything else. It is unnerving to volunteer for service during wartime hoping to be deployed and having to listen to a politician explain how the troops need to come home, especially when we clearly have not finished what we started.

Kerry's comments forced the 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee to withdraw from the 2008 campaign.

John McCain got it right when he was asked by the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal,
what surprised him the most about the behavior House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid with regard to Iraq. McCain answered -- "their lack of patriotism."

So much for the Liberal/Progressive Democrats' delusion that they can support the troops without supporting the mission. The left wing extremists can say what they want about supporting the troops, but trying to ensure American defeat instead of victory is not my version of patriotism.

Bhutto Assassination Renews Concern About Huckabee's Foreign Policy

Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's first reaction to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto was a diplomatic blunder. Huckabee expressed "our sincere concern and apologies for what has happened in Pakistan." After criticism, Huckabee's campaign said he meant to say "sympathies" not "apologies." In the same statement, Huckabee revealed that he was unaware that martial law was lifted in Pakistan about two weeks ago.

Huckabee is not any better at geography than he is with diplomacy:

And in a morning TV appearance, Huckabee said Bhutto's slaying brings "a new level of instability to the Middle East, and particularly to Pakistan."

Pakistan is in South Asia.
As if those gaffes weren't bad enough, Huckabee decided to tie Bhutto's assassination to illegal immigration in the U.S.:
On Thursday night he told reporters in Orlando, Fla.: “We ought to have an immediate, very clear monitoring of our borders and particularly to make sure if there’s any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country.”

On Friday, in Pella, Iowa, he expanded on those remarks.

“When I say single them out I am making the observation that we have more Pakistani illegals coming across our border than all other nationalities except those immediately south of the border,” he told reporters in Pella. “And in light of what is happening in Pakistan it ought to give us pause as to why are so many illegals coming across these borders.”

[. . .]

Asked how a border fence would help keep out Pakistani immigrants, Mr. Huckabee argued that airplane security was already strong, but that security at the southern United States border was dangerously weak.

“The fact is that the immigration issue is not so much about people coming to pick lettuce or make beds, it’s about someone coming with a shoulder-fired missile,” he said.
The Associated Press reports that many more illegal immigrants living in the United States are from India, Korea, China and Vietnam than Pakistan:
Homeland Security officials say there are more people in the U.S. illegally from the Caribbean, China and Canada than from Pakistan. Officials deported 435 Pakistanis in the 2007 fiscal year, which ran from Oct. 1, 2006 to Sept. 30, 2007, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement statistics. During this time, 766 people from China were deported, as were 521 from the Philippines.

[. . .]

Homeland Security does not publicize the number of people from each country who are caught trying to enter illegally or are turned away at legal border crossings, said Customs and Border Protection spokesman Bill Anthony. But without providing specific details — because they are considered sensitive for law enforcement — Anthony said Pakistanis do not top the list after Latin American countries.

In fiscal 2007, about 600 Pakistanis were turned away at the border or arrested in between entry points.

A senior aide to Mike Huckabee admitted Friday that the former Arkansas governor had "no foreign policy credentials:"

This isn't the first time Huckabee has been caught unprepared on foreign policy/national security matters. Early this month, after the release of a National Intelligence Estimate concluding that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003, Huckabee told journalists that he wasn't aware of the report, even though it had been widely reported in the news for more than 30 hours.

After the NIE gaffe we witnessed Huckabee do a Kerry on Cuba. Then there was the brouhaha over Huckabee's infamous "bunker mentality" quote, which earned him a rebuke from Bob Dole.

Huckabee is not ready for prime time when it comes to foreign affairs and national security. That's not acceptable with the nation at war.

Thanks to Justin Higgins at Stop The ACLU for the video.

Friday, December 28, 2007

McCain Explains His Rising Popularity

In an appearance on Fox News' "O'Reilly Factor," John McCain offered a simple explanation for his campaign's resurgence: "We tell the truth:"

I strongly disagree with McCain on a number of issues, such as the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform, the twice failed McCain-Kennedy immigration reform, and McCain's failure to support President Bush's tax cuts. Nevertheless, I do admire the fact that he stands behind his convictions. What is more important, as a security voter, I appreciate McCain's steadfast support for the war.

Don't Confuse Our Democracy With Weakness

Rudy Giuliani has released a powerful new ad entitled “Freedom.”
In the ad, Giuliani discusses the strength of America and references Sept. 11, 2001:

"The Islamic terrorists would make a terrible mistake if they confuse our democracy for weakness," Giuliani says, "But when you come and try to take away from us our freedom, when you try to come here and kill our people, we’re one and we’re going to stand up to you and we’re going to prevail."

Giuliani was the first candidate to release a statement on the death of Bhutto.

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is a tragic event for Pakistan and for democracy in Pakistan. Her murderers must be brought to justice and Pakistan must continue the path back to democracy and the rule of law. Her death is a reminder that terrorism anywhere — whether in New York, London, Tel-Aviv or Rawalpindi — is an enemy of freedom. We must redouble our efforts to win the Terrorists’ War on Us.

Giulian's "Freedom" ad was released before the news of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Giuliani The Vampire

Rudy Giuliani isn't done yet. He may down, but if he can keep the money flowing until January 29, when Florida holds its primary, Rudy's late state strategy may still work.

David Saltonstall reports Rudy can afford to lose some ground because of the size leads in large, later-voting states with significant delegate counts:

There are 29 states that hold primaries or caucuses between now and Feb. 5, which combined offer a total 1,313 delegates - or 122 more than a Republican needs to win the nomination.

In the 24 states that have conducted public polling, Giuliani remains ahead in 13 - many of them big, winner-take-all states such as New York, New Jersey and Missouri.

Romney and Huckabee, by contrast, are front-runners in only four states each. Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson leads in two, and Arizona Sen. John McCain can claim top billing only in West Virginia, polls show.

The bottom line? If Giuliani wins every state where the most recent polls showed him still ahead, he'll end next month with some 758 delegates.

Using the same standard, Huckabee will end the month with only 170 delegates and Romney with 112, while McCain and Thompson will trail with fewer than 100 each.
On the other hand, no one can predict what will happen following the media frenzy that is sure to follow victories Huckabee, McCain Romney may achieve in Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan.

Chris Matthews discusses Giuliani's chances with Charlie Cook in the following video and says that it might be like a vampire awakening.

It is just as likely that the bottom could completely fall out of Giuliani's campaign if Romney wins a come from behind victory over Huckabee in Iowa and then goes on to defeat McCain in New Hampshire.

Huckabee's Overt Religiosity

Suzanne Fields shares some of my concerns about the way Mike Huckabee campaigns for the presidency, but she puts it much more eloquently:

I was thinking about the meaning of symbols this holiday season when controversy exploded over Mike Huckabee's Christmas commercial, with its "floating cross." While many insisted that the symbol was merely an illusion created by crossed lines of a bookshelf, others said the meaning of the cross was in the eye of the beholder. But nothing is ever coincidental in a candidate's campaign commercial. Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal writes that it insulted her intelligence: "He thinks I'm dim. He thinks I will associate my savior with his candidacy. Bleh." For many who aren't Christians, it played as pandering to a constituency and manipulating a religious symbol. Many voters in Iowa are evangelical Christians, the caucuses are only days away and the commercial is regarded as the most memorable so far.

My problem with Mike Huckabees advertising himself as a "Christian leader," making the cross glow as backdrop, is that he's making the religious issue divisive toward all those who are not Christians. It's a division that will linger after the holiday season. The Huckabee rhetoric is especially offensive to Jews, playing to the mentality expressed by Ann Coulter, who describes Jews as needing "to be perfected by becoming Christian." When asked whether "it would be better if we were all Christian," she answered "yes." This is the message of the Gospel -- that everyone must be perfected through Christ's sacrifice on the cross -- but it's a message for the church, not a political campaign. A campaign is not a revival meeting.

[. . .]

No one -- well, not everyone -- objects to faith informing a candidate's politics. It's impossible to separate faith from intellect in the pursuit of public good. But there's more than a suggestion that Mike Huckabee's use of religion could unleash intolerance against those who do not share his faith. He has a lot of good things going for him. He's witty and charming. As one of the Iowa locals told The New York Times: "Huckabee's a moral man. He's a preacher. And he lost a hundred pounds. He's going to do all right in Iowa.
It's no just Huckabee's overt religiosity in his presidential campaign that keeps him from closing the deal. There is also his foreign policy, waffling on immigration, and positions from earlier political campaigns.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Liberal New Hampshire Newspaper Slams Romney

The Concord Monitor, a liberal New Hampshire newspaper, ran an editorial on Sunday headlined "Romney Should Not Be The Next President."

The newspaper, calls Romney "a disquieting figure" who "most surely must be stopped:"

If you followed only his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, you might imagine Romney as a pragmatic moderate with liberal positions on numerous social issues and an ability to work well with Democrats. If you followed only his campaign for president, you'd swear he was a red-meat conservative, pandering to the religious right, whatever the cost. Pay attention to both, and you're left to wonder if there's anything at all at his core.

the Romney Campaign responded to the Monitor anti-endorsement:
The Monitor's editorial board is regarded as a liberal one on many issues, so it is not surprising that they would criticize Governor Romney for his conservative views and platform.

Governor Romney has taken firm positions that are at odds with the board's support for drivers licenses for illegal immigrants, their position against school choice and their advocacy for taking "Under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance. The governor happens to disagree with the editorial board on all those issues, as do most Republicans in New Hampshire.

The New Hampshire Union Leader, which has endorsed John McCain, joined in the Romney bashing today, saying Romney lacks McCain's conviction:
There is a reason Mitt Romney has not received a single newspaper endorsement in New Hampshire. It's the same reason his poll numbers are dropping. He has not been able to convince the people of this state that he's the conservative he says he is.

[. . .]

Voters can see that John McCain is trustworthy. Mitt Romney has spent a year trying to convince Granite Staters that he is as well. It looks like they aren't buying it. And for good reason.
Romney's metamorphosis on certain issues doesn't bother me as much as it bothers others. I strongly disagree with McCain on a number of issues, such as the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform, the twice failed McCain-Kennedy immigration reform, and McCain's failure to support President Bush's tax cuts, I do admire the fact that he stands behind his convictions. What is More important, as a security voter, I appreciate McCain's steadfast support for the war.

Pulpit vs. Boardroom

The Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler and Elizabeth Holmes that the Republican presidential race in Iowa has come down to a stark choice:

It's the pulpit vs. the boardroom, poverty vs. privilege, passion vs. preparedness.

Mike Huckabee loves homespun tales and self-deprecating jokes. Mitt Romney basks in PowerPoint slides and statistics. Mr. Huckabee, a firefighter's son, is a Southerner born and bred. Mr. Romney, son of a CEO-turned-governor, roamed from Michigan to Massachusetts to Utah.

They embody two wings of the Republican Party -- social conservatives and economic conservatives -- that sometimes sit uneasily.
Between these two candidates I'll take the competence of Romney over the overt religiosity of Huckabee. Unlike Huckabee, Romney can close a deal.

Huckabee Can't Close The Deal

Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee would seem to be the answer to the prayers of Christian conservatives in Iowa.

Even though the former Baptist minister, is leading in the Republican polls in Iowa, Huckabee can't close the deal:

Perhaps, that's due in part to the negative TV commercials Romney is airing.

[. . .]

Huckabee is spending time responding to criticism from Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who has flooded people's mailboxes, telephones and televisions with negative information about the former Arkansas governor's record on immigration and other issues. Romney has spent millions of dollars pumping up his own profile and organizing supporters.
Those negative "contrast" ads work and are taking a toll.

On the other hand, Huckabee has said a lot of things that give conservatives pause. There is the way Huckabee played the religion card. I think he will “scare the living daylights” out of moderates of both parties. Then there is Huckabee's warm and fuzzy Christmas greeting.

After Romney defeats him in Iowa, the Huckabee campaign will implode.

Text Messaging Politics

Text messages are the latest tool for political campaigns. Texting is the cheapest way to hook supporters:

In the past midterm elections, direct mail cost campaigns on average $67 a vote. Door-to-door precinct walking cost about $30. And cold calling costs about $20 per vote.

But text messaging can cost a campaign as little as $1.50 per vote.
In addition to being more cost effective, text messages may be the best way to reach young voters. As many as a third of the estimated 20 million voters under 30 don't even have a land line.

Watch CBS Mobile News correspondent Cali Carlin's video report:

Hillary's Inexperience

Patrick Healy shreds Hillary's claim that eight Years as president Clinton's wife gives her special experience for the presidency:

But during those two terms in the White House, Mrs. Clinton did not hold a security clearance. She did not attend National Security Council meetings. She was not given a copy of the president’s daily intelligence briefing. She did not assert herself on the crises in Somalia, Haiti and Rwanda.

And during one of President Bill Clinton’s major tests on terrorism, whether to bomb Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998, Mrs. Clinton was barely speaking to her husband, let alone advising him, as the Lewinsky scandal sizzled.
Hillary's high-profile role in the failed health care initiative of the early 1990s is well known, but little is known about her involvement in foreign policy and national security.

Healy interviewed talked with 35 Clinton administration officials and reviewed books about Hillary's White House years concludes Hillary was little more than a sounding board, and learned through osmosis rather than decision-making:
She did not wrestle directly with many of the other challenges the next president will face, including managing a large-scale deployment — or withdrawal — of troops abroad, an overhaul of the intelligence agencies or the effort to halt the spread of nuclear weapons technology. Most of her exposure to the military has come since she left the White House through her seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

[. . .]

Asked to name three major foreign policy decisions where she played a decisive role as first lady, Mrs. Clinton responded in generalities more than specifics, describing her strategic roles on trips to Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, India, Africa and Latin America.

Asked to cite a significant foreign policy object lesson from the 1990s, Mrs. Clinton also replied with broad observations. “There are a lot of them,” she said. “The whole unfortunate experience we’ve had with the Bush administration, where they haven’t done what we’ve needed to do to reach out to the rest of the world, reinforces my experience in the 1990s that public diplomacy, showing respect and understanding of people’s different perspectives — it’s more likely to at least create the conditions where we can exercise our values and pursue our interests.”
Hillary wasn't involved in one of Bill Clinton’s hardest moments on national security — the 1998 bombings of the United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and subsequently whether to bomb Afghanistan and Sudan. Hillary was barely speaking to Bill at the time. It was right after Bill acknowledged to the public and a grand jury that he had an inappropriate relationship with his intern, Monica Lewinsky:
“It was the height of Monica, and they were barely talking to each other, if at all,” said one senior national security official who spoke with both Clintons during that time.
Other Clinton administration officials, are skeptical that the couple’s conversations and Hilary's 79 trips abroad add up to presidential experience:
She was not independently judging intelligence, for the most part, or mediating the data, egos and agendas of a national security team. And, in the end, she did not feel or process the weight of responsibility.

Susan Rice, a National Security Council senior aide and State Department official under Mr. Clinton who now advises Mr. Obama, said Mrs. Clinton was not involved in “the heavy lifting of foreign policy.” Ms. Rice also took issue with a recent comment by a Clinton campaign official that Mrs. Clinton was “the face of the administration in foreign affairs.”Suhaarafat

“Making tough decisions, responding to crises, making the bureaucracy implement decisions that they may not want to implement — that’s the hard part of foreign policy,” Ms. Rice said. “That’s not what Mrs. Clinton was asked or expected to do as first lady.”
Then there is the time in 1999 when Hillary sat silently through an event on the West Bank as the wife of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, accused Israel of poisoning Palestinian women and children with toxic gases. Hillary was sharply criticized for not confronting Mrs. Arafat over her remarks and for kissing her goodbye afterward. Hillary later admitted attending the event with Suha Arafat on the West Bank was a mistake.

As I've said before, Hillary is uniquely inexperienced to be president.

Sunday Show Video Roundup (Dec. 23)

This video roundup of sound bites from yesterday's talking head shows sums up recent developments in the presidential campaign.

My RedState colleague, Mark Kilmer provides more detail in his weekly review of the Sunday talk shows.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Getting Paid To Run For President

Michelle Tsai explains that presidential candidates can get paid to run for the presidency:

Can candidates pay themselves a salary from these funds while campaigning?

Yes, in some cases. According to rules from the Federal Election Commission (PDF), candidates who meet certain criteria can receive a salary from their campaign committees. It won't be a raise from their last job, though, since the amount can't exceed either their earnings from the previous year or the minimum annual salary of the office they seek—whichever is less. (In the case of the presidency, the salary is $400,000.) They're paid on a pro-rata basis, so a candidate who drops out of the race after six months can pay himself only half of this annual salary.
Not all candidates can qualify to be paid to run. The FEC bars incumbent officeholders in the presidency, Senate, and House of Representatives from drawing salaries as candidates in addition to their in-office salaries. Also, a candidate's salary is not considered a qualified expense for candidates receiving public financing.

According to Tsai, among the current front runners only Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney would qualify to be paid a salary as a presidential candidate. They won't do it. Rudy and Mitt don't need the money. No one needs the criticism that would come with drawing a salary to run. Consider how Alan Keyes, was criticized back in 1992 for paying himself more than $8,000 a month out of campaign contributions for his senate race in Maryland. Then there is the criticism of Huckabee's speaking fees. Maybe Huckabee doesn't a salary either.

Huckabee's Redemption

A week ago, I posted that the mainstream media has targeted Huckabee's faith in redemption.

Today, the Wall Street Journal looks at the role faith in Huckabee's clemencies.

The clemency decisions go to the heart of Mr. Huckabee's message: part Christian moral conservatism, part liberal-leaning social conscience. Little Rock lobbyist J. J. Vigneault, a former political aide to Mr. Huckabee, says of his former boss's faith: "I do think it has the potential to influence everything he does."

[. . .]

Mr. Huckabee plays down the idea that arguments for redemption influenced his clemency decisions. "Everybody in jail will always claim to have a conversion," he says. "You look at institutional records, disciplinaries, recommendations from prosecutors, police, friends, family, whether they have a job."
Huckabee's overly generous use of his clemency powers will come back to haunt him just like statements from his first political campaign. Huckabee should embrace his obvious belief in redemption and the role it played in his clemencies. Downplaying its role comes across as less than honest.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Petraeus Not Interested In Presidency

General David Petraeus is not interested in being president.

Asked on "Fox News Sunday" if he had an interest in running for president, Petraeus invoked the words of General Sherman:

A leading Union general in the war, Sherman said in a telegram to the Republican National Convention in 1884, when he was being urged to run for president, "I will not accept if nominated, and I will not serve if elected," according to "The Yale Book of Quotations."
Here's the video. Petraeus talks about the decline of news coverage about Iraq before he is asked about the presidency.

Obama Takes The Lead And McCain Closes The Gap In New Hampshire

A new Boston Globe Hew Hampshire poll finds Barack Obama now leads Hillary Clinton, 30 percent to 28 percent. In last month's Globe poll Hillary had a 14-point lead.

The Globe poll also found John McCain is still surging in New Hampshire. The resurgent McCain is now within three percent of front-runner Mitt Romney. Last month McCain was in third place behind Romney and Giuliani.

The Globe poll also found wide partisan divide in voter opinions on domestic issues.

The bad news belongs to Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee and Hillary Clinton:

Yet while Romney's support has declined from recent polls, the survey has more ominous signs for Giuliani, who once vied for the lead in New Hampshire.

Giuliani's support has diminished in every category of candidate characteristics - from leadership and experience to electability and judgment.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, despite a surge in polls in Iowa and nationally, has not translated that success to New Hampshire, winning the support of just 10 percent of voters. More than 40 percent of respondents said Huckabee was the leading GOP candidate for whom they were least likely to vote.

[. . .]

Aside from a CNN/WMUR poll conducted by UNH last week, which had Clinton with a 12-point edge, surveys have generally shown Obama closing in.

Once trailing Clinton by more than 20 points, Obama appears to have benefited from voters' increasingly positive perceptions of him. Clinton is still viewed by far as the most experienced Democrat, and her supporters are firmest in their preference. But Obama has cut into her leads in the areas of electability and leadership. Voters indicated they also now believe he possesses the best judgment and is the candidate most likely to bring change.

Hillary needs a plan C.

The survey was conducted from December 16 to December 20, and has a margin of error for each party subsample of plus or minus 4.9 percent. It should also be noted that about 40 percent of likely voters in both parties indicated they are still undecided.

Thompson's Christmas Holiday Message

Fred Thompson's "Christmas Holiday Message," is by far my favorite special holiday message from the presidential contenders:

We can't possible thank the members of our armed forces enough. May God bless and keep them.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Leaving Arizona

Attrition By Enforcement

Illegal Aliens are packing up and leaving Arizona.

Arizona enacted a new law in an attempt to lessen economic incentives for illegal aliens. Under the new law, which takes effect January 1, businesses found to have knowingly hired illegal workers will be subject to sanctions from probation to a 10-day suspension of their business licenses. A second violation would bring permanent revocation of the license.

Arizona employers have started to fire workers who can't prove they are in the country legally. As a result illegal aliens are returning to their home countries or moving other states.

The departure of the illegals from Arizona proves that attrition by enforcement works. When illegal aliens don't have jobs, they don't stick around.

Fred got it right.

Tancredo Endorsed Romney To Stop Hucakbee

Former Republican presidential candidate, Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, said he withdrew from the presidential campaign because he feared Mike Huckabee might win in Iowa and New Hampshire.

On Fox News Channel's "The Big Story," Tancredo further explained why he endorsed Romney:

I had an interesting and lengthy discussion with him this morning about his plan. I believe it's viable. I believe he'll stick with it, and he's got the best shot.

Tancredo's endorsement will help Romney in overcoming Huckabee, but by how much? The endorsement also makes it more difficult for Thompson to place in the top three in the Iowa caucuses. It may also slow McCain's resurgence by reminding folks of McCain's support for the Senate's failed so-called immigration reform, which many saw as providing "amnesty" for illegal aliens.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Nailing Huckabee To The Cross

Like others, I've written about Mike Huckabee playing the religion card and the fact that I think as a presidential candidate he will “scare the living daylights” out of moderates and independents. I even wrote about Huckabee's warm and fuzzy Christmas greeting.

But no one has nailed Hukabee to the cross like Peggy Noonan:

I didn't see the famous floating cross. What I saw when I watched Mike Huckabee's Christmas commercial was a nice man in a sweater sitting next to a brightly lit tree. He had easy warmth and big brown puppy-dog eyes, and he talked about taking a break from politics to remember the peace and joy of the season. Sounds good to me.

Only on second look did I see the white lines of the warmly lit bookcase, which formed a glowing cross. Someone had bothered to remove the books from that bookcase, or bothered not to put them in. Maybe they would have dulled the lines.

Is there a word for "This is nice" and "This is creepy"? For that is what I felt. This is so sweet-appalling.

I love the cross. The sight of it, the fact of it, saves me, literally and figuratively. But there is a kind of democratic politesse in America, and it has served us well, in which we are happy to profess our faith but don't really hit people over the head with its symbols in an explicitly political setting, such as a campaign commercial, which is what Mr. Huckabee's ad was.

I wound up thinking this: That guy is using the cross so I'll like him. That doesn't tell me what he thinks of Jesus, but it does tell me what he thinks of me. He thinks I'm dim. He thinks I will associate my savior with his candidacy. Bleh.

The ad was shrewd. The caucus is coming, the TV is on, people are home putting up the tree, and the other candidates are all over the tube advancing themselves and attacking someone else. Mr. Huckabee thinks, I'll break through the clutter by being the guy who reminds us of the reason for the season, in a way that helps underscore that I'm the Christian candidate and those other fellas aren't. As a break from the nattering argument, as a message that highlights something bigger than politics, it was refreshing.

Was the cross an accident? Please. It was as accidental as Mr. Huckabee's witty response, when he accused those of questioning the ad of paranoia, was spontaneous. "Actually I will confess this, if you play this spot backwards it says 'Paul is dead, Paul is dead, Paul is dead,' " he said. As Bill Safire used to say of clever moves, "That's good stuff!"

Ken Mehlman, the former Republican chairman, once bragged in my presence that in every ad he did he put in something wrong--something that went too far, something debatable. TV producers, ever hungry for new controversy, would play the commercial over and over as pundits on the panel deliberated over its meaning. This got the commercial played free all over the news.

Ali A. Akbar predicts that Huckabee's downfall will come at the hands of Southern Baptists:
Huckabee is the dream candidate for the democrats and although Novak cites Huckabee’s “surge” as “real” and in the same breath calls Thompson the “X Factor” in Iowa, I don’t believe people will be so easily influenced to vote for Huckabee in the primary.

[. . .]

Expect many Southern Baptists to come out of the wood work. I predicted this over a month ago and wrote about it on the third of this month. We have a tradition of ending our own when it’s time. It is time.
I still think the Huckabee campaign will implode.

Debunking The Man-Made Global Warming "Consensus"

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (minority report), debunks the man-made global warming "consensus" mantra. The report found more than 400 prominent scientists, including several former members of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, disputed man-made global warming claims in 2007:

Over 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called "consensus" on man-made global warming. These scientists, many of whom are current and former participants in the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), criticized the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore.

[. . .]

Even some in the establishment media now appear to be taking notice of the growing number of skeptical scientists. In October, the Washington Post Staff Writer Juliet Eilperin conceded the obvious, writing that climate skeptics "appear to be expanding rather than shrinking." Many scientists from around the world have dubbed 2007 as the year man-made global warming fears "bite the dust." (LINK) In addition, many scientists who are also progressive environmentalists believe climate fear promotion has "co-opted" the green movement. (LINK)

This blockbuster Senate report lists the scientists by name, country of residence, and academic/institutional affiliation. It also features their own words, biographies, and weblinks to their peer reviewed studies and original source materials as gathered from public statements, various news outlets, and websites in 2007. This new "consensus busters" report is poised to redefine the debate.

Randall Hoven makes the point that the United States is accomplishing a lot more to reduce carbon dioxide emissions due to consumption of fossil fuels than the mainstream media or the rest of the world would have you believe.

The U.S. government lists the carbon dioxide emissions due to consumption of fossil fuels by various countries. Hoven used those statistics, crunched the numbers and discovered a secret - the U.S. is doing more than most nations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions:
If we look at that data and compare 2004 (latest year for which data is available) to 1997 (last year before the Kyoto treaty was signed), we find the following.

* Emissions worldwide increased 18.0%.
* Emissions from countries that signed the treaty increased 21.1%.
* Emissions from non-signers increased 10.0%.
* Emissions from the U.S. increased 6.6%.

In fact, emissions from the U.S. grew slower than those of more than 75% of the countries that signed Kyoto.
Now that China leads the word in carbon dioxide emissions, why is the United States portrayed as the world's evil pariah when it comes to global climate change?

The answer lies in Clintonian politics.

On July 25, 1997, before the Kyoto Protocol was finalized, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Byrd-Hagel Resolution, by a margin of 95-0.

The Resolution stated the sense of the Senate was that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing as well as industrialized nations or "would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States."

One of the cosponsors of the Byrd-Hagel resolution, Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, explained in an interview with PBS that the purpose of the resolution was intended to make it clear that the Senate would not ratify an environmental treaty as unfair to the U.S. as the Kyoto agreement:
PBS: Back in 1997, you were a co-sponsor of a nonbinding resolution in the Senate. Did you mean, then, to kill the Kyoto climate treaty, or did you mean to change it?

HAGEL: Well, if you go back to that time when Sen. [Robert] Byrd [D-W. Va.] and I introduced the Byrd-Hagel Resolution, it was to put the Senate on record as to what kind of environmental treaty the Senate would ratify and what kind of an environmental treaty we would not ratify. It's a very simple, straightforward resolution. It says the Senate will not ratify an environmental treaty ... if it does not include all the nations of the world in some way, and second, if it does economic damage ... to our country. Those are the two guidelines.

I don't think that [Kyoto] was in the interest of our country. I don't think it was in the interest of the world.

It was not set out to specifically kill Kyoto. Most of us knew at the time that Kyoto was headed in a different direction. Some of us worked hard to try to maneuver that ... in a way that we could, in the Senate, come to some resolution where we could support it. But this was, I think, in July of 1997; Kyoto was signed in December of 1997. I was there at Kyoto and recall it rather vividly. And then you might recall that after that protocol was signed by Vice President [Al] Gore, of course then-President Clinton never brought it before the Senate, knowing that he would lose. ...

PBS: Do you think that Clinton should've brought it to Congress? Do you think there should've been a debate?

HAGEL: Well, that was up to the president, but I thought it was a little disingenuous to try to score political points and go sign the treaty and never bring it before the Senate or even fight for it or even push it on us. ...

PBS: Why didn't he do that? Why do you think he didn't come back and make the argument?

HAGEL: Well, I don't know why he didn't come before the Senate to make the argument. I do know that the following year, 1998, Sen. [John] Kerry from Massachusetts attempted to work on some kind of an alternative to Byrd-Hagel that would essentially rescind the Byrd-Hagel Resolution. And I do know that President Clinton worked quietly with a number of Democrats in the Senate to try to enlist their support to find an alternative to Byrd-Hagel.

But there were a number of senior Democrats -- starting with the most senior of the Democrats, Sen. Byrd from West Virginia -- who would not agree to that, as well as others like Sen. [Fritz] Hollings from South Carolina, who was very senior at the time. The president and Sen. Kerry and others just could not find a way to undermine or rescind Byrd-Hagel.

Then-President Clinton knew that he could not bring that treaty before the Senate, because it would suffer a rather humiliating defeat, after we had passed Byrd-Hagel in 1997 with the specific mandates that it addressed. And we had passed it, I believe, with a vote of 95-0.
Out of sync with the rest of the country on global climate change, the Clinton-Gore administration set up an international public opinion ambush for the U.S. and smugly walked the country right into it.

On November 12, 1998, less than four months after the Senate sent then President Clinton the Byrd-Hagle message, Clinton arrogantly had vice president Al Gore symbolically sign the protocol while a Deputy U.S. Ambassador did the official signing at the United Nations.

Even though Clinton caused the Kyoto treaty to be signed on behalf of the United States, Clinton had no intention of seeking ratification:
MARGARET WARNER: But Gore said the White House would not ask the Senate to ratify the agreement as it now stands.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: As we've said from the very beginning, we will not submit this for ratification until there's meaningful participation by key developing nations.
You can watch Gore deny the Clinton administration intended to even try to ratify the treaty in the following video:

Even though Gore and the mainstream media have tried to convince the world that only a lunatic would dare to question the “consensus” that the global warming debate is “settled,” facts are still stubborn things.

A recent study found art of the scientific consensus on global warming may be flawed:
The researchers compared predictions of 22 widely used climate "models" — elaborate schematics that try to forecast how the global weather system will behave — with actual readings gathered by surface stations, weather balloons and orbiting satellites over the past three decades.

The study, published online this week in the International Journal of Climatology, found that while most of the models predicted that the middle and upper parts of the troposphere —1 to 6 miles above the Earth's surface — would have warmed drastically over the past 30 years, actual observations showed only a little warming, especially over tropical regions.

"Can the models accurately explain the climate from the recent past? It seems that the answer is no," said lead study author David H. Douglass, a physicist specializing in climate at the University of Rochester.

Journalists have warned of climate change for 100 years. The trouble is, no one can decide whether we face global warming or global cooling. Which way will the climate change pendulum swing in 2025?

Cartoon courtesy of Michael Van Winkle.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tancredo Endorses Romney

As expected, Republican Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo announced today he's ending his presidential campaign. Tancredo threw his support, what little there was, behind Mitt Romney.

Hillary Ambivalence Syndrome Treatment

Hillary Ambivalence Syndrome can be treated with Oxy Clinton

Via Stop Her Now.

Kissinger Endorses McCain

Henry Kissinger, who served as secretary of state under Presidents Ford and Nixon, says Senator McCain is the best person to serve as president at a dangerous time for America and the world:

"I tremendously admire his service to the nation," Mr. Kissinger said. "I believe that he's the best candidate to serve our nation in an extremely difficult and complicated period." He added that he was "doing something that I am not comfortable with" in making an endorsement, but that Mr. McCain and the nation deserved it.

In what may have been a criticism of Mr. Romney, Senator Clinton, Mayor Giuliani, or a number of the candidates running in the 2008 race, Mr. Kissinger stressed the strength and depth of Mr. McCain's commitment to his belief in America and freedom. "This is not a question of a focus group advising what to say on a talk show," he said.

Kissinger also took the opportunity to criticize the recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iran:
"They had a footnote that said a weapons program is the production of warheads," Mr. Kissinger said. "In fact, there are three elements to a weapons program, the production of fissionable material, the production of missiles, and the production of warheads. …We cannot dismiss it by defining it into one category, and this is a problem that will be with us for the rest of this administration and into the beginning of the next administration."

Kissinger had an important article in the Washington Post about misreading the Iran report and the recent tendency of the intelligence community to turn itself into a kind of check on the executive branch.

Changing Our View Of Iran
Iran Strengthened By NIE

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tancredo Bails

The Associated Press reports Republican Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, plans to announce he is abandoning his presidential campaign:

The five-term Colorado congressman planned to make the announcement at a news conference in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak for Tancredo or his campaign.

Tancredo's campaign would only say he planned a "major announcement" Thursday.

Tancredo announced in October that he would not seek a sixth term in Congress, but he may run for the Senate next year when Republican Wayne Allard retires.

Obama Does Better Than Hillary Against Republicans

Gallup's hypothetical 2008 general election trial-heat matchups between Democratic and Republican presidential candidates found Obama does better than Hillary Clinton against the Republican candidates:

The Dec. 14-16 USA Today/Gallup poll pitted Clinton and Obama against Giuliani, Romney, and Huckabee -- yielding six separate matchups (all data reported here are among registered voters).

[. . .]

Obama does as well as or better than Clinton against the three Republican candidates. These results are of interest against a backdrop that shows that an increasing number of Democrats are interested in nominating a candidate who has the best chance of beating the Republican in the November 2008 election.

Polls such as this are little more than interesting discussion material for political junkies. National polls aren't worth much in the presidential campaign, which consists of 50 separate races. Opinion surveys polling on registered voters should always be taken with a bigger grain of salt than surveys of likely voters.

Lieberman On "Hardball"

Connecticut's Independent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman discusses his endorsement of John McCain on "Hardball" (December 17, 2007).

Hillary Tops "Anti" Candidate Poll

A new poll finds Hillary tops the list of candidates Americans most want to keep out of the White House:

Forty-percent of Americans said they would vote against Clinton, a New York Democrat, according to a Fox 5-The Washington Times-Rasmussen Reports poll.

[. . .]

"Hillary Clinton is better known than any (other) presidential candidate on either side. She has a lot of people who love her and a lot of people who hate her" said pollster Scott Rasmussen.

Sixty-four percent of Republicans and more than half of adult men under 40 said they would use their vote against Clinton, the poll found.

Giuliani drew the strongest opposition from Democrats, with 30 percent saying they would vote to bar him from the presidency, according to the poll.

According to the Washington Times, the dislike for Hillary is generational:
While Mrs. Clinton performed poorly among most demographics, younger male voters were particularly cold. More than half of the adult men younger than 40 said they would use their vote to keep Mrs. Clinton from returning to the White House.

"If you look at the age breakdowns, younger people are more likely to put Clinton at the top of the list than older" people, Mr. Rasmussen said.

Mrs. Clinton performed best among older females, highlighting her strength but also pointing to the inroads Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, her chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, has made with younger voters.

"I think that's some of the generational change you're seeing Obama tap into," Mr. Rasmussen said.
The Anti Hillary poll results come out as Reuters reports on the importance of "likeability" in presidential elections:
Candidates trumpet their voting records, their experience and their strong principles. But unless they pass a basic test of likeability, their chances of making it all the way to the White House are slim.

[. . .]

"Image is extremely important. Issues always come in a dismal last," said Saint Louis University political science professor Ken Warren.
It can't be good for Other polls have found Hillary is more likely to polarize voters than other candidates and that people who dislike her are prone to hold that opinion strongly.

Hillary was asked about her "likeabilty Monday at the Antique Car Museum in Coralville, Iowa
“I know a lot of people" the questioner began "they just, for some reason don’t like you,” he said. “I like you,” he added quickly. But what could she do about all the rest?
The questioner wasn't convinced by Hillary's lengthy long-winded response:
“I’m leaning toward Obama,” he said after the event. The 25-year-old from Iowa City said he’d been to two Clinton events now, two Obama events and had seen Edwards once.

Yes, he does “like” the Senator. He wasn’t just saying that to be nice.

But he worries that she might not be electable if too many other people simply don’t like her.

“It does sway me,” Dickey said.
It ought to sway most Democrats.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Romney's Sleeper Cell

With all the mania over the Huckaboom, one could be forgiven for concluding the Republican presidential race is all over in Iowa but for the counting and writing the "Huckabee Wins" headline.

It is still two weeks before Iowans tell the country who should be the nominees for the 2008 presidential campaign. Despite all the Huckahype, I think Patrick Ruffini got it right in his "Romney’s Race to Lose:"

1. The surging candidates (Huckabee and McCain) are flaky and/or can’t win. This empowers the institutional frontrunners, Rudy and Romney. And Rudy is in trouble.

1a. Huckabee has solved Romney’s expectations game in Iowa. A win for Romney out of the Hawkeye State translates to a big win and momentum. A narrow loss is within expectations. Only a double digit loss or third would significantly damage Romney.

1b. Huckabee’s momentum out of Iowa isn’t actionable in New Hampshire, so some other external force would need to rise to kill Romney’s lead in NH.
Today both the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times report on how Mormons could turn out to be a sleeper cell of support for Romney.

My esteemed RedState colleague Soren Dayton, analyzes the Wall Street Journal article and concludes,
Romney is doing better in Iowa than you think:
In politics, affinity groups are affinity groups and great things. Barack Obama will do better among African-Americans than other candidates. Joe Lieberman got huge electoral and financial turnout from Jews. And the Wall Street Journal talks about Mitt Romney’s support from Mormons:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says it has more than 22,500 members in Iowa in 68 congregations. Joseph Cheney, the president of one of seven "stakes," or geographical groups within the church, estimates that as many as 7,000 Mormons are likely to show up on caucus night, and that nearly three-quarters of the Mormons in the state support Mr. Romney.

[. . .]

The bottom line is that Mitt Romney will win a caucus that looks close. Romney starts with 5-7% of the vote. Any attempt to play down Romney’s chances in Iowa is just a game, the expectations game.

The Los Angeles Times article focuses on the impact California's Mormon population might have on the California primary, but it contains a couple of points that bear on Iowa as well:
Though hard to boil down into campaign dollars or potential votes, the impact of the Mormon support for Romney is significant.

[. . .]

Gillam and other church members are careful to say that they don't support Romney just because of his religion. That may have caught their eye at first, they say, but ultimately they were won over by his accomplishments as governor of Massachusetts and as a business leader, and by his role in rescuing the bribery-tainted 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

"I'm not voting for him because he is Mormon. I think he's the best-qualified person for the job," said Jack Wheatley, a former Palo Alto mayor and longtime Republican donor who is Mormon. "Our country needs a turnaround. With Massachusetts, he did a good job there. With the Olympics, he did a good job there. With his business, helping improve companies, he did a great job. Who else has come close to that?
Regarding the current Huckahype, we should keep in mind that it is not easy to accurately predict the results of the Iowa caucuses:

The New York Times also reports that when it comes to Iowa predictions, caution is important:
All of the eccentricities of the Iowa caucuses make polling Iowa something most pollsters would rather not do. That night, it will be hard enough to depend on those entrance polls, taken moments before Iowans cast their votes. But in these last weeks ahead of the vote, to try and define the electorate and come up with a framework for polling is to rely as much on luck as savvy.

[. . .]

The biggest obstacle to polling in Iowa is drawing the sample in the first place. Some polls use lists of past caucus goers, but they risk missing first-time caucus goers, who accounted for more than half of the Democratic caucus goers in 2004, according to the network entrance poll. Other polls use lists of registered voters provided by the state, but they risk missing those who haven’t yet registered to vote but who plan to participate in the caucuses.
We will talk, read and write a lot about Iowa in the next couple of weeks. None of all that punditry will matter much. All that counts is what those headlines say on January 4, 2008.

Huckabee's Pardons

Huckabee's faith in redemption is now the target of the mainstream media.

NBC reports on Huckabee's generous use of clemency while governor:

In all Huckabee granted 1,023 commutations and pardons in ten years as governor, twice as many as his three predecessors combined.

[. . .]

At the time Huckabee acknowledged that his belief in redemption factored into his decisions.
You can watch NBC's Lisa Myers NBC Nightly News report in the following video:

As the mainstream media catches hold of this story, eventually rival presidential campaigns will launch Willie Horton ads similar to to this YouTube video.

Huckabee's Christmas Greeting

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's latest campaign ad is a warm and fuzzy Christmas greeting:

I disagree with the political punditry, which has judged the ad "brilliant." The common wisdom among the pundits is that Huckabee's pleasant greeting will protect him from the negative ads that the election calendar ensures will be launched during the holiday period. Attack ads focusing on opponents' record work. Such ads will still work during the holiday season. It may be more difficult to reach voters distracted by holiday celebrations, but the message will get through.

To stop the Huckaboom, other Republican opponents must and will reach out and call attention to Huckabee's perceived weaknesses including his tax record, previous softness on illegal immigration, his pardon and commutation decisions, his questionable question about the Mormon faith, and his positions on foreign policy.

A campaign without sufficient resources such as Huckabee's should use what little cash it has to respond to the coming attacks. I still expect the Huckaboom to collapse.

Monday, December 17, 2007

King Endorses Romney, Er Fred

The good folks at NBC's "First Read" got a little ahead of themselves today:

Congressman Steve King (R), one of Iowa's most strident critics of illegal immigration and a champion of the state's rural conservatives, has endorsed Romney.

[. . .]

*** UPDATE *** King just announced that he's supporting Thompson. Team Romney is in the back of the room looking bewildered. They were all here, leading all the press to conclude that it was an endorsement for Romney.
A couple of weeks ago, The Hill said Steve King’s endorsement “could provide a boost for one of the GOP candidates in the all-important first-in-the-nation caucus state.”

Fred is grateful for King's support:
Congressman King’s leadership in support of the sanctity of life and his efforts in the fight against illegal immigration have made him one of Iowa’s great Republican leaders. He’s a tireless fighter for the 5th district of Iowa and I’m honored by his support. I look forward to working with Congressman King over the next three weeks and into 2008 in support of the traditional conservative values he and I share.
There has to an interesting story behind MSNBC's report that King had endorsed Romney….before the endorsement was even announced.

Sunday Show Video Roundup

This video roundup of sound bites from yesterday's talking head shows sums up recent developments in the presidential campaign.

Campaign Takes Toll On Hillary

Have you seen the picture of Hillary posted by Ann Althouse.

Presidential politics is a tough business.

The picture reminds me of the first time I saw Ronald Reagan. When Martin Luther King, was assassinated I went to Sacramento and joined a protest march to the State Capitol. Governor Reagan addressed the crowd. I am still amazed at how wrinkled he looked.

Ron Paul Tea Party Nets $6 Million

Long shot Republican presidential wannabe, Ron Paul, broke the single-day Republican presidential-campaign fundraising record he set last month, raising about $6 million. Yesterday's event was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, which took place on Dec. 16, 1773. The Paul Campaign did it without the help of the blimp.

Paul is using his money to bankroll Huckabee critics

Two former Republican legislators from Arkansas were in Iowa this week, criticizing Huckabee's record on immigration and taxes on trips paid for by Ron Paul:

Critics of Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee visited Iowa to challenge the former Arkansas governor's record on rival U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's dime.

"He's a pro-gun, pro-life Bill Clinton," said former Arkansas state Sen. Jim Holt, R-Springdale, "(with) his communications skills, his likability and the way he's governed with taxes and all."

The jaunt to Iowa by Holt and former Arkansas state Rep. Randy Minton, R-Cabot, was funded by Paul's presidential campaign, the Arkansas News Service reported Friday.
There is a widespread impression that as the governor of Arkansas, Huckabee had a tendency to campaign to the right and governed from the left. As he has surged in recent polls, Huckabee has been criticized about his tax record, previous softness on illegal immigration, his pardon and commutation decisions, his questionable question about the Mormon faith, and his positions on foreign policy.

Lieberman's Endorsement

UPDATED with video.

Speaking at a VFW hall in Hillsborough, New Hampshire Monday morning, Connecticut's Independent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman endorsed Republican Jon McCain for president. Lieberman said his endorsement of McCain is based primarily on their common view of U.S. foreign policy:

"I know it's unusual for a Democrat to be supporting a Republican, but there are some things that are more important than the political parties," Lieberman said in a joint appearance with McCain on Fox News. "One is friendship, and the other is that I happen to think this guy is the best of all the candidates to unite our country across political lines so we can finally begin to solve some of the problems people have in this country and, of course, to lead us in the war against Islamist terrorism."

[. . .]

"At town hall meeting after town hall meeting, people stand up and say, 'Why can't you all work together for the good of the country?' I think that's what this message is today with this endorsement," McCain said.

Isn't it sad that working together for good of the country seems unusual?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Lieberman to Endorse McCain

The Weekly Standard reports Connecticut's Independent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman will endorse Republican John McCain for president.

Coupled with today's newspaper endorsements, Lieberman's backing improves the odds for McCain's resurgent campaign. New Hampshire is critical for McCain:

"We've got to win New Hampshire," he says, or at least exceed expectations there. "And then I think we can do well in South Carolina. In South Carolina we've got the base this time.

Huckabee Will Implode

Glen Beck says Huckabee will "implode:"

“I think this guy is going to implode and, if he doesn’t implode, he gets the Republican nomination, I think the Republicans might as well just write it off,” Beck said on CNN’s The Situation Room Friday.

Asked about the naming of Ed Rollins, who is credited with President Reagan’s landslide re-election, as Huckabee’s new national campaign chairman, Beck said, “I am so sick and tired of hearing people talk about how much they’re like Ronald Reagan.” “I wish people would be themselves, not Ronald Reagan,” he added.

Beck also criticized Huckabee’s recent controversial comments about Mormonism, the religious faith Beck shares with Huckabee rival Mitt Romney.

Watch Beck’s interview with Wolf Blitzer in the following video:

I also expect the Huckaboom to collapse. You can read my posts about Huckabee's questionable question about Mormon beliefs here and here.

McCain Endorsed By Boston, Iowa Papers

Republican presidential John McCain won the endorsement of Boston Globe and the Des Moines Register.

On the Democratic side, the Globe endorsed Barack Obama while Des Moines Register backed Hillary.

The Des Moines Register, Iowa's statewide newspaper, focused on competence and called McCain and Clinton the candidates it believes are most competent and ready to lead:

"The times call for two essential qualities in the next American president," the Register's editorial board said on the paper's Web site. "The times call for competence. Americans want their government to work again. The times call for readiness to lead. Americans want their country to do great things again."
The Register's endorsement is a bad omen for Hillary. The paper has a track record of backing the losing Democratic candidate in the Iowa caucuses. In the past 20 years no Democrat endorsed by the Register has gone on to win the party's presidential nomination.
The paper chose Edwards in 2004, Bill Bradley in 2000 and Paul Simon in 1988. The Democratic caucuses were uncontested in 1992 and 1996.

The Globe's editorial board praised McCain for his straight talk and honesty regardless of the political cost:
The antidote to such a toxic political approach is John McCain. The iconoclastic senator from Arizona has earned his reputation for straight talk by actually leveling with voters, even at significant political expense.

[. . .]

As a lawmaker and as a candidate, McCain has done more than his share to transcend partisanship and promote an honest discussion of the problems facing the United States. He deserves the opportunity to represent his party in November's election.
In Endorsing Obama, the Globe seized upon his inexperience and his audacity of hope:
Obama's critics, and even many who want to support him, worry about his relative lack of experience. It is true that other Democratic contenders have more conventional resumes and have spent more time in Washington. But that exposure has tended to give them a sense of government's constraints. Obama is more animated by its possibilities.

[. . .]

Obama's story is the American story, a deeply affecting tale of possibility. People who vote for him vote their hopes. Even after seven desolating years, this country has not forgotten how to hope.
As the Des Moines Register's track record demonstrates, endorsements don't necessarily mean much. Nevertheless, These two endorsements, along with that of the Manchester Union-Leader, mean much more to the McCain campaign which has shown signs of a resurgence after trailing badly in the polls since nearly imploding earlier this year.

Iran Strengthened By NIE

Meir Javedanfar writes that hope of a strong united international front against Iran is gone, after the NIE gave state sponsor of terrorism a clean bill of health regarding nuclear weapons:

It is one thing when the IAEA gives Iran positive points for being “generally truthful about its past.” After all, many argue that the IAEA is a toothless bureaucratic organization, at the mercy of different governments and their political agendas.

But when the multi-billion dollar US intelligence machine declares Iran halted its nuclear weapons program back in 2003, then as far as many Middle Eastern countries are concerned, the “danger” label has been taken off Iran’s nuclear program.

Although many Sunni countries are worried about Tehran’s activities in Iraq and Lebanon, they were more worried about the prospects of war between Washington and Tehran. Now that this danger has dissipated, it is likely that even more countries in the region will decide to engage Iran, as means of influencing its strategy and behavior in the Middle East. This will make the job of imposing sanctions against Iran much more difficult than before.

It will also enable Iran to come out of regional isolation, thus ruining all the celebration that took place in Washington and Jerusalem following the Annapolis show of solidarity.
In just one document, in which incendiary conclusions are misrepresented and not supported by the substance of the report and which some suggest was artfully written to damage President Bush, the writers have managed to undo years and years of effort to contain the world's leading state sponsor of terror and its nuclear ambitions.

This will only embolden Iran. A more confident and less vilified Iran is more likely to continue to engage in activities which will make war more likely.

Changing Our View Of Iran
Spying and Policymaking Don't Mix

Huckabee Names Ed Rollins National Campaign Chairman

Republican Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee has named Ed Rollins as his National Campaign Chairman.

Rollins served as the National Campaign Director to Ronald Reagan in the 1984 presidential election in which Reagan won 49 states while defeating former Vice President Walter Mondale.

Rollins will make it possible for Huckabee to be portrayed as the second coming of Reagan:

“I can promise this man comes as close to anyone as filling those shoes,” Rollins said, joking that “this is the only campaign I’ve ever been in where there are no doughnuts and booze.”
With the appointment of Rollins and Huckabee now surging in poll after poll I was clearly wrong in assuming that Huckabee was no more than a distraction that would scare the living daylights out of a lot of moderates of both parties.

You can watch Rollins discuss his new gig with Lou Dobbs in the following video:

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Media Faith Bias

Tony Snow discussed faith in the Republican presidential campaign with Bill O'Reilly on "The Factor" (12/13/07):

Snow nails it when he describes the mainstream media as "filled with people who don't go to church" and who consider religious people to be quacks. Nevertheless, the discussion misses a lot of recent history which has reminded the Democrat's that the Party was once less secular. These memories, along with the failure to overcome President Bush convinced the Democrats that the Party should attempt to regain its religion.

After the President Bush's reelection the Democrats mounted a concerted effort to close the God gap. The midterm elections demonstrate the Democrats' efforts were successful:

Democrats recaptured the Catholic vote they had lost two years ago. They sliced the GOP's advantage among weekly churchgoers to 12 percentage points, down from 18 points in 2004 congressional races and 22 points in the 2004 presidential contest. Democrats even siphoned off a portion of the Republican Party's most loyal base, white evangelical Protestants.

[. . .]

In House races in 2004, 74 percent of white evangelicals voted for Republicans and 25 percent for Democrats, a 49-point spread, according to exit polls. This year, Republicans received 70 percent of the white evangelical vote and Democrats got 28 percent, a 42-point spread.
The Democratic campaign to close the God gap continues in the Presidential race. Jonathan Turley writes that the candidates are talking so much about faith that one would think they wanted to be in the College of Cardinals rather than the Hall of Presidents:
On the Democratic side, the candidates have competed equally in the parade of the pious. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois led the way and recently proclaimed his intention to be "an instrument of God" and to create "a Kingdom right here on earth." Even the title of Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope, was taken from sermons by his controversial spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.

Other Democratic candidates have responded by proselytizing on their own divine qualifications. In one debate, the Democrats held forth on the power of prayer and the role of their faith in their public lives. Hillary Clinton has described her own "faith journey," her experiencing "the presence of the Holy Spirit on many occasions," and how she is assisted by an "extended prayer family" and "faith warriors."
Barack Obama, even before his presidential campaign, complained that Democrats need to better acknowledge the power of faith:
I am not suggesting that every progressive suddenly latch on to religious terminology. Nothing is more transparent than inauthentic expressions of faith – the politician who shows up at a black church around election time and claps – off rhythm – to the gospel choir.

But what I am suggesting is this – secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King – indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history – were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. To say that men and women should not inject their "personal morality" into public policy debates is a practical absurdity; our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
O'Reilly does have a valid point when he calls the mainstream media out over its less than even handed treatment of the religiosity of the presidential candidates.