Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The McCain-Romney Debate

Before getting into the McCain Romney battle in the Republican Debate in the Reagan library need to level some criticism at a person and network for which I have a huge amount of respect for. The CNN Republican Debate night was poorly moderated and produced by Anderson Cooper and CNN. I think Anderson Cooper is a very good newsman and an incredible reporter. His work in Africa for 60 Minutes has been incredible (something mentioned on this blog before) and his coverage of Hurricane Katrina was phenomenal.

In this debate however he was unfair to half the candidates. By not including Ron Paul hardly at all, and treating Mike Huckabee as though he was hardly in the race was poor on CNN's part. I expect more out of Anderson Cooper and CNN. Noone expects equal time, but the balance was so off that it reflected poorly on Cooper and CNN. They had 90 minutes to play with and if 20% of the debate was spent on Huckabee and Paul I would be surprised. This is how races become two horse races, when networks decided to only cover the campaigns of the day. It was only a couple weeks ago that Huckabee barely lost in South Carolina to McCain well ahead of Romney. That was two primaries ago.

Now to the debate.

The pundits are saying McCain won the debate by using the word 'timetable' and with his quick wit. As I watched the debate I thought Romney looked pretty good and McCain came off arrogant. Looking forward to the fall whether he is debating either Clinton or Obama I think that McCain will not be able to get away with the way he handled the Republican debate.

While Romneys campaign has run many negative ads, he is clearly uncomfortable when on the attack personally. It is awkward to watch Romney try and go on the offensive. When he is attacked as he was tonight he always seems to laugh at it. Hear is his biggest problem to me,,, he looks Presidential, but he doesn't sound Presidential. The problem for Mitt is that he had to sound Presidential tonight and did not pull it off. He was good but not good enough.

For an example, when Romney hit on 'dirty campaign tricks' it was a good line, delivered with a certain level of calm. I don't think people connect with Romney because he is too mechanical. He showed that again tonight. Al Gore and John Kerry were made fun of for being tight, Romney is the most tight candidate in recent memory.

McCain had some good moments, in particular he destroyed Romney on the paper endorsements. Romney opened up an attack and when counterpunched he had nothing. McCain however was still very arrogant and his foreign policy language sounded a lot like George W. Bush. He was snide against the French and his Putin line came into play again. This arrogant foreign policy talk will most likely help him in the primaries but it will hurt him with moderates in the General Election. There is red meat there for Barack or Hillary.

If I were advising Romney I would have said to blast away at McCain on his immigration bill answer. The usual 'straight talk' of John McCain was noticeably lacking on this answer. For two debates he has said when asked, 'if President, would you sign your bill, McCain-Kennedy, if it came to your desk?" His answer is a very political sounding, 'it will never come to my desk.' Here Mr Straight Talk is dodging the question and abandoning a position he had in order to gather support for his candidacy.

One other thing that really irked me on this debate was the utter lack of vision layed out by any of the candidates. Where was the talk of stimulus plans, healthcare, education, spending cuts? The debate last night was a vanity show and I heard little to nothing about what these guys would do if they ran the country.

Overall, McCain did exactly what he had to do, not screw up. Romney did not accomplish what he needed to do, make an impression. There won't be a buzz around Romney tomorrow and with the momentum McCain has, he needed to do something.

Again, the debate was more entertaining than last weeks, but the difference in charisma and gravitas of the Democrats compared to the Republicans is night and day. The JV went tonite and the NBA goes tomorrow with Hillary versus Barack one on one.

17 People's Tribute to John Edwards

For some time I had been torn in wanting to support and vote for John Edwards despite the fact that I knew he wouldn't win. He really impressed me early in the campaign in being very straightforward about his errors of the past and the honesty he came out with right away. Why Edwards? he made the strongest case and had the best plans I saw to handle two issues that are at the top of my list healthcare and dealing with poverty.

Where Hillary Clinton spent much of the early campaign defending her vote supporting the war in Iraq, Edwards straight up said that he made a mistake. I appreciate that. He also was truthful saying in order to pay for Universal Health Care we may have to raise taxes in order to do it.

Secondly, John Edwards, since Hurricane Katrina really found his voice to talk about my number one issue, dealing with poverty in this country. While he often discussed the 'Two Americas' when running for the nomination in 2004, it appears as though the country was more receptive to it after seeing the tragedy of New Orleans. It also seemed to really focus and make his arguement more real to more of the country. While he got less support in this election than in 2004, he was a better candidate this time around and the 'Two Americas' theme of his campaign carried a lot more power.

Having visited the 9th ward and other devastated areas in New Orleans, nothing I had ever seen or read about our country made me more angry at our government. Edwards was both one of the first national figures to go after this issue, but more importantly, he didn't just leave town after criticizing the government. He remained focused on the issue when he annouced his Presidential campaign in New Orleans and continued his dedication by announcing his withdrawal from the race in the 9th Ward as well. When the Presidential Debates Commission did not give a National Debates to New Orleans he raised hell and soon all the other campaigns did the same.

There's problems in pushing to be the voice of the poor when you run for office. The impoverished vote in very low numbers and can not give the money needed to finance your campaign. Despite all this, Edwards always stayed on message and even in leaving the race today his stamp on the race was felt. Both Obama and Clinton made statements to this effect and I hope they continue to do so.

John Edwards was damaged after 2004 with the fact that he lived in a mansion and had $400 haircuts. That's what happens when you run against a Karl Rove run campaign like he did in 2004. Ask John McCain, you don't bounce back right away. It took McCain 8 years to have people forget some of the awful things Rove-Bush campaign did to him and possibly Edwards running again this year was just too soon. The result is what happened; a frivolous, personal, irrelevant thing like a haircut caused people to doubt his sincerity.

Here's the truth, John Edwards has become the voice for a cause that needs many more voices like his. No matter what size house they live in, what car they drive, or how much their haircut costs, those that live in poverty, need people who care to raise awareness to their plight. I for one, hope John Edwards stays relevant, fights effectively, and keeps the issue of poverty in the US, at or near the top of our national discussion.

McCain Attacked

Had this anti-McCain TV ad emailed to me. Going along with what I posted earlier today think this sums up the way the extremes in the two major Political Parties react to a moderate, more maverick, non programmed candidate. These ads are more expected in a Republican versus Democratic race, but when the extreme in a party is afraid they won't have a front row seat at the State of the Union they run this kind of ad.

This ad is nasty, mean, and in a Republican Primary,,,, hate to say it, probably very effective.

See for yourself. The ad is titled 'Surprisingly Liberal'.

I love tough, hard nosed campaigns. I think our candidates should be tested, pushed and we should see how they deal with adversity.

This ad however is what makes people hate politics. I fear this is only the beginning of the attacks that will come from third party groups to slam John McCain. It reminds me of when the George W. Bush campaign put literature in South Carolina in 2000 saying McCain had an illegitamite african american child.

These groups, both liberal and conservative, that run these awful ads and have every right to do so. Whether it's their right to do so or not, these are the people that have turned so much of the country off to our government and politics in general.

Florida Recap/Rudy

Well my record of predictions remains a perfect 0-for-the 2008 Campaign. I thought that Romney would be able to buy a state and the conservative base would reject John McCain, but again I was wrong.

McCain's end of the race endorsements from Senator Mel Martinez and Governor Charlie Crist proved enough to win McCain his first ever 'Republican Only' primary. Crist got a lot of kudos from the pundits last evening for delivering Florida. I think the week long campaigning of McCain and Martinez all over Florida really proved key. Exit polls showed McCain winning 54% of the Latino vote, while Romney finished behind Giuliani and only garnered 14% of the vote. Without the McCain domination in the Latino community Romney wins.

Joe Scarborough, Pat Buchanan, Rush Limbaugh, etc of the Republican party keep proclaiming McCain will not win because conservative voters don't like and trust him. Their support aside, it is hard to see Romney being able to stop him. Particularly beneficial to McCain is the presence of Mike Huckabee in the race who is the true choice of the social conservatives which will hurt Romney. As for Huckabee, he does not appear to be going away, if for no other reason to stick it to Romney where there is apparent bad blood that still resonates from the negative attacks in Iowa.

In looking at February 5 states which like Florida are 'winner take all' McCain looks very strong in the big ones and with the Giuliani endorsement should win New York, New Jersey, and his home state of Arizona. That's 216 delegates. In 'winner take all' primaries Romney will win Utah and maybe Montana because of big Mormon turnout, but needs to win either Virginia or Missouri to keep the race close. He may pump in another $20-$30million which will help, but unless McCain trips over himself at the debate tonight or does something really stupid, he should be the nominee.

As far as the Dems, while think Hillary was absurd in 'claiming victory' think she had a good night. She asserted herself as the face of the campaign instead of Bill which she had to do. Most encouraging sign for the Dems is 1.3 million votes were cast and none of them campaigned or had turnout operations. That was only 300K votes less than the Republicans.


Now to Rudy Giuliani. As in my previous post "Farewell Fred" I had planned to rip the Rudy Giuliani campaign apart today when he dropped out. However, not going that route today. Instead was struck by something Rudy said in his speech last night and think it applies to both parties.

In my opinion, Rudy in reality never really had a chance to win the Republican nomination because unlike Mitt Romney he did not reverse his entire set of beliefs. Rudy remained Pro-Choice and Anti-Gun and as long as he held those beliefs he would never have had a real chance to win in a Primary. He would have appealed to more votes in the General Election. Surprised I'm about to say this, but I give Rudy credit for not selling his soul and flip flopping on all his beliefs to win the nomination in the same way that Romney has.

While not a great orator, Rudy said last night and I paraphrase. "We need to reestablish the Republican Party as the party of freedom, we are the party of the people, and we are a big party. I am even in this party, its a big party."

While I do not agree the Republicans are the party of people or freedom, I think the ugliness of Presidential Primaries shows us time and again that in BOTH parties, a small number of issues, can sink a campaign. Wedge issues like guns, abortion, reforming entitlements, views on social issues, etc can take a qualified candidate and destroy them. Giuliani had more problems than just his abortion and gun view, but all you have to do is look at the way John McCain is being attacked by the right wing of the Republicans would have been on Giuliani as well had he been in the front runner spot.

If Hillary or Obama came out against abortion or against Gun Control there would be similar attacks levied by the Democrats as well. Giuliani also said, 'we need to compete in all 50 states.' Howard Dean said the same thing 4 years ago and they are both right.

As someone who used to work campaigns I know the strategy is always to win 50%+1 of the votes. It often means antagonizing the other 49.99% but winning is always the end game. In Presidential politics 270 electoral votes is the magic number. States like South Carolina, Mississippi, Idaho, etc are never visited by either candidate because they will go in the R column. The Dems are the same. They visit their big core states but its not often you see a Dem campaign in Hawaii, Massachusett, or Washington DC.

Rudy is the latest example of a true moderate trying to run for his parties nomination who was crushed by his ideology not being right or left enough. Voters say they want moderates and more and more of them fall in the middle, but primary after primary are won and dominated by the idealogues of both parties.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

State of the Union/Teddy Kennedy/Florida Thoughts


What can I say? The 1st State of the Union that this blog got to cover was the lackluster, uninspiring, but thankfully final State of the Union of President George W. Bush. I don't really know why I expected something different, but I had thought that Bush may surprise us with a bit of a fighting spirit for his 'lame duck' year, but all I heard was a President who remains tragically out of touch.

All the negativity aside as someone who respects the office of the President and history of the country I always look forward to the State of the Union and hope that it will set the country on a good path. I get chills when the Sergeant at Arms says, "Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States" and despite my lack of love for Nancy Pelosi think it is still very cool to hear the Sergeant at Arms say, "Madame Speaker." The walk down the aisle I always find entertaining and encouraging. No matter the vitriol between the President and the opposition party, both sides shake hands with the President and show respect for the office. I find that weirdly uplifting and patriotic. The truth is most of those people have egos so big they just want to be on TV. Did you see Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut give the President a kiss on the cheek? That was pretty creepy and odd.

As for the speech:
  • Even the Republican pundits were struggling to spin it afterward. For once I felt bad for Republican pundits and politicians. The leader of their party gave the country one last show of ineptness and they had little to support and be proud of.
  • For a President who has gotten relatively little done in the past 6 years (will give him some legislative achievements in his 1st couple years) he went back to the well as he does every year with 'right wing poll tested' policies. Tax cuts, bad trade deals, and threats to Dems. The speech was Deja Bush all over again.
  • This President showed again he has no answer to any economic policy that isn't a tax cut.
  • He threatened a Congress on earmarks?!? Since the Dems have taken control of Congress and reported on MSNBC last night they have reduced earmarks by 40%.
  • With regards to him trying to assert himself as a 'fiscal conservative' he failed miserably. I only noticed one area he mentioned cutting spending and that was the earmarks. Yet most of the speech was surrounded by new spending initiatives. Earmark reductions that he mentioned would count for around $15billion. The deficit will be in the $250billion range. Again President Bush showed himself to be the 'have your cake and eat it too President' showing no courage to hold the line on ANY spending.
  • Plus, I also saw a report that showed the White House responsible for around 500+ earmarks in that last budget alone. The hypocrisy of President Bush will not be missed when he leaves office.
  • The worst part of the speech to me was the tone Bush took with Congress. For the candidate in 2000 that claimed he was a 'uniter and not a divider' it was the same threatening tone for which the country has tired. The tone of the President was combative and will do little to advance any of his agenda.
  • The inability to work across the aisle is the number one failure of the Bush Presidency and the number one lie of the Bush 2000 campaign. No President has done more to polarize the country based on those who agree or disagree with him ever.


So enough Bush bashing, lets get to what was covered as the biggest story of the day. The Kennedy clan put on a remarkable show in endorsing Barack Obama who stole the news day. I thought it was an impressive endorsement and thought Ted Kennedy was at his best in advocating for Obama, and battling the attacks of the Clintons. As someone who worked for John Kerry in 2004, I can say first hand,,, if not for Ted Kennedy's tireless work and effective surrogate work in Iowa and New Hampshire in 2004, Kerry would have never been the nominee.

This is a major asset for Obama and think that Teddy proved why yesterday. He was forceful, direct, and powerful in his endorsement of Obama. While Ted Kennedy is a bit of a lightning rod for the Republicans, as the country has tired of the Bush's and the Clinton's, the leader of the Kennedy clan has a bigger voice now than he has at any point in the last 15+ years. I still think that Ted Kennedy doesn't quite fit the message of change that Obama has discussed and been so effective on in his campaign, but Teddy on the campaign trail is an amazing boost for any campaign and he showed it again yesterday.

I was also impressed by the short, but eloquent remarks of Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. I have always respected her staying above politics and out of the arena. As I stated yesterday, if she hits the campaign trail think it could be a bigger boost for Obama than even her Uncle Ted. She fits the 'change' message and her sincerity and 'outside the beltway' attitude really fits the Obama message.


With so much news out there can not ignore the mega Primary in Florida today. McCain and Romney appear to be way ahead of Huckabee and Giuliani. This will be a huge boost in news and fundraising to give the winner a big push heading into Tsunami Tuesday.

Now there are two factors that will be interesting to watch.

  1. How big a factor will the early voting in Florida (about a million votes already). Giuliani had a 20+ point lead there for months. If he did as well as he says, it could give him a more solid third place finish, but more importantly are votes that would have gone to McCain. This could be the margin of victory for Romney.
  2. Speaking of Romney, I heard an interesting late trend in Florida on the news last night, which would benefit him greatly. Some Evangelical Christians, a stronghold for Mike Huckabee, have been saying that a vote for Huckabee, is a vote for McCain. If the Evangelicals throw their support for Romney that could be the difference.

I think Romney will sneak out a win tonight because of these two factors. He has the money to turn out the voters and despite the endorsements of Senator Mel Martinez and Governor Charlie Crist I think by a razor thin margin, Romney beats McCain. Now anyone who reads my old predictions on this blog probably knows that my picking Romney almost ensures a McCain victory.

Finally, on Florida, I have to again attack Hillary Clinton who will be in Florida today claiming victory in Florida. I cannot get past the Clintons latest efforts to claim wins in Michigan and Florida. There are no delegates in these states and Hillary trying to turn the voters of these states into a cause of 'voter disenfranchisement' is absurd. I am a long time supporter of the Clintons, but they are doing their best to drive me away from them and their politics.

One other incident of last night was the picture of Hillary and Obama from the State of the Union (Below). I wonder if this image is the reason Hillary cancelled her interviews last night. Once it surfaced I think the Clinton team felt it made them look good and Obama bad. Don't think they wanted to answer any questions on it because I wonder if Obama was as rude as the picture indicates. I doubt he was, but think they look at the picture of Obama as a negative for him.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Obama Time?

In a massive win for Senator Barack Obama in South Carolina on Saturday he did what many felt was impossible. He put the Clinton's in a position where they couldn't spin the outcome. If the Clinton Operation had finished within say 15 points you would have heard some serious spin out of the best in the business. However, the drubbing that Obama put on Hillary is the kind of victory that he absolutely needed after two embarrassing losses in New Hampshire, where polls had him up 10+ points, and in Nevada, where even endorsements from the two biggest unions couldn't pull it off.

The Obama victory speech was amazing. As written on this blog after the MLK day debate I felt Obama was finally beginning to find that fighting spirit necessary to not just compete against the Clintons, but for what he would have to face against the Republicans as well. His speech was the first time I heard him effectively attack, and he was able to do it without mentioning the names of his opponents. It was succinct, it was powerful, and I think it will be effective.

Here's what has to happen now for Obama, he must put consecutive strong weeks together. Neither he or Hillary has been able to do this yet. It seems just as one of them is about to take control, they have an off week on the campaign trail. The endorsement of Ted Kennedy today brings on the best surrogate and advocate in the Democratic Party outside of Bill Clinton. Team Obama can't let it take them off the message. As stated after the John Kerry endorsement, DON'T GET LOST IN ENDORSEMENTS!!! His message of changing the tenor and tone in Washington in politics has to be the centerpiece, and Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, don't fit that message. Heard a commentator over the weekend say maybe an Oprah Winfrey and Caroline Kennedy Scholberg townhall? Now that would be the kind of image to show the country.

As for the Billary team. Saw Hillary on "Face the Nation" yesterday and thought she did ok, but the claiming of victories in Michigan and Florida are absurd and make the Clintons look like poor sports. Think that the Clinton campaign went off course in Monday nights debate when Hillary rose to the bait on the stupid Obama "Walmart" comment. Instead of taking the high road, a move hard for the Clinton's apparently, she had to hit back on the Tony Rezko charge. If she had let it go, the clip that would have been shown time and again was Obama's pointless attack. Instead it was all Hillary and 'slumlord Rezko' all week. Follow that up with President Clinton deciding to make a benign comment on Reagan and trying to make a central issue of the campaign.

Why the low road for Billary? I can't figure out the strategy. When Bill Clinton is positive, there is no one, Barack Obama included, who is as captivating and moving. Bill Clinton is best when he's not wagging his finger in the camera and turning red in the face. He has talked of 'hope' and 'change' for a long time, but has gotten lost in trying to live in the past of his presidency and justify his wifes candidacy on his years in the White House. The Clinton campaign has to reestablish the fact that this is the Hillary campaign and not the Billary campaign. This is the time for them to go on the positive and tout the depth of their plans for the country. This is the place they beat Obama, he tells a good narrative, but is at his worst when talking specifics of his proposals. The Clintons let him for almost two weeks talk of hope and attack them. They gave him a chance to whomp them in South Carolina and he did.

Feel like I am becoming as bad as the national media. I haven't mentioned John Edwards at all. I still connect with the message of Edwards and respect the campaign he is running. Think you can't underestimate the fact that he won the white vote in South Carolina. He is keeping the impoverished on the front burner of the campaign, which is courageous considering the fact there aren't many votes in that group. The back and forth of victories for Obama and Clinton are killing Edwards chances, continuing to keep him at a distant third and out of the headlines. Don't see where Edwards picks up enough delegates to win this thing or even be much of the "Kingmaker' people say he will be, but overall am impressed by the effort John Edwards has put forth and the issues which he has stood for.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the 17people response to the State of the Union.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The States of Tsunami Tuesday Look Stupid Now

Because of the huge business, attention, and Congressional pork that is given to the states of New Hampshire and Iowa because of their position in the primary, something ridiculous has gone for the past 4 years. Other states have tried to push up their primaries in order to get the same kind of attention and love.

I think the attention given to Iowa and New Hampshire is ridiculous and unfair. I believe that the first in the nation primaries and caucuses should be rotated around the country so more issues than ones important to Iowa and New Hampshire.

Other states wanted the same kind of love and attention. The result is an absurd 20+ state Tsunami Tuesday on February 5. More states should get coverage and exposure like Nevada and South Carolina did this year. Until this year who really new of the power or the "Culinary Workers Union" in Nevada. Also think its good for attention to be paid to areas like the South Carolina's 'corridor of shame'. There are depressed areas like the 'corridor of shame' all over the country. Here's the reality, once the general election hits the 'corridor of shame' will be forgotten. South Carolina will be in the Republican column, I doubt either major party candidate will make many stops there and regrettaly we won't hear about the needs of the corridor of shame anymore. What we will hear about I am sure is the Democrat attempting to hang the 'Confederate Flag issue' or 'Bob Jones University' on their Republican opponent.

The states that all jumped on the February 5 bandwagon made a big mistake in moving their primaries up this year and my guess is the big boys like New York, Illinois, and California really regret that now. For the 1st time in decades both parties have hotly contested races. The races are up in the air and likely will be after the February 5 debacle.

After South Carolina the Dems have 9 days before Tsunami Tuesday and the Republicans only have a week. How many states are they actually going to visit of those 25 in nine and seven days? Are any of them really going to get any attention? Clinton will visit Latino districts in California and Obama will try and lock up support in the wealthier districts and the African American districts. Hillary will probably make a swing through Illinois to make Obama waste a trip there while Bill Clinton barnstorms Arkansas, Alabama, and Georgia. Obama will briefly hit the States with strong Senate endorsements like Missouri (McCaskill), Nebraska (Nelson), North Dakota (Cochran), and Arizona with Governor Napolitano.

The Republicans, if Rudy survives, will be a battle for big states with McCain and Romney. Romney will pick up easy wins without even campaigining in places like Idaho, Montana, and Utah like he did in Nevada with strong Mormon support. And he'll put resources into anyplace he can steal delegates.

But none of these states will get the attention they expected.

What if California waited another week or two, you think there may have been a major race to cover to win California? It would have been HUGE. I think Hillary and Obama will both be standing after Tsunami Tuesday and states like Pennsylvania and Ohio could be king makers.

These states all got what they deserved. They all wanted to get their asses kissed by the front runners, but in the end they will hardly get a look by more than a candidate or two of the major players.

Republican Debate

Have to admit that I didn't watch the Republican debate live last evening as I was playing in a charity poker tournament for a great, great cause. The Children's Oncology Services "One Step at a Time" camps for kids with cancer. To learn more or to contribute, please visit Top prize was a seat at the World Series of Poker Main Event and in the 1st round 'shootout' I played stellar poker, but it came down to one last hand where the 4 next biggest stacks went all in and my 'Jack-6' wasn't enough to beat an Ace-high.

Now to the Republicans. I know I slight the Republican race a lot on this blog, but the highlights of last nights debate were an example why. It was lame. These guys are all so tough in ripping Hillary Clinton apart. But after the Dem's showed some guts to actually try to win their nomination the other night, the Republicans mostly showed no guts in trying 'not to lose' the Florida Primary in last nights debate.

  • Can Pat Buchanan push Mitt Romney a little harder? I am surprised at the way Buchanan raved about Romney who apparently was given credit for doing little more than attacking Hillary Clinton.
  • Think those that think Romney threw a softball to Rudy in the question section of the debate are right. Romney needs a strong Rudy to filter moderate Republican votes away from McCain and stay viable through Tsunami Tuesday.
  • Think Huckabee is the best debater and most reasonable sounding of the group. I agree with little of what he says, but he is still very smooth.
  • Feel that Huckabee also had the best clip of the debate when he said he was the only guy on the stage who two months ago wasn't a Republican sycophant on the economy.
  • John McCain took a big step back in my opinion. His denial of a quote he made about not being as strong on the economy as he is on other issues will hang around the neck of a guy who claims to be 'Mr. Straight Talk'.
  • Rudy Giuliani, who truly has to be successful in Florida, had very little focus in this debate. he was very scatter shot in his answers and think he had many opportunities to go make a stand after being a non-factor for the past two months.
  • Ron Paul, Ron Paul, Ron Paul. At least he's raised a lot of money.

Whether or not you saw Barack on Letterman last night, have attached the clip. Personally, I loved the Nuclear new rule, and give Barack a B+ for his performance. A little too much finger point and humor is not his strongest suit. But think he did really well in spite of that.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Farewell Fred

News that Fred Thompson dropped out of the race today saddened me greatly. After all, the true Republican establishment was hoping beyond hope that Fred would be the man to pull together the Reagan alliance of Republican voters. Republican friends of mine warned me last year, 'watch out if Thompson gets in the race.'

Mary Matalin and many other R's painted a picture of Fred Thompson as a sort of unifying figure of Conservatism. For months, observers of politics waited for Thompson to decide whether or not he would enter the race. His poll numbers looked good, it was thought he could raise money, and that his appearance and 'plain spoken' nature would make him a force.

Instead of getting in the race when the media was interested, Thompson was the arrogant blowhard he has always been, wanting people to kiss his ass to get in. Well Fred got what he deserved,,,,, he got his ass KICKED instead. He got 1% of the vote in New Hampshire. To put it in perspective, that was less the the number of write-in votes. He was passed on the right after he got in the race for relevance by Mike Huckabee. For those who respect and follow John McCain, have to think Thompson as unloyal as Al Gore was to Joe Lieberman or John Kerry was to John Edwards by getting in the race against one of his oldest friends trying to capitalize on McCain when he was at his low point in the race.

Just like it is nice that the Democratic debates no longer have 8 people on the stage, I am glad that the four Republicans left standing will be able to debate head to head without Fred Thompson who always appeared to be sleepwalking through the debates.

Why devote an entry to slam an average Senator and even more average actor? Because he is just another example of hoping a politician is something that they are not. We are stuck with the ideas of consultants and kingmakers of the Republican party in the White House already. John Kerry was a candidate that many Dems thought was perfect because of his being a veteran. I myself was a victim of this for Kerry, going to work for him in the primary. Thompson's failure makes me hope we will no longer try to force tall, decent looking, and smart sounding politicians to become a transformative figure. Unfortunately, what they should be is what they are, the President of their fan club.

South Carolina Dems Debate Recap

So watched the Democrats debate last night and nice to see that we finally have an election on our hands. The gloves were off and the candidates, for the first hour at least showed some real fight.

For all the talk about fighting and bickering being bad for the process I think it gives voters a chance to see what their elected officials look like in the tough times. I want our next President to be a fighter and someone who will battle for what will really move the country past the eight years of darkness under George W. Bush who has fought for big money interests.

In saying that I have to give some props to Barack Obama last night. I have been a big critic of Obama's debate performances from the beginning of the campaign and on this blog in particular. While I do not think he hit a home run last night, he began to find his debate voice. He showed some real fight. He was in the cross fire of both candidates last evening and held up rather well. I thought the 'sitting on the board of Walmart' comment to Hillary was pretty weak and opened himself up to Hillary's body blow of Tony Rezco retort. Yet I felt the way Obama attacked Clinton for not being sure which Clinton he was running against played very well.

My biggest fear on Obama is that he hasn't responded well to criticism in the campaign. Whether he has been hit by the Clinton's, debate crowds, or the ridiculous emails surrounding him he seems hurt by attacks and to win the White House you have to prove your able to withstand the Republican slime machine. He did a good job last night but a few more wounds were opened last night. Tony Rezco and his 130 'present' votes will be more prevalent.

As for Hillary, thought she had a very average debate. Nothing that really stuck out as a highlight or low light. Think she handled the attacks on her husband well and her biggest success was pulling Obama into the fray more than she had been able to in the past. Think that was her plan going into Super Tuesday, which is to get Obama off his message of 'hope' and into the horse race of a campaign.

The winner of the evening in my opinion was John Edwards. The usually very bulldog like Edwards did an excellent job of staying 'above the fray' most of the time, but still showed his fight in an effective attack on Obama for his 'present votes' and health care plan. Think it is still too little to late for Edwards as I don't see a state he can win on Super Duper Tuesday. He can get a lot of Delegates, but don't see where he snatches a victory unless he moves to a state and stays there for the entire Feb 5 lead-up. Maybe Missouri?

Other Debate Thoughts:

  • Wolf Blitzer had NO control of the debate
  • Thought the candidates got a little to biographical and sappy about their pasts
  • Felt bad for Joe Johns and Suzanne Malveaux as they barely got to aska any questions
  • As stated on this blog before, Suzanne Malveaux is beautiful and needs more airtime!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Melinda Gates

Was in Germany last week and in my search for English literature of any kind, came across Fortune Magazine and an article about Melinda Gates, the wife of America's wealthiest man, Bill Gates.

Right now it is easier to name the women in America to not admire than it is to name the women to admire. There are seemingly endless stories of the transgressions of Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, etc. There is the constant scrutiny on women in powerful roles such as Hillary Clinton or Carly Fiorina. Even women who do amazing things like the aid work of Mia Farrow or Angelina Jolie is always tempered by the side stories around them and their personal lives.

This article about Melinda Gates portrays a humble, caring, and inspirational person. While she married the country's wealthiest man, she is doing amazing things. While there will be many who say, 'must be easy when your husband is worth $50+ Billion', think you have to acknowledge the amazing work and vision of this lady. She could home school her kids with Harvard professors, she could do nothing but have people server her all the time, she could never worry about anything ever. Yet she and her husband, and others like Warren Buffet who has promised somewhere in the area of $10+ billion to the foundation are taking on major and difficult problems that will advance the world.

If I had a daughter I would want her to know about Melinda Gates and the strong, impressive woman that she is.

The United States is a country that has not embraced many powerful women. Hopefully we start to more.

See the article below and I think you will agree that Melinda Gates is an easy place to start.

A Nightmare You Rarely Hear About, but Need To Know About

I have to commend 60 Minutes and Anderson Cooper for the chilling, tragic, and heartbreaking piece a couple weeks ago dealing with the rarely talked about genocide in the Republic of Congo.

I first learned a little bit about the Congo in season three of the West Wing in an episode titled night five. Instead of the issue discussed by Anderson Cooper in the link below it had to do with two things. 1st, the danger of the area, kidnapping of foreign reporters, etc and more importantly the fact that NO ONE is covering the story.

Aaron Sorkin thought enough to write about the Congo situation in 2001. Since then I have seen very little about the Congo until the 60 Minutes piece. As Cooper says in the opening of the piece more people have died in the genocide in Congo than the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Darfur have COMBINED. Yet how much have we heard about these three conflicts? A lot.

Think its important you see this piece.

It will depress you, it will disgust you, it will make you mad, it could very well make you cry. It should cause you to think about why we don't hear this story and ask why? Where is the George Clooney on this issue? Where is the mention of this on the campaign trail?

This is about as powerful a new piece and story as you will ever see, but be prepared it is as difficult a story as you could ever watch.

Dealing with STUPIDITY

Made mention of this briefly in an earlier entry, but there is an email going around the web about Senator Obama which pissed me off. I will not post the email on this blog, because its garbage.

Yet when checking CNN today see that Obama has started defending it as well.

From CNN: "He (Obama) says an e-mail suggesting he's hiding his Islamic roots is "silly" and "crazy.""

For entire story (it's short) check out the following link:

After reading this and receiving that awful email for the 5th time last week I finally decided to respond to it with the following email.


"Don't know about you, but I appreciated the author CAPITALIZING the words HUSSEIN, ATHEIST, RADICAL, and MUSLIM. I would not have realized the point the author was trying to get across without those words being capitalized. The message of hate and intolerance after all, were quite subliminal.

The 1st day I got this email, before yesterday, was the day after Obama won Iowa and appeared to be on the way to the nomination. So the timing of the email was pretty telling. If Hillary had won Iowa, which hateful, crude, and sexist email would have been floating around the World Wide Web? If Edwards won, sure that there would have been an email about him being an,,,,,,,, ambulance chasing lawyer.

Other than the blatant XENOPHOBIC and RACIST message of the email, found it fitting that NONE of the ways the author attacked Obama had ANYTHING to do with his ideas or policies for the country. (was I subiliminal enough?)

My favorites were....1st, Obama's mother may have been an Atheist? Since when did the religion, views, or anything of an individuals mother qualify, or disqualify them for any job? Let alone the qualifications of someone running for President. Does anyone blame Barbara Bush's Episcopalianism on the fact that her son led us into a poorly planned war? If they do, they are ALMOST as big an idiot as the author of the Obama email.

2nd, Obama's middle name is Hussein? The stock market is suffering, the value of the dollar is plummeting, and the banking community about to go bankrupt without major investments and bail outs from foreign countries. But, don't think about that because, a candidates middle name DWARFS the importance of candidates economic plan.

Let's look at some of our greatest past Presidents for examples.

-- FDR's middle name was 'Delano', which is kinda weird sounding, dare I say even a little feminine? In 1932 if Herbert Hoover used the strategy to attack FDR's middle name,,, he may have won 8 states against FDR instead of instead of 6. FYI, Hoover, who led us into the Great Depression, had a VERY AMERICAN middle name, Herbert Clark Hoover.
-- Harry S. Truman's middle name was 'S' as far as anyone knows. That's right, just 'S' and it didn't stand for anything specific. What could that 'S' have really meant? Socialist? Sucker? Sodomite? If the author of the Obama email wrote this email in the 1948 elction, the 'S' probably would have stood for,,, 'Stalin'.
-- Abraham Lincoln didn't even have a middle name. How UNAMERICAN is that?!?! Maybe that was the reason we had a Civil War? Lincoln not having a middle name!!

The author of this email is obviously a proponent of hatred, ignorance, and bigotry. The hope of this email is one thing, to use FEAR to scare people to not support Obama. Not issues, pure fear. If you don't like Obama, that's your choice, but base it on something substantive, other than the writings of what I imagine, is a very sad, very bitter, hate filled person"

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Endorsement Season Begins?

So what's the headline of the day?

John Kerry to endorse Barack Obama. As a former worker for Kerry my reaction is mixed.

It starts with, who cares? and develops into a yawn. Kerry may have a big email list, but also an ability to put his foot in his mouth. He's lousy on the stump, unlike Obama, and comes across with low marks on genuiness. So overall, a good get for Obama, a good story for 24 hours or so, but not sure where Kerry gains Obama many votes. Maybe some money, but not many votes.

Yet I remember in 2004 when in Iowa working for Kerry the reaction when Al Gore endorsed Dean instead of his loyal 2000 running mate Joe Lieberman. The Kerry camp was critical, myself included. Yet when the former nominee attempts to make himself relevant again, he does the same thing for which he was unhappy with Gore.

Kerry and Edwards must have had a real nasty breakup, as Kerry could have showed some class and loyalty by helping Edwards from the beginning. Personally think that Edwards recognized what me and many others who have worked for Kerry have learned. He's just not worth it.

Edwards response was pretty good.

“Our country and our party are stronger because of John’s service, and I respect his decision. When we were running against each other and on the same ticket, John and I agreed on many issues. I continue to believe that this election is about the future, not the past, and that the country needs a President who will fight aggressively to end the status quo and change the Washington system and to give voice to all of those whose voices are ignored in the corridors of power.”

He gives a bit of a shot at Kerry being "the past", but still showed some respect to a guy who turned his back on his '04 running mate. Think Edwards could use this as a way to get coverage and make himself look good like Lieberman did in '04. Yet Lieberman got killed in New Hampshire and Edwards is portraying himself as a fighter and think you will see him use this to show himself as an outsider even more than he has thus far.

This is the first of what will be a number of endorsements due to roll out over the next two to three weeks with a wide range of positions and experience. The screws will be put to Congressmen, Senators, and Governors from the likes of Bill Clinton and others for all campaigns. Access and positions in a new administration will be held over the heads of these folks and the race will become more and more about fluff like endorsements instead of issues to help people and get the country off the Bush track and onto a positive one.

But this is also a double-edged sword. When Howard Dean got endorsement after endorsement in 2004, his campaign lost its focus and outsider/change message. Al Gore and Tom Harkin didn't propel Dean at all in Iowa, and neither did Bill Bradley in New Hampshire.

Pat Roberston's endorsment of Rudy Giuliani seemed to do nothing for him in Iowa where Evangelicals won the state for Huckabee and polls, for what they are worth, have Rudy battling Ron Paul for 5th in South Carolina, a state with a huge Evangelical population.

While we will see the big names probably start endorsing frontrunners on both sides I wonder how effective this will be. Keep in mind that voters don't like being told who to vote for, especially on the Democratic side. Iowans felt that Hillary was being pushed on them as the frontrunner and they responded by going towards Obama. Then New Hampshire voters were given the impression by the media that Barack would be coronated in their primary and a number of them decided to go away from Obama in the last 24-72 hours showing their independence.

So who else is out there that could give meaningful and newsworthy endorsement?

The biggest fish for the Dems is no doubt Al Gore who I truly think will stay out of the endorsement game. After him you have to look at Ted Kennedy, and don't roll your eyes at this one, in a primary this guy is as good a surrogate as there is. In 2004 when Kerry had noone else, Ted Kennedy barnstormed Iowa and New Hampshire and was very effective. Nancy Pelosi would be a coup for either Obama or Hillary to continue their reaching out to women. Though she'd be smart as a leader to stay out of the fray, while her Senate Counterpart Harry Reid would have less an impact due to a mych lower profile (though Reid's son is Hillary's Nevada Chairman perhaps indicating his preference). I don't think that any of the past candidates would be a huge coup. Richardson could help with the Latino vote, but overall don't think he is a national figure yet, and Biden and Dodd are good guys, but neither would move too many voters.

One last Dem thought and this one leads into Republicans as well. Colin Powell could be interesting. Would Powell get behind Obama? Do the Clintons have some old ties with him? Could he back McCain? Like Lieberman helped McCain with independents, Powell could do the same for anyone he gets behind. Hope that Colin Powell's silence won't be around for long. Though wouldn't blame him if he didn't get involved since being shit on by the Bush adminstration.

For the Republicans, its a little less clear. Jeb Bush would be a big get for the vital Florida Primary. Don't think the leaders in the Congress are big movers and shakers so Boehner and McConnell. Does Schwarzenegger get more involved or wait to see if Bloomberg gets in the race? And finally, with all the candidates trying to emulate and claim to be the new Ronald Reagan, a Nancy Reagan endorsement could be a big news story.

Many of the pundits have been talking about the need for candidates to start offering some true ideas and proposal for the country. Think that endorsements are a great way to avoid that, I hope that we get actual plans from Obama, Huckabee and others to show their vision other than their charisma.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

And the winner is...... the 99.5% of Americans who haven't voted

Apparently I should get out of the prediction business. After a bold Iowa prediction, which was wrong, I couldn't get past the poles in New Hampshire and thought the momentum for Barack in five days was just too much. New Hampshire provided a night for the ages when it come to the world of politics.

As a follower of politics I think what is happening in both parties is just what the country needs. A real campaign that will thoroughly put candidates and their ideas through the needed scrutiny that does not happen enough. One half of one percent of the voters have cast their ballots and pundits were saying that the race would be over if Obama won New Hampshire? I love Barack Obama wanted to see him earn the nomination.

The Republicans are even more interesting. They could very well go all the way to the convention with noone winning enough delegates. If Romney can hold off McCain in Michigan there is a reality that the Romney, McCain, Huckabee, and Rudy could all go to the convention with a chance to win.

As far as yesterday, think the that field operation of the Clinton team did exactly what the Obama team did in Iowa. As a long time field operative I love hearing pundits give kudos to those that really kill themselves for campaigns. Not the people in front of the cameras who everyone knows, but the 20-26 year old kids working 20 hour days for $800-$1500/month. Just as the Obama field team deserves a lions share of the credit for the creative and unique Iowa operation the Clinton team deserves for their New Hampshire operation.

  • Obama's speech was absolutely phenomenal. Think of all the speeches I have heard from him, including the famous convention speech that this one impressed me the most. This one was under scrutiny and a shocking defeat, yet he stayed strong and impressive.
  • As great as the Obama speech was, think that a factor in his defeat was yet another substandard debate performance on Saturday night. The people of New Hampshire were watching and it clearly hurt him.
  • John Edwards needs a new speech. For the second straight week he gave the same speech about the same people. Don't see where Edwards goes from here, but hope that he stays in the race as his populist message has driven the debate amongst the big three and his focus on the poor is 100% needed.
  • The unsung hero for the Clinton camp has been Hillary's wing person as of late. That would be the most popular and highly thought of Clinton. Not Bill,,, but Chelsea.
  • Interested that Hillary went from the VIP stage in New Hampshire with Governors and former Cabinet members everywhere, to just her and the Clintons. Think that was a good image to portray.
  • Think Huckabee gave another stellar and grateful speech that shows what a force he can be in the race as the best campaigner.
  • “It’s not ‘American Idol.’ You have to vote smart.” From Maureen Dowd's New York Times article today. Let's hope we are past the shotgunned, overhyped Iowa and New Hampshire and we can move forward to start deciding both the nominees on issues and plans to better America.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

New Hampshire

Where in the past New Hampshire has been the land of surprises I think that tonite will be a pretty dull night out of the self proclaimed 'fiercely independent' New Hampshire voters.

Here's my picks.


Obama- 42
Clinton- 28
Edwards- 21
BRich- 8


McCain- 30
Romney- 25
Huckabee- 14
Paul- 14
Rudy- 11
Thompson- 6

The Clinton people are really downplaying expectations and I can't figure out if it is because they will try and claim and victory if they lose by 6 or less points, or if they really think they are going to get killed. My guess is probably both. I'm thinking Obama can win by as much as 20 points tonite and from what people are saying Hillary will go to the Rudy strategy and focus on the February 5 Tsunami Tuesday states with Florida, New York, and California giving her credibility. Read the following piece from the Wall Street Journal to see the expected moves of the Clinton campaign

As for the Republicans, McCain, even after what I felt was a miserable debate performance should have a solid win over Romney, but this is where the one surprise of the night could be. Maybe Mitt's Massachusett's roots pay off for him and he steals a close one away.

Honestly the most interesting persons vote total to watch tonite for me is Ron Paul. If the independent streak of any voters could pop up it would be the Libertarians. Paul's, no tax, anti-war message should play best in New Hampshire.

As for Hillary crying, BIG F'ING DEAL. All the candidates are exhausted at this point and I think nothing less of her for it. I still imagine that many folks out there, ignorant men in particular are saying her crying proves she shouldn't be President.

Drudge is reporting 'epic turnout' and that the Dems are 'running out of ballots' so it could be very interesting this evening.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Iowa Recap-Dems

When your predictions are wrong, you can either concede with grace and dignity like the great Joe Biden did last night, or ignore the fact you were defeated like the feisty John Edwards did last night. Or you can just be delusional like the creepy Mitt Romney was in his very odd concession speech last night.

I was wrong.

Just as I texted a friend last evening the Iowa caucuses were truly an historic night. The Obama operations ability to capture and turnout their voters was amazing and spells trouble for Clinton in the short and long term. The significance of a state 95% white voting for an African American is encouraging and a turnout of 240,000+ caucus goers for the Democrats shows the motivation of a party ready to take back the White House.

The speech by Obama last night showed that this guy can capture a moment. The message of hope and unity is a strong one and more importantly is one that is hard to attack by rivals. What is most exciting is that he seems to have tapped into and motivated a group of voters who haven't been motivated for quite some time. In my years on the campaign trail and following campaigns the youth vote and the under motivated vote has always been talked about but has almost ever come through. Last night those voters may have decided a nominee for President.

There were many mentions and comparisons last night to Bobby Kennedy. I don't think that Obama is yet this kind of moving force as I think the movement towards him is more based on being fed up with the Bush and Clinton dynasties than his message but think he is on the path to be what this generation needs. An idea, a force of change that is positive, intelligent, passionate, and eloquent.

As for Clinton and Edwards, desperation comes quick with this new front loaded system of primaries. The concession speeches by both last night were very interesting to me. Edwards was confrontational and in denial. Clinton's speech showed some much needed humility, but also started to redefine her campaign to the left.

Seemed like Edwards was in denial. He kept saying, the people 'voted for change', but seemed to imply that the change vote was for him and not Obama. I just don't see how a 7 point loss in the state he really had to win gives him momentum going forward against two campaigns who have raised so much more money than he has. Think he'll be lucky to get over 15% of the vote in New Hampshire or South Carolina which doesn't set up well for him going forward. While I like Edwards think his campaign suffered a crippling blow last night.

As for Hillary, was it me or did she jump left last night? The candidate who has tried and tried like no other to position herself for the general election so she could look tougher against Republicans suddenly sounded very populist.

Going forward the momentum and coverage is definitely with Obama. Just like Iowa catapulted John Kerry four years ago, it very well could do the same this year. However, think that being the front runner is tougher than being the challenger and the Clinton's are not going to go down without a fight. Think this race is still a long way from being decided.

The worst part of the night for me is that it appears as though 97% of the vote when to just 3 candidates. There were three other candidates who worked very hard and had staffers and volunteers work tirelessly and think the results for them are a shame as the reality is if not for the crazy caucus rules you wouldn't have seen Richardson and Biden dividing up a mere 3% of the vote.

And to Joe Biden, one of my favorite Senators and the person I would have voted for, you deserved better. The intelligence, experience, and eloquence of Joe Biden is an important voice for this country and hope he gets strong consideration for the VP slot on the ticket for either Hillary or Obama as they and the country would both would greatly benefit from this true statesman.

In conclusion about the Democrats, want to apologize to Joe Biden, since I endorsed him on this very blog the

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Iowa Predictions

Have really slacked on keeping up with the blog, but to be honest other than Romney's constant flip flopping and disaster of a campaign has not been very much that has moved me to waste any time to write on this campaign.

That being said, as a caucus veteran the joke that is Iowa and the less that 5% of the voters that could propel a candidate to the nomination will break down the following way in my expert opinion.


Think that the numbers of Mike Huckabee are kind of soft due to the lack of money he has had to put into the field and because of the rather odd last week he has had, with the commercial that he produced, then pulled, then showed to the Media.

Think that field in campaigns is how you win and that Romney has had the foot soldiers on the ground and will pull off the win in Iowa. However think that if McCain sneaks out a third or even strong 4th place finish that he will steal the story of the night for the Republicans unless Romney wins by 7-10 points.


Have been telling anyone who will listen to me in the past 2-3 weeks that I really believe Edwards will win the caucuses. Think that the fact his team just went through this four years ago is an advantage and unlike Dick Gephardt who reaked of desperation to win Iowa in 2004 Edwards has run an aggressive and smart campaign. Think that he will be down in the initial stages of the caucuses but that when the Bidens, Richardson, Dodd, Kucinich voters don't reach viability that they will move over to Edwards instead of either of the two frontrunners.

While I don't always like what I hear from Edwards, think he has shown a real fight in the last month which the Iowans are going to respond to tonite.

So what about 2nd and 3rd. Think Obama will finish second and Hillary will have a Howard Dean like 3rd place finish, ie disappointing, but that she will play it right to position herself well for New Hampshire.

17people predictions:


Romney 33
Huckabee 26
McCain 16
Paul 9
Thompson 8


Edwards 35
Obama 28
Clinton 22
Richardson 9

*** Saw Charlie Wilson's War last night. Highly recommend this as a must see. The Sorkin script is great and Tom Hanks and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are a dynamic acting duo.

Plus it shows how US foreign policy can work when done smart and what happens when you only plan for the next day.