Presidential Campaign

Presidential Campaign

Amazing Timing

The endorsements of Sen. Ted Kennedy, his son Patrick and niece Caroline Kennedy are stunning, dramatic Good Housekeeping seals of party-establishment approval for the less experienced Barack Obama that the Clintons tried very hard to stop.

And how about these two coming endorsements: Toni Morrison, Nobel prize-winning author whose "first black president" label for Bill Clinton has been thrown around for weeks. And Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a rising star in the Democratic Party who gives Obama even more red-state love.

Last week Obama was the loser in Nevada, falling prey to a divide-and-conquer strategy to use race to marginalize him with a "black" win in South Carolina. Now he is the landslide winner there and the new darling of the non-Clinton Democratic Party establishment.

Two Big Endorsements

The rule of thumb is that most endorsements in presidential politics are of limited value. However, two endorsements, one in each party, will have a major impact on the nominating races going forward.

For the Republicans, Gov. Charlie Crist endorsed Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in the very close Florida primary. Gov. Crist is hugely popular among Republicans and Democrats and his endorsement was sought by all of the major Republican candidates. Crist is campaigning with McCain in the last two days of the election, which will be held tomorrow, and is stressing McCain’s experience, character and foreign policy credentials. Crist’s endorsement should help with Florida Republicans who are still uncommitted and with soft Rudy Giuliani supporters who might still choose McCain. The race is very close, but Crist’s endorsement is a great way for the McCain forces to end the Florida campaign.

Obama — and Kennedy — Raise the Stakes

By Dick Morris and Eileen McGann

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) used his victory in South Carolina to change the dialogue with the Clintons in the presidential race. He has taken Hillary’s and Bill’s attempt to use the race issue and replied with a clever move. He has basically called their bluff.

And Sen. Edward Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) endorsement of Obama has ratified the Illinois senator’s strategy and candidacy.

Still Batting 1.000

Well, Pundits Blog Quick Voters, you're 2-for-2.

In addition to being right on the money on the GOP side of the coin last weekend — predicting John McCain in a squeaker over Mike Huckabee in South Carolina — you've now also correctly foretold what would happen in the Democratic primary in the Palmetto State: Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) in a landslide over fellow Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.).

Don't forget to vote in our latest Quick Poll! and see if you can pull off the trifecta (to switch the sports analogy) by answering this question: What will happen in Florida on Tuesday?

In Case You Missed It ...

1) See Bob Cusack's story from Friday about Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), House majority whip, who is rationalizing that Mike Huckabee is to blame for the race card the Clintons have played in the Democratic primary. He says Huckabee's bringing up the confederate flag issue in the GOP primary in South Carolina last week started it all. Clyburn, undeclared (or neutral, as the non-endorsers are called), is terribly torn and noble in his efforts to hew to a middle ground. But this new declaration is beyond a stretch. It should be noted, however, that Hillary Clinton's initial comment about the Voting Rights Act came on Jan. 7 and provoked reaction throughout the party before Huckabee's comments about the flag that came nine or 10 days later. This speaks to my point about how much turbulence the Democratic Party is suffering with and how much damage will be done by convention time — why would Clyburn make this connection?

Rudy's Cooking in Florida

The greatest tactical mistake in recent politics — Rudy Giuliani's inexplicable decision to avoid the early primaries — is about to destroy his once-hopeful presidential prospects. That so superb a candidate should be destroyed by the political ignorance of his handlers is truly tragic.

If Rudy finishes third — and he's well behind John McCain — the voters who would have backed him will desert to the Arizona senator in droves all throughout the Super Tuesday states. Giuliani will go the way of Joe Lieberman and Wesley Clark, the two 2004 candidates who eschewed Iowa and New Hampshire.

It is truly sad to see Rudy go down, a genuine American hero, but such are the wages of bad advice!

Romney Benefits from Thompson Withdrawal and Huckabee Financial Shortage

Mitt Romney, locked in a dead heat with John McCain, is likely to benefit from the withdrawal of Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee's inability to advertise in Florida. With one conservative out and the other hobbled, he is left more or less alone to face a divided moderate vote that will split between Rudy Giuliani and McCain.

With Florida having the third largest state delegation and using a winner-take-all formula, a victory here could be major for Romney.

The New York Times Endorsement

This morning The New York Times endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) for president. Big deal. The once-great paper has been eclipsed by the Internet, cable television and other news outlets. Once hailed as the paper with “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” the Times of late has been deeply tarnished by plagiarism scandals and a seeming simple-minded obsession against conservatives in general and President Bush in particular.

In a way I’m glad the Times endorsed Clinton, as it foreshadows her defeat in November if past predictions are indicative of future results. In 2004 the paper endorsed Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) over President Bush. In 2000, the paper endorsed Al Gore over George Bush. You get the picture. Big deal.

The Clintons vs. Obama

Associate Editor A.B. Stoddard answers your questions on Bill & Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards and a lot more.