Presidential Campaign

Presidential Campaign

The Big Three

Will someone tell me what in the heck the top three Republican presidential candidates are up to? They look like the Three Stooges.

Mitt Romney's issue positions have melted away faster that a popsicle on a hot summer sidewalk. He has done 180s on a woman's right to choose, gay rights, gun control and now his signature legislation in Massachusetts, healthcare. His latest issue-melt was to say he had really very little to do with the legislation. Please. This isn't just about flip-flopping — it's about whether he actually believes in anything at all. By the time this campaign is over, will he have any integrity left?


On the surface, it would seem that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are about evenly matched in fundraising — itself a big plus for the Illinois senator, who is neither married to a former president nor a fundraiser with  30 years of experience. Hillary shows $22.5 million, net of payables, available for the primary, and Obama has about $20 million. In this quarter, Obama raised only about $100,000 less than Hillary.

But the fact is that Obama has cleaned Hillary’s clock in the money competition. Swelling Clinton’s financial reports is the $10 million she transferred from her Senate committee to her presidential race. Without this $10 million, Obama would have twice as much as Hillary has in cash on hand for the primary!

Day 70 and Counting

Over the weekend I saw a moving clip from Senator John McCain’s speech before the Virginia Military Institute. “Before I left for Iraq,” McCain noted, “I was watching with regret as the House of Representatives voted to deny our troops the support necessary to carry out their new mission. Democratic leaders smiled and cheered as the last votes were counted. What were they celebrating? Defeat? Surrender? In Iraq, only our enemies were cheering.” And yet, the Democratic leadership continues to put politics before substance by pressing on with a bill that limits the ability of commanders in the field to make tactical decisions while putting up an artificial timeline that tells the enemy how long it will take before we leave in defeat.

The Three-Dimensional Primary

If, as we suspect, Rudy faces off with Fred Thompson in the Republican primary and Hillary takes on Obama in the Democratic contest, it'll important to see the primaries not as separate and distinct, but as one combined battle.

At least half the states, including California, allow independents to vote in either party's primary. With more people identifying as independents than as either Democrats or Republicans, their presence in the primaries is crucial.

McCain Spending His Way to Oblivion

Will somebody take away John McCain’s checkbook? His presidential candidacy is floundering, in part, because he is just spending too much money. The campaign expenditure reports are in and McCain is spending his money just as fast as he’s raising it. In the last quarter, he raised $12 million to Rudy’s $15 million. Sounds close, right?

Only Obama Had the Guts; Rudy, Hillary et al. Chickened Out

Only Senator Barack Obama had the courage to stand up and demand that radio talk-show host Don Imus be fired. The other presidential candidates, including Rudy Giuliani, Hillary Clinton and John McCain punted and condemned his statements but stopped short of urging his dismissal.

Imus commits the ultimate sin almost every time he goes on the air:  He makes bigotry fun and hatred entertaining. His ethnic jokes appeal to the basest of our prejudices and legitimize them.  When he calls former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney’s hairstyle “buckwheat big hair” or he lets comedians on his show refer to “bagel-eating little Jew boys” and attributes their protests in their community to the fact that “they raised the price of bagels a nickel,” he spews his poison on the airwaves.

A Prediction

Today, I am making a prediction. If I am right, please give me all the credit worthy of an oracle. If I am wrong, please disregard this notice.

I predict Al Gore will be the nominee for president for the Democratic Party.

Here is my reasoning: First, by the end of this year, it will become clear that Rudy Giuliani is the strongest candidate from the Republican side, panicking Democrats who know that neither Obama nor Hillary Clinton can beat Rudy. (In full disclosure, I am on Team Rudy, not officially, but emotionally.)

Rudy Gets His Groove Back

The latest Gallup poll, taken April 2-5, shows Rudy Giuliani with a commanding lead in the Republican primary and McCain continuing his downward slide into oblivion. It also sets to rest any thought that Romney's fundraising success generated momentum except within the Beltway.

The latest poll has Rudy at 38 percent, McCain at 16, Gingrich at 10, Thompson at 10, and Romney at 6.

Here are the last four Gallup poll readings — the four surveys after Rudy announced he was running and spurted ahead of McCain:

Rudy's vote share:
Feb 9-11: 40%
March 2-4: 44%
March 23-25: 31% (the first poll to include Thompson)
April 2-5: 38%

Hillary v. Barack on “Fundraising Primary”: Who Cares? — Nobody, Except for Dick Morris, Maybe

So the pundit spin machines became almost caricatures of themselves: Senator Clinton “lost” the first primary on fundraising in the first quarter, raising “just” $26 million to Senator Obama’s $25 million.

But wait: Isn’t $26 million higher than $25 million? According to Dick Morris, Chris Matthews and a number of other Hillary Clinton non-fans, it’s not higher enough —given the “expectations” that she would do much better and Senator Obama would do much worse.

Clearly that’s true – she didn’t meet the pundits’ expectations (and clearly some in her campaign were impressed by how well Senator Obama did). But just keep in mind the following fact: Winning the expectations game is virtually impossible for Senator Clinton, no matter how well she does.

How Obama Depends on Hillary to Shine

Were Hillary Clinton not running for president, Barack Obama would not be the attractive candidate that he is. Without a backdrop of her polarizing effect on our politics — what Obama calls the "slash and burn" style of partisanship — Obama would be as dull as Al Gore was reputed to have been. He would not excite support, much less passion. But his dignity, candidness and reasonableness contrast so dramatically with Hillary's scripted phoniness, artificiality, and shrill partisanship that he stands out by comparison.

Hillary is hot. Obama is cool. Hillary is divisive. Obama brings people together. Hillary invents herself. Obama is himself. Hillary shouts. Obama converses. By comparison with Hillary, he looks just great. By himself — on the screen without her — he would be bland. With her, he is a relief.

How odd it is that the first African-American candidate excites little passionate opposition because the first woman to run acts as his lightning rod!