Let me start out by saying that I don't have a dog in the Florida U.S. Senate fight. But do you ever get the idea the Miami Herald is, shall we say, a bit cynical about a certain second-generation politician running for the job? From today's paper:
For Senate race, Kendrick Meek is raising big money from out of state
At a recent campaign rally, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami branded his U.S. Senate bid a ''grassroots campaign,'' boasting of more than 1,000 donors in Florida.
''The more Floridians that we have who are stakeholders in this campaign sends a message, a message that we're here to do business on behalf of working people,'' he told about 100 supporters in the parking lot of a small Hallandale Beach diner.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars from out-of-state corporate interests and Washington lobbyists also have helped Meek -- the only Florida Democrat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee -- emerge as a fundraising powerhouse with nearly $1.5 million in donations. Democratic party officials say he appears to have raised more than any other non-incumbent running for the Senate nationwide.
''When you are in a leadership position like he is, you do develop relationships with people all over the country,'' said Ana Cruz, a senior advisor to the campaign. ``It's a testament to the number of people who believe in him in and outside of the state.''
Cruz notes that Meek received support from more than 800 Florida donors who gave less than $200 each. ''Those are dollars from working-class folks from all over,'' she said.
Since he began his campaign in mid-January, Meek accepted $293,000 from political action committees representing law firms, drug companies, payday lenders and other businesses. PAC donations also came from Democratic Reps. James Clyburn of South Carolina and Xavier Becerra of California. In total, 44 percent of Meek's money came from outside Florida.
In contrast, 10 percent of the money raised by Meek's leading Democratic rival, state Sen. Dan Gelber, came from other states. He received $9,500 from political action committees.
Stipulating that we are talking about an off-year election, but just 100 supporters? By Obama rally standards what's that, about 2 people? Another bite:
His campaign calculated that he raised nearly $17,000 a day in the first three months of the year. His total even surpassed Democratic incumbents like Sens. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Michael Bennet of Colorado.
At the Hallandale Beach rally on Monday, Meek suggested his aggressive approach takes its cue from the president's record-setting campaign -- though Barack Obama did not accept money from federal lobbyists and political action committees.
Much of that power fundraising is coming from Kendrick palling around with Bill Clinton (they are sharing another "Thelma and Louise" moment at the upcoming commencement at FAMU, and Clinton has been hitting the streets for Kendrick since day one, as have Big Bill's major Florida fundraisers.) And they left out the fact that taking cues from Obama is ironic given the fact that had Meek had his way, Obama would be Hillary Clinton's secretary of state, rather than the other way around ...
A review of Meek's campaign report due at the FEC on Wednesday found he spent more than $200,000 on cell phones, catering, a website, plane tickets and consulting. He paid more than $14,000 for a private jet to fly former President Bill Clinton to Florida for a fundraiser.
Meek's expenses also included $428 on a ''campaign dinner'' at the Biltmore Hotel, $177 at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Washington and $149 at Houston's in Miami. ''Some of these are strategy sessions and some are cultivating donor relationships,'' Cruz said.
One of the Democratic congressman's biggest donors is the political arm of Wackenhut, a Palm Beach Gardens-based security company that retains his mother and wife as lobbyists. Wackenhut gave Meek the maximum donations of $5,000 for the primary and $5,000 for the general election. Miami-Dade County has accused Wackenhut of overbilling; the company denies any wrongdoing.
Meek -- who would be Florida's first black senator if elected -- also received big donations from former officers of the Congressional Black Caucus and Robert Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television. Individual donors can give a maximum of $2,400 for the primary and another $2,400 for the general election.
Cue the Dan Gelber email campaign ... though so far, they've been as quiet as a mouse.
Meek's campaign says: when you think Kendrick, think Barack.
If he (and many other Black pols) had gotten his way, Hillary Clinton would have been the Democratic nominee for president in 2008. But politics is about the future, not the past, and Kendrick Meek's future has a whooooole lotta Barack in it.
Meek, who I hear plans to raise $25 million or more for his Senate run, already has Obama's deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand, who parked in South Florida for the final stretch of the campaign, on the payroll. Combine that with the Clinton fundraising machine in Miami and beyond (including Timbaland neighbor Chris Korge,) and longtime union friends like SEIU (who surprise! have endorsed him already) and Meek just might pull off that $25 mil and run away with the primary (recent polling here and here). But this campaign solicitation with Hildebrand's name on it might make some die-hard Obamaniacs chuckle:
I was fortunate to spend the final weeks of Barack Obama's campaign in Florida. The experience is one I won't forget -- the inspiration I felt from voters there was unique. My time in the state also gave me the chance to meet great leaders who worked tirelessly to help elect our President.
One leader in particular stood out, and that is Congressman Kendrick Meek. [Emphasis added] He inspired me. His commitment and dedication to helping Barack Obama win the presidency made a real difference. I owe a debt of gratitude to Kendrick for all that he did to help win those 27 critical electoral votes.
The Florida victory was long overdue -- you all know it better than I do. The results of the November 4 elections give Floridians the chance to capitalize on the momentum it provided. So when Kendrick decided to run for the U.S. Senate and make the bold move to get out there early, I asked myself, "Where do I sign up?" ...
... and can they afford my fee!? (spoiler alert: "yes they can.") Okay, maybe that's too cynical. Politics, after all, is the art of the possible, and its possible that Obama supporters no longer care who supported whom during the primary. In fact, most people probably don't. And by Obamatizing his campaign, Kendrick hopes to capitalize on the excitement of the 2008 campaign, particularly among black voters, which is smart. He's also hitting up Obama donors early, the better to raise that $25 mil. Smart times two. And he's going big early to get his name recognition up. Smart move number three.
Still, the idea that Meek was the bestest of all the pro-Obama leaders will likely come as a surprise to Robert Wexler, who was the first politician to endorse Obama in Florida, or to State Sen. Fredrica Wilson (now running for Meek's House seat) who worked tirelessly for Obama dating back to 2007, when she pointedly asked me in August of that year during an interview, how any Black elected official could fail to support an intelligent, qualified candidate like Obama; or to State Sen. Dan Gelber, Meek's main primary opponent at the moment (unless Pam Iorio or Ron Klein get in,) who also endorsed Obama during the primary, and whose campaign manager, Steve Schale, ran the Florida for Obama campaign, or to Manny Diaz or Miami Gardens Mayor Shirly Gibson or all the other pols who stumped for Obama for like, ever.
Then again, it's possible that nobody remembers or cares about any of that stuff, either.
A banner ad right atop the Huffpo endorses Dan Gelber as the "progressive choice"(according to the folks at Down With Tyranny, anyway...) for Florida's soon-to-be-open Senate seat:
With all the ugliness and sleaze surrounding the appointments of new senators in Illinois and New York, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Delaware and Colorado, it's refreshing to see Florida cranking up for a good old fashioned election-- you know, where voters decide who the senator should be. In the afterglow of McCain's loss in the Sunshine State (plus the loss of two GOP congressional incumbents, a state legislature that is turning less and less red every year, and some sketchy-looking polls) conservative Republican incumbent Mel Martinez decided to retire in 2010.
The first choices among party Insiders-- Jeb Bush for Repugs and Alex Sink for Democrats-- have passed on the opportunity. That leaves the race wide open for both party primaries. This morning the hopes of Florida progressives was answered when state Senator Dan Gelber tossed his hat into the ring.
Dan isn't well-known outside of Florida but he is far better known in his state than most local legislators. That's because until November-- when he was elected to the state Senate-- he was the Democratic Minority Leader of the state House. And a very outspoken one at that. Before that he worked as a federal prosecutor, mostly on corruption and civil rights cases. He worked in the U.S. Senate as the staff director of the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations under Sam Nunn (D-GA).
It's very true that Gelber isn't that well known, and that Meek will have the advantage of Steve Hildebrand's turnout machine (which he used on behalf of Barack Obama in the recent election.) It remains to be seen if the Meek people can turn the Obama excitement into excitement for them. (Personally, I rather doubt that the Obama phenomenon can be recreated for anybody but Barack, but I'll wait and see how they roll it out. BTW check out the comments at the bottom of the DWT post. Brutal...) As for Gelber, he seems like a longshot to me, but then again, in a wide open race, a progressive candidate will have a shot. Another disadvantage though, he will be up against two major political machines: the Meek machine, and the Clinton machine. The former president was in town last week raising $300k for Kendrick. And the campaign, according to sources, hopes to raise more than $25 million for the run. Can Gelber match that with the help of the left end of the blogosphere? We shall see.
If you don't see quite as many posts from me in the next two weeks, it's because I'm doing some campaign work. Feel free to keep feeding me those informative emails, though, and I'll keep the posts coming as much as I can.
Mac and Charles in better days, just after McCain won the Florida primary in January
After the GOP presidential campaign veers off the rails, Miss Charlie quits John McCain like a bad tanning parlor:
He says he will "try" to help McCain when "I have time."
He didn't have time over the weekend when he skipped a McCain rally before the UF-LSU football game, opting instead for a trip to Disney. The governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, managed to show up.
I was reminded of Crist, during his 2006 gubernatorial campaign, bailing out of an event with George Bush.
Truth be told, Crist will have nothing but time on his hands until after the election. On Monday, his schedule included nothing in the morning and a tour of two small businesses in St. Petersburg in the afternoon. ...
Sure hate it.
Turns out Crist was with Sarah Palin when she made her now infamous "palling around with terrorists" jab at Barack Obama on Florida's west coast, and he was also "palling around" with Sarah (and even introduced her,) at the Germain Arena when Sheriff Mike Scott entered the annals of campaign history. Crist's comments after the rally (the day after last week's town hall style debate) were cool, to say the least, and he was careful to preserve his bi-partisan bona fides, even while playing the good partisan soldier:
“There’s always a back and forth, especially toward the end of these campaigns,” he said. “I don’t know that it’s fun for anyone.”
Asked how much time he would spend campaigning for McCain this month, Crist said it was not his priority.
“I’ll be involved, but my first duty is to the people of Florida, to be their governor and I take that role very, very seriously,” he said. “So when I have time to be able to help, I’ll try to do that but I know where my first loyalty is to and it’s to the 20 million people that live in the state that I love.”
Crist was magnanimous in his assessment of Tuesday night’s presidential debate.
“I thought Sen. McCain did very well. In all fairness, I think Sen. Obama comports himself very well,” said Crist.
It should also be noted that the Florida guvnah also skipped the GOP convention. He probably doesn't enjoy big, rowdy right wing crowds who tend to boo moderate, not exactly completely verifiably straight Republicans like him, if you know what I mean. And Crist has had a good, solid relationship with Florida Democrats, who could also increase their numbers in the state house in November, and with groups like the NAACP, who have been horrified by the goings on at the McCain-Palin campaign. Why would Crist put all of that at risk for McCain, after McCain abandoned the reasonable wing of the party for the kooks?
Oh, and if I were Charlie's fiancee, I wouldn't bet everything I had on that December wedding. Getting engaged was kind of part of the veep marketing strategy, and well ... McCain, as we now know all too well, went another way.
Inside John McCain’s campaign the expectation is growing that there will be a popularity boosting pre-election wedding in Alaska between Bristol Palin, 17, and Levi Johnston, 18, her schoolmate and father of her baby. “It would be fantastic,” said a McCain insider. “You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.”
There is already some urgency to the wedding as Bristol, who is six months pregnant, may not want to walk down the aisle too close to her date of delivery. She turns 18 on October 18, a respectable age for a bride — and the same age as Barack Obama’s pregnant mother when she married his Kenyan father. The Democrat has already declared Bristol’s private life off-limits as far as his campaign is concerned.
The selection of Palin, 44, the moose-hunting governor of Alaska, as his running mate was one of McCain’s biggest gambles. It paid off handsomely at first, but she could benefit from a fresh injection of homespun authenticity, the hallmark of her style, provided by her daughter’s wedding after appearing out of depth away from her home state.
Way to pimp that daughter, Sarah! Yup-yup! But I sure hope the f***in redneck really does want to marry Bristol... otherwise that's going to be one short, miserable marriage.
David Letterman rips into John McCain, per Drudge:
David Letterman tells audience that McCain called him today to tell him he had to rush back to DC to deal with the economy.
Then in the middle of the taping Dave got word that McCain was, in fact just down the street being interviewed by Katie Couric. Dave even cut over to the live video of the interview, and said, "Hey Senator, can I give you a ride home?"
Earlier in the show, Dave kept saying, "You don't suspend your campaign. This doesn't smell right. This isn't the way a tested hero behaves." And he joked: "I think someone's putting something in his metamucil."
"He can't run the campaign because the economy is cratering? Fine, put in your second string quarterback, Sara Palin. Where is she?"
"What are you going to do if you're elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We've got a guy like that now!"
Whoever the "high ranking Democrat" who leaked the Biden veep news to the Associated Press is, they had better keep their identity deep, deep under cover. They have got to be the most hated person in Obama world. A few more hours and Team Obama could have pulled off the announcement coup of the century, simultaneously texting millions of supporters and possibly even having Chuck Todd find out on the air at the same time as their volunteers. Instead, the leaker ensured that the old media got the scoop first, and the Obama camp had to rush the announcement, sending out a text message that I got at 3:32 a.m. It read:
"Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee. Watch the first Obama-Biden rally live at 3 pm ET on www.BarackObama.com. Spread the word!"
The good news for the Obama campaign is that they did keep the media talking about something other than McCain's "celebrity surge" for a solid week, and they kept the news from leaking longer than anyone thought possible. In retrospect, it might have been better to drop the news on Friday, to take full advantage of the news cycle, and to not push their luck on leaks, but there you go. The millions of new email addresses and cell phone numbers they collected, which will be hella useful at Get Out The Vote time, were well worth the leak.
Who's running the McCain campaign, anyway? The latest ad is a dud, mixing footage of Obama receiving global adulation (duh, it makes him look GOOD, folks) with a thin attack accusing him of wanting "higher taxes and more foreign oil." The ad actually has pics of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears! Seriously.
Over at the Atlantic, Marc Ambinder has an interesting reaction from former McCain strategist John Weaver to the Arizona Republican's new ad attacking Barack Obama's celebrity status (complete with references to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears). Calling it "childish," Weaver also claims that harping on Obama "reduces McCain on the stage."
And by the way, did anyone mention to the geniuses in the McCain camp that Britney is actually a Republican, who, like John McCain, is a big fan of President Bush?
Meanwhile, Keith Olberman the other night did what really should be the latest anti-McCain ad:
Now that's negative campaigning we can believe in.
The mainstream media, which now includes the major blogs, has a way of taking a meme and running with it, particularly, it seems, when the meme originates on the right, or somehow damages Democrats (I think it's a "former Democratic staffer turned journalist" self-hatred thing.) There's a method to turning a political figure into a caricature that's easily digested on a one-hour cable news show with a brightly-lit set and busy theme music, and the MSM can use the meme to build a candidate up, or bring him down to size. [Much ado about Obama's "brand."... At left: limited edition Obama poster, "Change," by artist Shepard Fairey. Available here.]
Take for instance the notion that Barack Obama, by not accepting campaign finance reform, and by committing various other illiberal sins in the upper chamber of Congress, is "damaging his brand." I've started hearing the phrase used in heavy rotation since GOP strategist Matthew Dowd used it to tisk-tisk Obama on campaign financing last Sunday on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." He elaborated on the ABC News blog the following day:
Obama's brand is new to the political marketplace and it is especially in need of protection by him and his campaign.
What is his brand?
From my perspective it is something that involves a new kind of politics, something that doesn't involve political expediency, something that gets past the spin of Washington, something that involves truth and inspiration in order to get the job done.
That is why I believe Obama and his campaign made a blunder flip flopping on public campaign finance for the general election.
Obama had said for many months he would abide by public financing in the fall and now has decided against doing just that. As Liz Sidoti of Associated Press wrote, "Barack Obama chose winning over his word."
Not a good thing at all for his brand. Is it lethal? Probably not, but it's a mistake.
Dowd is just one of the seemingly endless throng of media types who have gone over the moon over the way Obama has chosen to finance his campaign (who knew public financing was such a cherished item among the media elite?) But as a communications pro, he is also a student of the idea of "moving the zeitgeist" -- tapping the collective subconscious of the media elite, which shapes what they report, what they harp on (particularly on TV), what they ignore, and how they treat a particular candidate.
Gore got slapped upside the head by the media zeitgeist in 2000, when the herd decided that his meme would be "phony, effete guy who isn't comfortable in his own skin" (Google the phrase "Gore and 'comfortable in his own skin'" and see just how much you get...) Once the meme took hold, Gore was derided, falsely, for claiming he invented the Internet, for his clothes, or his tan, and on and on. That same year, John McCain was given the incredibly positive meme: "maverick." It has stuck for eight years, and MSM types continue to resist giving it up, even after McCain has shed every principle he held in and before 2000 in his desperate hunt for the White House, and long after voters no longer hold the term operative for the Senator from Arizona. Bill Clinton's media meme from day one was "slick. He'll say and do whatever it takes to win." Unfortunately for Hillary, she inherited that mantle in 2008.
For Obama, the meme started as "movement, change and phenomenon," but has begun to migrate downward, ever since "Saturday Night Live" made the press corps feel bad about themselves for liking him. (It's always deadly to make the media feel bad about themselves.) Wore, his team has repeatedly snubbed, been "cool" toward, and outsmarted the Washington press corps, giving the David Gregories of the world added impetus to smack him down. Now that he has committed campaign finance apostasy, finally discover the issue that strikes at the heart of every Washington reporter, Obama risks being tagged with the negative meme of "the guy who damaged his brand."
Which is why the phrase "damaged his brand," or the idea of it, has been repeated over and over again since last week, in the Los Angeles Times, in the Washington Post, by Arianna Huffington (this morning on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," and on and on and on, not to mention by the vacuous day shift girls on the cable news anchor desks. From there, the meme makes its way to the left- and the right wing blogosphere, and presto! It's in the zeitgeist. The "damaging his brand" meme has been fueled by a much linked column by WaPo's David Broder, which essentially cedes the moral high ground on just about anything to John McCain, simply by virtue of his long service in Washington, and prior service in the military (Broder is highly influential among the punditocracy, by virtue of his long service in Washington, as this devotional post by Chris Cillizza illustrates.) So kids, the phrase of the week is "damaging his brand."
Still, the good news for Barack is that he has defied the punditocracy before. In fact, he was issued a stern warning last October by John Dickerson of Slate for criticizing Hillary Clinton's truthfulness during the debates. The risk to Obama, in Dickerson's mind? He might damage his brand.
Related: for a piece on the "Obama brand" that won't make you hurl, check out this smart piece by political strategist Patrick Ruffini, from February. |
Trying out a new feature for the blog, which will make morning blogging more efficient on my end, and hopefully provide a jumpstart to your morning read. Enjoy!
The New York Times hits Barack Obama with a story about Obama advisers Tom Daschle and Jason Grumet's ethanol ties (forecast: Obama favors subsidies, wins Iowa in November. All politics is "economically local"...) On this one, I think McCain may be right about one thing: the U.S. should stop tariffing sugar ethanol out of the market. It's cheaper, produces more energy, and in Brazil at least, it's working ... Still, Obama is probably right on the politics, as this statement from the campaign makes clear:
“It does not serve our national and economic security to replace imported oil with Brazilian ethanol,” he argued.
It's the domestic production and jobs, stupid, though once he's in office, hopefully Obama will broaden his view. Sugarcane ethanol imports could not only help Brazil, it could be a lifeline for another country where sugar grows: Haiti.
The Washington Postfollows up last night's damning "60 Minutes" piece on America's Middle East TV network, al-Hurra, one of many disastrous Bush administration attempts to "win the hearts and minds" of Muslims around the world.
The Boston Globe reports on John McCain's $300 million prize for whoever can build a better car battery. One question: where in the world are we getting the $300 million in a recession? And it wouldn't be a McCain plan without money for Big Bizness:
In addition, a so-called Clean Car Challenge would provide U.S. automakers with a $5,000 tax credit for every zero-carbon emissions car they develop and sell.
And there you go. Meanwhile, the Globe proffers a long puff piece by Sasha Issenberg on John McCain's war experience and how it shaped his present views. The piece skims past his contentious relations with POW/MIA groups who believed that U.S. troops remained alive in Vietnam, even skipping a notorious episode in which McCain reduced a mother of an MIA soldier to tears during televised hearings in which he lived up to his Academy nickname, "McNasty." The Globe also fails to mention the ambivalence, and even downright hostility, that some Vietnam vets continue to feel about McCain (yes, there is an anti-McCain 527.) I doubt such information would have been left out of an article on John Kerry, and I doubt that the press will pursue the issue, given the media's reluctance to replay the Swift Boat episode from 2004 and general reverence for McCain's war service (as should be afforded any veteran.)
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times has a piece about the Obama campaign's careful targeting of black voters -- emphasizing the tightrope Obama has to walk between courting a needed base, and not turning off certain white voters.
And across the pond, the Guardian reports that as the recent Mideast oil summit fails to halt rising oil prices, a leading climate scientist will go before Congress today and call for top oil executives to be put on trial. And last but not least, if you think politics is toxic in the States, try Zimbabwe.
With big ups to the Miami-Dade Dems. What the Obama campaign might suggest you should know about Barack Obama:
... Barack Obama wears a FLAG PIN at all times. Even in the shower.
Barack Obama says the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE every time he sees an American flag. He also ends every sentence by saying, "WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL." Click here for video of Obama quietly mouthing the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE in his sleep.
A tape exists of Michelle Obama saying the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE at a conference on PATRIOTISM.
Every weekend, Barack and Michelle take their daughters HUNTING.
Barack Obama is a PATRIOTIC AMERICAN. He has one HAND over his HEART at all times. He occasionally switches when one arm gets tired, which is almost never because he is STRONG.
Barack Obama has the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE tattooed on his stomach. It's upside-down, so he can read it while doing sit-ups.
There's only one artist on Barack Obama's iPod: FRANCIS SCOTT KEY.
Barack Obama is a DEVOUT CHRISTIAN. His favorite book is the BIBLE, which he has memorized. His name means HE WHO LOVES JESUS in the ancient language of Aramaic. He is PROUD that Jesus was an American.
Barack Obama goes to church every morning. He goes to church every afternoon. He goes to church every evening. He is IN CHURCH RIGHT NOW.
Barack Obama's new airplane includes a conference room, a kitchen, and a MEGACHURCH.
Barack Obama's skin is the color of AMERICAN SOIL.
Barack Obama buys AMERICAN STUFF. He owns a FORD, a BASEBALL TEAM, and a COMPUTER HE BUILT HIMSELF FROM AMERICAN PARTS. He travels mostly by FORKLIFT.
Barack Obama says that Americans cling to GUNS and RELIGION because they are AWESOME.
Senator Hillary Clinton suspended her campaign in gracious fashion earlier this afternoon, with a speech that was about as good an exegesis about the consequences of politics as I've heard this campaign season. I just watched it on the TiVo, since I was at a community forum in Liberty City with Hot 105 and the Metro Miami Action Plan Trust for most of the morning and afternoon. As to grades, I'd give the speech an "A." Like Al Gore, Hillary gave her best speech at the end.
Hillary declared that though the race had been tough, "the Democratic party is a family." She fully endorsed Obama, drawing a smattering of boos when she first mentioned his name about 6 minutes into the talk. But by the end, she had captured the crowd with the formulation "when we live in a country when (mentions something that must change, like healthcare for all or proper care for veterans,) we will live in a stronger country. And that's why we have to work hard to elect Barack Obama as president." Then, toward the end, came the part about consequences, with an elegant merger with Obama's major theme added for emphasis:
... You know, I've been involved in politics and public life in one way or another for four decades. And during those ... During those 40 years, our country has voted 10 times for president. Democrats won only three of those times, and the man who won two of those elections is with us today. [Ovation for Bill Clinton]
We made tremendous progress during the '90s under a Democratic president, with a flourishing economy and our leadership for peace and security respected around the world.
Just think how much more progress we could have made over the past 40 years if we'd had a Democratic president. Think about the lost opportunities of these past seven years on the environment and the economy, on health care and civil rights, on education, foreign policy and the Supreme Court.
Imagine how far ... we could have come, how much we could have achieved if we had just had a Democrat in the White House.
We cannot let this moment slip away. We have come too far and accomplished too much.
Now, the journey ahead will not be easy. Some will say we can't do it, that it's too hard, we're just not up to the task. But for as long as America has existed, it has been the American way to reject can't-do claims and to choose instead to stretch the boundaries of the possible through hard work, determination, and a pioneering spirit.
It is this belief, this optimism that Senator Obama and I share and that has inspired so many millions of our supporters to make their voices heard. So today I am standing with Senator Obama to say: Yes, we can!
Hopefully, her die-hard supporters will listen. Two words, sisters: Supreme Court.
I think it's clear that Hillary did everything the Obama team could have wanted her to do today. She offered a sense of triumph and inspiration to her women supporters, particularly those older women who believed this might be their last opportunity to see a woman running the country. To them, she announced that the way had been set for the next woman who runs to go all the way, and for that victory to be rendered unremarkable. She unambiguously declared Obama the winner of a close contest. And she very effectively laid out the consequences of failure. She talked about the challenges of sexism and discrimination, but thankfully, she didn't dwell on it. Instead, she declared that if the highest glass ceiling remains in place in America, "there are 18 million cracks in it" now. By doing so, she secured her place in history as the pace-setter for whoever becomes the first woman president, even if it ultimately is not her.)
In addition, the venue, the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. (which is dedicated to one of my favorite subjects: architecture,) was nothing short of spectacular. (The NBM website's homepage says the venue will be "closed for a special event" on Saturday. Ha!)
I have been a harsh critic of the Clinton campaign, having come into the primary last January as a die-hard Clinton Democrat, who became both incredibly inspired by Barack Obama and sorely disappointed with the negative trajectory of the race, which I feel was driven by the former president and the Senator from New York, as well as by some of her senior advisers. Today, I think Hillary took a step back toward the grace that people like me had long expected of her.
Hillary Clinton has a lot of power this week, to shape the psychology of her most fervent supporters -- the ones who aren't core Democrats enough to go with whomever is the nominee, the older, white women who are bitter, angry, passionate and enraged that she has been "denied" (never mind the mistakes made by her own campaign, the 11 straight losses after Super Tuesday, and those damned caucus states) the nomination for president.) What she does over the next several days will matter, not so much for Barack Obama, who I believe will win a majority of the women's vote regardless of the Clinton dead-enders, but to those women themselves, who have put everything -- and I mean everything -- into her campaign. For Obama, she can make this easy, or she can make it difficult. She can bow out gracefully, or she and her supporters can go out ugly, but make no mistkae. Tonight, like it or not, it ends.
WASHINGTON - Hillary Clinton told colleagues Tuesday she would be consider joining Barack Obama as his running mate.
On a conference call with other New York lawmakers, Clinton, a New York senator, said she was willing to become Obama's vice presidential nominee if it would help Democrats win the White House, according to a participant who spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to speak for Clinton.
Advisers for Clinton are also indicating that the former first lady is withholding a formal departure from the race partly to use her remaining leverage to press for a spot on the ticket. ...
Well that depends on what the meaning of "press" is.
I was on the radio this afternoon with my mentor, James T (Hot 105 FM Miami) and when asked whether she would be on the ticket, I gave an emphatic "no." (Hey, it was a one-word answer request.) I continue to take the Nancy Pelosi view, that a joint ticket will not happen, and from a messaging point of view, makes no sense for Barack. But if Camp Clinton decides to play hardball, and attempts to railroad her onto the ticket in August, that, my friends, would be ugly, ugly, ugly.
And I don't think it would work. What it would do is tarnish the Clinton name within the Democratic party, maybe forever. James has made the very good point that if Obama is a strong man who knows who he is, he should be able to handle a strong vice president (and her husband). I agree. But I think Obama has to be allowed to make a fresh start -- to write his own chapter in Democratic history, without dragging her and her husband's vast library behind him. He needs to be, to quote Al Gore, his "own man," free from the Clinton legacy. Already, Washington is shaking off that legacy; as the "Hardball" crew just pointed out, when Howard Dean beat Clinton guy Donnie Fowler for DNC chair in 2005 and when Nancy Pelosi and not a Clinton loyalist became Speaker of the House, the race was on the close the door behind the Clinton family.
I think that door, for now, needs to remain closed. Bill Clinton needs to get about the work of rebuilding his legacy, particularly his tremendous work on global philanthropy. Hillary needs to find an identity apart from the White House. And America needs to take a big gulp of fresh air, free from the Bushes (mercifully) and -- and I say this with sadness, not with relish, because I always really liked and respected Bill -- free from the Clintons.
Montana and South Dakota bring up the electoral rear today, with polls closing at 10 p.m. Eastern time. So will Hill fold up her tents after tonight? Don't go to Vegas and put money on it. But I do believe what I have been told about her campaign being effectively over as of Friday. No advance staff means no travel. And I've been on the business end of a campaign directive to "get your expense reports in by (date)" the implication being, after that, good luck getting your money. (I won't even go into the hot mess that was the end of ACT's South Florida campaign offices... (stomach gurgling...) ... you really don't want to know...)
But in the end, I'm looking for Hillary to make a fairly gracious, but non-committal statement at the end of today, and to make no sudden moves until early next week, when she's back in New York for her big Tuesday party (another surefire sign of the end of a campaign: the candidate goes home for a "big party.")
Either way, by Wednesday of next week, I suspect we'll all be Hillary-free. And no, she's not getting on the ticket.
The trajectory of the Democratic campaign for president is clear, and really hasn't changed since mid-February: Barack Obama is on a clear path to the nomination, while Hillary Clinton is not, only she won't admit it and the press is afraid to tell her (and even more afraid of Howard Wolfson, who must have pictures of a lot of journalists naked...)
And yet, the sputtering of the Clinton campaign continues, Bush in Iraq-like, complete with a rather desperate-seeming new "3 a.m." ad using the same footage, only this time attacking John McCain (on the economy, stupid) and a series of outbursts of almost dizzying rage by top Clinton friends, and by the Big Dog himself. I've been in post lock-down thanks to server issues for the last few days, so forgive me if this is a repetition.
First, James Carville pimp slapped Governor Non Grata Bill Richardson in the pages of the Washington Post, backing up his "Judas" remark and hammering the no-long FOB for not returning Big Bill's phonecalls before he stabbed Hillary in the heart by endorsing The Whelp, and for what he called "disloyalty that merited an insult."
... Earlier this month I decried the political environment in which, by whining about every little barb, candidates seem to be trying to win the election through a war of staff-resignation attrition. Politics is a messy business, but campaigning prepares you for governing. It prepares you to get hit, stand strong and, if necessary, hit back. I've worked on enough campaigns to know that the most aggrieved candidate rarely emerges victorious. And for all of the hypersensitivity we're seeing this cycle, this campaign has not been particularly negative or nasty compared with previous elections.
Fully aware of this supercharged environment in which the slightest slight is elevated to the most egregious insult, I waded in -- okay, dove in -- by demonstrating what constitutes a real insult.
I believe that loyalty is a cardinal virtue. Nowhere in the world is loyalty so little revered and tittle-tattle so greatly venerated as in Washington. I was a little-known political consultant until Bill Clinton made me. When he came upon hard times, I felt it my duty -- whatever my personal misgivings -- to stick by him. At the very least, I would have stayed silent. And maybe that's my problem with what Bill Richardson did. Silence on his part would have spoken loudly enough.
Most of the stuff I've ever said is pretty insignificant and by in large has been said off the cuff and without much thought to the potential consequences. That was not the case in this instance. Bill Richardson's response was that the Clinton people felt they were entitled to the presidency. In my mind, that is a debatable hypothesis. But, even more than that, I know that a former president of the United States who appointed someone to two Senate-confirmed positions is entitled to have his phone calls returned.
... Next came the news that the Big Dog himself got to expurgating his spleen on the other Big Bill, going into full tirade mode (just before his now famous "chill out" speech,) in front of a group of people you probably don't want to go into out of control tirades in front of: superdelegates.
According to those at the meeting, Clinton - who flew in from Chicago with bags under his eyes - was classic old Bill at first, charming and making small talk with the 15 or so delegates who gathered in a room behind the convention stage.
But as the group moved together for the perfunctory photo, Rachel Binah, a former Richardson delegate who now supports Hillary Clinton, told Bill how "sorry" she was to have heard former Clinton campaign manager James Carville call Richardson a "Judas" for backing Obama.
It was as if someone pulled the pin from a grenade.
"Five times to my face (Richardson) said that he would never do that," a red-faced, finger-pointing Clinton erupted.
The former president then went on a tirade that ran from the media's unfair treatment of Hillary to questions about the fairness of the votes in state caucuses that voted for Obama. It ended with him asking delegates to imagine what the reaction would be if Obama was trailing by just 1 percent and people were telling him to drop out.
"It was very, very intense," said one attendee. "Not at all like the Bill of earlier campaigns."
When he finally wound down, Bill was asked what message he wanted the delegates to take away from the meeting.
At that point, a much calmer Clinton outlined his message of party unity.
"It was kind of strange later when he took the stage and told everyone to 'chill out,' " one delegate told us.
"We couldn't help but think he was also talking to himself."
When delegate Binah - still stunned from her encounter with Clinton - got home to Little River (Mendocino County) later in the day - there was a phone message waiting for her from State Party Chairman Art Torres, telling her the former president wanted him to apologize to her on his behalf for what happened.
Okay, other reports, not from Ms. Binah, say it wasn't quite a full-on meltdown, but the narrative is off and running and the story is not helpful, Mr. President.
And to cap it off, along came a series of Big Deal endorsements, and hints of endorsements for Barack. They are, and they are big:
Lee Hamilton- the former co-chair of the 9/11 commission and a former congressman with foreign policy credentials out the ying-yang. Hell, if HE thinks Obama has passed the commander in chief test, who's Bill's old lady to tell him he's wrong?
Jimmy Carter - I'm not sure a nod from the former president, considered the most liberal man in America by the righties, and hated by Likudniks everywhere, would help Obama. But odds are, he'll eventually get it anyway, if Carter's BFH's (big, fat hints) are to be believed:
Carter, who is a Super Delegate from Georgia State, gave this hint at a media interaction after the Carter Center Awards for Guinea Worm Eradication in Abuja yesterday.
Carter, who was accompanied by his wife Rosalynn, did not profess a direct support for Obama but rather choose to make a veiled statement.
“We are very interested in the primaries. Don’t forget that Obama won in my state of Georgia. My town which is home to 625 people is for Obama, my children and their spouses are pro- Obama.
My grandchildren are also pro- Obama. As a Super Delegate, I would not disclose who I am rooting for but I leave you to make that guess," he said.
I'll bet the Clintons are starting to hate that bloody Guinea worm...
And Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal - no, he's not a superstar like the previous two, but he is a red-state governor, a white guy, and a guy who appears to be going with his state, which went 60% for Barack. If he's setting, or indicating, a superdelegate trend, that's much better news for one candidate than for the other...
(Yes, I know Jane Fonda endorsed Barack, too, but really, would YOU consider that good news if you were Barack?)
... As for the endorsements Hillary already has, they are starting to seem like the proverbial hole in the head. First, there are the ones who blatantly say that their candidate of choice must have the popular vote or she's toast.
Then there are the ones who reserve the right to switch to Obama .... John Corzine and Maria Cantwell... if Hillary doesn't close this thing out with a lead in the popular vote...
There are a few bright spots on the horizon for the Hillary Faithful. A new Quinnipiac poll shows her beating John McCain handily in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania. The only trouble with that is, she'd have to be the nominee in order to do that. And the only trouble with THAT is, she's in no position to be the nominee, based on the math. That poll has Barack losing to McCain in Florida and barely edging him out in the other two states, which would seem to make a strong argument for Hillary's superior electability. The only problem with THAT, is that these polls are being taken in April, well before voters in those states will be faced with two, not three choices: between one Democrat and John McCain. A few months down the road, it's impossible to say how either of the Dems still fighting it out would fare vs. McCain. Time and circumstances, Senator ... time and circumstances...
Camp Clinton is clearly pissed off at Bill Richardson for endorsing Barack Obama (that phone call to Hillary must have been a doosy...) but comparing him to Judas? That's harsh, James Carville... even the MyDD crew thinks it's too much.
During his "I did not have sexual or financial relations with that woman" press conference this morning, John McCain fielded what seemed like a side question about his campaign's apparent push to drop out of the public financing system.
McCain has been ripping Barack Obama for supposedly backing out of a pledge to accept public financing (Obama would be a fool to do so, clearly, and as my friend Tameka put it recently, he should just say "my bad," and move on. The public won't even remember) and now is apparently trying to back out himself. Hm. Well, Houston, we have a wee problem, and it plays into a narrative that's building about Mr. McCain, given the New York Times contretemps, and it's one that's familiar to McCain haters in the GOP: John McCain as tisking campaign finance hypocrite.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The government's top campaign finance regulator says John McCain can't drop out of the primary election's public financing system until he answers questions about a loan he obtained to kickstart his once faltering presidential campaign.
Federal Election Commission Chairman David Mason, in a letter to McCain this week, said the all-but-certain Republican nominee needs to assure the commission that he did not use the promise of public money to help secure a $4 million line of credit he obtained in November.
McCain's lawyer, Trevor Potter, said Wednesday evening that McCain has withdrawn from the system and that the FEC can't stop him. Potter said the campaign did not encumber the public funds in any way.
McCain, a longtime advocate of stricter limits on money in politics, was one of the few leading presidential candidates to seek FEC certification for public money during the primaries. The FEC determined that he was entitled to at least $5.8 million. But McCain did not obtain the money, and he notified the FEC earlier this month that he would bypass the system, freeing him from its spending limits.
But just as McCain was beginning to turn his attention to a likely Democratic opponent, Mason, a Republican appointee to the commission, essentially said, "Not so fast." ...
... At issue is the fine print in the loan agreement between McCain and Fidelity Bank & Trust. McCain secured the loan using his list of contributors, his promise to use that list to raise money to pay off the loan and by taking out a life insurance policy.
But the agreement also said that if McCain were to withdraw from the public financing system before the end of 2007 and then were to lose the New Hampshire primary by more than 10 percentage points, he would have had to reapply to the FEC for public matching funds and provide the bank additional collateral for the loan.
In his letter to McCain, Mason said the commission would allow a candidate to withdraw from the public finance system as long as he had not received any public funds and had not pledged the certification of such funds "as security for private financing."
Citing the loan agreement, Mason wrote: "We note that in your letter, you state that neither you nor your (presidential campaign) committee has pledged the certification of matching payment funds as security for private financing. In preparation for commission consideration of your request upon establishment of a quorum, we invite you to expand on the rationale for that conclusion."
McCain has been an outspoken critic of the FEC and he and Mason have had ideological differences over campaign finance law for years. ...
Keith Olbermann reported on the McCain loan on "Countdown" this week, and it's an issue that should be explored, because if John McCain is going to lecture the rest of the political world about earmarks, integrity and campaign finance reform, he ought at minimum to live up to his own standards.
Voting is under way in Wisconsin and Hawaii (and in Washington State for the Republicans). The Clinton camp is lowering expectations for Wisconsin, but truth be told, they'd really like to have a win there. Anything to give Howard Wolfson something to talk about other than Barack's supposed pilfering of some of the most famous phrases in American history ... (somebody alert David Letterman -- that skit he does with Bush quotes begins with some of the same clips Barack borrowed. Better start crediting Deval Patrick...)
Also today, Texas begins early voting. And that's important, because it means the results from tonight will begin reverberating in that crucial state immediately. Keep an eye on Houston and Dallas, where large concentrations of African-Americans could weigh heavily on the outcome on March 4th.
Now to the polls:
Here's how it's looking for Hillary and Barack today:
In Wisconsin, throwing out the Valentine's Day and earlier polls:
Public Policy Polling (2/16-17) Obama - 53% Clinton 40 Undecided 7
ARG has un updated poll that shows definite movement toward Obama:
On the GOP side, ARG shows Romney's support going almost wholesale to McCain:
...which should be music to the ears of the Senator from Angryville Arizona.
On to Texas: the latest CNN poll has some troubling news for Camp Clinton: there's movement in the Longhorn State, and it's in Barack Obama's direction:
CNN / Opinion Research Corporation Date: 2/15-17 Texas Added: 2/18/08 Est. MoE = 4.3% [?]
As usual, Keith Olbermann is the voice of reason in a sea of insanity (Chris Matthews). Last night on Countdown, Olbermann broke down the spinsanity in the wake of the New Hampshire "upset" by Hillary Clinton, who had been the front runner for the better part of a year before losing her momentum to Barack Obama in the closing weeks. Matthews and other pundits have been practically leaping out of windows in their overwrought condition after failing, for the second time in 20 years, to seal the downfall of the Clinton family. And Matthews in particular has been blaming everything from the pollsters to lying, racist, white poll respondents who lacked the courage to admit to their inner Archie Bunker.
Well ... a funny thing happened on the way to the polls.
As Keith pointed out, they may not have been as wrong as they seemed.
Here's what Barack Obama had going in to the primary, according to the major polls taken between January 5 and January 7:
...for an average, courtesy of RealClearPolitics, of 38.3%.
In the end, Obama got 37% of the vote. That's pretty close, and it presents the frightening prospect that the Rasmussen poll was the most accurate of all... perhaps because it is a rolling snapshot poll, unlike the others, and had by far the largest sample.
What appears to have been wrong in the polls, was not the Obama number, but rather the Clinton number, and even that wasn't wrong, so much as it was missing a crucial part: the undecideds.
Let's take the Rasmussen poll, for example. It scored the race as follows:
Obama 37 Clinton 30 Edwards 19 Richardson 8
My math says that leaves 6 points on the table. If Hillary takes the remainder, she's even with Obama. But something else also appears to have happened -- late deciders and weak supporters of other candidates defected to Hillary as well. Either that, or Independents, who may not have been well represented in any of the Democratic race polls, broke heavily for Hillary in the end.
That is not to vindicate the pollsters. It's just to say that while all of us missed the boat on how strong the backlash would be among women against the media and opposition onslaught against Hillary, the polls for Barack were pretty stable, for the most part (although many had his numbers where I had them -- in the 40s, which clearly didn't pan out.)
In the end, I think the hand wringing is bad for Barack, and he would do well not to follow Chris Matthews' lead in whingeing about the outcome.
Obama is not only getting a boost in the Iowa polls, he's also getting ... "A BASKET OF ALL MY FAVORITE DESIGNER THINGS!!!!" ... no, actually Oprah's just campaigning for him. Not a bad deal, for the Barackster, though...
Tom Kean, former governor of New Jersey, and former chair of the 9/11 Commission -- you know, the commission charged with getting to the bottom of the intelligence failures that allowed the worst terror attack on this country, which happened to take place in the city where Giuliani was mayor, thus becoming the entire raison d'etre for his presidential campaign, and a nice little money maker for the Rudester to boot -- THAT Tom Kean has endorsed for president, the man he believes can best keep this country safe:
Whether Kean's nod will help McCain remains to be seen, but it sure doesn't help Rudy to continue peddling his 9/11 wares, a hawk job so tacky even the New York Post is picking up on it.
Meanwhile, a group of 9/11 families and New York firefighters are saying, "not so fast, Rudy."
A group of 9/11 families and firefighters who oppose Giuliani's candidacy were outraged.
"Giuliani is running on 9/11 and portraying himself as a hero. It's disgusting. It's horrible," FDNY Deputy Fire Chief Jim Riches said.
"This guy will do anything to get elected."
"He's misleading voters and distorting the truth. He didn't prepare the first responders for a terrorist attack. The Office of Emergency Management was a joke that day. There was a lack of communication. People died unnecessarily."
The mailing also says Giuliani "refused to raise taxes after the attacks - refuting calls from Democrats to do so."
The group of 9/11 families and firefighters will be in New Hampshire today to argue that he failed to adequately prepare for a terrorist attack.
The group has also questioned Giuliani's management of the cleanup effort, claiming thousands of Ground Zero workers got sick because they weren't given protective masks.
"I understand the emotions surrounding Sept. 11, but we cannot lose sight of the fact that it was the terrorists who attacked New York City," said firefighter and Giuliani campaign adviser Lee Ielpi, whose son, Jonathan, died on 9/11.
Giuliani has repeatedly challenged accusations that his candidacy is based solely on the attacks, saying during a recent debate, "The reality is that I'm not running on what I did on Sept. 11."
To quote Chris Matthews: "Ha!!"
So, will Rudy's News Corp coziness convince the media to give up its public relations flacking for "America's Mayor?" (a fact very well documented here...) After all, this is a guy running on his supposed "leadership" after the 9/11 attacks, but who spent more time at baseball games than he did at Ground Zero ... (you won't here that on Fox News Channel...) whose only religious endorsement is from a nut-job who spends time predicting the end of "Its a Small World" at Disney World... and whose last remaining Catholic pall is an alleged pedophile priest, and whose top priority after 9/11 was making money, off 9/11 ... an endeavor so important to him he quit the Iraq Study Group in order to pursue it full time.
In this post, I pointed you to an interesting investigation by Taylor Marsh into those nasty push polls in Iowa, attacking both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards as "weak candidates," and the suspicion that the trail could lead to our friend, Rudy Giuliani? Well get a load of this:
Anti-Romney, anti-Mormon calls being made in Iowa
In an apparent push poll, a research firm has called Iowa Republicans this week praising John McCain and critcizing Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith.
An individual in Manchester, Iowa, contacted me on Wednesday night saying he received a call with information about McCain's military service and anti-spending record.
Then there were "lots of negatives on Romney," said the recepient of the call in an e-mail, including mentions of his "flip-flops," hiring illegal immigrants as landscapers and extensive discussion of Mormonism.
"Statements were on baptizing the dead, the Book of Mormon being on the level of the Bible, and one about equating it to a cult," said the Iowan, deeming them "common criticisms of Mormonism."
"I think they asked twice if being a Mormon would be an issue," this person added.
The person conducting the call said he didn't know who they were polling for, said the source.
McCain's campaign, which has fielded calls into their Iowa headquarters complaining of similar such calls, emphatically denies responsibility.
"Senator McCain strongly rejects this style of campaigning and we have absolutely no involvement whatsover," said Jon Seaton, McCain's top aide in Iowa.
Another McCain source, however, said tonight that the calls had been traced back to a number linked to the Tarrance Group -- Rudy Giuliani's pollster.
Of course, Rudy's camp vigorously denies having any part in this. However...
Calls to Ed Goeas, Giuliani's pollster and a principal at the Tarrance Group, and Mitt Romney's campaign were not immediately returned.
I mean if he called back, he might have to lie. Just ask Judith Regan.
Camp Clinton managed to rake in $22 million for the Democratic primary battle and another $5 million for the general election. Obama, the Illinois senator, raised $19 million for the primary, plus a bit over $1 million for the later contest.
Clinton's $22 million primary haul marked her best fundraising quarter yet.
"Wow. It's like they're always holding the trump card - they are good, and that's why they pulled out the stops this quarter," said Baruch College political scientist Doug Muzzio of the Clinton money machine.
Clinton's cranking ATM helped narrow the gap with Obama, giving her about $73 million to fight for the nomination to his $75 million.
When general election numbers are added in, the pair are neck and neck in buck-raking, at about $80 million each since January. Clinton started off with a $10 million advantage, funneling leftover campaign cash from her successful Senate bid into her presidential account. Observers say the money is important and the timing of the announcement helps Clinton because she can trumpet momentum while Obama has flatlined - at the polls and on the fundraising circuit.
John Edwards announced today that he will continue his presidential campaign despite the return of his wife Elizabeth's cancer. I'm sure the righties will slam him for it, and claim he's trolling for the sympathy vote. Well, at least he didn't call the press conference to announce he was divorcing Elizabeth, or visit her in the hospital to inform her he's leaving her for his mistress... All I can say, as the daughter of a breast cancer victim who did just what the Edwards' are doing -- got on with her life, until her fight was done, in September of 1986 -- is Godspeed. BTW... couldn't resist tracking down this wedding photo of the Edwards duo "back in the day." Very cute, no?