Thursday, January 31, 2008

John McCain's Own Benchmark Porposal:
A Timetable for Withdraw!

UPDATE BELOW: Romney's strong support for the surge in early January '07:
UPDATE II BELOW: Captain's Quarters had the McClatchy Tribune story as well:

Regarding this CNN-reported ongoing kerfuffle over the timetables . . . how about a little perspective here?

One year ago, on January 26th of 2007, the McClatchy Tribune out of Tuscon, Arizona, per Margaret Talev, reported that John McCain himself was proposing a timetable of specific benchmarks that the Iraqis would have to meet, or we would pull out!

And Barack Obama was quoted in the story congratulating his fellow Senator at the time, noting that he (Obama) had proposed the same thing two weeks before!!

Below are the first several grafs of the story, which can be found here (my emphasis added).

And he's making his accusations aimed at Mitt Romney, for being for a timetable back then?
McCain considers setting benchmarks for Iraqis
By Margaret Talev
Tucson, Arizona
Published: 01.26.2007

WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., one of the most stalwart supporters of the war in Iraq, said Thursday that he might propose that the Iraqi government meet certain benchmarks for the United States to continue its engagement.

Fellow senators and independent political scientists said McCain's thinking reflected growing concerns within the Republican Party about the course of the war, and also might mark a turning point for the likely 2008 presidential contender, whose previous unconditional backing of the war may have hurt his prospects.
McCain said Thursday that he hadn't yet decided on precise benchmarks. "They'd have to be specific, and they (Iraqi government officials) would have to meet them," he said.

Asked what penalty would be imposed if Iraq failed to meet his benchmarks, he said: "I think everybody knows the consequences. Haven't met the benchmarks? Obviously, then, we're not able to complete the mission. Then you have to examine your options."
. . . .

Here is the key quote in the story from Barack Obama at the time:

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said: "I called for that . . . several weeks ago. I'm glad that John McCain agrees with me."

So, just one year ago, John McCain was suggesting PULLING OUT of Iraq for failure to meet his benchmarks! And, he was warmly congratulated for his stand by Senator Barack Obama!

UPDATE: Here is the link to the Boston Globe story, (hat tip: Free Republic, here) dated January 10, 2007, highlighting former Governor Romney's position supporting the troop surge, a few weeks before John McCain (above) announced he was for specific benchmarks and withdraw if they were not met!

From the story by Rick Klein:

WASHINGTON -- Former governor Mitt Romney Wednesday endorsed President Bush's plan for a troop increase in Iraq, breaking his public silence on the troop "surge" by arguing that a stable Iraq is only possible if US forces can provide security to Iraqi civilians.

Hours before Bush spoke Wednesday night, Romney issued a statement calling for five additional combat brigades in Baghdad and two Marine regiments in Al-Anbar province -- precisely the plan for as many as 21,500 new troops that was outlined by the Bush administration before the president’s speech.

"It is impossible to defeat the insurgency without first providing security for the Iraqi people," Romney said in a statement released Wednesday morning. "In consultation with generals, military experts and troops who have served on the ground in Iraq, I believe securing Iraqi civilians requires additional troops."

UPDATE II: Captain's Quarters had the McClatchy-Tribune story linked as well here. Ed Morrissey notes there was no specific timetable included, but observes how unwise it now appears for McCain to have picked a fight over this issue:

He didn't use the supposedly verboten word "timetables", but unmet benchmarks have to have timetables to be unmet, and clearly McCain had some timeframe in mind with this remark. Like I said, he drew a really dumb line in the sand with this issue.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Anyone Seen A Chicken With Lips?

Radiovice (ht: Powerline, here) has posted a clip from the Hillary Clinton's interview with Tim Russert on "Meet The Press," earlier today. In it, you will hear that she actually claims credit for the success of the surge, through her demands for troop withdraws. Hillary says she and the Democrats scared the Iraqis into compliance with the benchmarks, by all their talk of withdraw, and, therefore, they now deserve the credit for the success of the surge.

Oh, . . . so it was all just a big ruse on the part of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats to demand the immediate withdraw of our troops in order to underscore the U.S. success! Boy, they sure had me fooled!

So, all along the Democrats must have been working in complete concert with the Bush Administration in order to "fool" the Iraqis into successfully meeting so many of those pesky benchmarks.

Please, watch the clip of her telling Tim Russert why she personally, and the other Democrats who at the time vehemently opposed the surge, now deserve all the credit for the success of the strategy!

Years ago, comedian Tommy Smothers, one of the Smothers Brothers, had a very funny line about someone whom everyone obviously knew was lying. He would say, in his inimitable mock-serious tone,
"Some people believe that. And, some people believe the've seen a chicken with lips."
I was also trying to think of possible analogous historical "antecedents" to this utterly preposterous claim by H. Clinton -- you know, like Neville Chamberlain taking the credit for Churchill's wartime successes, asserting that it was really he who had deliberately lulled Hitler into overconfidence through his appeasement policy at Munich.

Or, perhaps Jimmy Carter claiming that the success of Ronald Reagan's upending of the Soviet Union, was in large measure due to Carter's own efforts in convincing the Soviets that the United States was willingly tossing away any notion of eventually prevailing in the Cold War.

And then it hit me what this Clinton claim really reminded me of.

I remembered a good story I heard many years ago, right after I got out of law school. It was told to me by a guy named John, who had been practicing law for a few years as a public defender here in New Jersey. John was -- and still is, by the way -- a very funny guy. He can locate the humor in the most trying of circumstances, and bring it out.

One night, after having a few beers, John was telling a few of us a "war story" about a criminal client he had had who'd been facing a nearly insurmountable murder charge, arising out of a fatal stabbing that had taken place in the presence of several witnesses. According to John, the defendant simply had no friends. No one liked the guy. His situation was so dire that, as I recall, even the defendant's own brother was going to testify against him at trial!

In other words, he was "going down!"

But, the defendant was also a very active and willing participant in the preparation of his own defense, often to the point of real annoyance. He frequently would call John at all hours of the day or night, to discuss the case.

As John told the story, late one evening John received a very anxious but excited call from the defendant from the phone in the jail.

"John," the defendant exclaimed breathlessly, "I've got it!"

"You've got what?" inquired John, who had been awakened from a nap to take the call.

"I figured out what I'm going to say in court," said the defendant triumphantly.

"What?" asked John, obviously concerned that the guy was even thinking about testifying.

"I'm going to tell them I was pulling the knife out!"

Now, I never knew for sure whether that actually happened, or whether John might have embellished the story a bit. Or maybe it was just John's version of an old defense attorney's tale. Didn't matter. When you heard John tell the story, you willingly suspended disbelief. You could see it in your mind's eye.

But when I watched this clip of Hillary earlier, there was no willing suspension of disbelief! Clearly, she was dead wrong with her politically motivated opposition to the surge. And she was a complete disgrace when she as much as called General Petraeus a liar during the hearings. Now, she is simply and desperately looking for an escape hatch.

The point is, I guess, that if you want to believe what she is saying now, then you will also have to believe that, all along, it was Hillary who was really pulling the knife out! If so, get the lipstick ready. Here come the chickens!

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Walter Kavanaugh Dies

(Update: 01/11/08, below)

Senator Walter J. Kavanaugh, a 74 year old just-retired Republican state senator here in New Jersey, passed away earlier this evening at Somerset Medical Center. He had had a long illness. Walter will truly be remembered as a witty and caring individual, who was beloved on both sides of the aisle.

He married the former Carole Pahler in 1960. They had two children, Mary Jo, born in 1962, and Kathryn who was born in 1968.

Walter's final legislative term in the Senate ended just yesterday. He will be succeeded by former Assemblyman Christopher (Kip) Bateman, who was elected to the seat this past November.

According to Fitzgerald's Legislative Manual, Walter had served in the New Jersey legislature for 32 years, first for eleven terms as an Assemblyman, from 1976 until 1998, and then as the Senator, succeeding Jack Ewing when the latter retired from the Senate. In both capacities, Walter represented the 16th legislative district, which included portions of Morris and Somerset counties in central New Jersey.

Walter was born in Bound Brook on June 30th, 1933, and attended schools in Somerville before attending and graduating from the University of Notre Dame. He served as an officer and pilot in the United States Air Force in the mid 1950's.

In his early public career, Walter served on the Somerville Board of Education, including serving as Board President for five years. He was also on the Somerset County Board of Mental Health, and the Somerset County Park Commission for several years.

Fitzgerald's also notes that the Senator was "a life member and past president of the Somerville First aid and Rescue squad," served on the boards of the Somerset Medical Center, the county's Council on Alcholism, "and the Board of Regents of St. Mary's College of Notre Dame."

That connection to Notre Dame was an enduring source of pride to the Senator, a fact that would most assuredly become known to anyone who ever spoke to him for any length of time.

A close friend of Walter's, former Assemblyman Dick Kamin tells a wonderful story about Walter from back in the summer of 1993, when both were serving in the General Assembly. The two of them had been designated as representatives from New Jersey, among a group of 18 or so delegates from 14 different states, who traveled to South Africa at the time the determination was being there made to hold elections with universal suffrage, as a consequence of the dismantling of the apartheid system.

They were traveling in Johannesburg, and visited a day care center for 4 5 and 6 year olds in the area of Soweto. The area was very poor and there was dirt flooring in the school. Dick said the first thing Walter did when he noticed how poor the school was, was to immediately pass the hat among the participants, and he then turned the proceeds over to the school.

Then Walter sat down with the little children and proceeded to start teaching them to sing "Cheer, Cheer for old Notre Dame."

That was Walter. Anyone who ever knew him will miss him!

Update: In his lede in the Star-Ledger today, 01/11, Tom Hester picked up on the story we posted Wednesday, above about Walter Kavanaugh and Dick Kamin traveling in South Africa, back in 1993. He quoted Dick saying, "It's one of my favorite stories of Walter's caring and dedication."

Today, we also posted another story about just how funny Walter Kavanaugh could be in a comment on the Politickernj announcement post from back on Wednesday evening. Tom Kean, Jr. had been quoted on the post to the effect that Walter could even find the humor in a dry budget hearing.

He sure could! And I have the shirt to prove it!

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Monday, January 07, 2008

More Thoughts from New Hampshire

Another on-site viewpoint . . . here is Mark Ambinder's take (hat tip, Hugh Hewitt, here) on why Mitt Romney should do surprisingly well here in New Hampshire tomorrow.

Add to Mark's impressive list the folllowing -- By far, Mitt Romney has the strongest GOTV effort at work in getting out the vote - including phone banks and door-to-door.

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Patriots On Fox Debate: Thumbs Up, Mitt!
Rasmussen: Resurgent Romney

Concord, New Hampshire, 01/07/08 (photo link update, 01/08):

Last night I watched the Fox News-sponsored Republican debate from the lobby of my Comfort Inn lodgings up here in Concord, New Hampshire. Clearly, advantage Romney!

It was quite fascinating because a few of us shared the viewing area in the lobby with a group of Patriots -- 19 of them to be exact -- students from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Nearly all of the students were enrolled in a political communication class at New Century College at George Mason, taught by Janette Muir, PhD. They have all been here for several days on a field trip to the Granite State to observe the Presidential primary race, and in many instances to directly participate in the process by volunteering for their respective favorite candidates.

Here is an AP photo of a few of the students in the foreground, haming it up with Mitt Romney at an event held in Nashua, New Hampshire, on the afternoon of the 6th.

A good friend, Dick Kamin (former New Jersey Assemblyman and a Mitt Romney volunter here in New Hampshire) and I both sat down in the lobby to watch the debate. We both exchanged pleasantries and chatted with a few of the students in brief breaks during the event.

Just as the debate ended, Kamin decided just out of curiosity to ask the group of mostly upper year college students if they would be willing to share their immediate impressions of the debate. They were happy to. Though obviously a mixed group in terms of their particular preferences, most of them seemed to readily identify Mitt Romney as the winner of the exchange, with just a few exceptions.

Right at that point, the coverage on Fox turned to Frank Luntz and his instant response technique with his survey group of New Hampshire observers of the debate. We all watched as the participants in his focus group all quickly confirmed what clearly had been the students' predominant first impression, leading Luntz to conclude from his observations that in this final debate, Mitt Romney had "hit a homerun." Hugh Hewitt has the videos of the Luntz focus group posted on his site. It is great news for the Romney campaign.

Incidentally, George Mason University was named for the American revolutionary era patriot, and founding father of the nation, who hailed from Virginia. As a delegate from Virginia to the Constitutional Convention, Mason was perhaps most notable for consistently championing individual rights and liberties. Years before, in 1776, he had authored the Virginia Declaration of Rights, a document that influenced our Declaration of Independence that same year. In 1787, Mason even refusing to sign the United States Constitution, because it did not embody guarantees of individual rights and liberties, and he worked with fellow Virginian, James Madison, in framing what became the first ten amendments to our Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights. They were introduced as such in that First Congress of the United States by Madison in 1789. Mason died a few years later in 1792.

It was quite a diverse group of students who traveled here from George Mason for the primary. In fact, the school has become quite well known for it's diversity, having been recently rated the 4th most diverse school in the country by the Princeton Review*.

For example, we learned from Professor Muir that one student is Iranian, one comes from Peru, and a third hails from South Korea. She and a few students chatted with us briefly after the debate, as they were deciding what their itinerary would be for the next day. They noted that the class had even created a website, Patriots on the Campaign Trail, to memorialize their trip to New Hampshire, where it appears that at least one student daily has posted their thoughts since the beginning of their trek around New Hampshire that began back on January 2nd.

After discussing it among themselves last night, several of the George Mason students were planning to get moving early this morning to attend a few events today, including a Barack Obama event up in Lebanon, which is located west and north of here along the Connecticut River near the Vermont border, about an hour or more drive from here, and then possibly a John McCain event this afternoon back here in Concord.

Today, it looks like both groups -- the George Mason students and Frank Luntz's focus group -- are reflecting the reality in the Republican race here in New Hampshire. The Rasmussen poll is now reporting that the Republican race has narrowed to a statistical dead heat, with a resurgent Mitt Romney only trailing McCain by one point, 32 - 31! Only two days ago, polls had McCain up by 6 points. The bottom has now dropped out of McCain's lead.

Rasmussen also specifically surveyed on a very significant point, one we had made previously both here, and here -- that as John McCain tries to appeal to Independents, he will be competing with Barack Obama and others, and that he would also be risking Republican and conservative support as he tacked left. Rasmussen's survey notes that Romney clearly leads among likely Republican voters, while McCain is only getting a dwindling share of independents who will likely vote in the Republican contest. The trend is clearly to Romney.

From Rasmussen:
John McCain is facing an unusual two-front challenge as he seeks to hang on to a narrow lead in New Hampshire’s Republican Presidential Primary. He is competing with Mitt Romney for votes in the Republican Primary. At the same time, he is competing with Barack Obama for Independent voters who can choose to vote in either the Republican or the Democratic Primary on Tuesday.

At the moment, he is losing ground to Obama which is causing him problems with Romney. On Friday, the Rasmussen Reports survey found that Independent voters were likely to make up 32% of the Republican Primary electorate. That dropped to 27% of Sunday. As a result, McCain’s lead over Romney has dipped to a statistically insignificant one-point advantage.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in New Hampshire shows John McCain earning 32% of the vote while Mitt Romney attracts 31%.

The survey was conducted on Saturday and Sunday. All interviews were conducted before Sunday night’s debate. Romney leads by five percentage points among Republicans while McCain leads by thirteen among Independents likely to take part.
In fact, there were earlier indications of this trend. Early this morning USAToday printed a USAToday/Gallup Poll demonstrating that McCain's lead had already begun to dwindle prior to last night's debate. The poll indicated McCain had dropped back to a four point lead that was at six points only a few days ago.

But the USAToday headline was utterly misleading, saying, "Poll: Obama, McCain Gain."

As to the Republican race, it should have said, "McCain: Slip and Fall."

Local news coverage here in New Hampshire, such as at the Concord Monitor, however, largely buried coverage of the Fox debate, and were still printing front page stories analyzing comments from the debate Saturday night on ABC.

* A private organization that does educational preparation work, not affiliated with Princeton University.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Newspaper Candidate

John McCain is playing an ad now, exclusively touting newspaper positions, but not just endorsements -- he's also including along with them, published negative positions about his chief opponent at this point, Mitt Romney. The most notable negative in the later category was a polemic published by the Concord Monitor.

Lest anyone have any doubt about bias at that paper, if you are here in New Hampshire and follow the paper's coverage, even briefly, you know which way it leans.

For example, the Monitor's coverage on Saturday morning gave coverage and reaction to the results of Iowa on the front page, but with the bulk of primary election news on their section B State & Local page. The coverage consisted of a few longer stories on how the candidates were reacting to their various placings in the caucuses, and a few postings about events that would be on the schedule of the candidates for the weekend. They call that feature Campaign Watch.

The Monitor stories on that page were almost all about Democrats -- one each about Edwards, Huckabee, Obama, Clinton, and one on the curiosity of the foreign press about the New Hampshire in general, and the war in particular. There were a total of four photos on the page,the largest featuring Barack Obama ot a rally with an enthusiastic crowd as the backdrop, then a friendly shot of Hillary having a good laugh with a 91 year old gal from Goffstown, and, finally, two small head shots, one of John Edwards and one of Dennis Kucinick.

That was it.

The shorter blurbs -- Saturday left side bar stories, which the paper dubs Trail Mix were, in order, about John Edwards, John Edwards (again) and Dennis Kucinich.

In the Campaign Watch feature posting presidential events, the listed the following appearances: Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, John and Elizabeth Edwards, Bill Richardson, Barack Obama, John McCain, John McCain and finally, a tiny note that Mitt Romney would be holding a post-debate (ABC) rally at Varick's Sports Bar on Depot Street in Manchester.

So, we took a little trip down to Varick's last night, and here are a few shots from the event to share, ones you will not see in the Monitor. They didn't cover the event at all, even shopping for comments as a part of the wrap-up on the debate today, though we do know they knew about it.

They do, however, cover other "light touch" topics, such as: Hillary and Chelsea Clintons' bus ride with four undecided young voters, mostly spent discussing the merits of being a vegetarian; and a lengthy staff-written piece on their blog about how John McCain doesn't drink as much coffee as he used to!

Mitt had his spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom read a statement of initial reaction to the debate by nationally-known political pundit Dick Morris, who reluctantly admitted that Mitt had won last night's debate. Eric was reading the statement from his Blackberry.

In addition to announcing his victory in the Wyoming Primary, where Mitt picked up 8 of 12 delegates, he expressed confidence about his performance in the debate, and said that the focus of the debate played to his strengths. In a sense, it is a shame that Ron Paul will not participate in the Fox News Channel debate at 8 pm tonight, at St. Anselm College. In a way, Paul was the perfect foil for the others, and especially Mitt last night. One of his strongest moments involved explaining to the Congressman the importance of confronting the global jihad.

Ann and Mitt both talked about how during the debate he used the technique of focusing on one person in the audience to speak to. Mitt, of course, said he knew he was doing well during the debate, as kept looking at Ann, and she would smile and give him a big thumbs up.

The Concord Monitor's coverage on Sunday (today) was no better, almost to the point of pettyness. For example, because of the unique circumstances of the two debates being held one after another last night, both the Republican and Democrat candidates all met briefly on the stage and exchanged pleasantries between the two debates. The Monitor managed to find a photo -- no doubt among several they took -- that managed to block out Mitt Romney from the photo all together. On the inside, they selected a shot of the Republican candidates that managed to catch Mitt with his mouth open.

Well, it's their paper. But Senator McCain knows full well what their bias is.

Then too, the polls right at this point are showing an interesting development. If they are to believed (it consisted of a relatively small sampling) Hillary and Obama are now in a dead heat, and McCain with a lead just outside the margin of error. Independents can opt to vote in the primaries either way, with McCain, Obama and even Edwards all plugging hard for those voters. To the extent that McCain is tacking left to try to attract those votes, he may turn off Republican voters.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Where's The Fence?

(Update, below)
After the press conference on illegal immigration at Mitt Romney Headquarters in Manchester, New Hampshire earlier today, Demos Chrissos, President of RapidResponse Media, an issue advocacy, production and media company out of Maryland, played a few of his rapid turn-around issue advocacy pieces for some of the participants from the presser.

You may enjoy some of the clips posted on his website, including the one entitled, "Where's the Fence?"

Below is Demos (green sweater, left) showing a few of the clips on his laptop to two other press conference participants, Bay Buchanan and Congressman Tom Tancredo.

The one showing at the time was, "Where's The Fence? It is well worth watching. Just click on the image.

Update: Also posted is a hard-hitting opposition piece on the latest iteration of the United Nations Convention on the Law Of the Sea, UNCLOS, or the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) to it's critics.

There are two clips. Watch both. The opposition pieces are very effective reminders of what critics see as sovereignty, environmental, taxation, economic, lack of funding control, and even eminent domain issues.

The latest version of the treaty, that some argued to President Reagan's original objections back in 1982, and which was signed by former President Clinton in 1996, was never ratified by the Senate. But it was recently released for a vote in the full Senate by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 17-4, back on October 31st, having the support of the Bush Administration.

However, the treaty does not seem to be drawing much attention in the Presidential race!

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From the Café Next Door* - Immigration

Looks like Mitt Romney's campaign for President will focus it's message on illegal immigration Saturday, with a Press Conference scheduled for 1:30 pm. It will be featuring several guests, including Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado (R-6), a fifth term Congressman, who, as was first reported by Jason Pulliam, a staff writer with the Des Moines Register, withdrew his candidacy from the Presidential race on December 20th, and endorsed Mitt Romney.

Pulliam reported at the time that Tancredo had come to believe that the cause that had informed his run -- his opposition to illegal immigration - could be harmed by his continued pursuit of a race he realized he could not win. He suggested that the candidacies of two individuals who he identified as "soft on immigration," Mike Huckabee and John McCain were both assisted by drawing votes away by from Mitt Romney. The issue is now obviously joined here in New Hampshire, with all three in a race for the top spot in the Granite State.

Also attending and speaking on behalf of Mitt Romney, will be colorful Sheriff Joe Arpaio, 77, of Maricopa County, Arizona, who has been dubbed "America's Toughest Sheriff." He flew into New Hampshire this morning to log his support for the former Massachusetts governor. Taking the opportunity to make a few preliminary remarks to the gathering volunteer canvassers at Mitt Romney's Headquarters on Elm Street here in downtown Manchester, Sheriff Arpaio noted that he was supporting Romney, despite the fact that McCain is the senior Senator from his home state of Arizona.

Speaking of his fellow Arizonan, Senator McCain, Arpaio quipped, "He's a good guy; Romney's a better guy," adding, "I believe in the Governor. He'll make a great President." Coincidentally, Joe Arpaio is no stranger to the New England area. He was born "down the road" back in 1932 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Also in attendance will be Rockingham County, New Hampshire, Sheriff Dan Linehan. Rockingham County, a county of a little less than three hundred thousand residents that is located in the lower eastern corner of the State, which includes the coastal corridor, and thus borders both Massachusetts and Maine. The jurisdiction of Rockingham County actually pre-dates the American Revolution -- hence the name.

Also attending the event will be Rockingham County Attorney, Jim Reams. Last summer, Reams was selected to serve as the Treasurer of the National District attorney's Association, NDAA.

Bay Buchanan will likewise be present at the Romney event. Bay recently authored a book about Hillary Clinton, The Extreme Makeover of Hillary (Rodham) Clinton, which she discussed in an interview back at the end of May, with Kathyrn Lopez of National Review Online (NRO). Bay has frequently spoken out on the subject of illegal immigration.

Finally attending the Romney event will be Demos Chrissos, President of RapidResponse Media.

*Café Van Otis, 341 Elm Street, Manchester, NH 03101, which happens to be situated next door to the Mitt Romney New Hampshire Headquarters in Manchester. Very good chocolates and coffee, by the way!

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Where Are They Now?

The conventional wisdom, of course, is that Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama were the big winners, and that Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton were the big losers last night in Iowa.

But is that really so?

To some extent, all of those who participated last night were winners in the sense that they participated, and put it on the line.

In American politics, we love a guy or gal who mixes it up. And in modern Republican politics, one of the enduring frustrations is that our political leaders often seem too willing to give up in a fight, especially a policy fight. Too many of them appear to always be looking for the compromise position that will end the fight, rather than slugging it out to a reasonable solution. When I hear a candidate say, "I'm the candidate who can work with Democrats," it gives me pause! That is the earned rap on John McCain, and is why he is often jokingly referred to as Senator McKennedy.

On the other hand, the frequent weakness of Democrats, is that they never stop fighting, including amongst themselves -- "even for an eggshell."

Quick quiz! Name the Democrat contender this year who said -- or ever implied even once -- "I can work with the Republicans." Still thinking? Forget it!

Lurking in the background of this years Presidential race, is the perception that a few of the Republican players simply gave themselves a bye in the early rounds. If you take it to a baseball analogy, they literally announced in advance that they would skip the first couple of innings! Rudy Giuliani, and to a somewhat more limited extent, John McCain fit into this category. Rudy's strategy is to win the nomination, by selectively marshalling his resources for only certain key geographic fights, and his campaign manager gets a little testy when challenged as to why this doesn't send a message that he really doesn't care about the places he is already foregoing.

But what does it say about his willingness to fight the good fight in the General Election? What does it say about a Republican candidate who is unwilling to compete in a primary or caucus that is either exclusively limited to Republicans, or heavily weighted by them? You have to have a strategy in the general that will give you a victory in the battleground states. But in the primary?

There is more than a bit of perceived arrogance in that attitude, and it is surely something that will linger into the General. In fact, to some extent it contradicts Rudy's main claim, which is that he is best positioned to beat the Democrat nominee in the fall, who he has said will be Hillary Clinton.

Well, not in Iowa, you won't, Rudy! Nor in New Hampshire -- which actually has a small piece of coastline. They were both states that were competitive in 2004. Why should someone who wants to the the President of the United States not at least take a shot at a showing in all of the States? Rudy is being so selective, he even risks being derisively tagged as the "bi-coastal" candidate.

So, neither Romney nor Clinton were losers last night in their willingness to fight.

Who will win in New Hampshire on either side, is very much up for grabs.

As to the history of the "carry-over" effect -- Iowa to New Hampshire -- there is simply no real pattern there, except in the case of sitting Presidents running for re-election.

Remember former President Bush having the "big mo" coming out of Iowa in 1980? Ronald Reagan won in New Hampshire and the primary race was all but over. Remember eight years later in 1988 when Bob Dole won in Iowa, and then lost to Vice President George Bush in New Hampshire by eight and a half points a few days later? Dole left New Hampshire an angry man . . . "Stop lying about my record!" . . . and lost the race.

The Romney campaign now points out that no one has failed to obtain at least 18 points in Iowa and go on to win the nomination and the Presidency. Some will say that is splitting hairs a bit, but there is that factor of being willing to put up a convincing fight, even in defeat, that will factor into the overall primary campaign, and to some extent affect the general.

As for former governor Mike Huckabee, he had a very impressive but very focused victory, with the bulk of his caucus-goers being evangelical Christian participants. Last night on CNN Bill Schneider noted that Huckabee attracted only 14% of the non-evangelical participants in Iowa last night.

Here is from the AP story.
More than half of GOP voters said they were born again or evangelical Christians, and nearly half of them supported Huckabee, according to entrance interviews by The Associated Press and the television networks. Romney led among non-evangelical voters by 2-to-1 or more.

And from the CNN analytical coverage:
In Iowa, entrance polls of caucus-goers showed that 3 out of every 5 Republicans were self-described born again or evangelical Christians. Huckabee beat Romney by better than 2-to-1 in this voting bloc. Among the rest of Iowa's Republican electorate, however, Huckabee finished a distant fourth behind Romney, McCain and Fred Thompson.

In New Hampshire, social conservatives are not as influential. This potentially opens the door for Romney to regain the upper hand or for McCain to repeat his 2000 victory.

The Arizona senator will find himself in a two-front battle: against Romney for the hearts and souls of GOP voters and against Obama for the state's unpredictable and sizable independent electorate.

So, does John McCain go through this weekend boasting, "I'm the guy who can work with Democrats," in order to try to fight for those independent voters with Obama?

Or, is he now the guy between Mount Monadnock and a hard place?

Looks like it's time to head north and get a closer view!

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Susan Estrich Sez, "Make Our Day!"

In a quick 17 second clip, prominent Democrat political operative Susan Estrich commented thusly last night on Fox News Channel.

Here is the rough transcript of the clip posted on YouTube by bcompton33:
"Huckabee. Huckabee could win tomorrow here in Iowa. Huckabee is the Democrats' dream! Now, he's the kind of candidate who can do very well in the Iowa Caucus, (and) taps into something, but he - can Republicans nominate Huckabee? Honey, I'm dancing at the Inaugural Ball!"

Susan recently referred to Huckabee derisively as the "Jenny Craig of Republican politics" -- with her apologies to Jenny -- suggesting that many Democrats were frothing at the mouth over the prospect of running against him.

Of course, the gravelly-voiced pundit -- with apologies to Mike Gravel -- hasn't always been the greatest of prognosticators. Perhaps it was also seeing the latest Iowa numbers of her favored candidate, Hillary Clinton, beginning to resemble a sudden downward swirl, that prompted an immediate need on Susan's part to be overly enthusiastic about something!

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

More On The Huck Feign

(Updated: 01/01 pm)
Yesterday, AP writer Ron Fournier supplied additional details in an analysis piece, "Analysis: Huckabee May Have Gone Too Far." He described Huckabee's arrival at the presser and his sudden "change of heart" in the room filled still with anti-Romney signs and boards, and a large backdrop declaring "Enough is enough!"
When Huckabee arrived, he announced he had just changed his mind. The ad wouldn't run. It was too negative.

"I believe the people of Iowa deserve better, and we are going to try and give them better ...," he said.

But he didn't. Instead, Huckabee showed off the spot to the journalists, knowing full well his negative message would seep out of the room. He told the media to pay close attention.

"You're not going to get a copy of it," he warned, "so this is your chance to see it, then after that you'll never see it again."

The media laughed.
First Read, an MSNBC political blog had the story up as well, which they tagged as "Huck's Strange Day." They link to today's Des Moines Register piece by Lisa Rossi, which lead with:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Monday that he had pulled a television advertisement targeting competitor Mitt Romney that was scheduled to be
broadcast in Iowa before Thursday's Republican presidential caucuses.

He showed the ad instead in a room packed with reporters at the Marriott hotel in downtown Des Moines.

Further down in the article, Lisa noted:

Reporters asked whether it was hypocritical to pull the ad, then show it to journalists.

"People want to be cynical about it, they can be cynical about it," Huckabee said. "If I said we were not going to run an ad ... you'd say, 'Where's the ad?' "

First Read also linked to AP Ron Fournier's analysis piece, as had Powerline's John Hinderaker in his piece of late yesterday, borrowing from Founier's header -- "Did Huckabee Go Too Far?"

John certainly seems to think so, noting Fournier's point that some of the anti-Romney lines in the ad Huckabee now claims to eschew, are lines that he has regularly been using, and continues to use in his stump appearances.

Hinderaker thus concludes:

The media helped to build Huckabee up, but if Fournier's reaction is typical, the honeymoon may be over.
(Update) Here a link at YouTube to portions of the presser.

As you can see from the video, under questioning from Carl Cameron at Fox, the following exchange took place:
Cameron: "So, if you've got all these placards, an ad that your not going to run, and a week's worth of commentary calling him (Romney) dishonest, are you saying that as of now these staffers should take these placards down, and that you won't say it anymore?"

Huckabee: "That's correct."

Yet he somehow insisted it was all true.

Today, Bob Krumm tagged it all "The Baptist Preacher's Gamble." His theory is that Huckabee's internal polls were finally was catching up to what others' were showing, and
"that the Passive Aggressive Pastor pulled yesterday’s stunt because he has seen his poll numbers and knows that they are "end-of-campaign bad.'"

More at Bob's post yesterday with additional links to media reaction noting the bizarre nature of the incident.

Krumm make a good point. Huckabee is an a "must win" situation in Iowa, and without an organization or money if he loses. So if he is tubing, this may simply have been a "kinder and gentler" version of the Dean "Scream."

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