Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Washington Post: Edwards Winner Of Debate
According to this Washington Post's politics blog entry, Edwards was once again declared the winner of yesterday's NPR debate:
The debate focused exclusively on three issues: Iran (and the echoes of Iraq), China and immigration. The format was aimed at fostering in-depth discussion among the candidates and largely succeeded....
John Edwards: In the debates to date, Edwards has wavered between two personas: effective critic and angry outsider. At times Edwards' strident critique against "the establishment" sizzles with populist brio. But, it can also occasionally come across as cranky and complaining -- not exactly the two leading traits that people want in a president. In today's debate, Edwards took on the effective critic persona. He sought to politely highlight what he called real divides between himself and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) on Iran, and largely kept his focus on the mistakes made by the Bush Administration. Edwards was also able to hold his own when the debate turned to China -- demonstrating that he does indeed have some heft on foreign policy.
Joe Biden/Chris Dodd: It's no secret that Biden and Dodd have chafed against their lack of speaking time in the debates to date. In this debate, both were given considerably more time to make their points, and they did so effectively. Biden seemed to be channeling John McCain circa 2000, repeatedly telling listeners it was time to talk straight about issues. And, the focus on foreign policy allowed Biden to flex his knowledge on the issues and tout his time at the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Dodd lent the event its lone real moment of levity when he assured the debates' moderators that his children would not be receiving toys from China but rather toys from Iowa. Dodd also spoke authoritatively on the issue of immigration, even forcing Biden at one point to defer to his deeper knowledge on the issue.
Hillary Clinton: Here's the problem for the junior Senator from New York: Despite the fact that polling in Iowa shows her in tight race with Edwards and Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), her rivals for the nomination still treat her as though she is the frontrunner. On Iran, she took incoming from all sides -- Obama and Edwards accused her of attempting to distort their past statements, while Dodd and Biden castigated Clinton for her vote in favor of the now infamous Kyl-Lieberman amendment that designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. Clinton was also hurt by the topics chosen by NPR; on Iran and immigration she has taken considerable flack for her positions; her strongest issue, health care, was left out of the mix....
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Hillary Campaign Now Claims It Was Joking About Obama In Kindergarten
According to this New York Times story:
In rather head-spinning fashion, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign is now saying that it was only joking when it noted on Sunday that one of her rivals, Barack Obama, wrote an essay in kindergarten titled, “I want to become president.” The Clinton camp’s reference to Mr. Obama’s kindergarten musings has been widely mocked over the last 48 hours, and now her campaign is defending itself by arguing that it was all a joke.
...As the blowback built on Monday and bloggers and others tweaked the Clinton campaign, some aides began asserting that the information was meant to be tongue in cheek. And this morning, Mrs. Clinton’s chief strategist, Mark Penn, continued this line of argument during an appearance on the MSNBC program “Morning Joe.”
Asked about the press release, Mr. Penn said, “Oh, that is so silly.”
He said the campaign put, “at the end of a long thing, as a joke, that he always wanted to run from kindergarten.”
“It was a joke!” Mr. Penn said.
He also called reporters “spinnable” – apparently by the Obama campaign, or by bloggers – for believing that the Clinton press release was a serious piece of work.
You can check out the Clinton Statement about Obama's presidential ambitions here.
12/3/2007 4:40:37 PM
“Senator Obama’s comment today is fundamentally at odds with what his teachers, family, classmates and staff have said about his plans to run for president. Senator Obama’s campaign rhetoric is getting in the way of his reality.” —Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer
Today in Iowa, Senator Barack Obama said: "I have not been planning to run for president for however number of years some of the other candidates have been planning for.”
However, the facts don't back up Sen. Obama’s claim.
...In third grade, Sen. Obama wrote an essay titled 'I Want To Be a President':
Sen. Obama’s third grade teacher, Fermina Katarina Sinaga, "asked her class to write an essay titled 'My dream: What I want to be in the future.' Obama wrote 'I want to be a president,' she said." [The Los Angeles Times, 3/15/07]
In kindergarten, Sen. Obama wrote an essay titled 'I Want to Become President':
"Iis Darmawan, 63, Obama's kindergarten teacher, remembers him as an exceptionally tall and curly haired child who quickly picked up the local language and had sharp math skills. He wrote an essay titled, 'I Want To Become President,' the teacher said." [AP, 1/25/07]
Politico: Edwards' Case
Here's why Edwards can win. According to this email, as printed in Politico, from Edwards senior advisor Chris Chafe:
John Edwards started this campaign having won or placed second in 52 of Iowa’s 99 counties, and we have held onto and built from our support from 04 across the state. The importance of organizational strength is why it matters that the Edwards campaign has operations in all 99 counties, and that we have identified and trained 90% of our precinct captains, four weeks out from caucus night. We have over 20 offices open with 150 staff on the ground and reinforcements arriving daily. We have the most sophisticated, targeted, well resourced labor operation in several cycles.
...John Edwards is winning the polls of Iowans with caucus experience, and he holds a key 10 point lead over the field as the “second choice” among likely caucus goers. That item reflected a dead heat two to three weeks ago, and we believe the strength of our ads is manifesting itself in this new spike for Edwards as the second choice candidate, which will make a huge difference when other candidates with less[e]r operations and support in all 99 counties fail to meet threshold.
Veterans of the Iowa caucus process know that 90% of caucus attendees are over 35 years old and have prior caucus experience, with over 70% being over age 50. Young people do not have a strong history of attending the caucus, despite claims by the Dean campaign in 04 and the Obama campaign this year that they could be a deciding force. John Edwards leads among men, and the horse race among women polled remains fluid and close, despite the Clinton campaign’s extensive outreach to women there and nationally.
There is no doubt that Senator Clinton’s campaign is in serious trouble.
AP: Edwards More Passionate This Time
According to this AP story today:
"I am exactly the same person driven by exactly the same things," Edwards said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press. But he pointed to at least one difference. "There is a depth and a seasoning that makes me stronger and more passionate," he said. "It means I am enjoying myself."
Edwards noted that most surveys showed him trailing badly only a few weeks before the caucuses in the last election cycle, and he predicted the same kind of big movement in the closing weeks this time.
"I don't think anyone thinks this is a two-person race," said Edwards, who is in a tight contest in Iowa with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. "All you have to do is listen to caucus-goers at town hall meetings and it's obvious they think it is a three-person race and it's basically a dead heat between the three of us."
Edwards said he's learned from his previous campaign and "the key for me in the last month is the lesson of 2004. I've talked about what's wrong with Washington and now the key for me is to drive my positive vision for how we're going to fix it."
Edwards said his experience will show in the closing weeks.
"I think that what's true is I'm more sure-footed because of having been through this before," said Edwards. "I have a great deal of confidence both as a candidate and what I would do as president."
Edwards said that one lesson to be learned by Obama and Clinton is the quick falls of Richard Gephardt and Howard Dean, who led in the polls heading into the caucuses in 2004 but got into a vicious exchange toward the end.
Edwards Campaign's Iowa Caucus Command Center Website
This Edwards Campaign website, Caucus Command Center, has a step by step guide to what happens Caucus night for supporters so that they are prepared.
It puts the Emily's List Caucus website in support of Hillary Clinton to shame. The Edwards Caucus website has welcome messages from both John and Elizabeth Edwards. Edwards writes:
Most of America only gets to see candidates in 30-second sound bites, but here in Iowa, you get to evaluate us up close and in person. You are the guardians of what kind of president we're going to have, and your judgment may well decide the nomination. I have enormous respect for how seriously you take this important responsibility.
If you share my commitment to building One America and ensuring that the next generation will have a better life, then I am asking you to not only caucus for me on January 3rd - but to get as involved as you possibly can during these critical final days.
Thank you for everything that you do.
Edwards Gets Top Grade On Today's Debate
Time Magazine's Mark Halperin reports on the debate today on NPR with grades for the candidates with Edwards the clear winner.
Read full report cards on Time.com here. Excerpts are below along with Mark Halperin's grades for each candidate.
“Unlike the other candidates, did not waste a single answer.”
“Authoritative voice for radio, and wonkish personality suitable for NPR.”
“Relaxed and confident when playing rhetorical offense on international relations.”
“Once again was a dominant figure – maybe THE dominant figure – on the stage, in part because the chosen topics – Iran, China, immigration — played right to his strengths.”
“Statesman-like and more plain-spoken than usual.”
“Still insists on trying to be funny, despite lacking a discernable sense of humor.”
“Played the character of “Mike Gravel” in a comparatively understated style, as if auditioning for a one-man radio show.”
The Bias Of Headlines: Is Edwards A Potential Spoiler Or Gaining An Edge?
This earlier story in the New Republic that was titled "Spoiler Warning" appears in the San Francisco Chronicle under a different headline: Edwards' campaign gaining an edge.
Same story. Two different headlines.
Which one makes you think that John Edwards is a formidable opponent to the media darlings, has momentum, and that he can win...versus the man who may mess it up for the two so-called "rock stars" long before the American people had even started paying attention?
AP: $400 Haircut For Charity Finds Support From Elizabeth & John Edwards
According to this AP Story:
David Holden owns Hair Biz on Main Street, a couple of doors away from an Edwards campaign office. After the Democratic former senator's haircut made news last spring, Holden challenged presidential hopefuls to come in for $400 haircuts of their own, promising to donate all of the proceeds to autism research. His 12-year-old son has autism.
Republicans Tom Tancredo and Mike Huckabee and Democrat Dennis Kucinich have stopped in for a $400 style. "They went a little beyond the challenge, and that's wonderful," Holden said.
During the weekend, Holden received a note signed by Elizabeth Edwards, and a check for $500 toward autism research. He said she wrote that she had heard about his challenge and admired the commitment he and his wife, Nancy, were making to their adopted son, Costica.
"This personal check is a small down payment on a larger promise John made some time ago to make the lives of children with disabilities and their families better," she wrote.
Newsweek: Putting On Their Game Face
The news media bias continues in this Newsweek story on the Campaign which focuses mostly on Hillary vs Obama and then throws this in about Edwards in passing and quotes only its own poll. Other polls, such as the one I've included at the end of this blog entry, shows Edwards gaining the most in the last few weeks.
Yeah, you're right, Edwards is a formidable opponent who cannot be written off yet.
Voters still haven't figured out whom they want to win. Polls paint a confusing picture. Among Democrats nationwide, Clinton holds a big lead over Obama and is still perceived as the candidate most likely to win in November. But that advantage evaporates when the two are matched up against leading Republicans. In surveys of voters from both parties, Clinton has a narrow, four-point lead over Rudy Giuliani in a recent NEWSWEEK POLL; Obama has a three-point lead. But against other Republicans, Obama comes out ahead, leading Mitt Romney by 16 and Fred Thompson by 13, compared with four points for Clinton in both scenarios.
One name rarely figures in the Obama and Clinton strategy: John Edwards. Both campaigns seem to believe his effort will fade. "I don't spend a lot of time thinking about Edwards," a Clinton adviser, who didn't want to be named discussing strategy, says. That could be a mistake. Edwards, who came in second in Iowa in 2004, is polling a close third in the state. By focusing on each other, Obama and Clinton risk missing a late Edwards surge that could remake the conventional wisdom of who looks like a winner. After all, it's tough to argue you're "electable" if your name isn't on the ballot in November.
A few weeks ago the Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University released a study showing that the media's coverage of the campaign has been highly skewed to favor Clinton and Obama. This non-partisan, independent study demonstrated that while both Hillary and Barack received extensive and generally favorable coverage, John's issues-based campaign was largely ignored. More recently, the New York Times' own public editor found this same bias in their coverage of the race.
Sadly, we see it continuing in recent coverage. The race in Iowa is a statistical dead heat among Edwards, Obama and Clinton.
And recent polls show EDWARDS, not Obama, gaining the most ground. For example, here are the changes in the American Research Groups' state-wide polls since October:
Iowa: EDWARDS +8; Obama +5; Clinton -7
New Hampshire: EDWARDS +7; Obama +1; Clinton -6
Washington Post: Clinton Attacks Obama's Character
According to this Washington Post story yesterday, Clinton starts to assail Obama's character, describing him in surprisingly familiar terms....terms that many voters would actually describe her according to recent polls:
On a Sunday talk show, communications director Howard Wolfson
criticized the Illinois senator for using a political action committee
to distribute money to candidates in local contests, some in early
presidential primary states. "There's a lot that voters don't know
about Barack Obama," Wolfson said on CBS's "Face the Nation."
The Clinton campaign has been steadily building what it describes as a
character case against Obama for several weeks, particularly over his
health-care plan. Clinton has argued that he is being disingenuous
when he claims his plan would achieve universal coverage.
Obama's plan would not mandate that all people buy health insurance;
instead it focuses on lowering costs. Strategists said Clinton chose
health care as a target area because she believes she has a large
advantage on the issue among many voters.
Sunday, however, marked the first time that Clinton raised the
character question so bluntly on the campaign trail. In a
question-and-answer session with reporters after her first stop, she
said that "you can't get a straight answer" from Obama on health care.
Clinton advisers said they make no apology for going on the offensive
after months of criticism by both Obama and Edwards. "Senator Obama is
a fabulous orator, but we need more than words," Wolfson said in an
interview. "We don't need someone who says one thing and does another,
somebody who talks a good game but doesn't have the courage of their
convictions. And on issue after issue, Senator Obama says one thing
and does another."