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October 20th, 2008, 06:15 AM
Swift Boat Watch: pH for America
Posted Wednesday, October 15, 2008 6:02 PM
By Abby Callard

Who They Are: pH For America

Purpose: To persuade Americans that Barack Obama is not a good Christian.

Director: Stephen Marks, opposition researcher and self-described "political hit man."

Funding: Small donations

Cost of the Ad: Less than $1,000 to produce. The latest ad buy was $2,500.

Where It Ran: Starting Oct. 17 in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and Missouri.

Claims: Obama "insulted small-town Americans" when he said they are bitter and cling to guns and religion. He also "mocked and ridiculed" the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy and the Sermon on the Mount by taking passages "painfully out of context." Obama "condescendingly" implied that Americans don't read the Bible.

Select Image Below to Access YouTube Video

http://www.papermag.com/blogs/barack-obama-bw.png (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUr1oE7CxBY)

Image – Courtesy Papermag Word Up
Video – Courtesy RevSpitz / YouTube

Accuracy: In an event in San Francisco, Obama did say that some Americans, such as small town Pennsylvanians, "cling to guns and religion."*

As for the Bible, the clips in the ad come from Obama's 2006 "Call to Renewal" address, in which he responded to opponent Alan Keyes' claim that Obama was not a true Christian. Obama did mock Biblical verses, but he was trying to prove his point that literal interpretation makes no sense. And the problem isn't "context," as the ad suggests. Leviticus creates a set of rules regarding slavery. (Slave is used in some translations, and servant is used in others.) Deuteronomy suggests that a rebellious son be brought to the town's elders to be stoned to death.

At the end of that same paragraph, Obama says, "Folks aren't reading their bibles." But it's pretty clear that he's not talking about the American people—he's talking about Americans who interpret scripture literally.

Background: The pH in the group's name stands for "political hit man." This group clearly had the infamous Swift Boat ad of 2004 in mind when they created this ad: "pHForAmerica.com is hoping to become the ‘Swiftboat' 527 of 2008," states the group's Web site. Stephen Marks has created political ads in the past. The group's videos (there are one-minute and two-minute versions), which have been on Youtube for months, garnered a direct response from the Obama campaign, which called Marks a "scam artist" and said the ad would never be aired on TV. The group bought time earlier this month in Michigan and Pennsylvania but pulled the ad after it became clear those states were leaning Democrat.

Swift Boat Rating:

Obama did mock Bible verses, but only the literal meaning of them. By suggesting that Obama is not a true Christian, the ad plays to people's fears that he might be something else entirely. It's this insinuation that earns the spot an extra boat (although apparently that's what the ad's makers want).

2008 Washington Post.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC

October 20th, 2008, 06:59 PM
Taegan Goddard's Political Wire (http://politicalwire.com/)

McCain Campaign Reconsiders Use of Wright (http://politicalwire.com/archives/2008/10/20/mccain_campaign_reconsiders_use_of_wright.html)

McCain campaign manager Rick Davis told radio host Hugh Hewitt (http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/talkradio/transcripts/Transcript.aspx?ContentGuid=4410315f-534c-43de-8ce2-18489afaaa3b) late last week that they are reconsidering using the Rev. Jeremiah Wright as an issue in the last two weeks of the presidential race.

Said Davis: "Look, John McCain has told us a long time ago before this campaign ever got started, back in May, I think, that from his perspective, he was not going to have his campaign actively involved in using Jeremiah Wright as a wedge in this campaign. Now since then, I must say, when Congressman Lewis calls John McCain and Sarah Palin and his entire group of supporters, fifty million people strong around this country, that we're all racists and we should be compared to George Wallace and the kind of horrible segregation and evil and horrible politics that was played at that time, you know, that you've got to rethink all these things. And so I think we're in the process of looking at how we're going to close this campaign. We've got 19 days, and we're taking serious all these issues."

October 20th, 2008, 07:18 PM
If the language is too harsh please remove with my apologies...

October 20th, 2008, 07:30 PM
Don't know about the language, but the picture is freakin' me out.

Yup, we're in the homestretch. Out comes the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, tub, and any other household fixtures they can get their hands on.

Lucky they have Joe the Plumber on board to handle the details.

Also heard a rumor that McCain has come up with another idea to get the women vote... Josephine (http://www.adclassix.com/images/66cometcleanser.jpg).

She'll help Sarah clean up Washington.

October 20th, 2008, 08:06 PM
I assumed (incorrectly) that she (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Withers) was no longer with us. Glad to see the old gal is still around.

And that picture of the wee little Johnny is too effing scary for words.

October 20th, 2008, 10:25 PM
McCain campaign manager Rick Davis told radio host Hugh Hewitt late last week that they are reconsidering using the Rev. Jeremiah Wright as an issue in the last two weeks of the presidential race.
Well, there's your October "surprise." Not so surprisingly, it turns out to be ... the race card.

(Might even work. :()

(Noble John! He held out until he just couldn't restrain his handlers anymore!)

October 21st, 2008, 07:59 AM
http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/tpm_siteimages/logo_lg.gif MUCKRAKER

In other words, it looks like the RNC had scheduled a call to tout evidence of voter fraud – not voter registration fraud, mind you, but actual voter fraud -- being perpetrated by ACORN in New Mexico. But when ACORN appeared to come up with compelling evidence that no such fraud had occurred, the RNC held the call anyway, simply shifting the focus to other vague allegations against ACORN -- then refused to address the New Mexico situation when asked.

RNC On New Mexico "Voter Fraud": Never Mind

By Zachary Roth - October 20, 2008, 4:10PM

As if you needed any more evidence that the Republican effort to tout voter fraud is less about legitimate claims and more about a political agenda, consider this sequence of events:

Last week, as we noted at the time, the New Mexico GOP had publicly claimed that 28 people voted fraudulently in the Democratic primary, held in June, for a local race.

Then this morning, the RNC sent out a press release announcing a 3pm conference call with reporters "on the recent developments in New Mexico regarding ACORN."

But at 11am, ACORN – the community organizing group that Republicans have been trying lately to turn into a voter fraud boogeyman – held a conference call of its own, asserting that local election officials had confirmed that the 28 people in question, mostly low-income Latinos, were valid voters.

So here at TPMmuckraker, we wondered what the RNC's response to this would be. And on the 3pm call, we asked party spokesman Danny Diaz.


Diaz dodged the question. He talked about an incident with ACORN in Washington state, then referred us to an October 9th Wall Street Journal story, which did not address the allegation made last week by the state GOP about fraudulent voting in the Democratic primary. (Instead, it reported that the FBI had opened a preliminary investigation into thousands of fraudulent registration forms submitted in an area near an ACORN office.)

When we tried to follow up, Diaz cut us off and shifted the discussion toward a general attack on ACORN for submitting fraudulent registrations.

In other words, it looks like the RNC had scheduled a call to tout evidence of voter fraud -- not voter registration fraud, mind you, but actual voter fraud -- being perpetrated by ACORN in New Mexico. But when ACORN appeared to come up with compelling evidence that no such fraud had occurred, the RNC held the call anyway, simply shifting the focus to other vague allegations against ACORN -- then refused to address the New Mexico situation when asked.

Copyright 2008 TPM Media LLC. All Rights Reserved. (http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/10/rnc_on_new_mexico_voter_fraud.php)

October 21st, 2008, 08:32 AM

Sarah Palin's college years left no lasting impression

In the five years of her collegiate career, spanning four universities in three states, Palin left behind few traces. Not many professors or students even remember her.

By Robin Abcarian
October 21, 2008

Reported from Moscow, Idaho – What can we learn about our political stars from impressions they made in college?

Sen. John McCain is remembered as a passionate contrarian who won the hearts of his classmates at the Naval Academy. Sen. Barack Obama, who attended Occidental College, Columbia University and Harvard Law School, is remembered as a daunting scholar and calming influence. Sen. Joe Biden, who had a brush with plagiarism at Syracuse University College of Law, is remembered fondly by professors who found him charming.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, however, is barely remembered at all.

In the five years of her collegiate career, spanning four universities in three states, Palin left behind few traces.

"Looking at this dynamic personality now, it mystifies me that I wouldn't remember her," said Jim Fisher, Palin's journalism instructor at the University of Idaho, where she graduated with a bachelor of science degree in journalism in 1987.

Palin, he said, took his public affairs reporting class, an upper-division course limited to 15 students. "It's the funniest damn thing," Fisher said. "No one can recall her."

"I don't remember her," said Roy Atwood, Palin's academic advisor at the university.

Indeed, interviews with a dozen professors yielded not a single snippet of a memory.

Most were perplexed and frustrated that they could offer no insight into a woman who has become their most famous former student. Only a few classmates recalled her, and those with the strongest memories were people she had grown up with in Alaska.

Some of her college anonymity is understandable. "She enrolled in and finished my class, American government, but I have had 12,000 students in my career, and maybe remember 400," said political scientist Tony Stewart, now retired from North Idaho College, which the future vice presidential candidate attended in 1983. Palin, he added, was not among them.

The former classmates who do recall her paint a portrait of a young woman who, like many freshmen, went from hometown stardom to college obscurity.

Friends described her as a serious, unassuming student who showed only brief flashes of the outsized political personality that would one day emerge.

"She wasn't out to get attention," said Michelle Carney Overstreet, a hometown friend and classmate at the University of Idaho. "She kept to herself."


Sarah Palin, then Sarah Heath, left, with classmate Stacia Crocker
at a dorm party at the University of Idaho.
“She wasn’t out to get attention,”
one former classmate said. “She kept to herself.”

At home, she was known as Sarah Barracuda, the ferocious point guard who led her high school team to a state basketball championship her senior year. But the standout athlete never joined a college team.

As soon as she graduated from Wasilla High School in 1982, she set her sights on leaving Alaska.

"Everybody who grew up in that town at that time was looking for a way out," said Overstreet, one of the few college classmates who had anything like a real memory of Palin. "We wanted to be more and do more."

Palin's parents -- a high school science teacher and school secretary -- could not afford the college tours so common today. Their four children were expected to, and did, work their way through college.

"We didn't have the luxury of spending a week driving around visiting universities to see what they're like," said Kim "Tilly" Ketchum, a high school friend. "We were looking at pictures of campuses."

Palin and Ketchum picked the University of Hawaii at Hilo from a brochure.

Only after arriving in Hawaii did they realize that Hilo had rainfall approaching 100 inches a year. "The rain," Ketchum said, "was disturbing."

They attended orientation but never even enrolled.

The Wasilla girls soon moved to sunny Honolulu and enrolled in Hawaii Pacific University, a small private liberal arts school. They lived in an apartment in the Waikiki Banyan and took a bus to school.

Palin, a school spokeswoman said, attended full time as a business student.

The girls studied on the beach, tried surfing and pulled straight A's, Ketchum said. "We took the basic classes -- chemistry and biology, this and that."

But there was a problem. "When you're used to having some cooler weather, you get tired of the heat," Ketchum said. "We went one semester there before we realized we needed to go someplace else."

They transferred to tiny North Idaho College, on the shore of Lake Coeur d'Alene. Palin's older brother, Chuck Jr., had gone there before transferring to their father's alma mater, the University of Idaho in Moscow.

At North Idaho, Palin and Ketchum found what they had missed in Honolulu. They lived on campus before moving to separate apartments their second semester. "It was all very quaint," Ketchum said. "You kind of felt safe."

Ketchum could remember only one out-of-character incident.

"Someone pulled the fire alarm next to my door," she said. "We all were told there is an invisible dye that squirts onto your hand when you pull the alarm and you're not going to be able to hide. And Sarah looked at her hands, and said, 'Oh my God, look!' And she went and confessed."

Ketchum discovered there that Palin was a natural in front of a camera, a quality that helped her land her first post-college job as a weekend sports reporter at an Anchorage television station. For a journalism class, they videotaped themselves giving a 30-minute speech for classmates to critique.

"She didn't have the kind of fear most kids would have had," Ketchum said. "I could barely handle it."

In 1984, after two semesters at North Idaho, Palin transferred to the University of Idaho. There, she continued her low-key life. A visit to the University of Idaho library here yielded little more than a senior photo of Palin from the yearbook. Though she majored in journalism, her name appears nowhere in the archives of the campus newspaper, the Argonaut.

During summers, Palin worked in an Italian restaurant and a seafood cannery and fished for salmon with high school boyfriend Todd Palin on his boat. While still enrolled in the University of Idaho in fall 1985, she moved home for a semester, taking classes at nearby Matanuska-Susitna College to save money.

Tuition at the university ranged from $485 a semester to $520 by the time Palin graduated. Generous educational loans from the state of Alaska helped her pay her way. So did beauty pageants.

"I razzed Sarah about it at the time," her brother said. "But she looked at me straight-faced and said, 'Hey, this is going to help pay for my college education.' "

Maryline Blackburn, who beat Palin for Miss Alaska in June 1984, said Palin, who competed as Miss Wasilla, earned at least $1,250 when she placed third and was named Miss Congeniality. The following year, Palin competed as Miss Big Lake and did not place, said Blackburn, a professional singer in Georgia.

"Everybody liked her, but I could tell she was very calculating," Blackburn said. "We were all very secretive about our talents and how we were going to present ourselves. She was always asking questions, figuring out what she needed to do to get ahead."

Stacia Crocker Hagerty, 42, lived on the same dorm floor as Palin and considered her a good friend. Still, the Coeur d'Alene lawyer and real estate agent said she had only a few random memories of Palin and a couple of snapshots -- including one at a 1986 "kegger" in which they sport big hair and wide belts over untucked blouses.

Palin was a calming presence who offered to pray for her when Hagerty had boyfriend troubles. "She was so 'steady Eddie,' so rock solid," Hagerty said. "She didn't make a big deal out of things like other people did. She talked about politics and history and what was going on in the world. I was like, whatever, I don't care about that stuff."

Until 1987, the Idaho drinking age was 19, and the university had a reputation as a top party school. Hagerty said Palin "was upbeat and fun but not a heavy partyer."

When she ran for Alaska governor in 2006, Palin admitted that she had smoked marijuana, but Hagerty said she never saw her friend do drugs.

Hagerty said Palin was good friends with Jill Loranger, their resident advisor for two years. When reached at her home in Hailey, Idaho, Jill Loranger Clark was mystified.

"I can honestly tell you I have no idea who she was," said Clark, a middle school teacher. "If she had been a big party animal, I would have remembered her."

Copyright 2008 Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-palincollege21-2008oct21,0,6369822.story?page=2)

October 21st, 2008, 09:03 AM
Swift Boat Watch: Judicial Confirmation Network
Posted Wednesday, October 08, 2008 10:56 AM
By Abby Callard

Who They Are: Judicial Confirmation Network

Purpose: The group supports conservative nominees to the Supreme Court. In this election, they oppose Barack Obama.

President: Gary Marx, former coalitions director for Bush-Cheney 2004 and Mitt Romney.

Funding: The group is a registered 501(c)4, funded through individual donations.

Cost of the Ad: $550,000 in a $1 million campaign

Where It Ran: Michigan, Ohio, and nationally on the Fox News Channel through Friday, Oct. 10.

Claims: Tony Rezko, a slumlord who was convicted on 16 counts of corruption, donated money to Obama. Obama also associated with William Ayers, a member of the Weather Underground who planted a bomb in the Pentagon in 1972 and later said he "didn't do enough." The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's pastor for years, blamed the U.S. for the Sept. 11 attacks. If Obama "chose" these people as associates and backers, the ad suggests, how can we trust him to choose Supreme Court justices?

Select Image Below to Access YouTube Video

http://www.edexcellence.net/flypaper/images/20081014billayersmugshot.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49eJhVriy9w)

Image – Courtesy Fordham Institute / Flypaper
Video – Courtesy PoliticalRealm / YouTube

Runtime – 01:00

Accuracy: The majority of the facts in the ad are correct. Rezko started to donate to Obama's state senate campaign in 1995, although Obama recently gave Rezko donations to charity. Obama and Ayers worked together on the board of the same Chicago anti-poverty foundation for three years. Ayers, when he was a member of the Weather Underground, planted a bomb and later said it wasn't enough. Wright did say in a sermon that African Americans should not sing "God Bless America" but "God damn America." But the ad is wrong to equate this statement with blaming the U.S. for 9/11. It was another controversial Wright statement—"America's chickens are coming home to roost"—that suggests the U.S. is partly to blame.

Background: he group was created in 2004 to help President George W. Bush's nominations get confirmed in the Supreme Court. The group campaigned heavily for Samuel Alito's confirmation.

Swift Boat Rating:

Although the facts in the ad are essentially correct, suggesting that these associations have anything to do with Supreme Court nominations is a stretch.

2008 Washington Post.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC

October 21st, 2008, 09:16 AM


Mr. Obama has little family left. His father and mother are dead, along with his grandfather, Stanley Dunham. His grandmother raised him for many years, while his mother lived in Indonesia.

October 20, 2008, 9:21 pm
Obama Leaving Trail to Visit Ailing Grandmother

By Michael Powell

(Photo: Obama for America,
via Associated Press)

Barack Obama with his grandmother
Madelyn Dunham at his high school
graduation in 1979.

Updated – Senator Barack Obama will suspend his campaigning for more than 36 hours this week to visit his grandmother Madelyn Dunham, who is gravely ill in Hawaii.

Mrs. Dunham, 85, all but raised Mr. Obama during his teenage years in Hawaii, and he has spoken of her often on the campaign trail. A campaign spokesman, Robert Gibbs, declined to specify the nature of her illness, other than to say it was quite serious. Mrs. Dunham lives in Honolulu.

“I think everyone understands that the decision that Senator Obama is making to go to Hawaii underscores the seriousness of the situation,” Mr. Gibbs said. “As he has said, she poured everything she had into him.”

The Obama campaign has canceled scheduled appearances by Mr. Obama in Des Moines and Madison, Wis. But the senator will make an unexpected stop in Indianapolis on Thursday, Mr. Gibbs said, since that aligns more easily with his plan to depart for Hawaii.

Mr. Obama will fly to Hawaii on Thursday afternoon, and likely depart back to the mainland Friday evening. Mr. Gibbs said he is expected to return to the campaign trail on Saturday.

To leave the trail at this juncture, when the bell lap is upon both Mr. Obama and his Republican rival, Senator John McCain, carries an element of risk. Mr. Obama is running ahead in every national poll, but his lead in some recent polls is not large.

But Mr. Obama has little family left. His father and mother are dead, along with his grandfather, Stanley Dunham. His grandmother raised him for many years, while his mother lived in Indonesia.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/20/obama-leaving-trail-to-visit-ailing-grandmother/)

October 21st, 2008, 09:29 AM

Profile: Madelyn Dunham

Barack Obama is briefly suspending his campaign to visit his sick grandmother. Madelyn Dunham was a central figure in the early life of the US presidential candidate.

[By-line attribution, not given – Z]

She and her late husband Stanley raised the young Barack in Hawaii for many years while his mother, who had remarried, lived abroad.

Known within the family as "Toot", a shortened form of the Hawaiian word "tutu" meaning grandmother, she gave him a stable home and the traditional American values brought from her own Midwestern childhood.

She was also a trailblazer in her own right, having risen from a lowly position to be one of the first women vice-presidents of the Bank of Hawaii.

In a major speech on race he gave in March, Mr Obama described her as "a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world".

She was also the "white grandmother", he said, whom he could no more disown than he could his controversial African-American pastor, the Rev Jeremiah Wright.


Mr Obama's childhood was largely spent
in the care of his grandparents

This was despite her being "a woman once confessed her fear of black men who passed her by on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe".

On the campaign trail he has made references to how the 85-year-old instilled in him her belief in hard work, accountability and self-reliance.

Mrs Dunham still lives in Honolulu, with Mr Obama's half-sister, Maya Soetero-Ng. Her health has recently deteriorated sharply.

Common sense

Born Madelyn Payne in 1922, the daughter of a Midwest oil company clerk, she was raised in Kansas and attended college at the University of Washington.

In 1940 she married Stanley Dunham, described by Mr Obama as something of a rebel, and during World War II worked as an aircraft inspector for Boeing. She later studied at the University of California in Berkeley.

The couple moved to Honolulu in about 1960 with their daughter Ann. Still in her teens, Ann would soon meet Mr Obama's father, a student from Kenya at the University of Hawaii, fall pregnant and marry him.

After the marriage failed, Mrs Dunham and her husband helped raise their grandson, making financial sacrifices to send him to a better school.

In his autobiography, Dreams from My Father, Mr Obama describes his grandmother as "suspicious of overwrought sentiments or overblown claims, content with common sense". She was someone who "taught me values straight from the Kansas heartland", he said in a campaign advertisement this year.

Mrs Dunham has largely shunned the media spotlight turned on the family by Mr Obama's emergence on to the national stage, granting few interviews. But speaking to David Mendell of the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper for his book on Mr Obama, From Promise to Power, she talked of trying to instil her own work ethic in her grandson."I'll admit that I did give him a few kicks in the pants," she told Mendell. "Not many, but a few."

Following his mother's death aged 52 from cancer, Mr Obama was left all the more reliant on Mrs Dunham for support from that side of his family.

Announcing that Mr Obama was to break off his general election campaign for two days to visit his ailing grandmother, aide Robert Gibbs said she had "always been one of the most important people in his life"

BBC © MMVIII (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/us_elections_2008/7681648.stm)

October 21st, 2008, 10:31 AM
From the McCain team's perspective, this is one of the most incendiary articles published by the New York Times - perhaps rivaled only by that same newspaper's lobbyist investigation, earlier in their campaign.


The Long Run
Behind McCain, Outsider in Capital Wanting Back In

Published: October 17, 2008

Richard Perry/The New York Times

Cindy McCain, listening to her husband, John McCain,
on Friday at a rally in Miami.

Cindy McCain was new to Washington and not yet 30 when she arrived at a luncheon for Congressional spouses to discover a problem with her name tag. It read “Carol McCain.” That was the well-liked wife John McCain had left to marry Cindy, to the disapproval of many in Washington.

Fearing that the slight was intentional, she slinked to a half-empty table that never filled. “No one wanted to sit at her table,“ said Barbara Ross, a friend who was not surprised when Mrs. McCain announced a few months later that she was moving back to Arizona. “It was like high school.”

Cindy McCain, the wife of the Republican presidential nominee, has spent the last year pursuing a return to Washington: “a harsh town” that does not suit her, she has said.

Nor does campaigning, friends say. She has done relatively few solo events, grants interviews reluctantly— she declined to speak for this article — and in introducing her husband at events, she offers few of the heartwarming anecdotes that are the stock in trade of the political spouse. When she finishes, she stands silently behind him, sometimes with an approving smile, sometimes looking strained.

Ken Akers/The Arizona Republic, via Associated Press

John and Cindy McCain, in November 1982,
the month he was elected to the
House of Representatives.

From the start, Mrs. McCain’s marriage has been defined by her husband’s ambitions, and despite her sometimes punishing ride in political life, she does whatever she must to help fulfill them. As his poll numbers have slid recently, her devotion has seemed only to grow. When the McCain campaign recently stepped up attacks on Senator Barack Obama, Mrs. McCain joined in with startling intensity. The day after the second presidential debate, which did not turn around Mr. McCain’s standing in the polls, she interrupted a Fox News interview he was doing to testify to his virtues. At this late date, Mrs. McCain is starting to headline her own rallies, starting in Pennsylvania on Saturday.

“She would walk on broken glass barefoot if it required her to do so in this campaign,” said Matt Salmon, a former Arizona congressman who knows the couple.

Mrs. McCain, 54, describes herself as her husband’s best friend, though for the last two decades they have mostly lived apart, she in Arizona, he in Washington. She initially seemed like an ideal political partner, giving Mr. McCain a home state, money and contacts that jump-started his career. But as the years passed, she also became a liability at times. She played a role in the Keating Five savings-and-loan scandal, and just as her husband was rehabilitating his reputation, she was caught stealing drugs from her nonprofit organization to feed her addiction to painkillers. She has a fortune that sets the McCains apart from most other Americans, a problem in a presidential race that hinges on economic anxieties. She can be imprecise: she has repeatedly called herself an only child, for instance, even though she has two half-siblings, and has provided varying details about a 1994 mercy mission to Rwanda.

Those close to Mrs. McCain say she aspires to be like another blonde, glamorous figure married to an older man: Diana, the Princess of Wales. Mrs. McCain sought out the same mine-clearing organization that the princess supported, joining its board and traveling to minefields, just as her role model had. Mrs. McCain recently told British reporters that as first lady, she would take her cues from Diana, throwing herself into international philanthropy.

First, though, the McCains must win. Mrs. McCain has traveled by her husband’s side on the campaign trail and helped reorganize the campaign after it floundered in 2007. When The New York Times reported last winter that Mr. McCain’s staffers had urged him to stay away from a female lobbyist during his first presidential run, Mrs. McCain stood by her husband at a news conference and defended his honor.

Politics have always brought the McCains together: as she remarked during his failed 2000 presidential run, campaigns are when the two spend the most time with each other.

“Just when I think we’re complete opposites, it turns out we’re not, that we’ve had a common goal — first the children and now this,” she told Harper’s Bazaar last year.

Washington Experiences

Some of Mr. McCain’s Washington friends say they have barely met Mrs. McCain, while fellow mothers at their children’s schools say they have little sense of her husband. The two often relax in separate places: Mr. McCain prefers the family’s ranch in the Arizona desert, while Mrs. McCain’s refuge is a high-rise condominium on the Pacific. (Her husband is “not a beach person,” she recently told Vogue.)

From the beginning, John and Cindy McCain had two entirely different experiences of Washington. He was the most popular member of the freshman Congressional class of 1983, with the most heroic background, the most uproarious jokes and, from his days as the Senate’s Navy liaison, the highest-level contacts. “John was clearly the star from the first day,” said Steve Bartlett, a former congressman from Texas.

Mrs. McCain was 28, nearly two decades younger than her husband and just five years older than his eldest-son. “Cindy was a little bit star struck by John’s fame and the strength of his personality,” said Diana Dunn, who socialized with the couple. Ms. Dunn, the former wife of William S. Cohen, the former Maine senator and defense secretary, recalls the new Mrs. McCain as gracious but timid, unschooled in Washington conversation, and worried about fitting in.

Carol McCain was still a presence on the social scene, working in the Reagan White House and as an events planner. Everyone knew her story: she had stood by her husband during his captivity in North Vietnam, never passing word of a debilitating car accident, only to discover, a few years after their reunion, that he was leaving her for a younger, richer woman.

Rejected by the clubby Congressional wives, Cindy McCain tried to befriend her husband’s aides.

“She seemed lonely,” said Lisa Boepple, a former chief of staff. But “she was John’s wife, so we didn’t really want to hang around with her.”

Mrs. McCain announced she was returning to Phoenix to start a family, but friends detected other reasons. “I think Cindy made an intellectual decision: I could stay here and fight this, or I could go and do more productive things,” said Ms. Ross, the friend from back home.

Tim Koors for The New York Times

A photo of the McCains from 1988 with their children, from left,
Jack, Jimmy and Meghan. Mr. McCain usually spends the week
in Washington and flies home on weekends.

Chitose Suzuki/Associated Press

Cindy McCain visiting an Operation Smile mission at a hospital
in Nha Trang, Vietnam, on June 19, 2008.

Ever since, the McCains have led only partly overlapping lives, with Mr. McCain — who was first elected to the Senate in 1986 — spending the week in Washington. The separation had a political upside: Mr. McCain, initially considered something of a carpetbagger, boasted that his family lived in Arizona. He flew home on weekends, but spent part of them campaigning.

In his absence, Mrs. McCain organized elaborate fund-raisers, like a “South Pacific” affair to complement his naval background, complete with Polynesian dancers. She shopped for thoughtful gifts: engraved silver platters to give to staff members on primary night, gold elephant lapel pins, and gag presents, like a cowboy outfit for Victoria Clark, then an aide who knew little about the West. For his district offices, she ordered native Arizonan plants — which all promptly died, according to Peggy Rubach, a former aide.

Mrs. McCain expanded her childhood home, turning it into a 10,000-square-foot mansion that struck more than one visitor as a shrine to her husband. On the walls, she hung photos of the storied McCain military clan and her husband clasping hands with Republican presidents. Elephants adorned the wallpaper in one bathroom and a pot rack in the kitchen. In the master suite, she installed a fireplace carved with “MC,” for McCain.

When he was home, the two were “as affectionate as you can be with John McCain,” said Wes Gullet, a former aide, explaining that his old boss, with his military training, restless energy and sarcastic humor, is not the cuddly type. “He’s a funny and vivacious guy, but he is not someone who spends his weekend watching ‘The Way We Were,’ ” Mr. Gullet said.

Recently, Mrs. McCain has called the separations painful, volunteering that she endured several miscarriages alone. She spent subsequent pregnancies mostly confined to home, Ms. Ross said, sitting in a favorite stuffed chair, watching videos. But she rarely complained. “Her attitude was as a good soldier,” Mr. Gullet said.

As her family grew, her parents moved across the street to help out, even ordering birthday gifts to be given in her husband’s name. “I’m sure John hasn’t been able to get anything done, so send something Cindy would enjoy,” Marguerite Hensley, Mrs. McCain’s mother, would tell G. Darrell Olson, a local jeweler. “John doesn’t have a lot of money, so find something in the $5,000 area,” she added, according to Mr. Olson. (One year, Mr. McCain chose his own gift for his wife: a ring with her children’s birthstones.)

Mr. McCain regretted his absences, but he saw himself as an improvement on his own father and grandfather. “John’s dad had gone to war on Dec. 7” — the day Pearl Harbor was attacked — “and didn’t come home for years at a time,” Mr. Gullet said.

Scandal and an Addiction

Whatever humiliation Mrs. McCain suffered in her first Washington foray, her trips there in 1989, for weeks of Senate hearings on the savings-and-loan scandal, were worse.

“I can remember once during that time, Cindy saying she didn’t know how she was going to get up in the morning,” Ms. Ross said. For the ever-present news cameras, Mrs. McCain developed what Ms. Ross called “that stone face” — an impassive mask.

Her husband was accused of improperly intervening on behalf of a donor, Charles Keating, whose failed savings and loan had cost taxpayers billions. Four other senators were implicated, and one Senate spouse: Mrs. McCain. She and her father had invested in a shopping center with Mr. Keating, and while Mr. McCain insisted that he had reimbursed Mr. Keating for vacations their families had taken together in the Bahamas, he said his wife, the family bookkeeper, could not find the receipts.

Mrs. McCain busied herself with the American Voluntary Medical Team, a charity she founded to supply medical equipment and expertise to some of the neediest places on earth, like Micronesia, Vietnam and Kuwait in the weeks after the Persian Gulf war.

Richard Perry/The New York Times

Cindy McCain, listening to her
husband, John McCain, on Friday
at a rally in Miami.

When Mrs. McCain visited Bangladesh after a cyclone, she stopped at an orphanage founded by Mother Teresa, who was not, as the campaign has said, present for the visit. Mrs. McCain returned with two baby girls; Mr. Gullet later adopted one, and Mrs. McCain informed her husband on landing that they would adopt the other.

In 1994, Mrs. McCain dissolved the charity after admitting that she had been addicted to painkillers for years and had stolen prescription drugs from it. She had used the drugs, first given for back pain, to numb herself during the Keating Five investigation, she confessed to Newsweek magazine. “The newspaper articles didn’t hurt as much, and I didn’t hurt as much,“ she wrote in an essay. “The pills made me feel euphoric and free.”

The scandal broke just as her husband had been trying to rehabilitate his reputation. He had no idea his wife had been an addict, he told the press.

On the Trail

Mrs. McCain has said that the smears during her husband’s 2000 presidential bid — he was accused of fathering a black child, a twisted reference to their daughter from Bangladesh — left her skittish about presidential politics.

Observers of that campaign and the current one say she seems different this time — more guarded, more tense, superthin. She rarely campaigns away from her husband’s side, and yet their interactions on the trail often appear brief and formal. During the rolling primary-season seminars that Mr. McCain held in the back of his bus, Mrs. McCain sat up front. Once in a while, she joined him, sitting very straight, smiling and saying little. Physically, she seems fragile: she suffers from migraines, hobbled around on crutches last year after a knee injury and recently wore a wrist brace because of a handshaking injury.

In speaking about each other, the McCains use standard lines: she praises his experience, he tells the crowd that she should really be the candidate. Meghan McCain, their daughter, performs the image-softening role spouses usually perform for each other: on her blog, she depicts her father joking around on campaign planes and her mother in polka-dot pajamas. On Friday, Mrs. McCain made rare contact with the reporters covering her husband, distributing Halloween candy and gaily advising, “Make your dentist happy!”

In interviews, some of Mrs. McCain’s statements seem questionable. She often tells of how she moved to California, leaving her children behind, for four months in 2004 to recover from a stroke that left her unable to walk or speak. But news reports from the time indicate she had few discernible impediments. She gave interviews four days afterward, attended a baseball game with her husband and a reporter several weeks later, and spoke at a Tempe, Ariz., Chamber of Commerce event. “One month out, I feel wonderful,” she told the audience. The McCain campaign declined to resolve the discrepancy.

Similarly, Mrs. McCain often mentions her travels to Rwanda at the height of the 1994 genocide — she wrote about it in a recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece and has been praised by politicians and newspaper columnists for jetting into the heart of a massacre. As with her other charity trips, participants praised her eagerness to help victims of tragedy. But news accounts and interviews indicate, and a campaign spokesman confirmed, that Mrs. McCain traveled after the genocide had ended, spending time with refugees in neighboring Zaire, now Congo. Asked if she was ever in Rwanda, as Mrs. McCain has stated many times, a campaign spokesman, Jill Hazelbaker, said “she was driven to the Zaire/Rwanda border in order to assess the conditions of the refugees entering the country.”

Whatever stumbles she may have made in telling her story, Mrs. McCain has exhibited the signal trait of the political spouse: a burning desire to win. In summer 2007, she helped reorganize her husband’s campaign after it almost fell apart, sitting down with the books to review the cash-flow. Rick Davis, a contentious figure in the McCain camp because of his lobbying ties, emerged as campaign manager, in part because Mrs. McCain, with whom he spent months traveling and fund-raising, backed him.

“It was at a time when most people had given up on John,” said Mr. Salmon, the former Arizona congressman. “When he was down, Cindy was extremely positive.”

Asked to explain how Mrs. McCain can seem so uncomfortable on the trail and yet so intent on victory, friends say she truly believes that her husband is the best man for the job. Some note she has invested for decades in his career and now sees the ultimate prize in reach; others say she wants approval, from either her husband or the public. At a Florida rally on Thursday, the crowd greeted her with chants of “Cin-dy! Cin-dy!”

If Mr. McCain wins, she would have to return to the town she says she dislikes, attending the same sorts of luncheons she once fled from. But this time — maybe at the annual event that Congressional wives have for the first lady — the women of Washington, including a few who shunned her the first time around, would have to applaud in Mrs. McCain’s honor.

Kitty Bennett and Mark Leibovich contributed reporting

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/18/us/politics/18cindy.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1)

October 21st, 2008, 10:47 AM
The Nation's article, quotes the most detail with the least commentary.



McCain Camp Tells NYT: Lay Off Cindy, Find Obama's "Dealer"

posted by John Nichols
on 10/19/2008 @ 7:24pm

Wow, the McCain campaign really hated that New York Times profile of Cindy McCain.

OK, Cindy did come off as slightly vapid and, well, weird -- especially the Princess Diana obsession.

But the reaction from the Republican presidential candidate's camp would make you think that Times reporters Jodi Kantor and David M. Halbfinger portrayed John McCain's second wife as Evita.

Freaked out by references to Cindy McCain's well-documented history of drug abuse, the McCain campaign's lawyer, John Dowd, griped in a pre-publication letter to the editor of The Times: "You have not tried to find Barack Obama's drug dealer that he wrote about in his book, Dreams of My Father."

That's just a taste of the ugliness.

Here is the latest release from the "high-road" campaign of John McCain, as well as Dowd's letter, which may be the most remarkable document from a campaign that has not lacked for excessive tactics and statements:

All: Please see statement by McCain-Palin spokesman Michael Goldfarb on the New York Times' unprecedented trash report about Mrs. Cindy McCain.

Also, please see below a Facebook message that its author NYT reporter Jodi Kantor sent to a 16 year-old schoolmate of the McCains' daughter, Bridget, trolling for information on Mrs. McCain, as well as an October 1 letter to NYT Managing Editor Bill Keller by Mrs. McCain's attorney questioning the sourcing and reporting of this story.

"Today the New York Times launched yet another in a series of vicious attacks on Senator John McCain, this time targeting not the candidate, but his wife Cindy. Under the guise of a 'profile' piece, the New York Times fails to cover any new ground or provide any discernible value to the reader other than to portray Mrs. McCain in the worst possible light. Though Mrs. McCain's battle with drug addiction and even her miscarriages are again reported, the paper entirely ignores a life devoted to family and charity work in the most impoverished and violent corners of the world -- except when a detail can be quibbled with so as to imply some kind of deceit.

This campaign made every effort to share personal accounts of Mrs. McCain's good works with the paper, but apparently they were deemed unfit for publication in the New York Times. This is gutter journalism at its worst -- an unprecedented attack on a presidential candidate's spouse.

"In order to assemble this barrage of petty and personal attacks, the New York Times employed tactics that are obviously unprofessional and almost certainly unethical. This campaign has obtained a copy of an email sent by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor to a 16-year-old girl and friend of Bridget McCain, the youngest of the McCain children. Ms. Kantor sought to dupe the unsuspecting minor by soliciting 'advice' on how best to approach the story, as if a top-flight investigative reporter at the New York Times would need the assistance of an underage girl in writing a hit piece.

"The New York Times has stooped lower than this campaign ever imagined possible in an attempt to discredit a woman whose only apparent sin is being married to the man that would oppose that paper's preferred candidate, Barack Obama, in his quest for the Presidency. It is a black mark on the record of a paper that was once widely respected, but is now little more than a propaganda organ for the Democratic party. The New York Times has accused John McCain of running a dishonorable campaign, but today it is plain to see where the real dishonor lies." --McCain-Palin spokesman Michael Goldfarb


See below for: 1.) Facebook message by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor to a 16 year-old schoolmate of John and Cindy McCain's daughter, Bridget, trolling for information on Mrs. McCain; 2.) October 1, 2008 letter by Mrs. McCain's attorney, John Dowd, to NYT Managing Editor Bill Keller


1.) Jodi Kantor

Add as Friend

September 29 at 7:21pm

Report Message

I saw on facebook that you went to Xavier, and if you don't mind, I'd love to ask you some advice about a story. I'm a reporter at the New York Times, writing a profile of Cindy McCain, and we are trying to get a sense of what she is like as a mother. So I'm reaching out to fellow parents at her kids' schools. My understanding is that some of her older kids went to Brophy/Xavier, but I'm trying to figure out what school her 16 year old daughter Bridget attends-- and a few people said it was PCDS. Do you know if that's right? Again, we're not really reporting on the kids, just seeking some fellow parents who can talk about what Mrs. McCain is like.

Also, if you know anyone else who I should talk to-- basically anyone who has encountered Mrs. McCain and might be able to share impressions-- that would be great.

Thanks so much for any help you can give me.

Jodi Kantor Political correspondent New York Times kantor@nytimes.com 212 556 4596


2.) John M. Dowd

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

October 1, 2008

Dear Mr. Keller:

I represent Cindy McCain. I write to appeal to your sense of fairness, balance and decency in deciding whether to publish another story about her. I do this well knowing your obvious bias for Barack Obama and your obvios bias hositility to John McCain. I ask you to put your biases and agendas aside.

I understand that Cindy is in the public eye, but you have already profiled her extensively (Jennifer Steinhauer reported), written about her financial situation (including an editorial on her tax returns) and about her role at Hensley and Company.

I am advised that you assigned two of your top investigative reporters who have spent an extensive amount of time in Arizona and around the country investigating Cindy's life including her charity, her addiction and her marriage to Senator McCain. None of these subjects are news.

I am also advised that your reporters are speaking to Tom Gosinski and her cousin Jamie Clark, neither of whom are reliable or credible sources. Mr. Gosinski has been publicly exposed as a liar and blackmailer on the subject of Cindy McCain. Jamie Clark has very serious drug and stability issues and has failed in a number of attempts to blackmail Cindy. She is simply not credible.

In 1994, Mr. Gosinski drafted a civil complaint for damages claiming, among other things, that Cindy had defamed him with prospective employers after he was discharged from AVMT. Those allegations were utterly false. He was unable to produce any prospective employers and Cindy had not discussed his deficiencies as an employee with anyone outside of AVMT. Indeed, his termination was demonstrated to be appropriate and when he was let go, Cindy gave him severance pay. When confronted with this evidence, his lawyer resigned. Gosinski never filed the complaint in Court and could produce no evidence to support any of its allegations. He attempted to have Cindy pay him $250,000 in exchange for not filing the complaint. Cindy refused and made his attempt to extort her public.

Thereafter, he amended his complaint to allege that Cindy asked him to commit perjury in the adoption proceed involving Bridget McCain. The notes of Cindy's counsel and the official transcript of the adoption proceedings clearly demonstrate that Gosinski's was never asked to lie and did not falsely testify in the proceeding. His allegation was an utter fabrication. Gosinski further alleged that Cindy used his name to obtain pain killers for her own personal use. The records of AVMT show that Dr. Max Johnson, licensed by the DEA to order drugs, directed the use of employee names on the prescriptions. The drugs obtained using Mr. Gosinski's name were used and donated on an AVMT trip to El Salvador. They were not used by Cindy.

These allegations and efforts to hurt Cindy have been a matter of public record for sixteen years. Cindy has been quite open and frank about her issues for all these years. Any further attempts to harass and injure her based on the information from Gosinski and Clark will be met with an appropriate response. While she may be in the public eye, she is not public property nor the property of the press to abuse and defame.

It is worth noting that you have not employed your investigative assets looking into Michelle Obama. You have not tried to find Barack Obama's drug dealer that he wrote about in his book, Dreams of My Father. Nor have you interviewed his poor relatives in Kenya and determined why Barack Obama has not rescued them. Thus, there is a terrific lack of balance here.

I suggest to you that none of these subjects on either side are worthy of the energy and resources of The New York Times. They are cruel hit pieces designed to injure people that only the worst rag would investigate and publish. I know you and your colleagues are always preaching about raising the level of civil discourse in our political campaigns. I think taking some your own medicine is in order here.

I ask you to let Cindy McCain carry on in her usual understated, selfless and dignified way. The fabrications and lies of blackmailers are not fit to print in any newspaper but particularly not in The New York Times.


John M. Dowd

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

What should we make of all this? There's been a lot of talk about the prospect that the McCain team might be preparing to launch a "charm offensive" in order to modify the campaign's angry "Hey, you kids, get off of my lawn" image. Americans would be advised against wasting too much time anticipating that shift in tactics. After a campaign hits the "find-our-opponent's-dealer" stage, there remain few options for classing things up.

Copyright © 2008 The Nation (http://www.thenation.com/blogs/campaignmatters/373818/)

October 21st, 2008, 10:58 AM
Is a mega-ambitious spouse a pre-requisite for a POTUS?

COLUMN ONE -- Some seem to fit that bill:

Lady Bird Johnson, Jacqueline Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton
COLUMN TWO - Others are not apparently so:

Mamie Eisenhower, Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, Rosalyn Carter, Laura Bush
Cindy McCain seemingly wants the public to see her in Column One, but the Times article clearly puts her in C2

Michelle Obama seems to fit the C2 bill

Interesting that I have little to no memory of the spouses of Presidential candidates who did NOT win their particular election(s) -- particularly those prior to 1988.

Mrs. Mondale?
Mrs. McGovern?
Mrs. Humphrey?
Mrs. Goldwater?

October 21st, 2008, 01:27 PM
Update on Dumbass Rep Michelle Bachmann of MN (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=257244&postcount=3962). It's been said that the most dangerous place in America is between Bachmann and a TV camera. But sometimes the camera shoots back.


Bachmann's Seat Up For Grabs

posted by Ari Berman on 10/21/2008 @ 11:11am

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's McCarthyite rant about investigating alleged "anti-American" members of Congress may cost her a job.

Bachmann's Democratic opponent, El Tinklenberg, has raised over $640,000 since Bachmann's Hardball appearance on Friday. Her GOP primary challenger, Aubrey Immelman, announced her intention to run as a write-in candidate. Over 52,000 people have signed a petition to censure Bachmann in the House of Representatives. Colin Powell called her comments "nonsense."

Minnesota's usually reliably Republican sixth district now looks very much in play. A poll by the DCCC before Bachmann's appearance put her ahead by only four points. "Suddenly, Bachmann race looks different," (http://www.startribune.com/politics/state/31261989.html?page=1&c=y) the Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote on Sunday. It's on everybody's radar screen.

The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor-Party is keeping the pressure on. Yesterday DFL Chair Brian Melendez called on Minnesota Republicans to denounce Bachmann's remarks. "The deafening silence of those Republicans who have silently acquiesced in her comments shows us either that they share her offensive views or that they are afraid to speak out against her and the radical fringe that she speaks for," Melendez said.

Bachmann was a controversial figure even before anybody outside of Minnesota knew who she was. She began in politics as an anti-abortion advocate, "praying outside of clinics and being sidewalk counselors in an attempt to dissuade women from seeking abortions," according to her Wikipedia page. She started a Christian charter school in 1993 and banned a screening of the Disney film Aladdin, "feeling that it endorsed magic/witchcraft and promoted paganism." Needless to say, her election to Congress was a top priority of Christian right leaders like James Dobson.

Once in Congress, "Bachmann has made national news several times with controversial comments," the Star-Tribune reports. "For instance, she has said that more oil drilling and similar measures would bring "immediate and lasting relief" and push gas prices down to $2 a gallon, and claimed Iran planned to partition Iraq and turn part of it into a terrorist training ground."

To those that have followed Bachmann's political career, her McCarthyite leanings should hardly be surprising. Her extremism may finally be exorcised on November 4.

UPDATE: Bachmann seems to have found an admirer in North Carolina GOP Rep. Robin Hayes (http://thinkprogress.org/2008/10/20/hayes-liberals-hate/), who said at a McCain rally on Saturday: "Liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God."

Copyright © 2008 The Nation

October 21st, 2008, 01:37 PM
I don't know. I would put Michelle in C1, but a VOLUNTARY C2. It seems like she is a very accomplished and ambitious woman, but knows that this is not her campaign and supports her husband.

That takes a LOT of strength and I truly respect this woman.

As for the Cindy article... WTH?

The reporter was not trolling! Phishing maybe, but I did not see any attempt to incite dissent or dig up dirt. AAMOF, this would probably get the GOOD side of "mom" for the article.

As for asking not to focus no her, well, they brought her into this mess, even bringing up her son into a campaign speech. If you do not want to be included in the fray, stay out of the ring.

October 21st, 2008, 01:45 PM

Ya. Liberals hate God Fearing men and women.

Actually, Liberals only hate pigheaded recalcitrant morons that refuse to even acknowledge any though or idea that goes against their own immutable "conservative" ideals.

The thing that bothers me is that most "conservatives" do not realize how "liberal" they really are.

I am hoping that I am, not by "act of god" or tragedy, long gone from this world before the weight of our own idiocy and religious fervitude collapses down on us and makes McCarthy look like an Athiest Pacifist.

October 21st, 2008, 04:26 PM
The great Christopher Hitchens on The Factor endorsing Obama:

More Hitchens... What purpose religion?

October 22nd, 2008, 05:39 AM

Op-Ed Columnist
Moved by a Crescent

Published: October 21, 2008

Colin Powell had been bugged by many things in his party’s campaign this fall: the insidious merging of rumors that Barack Obama was Muslim with intimations that he was a terrorist sympathizer; the assertion that Sarah Palin was ready to be president; the uniformed sheriff who introduced Governor Palin by sneering about Barack Hussein Obama; the scorn with which Republicans spit out the words “community organizer”; the Republicans’ argument that using taxes to “spread the wealth” was socialist when the purpose of taxes is to spread the wealth; Palin’s insidious notion that small towns in states that went for W. were “the real America.”

But what sent him over the edge and made him realize he had to speak out was when he opened his New Yorker three weeks ago and saw a picture of a mother pressing her head against the gravestone of her son, a 20-year-old soldier who had been killed in Iraq. On the headstone were engraved his name, Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, his awards — the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star — and a crescent and a star to denote his Islamic faith.

“I stared at it for an hour,” he told me. “Who could debate that this kid lying in Arlington with Christian and Jewish and nondenominational buddies was not a fine American?”

Khan was an all-American kid. A 2005 graduate of Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin, N.J., he loved the Dallas Cowboys and playing video games with his 12-year-old stepsister, Aliya.

His obituary in The Star-Ledger of Newark said that he had sent his family back pictures of himself playing soccer with Iraqi children and hugging a smiling young Iraqi boy.

His father said Kareem had been eager to enlist since he was 14 and was outraged by the 9/11 attacks. “His Muslim faith did not make him not want to go,” Feroze Khan, told The Gannett News Service after his son died. “He looked at it that he’s American and he has a job to do.”

In a gratifying “have you no sense of decency, Sir and Madam?” moment, Colin Powell went on “Meet the Press” on Sunday and talked about Khan, and the unseemly ways John McCain and Palin have been polarizing the country to try to get elected. It was a tonic to hear someone push back so clearly on ugly innuendo.

Even the Obama campaign has shied away from Muslims. The candidate has gone to synagogues but no mosques, and the campaign was embarrassed when it turned out that two young women in headscarves had not been allowed to stand behind Obama during a speech in Detroit because aides did not want them in the TV shot.

The former secretary of state has dealt with prejudice in his life, in and out of the Army, and he is keenly aware of how many millions of Muslims around the world are being offended by the slimy tenor of the race against Obama.

He told Tom Brokaw that he was troubled by what other Republicans, not McCain, had said: “ ‘Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.’ Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim. He’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no. That’s not America. Is something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?”

Powell got a note from Feroze Khan this week thanking him for telling the world that Muslim-Americans are as good as any others. But he also received more e-mails insisting that Obama is a Muslim and one calling him “unconstitutional and unbiblical” for daring to support a socialist. He got a mass e-mail from a man wanting to spread the word that Obama was reading a book about the end of America written by a fellow Muslim.

“Holy cow!” Powell thought. Upon checking Amazon.com, he saw that it was a reference to Fareed Zakaria, a Muslim who writes a Newsweek column and hosts a CNN foreign affairs show. His latest book is “The Post-American World.”

Powell is dismissive of those, like Rush Limbaugh, who say he made his endorsement based on race. And he’s offended by those who suggest that his appearance Sunday was an expiation for Iraq, speaking up strongly now about what he thinks the world needs because he failed to do so then.

Even though he watched W. in 2000 make the argument that his lack of foreign policy experience would be offset by the fact that he was surrounded by pros — Powell himself was one of the regents brought in to guide the bumptious Texas dauphin — Powell makes that same argument now for Obama.

“Experience is helpful,” he says, “but it is judgment that matters.”

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/22/opinion/22dowd.html?_r=1&oref=slogin)

October 22nd, 2008, 05:55 AM


October 21, 2008, 8:56 pm
McCain’s Camp Shaves Its Ad Targets

By Jim Rutenberg

Updated Democrats who monitor advertising spending now put at five the number of states where Senator John McCain is reducing his advertising – New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Colorado, Maine and Minnesota.

In essence, Mr. McCain’s campaign has decided to spread the advertising time he bought for the upcoming week in those states over the next two final weeks.

While station managers in the affected states said they were not ruling out the possibility that Mr. McCain would pump money back in before election day, on Nov. 4, the move represents a stark reordering of priorities.

Democrats were predicting Mr. McCain would use the savings to increase his advertising in Pennsylvania and, possibly, Ohio and Florida, all of which have become that much more vital should Mr. McCain have to concede states like Colorado and Wisconsin.

By our very rough reckoning, based on what he spent in those states last week according to advertising monitoring firm CMAG, the move should free up an additional $2 million that Mr. McCain can now spend in Pennsylvania, or wherever else.

But the McCain campaign also needs the extra money to keep up with its current plans, due to a quiet decision it has made that most voters will hardly notice.

Until now, the campaign has been teaming up with the Republican National Committee to jointly produce a large percentage of its advertisements. By sharing the costs down the middle, Team McCain has been able to basically double the amount of advertisements it can run for its money.

This is all legal: campaigns are allowed to split the costs of their ads with their affiliated parties. But there’s a catch: The spots must serve not only their campaigns but also the collective agendas of their congressional colleagues.

Such advertisements – known in the political business as “hybrids” – tend to garble a presidential candidate’s message. So, for instance, a spot attacking Mr. Obama also has included references to “liberals in Congress’’ and figures like Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate majority leader, who is not as well known to everyday voters.

The campaign has started to phase out those ads in these final days, deciding to stick to advertisements it can devote fully to Mr. McCain’s campaign message. That will greatly disadvantage Mr. McCain as he struggles to keep up with the far better funded Mr. Obama. But Mr. McCain’s aides have clearly decided a trade of volume for greater clarity is worth it.

Updated, 12:15 a.m. The commercial chess pieces are apparently already on the move. Democratic officials monitoring advertising report that Mr. McCain is now making plans to start advertising in Miami and in Indiana.

Mr. Obama has spent $6.4 million in Miami since the general election period unofficially began and Mr. McCain and the RNC have combined to spend just $114,752 there during the same period, according to CMAG.

Mr. Obama has spent $7.8 million to advertise to Indiana voters, according to CMAG; the Republican National Committee has spent $1.2 million to do so there. The CMAG data base does not show any advertising in the state — or, given that Chicago stations reach Indiana, into the state — by Mr. McCain before now.

No word back from Mr. McCain’s campaign yet.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/21/mccains-camp-shaves-its-ad-targets/)

October 22nd, 2008, 06:27 AM

OCTOBER 22, 2008
Obama Opens Double-Digit Lead
New Poll Shows McCain Ceding Ground on Taxes, Values; Palin Loses Shine



Poll Results (PDF) / Poll Archive (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119188060199152666.html)

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Barack Obama has opened up a double-digit lead in the presidential race, with a growing number of voters saying they're now comfortable with the Democratic nominee's values, background and ability to serve as commander in chief, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

For months, the race has rested largely on the question of whether voters could get comfortable with Sen. Obama, the first African-American to run on a major party ticket, and one who has been on the national political scene for just a few years. The Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, has worked to stoke concerns about Sen. Obama's past and his qualifications, raising questions about his rival's character and his association with 1960s-era radical William Ayers. "Who is the real Barack Obama?" Sen. McCain has asked at rallies. The new poll suggests that these attacks haven't worked.

Though most voters polled said that Sen. McCain is better prepared for the White House than the first-term senator from Illinois, there are increasing concerns about the readiness of Sen. McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Overall, the poll found 52% of voters favor Sen. Obama versus 42% for Sen. McCain. That 10-point lead is up from a six-point Obama edge two weeks ago. The survey of registered voters, conducted from Friday to Monday, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

It's the largest lead in the Journal/NBC poll thus far, and represents a steady climb for Sen. Obama since early September, when the political conventions concluded with the candidates in a statistical tie.

"Voters have reached a comfort level with Barack Obama," said Peter D. Hart, a Democratic pollster who conducts the poll with Republican Neil Newhouse.

That comfort is reflected in the ground gained by Sen. Obama among some important voter groups in the weeks since the financial turmoil hit. The poll finds Sen. Obama now holds a 12-percentage-point advantage with independents, a group both sides have fiercely sought. Two weeks ago, Sen. Obama led this group by just four percentage points. In mid-September, independents favored Sen. McCain by 13 points.


Sen. Obama leads suburban voters by 12 percentage points, up from two points two weeks ago. He leads among older voters, those over 65 years old, by nine points, erasing a one-point McCain advantage from the last poll. And in the Midwest, home to a swath of battleground states, he is now favored by 25 points, up from a one-point advantage.

Some daily tracking polls have found a tighter race between Sens. McCain and Obama in recent days. Real Clear Politics, a Web site that averages major polls, shows Sen. Obama up by 7.2 percentage points. Others have found a larger spread, such as one released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, a nonpartisan research group. That poll found a 14-point advantage for Sen. Obama among registered voters. Many polls also show Sen. McCain lagging in key battleground states, which hold the electoral votes that could decide the race.

Sen. Obama has also eaten into traditional Republican advantages, notably on taxes, despite Sen. McCain's attempts to make the issue a central economic theme of the campaign's closing days. In the mid-September Journal poll, Sen. McCain was favored 41% to 37% when voters were asked which candidate would be "better on taxes." This week's poll found Sen. Obama leading on the issue by 48% to 34%.

That may be partly due to Sen. Obama's argument that Sen. McCain would raise taxes on health-insurance benefits. While Sen. McCain's health plan does raise some taxes, the plan overall represents a net tax cut, according to independent estimates.

Sen. McCain continues to pound Sen. Obama on taxes daily, adopting "Joe the Plumber" as his campaign's new everyman. Ohio voter Joe Wurzelbacher gained fame after challenging Sen. Obama on his tax plans at a campaign appearance earlier this month. Sen. McCain argues that Sen. Obama's willingness to "spread the wealth around" represents a brand of socialism. He suggests that vast numbers of Americans will see higher taxes, despite Sen. Obama's pledge not to raise them for families earning less than $250,000.

So far, voters don't seem to be persuaded by Sen. McCain's argument. A majority now disagree with the statement: "Barack Obama will raise taxes on middle-income people if he becomes president," with just 40% agreeing.

"Everyone knows Obama's only going to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000, and Joe the Plumber does not make more than $250,000," said Jeff Howard, a 20-year-old student from Bell, Ky., who told pollsters he was voting for Sen. Obama, and said he leans Democratic, but not strongly.

The Final Stretch

In the final stretch, Sen. McCain is also pressing his independence from President George W. Bush, whose job approval is at a record low in this poll. At last week's debate, Sen. McCain told Sen. Obama that he should have run four years ago if he wanted to challenge President Bush, a line he repeats on the trail. But the poll finds nearly six in 10 voters believe Sen. McCain's direction, agenda and policies would be mostly the same as President Bush's, down just slightly from those who said so a month ago.

It's a tough year to run as a Republican after eight years of Mr. Bush, said David Axelrod, Sen. Obama's chief strategist. "They're just on the wrong side of history," he said in an interview. "In an election that's all about change he simply doesn't represent it."

Sarah Simmons, the McCain campaign's director of strategy, said, "The environment is challenging, no doubt about it," but added that Sen. Obama has yet to take a lead big enough to ensure a win. Ms. Simmons said Sen. McCain is still viewed favorably by most voters. "That's a good sign for us that this race is far from over," she said.

Sen. Obama appears to be clearing some important thresholds with the electorate. Forty-eight percent of voters now say they would have a great deal or quite a bit of confidence in Sen. Obama as commander in chief. That's up from 39%, in August, and just two points shy of Sen. McCain's standing.

Similarly, in July, 47% of all voters said that Sen. Obama had a background and set of values that they could identify with. That figure is now 55% -- just two points shy of Sen. McCain.


"At first, I didn't know who he [Obama] was, and I knew who McCain was, and in that respect, I was leaning toward McCain," said Judy Callanan, 58, of Tuscarora, Md., a payroll manager and registered independent, who told the pollsters she was backing Sen. Obama. "But just listening to Obama talk, he was much more down-to-earth and talked more about things I could relate to."

In a Positive Light

Forty-four percent of voters see Sen. McCain in a positive light, about the same as the last poll two weeks ago. But views of Sen. Obama have grown stronger, with 56% now reporting very or somewhat positive feelings about him.

The one candidate whose popularity has fallen is Gov. Palin: 38% see her positively, down from 44% two weeks ago; 47% see her negatively, up 10 points from the last poll. That's the highest negative rating of the four candidates. Fifty-five percent of voters say Gov. Palin is not qualified to be president if the need arises, up from 50% two weeks ago.

For his part, Sen. McCain holds a distinct edge on the question of experience needed to be an effective president. Asked which candidate is better on knowledge and experience needed to handle the job, 49% picked Sen. McCain and just 27% picked Sen. Obama.

The McCain campaign says it plans to continue pressing the experience question. "There is lingering doubt -- is he ready?" Mike DuHaime, the campaign's political director, said Tuesday.

Independent voters still harbor concerns about Sen. Obama's experience and readiness for the job, Mr. Newhouse, the Republican pollster, noted. But he said these voters have reservations about Gov. Palin's readiness, complicating any effort by the McCain campaign to focus on this issue.


"I don't think Palin is ready to take that office," said Lois Peterson, 83, of St. Peter, Minn., an independent who now favors Sen. Obama. "She doesn't seem very professional."

That point was underscored on Sunday when retired Gen. Colin Powell endorsed Sen. Obama, citing, in part, his concerns about Gov. Palin's readiness.

Nineteen percent of voters polled on Sunday and Monday — halfway through the total polling period -- said the Powell endorsement made them more inclined to support Sen. Obama. The results from this question have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

— Easha Anand contributed to this article.

Copyright ©2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122462257051655701.html)

October 22nd, 2008, 09:31 AM


OCTOBER 22, 2008

Joe the Plumber and GOP 'Authenticity'

It's hard to reach out to workers while cracking down on unions.


The conservative movement made its name battling moral relativists on campus, bellowing for a "strict construction" of our nation's founding documents, and pandering to people who believe that the Book of Genesis literally records the origins of human existence.

And yet here are the words of Ronald Reagan's pollster, Richard Wirthlin, as recorded in one of the main Reagan strategy documents from 1980: "People act on the basis of their perception of reality; there is, in fact, no political reality beyond what is perceived by the voters."

The context of Wirthlin's reality-denial, according to the historian Kim Phillips-Fein, who unearths his statement in her forthcoming book, "Invisible Hands," was the larger Republican plan to woo blue-collar voters.

The mission was a success. It worked because Republicans wholeheartedly adopted Wirthlin's dictum. Reality is a terrible impediment when you're reaching out to workers while simultaneously cracking down on unions and scheming to privatize Social Security. Leave that reality to the "reality-based community," to use the put-down coined by an aide to George W. Bush.

The "perception of reality," on the other hand, is an amazing political tonic, and with it conservatives have cemented a factproof worldview of lasting power. It is simply this: Conservatives are authentic and liberals are not. The country is divided into a land of the soulful, hard-working producers and a land of the paper-pushing parasites; a plain-spoken heartland and the sinister big cities, where they breed tricky characters like Barack Obama, all "eloquence," as John McCain sneered in last week's presidential debate, but hard to pin down.

"There are Americans and there are liberals," proclaims a bumper sticker that adorns my office. "Liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God," proclaimed Rep. Robin Hayes (R., N.C.) on Saturday at a rally in North Carolina. Speaking of Mr. Obama on the day before that, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R., Minn.) expressed deep concern on MSNBC "that he may have anti-American views." And on the day before that, GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin saluted "these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation."

Foursquare fans of perceived reality must have rejoiced when they beheld, on the hard streets of suburban Toledo, Ohio, that most authentic of men, Joe the Plumber: "the average citizen" in the flesh, according to Mr. McCain; "a real person," according to Mrs. Palin, who deftly ruined Mr. Obama's "staged photo op there" -- a subject on which Mrs. Palin can surely count herself an authority.

Joe the Plumber -- along with his just-discovered supporter, Tito the Builder -- has brought to the GOP what Richard Wirthlin went looking for so long ago: blue-collar affirmation. But consider the degree of reality-blindness it takes to kick out the authenticity like Joe does. The rust-belt metro area in which he lives has been in decline for decades. In 2007, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked it 335 out of 369 small metropolitan areas for unemployment; for home foreclosures, according to a 2007 article in the Toledo Blade, it is the 30 worst of all cities in the nation. According to Census numbers, median household income in the Toledo area, measured in constant dollars, has actually decreased since the late 1970s.

Joe's town may be circling the drain, but Joe's real concern, as the world knows, is that he might have to pay more taxes when his ship finally comes in. For good measure, Joe also declares Social Security "a joke": "I've never believed in it," he told reporters last week. Maybe that's because this realest of men knows that Social Security is just a hippie dream, despite the Census's insistence that 28% of his city's households received income from that source in 2003. Maybe all those people would be better off if we had invested Social Security's trust fund in WaMu and Wachovia -- you know, the real deal.

Here is the key to this whole strange episode: Government is artifice and imposition, a place of sexless bureaucrats and brie-eating liberals whose every touch contaminates God's work. Markets, by contrast, are natural, the arena in which real people prove their mettle. After all, as Mr. McCain said on Monday, small businessmen are just "Joe the Plumbers, writ large." Markets carry a form of organic authenticity that mere reality has no hope of touching.

This is not a good time for market-based authenticity, however. It now seems that those real, natural Americans who make markets go also cook the books, and cheat the shareholders, and hire lobbyists to get their way in Washington. They invent incomprehensible financial instruments and have now sent us into a crisis that none of them has any idea how to solve.

If that's nature, I'm ready for civilization.

Write to Thomas@WSJ.com

Copyright 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved


October 22nd, 2008, 10:13 AM
And that ^ from The Wall Street Journal.

Not a good sign for the McCainiacs.

October 22nd, 2008, 10:27 AM
McCain's Pennsylvania Strategy


October 22, 2008

McCain Fights to Keep Crucial Blue State in Play


MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — People are scratching their heads: Why is Senator John McCain here?

Senator Barack Obama has a double-digit lead in recent Pennsylvania polls. Senator John Kerry beat President Bush here in 2004. The previous three Democratic presidential candidates won, too. And this year there are 1.2 million more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state.

But in these frantic last weeks of the 2008 campaign, Mr. McCain has lavished time and money on this now deep-blue state — he made three stops here on Tuesday — as if his political life depended on it. And, from his campaign’s point of view, it does.

“We need to win Pennsylvania on Nov. 4, and with your help — with your help — we’re going to win!” Mr. McCain shouted to the crowd in his first appearance of the day, at a manufacturing plant in Bensalem, north of Philadelphia, where he said that Mr. Obama would raise their taxes and was too untested to handle an international crisis.

Mr. McCain’s strategists insisted that the state and its 21 electoral votes were within reach and crucial to what they acknowledge is an increasingly narrow path to victory. They say that their own polls show Mr. McCain only seven or eight percentage points behind Mr. Obama. (The state polls that show Mr. Obama with a double-digit lead, all conducted in recent weeks, include surveys by Marist, Quinnipiac, Rasmussen, SurveyUSA and The Allentown Morning Call.)

Mr. McCain’s strategists argue that their candidate has a dual appeal: to the pro-gun working-class voters in the western coal country, many of whom supported Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York in the Democratic primary, and to independents and moderates in the swing counties around Philadelphia.

“When we look at our numbers, we think we’re competitive here,” Mark Salter, Mr. McCain’s closest adviser, told reporters in Harrisburg on Tuesday. He added, “We would like to get as many Clinton supporters as we can.”

Another reason for Mr. McCain’s focus on Pennsylvania may be the shrinking electoral map, as Mr. Obama’s dominance leaves Mr. McCain with fewer and fewer competitive states to campaign in, and the need to avoid another embarrassing concession like Michigan, which the campaign abandoned early this month.

Conceding Pennsylvania two weeks before the election would be too much an admission of failure, said G. Terry Madonna, the director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, where Mr. McCain appeared before a raucous rally of 7,000 people with his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, in September.

“I think it psychologically devastates the entire national campaign if they decide they’re going to pull up stakes and walk away,” Mr. Madonna said.

One of McCain’s senior strategists, Charles Black, said that the campaign had fared better in Pennsylvania than in any other blue state in recent months, and that Mr. McCain was a different candidate than President Bush, who waged a long and expensive battle here four years ago. “Bush came close here, but he did badly in the Philadelphia suburbs,” Mr. Black said, arguing that Mr. McCain’s old “maverick” label would have greater appeal in those suburbs, even though Mr. McCain has run a traditional Republican general election campaign.

Philadelphia is one of the only major cities in the country where Mr. McCain’s advertising campaign is anywhere near as voluminous as that of Mr. Obama’s. But even there, he lags nonetheless. On Tuesday, Mr. McCain effectively reduced his advertising campaigns in five other states — Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Wisconsin — in what Democrats suspected was an effort to divert resources to a more robust advertising effort here (though the savings from those moves had yet to show up in the state as of Tuesday night).

Mr. McCain’s advisers have contended that they do not expect white voters to reject Mr. Obama, of Illinois, simply because he is black. When Mike DuHaime, the campaign’s political director, was asked in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday what effect he thought race would play in Pennsylvania, he replied, “I hope there is none.”

Mr. DuHaime rejected comments made last week by a Pennsylvania Democrat, Representative John P. Murtha, who told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, speaking of his home base, that “there is no question that Western Pennsylvania is a racist area.”

Mr. McCain referenced Mr. Murtha’s comments in his third stop of the day, at Robert Morris University here, when he said, “I think you may have noticed that Senator Obama’s supporters have been saying some pretty nasty things about Western Pennsylvania lately.” As the crowd booed, Mr. McCain became tangled up in the rest of his remarks. “And you know, I couldn’t agree with them more,” he said, to silence, and then wandered around in a verbal thicket before finally managing to say, “I could not disagree with those critics more; this is a great part of America.”

Mr. Obama, who was in Florida on Tuesday, had no immediate plans to return to Pennsylvania in coming days, perhaps the most telling sign that his strategists were comfortable with his position there. But Democratic officials in the state said they had been urging the Obama campaign to send the senator back there at least once more before Election Day to shore up support.

An aggressive ground game for Mr. Obama, meanwhile, is under way in all corners of Pennsylvania, where hundreds of campaign workers and tens of thousands of volunteers were manning 80 field offices in what Democrats described as the largest organizational effort in state history.

Senator Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania, said the voter registration edge was about twice as much as the party enjoyed in the 2004 presidential race. But even with that edge, he said, history suggested that the state would remain close until the final moment. Lyndon B. Johnson was the only Democratic presidential candidate in 50 years to capture more than 51 percent of the vote.

“I’m always cautious about Pennsylvania, but there seems to be something different about this whole effort,” Mr. Casey said in an interview on Tuesday. “The dynamic has changed dramatically, not just around the country, but in particular in Pennsylvania, because of the confluence of the economic situation.”

After spending last weekend reaching out to undecided voters on a Casey family bus tour across the state, Mr. Casey said the skepticism among older voters toward Mr. Obama had started to fall away after they saw the two candidates side by side at the debates.

“There were some people, a certain percentage of undecided voters, who had not seen them both on the same stage,” Mr. Casey said. “It definitely moved some older voters into his column.”

Still, Democratic officials in the state said they did not believe that Pennsylvania was absolutely locked up for Mr. Obama. Party leaders are not relying on polling, in case voters are not telling pollsters the truth, but rather on neighbor-to-neighbor efforts to identify supporters.

Elisabeth Bumiller reported from Moon Township, Pa., and Jeff Zeleny from Lake Worth, Fla. Jim Rutenberg contributed reporting from Washington.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

An analysis of Pennsylvania by Al Giordano at The Field. (http://narcosphere.narconews.com/thefield/panic-room-whats-mccains-pennsylvania-gambit)
But here's what I think is going on at McCain strategy central: They're getting tired of the daily drumbeat on cable TV news and by newspaper pundits that says things like, "here are the six or seven swing states, all of them voted for Bush in 2004, Obama is winning or tied in most of them, and for McCain to win he has to run the table, taking every single one of them or it's over."

That message - that there is only one narrow Electoral College path to victory for McCain, while there are multiple ones for Obama - has cast a deathly spell over the GOP base's enthusiasm, which is now being reflected in paltry early voting numbers by Republican voters, especially in Nevada and North Carolina. And so they're trying to offer the faithful a belief in the suggestion that McCain, too, has multiple paths to win.

The senior staff seems to think it has convinced McCain to drop his reluctance to play the race card, with trial balloons afloatin' that Obama's ex-reverend will get an encore in the coming days in negative ads and such.

And by Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight. (http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/10/mccain-brings-hope-to-pennsylvania.html)
Frankly, I think Al may be giving the McCain campaign too much credit. My guess is that something like this happened: they ran their usual set of internal polls over the weekend, and saw themselves 5 points down in Colorado and Virginia. 8 points down in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and 10 points down in Iowa and New Mexico. But perhaps Pennsylvania came in at a -6 or something -- not much worse than the others -- and they decided: why worry about all those states when we can worry about just this one.

One of the things I emphasize at Baseball Prospectus is the importance of honest self-assessment. A team can get itself into tons of trouble by convincing itself it has 87-win talent -- making it a fringe playoff contender -- when it fact it has 80-win talent -- making it an also-ran. The same lesson probably applies to internal polling. In addition to the usual problems of optimism bias (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optimism_bias) -- and the unresolved question of whether internal polling is in fact superior to public polling (especially for a campaign that is poor at voter contact) -- campaigns sometimes forget that internal polls contain of margin of error. If you're in the field in a dozen or more states each weekend, you are all but certain to wind up with one or two outliers. Perhaps Pennsylvania was such an outlier for John McCain.

If a campaign gets an internal poll that diverges from the consensus of public polling, it needs to ask itself why the divergence exists. If it cannot explain it, it should probably not treat the internal poll as actionable.

But as reported by the Los Angeles Times, the McCain campaign does not seem to have any particular reason why they think the public polls are wrong in Pennsylvania:

[McCain Political Director Mike Duhaime] said the campaign is operating three dozen offices in the state and is making hundreds of thousands of phone calls every week to identify and persuade potential GOP voters. The data mining efforts are aimed at identifying former Hillary Clinton supporters and independents who are prepared to consider McCain’s message. He said the internal data is “trending” in McCain’s direction and is showing “a lot of things” not apparent in the opinion polls.

Overall, Duhaime said McCain has drawn strong support from what he called a Democrats for McCain movement in and around Scranton, in the state’s western Rust Belt region. “That gives us optimism,” he said.

McCain anticipates good news as well, he said, in the south and central part of the state, near Harrisburg, York and Lancaster -– all cities that the candidate, his wife, Cindy, or running mate Sarah Palin have visited in the last few days.

What is the key phrase in that passage? "Anticipates good news". As in, the McCain campaign does not have any particular idea how they're going to win Pennsylvania, nor why the public polls have the state wrong -- they're just hoping their numbers are right, and hoping that something comes together for them.

October 22nd, 2008, 10:28 AM
^^ You're right. I thought I was reading the NY Times. :cool: Did the WSJ, make it's endorsement yet? What a blow to the GOP it they select Obama.

October 22nd, 2008, 10:36 AM
About PA, I think the Obama camp stills need to campaign hard in some areas of the state, at least in the Western part. I don't see McCain winning the state, but it wouldn't hurt the Obama camp to spend some time there.

October 22nd, 2008, 11:30 AM
Strange but True? On the road through Pennsylvania ...

John Sidney's latest campaign incident, courtesy of the Onion (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqV3AXjqP0w):

McCain Left On Campaign Bus Overnight (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqV3AXjqP0w&eurl=http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/10/breaking-news.html)

October 22nd, 2008, 12:25 PM
Some people are gonna think that was CNN.

October 22nd, 2008, 12:39 PM
About PA, I think the Obama camp stills need to campaign hard in some areas of the state, at least in the Western part. I don't see McCain winning the state, but it wouldn't hurt the Obama camp to spend some time there.Except for states like CA, IL, and NY, he has to keep campaigning in states he needs to win - to keep the GOTV network energized.

The way the campaign was first organized and the long primary season gives him an advantage over McCain that is just starting to be measured. If you look at just the polls in CO, it seems that the state is still in play. But when you factor in that Obama has a big on-the-ground presence while McCain has hardly any, it becomes clear why McCain may have written off the state.

October 22nd, 2008, 12:58 PM
Amazing how "reality" is a curse word.

How people are so scared of coming out and saying "Hey! You want your grandmother to come live with you because SS dries up and she has no health care plan?"

These politicians know what a Pandora's box that can be, from their own compromises on the very same issues that allowed them to gain ground elsewhere.

There are some liberals who like Bacon and Cheddar on their burger, not Brie and apples on their smoked turkey wrap. (Although I have to admit, that ain't bad.....).

Someone somewhere has to open the doors to reality and let all the sheeple have a look around the other side. And then hit them with a hovel several times to get the point across.

Right now we are only showing them the door and expecting them to have the desire, hell even the intelligence, to open it and look for themselves.


October 22nd, 2008, 02:19 PM


October 22, 2008
Palin takes heat for saying VP 'in charge' of the Senate
Posted: 01:18 PM ET

From CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

(CNN) – Sarah Palin is taking heat Wednesday for appearing to overstate the role of vice president, saying in a recent interview that she would be "in charge of the Senate" should John McCain win the White House.

The comments came in an interview with Colorado TV station KUSA in response to a third-grader's question, "What does the Vice President do?”

"[T]hey’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom," she said.

The comments have drawn criticism from Democrats and liberal blogs which note the actual role of the vice president when it comes to the Senate is simply to cast a tie-breaking vote in the event of a stalemate. According to Article I of the U.S. Constitution, the vice president is the "President" of the Senate, but has no executive position when it comes to presiding over the chamber.

Donald Ritchie, a historian in the Senate Historical Office told CNN that Palin's comment was an "overstatement" of what her role would be.

"The vice president is the ceremonial officer of the Senate and has certain ceremonial functions including swearing in new senators and can vote to break a tie," he said. "It’s a relatively limited role. It's evolved into a neutral presiding officer of the Senate.

Ritchie also noted recent vice presidents have played a behind-the-scenes lobbying role on Capitol Hill for an administration's policies, but called it "somewhat limited."

"It's not comparable to the Speaker of the House who is certainly in charge of the House," he said. "The slogan that political scientists use is that the House is ruled by the chair and the Senate is ruled by the floor…the senators are in charge of the Senate."

Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for Palin, said the Alaska governor was simply answering the question in a way a third-grader could understand.

"Governor Palin was responding to a third grader's inquiry," she said. "She was explaining in terms a third-grader could understand that the vice-president is also president of the U.S. Senate." ...

© 2008 Cable News Network LP, LLLP. A Time Warner Company. All Rights (Reserved.

October 22nd, 2008, 02:32 PM


October 22, 2008
Palin: God will do the right thing on election day
Posted: 10:44 AM ET

From CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby

Gov. Palin told James Dobson that
God will do 'the right thing'
on election day.

FINDLAY, Ohio (CNN) –- In an interview posted online Wednesday, Sarah Palin told Dr. James Dobson of “Focus on the Family” that she is confident God will do “the right thing for America” on Nov. 4.

Dobson asked the vice presidential hopeful if she is concerned about John McCain’s sagging poll numbers, but Palin stressed that she was “not discouraged at all.”

“To me, it motivates us, makes us work that much harder,” she told the influential Christian leader, whose radio show reaches tens of millions of listeners daily. “And it also strengthens my faith because I know at the end of the day putting this in God’s hands, the right thing for America will be done, at the end of the day on Nov. 4.”

Dobson praised Palin's opposition to abortion rights, to which the governor affirmed that she is “hardcore pro-life.”

She said giving birth to her son Trig, who has Down syndrome, has given her the opportunity “to be walking the walk and not just talking the talk” in her long-standing opposition to abortion.

Dobson — who has never been warm to McCain — asked Palin if her “private conversations” with the GOP nominee had revealed a true commitment to the Republican party’s pro-life platform, which calls for a constitutional amendment banning abortions.

"I do, from the bottom of my heart," Palin assured Dobson. “John McCain is solidly there on those solid planks in our platform that build the right agenda for America.”

She also thanked her supporters — including Dobson, who said he and his wife were asking “for God’s intervention” on election day — for their prayers of support.

“It is that intercession that is so needed,” she said. “And so greatly appreciated. And I can feel it too, Dr. Dobson. I can feel the power of prayer, and that strength that is provided through our prayer warriors across this nation. And I so appreciate it.”

The interview was taped on Monday by phone while Palin was campaigning in Colorado Springs, where “Focus on the Family” is headquartered.

© 2008 Cable News Network LP, LLLP. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/)

October 22nd, 2008, 02:43 PM
“Campaign Comment” from Keith Olbermann’s Countdown … programme:
Is Sarah Palin “Smarter than a Third-Grader”?

Select Image Below to Access vodpod Video (via YouTube)

http://blogs.westword.com/demver/keith-olbermann.jpg (http://vodpod.com/watch/1102848-palin-not-smarter-than-a-3rd-grader)

Image – Courtesy Denver Westworld
Video – vodpod / YouTube

Runtime – 06:24

October 22nd, 2008, 02:45 PM
Police prepare for unrest
By Alexander Bolton
Posted: 10/21/08 07:58 PM [ET]

Police departments in cities across the country are beefing up their ranks for Election Day, preparing for possible civil unrest and riots after the historic presidential contest.

Public safety officials said in interviews with The Hill that the election, which will end with either the nation’s first black president or its first female vice president, demanded a stronger police presence.

Some worry that if Barack Obama loses and there is suspicion of foul play in the election, violence could ensue in cities with large black populations. Others based the need for enhanced patrols on past riots in urban areas (following professional sports events) and also on Internet rumors.

Democratic strategists and advocates for black voters say they understand officers wanting to keep the peace, but caution that excessive police presence could intimidate voters.

Sen. Obama (Ill.), the Democratic nominee for president, has seen his lead over rival Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) grow in recent weeks, prompting speculation that there could be a violent backlash if he loses unexpectedly.

Cities that have suffered unrest before, such as Detroit, Chicago, Oakland and Philadelphia, will have extra police deployed.

In Oakland, the police will deploy extra units trained in riot control, as well as extra traffic police, and even put SWAT teams on standby.

“Are we anticipating it will be a riot situation? No. But will we be prepared if it goes awry? Yes,” said Jeff Thomason, spokesman for the Oakland Police Department.

“I think it is a big deal — you got an African-American running and [a] woman running,” he added, in reference to Obama and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

“Whoever wins it, it will be a national event. We will have more officers on the street in anticipation that things may go south.”

The Oakland police last faced big riots in 2003 when the Raiders lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl. Officials are bracing themselves in case residents of Oakland take Obama’s loss badly.

Political observers such as Hilary Shelton and James Carville fear that record voter turnout could overload polling places on Election Day and could raise tension levels.

Shelton, the director of the NAACP’s Washington bureau, said inadequate voting facilities is a bigger problem in poor communities with large numbers of minorities.

“What are local election officials doing to prepare for what people think will be record turnout at the polls?” said Shelton, who added that during the 2004 election in Ohio voters in predominantly black communities had to wait in line six to eight hours to vote.

“On Election Day, if this continues, you may have some tempers flare; we should be prepared to deal with that but do it without intimidation,” said Shelton, who added that police have to be able to maintain order at polling stations without scaring voters, especially immigrants from “police states.”

Carville, who served as a senior political adviser to former President Bill Clinton, said that many Democrats would be very angry if Obama loses. He noted that many Democrats were upset by Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) loss to

President Bush in the 2004 election, when some Democrats made allegations of vote manipulation in Ohio%

Optimus Prime
October 22nd, 2008, 02:47 PM
Those liberal third graders and their "gotcha!" questions!

October 22nd, 2008, 03:43 PM
... Brie and apples ...

Glad you reminded me -- I keep forgetting the names of those Palin kids.

October 22nd, 2008, 03:58 PM
Police prepare for unrest

... Cities that have suffered unrest before, such as Detroit, Chicago, Oakland and Philadelphia, will have extra police deployed ...

What about LA (1992) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1992_Los_Angeles_riots) ?

Far deadlier race riots have taken place in NYC (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/05/nyregion/05weeksville.html), with over 100 dead in the worst incident.

And who could forget our neighbor to the west, Newark (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1967_Newark_riots)?

One difference this year could be that the National Guard won't be available -- as so many of them remain on duty across the sea in Iraq and thereby will be unable to keep the home fires from burning.

If there is tomfoolery in the upcoming election then folks shouldn't be at all surprised if the People raise a Clamor.

In such a situation the Declaration of Independence practically demands a Revolt -- if not a riot.

October 22nd, 2008, 04:36 PM
Glad you reminded me -- I keep forgetting the names of those Palin kids.

Those are her pets!!!

Geez, don't you know

Food = Pets
Things = Kids!!!!

As for answering so a 3rd grader could understand, that is fine, but you still need THE RIGHT ANSWER!!!!

October 22nd, 2008, 04:39 PM
What about LA (1992) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1992_Los_Angeles_riots) ?

Far deadlier race riots have taken place in NYC (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/05/nyregion/05weeksville.html), with over 100 dead in the worst incident.

And who could forget our neighbor to the west, Newark (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1967_Newark_riots)?

One difference this year could be that the National Guard won't be available -- as so many of them remain on duty across the sea in Iraq and thereby will be unable to keep the home fires from burning.

If there is tomfoolery in the upcoming election then folks shouldn't be at all surprised if the People raise a Clamor.

In such a situation the Declaration of Independence practically demands a Revolt -- if not a riot.

I just hope the rioters have sense and carpool to some of the areas that matter.

Like where they make the Diabold machines.....

It is really aggravating whenever areas like NYC are looked at as evil. Maybe we should try to be just like everyone else and only pay "our fair share" when it comes to taxes and the like.

When states like ALASKA stop getting funding because "evil" states like NY and NJ keep the money THEY earn....well.... No more Talking Heads Songs in Alaska..... ;)

October 22nd, 2008, 05:01 PM

Magazine Preview
The Making (and Remaking) of McCain

Lauren Greenfield/VII, for The New York Times

STUMPED SPEECH Sarah Palin and John McCain at the Delaware
County Courthouse in Media, Pa., on Sept. 22. As late as June,
one aide said, the campaign could not agree on an answer to
the question ‘‘Why elect John McCain?’’

Published: October 22, 2008

This article will appear in this Sunday's Times Magazine.

On the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 24, John McCain convened a meeting in his suite at the Hilton hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Among the handful of campaign officials in attendance were McCain’s chief campaign strategist, Steve Schmidt, and his other two top advisers: Rick Davis, the campaign manager; and Mark Salter, McCain’s longtime speechwriter. The senator’s ears were already throbbing with bad news from economic advisers and from House Republican leaders who had told him that only a small handful in their ranks were willing to support the $700 billion bailout of the banking industry proposed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. The meeting was to focus on how McCain should respond to the crisis — but also, as one participant later told me, “to try to see this as a big-picture, leadership thing.”

As this participant recalled: “We presented McCain with three options. Continue offering principles from afar. A middle ground of engaging while still campaigning. Then the third option, of going all in. The consensus was that we could stay out or go in — but that if we’re going in, we should go in all the way. So the thinking was, do you man up and try to affect the outcome, or do you hold it at arm’s length? And no, it was not an easy call.”

Discussion carried on into the afternoon at the Morgan Library and Museum as McCain prepared for the first presidential debate. Schmidt pushed for going all in: suspending the campaign, recommending that the first debate be postponed, parachuting into Washington and forging a legislative solution to the financial crisis for which McCain could then claim credit. Exactly how McCain could convincingly play a sober bipartisan problem-solver after spending the previous few weeks garbed as a populist truth teller was anything but clear. But Schmidt and others convinced McCain that it was worth the gamble.

Schmidt in particular was a believer in these kinds of defining moments. The smartest bit of political wisdom he ever heard was dispensed by George W. Bush one spring day at the White House residence in 2004, at a time when his re-election effort was not going especially well. The strategists at the meeting — including Schmidt, who was directing the Bush campaign’s rapid-response unit — fretted over their candidate’s sagging approval ratings and the grim headlines about the war in Iraq. Only Bush appeared thoroughly unworried. He explained to them why, polls notwithstanding, voters would ultimately prefer him over his opponent, John Kerry.

There’s an accidental genius to the way Americans pick a president, Schmidt remembers Bush saying that day. By the end of it all, a candidate’s true character is revealed to the American people.

Had Schmidt been working for his present client back in 2000, he might have disputed Bush’s premise. After all, in McCain’s first run for the presidency, “true character” was the one thing the Vietnam hero and campaign-finance-reform crusader seemed to have going for him eight years ago in the Republican primaries. Bush had everything else, and he buried McCain. What campaigns peddle is not simply character but character as defined by story — a tale of opposing forces that in its telling will memorably establish what a given election is about. In 2000, the McCain effort played like that of a smart and plucky independent film that ultimately could not compete for audiences against the Bush campaign’s summer blockbuster. Four years later, in the race against John Kerry, Schmidt and the other Bush strategists had perfected their trade craft. With a major studio’s brutal efficiency, they distilled the campaign into a megabudget melodrama pitting an unwavering commander in chief against a flip-flopper, set in a post-9/11 world where there could be no room for error or equivocation.

Schmidt has been in charge of strategy for the McCain campaign since early this summer, and his effort to prevail in the battle of competing story lines has been considerably more problematic. The selling of a presidential “narrative” the reigning buzz word of this election cycle has taken on outsize significance in an age in which a rush of visuals and catch words can cripple public images overnight. Mitt Romney, it is said, lost because he could not get his story straight. Hillary Clinton found her I’m-a-fighter leitmotif too late to save her candidacy. By contrast, the narrative of Barack Obama has seemed to converge harmonically with the shifting demographics and surging discontent of the electorate. It may well be, as his detractors suggest, that Obama is among the least-experienced presidential nominees in our nation’s history. But to voters starved for change, the 47-year-old biracial first-term Democratic senator clearly qualifies. That, in any event, is his story, and he has stuck to it.

Lauren Greenfield/VII, for The New York Times

Mark Salter, standing (without tie), and Steve Schmidt, center, with
reporters at the New York Hilton after Senator John McCain
announced he would suspend his campaign and fly to
Washington to deal with the financial crisis.

John McCain’s biography has been the stuff of legend for nearly a decade. And yet Schmidt and his fellow strategists have had difficulty explaining how America will be better off for electing (as opposed to simply admiring) a stubborn patriot. In seeking to do so, the McCain campaign has changed its narrative over and over. Sometimes with McCain’s initial resistance but always with his eventual approval, Schmidt has proffered a candidate who is variously a fighter, a conciliator, an experienced leader and a shake-’em-up rebel. “The trick is that all of these are McCain,” Matt McDonald, a senior adviser, told me. But in constantly alternating among story lines in order to respond to changing events and to gain traction with voters, the “true character” of a once-crisply-defined political figure has become increasingly murky.

Schmidt evidently saw the financial crisis as a “true character” moment that would advance his candidate’s narrative. But the story line did not go as scripted. “This has to be solved by Monday,” Schmidt told reporters that Wednesday afternoon in late September, just after McCain concluded his lengthy meeting with his advisers and subsequently announced his decision to suspend his campaign and go to Washington. Belying a crisis situation, however, McCain didn’t leave New York immediately. He spent Thursday morning at an event for the Clinton Global Initiative, the nonprofit foundation run by former President Bill Clinton. As McCain headed for Washington later that morning, he was sufficiently concerned about the situation that Schmidt felt compelled to reassure him. “Remember what President Clinton told you,” Schmidt said, referring to advice Clinton had dispensed that morning: “If you do the right thing, it might be painful for a few days. But in the long run it will work out in your favor.”

After arriving on Capitol Hill nearly 24 hours after his announcement, McCain huddled with three of his closest political allies: fellow senators Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman and Jon Kyl. Later that day at a White House meeting convened by Bush and also attended by Congressional leaders of both parties as well as both candidates, McCain said almost nothing, even when House Republicans declared that they were not yet willing to sign onto the administration’s $700 billion proposal. Despite the fact that the deal maker had produced no deal, McCain announced the next day that his campaign would resume — “optimistic that there has been significant progress towards a bipartisan agreement,” as a campaign statement put it — and traveled to Mississippi that Friday afternoon to debate Obama. On Sunday morning, Schmidt went on “Meet the Press” to insist that his boss’s foray had been crucial in bringing “all of the parties to the table,” with the result that “there appears to be a framework completed.” The next day — Monday, Sept. 29, the day by which Schmidt had earlier warned the crisis “has to be solved” — the House Republicans played the key role in defeating the bailout legislation.

Lauren Greenfield/VII, for The New York Times

Nicole Wallace, a McCain campaign spokeswoman, and the adviser
Mark Salter outside the Renaissance Philadelphia airport hotel. In
earlier campaigns, McCain referred to the press as his “base.”
This time, an aide said, McCain felt the press was
“in the tank for Obama.”

Scene by scene, McCain failed to deliver the performance that had been promised. Of course, this was no mere movie. America was in crisis. Perhaps with the Bush theory in mind, Steve Schmidt had advised McCain to “go in all the way” on the financial crisis so as to reveal his candidate’s true character. But given a chance to show what kind of president he might be, McCain came off more like a stymied bystander than a leader who could make a difference. Judging by the polls, the McCain campaign has yet to recover.

In reporting on the campaign’s vicissitudes, I spoke with a half-dozen of McCain’s senior-most advisers — most of them more than once and some of them repeatedly — over a period that began in early August. I spoke as well to several other midlevel advisers and to a number of former senior aides. Virtually all of these individuals had spoken with me for previous articles concerning McCain. Their insights and recollections enabled me to piece together conversations and events. My repeated requests to interview McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, were denied, and with only a couple of exceptions those who spoke to me did so with the stipulation that most or all of their comments not be attributed to them.

Despite their leeriness of being quoted, McCain’s senior advisers remained palpably confident of victory — at least until very recently. By October, the succession of backfiring narratives would compel some to reappraise not only McCain’s chances but also the decisions made by Schmidt, who only a short time ago was hailed as the savior who brought discipline and unrepentant toughness to a listing campaign. “For better or for worse, our campaign has been fought from tactic to tactic,” one senior adviser glumly acknowledged to me in early October, just after Schmidt received authorization from McCain to unleash a new wave of ads attacking Obama’s character. “So this is the new tactic.”


NARRATIVE 1: The Heroic Fighter vs. the Quitters

NARRATIVE 2: Country-First Deal Maker vs. Nonpartisan Pretender

NARRATIVE 3: Leader vs. Celebrity

NARRATIVE 4: Team of Mavericks vs. Old-Style Washington

NARRATIVE 5: John McCain vs. John McCain

NARRATIVE 6: The Fighter (Again) vs. the Tax-and-Spend Liberal

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/26/magazine/26mccain-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=politics)

October 22nd, 2008, 05:11 PM

Magazine Preview
The Making (and Remaking) of McCain

Published: October 22, 2008

This article will appear in this Sunday's Times Magazine.


The Heroic Fighter vs. the Quitters

Steve Schmidt is 38, bald and brawny, with a nasal, deadpan voice and a relentless stare. He is also a devoted husband and father of two young children, introspective and boyishly vulnerable for someone of such imposing stature. On mornings, he can be seen standing outside the McCain campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va., smoking a cigarette while he scowls at his BlackBerry. After campaign events in the evening, he often hangs out at a hotel bar drinking beer with fellow campaign workers and members of the media. Whenever possible, he flies back to California to spend the weekend with his family. He is not a hothead and tends to hesitate for several beats before offering a well-tailored, often wry answer to a question. Though commonly described in the press as a Karl Rove protégé, Schmidt was a Republican operative for a dozen years before he ever worked for Rove. When Bush returned to the White House, Schmidt was not among those from the 2004 re-election effort who were rewarded with plum jobs, despite his well-regarded work overseeing the campaign’s rapid-response unit. After spending the first half of 2005 heading up the press office for Vice President Dick Cheney, Schmidt was sent to Baghdad to improve the administration’s anemic communications strategy in Iraq. He also orchestrated the Senate confirmation hearings of the Supreme Court nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito and their presentation to the outside world. Along the way, Schmidt never really developed the personal relationship with Bush that would have enabled him to advance in accordance with his talents. In early 2006, when an opportunity came to jump ship, Schmidt took it, departing the Bush administration to spearhead the successful re-election campaign of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. He still lives outside Sacramento, far from Washington. Though Schmidt often brandishes his geographical remove from the Beltway and his lack of interest in another White House job as proof of his equanimity, you get the sense that a McCain victory would bring him no small measure of personal vindication.

For a man who seems to relish Rove-like alley fighting, Schmidt is not an ideologue and claims he harbors no ambition of delivering the Republican Party to a state of lasting supremacy. He also displays great nuance in office politics. Until Schmidt consolidated his power this summer, McCain, it’s fair to say, was not a big believer in organization. The important decisions were all made by him, with various confidants of ambiguous portfolio orbiting around him and often colliding with one another (and often staying in the picture well after their departure — as was the case of Mike Murphy, a strategist from the 2000 campaign, who remained close enough to McCain that rumors of his return persisted until fairly recently).

A year earlier, in the summer of 2007, the McCain campaign all but collapsed under the weight of financial woes, vicious infighting and the conservative base’s fury over his moderate stance on immigration. Among the senior staff members who walked out were McCain’s longtime political guru John Weaver and several alumni of the well-oiled 2004 Bush campaign. Schmidt — who until that point was not particularly influential — decided to stick around, even without pay. He began to earn McCain’s trust while also befriending the senator’s two closest advisers, who happened not to care for each other.

One was Rick Davis, a charming Southern lobbyist and Republican jack-of-all-trades who had assumed control of the campaign’s day-to-day operations. McCain and Davis have for years called each other a half-dozen times a day, but Davis has also cultivated a close bond with Cindy McCain, who once when talking to Katie Couric referred to Davis as “our best friend.” The other adviser was 53-year-old Mark Salter, a brilliant, pugnacious writer who has composed all of McCain’s books and major speeches and in a more encompassing sense is McCain’s definer, looking after what Salter himself calls the “metanarrative” of McCain’s transformation from a reckless flyboy and P.O.W. to a courageous patriot. The complicated interdependence between McCain and Salter could be glimpsed during the candidate’s acceptance speech at the Republican convention. Salter sat in the front row, dead center, no more than 15 feet from McCain. I watched as Salter gazed intently at McCain throughout, making subtle motions with his hands and face, and when McCain came to the pivotal line in his P.O.W. tale — “I was no longer my own man; I was my country’s” — its author leapt to his feet and applauded.

But in the summer of 2007, Salter and McCain’s relationship frayed when Salter and others tried to marginalize Davis, and McCain resisted. While Salter brooded and Davis spent his hours at headquarters begging donors and volunteers not to jump ship, Schmidt stepped into the void. There was still more than a year until the election, he figured. The problem was that McCain was spending his time talking about Iraq, in distinctly funereal tones. “It’s long and it’s hard and it’s tough,” the senator told one audience in Gilford, N.H., that summer. “I could recommend books on it that’ll make you cry. . . . I know how frustrated you are. I know the sorrow you experience.” Virtually all of his senior staff members, Schmidt and Davis among them, had been begging McCain to focus on the economy, health care and tax policy. Anything, really, except Bush’s war. But according to several senior advisers, the candidate felt a deep sense of responsibility to cheerlead for the troop surge, which he believed would turn the tide in Iraq. It began to dawn on Schmidt that McCain’s stubborn patronage of an unpopular war wasn’t impeding the campaign’s quest for narrative — it was the narrative.

“Sir, is the surge working?” he said he asked McCain one day. “Are we winning?”

“Yes,” McCain said.

“That’s not what you’re saying on the trail.”

“It is!”

“No, sir. It’s not. You’re saying things are getting better. Do you believe we’re actually winning now?”

McCain indicated that he did.

“Well, going forward, that’s what you should say,” Schmidt replied. He encouraged McCain to denounce the Democrats for advocating a withdrawal of troops — a kind of surrender in the face of victory. Thus did Schmidt initiate the No Surrender Tour late in the summer of 2007, a push through the early primary states that saw John McCain surrounded by war veterans while he lashed out at weak-kneed war critics. Employing considerable artistic license, Schmidt linked McCain’s stance on Iraq with his bravery during his years in captivity in Vietnam, something the candidate had shied away from. Indeed, as McCain told me two years ago, he decided to write his Vietnam memoir, “Faith of My Fathers,” with Salter largely to put the subject to rest once and for all: “I just got bored telling the same old story over and over again. . . . After the 3,000th time, you think, Hey, I’d rather talk about something else.”

As one adviser told me two months ago: “It’s against his better nature to be self-aggrandizing. But everybody was telling him, ‘This is about the election, the election’s about your character and this stuff goes along with your narrative.’ ” Schmidt warned McCain that declining to discuss personal matters like his P.O.W. days and his religious faith would very likely have ramifications at the polls. The candidate acquiesced. In speeches, debates and advertising, the McCain campaign made liberal use of his war-hero metanarrative. On March 28, 2008, with the Republican nomination secured, McCain’s first national ad was shown. It concluded with grainy black-and-white footage of the wounded P.O.W. reciting his serial number to his captors, followed by a spoken line that Schmidt loved and adamantly defended, even when others inside the campaign argued that it made no sense: “John McCain. The American president Americans have been waiting for.” Thereafter, McCain seldom wasted an opportunity to extol his own patriotism.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/26/magazine/26mccain-t.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ref=politics)

October 22nd, 2008, 05:20 PM

Magazine Preview
The Making (and Remaking) of McCain

Published: October 22, 2008

This article will appear in this Sunday's Times Magazine.


Country-First Deal Maker vs. Nonpartisan Pretender

Schmidt spent this spring futilely trying to broaden the story line. Americans, he knew, did not share McCain’s devotion to the surge in Iraq. Their concerns lay at home. Accordingly, Schmidt toured McCain through Annapolis, Alexandria and Jacksonville, the towns of his beginnings (an idea conceived by Karl Rove, according to a senior adviser), and then made an empathy swing through poor regions of the country. Both came off as contrivances. McCain’s speech in New Orleans on June 3 of this year — the night Obama effectively clinched the nomination — was delivered against a sickly green backdrop, a poorly executed version of an idea Schmidt borrowed from the eco-friendly 2006 Schwarzenegger campaign. Contrasted with Obama’s ringing articulation of change in St. Paul that very night, McCain’s speech (with its “That’s not change we can believe in” refrain) struck even some Republicans as churlish. McCain was so frustrated by his own, at times, stumbling performance that he vowed never to deliver another teleprompter speech again.

The campaign was in the throes of an identity crisis by June 24, when a number of senior strategists gathered at 9:30 a.m. in a conference room of McCain’s campaign headquarters in Arlington. As one participant said later, the meeting was convened “because we still couldn’t answer the question, ‘Why elect John McCain?’ ” Considering that the election was less than five months away, this was not a good sign.

“We had a narrative problem,” Matt McDonald recalls. “Obama had a story line: ‘Bush is the problem. I’m not going to be Bush, and McCain will be.’ Our story line, I argued, had to be that it’s not about Bush — it’s Congress, it’s Washington. And Obama would be more about partisanship, while John McCain would buck the party line and bring people together.”

The others could see McDonald’s line of reasoning — and above all, the need to separate McCain from Bush. But the message seemed antiseptic, impersonal. That was when the keeper of McCain’s biography, Mark Salter, took the floor. There’s a reason McCain bucks his party, McDonald remembers Salter arguing. It’s because he puts his country ahead of party. Then the speechwriter, who is not known for his dispassion, began to yell: “We’re talking about someone who was willing to die before losing his honor! He would die!”

Salter stalked out of the meeting to have a cigarette and didn’t return. But he had said enough. The metanarrative of Heroic Fighter was now joined with one that evoked postpartisan statesmanship. The new narrative needed a label. The first version was “A Love for America.” Then “America First.” And finally, the one that stuck: “Country First.”

The McCain campaign maintained that in contrast to Obama, their candidate had taken on his own party while working with Democrats on such issues as immigration and campaign-finance reform. “Obama pays no price from his party — never has,” Salter told me. “My guy has made a career out of it. So, how can you get people to believe that if you can’t get the press to make an honest assessment of it? You tell a story. ‘When it came down to a choice between my very life and my country, I chose my country.’ That’s why the story’s important. Just as Obama’s story is important to him. I don’t gainsay it. You know, tell your story!”

Salter and Schmidt had hoped that the mainstream press would warm to this new narrative. But the matter of which candidate had shown more acts of bipartisan daring failed to become Topic A. The two advisers — each of whom had friendly relations with the media but had grown increasingly convinced that Obama was getting a free ride — took this as further proof that today’s reporters were primarily young, snarky, blog-obsessed and liberal. To Schmidt’s and Salter’s minds, John McCain had always been honest and straightforward with the press, and the press in turn was not acting in good faith toward their candidate. As such it was now undeserving of McCain’s unfettered “straight talk.”

But this rationale for shutting out the press has its limitations. For one, when McCain’s Straight Talk Express first rolled out in 1999, the notion was not conceived simply out of the sense that being transparent with the media — and by extension the voters — was just the right thing to do. Instead, it was implemented because the 2000 campaign lacked the money to compete with Bush’s ad campaign. As John Weaver, McCain’s former strategist told me, “We needed the coverage.” For another, McCain happened to like passing the time with reporters, whom he would sometimes refer to as his “base.” In addition, talking openly with the press had some important advantages early on for McCain. According to some of his aides, McCain’s victory in the make-or-break New Hampshire primary in January of this year might not have transpired had he not spent time talking to and overtly courting every editorial board in the state for their endorsements.

Regardless, this summer Schmidt sought to convince his voluble candidate that the press was no longer his friend. By July, a curtain was literally drawn to separate McCain from the reporters traveling on his plane. He no longer mingled with them, and press conferences were drastically curtailed. The Bushian concept of message discipline — the droning repetition of a single talking point — that had been so gleefully mocked by McCain’s lieutenants in 2000 now governed the Straight Talk Express.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/26/magazine/26mccain-t.html?pagewanted=3&_r=1&ref=politics)

October 22nd, 2008, 07:36 PM

Magazine Preview
The Making (and Remaking) of McCain

Published: October 22, 2008

This article will appear in this Sunday's Times Magazine.


Leader vs. Celebrity

“Gentlemen, let me put a few things on the table for observation and discussion,” Steve Schmidt said to his fellow strategists while sitting in a conference room in the Phoenix Ritz-Carlton. “Would anyone here disagree with the premise that we are not winning this campaign?”

No one disagreed. It was Sunday, July 27, and Obama had just concluded an eight-day swing through the Middle East and Europe that received practically round-the-clock media coverage. “Would anyone disagree with the premise,” Schmidt went on, “that Mr. Obama has scored the most successful week in this entire campaign? I mean, they treated him like he was a head of state! So tell me, gentlemen: how do we turn this negative into a positive?”

“It’s third and nine,” Bill McInturff, a pollster, observed. “Time to start throwing the ball down field.”

Eventually, it was Schmidt who blurted out the epiphany concerning Obama. “Face it, gentlemen,” he said. “He’s being treated like a celebrity.”

The others grasped the concept — a celebrity like J-Lo! or Britney! — and exultation overtook the room.

John and Cindy McCain showed up at the end of the daylong meeting, and Schmidt took the opportunity to run the celebrity concept by them. The McCains liked it — though the candidate was otherwise cranky: he was tired of being overscheduled and always late and demanded that this change immediately. (It did, according to a senior adviser: “After that meeting, you will rarely see McCain do an event before 9 in the morning.”)

Three days later, the new ad went up. “He’s the biggest celebrity in the world,” a female voice intoned, as images of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton flashed on the screen. “But: is he ready to lead?” In a conference call with reporters that morning, Schmidt framed the issue with a binary choice straight out of the 2004 playbook: “Do the American people want to elect the biggest celebrity or an American hero?”

The idea, McDonald told me, was “to exalt Obama’s eloquence. Push it up to a place where there’s no oxygen. Make it an Icarus thing.” The notion of Obama’s apparent presumptuousness seemed to grow on viewers. And when Russia invaded the fledgling republic of Georgia on Aug. 8, McCain’s strategists saw an opportunity for another stark binary choice — albeit one that abruptly shifted the story line back to the international arena: combat-ready leader versus unready celebrity.

The execution of the new narrative left something to be desired, however. Three days after the invasion, McCain made a statement to reporters in Erie, Pa., intended to showcase his mastery of the Russia-Georgia situation. Instead, the candidate mispronounced the name of the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, three times. The next day, I watched as McCain appeared in York, Pa., to engage in one of his free-form town-hall meetings. But he began the event by standing next to a lectern and reciting Russia-Georgia talking points from prepared notes. Though no doubt this was intended to avoid his previous flubs, McCain’s scripted performance seemed more like that of a foreign-policy novice than a sure-handed sage.

When I mentioned this episode later to one of McCain’s advisers, he winced and said: “This is part of the Schmidt gotta-have-absolute-message-discipline thing. That’s one of the disagreements. And John can be really resistant. He’s always worried about being put in a box. He’s got a very sensitive nerve about it. A lot of times I would hear him say: ‘Don’t control me. This is my campaign.’ But I think Steve has convinced him that we’ve got to do this if we’re going to win.”

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/26/magazine/26mccain-t.html?pagewanted=4&_r=1&ref=politics)

October 22nd, 2008, 07:43 PM

Magazine Preview
The Making (and Remaking) of McCain

Published: October 22, 2008

This article will appear in this Sunday's Times Magazine.


Team of Mavericks vs. Old-Style Washington

On Sunday, Aug. 24, Schmidt and a few other senior advisers again convened for a general strategy meeting at the Phoenix Ritz-Carlton. McInturff, the pollster, brought somewhat-reassuring new numbers. The Celebrity motif had taken its toll on Obama. It was no longer third and nine, the pollster said — meaning, among other things, that McCain might well be advised to go with a safe pick as his running mate.

Then for a half-hour or so, the group reviewed names that had been bandied about in the past: Gov. Tim Pawlenty (of Minnesota) and Gov. Charlie Christ (of Florida); the former governors Tom Ridge (Pennsylvania) and Mitt Romney (Massachusetts); Senator Joe Lieberman (Connecticut); and Mayor Michael Bloomberg (New York). From a branding standpoint, they wondered, what message would each of these candidates send about John McCain? McInturff’s polling data suggested that none of these candidates brought significantly more to the ticket than any other.

“What about Sarah Palin?” Schmidt asked.

After a moment of silence, Fred Davis, McCain’s creative director (and not related to Rick), said, “I did the ads for her gubernatorial campaign.” But Davis had never once spoken with Palin, the governor of Alaska. Since the Republican Governors Association had paid for his work, Davis was prohibited by campaign laws from having any contact with the candidate. All Davis knew was that the R.G.A. folks had viewed Palin as a talent to keep an eye on. “She’d certainly be a maverick pick,” he concluded.

The meeting carried on without Schmidt or Rick Davis uttering an opinion about Palin. Few in the room were aware that the two had been speaking to each other about Palin for some time now. Davis was with McCain when the two met Palin for the first time, at a reception at the National Governors Association winter meeting in February, in the J. W. Marriott Hotel in Washington. It had not escaped McCain’s attention that Palin had blasted through the oleaginous Alaska network dominated by Frank Murkowski and Ted Stevens, much in the same manner that McCain saw himself doing when he was a young congressman. Newt Gingrich and others had spoken of Palin as a rising star. Davis saw something else in Palin — namely, a way to re-establish the maverick persona McCain had lost while wedding himself to Bush’s war. A female running mate might also pick off some disaffected Hillary Clinton voters.

After that first brief meeting, Davis remained in discreet but frequent contact with Palin and her staff — gathering tapes of speeches and interviews, as he was doing with all potential vice-presidential candidates. One tape in particular struck Davis as arresting: an interview with Palin and Gov. Janet Napolitano, the Arizona Democrat, on “The Charlie Rose Show” that was shown in October 2007. Reviewing the tape, it didn’t concern Davis that Palin seemed out of her depth on health-care issues or that, when asked to name her favorite candidate among the Republican field, she said, “I’m undecided.” What he liked was how she stuck to her pet issues — energy independence and ethics reform — and thereby refused to let Rose manage the interview. This was the case throughout all of the Palin footage. Consistency. Confidence. And . . . well, look at her. A friend had said to Davis: “The way you pick a vice president is, you get a frame of Time magazine, and you put the pictures of the people in that frame. You look at who fits that frame best — that’s your V. P.”

Schmidt, to whom Davis quietly supplied the Palin footage, agreed. Neither man apparently saw her lack of familiarity with major national or international issues as a serious liability. Instead, well before McCain made his selection, his chief strategist and his campaign manager both concluded that Sarah Palin would be the most dynamic pick. Despite McInturff’s encouraging new numbers, it remained their conviction that in this ominous election cycle, a Republican presidential candidate could not afford to play it safe. Picking Palin would upend the chessboard; it was a maverick type of move. McCain, the former Navy pilot, loved that sort of thing. Then again, he also loved familiarity — the swashbuckling camaraderie with his longtime staff members, the P.O.W. band of brothers who frequently rode the bus and popped up at his campaign events, the Sedona ranch where he unwound and grilled wagonloads of meat. By contrast, McCain had barely met Palin.

That evening of Aug. 24, Schmidt and Davis, after leaving the Ritz-Carlton meeting, showed up at McCain’s condominium in Phoenix. They informed McCain that in their view, Palin would be the best pick. “You never know where his head is,” Davis told me three weeks later. “He doesn’t betray a lot. He’s a great poker player. But he picked up the phone.” Reached at the Alaska State Fair, Palin listened as McCain for the first time discussed the possibility of selecting her as his running mate.

These machinations remained thoroughly sub rosa. McCain’s close friend, Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator, continued to argue passionately for Lieberman — “a McCain-Plus ticket,” he would say. McCain, referring to Romney, at one point said that “Mitt’s been awfully helpful with fund-raising,” according to a senior aide who was present during the discussion. “And he’d bring us Michigan.” Pawlenty’s name frequently came up in internal discussions, says that aide. But as for Palin, says another: “She just wasn’t one of the names. I mean, we heard more about Bloomberg.”

On Tuesday, Aug. 26, Schmidt picked up the phone around noon and called Jon Berrier, an old friend and partner at Schmidt’s consulting business in Northern California. Berrier was asked to get on a plane to Anchorage, check into a hotel, await further details and tell no one. The next morning, Davis White, who oversaw all of McCain’s travel logistics, met Berrier for breakfast in Anchorage. White informed Berrier that they would meet Palin at a private airstrip that afternoon, and that White would fly with Palin to Arizona to meet with Schmidt and Salter that evening — and then, the following morning, with McCain. If McCain offered the vice-president slot to Palin, White told Berrier, then Berrier would surreptitiously fly Palin’s husband, Todd, and their children to Ohio on Thursday evening, and a public announcement would be made there the next morning. The final decision wasn’t to be made until Thursday morning, but they should proceed as if it was going to happen.

Palin and her assistant, Kris Perry, met Schmidt and Salter on Wednesday evening in Flagstaff, at the house of Bob Delgado, the chief executive of Hensley & Company, Cindy McCain’s beer distributorship. McCain’s speechwriter had never spoken with Palin before. A senior adviser said: “Salter was always a big Pawlenty fan — son of a truck driver, salt of the earth, genuine guy. Just thought he was a good, honest addition to the McCain brand as opposed to, say, Romney.” That so much momentum had been building in Palin’s favor was likely a surprise to Salter, says one of the few individuals privy to the vice-presidential selection process: “Mark was new to it, and so it was important to us to make sure that he was in on the situation that was brewing.”

For two hours, Salter and Schmidt asked Palin questions based on the vetting material. Salter says they discussed her daughter’s pregnancy and the pending state investigation regarding her role in the controversy surrounding the state trooper who had been married to her sister. The two advisers warned her that nothing was likely to stay secret during the campaign. Salter says that he was impressed. “The sense you immediately get is how tough-minded and self-assured she is,” he recalled three weeks after meeting her. “She makes that impression in like 30 seconds.”

Now all three of McCain’s closest advisers were on board. The next morning was Thursday, Aug. 28. Salter and Schmidt drove Palin to McCain’s ranch. According to Salter, the senator took the governor down to a place where he usually had his coffee, beside a creek and a sycamore tree, where a rare breed of hawk seasonally nested. They spoke for more than an hour. Then the two of them walked about 40 yards to the deck of the cabin where the McCains slept. Cindy joined them there for about 15 minutes, after which the McCains excused themselves and went for a brief stroll to discuss the matter. When they returned, McCain asked for some time with Schmidt and Salter. “And we did our pros and cons on all of them,” Salter told me. “He just listened. Asked a couple of questions. Then said, ‘I’m going to offer it to her.’ ”

Late that same evening, a McCain spokeswoman, Nicolle Wallace, and the deputy speechwriter, Matthew Scully, were ferried to the Manchester Inn in Middletown, Ohio. Schmidt instructed them to turn off their cellphones and BlackBerrys. Then he opened the door of Room 508 and introduced them to McCain’s running mate. The two aides were surprised. Palin and Scully spoke for about 45 minutes, and the governor handed him a copy of the speech she had intended to give as one of the Republican convention’s many guest speakers. With this scant information in hand, Scully began his all-night drafting of Palin’s first speech to a national audience.

During the evening, Scully also traded e-mail messages with Matt McDonald, who had just gotten the news from Schmidt that the vice-presidential pick was someone who did not quite fit the campaign’s current emphasis on “readiness.” The story line, Schmidt informed McDonald, was now Change. The two of them, along with Rick Davis, talked through this rather jolting narrative shift. What they decided upon was workable, if inelegant. First, define the problem as Washington, not Bush. Second, posit both McCain and Palin as experienced reformers. And third, define Obama and his 65-year-old running mate, Senator Joe Biden, as a ticket with no real record of change. McDonald in turn transmitted this formulation to Scully and Salter, who was busily drafting McCain’s announcement speech.

The spunky hockey mom that America beheld the next morning instantly hijacked Obama’s narrative of newness. (“Change is coming!” McCain hollered, almost seeming startled himself.) And five days later, in the hours after Palin’s stunningly self-assured acceptance speech at the G.O.P. convention, I watched as the Republicans in the bar of the Minneapolis Hilton rejoiced as Republicans had not rejoiced since Inauguration Night three and a half long years ago. Jubilant choruses of “She knocked it out of the park” and “One of the greatest speeches ever” were heard throughout the room, and some people gave, yes, Obama-style fist bumps. When the tall, unassuming figure of Palin’s speechwriter, Matthew Scully, shuffled into the bar, he was treated to the first standing ovation of his life. Nicolle Wallace confessed to another staff member that she had cried throughout Palin’s speech. Allowing his feelings to burst out of his composed eggshell of a face, Schmidt bellowed to someone, “Game on!”

Just as quickly, he resumed his natural state of arch contemplativeness. “Arguably, at this stage?” he observed. “She’s a bigger celebrity than Obama.”

A commotion erupted, followed by outright hysteria. It was 11:45, and the Palins had entered the bar. Dozens of staff members and delegates flocked to the governor, cellphone cameras outstretched. Todd and Sarah Palin posed, shook hands and extended their gracious appreciation for 15 minutes. Then, no doubt realizing that they would never be able to enjoy a drink in peace, they withdrew for the evening, again to raucous applause.

While all of this was going on, an elegant middle-aged woman sat alone at the far end of the bar. She wore beige slacks and a red sweater, and she picked at a salad while talking incessantly on her cellphone. But for the McCain/Palin button affixed to her collar and the brief moment that Tucker Eskew, Palin’s new counselor, spoke into her ear, she seemed acutely disconnected from the jubilation swelling around her.

In fact, the woman was here for a reason. Her name was Priscilla Shanks, a New York-based stage and screen actress of middling success who had found a lucrative second career as a voice coach. Shanks’s work with Sarah Palin was as evident as it was unseen. Gone, by the evening of her convention speech, was the squeaky register of Palin’s exclamations. Gone (at least for the moment) was the Bushian pronunciation of “nuclear” as “nook-you-ler.” Present for the first time was a leisurely, even playful cadence that signaled Sarah Palin’s inevitability on this grand stage.

In the ensuing two and a half weeks (which surely felt longer to the Obama campaign), the Palin Effect was manifest and profound. McCain seemed, if not suddenly younger — after all, the woman standing to his side was nearly the same age as his daughter, Sidney — then freshly boisterous as he crowed, “Change is coming, my friends!” Meanwhile, Palin’s gushing references to McCain as “the one great man in this race” and “exactly the kind of man I want as commander in chief” seemed to confer not only valor but virility on a 72-year-old politician who only weeks ago barely registered with the party faithful.

But just as you could make too much of Shanks’s quiet coaching of Palin, you could also make too little of it. The new narrative — the Team of Mavericks coming to lay waste the Beltway power alleys — now depended on a fairly inexperienced Alaska politician. The following night, after McCain’s speech brought the convention to a close, one of the campaign’s senior advisers stayed up late at the Hilton bar savoring the triumphant narrative arc. I asked him a rather basic question: “Leaving aside her actual experience, do you know how informed Governor Palin is about the issues of the day?”

The senior adviser thought for a moment. Then he looked up from his beer. “No,” he said quietly. “I don’t know.”

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/26/magazine/26mccain-t.html?pagewanted=5&_r=1&ref=politics)

October 22nd, 2008, 07:51 PM

Magazine Preview
The Making (and Remaking) of McCain

Published: October 22, 2008

This article will appear in this Sunday's Times Magazine.


John McCain vs. John McCain

In the period before the campaign’s decision earlier this month to wage an all-out assault on Obama’s character as the next narrative tactic, McCain was signaling to aides that it was important to run an honorable campaign. People are hurting now, McCain said to his convention planners as Hurricane Gustav whirled toward the Gulf Coast. It’s a shame we have to have a convention at all. But because we have to do this, tone it down. No balloons, nothing over the top. When his media team suggested running ads that highlighted Obama’s connection with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, McCain reminded them that he pledged months earlier not to exploit the matter, and John McCain was not about to go back on his word. In such moments, the man who renounced negative ads during the 2000 campaign because he wanted (as he told his aghast advisers back then) “to run a campaign my daughter can be proud of” has been thoroughly recognizable.

But that John McCain had lost. Of the noble but perhaps naïve decision in 2000 to unilaterally take down his attack ads, Rick Davis would vow: “That’s not gonna happen a second time. I mean, the old dog can learn a few new tricks.” And yet on this landscape of new tricks — calling your opponent a liar; allowing your running mate to imply that the opponent might prefer terrorists over Americans — McCain sometimes seemed to be running against not only Barack Obama but an earlier version of himself.

The flipside to John McCain’s metanarrative of personal valor has always been palpable self-righteousness. In this campaign, his sense of integrity has been doubly offended. First, an adviser said, “He just really thinks the media is completely in the tank for Obama and doesn’t feel like he’s getting a fair shake at all.” And second, another said, “I don’t think John likes people who try to do jobs they’re not qualified for” — referring, in this case, to Barack Obama.

In June, McCain formally proposed that he and his Democratic opponent campaign together across America in a series of town-hall-style meetings. He had in fact suggested the same thing to Joe Biden three years earlier, Biden told me back then: “He said: ‘Let’s make a deal if we end up being the nominees. Let’s commit to do what Goldwater and Kennedy committed to do before Kennedy was shot.’ We agreed that we would campaign together, same plane, get off in the same city and go to 30 states or whatever together.” According to Biden, he and McCain sealed their agreement with a handshake. When McCain extended the same offer to Obama in 2008, the Democrat said that he found the notion “appealing” but then did little to make it happen. Since that time, McCain has repeatedly told aides what he has also said in public — that had Obama truly showed a determination to have a series of joint appearances, the campaign would not have degenerated to its current sorry state.

But to McCain, that Obama failed to do so carries a deeper significance. Authenticity means everything to a man like McCain who, says Salter, “has an affinity for heroes, for men of honor.” Conversely, he reserves special contempt for those he regards as arrogant phonies. A year after Barack Obama was sworn into the Senate, Salter recalls McCain saying, “He’s got a future, I’ll reach out to him” — as McCain had to Russ Feingold and John Edwards, and as the liberal Arizona congressman Mo Udall had reached out to McCain as a freshman. McCain invited Obama to attend a bipartisan meeting on ethics reform. Obama gratefully accepted —but then wrote McCain a letter urging him to instead follow a legislative path recommended by Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate. Feeling double-crossed, McCain ordered Salter to “send him a letter, brush him back a little.” Since that experience, says a Republican who has known McCain for a long time, “there was certainly disdain and dislike of Obama.”

A senior adviser to McCain said: “The town halls, the ethics bill, immigration reform — all are examples. I think McCain finds it galling that Obama gets credit for his impressive talk about bipartisanship without ever having to bear the risk that is a part of that. It is so much harder to walk the walk in the Senate than to talk the talk.” By extension, then, if the McCain campaign’s conduct would appear to be at odds with the man’s “true character,” it is only because the combination of a dishonorable opponent and a biased media has forced his hand. Or so goes the rationale for what by this month was an increasingly ugly campaign.

The worry among his aides had long been that McCain would let his indignation show. Going into the debates, an adviser expressed that very concern to me: “If he keeps the debates on substance, he’s very good. If it moves to the personal, then I think it’s a disaster.” Accordingly, Salter advised McCain before the first debate to maintain, one person privy to the sessions put it, “a very generous patience with Obama — in terms of, ‘I’m sure if he understood. . . .’ ”

“The object wasn’t to appear condescending at all — really, the opposite,” an adviser said of Salter’s tactic, which judging by the postdebate polls seemed to backfire. “You put a bullet in a gun, figuring it’ll get shot once. We had no idea it would be shot 10 times.”

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/26/magazine/26mccain-t.html?pagewanted=8&_r=1&ref=politics)

October 22nd, 2008, 07:57 PM

Magazine Preview
The Making (and Remaking) of McCain

Published: October 22, 2008

This article will appear in this Sunday's Times Magazine.


The Fighter (Again) vs. the Tax-and-Spend Liberal

Having fallen back on the most clichéd of political story lines — the devil you know versus the devil you don’t — only to see the negative tactic boomerang, Schmidt and his colleagues cobbled together one last narrative with less than a month to go. Kicking it off at an event in Virginia Beach on Oct. 13, McCain delivered a speech that did not mention “maverick,” or “country first,” or “no surrender.” The new motif was a hybrid of the previous five story lines, especially the first. Mentioning some version of the word “fight” 19 times, McCain was once again a warrior — only more upbeat, more respectful of his opponent, more empathetic to suffering Americans and far more disapproving of the president. Rick Davis told me in September, “The worst scenario for Obama is if he winds up running against the McCain of 2000,” an authentic independent. But if this was the McCain that was now emerging, it was awfully late in the game, and he was encumbered by other versions of McCain gone awry.

In the final debate on Oct. 15 at Hofstra University on Long Island, McCain barely mentioned any version of the word “fight” but performed forcefully, perhaps even indignantly. By the time Steve Schmidt entered the postdebate spin room, his Obama counterpart, David Axelrod, had already been holding the floor for 20 minutes. Schmidt wore a pinstripe suit and his blue eyes carried a victor’s gleam. Like every other McCain aide I encountered that night, he was convinced not only that the senator had turned in his best performance but that viewers would see him as the clear winner.

Schmidt vowed that McCain would spend the final days of the campaign focused on the economy — and on Joe the plumber, the kind of entrepreneur (so McCain thought at the time) who would become an endangered species in an Obama administration. But that did not stop Schmidt from a lengthy monologue questioning Obama’s character and assailing the opposition’s “vicious” and “racially divisive” ads. At a certain point, when a member of the foreign media asked him if all of this spinning was likely to help McCain, Schmidt allowed himself a small grin and said: “Well, look. One of the things I always wonder is why we come in here at the end. . . . It doesn’t really matter, to be totally truthful with you. It’s just part of the ritual. Like eating turkey on Thanksgiving.”

A few minutes later, his close friend and colleague Nicolle Wallace tugged Schmidt away from the scrum. They exited the spin room while Axelrod was still holding forth and flew back to Washington late that night.

McCain and a number of his advisers remained at their hotel on Long Island. At the hotel bar where many of them lingered into the late hours, I asked one of them whether the debate could make a difference at this late stage. The adviser maintained that regardless of the instant-poll numbers, Joe the plumber and other talking points would likely resonate in the weeks to come.

Then the adviser said with a helpless smile, “Hopefully that’ll change the narrative.”

Robert Draper is a correspondent for GQ and the author of “Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush.”

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/26/magazine/26mccain-t.html?pagewanted=9&_r=1&ref=politics)

October 22nd, 2008, 10:14 PM
Latest on the Dumbass Michelle Bachmann chronicles (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=257658&postcount=4015)

GOP, eyeing House losses, pulls out of key races


WASHINGTON (AP) — National Republicans have yanked TV advertising for Minnesota GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann's re-election bid after she suggested Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama may have "anti-American" views and urged an investigation of unpatriotic lawmakers.

Bachmann is one of four at-risk Republican incumbents left to fend for themselves by a cash-strapped House campaign arm in the crucial final days of the campaign amid a tough political environment for the GOP. The National Republican Campaign Committee has also canceled planned TV ads to help GOP Reps. Marilyn Musgrave in Colorado, Tom Feeney in Florida and Joe Knollenberg in Michigan, spokeswoman Karen Hanretty confirmed.

Musgrave, Feeney and Knollenberg are extremely vulnerable and Democrats — who are eyeing double-digit gains in their House majority — have been targeting them heavily. Bachmann, whose district is solidly conservative, has only recently emerged as a prime target after her controversial remarks on MSNBC's "Hardball," which sparked a flood of campaign contributions to her Democratic opponent and have reshaped the race.

Democrats' House campaign group is dumping $1 million on TV ads in the district in hopes of helping Bachmann's challenger, Elwyn Tinklenberg, unseat her.

In a statement, Carrie James, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Bachmann, "crossed the line by launching negative and divisive personal attacks."

Bachmann told the St. Cloud Times Wednesday that she regretted using the term "anti-American" about Obama, saying her appearance on "Hardball" was "a big mistake."

Earlier, she told the St. Cloud Rotary Club that she wished she could take back the statement, and she denied that she had said Obama was anti-American or suggested an investigation of members of Congress.

But during her "Hardball" appearance on Friday, Bachmann said of Obama: "I'm very concerned that he may have anti-American views."

Of lawmakers, she said: "I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?"

Defending her TV comments Wednesday at the Rotary Club, Bachmann said that Obama "loves his country, just as everyone in this room does."

However, she reiterated her worries about him. "I'm very concerned about Barack Obama's views. I don't believe that socialism is a good thing for America," Bachmann said.

Republicans played down the decision to abandon Bachmann, noting that she still has more than $1 million to get her through until Election Day.

The GOP's House campaign committee — far behind its Democratic counterpart in fundraising — had already pared its advertising substantially in competitive races, scaling back planned buys in the districts of Rep. Jon Porter of Nevada and Rep. Bill Sali of Idaho.

Also reduced were ads for candidates in southern Minnesota and central New Mexico who are in close contests with Democrats seeking to replace retiring Republicans, and districts in Florida, Kansas, Louisiana and Texas that are home to vulnerable Democrats.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Well, Bachmann has been cut loose; she's on her own. It's just Michelle and the Lord now.

But not to worry. I understand she's Hot for Jesus (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cm16dBXn5u0&feature=related)

I'm on board (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrhf_zgtmAg&feature=related)

October 22nd, 2008, 10:29 PM
^^^ Lol. She did it to her self. :p

October 22nd, 2008, 11:52 PM
Can the police readiness to deal with voting have anything to do with this?


Some colleagues and I checked our name in the sysetm. They are there. I am not. I've voted in every single election since I turned 18.

Are you registered to vote? Have you been purged?

October 23rd, 2008, 12:07 AM
My info popped right up!

October 23rd, 2008, 12:39 AM
This just in:
http://www.palinaspresident.us/ (http://www.palinaspresident.us/)

October 23rd, 2008, 01:08 AM
Sarah set to give deposition Friday in second trouper gate investigation!
Todd has been called as well!!:D

October 23rd, 2008, 02:47 AM


No maam, please give ME a break.

October 23rd, 2008, 07:33 AM

Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2008

Why Barack Obama is Winning

By Joe Klein

General David Petraeus deployed overwhelming force when he briefed Barack Obama and two other Senators in Baghdad last July. He knew Obama favored a 16-month timetable for the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq, and he wanted to make the strongest possible case against it. And so, after he had presented an array of maps and charts and PowerPoint slides describing the current situation on the ground in great detail, Petraeus closed with a vigorous plea for "maximum flexibility" going forward. Obama had a choice at that moment. He could thank Petraeus for the briefing and promise to take his views "under advisement." Or he could tell Petraeus what he really thought, a potentially contentious course of action — especially with a general not used to being confronted. Obama chose to speak his mind. "You know, if I were in your shoes, I would be making the exact same argument," he began. "Your job is to succeed in Iraq on as favorable terms as we can get. But my job as a potential Commander in Chief is to view your counsel and interests through the prism of our overall national security." Obama talked about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the financial costs of the occupation of Iraq, the stress it was putting on the military.

A "spirited" conversation ensued, one person who was in the room told me. "It wasn't a perfunctory recitation of talking points. They were arguing their respective positions, in a respectful way." The other two Senators — Chuck Hagel and Jack Reed — told Petraeus they agreed with Obama. According to both Obama and Petraeus, the meeting — which lasted twice as long as the usual congressional briefing — ended agreeably. Petraeus said he understood that Obama's perspective was, necessarily, going to be more strategic. Obama said that the timetable obviously would have to be flexible. But the Senator from Illinois had laid down his marker: if elected President, he would be in charge. Unlike George W. Bush, who had given Petraeus complete authority over the war — an unprecedented abdication of presidential responsibility (and unlike John McCain, whose hero worship of Petraeus bordered on the unseemly) — Obama would insist on a rigorous chain of command.

Barack Obama has prospered in this presidential campaign because of the steadiness of his temperament and the judicious quality of his decision-making. They are his best-known qualities. The most important decision he has made — the selection of a running mate — was done carefully, with an exhaustive attention to detail and contemplation of all the possible angles. Two months later, as John McCain's peremptory selection of Governor Sarah Palin has come to seem a liability, it could be argued that Obama's quiet selection of Joe Biden defined the public's choice in the general-election campaign. But not every decision can be made so carefully. There are a thousand instinctive, instantaneous decisions that a presidential candidate has to make in the course of a campaign — like whether to speak his mind to a General Petraeus — and this has been a more difficult journey for Obama, since he's far more comfortable when he's able to think things through. "He has learned to trust his gut," an Obama adviser told me. "He wasn't so confident in his instincts last year. It's been the biggest change I've seen in him."

I asked Obama about gut decisions, in an interview on his plane 17 days before the election. It was late on a Saturday night, and he looked pretty tired, riddled with gray hair and not nearly as young as when I'd first met him four years earlier. He had drawn 175,000 people to two events in Missouri that day, larger crowds than I'd ever seen at a campaign event, and he would be endorsed by Colin Powell the next morning. He seemed as relaxed as ever, though, unfazed by the hoopla or the imminence of the election. Our conversation was informal but intense. He seemed to be thinking in my presence, rather than just reciting talking points, and it took him some time to think through my question about gut decisions. He said the first really big one was how to react when incendiary videos of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's black-nationalist sermons surfaced last spring. "The decision to make it big as opposed to make it small," Obama said of the landmark speech on race relations he delivered in Philadelphia. "My gut was telling me that this was a teachable moment and that if I tried to do the usual political damage control instead of talking to the American people like ... they were adults and could understand the complexities of race, I would be not only doing damage to the campaign but missing an important opportunity for leadership."

The speech was followed by a more traditional form of damage control when Wright showed up in Washington still spewing racial nonsense: Obama cut him loose. And while Obama has followed a fairly traditional political path in this campaign, his strongest — and most telling — moments have been those when he followed his natural no-drama instincts. This has been confusing to many of my colleagues and to me, at times, as well: his utter caution in the debates, his decision not to zing McCain or even to challenge him very much, led me to assume — all three times — that he hadn't done nearly as well as the public ultimately decided he had. McCain was correct when he argued that Obama's aversion to drama led him to snuggle a bit too close to the Democratic Party's orthodoxy. But one of the more remarkable spectacles of the 2008 election — unprecedented in my time as a journalist — was the unanimity among Democrats on matters of policy once the personality clash between Obama and Hillary Clinton was set aside. There was no squabbling between old and new Dems, progressives and moderates, over race or war or peace. This was a year for no-drama Democrats, which made Obama as comfortable a fit for them as McCain was awkward for the Republican base.

And at the crucial moment of the campaign — the astonishing onset of the financial crisis — it was Obama's gut steadiness that won the public's trust, and quite possibly the election. On the afternoon when McCain suspended his campaign, threatened to scuttle the Sept. 26 debate and hopped a plane back to Washington to try to resolve the crisis, Obama was in Florida doing debate prep with his top advisers. When he was told about McCain's maneuvers, Obama's first reaction — according to an aide — was, "You gotta be kidding. I'm going to debate. A President has to be able to do more than one thing at a time." But there was a storm brewing among Obama's supporters in Congress and the Beltway establishment. "My BlackBerry was exploding," said an Obama aide. "They were saying we had to suspend. McCain was going to look more like a statesman, above the fray."

"I didn't believe it," Obama told me. "I have to tell you, one of the benefits of running this 22-month gauntlet is that ... you start realizing that what seems important or clever or in need of some dramatic moment a lot of times just needs reflection and care. And I think that was an example of where my style at least worked." Obama realized that he and McCain could be little more than creative bystanders — and one prominent Republican told me that McCain was "the least creative person in the room at the President's White House meeting. He simply had no ideas. He didn't even have any good questions." Obama had questions for the Treasury Secretary and the Fed chairman, but he was under no illusions: he didn't have the power to influence the final outcome, so it was best to stay calm and not oversell his role. It was an easy call, his natural bias. But, Obama acknowledged, "There are going to be some times where ... I won't have the luxury of thinking through all the angles."

Which is why the Petraeus moment is so interesting. Obama's gut reaction was to go against his normal palliative impulse and to challenge the general instead. "I felt it was necessary to make that point ... precisely because I respect Petraeus and [Ambassador Ryan] Crocker," Obama said, after he reluctantly acknowledged that my reporting of the meeting was correct. "Precisely because they've been doing a good job ... And I want them to understand that I'm taking their arguments seriously." Obama endorses Petraeus' new post, as the commanding general at Central Command, with responsibility for overseeing both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. "He's somebody who cares about facts and cares about the reality on the ground. I don't think he comes at this with an ideological predisposition. That's one of the reasons why I think he's been successful in moving the ball forward in Iraq. And I hope that he's applying that same perspective to what's happening in Afghanistan."

Actually, Obama and Petraeus seem to be thinking along similar lines with regard to Afghanistan. I mentioned that Petraeus had recently given a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation in which he raised the possibility of negotiating with the Taliban. "You know, I think this is one useful lesson that is applicable from Iraq," Obama said without hesitation. "The Sunni awakening changed the dynamic in Iraq fundamentally," he said, referring to the Petraeus-led effort to turn the Sunni tribes away from the more radical elements of the insurgency. "Whether there are those same opportunities in Afghanistan I think should be explored," he said. In fact, senior U.S. military officials have told me that there is a possibility of splitting Pashtun tribes away from the Taliban in the south of Afghanistan. "But we have to do it through the Karzai government," a senior officer told me, referring to the fact that the Army had acted independently of the Maliki government in creating the Anbar Awakening. "That is one lesson we've learned from Iraq."

Almost exactly two years ago, I had my first formal interview with Barack Obama — and he appeared on this magazine's cover for the first time. It wasn't an easy interview. His book The Audacity of Hope had just been published, but his policy proposals didn't seem very audacious. He actually grew a bit testy when I pushed him on the need for universal health insurance and a more aggressive global-warming policy — neither of which he supported. He has stayed with his less-than-universal health-care plan, and I still find it less than convincing. And his cap-and-trade program to control carbon emissions has taken a backseat to the economic crisis — although Obama insisted that he still favored such a plan, so long as consumers are cushioned with rebates when energy prices rise.

But Obama seems a more certain policymaker now, if not exactly a wonk in the Clintonian sense. He has a clearer handle on the big picture, on how various policy components fit together, and a strong sense of what his top priority would be. He wants to launch an "Apollo project" to build a new alternative-energy economy. His rationale for doing so includes some hard truths about the current economic mess: "The engine of economic growth for the past 20 years is not going to be there for the next 20. That was consumer spending. Basically, we turbocharged this economy based on cheap credit." But the days of easy credit are over, Obama said, "because there is too much deleveraging taking place, too much debt." A new economic turbocharger is going to have to be found, and "there is no better potential driver that pervades all aspects of our economy than a new energy economy ... That's going to be my No. 1 priority when I get into office."

That sort of clarity is new. At the beginning of the year, Donna Brazile said of Obama, "We know he can walk on water — now where are the loaves and fishes?" The inability to describe his priorities, the inability to speak directly to voters in ways they could easily comprehend, plagued Obama through much of the primary season. His tendency to use big rhetoric in front of big crowds led to McCain's one good spell, after Obama presumptuously spoke to a huge throng in Berlin after his successful Middle East trip. Only a President should make a major address like that overseas. Obama seemed to learn quickly from that mistake; his language during the general-election campaign has been simple, direct and pragmatic. His best moments in the debates came when he explained what he wanted to do as President. His very best moment came in the town-hall debate when he explained how the government bailout would affect average people who were hurting: if companies couldn't get credit from the banks, they couldn't make their payrolls and would have to start laying people off. McCain, by contrast, demonstrated why it's so hard for Senators to succeed as presidential candidates: he talked about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the sins of Obama, and never brought the argument home.

But even with his new populist skills, Obama hasn't been as plain as he could be. If an Apollo project to create a new alternative-energy economy is his highest priority, as he told me, why hasn't he given a major speech about it during the fall campaign? Why hasn't he begun to mobilize the nation for this next big mission? In part, I suppose, because campaigns are about firefighting — and this campaign in particular has been about "the fierce urgency of now," to use one of Obama's favorite phrases by Martin Luther King Jr., because of the fears raised by the financial crisis and because of the desperate, ferocious attacks launched by his opponent.

If he wins, however, there will be a different challenge. He will have to return, full force, to the inspiration business. The public will have to be mobilized to face the fearsome new economic realities. He will also have to deliver bad news, to transform crises into "teachable moments." He will have to effect a major change in our political life: to get the public and the media to think about long-term solutions rather than short-term balms. Obama has given some strong indications that he will be able to do this, having remained levelheaded through a season of political insanity. His has been a remarkable campaign, as smoothly run as any I've seen in nine presidential cycles. Even more remarkable, Obama has made race — that perennial, gaping American wound — an afterthought. He has done this by introducing a quality to American politics that we haven't seen in quite some time: maturity. He is undoubtedly as ego-driven as everyone else seeking the highest office — perhaps more so, given his race, his name and his lack of experience. But he has not been childishly egomaniacal, in contrast to our recent baby-boomer Presidents — or petulant, in contrast to his opponent. He does not seem needy. He seems a grown-up, in a nation that badly needs some adult supervision.

* Find this article at:
* http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1853025,00.html

Copyright � 2008 Time Inc.

October 23rd, 2008, 07:42 AM

October 23, 2008

A Onetime McCain Insider Is Now Offering Advice (Unwanted) From the Outside

Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
Mike Murphy, left, in 2000, when he was a strategist
for John McCain in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.


When former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell endorsed Senator Barack Obama on Sunday, most Republicans stepped in line behind Senator John McCain, declaring that the endorsement would have little bearing on the course of the presidential contest.

With one notable exception.

“A real sledgehammer blow to an already staggering campaign,” declared Mike Murphy in a verdict that ricocheted across liberal blogs and helped torpedo any effort Mr. McCain made to minimize the event.

Mr. Murphy is not just another Republican consultant. He was the chief strategist for Mr. McCain when he ran for president in 2000, a longtime friend and an adviser who offered consultations as recently as last summer. He also has a tempestuous relationship with the current leaders of Mr. McCain’s campaign, who have revolted at even the hint that he might join them.

Now, with the contest in its final two weeks, Mr. Murphy has emerged as among the chief critics of the McCain campaign, offering advice and brickbats, one more obstacle for an already troubled campaign and a public manifestation of turmoil that has long marked the McCain world. At a moment when other former McCain advisers have been relatively silent, including John Weaver, Mr. Murphy has been extravagant in his criticisms and what Mr. McCain’s advisers describe as his second-guessing.

Indeed, Mr. Murphy on Wednesday seized on the disclosure that the Republican National Committee had paid about $150,000 for clothes and accessories for Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, and her family.

“This caper is gonna make for a long day at the office for the good folks at the RNC/McCain press operation,” he wrote on Swampland, the Time magazine blog, where he is a regular contributor, before offering some humorous advice on how they could fight back. (“William Ayers is a terrorist!” was pushback No. 4).

Mr. McCain has told associates that he has viewed Mr. Murphy’s criticisms of his campaign — its advertisements, his selection of Ms. Palin and Mr. McCain’s aggressive manner — as an act of betrayal, the actions of a former friend seeking attention and a network platform. Mr. McCain was described as particularly incensed that one of Mr. Murphy’s platforms was MSNBC, which Mr. McCain’s campaign has repeatedly treated as an enemy.

Mr. McCain has cut off all communications with Mr. Murphy, associates said. And McCain aides, including Steve Schmidt, a chief strategist who worked with Mr. Murphy on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign for governor of California, have stopped talking to him as well, ignoring telephone calls or e-mail messages, according to Republicans close to the campaign.

Mr. Murphy, in a brief e-mail comment, said that he was saying only what he believed, and that he still admired Mr. McCain.

“John McCain is a hero to me, but my job as a media analyst is to call it as I see it where campaign strategy is concerned,” Mr. Murphy wrote. “There’s no disloyalty in honesty.”

Still, at a time when Mr. McCain’s campaign advisers are already under an intense round of second-guessing, there is no shortage of Murphy associates who suggest that his criticisms, and those of other critics, have been vindicated.

“I’ve been one myself,” said Mr. Weaver, who speaks to Mr. Murphy from time to time. “In some cases, speaking for myself, it’s a way of trying to communicate over there what you believe they should be doing.”

Mr. Murphy has a long history of having battled with some of the top people in Mr. McCain’s world, notably Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s campaign manager. Mr. McCain’s advisers said they pay little attention to Mr. Murphy. “Only Mike knows why he does what he does,” said Mark Salter, a senior adviser to Mr. McCain. Asked if he thought Mr. Murphy’s comments had an impact, Mr. Salter responded, “Not really.”

Whether he is right or not, Mr. Murphy has offered an informed criticism of how Mr. McCain has run his campaign, with an intriguing alternate-universe view of how things might have gone had they followed his advice. But Mr. McCain’s associates said Mr. Murphy’s running commentary was demoralizing and a distraction for Mr. McCain.

Mr. Murphy has a reputation in Republican circles for self-promotion; in 2000, he provided to The Washington Post unusual behind-the-scenes access that detailed — and some rivals suggested enhanced — his role as a chief strategist in the campaign.

Still, Mr. Murphy’s associates said he was saying on television what he would say were he in Mr. McCain’s campaign.

“When he does disagree with the campaign, it’s rooted in him wanting the best for the senator,” said Todd Harris, who worked with Mr. Murphy for Mr. McCain in 2000. “Obviously the guys on the campaign want the best for the senator as well, and there’s just a difference of opinion.”

And Mr. Murphy has told friends that he does not believe what he is doing has hurt Mr. McCain. “No one loves John McCain more than Mike Murphy,” said Alex Castellanos, a media consultant who is close to Mr. Murphy and advises Mr. McCain. “I don’t think he has any selfish interest at all.”

Still, other former members of the McCain world have taken a different approach. Mark McKinnon, who stepped as aside as senior adviser because, he told associates, he did not want to be part of a campaign tearing down Mr. Obama, has kept whatever criticism he has to himself. Mr. McKinnon declined a request for comment.

Mr. Murphy, on the other hand, shows no sign of slowing down. On Wednesday night, he posted an item on his blog that began: “In the category of more unsolicited advice they didn’t ask for, are tired of getting, and will certainly ignore. ...”

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

October 23rd, 2008, 10:36 AM
RCP Map (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/maps/obama_vs_mccain/), Ohio:

Tossup ---> Leaning Obama

October 23rd, 2008, 11:28 AM
Need to wait for further poll confirmation. The ARG 10/08 poll for WV proved to be an outlier, and the state is back leaning McCain.

Big Ten Battleground polled 8 Great Lakes states, all with double-digit leads for Obama. Results in line with other polling for PA, MI, IA, WI, IL, and MN.

OH is backed by a new Quinnipiac poll with results similar to Big Ten. If correct, it's good news for Obama. It had been thought that Obama hit a ceiling in the more GOP leaning OH, and there were no more votes to be had.

IN is a big surprise.

Big Ten Battleground uses a relatively small sample size.

Optimus Prime
October 23rd, 2008, 04:00 PM
Yeah, I have been using RCP as a guide but it is way too quick on the draw in moving states to one column to bank on it. I still consider VA, OH, CO, and NM swing states. NM is probably the closest to being called for Obama.

However, even with those states out of his column, Obama only needs 11 to win, and every state he is holding outside those four is considered solid.

October 23rd, 2008, 04:37 PM

Avalanche! Early voting at record pace

By: Avi Zenilman

October 23, 2008 03:47 PM EST

With 12 days to go until Nov. 4, Americans are casting early ballots at a record pace.

Whether encouraged by state officials to vote early and reduce the chaos and lines on Election Day, or pushed by campaigns to convert enthusiasm into tangible results, the shift to early balloting has made Election Day more of a final deadline than a one-day event.

In 2004, one out of every five Americans voted early, and if reports so far this year are any indication, an even larger proportion will wake up on Nov. 4 with their ballots already cast. More than 30 states — including most of the key swing states that will decide the race between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain — allow their citizens to vote early, whether by mail or in person.

In Georgia, almost 800,000 votes have been cast so far — already more than the tally in 2004 with over a week to go. By Thursday morning in North Carolina, more than 750,000 people had voted since the polls opened a week ago.

Nevada, where more than half of all voters cast early ballots four years ago, kicked off voting last weekend and ramped up access to early polling sites in places such as supermarkets and libraries.

"We've expanded early voting this cycle and increased the number of locations and number of hours in anticipation of record turnout, trying to drive as many people as possible to the early voting locations," said Secretary of State Ross Miller, who prefers early voting and expects only 40 percent of the votes in his state to be cast on Election Day.

If previous elections are any indication, analysts said, the swell of early voting will only increase ahead of Nov. 4.

"If these numbers stay as they are right now, and we match patterns we've had in the past, we've yet to see the wave crest in early voting," said Michael McDonald, a professor at George Mason University and a consultant to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission who compiles data on early voting.

So far, it appears that the Obama campaign's drive to get people to the polls in October is paying off, at least according to data from several swing states that track voter demographics: More than 55 percent of early voters in Georgia were female, for instance, and more than 35 percent were African-American; in North Carolina, fewer than a third of those who voted early identified themselves as Republicans; and more than 60 percent of first-day early voters in Clark County, Nev., were Democrats.

"These numbers are really astounding — they defy all the patterns of early voting we've seen in this modern era," McDonald said. Based on past elections, he explained, "the early electorate tends to be more Republican in their character than the Election Day electorate."

If the trends are borne out to favor Obama, that would be a big change from 2004, when Republicans won the early vote in every state but Iowa, the one place where Democrats focused on locking it down. Even so, Bush made up the difference on Election Day and carried the state by just 10,000 votes.

McDonald said that what appears to be a heavy Democratic tilt in early voting this year doesn't necessarily mean a rout is on the way, but he said it could indicate a groundswell of enthusiasm that might carry over to Election Day. "These people are excited, they already know who they're going to vote for," he said.

The Obama campaign’s special emphasis on maximizing the early vote was illustrated this week in the critical battleground state of Florida, where more than one-third of the voters cast their ballots ahead of Election Day in 2004. Obama spent the beginning of the week stumping and hosting “Early Vote for Change” rallies as state officials opened the first early polling stations on Monday. In Miami-Dade County, lines formed outside voting locations even before they opened at 7 a.m. Almost 500,000 people voted in Florida by Thursday morning, according to data compiled by McDonald.

In Fairfax County, Va., a D.C. suburb where Obama hopes to run up the score to help him carry the state, more than 40,000 ballots have been cast by Wednesday night with more than a week to go, compared with 45,000 early ballots in the entire 2004 general election, McDonald said.

The rolling tide of ballots has dramatically changed campaign strategy, political analysts said. Field operations must run on high gear with weeks to go, and candidates must shell out more resources to win every news cycle as voters make up their minds and cast their ballots.

"Some state and local candidates complain that it makes it more difficult to put the political strategy in place because it makes the voting period longer," said Nevada’s Miller. "You have to do your media buy much earlier in anticipation."

Early voting also can blunt the impact of any dramatic last-minute event that could swing the election. In Colorado, for example, almost half of the state’s 2 million votes were cast early in 2004, while this year the number could break 60 percent, McDonald estimated; by 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, more than 450,000 mail-in and early ballots had been received, he said.

"If the McCain campaign has some sort of October surprise to release, now's the time," McDonald said Monday. "The number of early voters in Colorado is so great."

Perhaps the clearest sign of early voting's new prominence is the amount of litigation and legal posturing it has attracted.

In Indiana, Republicans challenged the opening of three satellite voting centers in Democrat-rich Lake County — a linchpin in Obama’s strategy to carry the state — citing fears of voting fraud. On Wednesday, the Indiana judge ruled to keep the centers open.

In Ohio, local Republicans — with the explicit approval of the McCain campaign — sued to allow observers at early voting locations after Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said they weren't mandated.

And late last week, also in Ohio, a judge in Hamilton County appointed a special prosecutor to investigate charges of voter fraud after Democrats accused county prosecutor Joe Deters of a conflict of interest and voter intimidation, forcing him to recuse himself from a grand jury investigation. Deters had launched the grand jury probe and subpoenaed the registration records of about one-third of the Cincinnati-area voters who took advantage of a one-week window in early October that allowed them to vote and register at the same time.

© 2008 Capitol News Company, LLC

October 23rd, 2008, 11:53 PM
Yeah, I have been using RCP as a guide but it is way too quick on the draw in moving states to one column to bank on it. I still consider VA, OH, CO, and NM swing states. NM is probably the closest to being called for Obama.

However, even with those states out of his column, Obama only needs 11 to win, and every state he is holding outside those four is considered solid.

If you ask me, I think the Obama camp is banking hard on VA. If Obama holds all the blue states that Kerry won, and picks up VA, he will have 265 EV, that is just 5 votes shy of being POTUS-elect. Being that VA is a Republican state at play and it is in the East, that means this state would probably be called before the big swing states in the Midwest finish voting. Iowa looks like it will flip blue this year, that is 7 EV right there, and NM looks to be turning blue as well, that is 5. I have mix feelings about OH and FL. I think one or maybe both will stay red.

October 24th, 2008, 06:16 AM


October 23, 2008
Has McCain run an “honorable” campaign?
Posted: 12:50 PM ET


A recent CNN-Opinion Research Corporation poll found
60 percent think McCain has unfairly attacked Obama.

FROM CNN’s Jack Cafferty:

John McCain said this on February 3, 2008, when talking about his run for the White House: “We will run an honorable campaign.”

McCain made that statement in response to a question about whether his campaign would resemble George Bush’s run for the White House in 2000, one of the nastier campaigns on record.

With less than 2 weeks before Election Day, it’s very much an open question whether John McCain has kept his word.

In fact, in the last few weeks John McCain has become downright nasty. It started around the time one of his advisers said that if McCain campaigned on the economy, he would lose. And the ugly personal attacks began. Barack Obama’s past acquaintance with William Ayers, Barack Obama’s economic plan is socialism, Barack Obama will say anything to get elected.

His running mate, Sarah Palin, has chimed in with such gutter-level rhetoric as Obama pals around with terrorists.

The sudden negative tone for the man who vowed to run an honorable campaign is not going unnoticed by the voters. A recent CNN-Opinion Research Corporation poll found 60 percent think McCain has unfairly attacked Obama, up from 42 percent in September.

It’s sad that an honorable man like John McCain in a desperate struggle to avoid being embarrassed on November 4th has resorted to campaign tactics typically associated with people who can make no legitimate claim to being honorable.

Here’s my question to you: John McCain promised to run an “honorable” campaign. Has he?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Shawn writes:
Oh please, Jack! John McCain has not run an “honorable” campaign. I’m sure you’ve been watching Senator McCain’s shift in gradual campaign ugliness as he gets further behind in the polls. McCain has spent more time attacking Senator Obama than he has providing answers for this country and tutoring Governor Palin.

Sami from Arizona writes:
The Robocalls and false information being spread in vile brochures by the campaign have put him over the top in the area of dishonor and disservice to the nation as a whole. McCain may have been honorable with his service in the past and even the principles he once had. However, he has lost himself through this process and has been sucked into the RNC machine.

Debi writes:
An honorable man running a dishonorable campaign…very disheartening to see.

David from West Chester, Penn. writes:
Welcome back, I sure missed you. McCain is running a typical dirty Republican campaign that will relegate him and Benedict Lieberman ineffective when they return to the Senate. His well-dressed running mate will become a host at QVC.

C.J. from Georgia writes:
Which John McCain? 2000 or 2008? The John McCain now has let the inmates take over the mental institution!

Sarah writes:
John McCain has lost a lot of the respect and honor he had from people on both sides of the aisle as well as from the general public. I think he will lose the election and in the future he will come to really regret the campaign he has run. Even if he was 32, he would struggle to repair his reputation. Being 72, he has no chance.

Heather from Elko, Nevada writes:
Has McCain run an honorable campaign? Is Jack Cafferty a sexy young chick?

© 2008 Cable News Network LP, LLLP. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved (http://caffertyfile.blogs.cnn.com/2008/10/23/has-mccain’s-run-an-“honorable”-campaign/)

October 24th, 2008, 06:36 AM

Barack Obama for President

Published: October 23, 2008

Hyperbole is the currency of presidential campaigns, but this year the nation’s future truly hangs in the balance.

The United States is battered and drifting after eight years of President Bush’s failed leadership. He is saddling his successor with two wars, a scarred global image and a government systematically stripped of its ability to protect and help its citizens — whether they are fleeing a hurricane’s floodwaters, searching for affordable health care or struggling to hold on to their homes, jobs, savings and pensions in the midst of a financial crisis that was foretold and preventable.

As tough as the times are, the selection of a new president is easy. After nearly two years of a grueling and ugly campaign, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois has proved that he is the right choice to be the 44th president of the United States.


Mr. Obama has met challenge after challenge, growing as a leader and putting real flesh on his early promises of hope and change. He has shown a cool head and sound judgment. We believe he has the will and the ability to forge the broad political consensus that is essential to finding solutions to this nation’s problems.

In the same time, Senator John McCain of Arizona has retreated farther and farther to the fringe of American politics, running a campaign on partisan division, class warfare and even hints of racism. His policies and worldview are mired in the past. His choice of a running mate so evidently unfit for the office was a final act of opportunism and bad judgment that eclipsed the accomplishments of 26 years in Congress.

Given the particularly ugly nature of Mr. McCain’s campaign, the urge to choose on the basis of raw emotion is strong. But there is a greater value in looking closely at the facts of life in America today and at the prescriptions the candidates offer. The differences are profound.

Mr. McCain offers more of the Republican every-man-for-himself ideology, now lying in shards on Wall Street and in Americans’ bank accounts. Mr. Obama has another vision of government’s role and responsibilities.

In his convention speech in Denver, Mr. Obama said, “Government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves: protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.”

Since the financial crisis, he has correctly identified the abject failure of government regulation that has brought the markets to the brink of collapse.

The Economy

The American financial system is the victim of decades of Republican deregulatory and anti-tax policies. Those ideas have been proved wrong at an unfathomable price, but Mr. McCain — a self-proclaimed “foot soldier in the Reagan revolution” — is still a believer.

Mr. Obama sees that far-reaching reforms will be needed to protect Americans and American business.

Mr. McCain talks about reform a lot, but his vision is pinched. His answer to any economic question is to eliminate pork-barrel spending — about $18 billion in a $3 trillion budget — cut taxes and wait for unfettered markets to solve the problem.

Mr. Obama is clear that the nation’s tax structure must be changed to make it fairer. That means the well-off Americans who have benefited disproportionately from Mr. Bush’s tax cuts will have to pay some more. Working Americans, who have seen their standard of living fall and their children’s options narrow, will benefit. Mr. Obama wants to raise the minimum wage and tie it to inflation, restore a climate in which workers are able to organize unions if they wish and expand educational opportunities.

Mr. McCain, who once opposed President Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy as fiscally irresponsible, now wants to make them permanent. And while he talks about keeping taxes low for everyone, his proposed cuts would overwhelmingly benefit the top 1 percent of Americans while digging the country into a deeper fiscal hole.

National Security

The American military — its people and equipment — is dangerously overstretched. Mr. Bush has neglected the necessary war in Afghanistan, which now threatens to spiral into defeat. The unnecessary and staggeringly costly war in Iraq must be ended as quickly and responsibly as possible.

While Iraq’s leaders insist on a swift drawdown of American troops and a deadline for the end of the occupation, Mr. McCain is still talking about some ill-defined “victory.” As a result, he has offered no real plan for extracting American troops and limiting any further damage to Iraq and its neighbors.

Mr. Obama was an early and thoughtful opponent of the war in Iraq, and he has presented a military and diplomatic plan for withdrawing American forces. Mr. Obama also has correctly warned that until the Pentagon starts pulling troops out of Iraq, there will not be enough troops to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Mr. McCain, like Mr. Bush, has only belatedly focused on Afghanistan’s dangerous unraveling and the threat that neighboring Pakistan may quickly follow.

Mr. Obama would have a learning curve on foreign affairs, but he has already showed sounder judgment than his opponent on these critical issues. His choice of Senator Joseph Biden — who has deep foreign-policy expertise — as his running mate is another sign of that sound judgment. Mr. McCain’s long interest in foreign policy and the many dangers this country now faces make his choice of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska more irresponsible.

Both presidential candidates talk about strengthening alliances in Europe and Asia, including NATO, and strongly support Israel. Both candidates talk about repairing America’s image in the world. But it seems clear to us that Mr. Obama is far more likely to do that — and not just because the first black president would present a new American face to the world.

Mr. Obama wants to reform the United Nations, while Mr. McCain wants to create a new entity, the League of Democracies — a move that would incite even fiercer anti-American furies around the world.

Unfortunately, Mr. McCain, like Mr. Bush, sees the world as divided into friends (like Georgia) and adversaries (like Russia). He proposed kicking Russia out of the Group of 8 industrialized nations even before the invasion of Georgia. We have no sympathy for Moscow’s bullying, but we also have no desire to replay the cold war. The United States must find a way to constrain the Russians’ worst impulses, while preserving the ability to work with them on arms control and other vital initiatives.

Both candidates talk tough on terrorism, and neither has ruled out military action to end Iran’s nuclear weapons program. But Mr. Obama has called for a serious effort to try to wean Tehran from its nuclear ambitions with more credible diplomatic overtures and tougher sanctions. Mr. McCain’s willingness to joke about bombing Iran was frightening.

The Constitution and the Rule of Law

Under Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the justice system and the separation of powers have come under relentless attack. Mr. Bush chose to exploit the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, the moment in which he looked like the president of a unified nation, to try to place himself above the law.

Mr. Bush has arrogated the power to imprison men without charges and browbeat Congress into granting an unfettered authority to spy on Americans. He has created untold numbers of “black” programs, including secret prisons and outsourced torture. The president has issued hundreds, if not thousands, of secret orders. We fear it will take years of forensic research to discover how many basic rights have been violated.

Both candidates have renounced torture and are committed to closing the prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

But Mr. Obama has gone beyond that, promising to identify and correct Mr. Bush’s attacks on the democratic system. Mr. McCain has been silent on the subject.

Mr. McCain improved protections for detainees. But then he helped the White House push through the appalling Military Commissions Act of 2006, which denied detainees the right to a hearing in a real court and put Washington in conflict with the Geneva Conventions, greatly increasing the risk to American troops.

The next president will have the chance to appoint one or more justices to a Supreme Court that is on the brink of being dominated by a radical right wing. Mr. Obama may appoint less liberal judges than some of his followers might like, but Mr. McCain is certain to pick rigid ideologues. He has said he would never appoint a judge who believes in women’s reproductive rights.

The Candidates

It will be an enormous challenge just to get the nation back to where it was before Mr. Bush, to begin to mend its image in the world and to restore its self-confidence and its self-respect. Doing all of that, and leading America forward, will require strength of will, character and intellect, sober judgment and a cool, steady hand.

Mr. Obama has those qualities in abundance. Watching him being tested in the campaign has long since erased the reservations that led us to endorse Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries. He has drawn in legions of new voters with powerful messages of hope and possibility and calls for shared sacrifice and social responsibility.

Mr. McCain, whom we chose as the best Republican nominee in the primaries, has spent the last coins of his reputation for principle and sound judgment to placate the limitless demands and narrow vision of the far-right wing. His righteous fury at being driven out of the 2000 primaries on a racist tide aimed at his adopted daughter has been replaced by a zealous embrace of those same win-at-all-costs tactics and tacticians.

He surrendered his standing as an independent thinker in his rush to embrace Mr. Bush’s misbegotten tax policies and to abandon his leadership position on climate change and immigration reform.

Mr. McCain could have seized the high ground on energy and the environment. Earlier in his career, he offered the first plausible bill to control America’s emissions of greenhouse gases. Now his positions are a caricature of that record: think Ms. Palin leading chants of “drill, baby, drill.”

Mr. Obama has endorsed some offshore drilling, but as part of a comprehensive strategy including big investments in new, clean technologies.


Mr. Obama has withstood some of the toughest campaign attacks ever mounted against a candidate. He’s been called un-American and accused of hiding a secret Islamic faith. The Republicans have linked him to domestic terrorists and questioned his wife’s love of her country. Ms. Palin has also questioned millions of Americans’ patriotism, calling Republican-leaning states “pro-America.”

This politics of fear, division and character assassination helped Mr. Bush drive Mr. McCain from the 2000 Republican primaries and defeat Senator John Kerry in 2004. It has been the dominant theme of his failed presidency.

The nation’s problems are simply too grave to be reduced to slashing “robo-calls” and negative ads. This country needs sensible leadership, compassionate leadership, honest leadership and strong leadership. Barack Obama has shown that he has all of those qualities.

A version of this article appeared in print on October 24, 2008, on page A30 of the New York edition.
Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/24/opinion/24fri1.html)

October 24th, 2008, 07:01 AM


Obama's Jewish vote grows

Posted October 23, 2008 9:55 PM


by Frank James

One of the more interesting stories of this year's presidential campaign has been Barack Obama's relative weakness with Jewish voters, a voting group that typically strongly backs Democratic presidential nominees but whose backing for Obama has been significantly weaker than for his recent Democratic predecessors.

But that's apparently changing.

Gallup reported the following today:

PRINCETON, NJ -- Jewish voters nationwide have grown increasingly comfortable with voting for Barack Obama for president since the Illinois senator secured the Democratic nomination in June. They now favor Obama over John McCain by more than 3 to 1, 74% to 22%...

...The current proportion of U.S. Jews backing Obama is identical to the level of support the Democratic ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards received in the 2004 presidential election (74%). It is only slightly lower than what Al Gore and Joe Lieberman received in 2000 (80%) -- when the first Jewish American appeared on the presidential ticket of a major party.

One of Gallup's more fascinating, counter-intuitive findings in this poll is that older Jews are actually stronger for Obama than younger Jews.

As Gallup explains it:

The slightly more pro-McCain orientation of the youngest category of Jewish voters (those 18 to 34) could be related to the fact that they are more apt than older Jewish voters to consider themselves political conservatives (29% vs. 16%). However, ideology does not appear to explain the gap between middle-aged and older Jewish voters. Whereas those 35 to 54 are more likely to support McCain, they are no more likely than older Jewish voters to describe their political views as conservative.

© 2008 Tribune Interactive (http://www.swamppolitics.com/news/politics/blog/2008/10/obamas_jewish_vote_grows.html#more)

October 24th, 2008, 07:55 AM
Who knows how much play this story will get nationally, but at this moment this has all the markings of being another bombshell that will further diminish the Palin brand.

Current attempts to redo the "Abuse of Power" troopergate via a second investigation using the very malleable Alaska Personnel Department, will not be so easily invoked with regard to these particular findings. (The work done to file this report was independently performed by a specially assigned, L.A. Times investigative unit.)

Campaign '08

Palin appointed friends and donors to key posts in Alaska, records show
100-plus jobs went to campaign donors or their relatives, sometimes without apparent regard to qualifications. Several donors got state-subsidized loans for business ventures of dubious public value.

By Charles Piller
October 24, 2008

Reporting from Anchorage -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, plucked from relative obscurity in part for her reform credentials, has been eager to tout them in her vice presidential campaign.

"I took on the old politics as usual in Juneau when I stood up to the special interests and the lobbyists and the big oil companies and the good old boys," Palin told the Republican National Convention in her acceptance speech. She said that as a new governor she "shook things up, and in short order we put the government of our state back on the side of the people."

By midway through her first term, she had signed an ethics reform bill, increased oil profit taxes and tweaked Big Oil again by awarding a gas pipeline contract to a Canadian company.

In some other respects, a Los Angeles Times examination of state records shows, her approach to government was business as usual. Take, for example, the tradition of patronage. Some of Palin's most controversial appointments involved donors, records show.

Among The Times' findings:

More than 100 appointments to state posts -- nearly 1 in 4 -- went to campaign contributors or their relatives, sometimes without apparent regard to qualifications.

Palin filled 16 state offices with appointees from families that donated $2,000 to $5,600 and were among her top political patrons.

Several of Palin's leading campaign donors received state-subsidized industrial development loans of up to $3.6 million for business ventures of questionable public value.

Palin picked a donor to replace the public safety commissioner she fired. But the new top cop had to resign days later under an ethics cloud. And Palin drew a formal ethics complaint still pending against her and several aides for allegedly helping another donor and fundraiser land a state job.

Most new governors install friends and supporters in state jobs. But Alaska historians say some of Palin's appointees were less qualified than those of her Republican and Democratic predecessors.

University of Alaska historian Steve Haycox said Palin has been a reformer. But he said she has a penchant for placing supporters, many of them ill-prepared, in high posts. He called it "cronyism" far beyond what previous governors have done and a contradiction of her high-minded philosophy.

Terrence Cole, an Alaska political historian, said Palin had in some cases shown "a disrespect for experience."

Administration officials disputed such criticism. They said campaign contributions were not a factor in state appointments. Frank Bailey, the state's directorof boards and commissions, in speaking for Palin, who was not available to answer inquiries from The Times, said, "We are always seeking the best-qualified folks."

In a little-noted sequel to Palin's controversial dismissal of her public safety commissioner, the governor replaced Walt Monegan with former small-town Police Chief Charles Kopp of Kenai. The appointment unraveled almost immediately in what Cole called a vetting catastrophe.

A previous sexual harassment complaint came to light and Kopp had to resign two weeks after taking over. Alaska paid him $10,000 in severance.

After another of Palin's campaign donors and fundraisers landed a civil service job with the state department of transportation, GOP activist Andree McLeod filed an ethics complaint [PDF – Z] (http://community.adn.com/sites/community.adn.com/files/McLeod%20Ethics%20Complaint1.pdf) against the governor and several aides, alleging that improper pressure was used to help Tom Lamal.

Lamal, a public school teacher in Fairbanks until he retired in 2006, was hired as a right-of-way agent despite reports of internal conflicts over whether he was qualified under state law.

E-mail messages between Palin aides, obtained by McLeod under the state public records act, indicate that the hiring was pushed "through the roadblocks" by a deputy to one of Palin's appointees. And Palin aide Bailey sent Lamal a congratulatory note saying, in part, "Well now your foot's back in the door and maybe we can tap you for other things."

Lamal declined to be interviewed for this article.

Palin spokesman William McAllister declined to comment because of an ongoing state personnel board inquiry.

Palin told the Anchorage Daily News in August (http://www.adn.com/front/story/486163.html) that her office merely worked to fix a "glitch" that prevented Lamal's hiring because of outdated job requirements, and that no favors were given.

In other state appointments, records show that all five Palin selections for the powerful Natural Gas Development Authority, which oversees a proposed gas pipeline project, were donors. They included Kathryn Lamal, wife of Tom Lamal.

She appointed Kristan Cole, a school friend and a campaign donor, to the Board of Agriculture and Conservation, a farm regulatory position that by state law must go to people with strong business experience. Cole is a real estate agent.

All three appointees to the Board of Public Accountancy, which oversees the accounting industry, gave to her campaign for governor, as did all three appointees to the Local Boundary Commission, which regulates contentious land annexations by local governments.

Palin reappointed donor Steve Frank to the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., which manages Alaska's $29-billion oil revenue nest egg. Frank, a former Republican legislator, is married to another leading donor, Linda Anderson, a lobbyist for power and tourism companies, among others.

The Permanent Fund position earns a $400-a-day honorarium. Most other board and commission appointees receive per diem and travel expenses. Regardless of compensation, experts said, such appointments are coveted for their power and prestige, or as a political stepping stone.

Palin spokesman McAllister said that most Cabinet-level officials she appointed were not donors. In every state, he added, people who "apply to serve in a voluntary role are typically supporters of the governor."

Records show that Palin donors obtained state-subsidized business loans from the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, or AIDEA, whose mission is to encourage "economic growth and diversification of the state, including expansion of small businesses."

In one case, Jae G. Lee, a former Los Angeles businessman who is the proprietor of Party Time, a rundown grocery store and bottle shop in Anchorage, sought a $2.7-million state loan to buy an aging strip mall in midtown Anchorage. It was on the market because of a glut of similar malls in the area, all of them losing customers to big-box stores.

Lee and his wife, who had contributed $3,000 worth of office space to Palin's 2006 campaign, won the low-interest, state-backed mortgage although it was unclear how the old mall would add jobs. Lee said he did nothing to improve his acquisition, but with the cheap loan his profits have been robust.

Lee said he did not seek Palin's help to obtain the loan.

Two other state-backed loans with favorable terms and questionable development benefits went to Palin contributor and local dentist Scott Laudon and his partners. The investors got $1.2 million to refinance debt on Northern Lights Village -- a gritty collection of shops including massage and tattoo parlors, a secondhand-clothing store and a video arcade. Its neighbors along a 1 1/2 -mile stretch of Northern Lights Boulevard in midtown Anchorage include a dozen strip malls.

Laudon and other partners also received $3.6 million to buy two automated car washes in Anchorage. The benefit to Alaska, according to the approval documents, was the retention of five jobs -- which would have remained without the subsidy. Laudon declined to comment.

The Times requested documentation on the Lee and Laudon loans, including interest rates, from AIDEA on Sept. 25, but the agency has not released the materials and has declined to discuss details.

The agency "probably looked at it this way: 'This is a good loan that will be paid back,' " said Bob Poe, former AIDEA chief. "That helps them produce income to make other loans, much like a bank." As economic development, however, both loans sound questionable, he said.

Three Palin appointees to the AIDEA board also gave to her campaign for governor. This year the board picked Palin donor Ted Leonard as chief executive of the $1.2-billion agency. His principal credential was having been financial manager of tiny Wasilla, Alaska. Palin appointed him to the city post when she was mayor.

Agency spokesman Karsten Rodvik said that Palin was not directly involved in the selection and that Leonard was the top applicant because of his long and diverse experience in finance and economic development. He also said that AIDEA managers were "not aware" of any influence by Palin or her aides on any loans.

Some of Palin's other appointments have been controversial.

Franci Havemeister, one of several of Palin's childhood friends tapped for leadership jobs, heads the state agriculture division. A former real estate agent, she was ridiculed in Alaska after it was reported that she had cited among her qualifications for the job a childhood love of cows.

And Palin's choice for attorney general, Talis Colberg, stirred considerable puzzlement: He was virtually unknown beyond her circle near Wasilla. Colberg, who had a solo law practice and little management experience, now oversees 500 professionals.

Colberg was criticized by both Republican and Democratic legislators for his handling of the recent investigation of Palin's actions in a controversy involving her ex-brother-in-law -- a state trooper -- and Monegan. A Superior Court judge overruled Colberg's move to quash investigative subpoenas in the case.

Piller is a Times staff writer.

Times staff writer Doug Smith and researchers Janet Lundblad and Maloy Moore contributed to this report.

Copyright 2008 Los Angeles (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-palinrecords24-2008oct24,0,6683728.story)

October 24th, 2008, 03:12 PM
CBS News - NY Times Poll (http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/Oct08d-Politics.pdf)


(Among registered voters)

Obama____ McCain
Rich____________ 8%____ 59%
Middle class_____ 38____ 11
Poor____________ 22____ 3
Treat all same____ 24____ 21

If campaigns don't speak to the middle class, they don't speak to the country.

October 24th, 2008, 03:43 PM
More Dumbass Michelle Bachmann Chronicles

Word is out the Michelle has taped a new campaign ad, in which she apologizes for remarks she made on MSNBC Hardball last week. Could it be she's seen the error of her ways?


Her RNC money has dried up, and she is now deadlocked (2 points behind) in a race where she was leading right before her TV appearance.

Meanwhile, old clips of Michelle are popping up at YouTube.

Michelle in 2006 on cultural diversity (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nP4hYkfwuTY)

October 24th, 2008, 04:25 PM
^^ This lady is beyond scary, and I hope the good people in her district give her the boot.

October 24th, 2008, 04:38 PM
I'm reading in the Daily News, about a 20 year old college student in Pittsbugh, lied to the police about being mugged at an ATM, and her "attacker", who is black, scratched the letter "B" on her cheek. She came clean that she lied about the whole thing, but what I don't get is this: What the hell can motivate someone to lie like that? And how on earth did she get a backward "B" on her cheek?

October 24th, 2008, 04:39 PM
^^^ post #1,000. As Yoda would say, 'Forum Veteren, I am' :D

October 24th, 2008, 04:56 PM
KDKA Report on Campaign Worker for McCain-Palin
who was allegedly attacked
in the Pittsburgh area:

Select Image Below to Access Video

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/multimedia/archive/01014/ashley-todd_1014533c.jpg (http://kdka.com/video?id=47882@kdka.dayport.com)

Image – Daily Telegraph
Video – KDKA Dayport

Runtime – 02:32

October 24th, 2008, 05:33 PM
Story gets on CNN and starts to spread all morning across the nation and then abroad. Below is a British version:


John McCain supporter 'who had B scratched into her face'
to undergo polygraph test
A young woman who claimed that a mugger scratched a "B" into her face after seeing her John McCain bumper sticker is to undergo a lie detector test, according to local newspapers.

By Matthew Moore

Last Updated: 3:10PM BST 24 Oct 2008

Photo: sarahsarmy.blogspot.com

Miss Todd said she was in
Pittsburgh volunteering for the
McCain-Palin campaign

Police want 20-year-old Ashley Todd to be tested by a polygraph machine because her statements allegedly do not tally with records from the cashpoint where she says the attack took place, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
Miss Todd, a Republican activist, claims that her assailant stole $60 after putting a knife to her throat in Bloomfield, Pittsburgh.

He then backed off, but became angry after spotting a McCain campaign sticker on her car, according to her account. After throwing punches and kicks, giving her a black eye, he etched a backwards letter B onto her right cheek, she claims.

Miss Todd, who is believed to be a student at Texas A&M university, reported the alleged attack to police but declined medical treatment. In a photo taken after the alleged assault her left eye appears severely bruised. Apart from the reddish-pink letter B, the rest of her right cheek appears unscathed.

Earlier, a police spokesman said they were treating her claims as "credible" and looking for further evidence.

Her ordeal has attracted huge coverage in the United States, and both Mr McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin have spoken to her over the phone to offer their best wishes.

The Obama campaign also released a statement condemning on the attack. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the young woman for her to make a speedy recovery, and we hope that the person who perpetrated this crime is swiftly apprehended and brought to justice," it said.

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2008 (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/uselection2008/barackobama/3253063/John-McCain-supporter-who-had-B-scratched-into-her-face-to-undergo-polygraph-test.html)

October 24th, 2008, 05:36 PM
Then the "real Pennsylvania" story finally rolled out this afternoon, about what occurred Wednesday evening.


Oct 24, 2008 4:06 pm US/Eastern
Police: Campaign Volunteer Lied, Injured Self

Ashley Todd told investigators today she "just wanted to tell the truth" -- and was neither robbed, nor attacked. Todd, 20, is now facing charges for filing a false report to police

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) _ Police say a campaign volunteer confessed to making up a story that a mugger attacked her and cut the letter B in her face after seeing her McCain bumper sticker; now she's facing charges.

At a news conference this afternoon, officials said they believe that Ashley Todd's injuries were self-inflicted.

Todd, 20, of Texas, is now facing charges for filing a false report to police. Todd initially told police that she was robbed at an ATM in Bloomfield and that the suspect began beating her after seeing her GOP sticker on her car.

Police investigating the alleged attack, however, began to notice some inconsistencies in her story and administered a polygraph test. Investigators asked Todd to return to the police station today for more questioning and to help them release a composite sketch of the suspect. When she did, police say she admitted that she made the whole thing up and that it snowballed out of control.

Todd told investigators today that she "just wanted to tell the truth" – adding that she was neither robbed, nor attacked.

"She indicated that she has prior mental problems and that she does not remember how the backward letter B got on her face," Pittsburgh Police Spokeswoman Diane Richard told reporters today. Todd told police that while she did not remember how the backward "B" got on her face, she may have done it herself since she was the only one in the car. According to police, Todd said she thought of Barack Obama when she saw the "B" in her rearview mirror.

Officials say they do not believe any other people were involved; and Todd's friends believed the story about the attack – encouraging her to call police.

(© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.) (http://kdka.com/local/attack.McCain.Bloomfield.2.847628.html)

October 24th, 2008, 05:40 PM

October 24th, 2008, 06:01 PM
uh-oh ...

McCain Spokesman Implicated In Mugger Hoax

Andrew Sullivan / The Daily Dish (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/10/mccain-spokesma.html)
24 Oct 2008 05:51 pm

And Palin called Todd (http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/10/mccain_aide_gave_reporters_inc.php):

John Verrilli, the news director for KDKA in Pittsburgh, told
TPM Election Central that McCain's Pennsylvania campaign
communications director gave one of his reporters a detailed
version of the attack that included a claim that the alleged
attacker said, "You're with the McCain campaign? I'm going to
teach you a lesson."

Verrilli also told TPM that the McCain spokesperson had
claimed that the "B" stood for Barack.
McCain also called the hoax-merchant (http://www.politico.com/blogs/jonathanmartin/1008/Its_getting_ugly_out_there.html).

Is this the kind of judgment you want in a president?

October 24th, 2008, 06:08 PM
McCain Communications Director Gave Reporters
Incendiary Version Of "Carved B" Story
Before Facts Were Known

TPM Election Central (http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/10/mccain_aide_gave_reporters_inc.php)
By Greg Sargent (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/sargent)
October 24, 2008, 5:12PM

John McCain's Pennsylvania communications director told reporters in the state an incendiary version of the hoax story about the attack on a McCain volunteer well before the facts of the case were known or established -- and even told reporters outright that the "B" carved into the victim's cheek stood for "Barack," according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions.

John Verrilli, the news director for KDKA in Pittsburgh, told TPM Election Central that McCain's Pennsylvania campaign communications director gave one of his reporters a detailed version of the attack that included a claim that the alleged attacker said, "You're with the McCain campaign? I'm going to teach you a lesson."

Verrilli also told TPM that the McCain spokesperson had claimed that the "B" stood for Barack. According to Verrilli, the spokesperson also told KDKA that Sarah Palin had called the victim of the alleged attack, who has since admitted the story was a hoax.

The KDKA reporter had called McCain's campaign office for details after seeing the story -- sans details -- teased on Drudge.

The McCain spokesperson's claims -- which came in the midst of extraordinary and heated conversations late yesterday between the McCain campaign, local TV stations, and the Obama camp, as the early version of the story rocketed around the political world -- is significant because it reveals a McCain official pushing a version of the story that was far more explosive than the available or confirmed facts permitted at the time.

The claims to KDKA from the McCain campaign were included in an early story that ran late yesterday on KDKA's Web site. The paragraphs containing these assertions were quickly removed from the story after the Obama campaign privately complained that KDKA was letting the McCain campaign spin a racially-charged version of the story before the facts had been established, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

The story with the removed grafs is still right here (http://kdka.com/politics/McCain.Campaign.Worker.2.847449.html). We preserved the three missing grafs from yesterday:


A source familiar with what happened yesterday confirmed that the unnamed spokesperson was communications director Peter Feldman. Feldman was also quoted yesterday making virtually identical assertions on the Web site of another local TV station, WPXI. But those quotes, which we also preserved here (http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com/statepages/missing-grafs-from-wpxi-story.php), are also no longer available on WPXI's site, for reasons that are unclear.

This is problematic because the McCain campaign doesn't want to have been perceived as pushing an incendiary story that not only turned out to be a hoax but which police officials said today (http://www.kwtx.com/home/headlines/33219369.html) risked blowing up into a "national incident" and has local police preparing to file charges against the hoaxster.

There's no evidence that anyone from McCain national headquarters put out a version of events like this.

After the story appeared on KDKA's site and this and other pieces in the local press started flying around the political world, an Obama spokesperson in the state angrily insisted to KDKA that it was irresponsible for the station to air the McCain spokesperson's incendiary version of events before the facts were fully known, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

After that, KDKA went back to McCain's Pennsylvania spokesperson, Feldman, and asked if he stood by the story as he'd earlier told it, but he started backing off the story, a source familiar with the talks says. That prompted KDKA to remove the grafs.

Feldman couldn't immediately be reached, and a McCain HQ spokesperson declined to comment.

Copyright 2008 TPM Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.

October 24th, 2008, 08:14 PM
It's been a long 8 Years.

Time for a CHANGE (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qq8Uc5BFogE)

October 25th, 2008, 04:34 AM

This Is Not a Test

Sitting on an aircraft-carrier deck in 1962
didn't prepare John McCain for the presidency.

By Fred Kaplan
Oct. 23, 2008

In the last few days, Sen. John McCain has told crowds that he's "been tested" when it comes to dealing with international crises, and as proof he cited the big enchilada of crises, the showdown over Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962. "I had a little personal experience in that,"

But where was "there"? Was McCain a White House fellow or a junior aide in the Pentagon, watching, albeit from a distance, while President John Kennedy or Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara grappled with the dilemmas?

No, he was the pilot of a naval attack plane on an aircraft carrier in the Caribbean. As he put it at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania, "I sat in the cockpit on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Enterprise, off of Cuba. I had a target." Then he added: "My friends, you know how close we came to nuclear war. Americans will not have a president who needs to be tested. I've been tested, my friends."

I mean no disrespect for carrier pilots, especially those poised for combat. The job requires a special sort of skill, nerve, and bravery that few of us have ever faced. (Certainly I never have.) But it is not at all clear how this experience tested McCain—or any of the other pilots on the four aircraft carriers off the coast of Cuba—for the job of making strategic decisions in a crisis, any more than working an assembly line tests someone to be president of a major manufacturing corporation.

As a 26-year-old Navy lieutenant in October 1962, John McCain was prepared to follow orders, fly his plane along a predetermined path to a preselected target, drop his preloaded bombs, and fly back. Again, this is not to be minimized. But neither does it constitute being "tested" to be—either then or 46 years later—the president of the United States.

Here's what the president at the time, John F. Kennedy, did during the crisis.

The confrontation began when U-2 spy planes detected the Soviets surreptitiously shipping missile launchers and nuclear warheads to Cuba and, in some cases, already setting them up on Cuban bases.

Kennedy assembled all his top advisers in the Cabinet Room to discuss how to respond. (Lucky for historians, he secretly tape-recorded all these deliberations. You can buy copies of the tapes from the JFK Library or read Sheldon Stern's book Averting "The Final Failure": John F. Kennedy and the Secret Cuban Missile Crisis Meetings, an excellent account.)

On the first day of deliberations, Kennedy figured that he would have to bomb the missile sites. McNamara suggested blockading the island as an interim measure to buy some time. Kennedy agreed.

By the third day of the crisis, Kennedy was musing about Soviet motives and wondering what kind of "face-saving" gesture he might offer to get them to back off. One possibility, he said, might be a trade: We'd withdraw the missiles we had in Turkey—on the Soviet Union's southern border—if they withdrew the missiles they had in Cuba. None of the advisers reacted to this remark.

On Oct. 26, the 13th and final day, Khrushchev sent Kennedy a telegram offering just such a trade. Kennedy favored taking the deal. "To any man at the United Nations or any other rational man," he can be heard on the tapes saying, "it will look like a very fair trade. … Most people think that if you're allowed an even trade, you ought to take advantage of it."

All of Kennedy's advisers—his brother Robert Kennedy, Vice President Lyndon Johnson, McNamara, McGeorge Bundy, the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff—vociferously opposed the deal. All of them at this point—even McNamara—urged Kennedy to bomb the missile sites. They protested that trading the missiles in Turkey would amount to appeasement; it would wreck NATO, betray the Turks, advertise our weakness. On the tapes, they sound hysterical; you can hear the quivering in their voices.

Kennedy remained preternaturally cool. He recalled that the attack plan, drawn up a few days earlier by the Joint Chiefs and endorsed by McNamara, was calling for 3,500 conventional bombing sorties against the Soviet missile sites and air bases in Cuba—500 sorties a day for seven days—followed by an invasion of the island.

"I'm just thinking," Kennedy said, with remarkable calm, "about what we're going to have to do in a day or so … 500 sorties … and possibly an invasion, all because we wouldn't take missiles out of Turkey. And we all know how quickly everybody's courage goes when the blood starts to flow, and that's what's going to happen in NATO … when we start these things and the Soviets grab Berlin" in retaliation, "and everybody's going to say, 'Well, this Khrushchev offer was a pretty good position.' " At another point, Kennedy noted that if we went to war and it was later learned that this deal had been on the table and we had rejected it, it was "not going to be a good war."

At the end of the day, without telling more than a handful of his advisers, President Kennedy ordered his brother to tell the Soviet ambassador that he accepted Khrushchev's deal—as long as it was kept a total secret, as indeed it was until the tapes came out 20 years later. (Not wanting to appear weak, Kennedy himself contrived the cover story—and ordered his palace historians, Arthur Schlesinger and Ted Sorensen, to perpetrate the myth—that he'd stared the Russians down.)

And so, the point is even more clear-cut than it might seem at first glance: Just because John McCain sat in a cockpit on a flight deck during the tensest five days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, that doesn't mean he absorbed the slightest bit of wisdom about how to handle a crisis from the top.

What about Sen. Barack Obama—has he ever been tested for a crisis of this sort? There's no evidence that he has. In this sense, former President Bill Clinton's evasive remark a few months ago when he was asked about Obama's qualifications—"You can argue that nobody is ready to be president"—may well be true.

The lesson of Kennedy's performance in the Cuban Missile Crisis is that a president should be cool-headed, ask the right questions, listen to a wide range of advice, then exercise his own judgment.

With this history in mind, which of the two candidates—McCain or Obama—seems best-suited to handle a crisis? That's the appropriate question.

2008 Washington Post.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC (http://www.slate.com/id/2202953/)

October 25th, 2008, 05:11 AM

Political Perceptions is WSJ.com’s
center for political analysis

October 24, 2008, 6:52 am
Political Wisdom: In McCain-Land, the Blame Game Begins

Here’s a summary of the smartest new political analysis on the Web:
by Gerald F. Seib and Sara Murray

The blame game is beginning among Republicans, even as Sen. John McCain struggles to catch up in the polls in the campaign’s final days, report a trio of top Politico writers (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1008/14891.html). Jonathan Martin, Mike Allen, John F. Harris (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1008/14891.html) write: “With despair rising even among many of John McCain’s own advisors, influential Republicans inside and outside his campaign are engaged in an intense round of blame-casting and rear-covering—-much of it virtually conceding that an Election Day rout is likely.” McCain himself participated in an interview with the Washington Times, complaining about the problems created by the Bush administration. Beyond that, “the candidate’s strategists in recent days have become increasingly vocal in interviews and conference calls about what they call unfair news media coverage and Barack Obama’s wide financial advantage — both complaints laying down a post-election storyline for why their own efforts proved ineffectual…Top Republican officials have let it be known they are distressed about McCain’s organization.” And there’s a debate about why McCain chose a “reform” rather than an “experience” message.

The Washington Post’s E. J. Dionne Jr. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/23/AR2008102302869.html) also notes the Republican infighting, writing “here’s what’s revealing about how divided they are: The critics of John McCain and the critics of Sarah Palin represent entirely different camps. One set of critics, skeptical social conservatives, are precisely the people McCain was trying to mollify by picking Palin as his running mate…That McCain felt a need to make such an outlandishly risky choice speaks to how insecure his hold was on the core Republican vote. A candidate is supposed to rally the base during the primaries and reach out to the middle at election time. McCain got it backward, and it’s hurting him.” Palin’s favorability among independents has taken a plunge, meaning all her help energizing the conservative base has been offset by losing the middle ground folks.

As for the pro-Palin conservatives, they’re “still impatient with McCain for not being tough enough — as if he has not run one of the most negative campaigns in recent history. This camp believes that if McCain only shouted the names ‘Bill Ayers’ and ‘Jeremiah Wright’ at the top of his lungs, the whole election would turn around.” So, Dionne concludes, “There is no unified ‘right’ or ‘center-right,’ which is why we are no longer a conservative country, if we ever were. Conservatism has finally crashed on problems for which its doctrines offered no solutions (the economic crisis foremost among them, thus Bush’s apostasy) and on its refusal to acknowledge that the ‘real America’ is more diverse, pragmatic and culturally moderate than the place described in Palin’s speeches or imagined by the right-wing talk show hosts.”

One of McCain’s problems is that he isn’t doing better in his home region of the “Interior West (Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada),” writes Nate Silver of The New Republic (http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=fb1c6783-fc3e-48c7-8fd5-f0f1a2a77d9e). McCain “has made little progress in the West beyond his home state of Arizona. He now trails Obama in Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico, all three of which went to George Bush in 2004. In spite of early declarations from his campaign that he would fight for Washington, Oregon, and perhaps even California, he never eroded Obama’s advantage along the Pacific coast, and is no longer trying.”

In part, Silver writes, “he is fighting a Sisyphean battle against the demographic changes in the region. The Census Bureau measures how many people migrate into each state each year. In 2006, half of the top ten fastest-growing states were in the West, ranging from Nevada (3.5 percent) to Colorado (1.9 percent). These new residents generally fall into one of two categories: college-educated white folks from the coasts looking for cheaper housing, better schools, or a higher quality of life–or, Latinos. Both groups are quite friendly to Democrats.” Plus, Silver writes, McCain is viewed “largely as an insider” in a region suspicious of establishment candidates, and his hawkish foreign policy views run counter to the region’s isolationist tendencies.

With all of the important issues to discuss, clearly there are some who want to focus on Sarah Palin’s hyper-expensive wardrobe. The New York Times’ Kate Phillips (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/23/last-words-breaking-news/) writes “We’re still mining the Neiman Marcus online catalog, trying to virtually match Gov. Sarah Palin’s wardrobe against the designer lines available, for that $75,000 that Jeanne Cummings of The Politico exposed. Mmmm. Some things just don’t feel right. Kate Spade shoes, yes. Jimmy Choos or Christian LaCroix? Not. Unless we’ve missed something. As our fashion writer Eric Wilson noted, her debate outfit was Tahari. We haven’t seen a Jil Sander suit — or have we? Some jackets almost look like St. John, a favorite among conservative power women on the Hill unless they’re Nancy Pelosi (who’s an Armani devotee). The other best-dressed Republican woman would be Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine. We haven’t asked her yet. You may think this is a frivolous exercise, but if you’re Governor Palin, speaking to Joe and Jane the plumbers, (or in a new McCain web video – Josephine the Plumber), well, where do they shop? We guarantee you, Lynne Cheney’s wardrobe never got so much inspection. Right, she’s not actually the vice president. Now, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice –that’s another level on the escalator altogether. ”

To be sure, plenty of people still think pursuing this is moronic. CNN’s Campbell Brown (http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/10/campbell-brown.html) decried it on the air, noting how much more frequently women are judged on their looks.

Copyright ©2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved (http://blogs.wsj.com/politicalperceptions/2008/10/24/political-wisdom-in-mccain-land-the-blame-game-begins/)

October 25th, 2008, 07:37 AM
QUESTION ... Does that infamous John McCain temperament problem extend to anyone else in his family?

ANSWER ... Indeed, starting with "Joe the Brother" (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=258390&postcount=22).

Courtesy Boston Globe
The McCains, circa 2000: left to right, Joe and John.

October 25th, 2008, 07:37 AM

Polls: White support for Obama at historic level

By: David Paul Kuhn
October 24, 2008 11:27 PM EST

Barack Obama, the first black major party nominee, is positioned to win the largest share of white voters of any Democrat in more than three decades, according to an exclusive Politico analysis of recent Gallup and Pew Research Center polling.

The most recent two weeks of Gallup polling, which includes roughly 13,000 interviews, show 44 percent of non-Hispanic white voters presently support Obama — the highest number for a Democrat since 47 percent of whites backed Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Until the stock market swoon in mid-September, Obama had never reached 40 percent among white voters.

No Democrat has won a majority of white voters since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. John McCain has shuffled between 48 percent and 50 percent support in recent weeks — which would be the lowest share for a Republican candidate in a two-man race since Barry Goldwater's run.

If Obama's share holds, it would top the 43 percent of white voters who backed Bill Clinton in 1996, when the Democrat won a plurality among white females and 38 percent of white men, the best performance by a Democrat in all those categories since 1976.

Before the party conventions, Obama's support among white men had never passed 35 percent. In September, he matched Clinton's level of support, and last week he jumped five points to 43 percent.

“That is amazing,” Obama’s pollster Cornell Belcher said after those numbers were read to him.

“It was already a change election and now you have a cross pressure of the economy,” he said, causing whites “who have not been voting for white Democrats" to back Obama.

A Politico breakdown of the Pew polling shows dramatic improvement for Obama among whites since early September on the question of who would do a better job "improving the economy." White women, who last month were split, now believe Obama will do a better job “improving the economy” by a 49 to 35 percent margin. White men, who had favored McCain by 10 points, are now split with 41 percent preferring Obama and 43 percent McCain.

About half of whites say the economy is the most important issue in this campaign, while 8 percent said Iraq and 6 percent terrorism, according to the ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll covering Monday through Thursday.

In a similar poll in mid-October 2004, white voters were evenly split, with 26 percent citing the economy as the most important issue, while 25 percent said Iraq and 21 percent said terrorism.

A new Public Policy Polling report shows Obama's newfound leads in North Carolina, Virginia and Florida result from gains among white voters.

“Even as Obama continues to trail by a good amount with whites overall in these states, he’s winning with them on the issue foremost on voters’ minds this year,” the report concluded. “There’s not much doubt the economy is the main factor causing whites who voted Republican for president in 2004 to go Democratic this year. That is the single biggest factor driving his lead in the polls across the country right now.”

Only 7 percent of voters today are satisfied with the direction of the country, the lowest number in Gallup’s history. The reason, Gallup repeatedly notes, is the economy.

A new report by the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research found that in 13 battleground states, rural voters — nine in 10 of whom are white — were split, with 46 percent backing Obama and 45 percent McCain. In September these voters favored McCain by 10 points .

The report found that Obama’s “improvement is driven by rising voter concerns over the economy in the aftermath of the collapse on Wall Street.”

A recent analysis by Gallup of some 40,000 interviews found that Obama's lead over McCain “has risen proportionately when the percentage of Americans who are negative about the U.S. economy increases.”

McCain maintains large advantages over Obama with white voters on issues ranging from instituting a “wise foreign policy” to “defending the nation” to “dealing with immigration.” But all of these issues, which have tended to draw whites toward the Republican party, have been eclipsed amongst voter concerns by the market dives.

Pew recently found that 35 percent of whites said they are “most concerned about the financial markets” specifically, compared with 17 percent of blacks.

Eight-six percent of white Democrats now support Obama, roughly equal to what John F. Kerry earned in 2004. Until the economic crisis began, that number had been in the 70s, on par with Michael Dukakis in 1988 and Clinton in 1992.

More than eight in 10 white working-class Democrats now back Obama, roughly a 20 percentage point rise compared to the week before the Democratic convention.

Obama also splits white independents with McCain, with 46 percent backing each candidate, a performance unseen by a Democrat since Clinton in 1996. In the past week, Obama’s support has slightly waned with independent white working-class men, the largest group of independents. But he has gained with women in the same bloc.

Until the market collapse, Obama was narrowly losing white Catholics. He's now opened up a 54 percent to 39 percent lead, according to Pew.

While Obama’s support among whites under age 30 has long been stronger than recent Democratic nominees, he's now within single digits among white voters age 50 to 64 as well as seniors, according to Pew.

It remains to be seen if Obama's polling numbers among whites translate into support within the privacy of the election booth. About one in five voters say they “personally” know someone who will “not vote for Obama because he is black.”

But the economy, in Belcher's view, has mitigated even the role of race. “We are seeing race being trumped by economic concerns and overall changes in the direction of the country in a fundamental way,” he said. “That is perhaps pushing aside, for the first time in our cultural history, race as a debilitating obstacle.”

© 2008 Capitol News Company, LLC

October 25th, 2008, 08:24 AM
^^^ Big news for Obama, if those numbers hold, expect a landslide in this election.

October 25th, 2008, 08:39 AM
The circular firing squad is forming a little early.


Palin allies report rising campaign tension

By: Ben Smith
October 25, 2008 07:38 AM EST

Even as John McCain and Sarah Palin scramble to close the gap in the final days of the 2008 election, stirrings of a Palin insurgency are complicating the campaign's already-tense internal dynamics.

Four Republicans close to Palin said she has decided increasingly to disregard the advice of the former Bush aides tasked to handle her, creating occasionally tense situations as she travels the country with them. Those Palin supporters, inside the campaign and out, said Palin blames her handlers for a botched rollout and a tarnished public image — even as others in McCain's camp blame the pick of the relatively inexperienced Alaska governor, and her public performance, for McCain's decline.

"She's lost confidence in most of the people on the plane," said a senior Republican who speaks to Palin, referring to her campaign jet. He said Palin had begun to "go rogue" in some of her public pronouncements and decisions.

"I think she'd like to go more rogue," he said.

The emergence of a Palin faction come as Republicans gird for a battle over the future of their party - and some see her as a charismatic, hawkish conservative leader with the potential, still unrealized, to cross over to attract moderate voters. Anger among Republicans who see Palin as a star and as a potential future leader has boiled over because, they say, they see other senior McCain aides preparing to blame her in the event he is defeated.

"These people are going to try and shred her after the campaign to divert blame from themselves," said a McCain insider, referring to McCain's chief strategist, Steve Schmidt, and to Nicolle Wallace, a former Bush aide who has taken a lead role in Palin's campaign. Palin's partisans blame Wallace, in particular, for Palin's avoiding of the media for days and then giving a high-stakes interview to CBS News's Katie Couric, whose sometimes-painful content the campaign allowed to be parceled out over a week.

"A number of Governor Palin's staff have not had her best interests at heart and they have not had the campaign's best interests at heart," fumed the McCain insider, noting that Wallace left an executive job at CBS to join the campaign.

Wallace declined to engage publicly in the finger-pointing that has consumed the campaign in the final weeks.

"I am in awe of [Palin's] strength under constant fire by the media," she said in an email. "If someone wants to throw me under the bus, my personal belief is that the most graceful thing to do is to lie there."

But other McCain aides, defending Wallace, dismissed the notion that Palin was mishandled. The Alaska governor was, they argue, simply unready - "green," sloppy, and incomprehensibly willing to criticize McCain for, for instance, not attacking Senator Barack Obama for his relationship with his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Palin has in fact performed fairly well in the moments thought to be key for a vice presidential nominee: She made a good impression in her surprise rollout in Ohio and her speech to the Republican National Convention went better than the campaign could have imagined. She turned in an adequate performance at a debate against the Democratic Party's foremost debater.

But other elements of her image-making went catastrophically awry. Her dodging of the press and her nervous reliance on tight scripts in her first interview, with ABC News, became a national joke - driven home to devastating effect by Saturday Night Live comic Tina Fey. The Couric interview - her only unstaged appearance for a week - was "water torture," as one internal ally put it.

Some McCain aides say they had little choice with a candidate who simply wasn't ready for the national stage, and that Palin didn't forcefully object. Moments that Palin's allies see as triumphs of instinct and authenticity - the Wright suggestion, her objection to the campaign's pulling out of Michigan - they dismiss as Palin's "slips and miscommunications" - that is, her own incompetence, and evidence of the need for tight scripting.

But Palin partisans say she chafed at the handling.

"The campaign as a whole bought completely into what the Washington media said - that she's completely inexperienced," said a close Palin ally outside the campaign who speaks regularly to the candidate.

"Her strategy was to be trustworthy and a team player during the convention and thereafter, but she felt completely mismanaged and mishandled and ill advised," the person said. "Recently, she's gone from relying on McCain advisers who were assigned to her to relying on her own instincts."

Palin's loyalists say she's grown particularly disenchanted with the veterans of the Bush reelection campaign, including Schmidt and Wallace, and that despite her anti-intellectual rhetoric, her closest ally among her new traveling aides is a policy advisor, former National Security Council official Steve Biegun. She's also said to be close with McCain's chief foreign policy advisor. Randy Scheunemann, who prepared her for the Oct. 2 vice presidential debate.

When a McCain aide, speaking anonymously Friday to The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder, suggested that Palin's charge that Obama was "palling around with terrorists" had "escaped HQ's vetting," it was Scheunemann who fired off an angry response that the speech was "fully vetted" and that to attack Palin for it was "bullshit."

Palin's "instincts," on display in recent days, have had her opening up to the media, including a round of interviews on talk radio, cable, and broadcast outlets, and chats with her traveling press and local reporters.

Reporters really began to notice the change last Sunday, when Palin strolled over to a local television crew in Colorado Springs.

"Get Tracey," a staffer called out, according to the New York Times, summoning spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt, who reportedly "tried several times to cut it off with a terse 'Thank you!' in between questions, to no avail." The moment may have caused ulcers in some precincts of the McCain campaign, but it was an account Palin's admirers in Washington D.C. cheered.

Palin had also sought to give meatier policy speeches, in particular on energy policy and on policy for children with disabilities; she finally gave the latter speech Friday, but had wanted to deliver it much earlier.

She's also begun to make her own ad hoc calls about the campaign's direction and the ticket's policy. McCain, for instance, has remained silent on Democrats' calls for a stimulus package of new spending, a move many conservatives oppose, but which could be broadly popular. But in an interview with the conservative radio host Glenn Beck earlier this week, Palin went "off the reservation" to make the campaign policy, one aide said.

"I say, you know, when is enough enough of taxpayer dollars being thrown into this bill out there?" she asked. "This next one of the Democrats being proposed should be very, very concerning to all Americans because to me it sends a message that $700 billion bailout, maybe that was just the tip of the iceberg. No, you know, we were told when we've got to be believing if we have enough elected officials who are going to be standing strong on fiscal conservative principles and free enterprise and we have to believe that there are enough of those elected officials to say, no, okay, that's enough."

(A McCain spokeswoman said Palin's statement was "a good sentiment.")

But few imagine that Palin will be able to repair her image - and bad poll numbers - in the eleven days before the campaign ends. And the final straw for Palin and her allies was the news that the campaign had reported spending $150,000 on her clothes, turning her, again, into the butt of late night humor.

"She never even set foot in these stores," said the senior Republican, saying Palin hadn't realized the cost when the clothes were brought to her in her Minnesota hotel room.

"It's completely out of control operatives," said the close ally outside the campaign. "She has no responsibility for that. It's incredibly frustrating for us, and for her."

Between Palin's internal detractors and her allies, there's a middle ground: Some aides say that she's a flawed candidate whose handling exaggerated her weak spots.

"She was completely mishandled in the beginning. No one took the time to look at what her personal strengths and weaknesses are and developed a plan that made sense based on who she is as a candidate," the aide said. "Any concerns she or those close to her have about that are totally valid."

But, the aide said her own inexperience had led her to her own mistakes:

"How she was handled allowed her weaknesses to hang out in full display."

If McCain loses, Palin's allies say that the national Republican Party hasn't seen the last of her. Politicians are sometimes formed by a signal defeat - as Bill Clinton was when he was tossed out of the Arkansas governor's mansion after his first term - and Palin would return to a state that had made her America's most popular governor and where her image as a reformer who swept aside her own party's insiders rings true, if not in the cartoon version the McCain campaign presented.

"There are people in this campaign who feel a real sense of loyalty to her and are really pleased with her performance and think she did a great job," said the McCain insider. "She has a real future in this party."

© 2008 Capitol News Company, LLC

October 25th, 2008, 01:04 PM
"for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty"

Book of Revelation 16:14

In The Last Days Of The Election: Apocalypse Now, Palin?

Lauren Sandler

As Palin herself joked on Saturday Night Live , she hasn't been taking questions. But in those rare attempts to discover what happens under that immoveable updo, no one has asked the one I would most like to hear Sarah Palin answer --as she may still hover a melanoma away from holding the most important office on the planet, at one of the most crucial moments in world history. Does Sarah Palin think we are living in the End Times?

It may sound crazy to you, but I'm dead serious. In June--just several weeks before her nomination was announced--Palin nodded along as her spiritual mentor Pastor Ed Kalnins talked about his belief that "Alaska's one of the refuge states" that people will be flocking to "in the Last Days." Shouldn't we know if the person in line to lead our nation agrees with this statement, as the widely circulated video clip of this exchange suggests? Just because a pastor preaches a notion doesn't mean his flock necessarily swallows that concept whole--just ask Barack Obama. But this is not the only indicator that Palin believes the end is nigh. An Alaskan teacher and musician, Phil Munger, has blogged about two separate occasions in which then-Mayor Palin said, "The Lord is coming soon," he writes. He says she told him," I can see that, maybe you can't-- but it guides me every day."

You may dismiss such a mindset as mere idiosyncrasy, but rapture readiness is familiar to at least one quarter of Americans who self-identify as Evangelical, especially those who are members of conservative churches like the ones the Palins have attended, where pastors routinely preach that evidence of the Second Coming is right there on CNN whenever a report airs from the Gaza Strip or the United Nations. Biblical prophecy has long been a consuming passion in many Evangelical circles--an organizing worldview, a filter through which to understand everything from the war in Iraq to the global financial crisis. Many eschatology-minded souls rejoiced on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the annual Days of Judgment, when the Dow closed 777 points--the holy number of God. Surely, websites buzzed, this is a sign that Jesus is en route. As the market plummets straight to hell, is Palin herself considering the returns on her higher investment?

When we talk about Evangelicalism and politics we talk about abortion and same-sex marriage; we debate whether our science teachers should introduce students to the Book of Genesis. These are the topics that members of the press-including debate moderators--are expected to broach, and they do. Asking whether the human race is on the brink of holy Armageddon does not come easily. It's almost impossible to engage with if it's something you don't believe; its beyond polemic, beyond rational discourse, seeming perhaps so insane to a nonbeliever that it might feel like condescension or insult to ask if someone believes themselves. And it's hard to see it as an issue to discuss, lacking the obvious legal dynamic of an issue like Roe v. Wade. But when the End of Days appears as literal truth to the person who may determine our foreign policy, her faith impacts us in truly gargantuan ways.

Senator John McCain lauds his understudy as a "breath of fresh air," but Palin may be more accurately understood as a gasp of brimstone, should she have the opportunity to make any decisions that affect more than the country's special needs children. "We're not going to get into discussing her religion," the McCain campaign told the Times soon after announcing the addition of its feisty Sister Christian to the Republican ticket. Perhaps the McCain campaign has avoided discussing her faith because her beliefs might make Jeremiah Wright's most incendiary sermons sound positively mainline--and because a number of McCain's Republican colleagues likely subscribe to the same prophetic reading of our moment in history. McCain tells supporters they don't need to be scared of a Barack Obama presidency, but I wonder if he could similarly assure the nation about his own choice for Vice President?

"The churches that Sarah has attended all believe in a literal translation"--or reading--"of the Bible," a Wasilla resident who has known and worked with Palin for some fifteen years told the Times, adding, "her principal ethical and moral beliefs stem from this." This literal reading includes, of course, the Book of Revelation, John's big-budget, surrealist account of the apocalypse, as well as the prophetic words shot throughout the Old and New Testaments. We discuss her inexperience with tabula rasa implications. But we can't afford to ignore the fact that she says the greatest authority in her life is this brand of faith. If Palin believes that every word of the Bible is absolute truth, and is in line to direct the future of our military and our diplomacy, her inexperience might be the least of our troubles.

Despite its professed literalism, reading prophecy is interpretive. Eschatology assesses what entities will construct the ostensibly real-life cast of the End. Popular conjecture imagines various pillars of the Islamic world, the United Nations, and the European Union as havens for the Antichrist. Were Palin to become the Decider in Chief, would she fight these forces, confident that, as she has said, she's carrying out "God's will?"

When Palin talks about Putin "rearing his head"--is she telling her fellow Christian soldiers that she agrees with many of them who think that Russia might be The Beast? And don't forget Iran. Palin explained her policy leanings this way to Katie Couric: "It is obvious to me who the good guys are in this one and who the bad guys are. The bad guys are the ones who say Israel is a stinking corpse and should be wiped off the face of the earth." This may be more than a continuation of the reductive Manichaeism of the Bush administration, which the world perceives as fighting crusades rather than just wars, but rather the trailer to a real -life reenactment of scenes from the bestselling Left Behind novels, in which the Tribulation Force battles the minions of the Antichrist, who happens to be the U.N. Secretary General.

We know that Palin's perspective on family planning and creationism has not yet impacted Alaska policy during her short time behind the governor's desk. But as a possible president, Palin would not merely oversee legal adjustments, but wage war and diplomacy. When her phone rings at 3am, would she reach for her worn Bible on the bedside table to confirm that her crisis management is in line with Biblical prophecy? And would she do so ballasted by a belief that she is ordained by God to do so, that, as she has said "there is a plan, and that plan is God's plan?" That, to me, would be a real tribulation.

Copyright © 2008 HuffingtonPost.com, Inc.

Are you Rapture Ready? (http://www.raptureready.com/index.php)

October 25th, 2008, 01:49 PM
"When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."

Jonathan Swift (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Swift)

McCain Banking on a Confederacy of Dunces

By David Sirota

Is John McCain stupid, or does he believe we are? That’s the question as he criticizes Barack Obama for allegedly trying to “redistribute the wealth” with a plan to lower taxes on the middle class and raise them on the super-rich.

Of course, the Democrat’s proposal would merely slow down (not fully halt) the less-talked-about redistribution whereby Washington sends middle-class money up the income ladder. Either McCain doesn’t know about this kleptocracy and is the dumbest presidential candidate in history, or he thinks America is too ignorant to recognize theft. Which is it?

I’m guessing the latter, since the evidence is so overwhelming.

In the last eight years, we the little people have been forced to provide more and more of the taxes fueling America’s redistribution machine. As the Congressional Budget Office reports, the $715 billion in tax breaks that President Bush gave to those making more than $342,000 a year began dramatically shifting the overall tax burden from the rich onto the rest of us. Meanwhile, because of lobbyist-crafted loopholes, most corporations pay zero federal income taxes, according to the Government Accountability Office. The result is what Warren Buffett admits: When counting all taxes (income, payroll, property, etc.), billionaires and Big Business often pay lower effective tax rates than their employees.

The output of the redistribution machine is becoming just as regressive. In the age of Halliburton fraud and ExxonMobil subsidies, our government spends $93 billion a year on corporate welfare. (For comparison, that’s roughly three times what it spends on a traditional welfare program like food stamps.) That doesn’t include the recent bailout giving $700 billion to the same banks currently doling out $70 billion in executive pay and bonuses — a scheme the Financial Times says “amounts to a large transfer of resources from lower to higher income earners.”

Thanks to these redistributive policies — policies McCain championed in Congress — the richest 1 percent today owns a larger share of America’s wealth than at any time since before the Great Depression.

The Republican standard-bearer likely knows all this, but his fetish is fact-free fairy tales — the kind presenting seven houses, a beer-industry fortune and lockstep conservatism as mavericky Joe-the-Plumber populism. When it comes to economics, McCain is banking on Americans believing similarly inane myths — specifically, those portraying obscene affluence as the commonplace achievement under royalist rule.

During the indigence and socioeconomic immobility of the 19th century’s Gilded Age, this meme flourished through Horatio Alger stories. Today, one in five American children live in poverty, and authorities from The Economist magazine to The Wall Street Journal note that our country exhibits the least amount of upward economic mobility in the industrialized world — less than even Europe’s supposedly sclerotic socialisms. In light of that, sustaining the “American Dream” narrative requires updated rags-to-riches fantasies like “MTV Cribs,” HBO’s “Entourage” — and now McCain ‘08.

The Arizona senator’s pulp fiction packs an extra-nationalistic punch, however. We are not only expected to support regressive redistribution, but also to believe that stopping such robbery is subversive. McCain implies Obama is backing Soviet conquest by proposing to finance tax cuts for 95 percent of American workers with tax increases on the richest 5 percent. When Joe Biden said it is “patriotic” for millionaires to pay their fair share of taxes, Republicans waved the bloody shirt of Reaganism and attacked him — as if Al Capone-style tax evasion is how aristocrats display their true love of country.

The GOP campaign, in short, is a brew of redbaiting and free-market zealotry, a concoction with a poisonous purpose: resurrecting the everyone-for-themselves pathologies that perpetuate the status quo. And if we revert to selfish form during this economic crisis, then McCain’s cynical calculation is correct: America is a confederacy of dunces.

David Sirota is a senior editor at In These Times and a bestselling author whose newest book, "The Uprising," was released in May 2008. He is a fellow at the Campaign for America's Future and a board member of the Progressive States Network -- both nonpartisan organizations.

© 2008 In These Times

The 1980 novel A Confederacy of Dunces (http://www.curledup.com/dunces.htm)

October 25th, 2008, 05:09 PM
If McInsane was sooo country first, he would concede to
save the nation the cost of an election!

October 25th, 2008, 07:04 PM
I rarely check out Drudge Report any more, so today when I clicked onto the main page I was pretty astounded to see that Drudge seems to be foaming at the mouth over the possibility that Obama will take the election ...

YOU'RE PUNISHED: OBAMA CAMPAIGN CUTS OFF TV STATION AFTER TOUGH BIDEN INTERVIEW... (http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/entertainment_tv_tvblog/2008/10/obama-campaign.html)
McCain warns against Dem takeover... (http://nz.news.yahoo.com/a/-/world/5103152/mccain-warns-against-democratic-takeover/)
Obama hits McCain on economy... (http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081025/pl_nm/us_usa_politics_obama_2)
Palin's alarm on nanny state... (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/10/25/palin-warns-obama-would-create-nanny-state-if-elected/)
Judge tosses lawsuit challenging citizenship... (http://apnews.myway.com/article/20081025/D941NCJG0.html)

BIDEN GRILLED BY NEWS ANCHOR: IS OBAMA MARXIST? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQXcImQfubM) http://www.drudgereport.com/i/logo9.gif (http://www.drudgereport.com/)

October 25th, 2008, 07:59 PM
New York Post




October 25, 2008 --

With nine days to go until the election, John McCain's electoral map is in tatters. According to Pollster.com, Obama presently holds leads of five or more points in 23 states containing 286 electoral votes - 16 more than he needs to clinch the electoral college. Obama holds smaller leads, moreover, in another seven states containing 92 electoral votes, including places as far afield as North Dakota. Obama has even led some recent polling in Georgia, West Virginia, and Montana.

This situation is a reflection of the failures of McCain's strategy. During the summer, he poured millions of dollars into attack advertising rather than building up the sort of robust ground operation that won George W. Bush the presidency in 2000 and 2004. He underestimated the threat in Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana until it was too late. And now, he and Sarah Palin are jetting all around the country like chickens with their heads cut off - falling into exactly the trap that the Obama campaign set for them.

In order to have a chance of winning the Electoral College, McCain will need to close the popular vote gap by at least 6-7 points nationally. I am not about to advise him on how to do that, and frankly I am not sure that it can be done. Our latest estimates at FiveThirtyEight.com give McCain only about a 5% chance of pulling out a victory.

If McCain is able to close this gap somehow, however, the electoral map will look quite a bit different - and quite a bit more favorable to him. Essentially, McCain needs to subtract 6 points from Obama's margins in every state, and proceed from the assumption that this is what the map will look like on Election Day. If he is able to make that leap of faith, McCain will find it easier to pick his battles, focusing his efforts on no more than six or seven states. If I were advising the McCain campaign, I would suggest he do the following:

1) Abandon Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa. The notion that McCain is going to win Pennsylvania is folly. He has not led a poll in the Keystone since April, essentially since the Democratic primaries were competed and Obama laid down roots in the state. Current polls have McCain trailing by margins ranging from 7 to 13 points, well more than his disadvantage nationally. Pennsylvania is an expensive state to compete in. And contrary to the conventional wisdom, Obama did not particularly underperform his polls during the primaries (the final Pollster.com average projected Obama to lose Pennsylvania by 7.6 points, and Obama lost by 9.1, essentially within the margin of error).

Iowa is even worse for McCain; his position on ethanol is a non-starter there, and he hasn't led a poll in the state all year. Wisconsin and Minnesota aren't much better. Wisconsin borders Illinois and has same-day registration, which will allow Obama to run up the score with students in Madison and Milwaukee. Minnesota, in spite of being one of the few places where the Republicans have outadvertised the Democrats, has merely bent but not broken; McCain might get his margin within 2-3 points there, but it's hard to imagine him winning such a traditionally blue state.

2) Attack New Hampshire and New Mexico. On the other hand, New Hampshire and New Mexico might present more appealing opportunities. Obama's gains in the post-Lehman universe have come principally from white voters, which means that New Mexico, the most Hispanic state in the country, has drifted closer to the electoral tipping point. It is also dirt cheap to advertise in. New Hampshire is not as cheap, since its television market overlaps with Boston, but this is a state where McCain overperformed during the primaries in both 2000 and 2008, while Obama did just the opposite. And McCain's tax message might sell well in such a notoriously libertarian state.

3) Defend Colorado, Virginia, Nevada, Ohio and North Carolina. McCain faces uphill battles in Colorado and Virginia, where the demographic winds have shifted against him, and where he has been vastly out-organized on the ground. But they represent Obama's path of least resistance to 270 electoral votes, which means that McCain needs to do everything in his power to block it. Should Obama win all the Kerry states, plus Iowa and New Mexico, he only needs one of Colorado and Virginia to clinch the Electoral College, and right now he has solid leads in both.

McCain's problem in North Carolina and Nevada is that those states are already voting, and that Obama is banking votes there every day.

Between Clark and Washoe Counties, which represent about 85% of Nevada's population, Democratic early voters have outnumbered Republicans by about 2:1. Similar numbers apply in North Carolina, where Obama has already established a lead of several hundred thousand votes.

Ohio is more difficult to read, with polls showing everything from a 2-point McCain lead to a 14-point edge for Obama. But this is a state that is immensely dissatisfied with the Republicans establishment, and where Democrats have made huge gains in voter registrations. Unlike in 2004, moreover, Ohio has a Democrat as its Secretary of State, so something like a recount or a dispute over ballot access is more likely than not to be resolved in their favor.

4) Gamble on Florida, Missouri and Indiana. But McCain quite literally cannot afford to compete everywhere. In certain states, he needs to throw caution to the wind, and simply hope that they come back into his column if and when the national polls tighten. Florida is a good example. The state and local Republican parties are well-organized there, and Republicans have historically outperformed their polls there on election day (George W. Bush, ahead of John Kerry by only 1-2 points in most public polls in 2004, wound up winning by 5). There is also a gay marriage initiative on the ballot, which might draw older voters to the polls.

Indiana and Missouri are in some senses riskier; they border Illinois, so they'll be flooded with Democratic volunteers on Election Day, and Obama closed strongly in both states during the primaries. But Missouri is no longer a true bellwether; it was between 4 and 5 points redder than the country as a whole in the last two election cycles, and McCain has to hope that the same holds this year. And in Indiana, a state where both public and private polls have diverged wildly from one another, McCain simply has to hope that George W. Bush's 21-point advantage in 2004 is too much for any Democrat to overcome in one year.

By no means would this strategy make a victory likely for John McCain. He needs to find some way to win several news cycles during the last week of the campaign, and then he needs hope, faith, and a lot of luck. But faced with a dire situation, McCain needs to re-find the focus and discipline that he has been lacking for much of the campaign; this is his best chance to do so.

Nate Silver runs the polling site www.fivethirtyeight.com

Copyright 2008 NYP Holdings, Inc.

October 25th, 2008, 09:14 PM
I've read the same thing today ^^. I think this road to 270 is highly difficult, if not impossible. Because of Obama's vast amout of campaign money, he put states like VA, NM, MI, and CO, into play. He has a very good shot at holding all the Blue States, and flipping VA ( 265 EV). Obama could very well take OH or FL ( maybe both), and this election is all ready won. What McCain needs to not too much focus on PA, and try his best to defend the Red States, that may turn blue. That article lays it out, but McCain would need a LOT of luck to hold on to these states in play.

October 25th, 2008, 10:26 PM


October 25, 2008
CNN confirms: Bill Clinton to campaign with Obama
Posted: 08:25 PM ET

(Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)

Sen. Obama and former President Clinton greet supporters
in Harlem after their September meeting.

(CNN) – In yet another sign that Democrats are putting the contentious and hard-fought primary season behind them, former President Bill Clinton will campaign with Sen. Barack Obama for the first time in Florida on Wednesday, according to Matt McKenna of the Clinton Foundation.

Sen. Hillary Clinton will not attend the event but did recently campaign with Obama in Florida, a crucial battleground state that CNN currently considers a toss-up.

The Clintons also recently campaigned together with Sen. Joe Biden and Biden’s wife, Jill, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where both Joe Biden and Sen. Clinton have roots.

Obama met personally with former President Clinton in September at Clinton’s Harlem offices. Then, Clinton predicted that Obama would win in November “pretty handily.”

© 2008 Cable News Network LP, LLLP. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/)

October 25th, 2008, 10:42 PM

The subject turned to what Hasselbeck was going to wear, which she said was undecided. The ironically named Joy Behar, an outspoken Barack Obama supporter, suggested a Hefty bag with shoulder pads.


GOP celebrity Sarah Palin calls in TV celebrity
Elisabeth Hasselbeck for Florida help

By Andrew Malcolm

Photo credit: ABC

John McCain's campaign is still fighting for Florida's electoral votes. So it's sending in its big gun, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, this weekend to campaign on the race's second-to-last Sunday.

And Palin, in turn, is calling in Elisabeth Hasselbeck, a co-host on ABC's televised morning coffee-klatsch, "The View." It may have something to do with the all-important female vote.

Hasselbeck, the token conservative and McCain supporter on the female panel of talkers, announced that the Arizona senator's campaign had called and invited her to introduce Palin at some Sunshine State rallies this Sunday.

"I am more than honored to be invited," she said. "So I'll be flying there to travel with her and meet some pretty interesting people, I have a feeling," said Hasselbeck, whose husband, Tim Matt, is a professional football quarterback.

She promised to tell some stories on Monday's show.

The subject turned to what Hasselbeck was going to wear, which she said was undecided. The ironically named Joy Behar, an outspoken Barack Obama supporter, suggested a Hefty bag with shoulder pads.

Copyright 2008 Los Angeles Times (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/10/sarah-palin-10.html)

October 25th, 2008, 11:35 PM

October 26, 2008

Op-Ed Columnist

A Makeover With an Ugly Gloss


McCain advisers have been scathing about the “sexism” of critics who dismiss Sarah Palin as Caribou Barbie.

How odd then, to learn that McCain advisers have been treating their own vice presidential candidate like Valentino Barbie, dressing her up in fancy clothes and endlessly playing with her hair.

In 1991, with Americans fretting about a shaky economy, Poppy Bush visited a J. C. Penney and bought $28 worth of tube socks and a toddler’s sweat suit in a desperate effort to seem in touch with the common folk. Palin might have followed that example and popped into Penney’s to buy some new American-made duds. She is so naturally good-looking, there is no need to gild the Last Frontier lily.

Instead, with the economy cratering and the McCain campaign running on an “average Joe” theme, dunderheaded aides, led by the former Bushies Nicolle Wallace and Tracey Schmitt, costumed their Eliza Doolittle for a ball when she should have been dressing for a bailout.

The Republicans’ attempt to make the case that Barack Obama is hoity-toity and they’re hoi polloi has fallen under the sheer weight of the stunning numbers:

The McCains own 13 cars, eight homes and access to a corporate jet, and Cindy had her Marie Antoinette moment at the convention. Vanity Fair calculated that her outfit cost $300,000, with three-carat diamond earrings worth $280,000, an Oscar de la Renta dress valued at $3,000, a Chanel white ceramic watch clocking in at $4,500 and a four-strand pearl necklace worth between $11,000 and $25,000. While presenting herself as an I’m-just-like-you hockey mom frugal enough to put the Alaska state plane up for sale on eBay, Palin made her big speech at the convention wearing a $2,500 cream silk Valentino jacket that the McCain staff had gotten her at Saks.

At that point, Palin should have been savvy enough to tell those doing her makeover that she was a Wal-Mart mom. The sartorial upgrade was bound to turn into a strategy downgrade, as Palin pressed her case as a homespun gal who was ever so much more American than the elite, foreignish Obama, while she was gussied up in Italian couture.

Politico broke the news that the Republican National Committee spent over $150,000 on a “Pretty Woman”-style shopping spree for Palin, including about $75,000 at Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis and nearly $50,000 at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and St. Louis.

Palin advisers did their best to spin the fashion explosion during the economic implosion, telling The Times that she needed new outfits to match the climate changes across 50 states.

Republicans once more charged the media with sexism for reporting on Palin’s Imelda Marcos closet. “No one would blink if this was a male candidate buying Brooks Brothers suits,” said William F. B. O’Reilly, a G.O.P. consultant.

It doesn’t wash to cry sexism now any more than it did at the beginning, when the campaign tried to use that dodge to divert attention from Palin’s lacunae in the sort of knowledge you need to run the world. The press has written plenty about the vanities and extravagances of male candidates. (See: Haircuts, John Edwards and Bill Clinton.) Sexism would be to treat Palin differently, or more delicately, than one of the guys.

The governor who spent all her time talking about how she had cleaned up excesses in Alaska, and would do the same in Washington, also went over the top on hair and makeup. As a former beauty pageant contestant and sports anchor on TV, Palin already seemed on top of her grooming before the McCain campaign made her traveling makeup artist, Amy Strozzi, the highest-paid individual on the campaign for the first two weeks of October. Ms. Strozzi, who earned an Emmy nomination for her war paint skills on the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance,” made $22,800 for the first half of this month.

Governor Palin, who used to get her hair done at the Beehive in Wasilla and shop at an Anchorage consignment shop called Out of the Closet, paid her traveling hairstylist — recommended by Cindy McCain — $10,000 for the first half of October.

In The New York Times Magazine today, Robert Draper reveals that the campaign also hired a former New York stage and screen actress, Priscilla Shanks, to be her voice coach for the convention. The expense was listed in finance reports as Operating Expenditures and Get-Out-The-Vote consulting. Apparently getting out the vote includes teaching a potential vice president the correct way to pronounce “nuclear.”

The conservative big shots who have not deserted Palin and still think she can be Reagan in a Valentino skirt are furious at those who have mishandled the governor and dimmed her star power. They mourn that she may have to wait now until 2016 to get rid of the phony stench of designer populism.

Makeovers are every woman’s dream. But this makeover has simply pushed back Palin’s dream of being president.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

October 26th, 2008, 06:00 AM
The problem for me is how these people must lie about themselves... that they're just your average hockey mom or whatever.

I like the way Nancy Reagan did it: she bought her expensive, hand made clothes from Adolpho ( old line American designer ) and made no apologies. She also never tried to convince the public that she was just regular folk. That would mean talking down to people. She was a society woman... her best friend was Betsy Bloomingdale... they lunced at Mortimers and LeCirque. She had a gay walker who escorted her around town. I don't think she would have ever considered doing a publicity stunt like shopping at Walmart to convince the public that she was something she wasn't. It's also interesting that 25 years ago the public didn't seem to need that BS.


October 26th, 2008, 07:43 AM
If my memory serves me well, back in 1984 Geraldine Ferraro wore basically the same clothes after she was nominated to be the Dem VP candidate as she did before she was thrust into the spotlight.

October 26th, 2008, 10:20 AM
New York Post


2) Attack New Hampshire and New Mexico. On the other hand, New Hampshire and New Mexico might present more appealing opportunities. Obama's gains in the post-Lehman universe have come principally from white voters, which means that New Mexico, the most Hispanic state in the country, has drifted closer to the electoral tipping point. It is also dirt cheap to advertise in. New Hampshire is not as cheap, since its television market overlaps with Boston, but this is a state where McCain overperformed during the primaries in both 2000 and 2008, while Obama did just the opposite. And McCain's tax message might sell well in such a notoriously libertarian state.Strategy #2 has become more difficult.


Globe poll: Obama soars to big lead in New Hampshire

By Lisa Wangsness, Globe Staff

CONCORD, N.H. - Barack Obama has vaulted to a 15-point lead over John McCain in New Hampshire, according to a new Boston Globe poll (http://cache.boston.com/multimedia/2008/10/26nh/bg19report.doc), a significant gap in a state that McCain considers his second political home and has long been a swing state in the race for the White House.

Financial distress has clearly driven voters from McCain to Obama, who was trailing his Republican rival by 2 percentage points in September - a 17-point swing in just one month. Nearly half of those surveyed cited the economy and jobs as their top concerns, and they overwhelmingly saw Obama as the candidate best equipped to address them.

"McCain certainly has his back to the wall in New Hampshire," said Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, which conducted the poll. "The economic crisis in September and October has changed the mood of voters in New Hampshire, who are now solidly backing Obama as the candidate best able to deal with economic issues."

The poll also found that the Arizona senator is being dragged down by a deeply troubled Bush administration, an increasingly unpopular running mate, Sarah Palin, and the perceived negativity of his campaign. Three-quarters of those surveyed said Obama has the best chance to win, which Smith said could depress turnout for McCain. (See an in-depth interactive graphic from the poll.)

Obama's edge in New Hampshire is fresh evidence that the state is shedding its identity as the last refuge for Yankee conservatives. The survey of 725 likely voters, conducted from Oct. 18 to Oct. 22, had Obama leading 54 to 39 percent, with 6 percent undecided and a sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

In a sign of how all-important the economy has become in this election, Obama has seized a commanding lead even though voters saw McCain as better able to take on terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and Iraq.

When it came to who would be better at handling the economy and the financial system, the Illinois senator trounced his rival.

Harry Nelson, a 79-year-old retired Wall Street money manager who participated in the poll and agreed to speak with a reporter afterward, said the next president will enter the White House under conditions similar to those that faced Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933. Obama, he said, has "some of the same stuff" as Roosevelt and could be a "transformational leader."

"If you look at the way he runs his campaign, it's been brilliant," said Nelson, an undeclared voter who lives in Hanover. "I don't think he's an economic expert, but he doesn't have to be - he picks good people. . . . That's what management is all about, isn't it?"

Most voters - 66 percent - considered McCain the more experienced of the two candidates. But, in a sign that McCain has failed to cast himself as a reformer and to dissociate himself from Bush, twice as many respondents said Obama was the candidate most likely to bring change.

While an equal number of voters rated McCain and Obama as the stronger leader, the poll found that Obama has established himself as the candidate voters can most relate to and trust. A significant majority said Obama has better judgment, and a majority said he is more trustworthy and most reflects their values.

Misty Foote, a 37-year-old independent voter from Rochester, said she decided to vote for Obama in the last couple of weeks.

"I think he's down to earth and he's one of us," said Foote, who is disabled and lives on Social Security. "I just think McCain is going to be just like Bush. He's going to keep everything the same, and that would be fine if we had a good economy, but we don't."

On financial issues, 15 percent said they were "very" or "somewhat" worried about losing their jobs, and a similar number - mostly younger and lower-income voters - were deeply concerned about losing their homes. But more than two-thirds of those polled said they were "very" or "somewhat" worried about a secure retirement, and 42 percent said the same about college costs.

The bailout plan was unpopular in New Hampshire among voters in both parties, according to the poll; 55 percent said they disapproved of it strongly or somewhat. The poll found widespread support for tax cuts for the middle class; Republicans were more likely to favor cuts for small businesses.

New Hampshire, a battleground state in both of the last two presidential election cycles, has been growing steadily more liberal in recent years because of significant population churn. Smith said nearly one-third of potential voters did not live in the state or were too young to vote in 2000.

Three other factors besides the economy appear to have damaged McCain in the Granite State. By a nearly 3-to-1 margin, voters said McCain's campaign was the most negative, and over the last month, the Republican nominee's favorability ratings have plummeted while Obama's have climbed.

"The John McCain I see right now is not the John McCain I saw in 2000," said Kevin Clancy, a 47-year-old undeclared voter from Manchester who had considered voting for McCain after Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic nomination. "I just can't stand the lies and the smears that are coming from the Republican Party."

McCain is also being dragged down in New Hampshire by a hugely unpopular White House, the poll found. Twenty percent of voters surveyed had a favorable opinion of the president and 71 percent had an unfavorable opinion of him; last month, the numbers were 24 percent and 66 percent, respectively.

A third handicap for McCain is Palin. The poll found that more voters now have an unfavorable opinion of her than a favorable one, a reversal of the situation a month ago; Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden's popularity, on the other hand, has steadily grown. Thirty-nine percent this month said they had a favorable opinion of Palin; 48 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion of her. Fifty-four percent had a favorable opinion of Biden, 27 percent had an unfavorable opinion of him.

Linda Comeau, 55, an independent voter from Stratham who supported Clinton in the primary, said she was "very open" to McCain until he picked Palin. "She is not prepared to be vice president," she said. "She is uninformed, she doesn't know what she is saying, she is inexperienced, and compared to Barack Obama her intellect is minimal."

Still, many McCain supporters preferred him for his experience, especially on national security issues.

Betsy Manchester , a 58-year-old school nurse's assistant who lives in Nottingham, said she thought McCain had an edge over Obama on national security issues.

"He is a veteran; he has served his country; he was a POW," she said. "I think he's seen it all and he knows basically what to expect and how to react." On Iraq, she added, McCain is closer to her view that "we've just got to stick it out - unfortunately."

A central question is whether polls accurately reflect the effect of race and racism in a campaign where Obama is the first African-American nominee of a major party.

The Globe poll found that 22 percent of New Hampshire voters said they had heard a friend, family member, or co-worker say they would not vote for Obama because he is black, but only 9 percent said they thought many people would not vote for him because of his race, and 6 percent thought many people would support him because of it. Smith said that together, the results suggest that while some voters have heard chatter about race, it is isolated or coming from people who would be unlikely to vote for Obama anyway.

Geoff Gilbertson, a machinist from Peterborough, said one person he knows wouldn't vote for Obama because of his race, but it was "someone who has absolutely no interest in voting."

October 26th, 2008, 10:41 AM
America is showing Europe the way again

Keith Richburg

The Observer,
Sunday October 26 2008

My political awakening began in the summer of 1968, when I was 10. Robert Kennedy had just been assassinated after winning the California primary. My father, a union representative and Kennedy backer in Detroit, was upset. I didn't really understand much about presidential politics, but my education began.

'Can a black man ever become the President?' I remember asking, somewhat innocently. My father thought for a while and then replied: 'Not in my lifetime. But it will probably happen in your lifetime. You'll live to see it.'

My dad died last year. And every day this year, since I've watched in wonderment at the unlikely ascent of Barack Obama - as a candidate, as the Democratic party nominee and now within reach of the White House - I keep thinking back to that conversation 40 years ago and wishing my dad had lived just a little bit longer to see progress that he only dreamt was possible.

My father grew up in the segregated south, in Charleston, under Jim Crow laws that didn't allow blacks to vote. He left as a young man, primarily so his children would have more opportunities, all the opportunities that America had to offer. And despite the racism he saw and experienced, he never lost his faith in that American dream. 'You can be anything you want to be,' was his constant refrain to me.

I became a journalist, and a foreign correspondent, and spent nearly 20 years travelling the world, living in Asia, Africa and Europe, seeing things that my dad was never able to see. And over the years, I've only become more and more attached to that American ideal, even when America or, rather, her governments, didn't always seem to be living up to that ideal of herself.

After my stint in Africa in the mid-1990s, covering the genocide in Rwanda, the famine in Somalia and seeing corruption, poverty and lack of basic human rights, I came away feeling blessed that I was born a black man in America, with all the opportunities and hopes that implied. It was a view that elicited quite a backlash from some in the black American community who saw America as an imperfect and racist place.

Living in Asia on two separate tours, and travelling around south east Asia as a correspondent for nearly a decade, I was greeted warmly and made many close Asian friends. But I also saw how too often their attitudes to black Americans were shaped by stereotypes that I put down to ignorance, not overt racism, like when a close girlfriend, Hong Kong Chinese and British educated, asked me: 'Why don't you talk like other black Americans?' What she meant was that I didn't use the street slang she was used to seeing black characters speak in the movies.

Asians had limited exposure to black Americans; the most they saw in person were in the military and their frame of reference was either Hollywood, hip hop videos or the basketball court.

During a trip to Indonesia, at the height of the Democratic primaries, I wondered how different the perception would become if the face of America shown to the world - of the President - was a black man, Barack Obama.

But it was in Europe, where I lived for five years from 2000 to 2005, that I really came to appreciate that the ideal of opportunity for all was indeed something uniquely American.

Based in Paris, I had the brief to roam around the Continent and what struck me is how multiracial and multicultural Europe had become. And what I noticed soon after was how resistant European attitudes still were towards their black and brown residents.

Paris is a multicoloured city - black Africans, North Africans, Asians, Turks and others. But black and brown faces are largely invisible in the top ranks of business, media and politics. France has about six million North African Muslims from its former colonies and another 2.5 million sub-Saharan black Africans, although the numbers are disputed since the government's official policy of égalité dictates that even counting people by race would be discriminatory. But what's not in dispute are the visible facts; out of 577 members of the National Assembly, there are no black or brown faces other than those representing the overseas territories.

Germany is home to some three million Muslims, mostly from Turkey, but only a couple are in parliament. The Netherlands and Sweden are slightly more encouraging - Sweden has members of parliament who trace their origins to Egypt, Eritrea and Congo.

Britain has fared better in terms of raw numbers, starting in 1987 when the first non-white MPs, including Paul Boateng, were elected on the Labour party ticket following urban race riots that underscored the lack of black progress. But leaders of Operation Black Vote, a political mobilisation group, told me Parliament would not be truly representative until there were 50 to 60 minority members, representing Britain's 10 per cent minority population.

So it's difficult, if not impossible, to imagine a Barack Obama emerging in Europe soon.

One reason is that Europeans for the most part do not talk about race and race relations as openly as we do. In America, we wallow in it. We self-analyse and form committees, workshops and seminars to talk about it. There are countless organisations and associations dedicated to racial issues. Bookshops stack shelves talking about our racial history and problems. We take measurements of pretty much everything, from black student school test scores to minority living standards.

France, to take one example, is on the other extreme. For a story on the state of minorities in France, I once asked for the statistics on how many blacks were on each political party list and it was like dragging a dead cat into the room and tossing it on the table. Race is simply not openly discussed.

What's more, many Europeans can't even bring themselves to call their minority residents what they are - citizens. They are still often referred to as 'immigrants' or 'outsiders', even if they were born in the country, speak no other language, know no other home.

A European Obama seems unlikely to emerge soon because of the parliamentary systems in place, in which a newcomer to politics has first to find his way on to a party list and work his or her way up through the ranks. In Obama's case, this newcomer leapfrogged far more experienced and better-known candidates - think Hillary Clinton - to take his case directly to voters in primary states.

A year ago, no one here would have predicted that a black candidate would become the nominee of a major party and have a more than realistic chance of winning the White House on 4 November. And it's a testament to Obama's considerable skill that he has largely managed to make his race an afterthought. America is on the verge of something historic and it almost seems anticlimactic.

But black Americans are still pinching themselves, still not quite able to believe what has been achieved. And all Americans should pause from the heated political rhetoric and reflect on the sense of accomplishment, win or lose, that his candidacy represents - an affirmation of that American ideal.

I think back to my father, who suffered terrible racism in the south, still believing for his son: 'You can be anything you want to be.' That means any little boy can even dream of being President. And that really is only in America.

Keith Richburg is the New York bureau chief of the Washington Post.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008

October 26th, 2008, 12:54 PM


Obama for president

Palin's rise captivates us but nation needs a steady hand

(10/25/08 19:37:58)

Alaska enters its 50th-anniversary year in the glow of an improbable and highly memorable event: the nomination of Gov. Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential candidate. For the first time ever, an Alaskan is making a serious bid for national office, and in doing so she brings broad attention and recognition not only to herself, but also to the state she leads.

Alaska's founders were optimistic people, but even the most farsighted might have been stretched to imagine this scenario. No matter the outcome in November, this election will mark a signal moment in the history of the 49th state. Many Alaskans are proud to see their governor, and their state, so prominent on the national stage.

Gov. Palin's nomination clearly alters the landscape for Alaskans as we survey this race for the presidency -- but it does not overwhelm all other judgment. The election, after all is said and done, is not about Sarah Palin, and our sober view is that her running mate, Sen. John McCain, is the wrong choice for president at this critical time for our nation.

Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, brings far more promise to the office. In a time of grave economic crisis, he displays thoughtful analysis, enlists wise counsel and operates with a cool, steady hand. The same cannot be said of Sen. McCain.

Since his early acknowledgement that economic policy is not his strong suit, Sen. McCain has stumbled and fumbled badly in dealing with the accelerating crisis as it emerged. He declared that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong" at 9 a.m. one day and by 11 a.m. was describing an economy in crisis. He is both a longtime advocate of less market regulation and a supporter of the huge taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailout. His behavior in this crisis -- erratic is a kind description -- shows him to be ill-equipped to lead the essential effort of reining in a runaway financial system and setting an anxious nation on course to economic recovery.

Sen. Obama warned regulators and the nation 19 months ago that the subprime lending crisis was a disaster in the making. Sen. McCain backed tighter rules for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but didn't do much to advance that legislation. Of the two candidates, Sen. Obama better understands the mortgage meltdown's root causes and has the judgment and intelligence to shape a solution, as well as the leadership to rally the country behind it. It is easy to look at Sen. Obama and see a return to the smart, bipartisan economic policies of the last Democratic administration in Washington, which left the country with the momentum of growth and a budget surplus that President George Bush has squandered.

On the most important issue of the day, Sen. Obama is a clear choice.

Sen. McCain describes himself as a maverick, by which he seems to mean that he spent 25 years trying unsuccessfully to persuade his own party to follow his bipartisan, centrist lead. Sadly, maverick John McCain didn't show up for the campaign. Instead we have candidate McCain, who embraces the extreme Republican orthodoxy he once resisted and cynically asks Americans to buy for another four years.

It is Sen. Obama who truly promises fundamental change in Washington. You need look no further than the guilt-by-association lies and sound-bite distortions of the degenerating McCain campaign to see how readily he embraces the divisive, fear-mongering tactics of Karl Rove. And while Sen. McCain points to the fragile success of the troop surge in stabilizing conditions in Iraq, it is also plain that he was fundamentally wrong about the more crucial early decisions. Contrary to his assurances, we were not greeted as liberators; it was not a short, easy war; and Americans -- not Iraqi oil -- have had to pay for it. It was Sen. Obama who more clearly saw the danger ahead.

The unqualified endorsement of Sen. Obama by a seasoned, respected soldier and diplomat like Gen. Colin Powell, a Republican icon, should reassure all Americans that the Democratic candidate will pass muster as commander in chief.

On a matter of parochial interest, Sen. Obama opposes the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but so does Sen. McCain. We think both are wrong, and hope a President Obama can be convinced to support environmentally responsible development of that resource.

Gov. Palin has shown the country why she has been so successful in her young political career. Passionate, charismatic and indefatigable, she draws huge crowds and sows excitement in her wake. She has made it clear she's a force to be reckoned with, and you can be sure politicians and political professionals across the country have taken note. Her future, in Alaska and on the national stage, seems certain to be played out in the limelight.

Yet despite her formidable gifts, few who have worked closely with the governor would argue she is truly ready to assume command of the most important, powerful nation on earth. To step in and juggle the demands of an economic meltdown, two deadly wars and a deteriorating climate crisis would stretch the governor beyond her range. Like picking Sen. McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time.

Copyright © The Anchorage Daily News (www.adn.com)

October 26th, 2008, 01:04 PM
lol @ Palin.:D

October 26th, 2008, 01:41 PM

October 26th, 2008, 02:49 PM
Re: America is showing Europe the way again

"One reason is that Europeans for the most part do not talk about race and race relations as openly as we do. "

Of course not. Europe is on a different timeline regarding this issue.

50 years ago in America you did not talk about race and race relations either. It took grassroots riots, protests, white flight from cities, the decay and abandonment of entire sections of cities, and minority leaders (coming from Churches and homegrown organizations) to shake things up.

It was a long and sometimes violent process.

Why should European countries that are still very new to being multicultural, suddenly be on the same timeline as the US?


October 26th, 2008, 05:05 PM
I think you missed the point of the article.

The perception worldwide is that America is more racist than other countries, and one of the reasons for that perception is our obsession with the issue.

The facts are otherwise.

Obama is a bigger phenomenon in Europe than he is here.

October 26th, 2008, 07:14 PM

Copyright © Tom Toles / Washington Post

October 26th, 2008, 07:35 PM
America is showing Europe the way again

Again? So....what did america do to show us the way before?

Im not disputing the articles content. I dont get the headline.

What about the sexism as opposed to racism. It seems there has been more opportunity for women to be leaders in Europe.

October 26th, 2008, 08:25 PM
The title doesn't make sense, but it may have been written by The Guardian. In the original format, it's followed by...

"This veteran foreign correspondent asks
when other nations will dare to share the dream"

It's true that there's more sexism in the US than Europe. I'm not sure why that is; maybe our preoccupation with bosoms.

October 26th, 2008, 08:35 PM
Again? So....what did america do to show us the way before?

Though liberal ideas that found their way into the American Revolution and Constitution originated in France (Rousseau) and Britain (Tom Paine), the impetus and intellectual foundation for the French Revolution came from emulation of America's example.

Liberal egalitarian ideas and practices eventually suffused all parts of Europe (now even nations of the former Soviet bloc). In the process, most European countries (Netherlands, Czech Republic, Scandinavia and indeed even the United Kingdom) actually surpassed us in the progressive ideas of liberty and personal freedom first put into practice in North America.

This has been especially evident in the last eight years of American regression. America is seen as a pariah in many progressive quarters. Torture, unilateralism, social conservatism, government spying on citizens, nefarious covert actions, cronyism and institutionalized corporate influence have all done their part to erode respect for America.

Surprisingly, racial bigotry is not on the list if the rise of Obama is taken note of. That's what the author, a black man, is saying.

Obama might represent the resurgence of American global leadership --which was in effect from the nuking of Hiroshima to the destruction of the World Trade Center.

October 26th, 2008, 08:44 PM
Surprisingly, racial bigotry is not on the list if the rise of Obama is taken note of. That's what the author, a black man, is saying.No, he said this
After my stint in Africa in the mid-1990s, covering the genocide in Rwanda, the famine in Somalia and seeing corruption, poverty and lack of basic human rights, I came away feeling blessed that I was born a black man in America, with all the opportunities and hopes that implied....long before Obama entered the arena.

October 26th, 2008, 08:47 PM
^ ...and Obama is an illustration of the truth of the sentiment.

October 26th, 2008, 08:52 PM
Are you saying that the author believes that if you remove Obama from the equation, racial bigotry is on the list?

Liberal egalitarian ideas and practices eventually suffused all parts of Europe (now even nations of the former Soviet bloc). In the process, most European countries (Netherlands, Czech Republic, Scandinavia and indeed even the United Kingdom) actually surpassed us in the progressive ideas of liberty and personal freedom first put into practice in North America.Ethnic minorities too?

October 26th, 2008, 09:05 PM
^ Nope, it's just evidence of the truth of the thesis. The thesis is America is a fairly good place to be black.

The melting of Alpine glaciers is evidence of global warming. If there were no Alpine glaciers, there would still be global warming.

Oh, I get it: "if the rise of Obama is taken note of". I was aiming that at Alonzo, who was playing the skeptic. It's true even if you don't take note of Obama.


October 26th, 2008, 09:15 PM
I misread your first statement.

he thesis is America is a fairly good place to be black.It's a good place to be Muslim too, compared to Europe.

October 26th, 2008, 09:16 PM
And after submitting, I just read your edit.

October 26th, 2008, 09:45 PM
From The Aspen Times to Associated Press, that Denver crowd today, the 26th, was repeatedly estimated to be 100,000 – matching the number for St. Louis on the 18th. Together, these two cities represent the latest high-water marks for the largest crowds attracted to Senator Obama's campaign trail. Extraordinary! (That makes Portland’s 75,000 seem like a distant memory.)

http://images.huffingtonpost.com/gen/45528/original.jpg http://images.huffingtonpost.com/gen/45529/original.jpg
Courtesy - The Huffington Post


Obama Ties McCain to Republican Philosophy

Damon Winter/The New York Times

Senator Barack Obama at a campaign rally in Denver on Sunday.

Published: October 26, 2008

DENVER — With the final week of campaigning ahead, Senator Barack Obama redoubled his efforts to tie Senator John McCain to the Bush administration by seizing on Mr. McCain’s remark Sunday that he shared a “common philosophy” with the president.

“I guess that was John McCain finally giving us a little straight talk, and owning up to the fact that he and George Bush actually have a whole lot in common,” Mr. Obama said at a rally here. “Here’s the thing, we know what the Bush-McCain philosophy looks like. It’s a philosophy that says we should give more and more to millionaires and billionaires and hope that it trickles down on everyone else.”

As Mr. Obama returned to the city where he accepted the Democratic nomination two months ago, he drew tens of thousands of people to an outdoor plaza as he sought to solidify his support in a critical western battleground. He is set to present a new closing argument to voters on Monday in Ohio.

In Iowa, Mr. McCain acknowledged on Sunday that he was “a few points down,” but said the race was tightening and sought to remind voters that he, too, would bring change to Washington.

“Do we share a common philosophy of the Republican Party? Of course,” Mr. McCain told NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” which was taped in Waterloo, Iowa. “But I’ve stood up against my party — not just President Bush, but others — and I’ve got the scars to prove it.”

Mr. McCain also found himself defending his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin,” from criticisms about the $150,000 that the Republican Party spent on new outfits for her, a distraction for a candidate who concentrated on attracting whom she called “Joe Sixpacks” and “hockey moms.”

“Look, she lives a frugal life,” Mr. McCain said. “She and her family are not wealthy. She and her family were thrust into this, and there was some — and some third of that money is given back, the rest will be donated to charity.”

Ms. Palin, as she campaigned in Florida on Sunday, opened a speech by launching her own defense of the clothing purchased by the Republican National Committee.

“Those clothes, they are not my property,” Ms. Palin told a large crowd in Tampa. “Just like the lighting and the staging and everything else that the R.N.C. purchased. I’m not taking them with me. I’m back to wearing my own clothes from my favorite consignment shop in Anchorage, Alaska.”

She added, “The double standard here — gosh, we don’t even want to waste our time.”

Mr. Obama steered clear of the clothing flap — as he has done since it became public last week — and began boiling down his pitch to a simple question to supporters here: “Don’t you think it’s time that we want to try something new?”

“The American people don’t want to hear politicians attack each other — you want to hear about how we’re going to attack the challenges facing middle class families each and every day,” Mr. Obama said. “What we need right now is honest leadership and real change.”

Heading into the final eight days of the campaign, Mr. Obama is seeking to capitalize on his advantages in states by slowly segueing away from Mr. McCain to close on a positive note. The closing argument that he unveils to voters on Monday in Canton, Ohio, will be amplified on Wednesday during a 30-minute prime-time infomercial on television networks, a rare and expensive move by a presidential candidate.

Mr. McCain, who spent the weekend warning voters that his Democratic rival was arrogantly jumping the gun before Election Day, dismissed concerns about his position in the race. He said he could feel intensity and passion in his crowds, adding that he was “proud of the campaign I’ve run.”

“We’re doing fine. We have closed in the last week,” Mr. McCain said. “We’ll be up very, very late election night.”

Julie Bosman and Michael Cooper contributed reporting.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/26/us/politics/26cnd-campaign.html)

October 26th, 2008, 11:25 PM

After Election Day has come and gone, we – at least those of us who bother to vote – will know that the time we spent obsessing about the campaign was worth it. That's because we'll be the ones who decided how the story ended.


Last Chapter of a Storybook Campaign

By Eugene Robinson
Friday, October 24, 2008 …

In a week and a half, it'll be over. What will we do to fill the void in our lives?

Opinion surveys, voter registration totals and cable television ratings indicate that Americans have been engrossed by the marathon presidential campaign. That's no surprise, given the first-in-history nature of the candidacies, the host of crucial problems we face and the sense that the outcome may determine the course – and the prospects – of our nation for many years to come.

But there's a fine line between being engrossed and being obsessed, and many of us have crossed it.

Last week in Los Angeles, I met a lawyer who said her husband has had to set strict limits on the amount of time she spends each day watching cable news and checking the latest tracking polls on the Internet. She said she welcomed the intervention. She has a 16-month-old son, and every day she takes a break from the exhausting task of chasing a toddler around the house. But instead of using that personal time to put her feet up or take a nap, she found herself sitting at the computer comparing Gallup's daily tracking poll with Rasmussen's.

In Indiana, I met a college professor whose detailed familiarity with every nook and cranny of the Pollster.com Web site was a little frightening. In the course of our conversation, I mentioned another site that aggregates poll data – RealClearPolitics.com – and when I saw her make a mental note I immediately regretted the indiscretion. I had inadvertently sentenced her to even more hours of obsessive behavior.

People who strike up conversations with me in airports or on the street almost always go much deeper than the general question of whether Barack Obama or John McCain will – or should – prevail on Nov. 4. They ask whether Virginia has now gone "solid" for Obama or is still just "leaning" that way, whether Missouri's status as a bellwether is a significant fact or a statistical accident, whether the so-called Bradley effect is real, and whether the trend toward early voting is likely to favor Democrats or Republicans.

I get paid to obsess about the election, but these are civilians I'm talking about. Sometimes I think I'm hearing a cry for help.

It feels as if we've been making our way through some great epic novel, by Tolstoy, perhaps, or Thomas Pynchon - a book peopled by indelible characters who act against the backdrop of sweeping events. Just think back to where we started. On New Year's Day, the conventional wisdom was that the general election would be an Empire State contest between Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani.

So much for the conventionally wise. The Iowa caucuses were the equivalent of the famous opening line of "Gravity's Rainbow," Pynchon's masterpiece: "A screaming comes across the sky."

In the course of the long narrative, some characters emerged from nowhere – Joe the Plumber, for example – had a dramatic impact, and then disappeared – Jeremiah Wright, for example. Others went away but returned unexpectedly, such as Giuliani, who came back to lead Republican convention delegates in the unforgettable chant "Drill, baby, drill." Or John Edwards, who dropped out of the race but later resurfaced at a Beverly Hills hotel, hiding from National Enquirer reporters chasing a tip that he was visiting his mistress.

As for plot twists, I can think of few in literature that compare with the sudden emergence of Sarah Palin. If you look closely at the video clip of her appearance on "Saturday Night Live," when she's in the hallway talking to Alec Baldwin and SNL honcho Lorne Michaels, a man dressed like Abraham Lincoln is in the background with what appears to be a llama. That's the kind of year it's been.

We're now at a bittersweet point that's analogous to reaching the middle of the final chapter. We want to race ahead and find out what happens. We want to know if our hero – Obama or McCain – is victorious. But we also know that when we finally get the answer, we'll have to exit the alternative reality of narrative, atmosphere and emotion that we've inhabited for months. We'll be bereft.

We'll have something to savor, though. After Election Day has come and gone, we – at least those of us who bother to vote – will know that the time we spent obsessing about the campaign was worth it. That's because we'll be the ones who decided how the story ended.

© Copyright 1996-2008 The Washington Post Company (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/23/AR2008102302883.html?nav=emailpage)

October 26th, 2008, 11:41 PM
Not to get off topic, but am I the only one who can't sleep well at night because I'm waiting for this bloody election? Damn, Nov. 4th can't get here fast enough.

October 27th, 2008, 12:00 AM
Copyright © Pat Bagley / The Salt Lake Tribune

Copyright © David Horsey / Seattle Post-Intelligencer

October 27th, 2008, 09:55 AM


Obama to deliver 'closing argument'

Story Highlights

Sen. Barack Obama to draw contrasts with Sen. John McCain
Sen. John McCain warning against government controlled by Democrats
Both candidates campaigning in Ohio, where 20 electoral votes are at stake
Candidates then head to Pennsylvania; Gov. Ed Rendell asked Obama to return

CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama on Monday is delivering what his campaign is calling a "closing argument" speech that focuses on the differences between him and Sen. John McCain.


Sen. Barack Obama says
Sen. John McCain will not bring
the change the country needs.


Sen. John McCain is warning voters
against a government completely under
Democratic control.

"In one week, at this defining moment in history, you can give this country the change we need," Obama will tell voters at a rally in Canton, Ohio, according to speech excerpts released by his campaign.

Obama will try to make the case that McCain is too similar to President Bush to bring about change.

"Sen. McCain says that we can't spend the next four years waiting for our luck to change, but you understand that the biggest gamble we can take is embracing the same old Bush-McCain policies that have failed us for the last eight years," Obama will say.

The senator from Illinois will argue that he is the candidate who can restore "our sense of common purpose, of higher purpose."

As national polls show Obama with a sizeable lead, McCain and Republicans have shifted their argument, warning voters of what they see as the dangers of a government controlled by Democrats.

Democrats in the Senate are hoping to win 60 seats -- enough to secure filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

"The answer to a slowing economy isn't higher taxes, but that is exactly what is going to happen when the Democrats have total control of Washington," McCain said Sunday in Zanesville, Ohio. "We can't let that happen. Can you imagine Obama, [Harry] Reid, [Nancy] Pelosi? My friends -- tax and spend, tax and spend."

The National Republican Senatorial Committee released an ad in North Carolina, where incumbent Sen. Elizabeth Dole is in a tight race with challenger Kay Hagan. The ad warns voters against Democrats controlling the White House and Congress, and flatly states that if Hagan wins, the party will "get a blank check."

With just eight days left for each side to make its case, Obama and McCain are both focusing on battleground Ohio, where 20 electoral votes are at stake. McCain has a meeting concerning the economy scheduled in Cleveland. He will then travel to Dayton for a rally.

Obama and McCain both plan to campaign in Pennsylvania following their Ohio events. Obama leads McCain by 4 points in Ohio, 50 percent to 46 percent, according to CNN's average of polls there. The Democrat also has the lead in Pennsylvania, up 51-41 percent, according to CNN's poll of the polls there.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell recently sent two separate memos to the Obama campaign requesting that the Democratic candidate -- as well as Hillary and Bill Clinton -- return to his state. Obama's last visit to the state was on October 11. Rendell said the McCain campaign was clearly making a push to win Pennsylvania, given the recent visits by the Arizona senator, his wife and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. According to Rendell, there is also worry among Democrats that the McCain campaign has successfully raised the enthusiasm level among Republicans in the state.

Palin has a series of rallies scheduled Monday in Virginia, where Republicans now find themselves playing defense. CNN's poll of polls in Virginia shows Obama leading McCain, 50-45 percent. The state hasn't voted for a Democratic president in more than four decades.

Sen. Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, has rallies planned in North Carolina and Florida, two states that President Bush won in the past two presidential elections. Obama leads by 2 points in Florida, 48-46 percent, according to the most recent average of polls there. In North Carolina, a recent CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corp. poll indicated Obama had a 4-point lead over McCain, 51 percent to 47 percent

The poll was conducted October 19 through October 21 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

© 2008 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. (http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/27/campaign.wrap/index.html)

October 27th, 2008, 10:17 AM
It would be wise for the Obama camp to pay one more visit to PA. ^^^ I doubt if the state will go red, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

October 27th, 2008, 10:42 AM
Unfortunately, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Missouri will need attention all the way up to the final day of campaigning, as they ebb-and-flow back and forth between Senators Obama and McCain's campaigns. And rumour has it that those public polls overall, are particularly inaccurate for getting a read on Pennsylvania and/or Florida.

Governor Rendell, by all accounts, is one of the most astute politicians with regard to all those shifting Pennsylvania trends throughout his state over the years, and has become critical to Senator Obama in this general, as he was for Senator Clinton in the primary.

The Democrats want more than to win this election, they want some type of a mandate. But worse things could still happen, and they know it.

October 27th, 2008, 11:24 AM
I would like a decisive vicory here. A message, at the very least, that even if these candidates (both Executive and Legislative) do not do what we hope and need of them, that they know that is what we want and are asking for.

Hopefully, if this does NOT pan out, 2/4 and 6 years from now we get a (relatively) new batch of Republicans in that would be willing to undo the damage previously wrought by their predacessors. And, if not, we do the cycle yet again.

I hope a decisive victory here and now will at least send the message that people were more than just "tired" of the OBN that was in charge of Washington for so long, that they indeed resented it and wished it cast out in its intirety.

Hopefully this desire is enough to override the ignorance that threatens its expression by way of false campaign promises and allusions to dreams, both American and otherwise, that could never truly be realized by any under the hand of those promising them.

October 27th, 2008, 04:02 PM
Zippy and Ablarc,

I wasnt actually asking for an answer. I was questioning the title, the writer didnt explain what else America has done to show Europe the way; the US isnt exactly so much of a shining light forward that everyone else should automatically know.

The UK made slavery illegal much earlier than the US, why isnt that mentioned? Americans who think Obama is muslim dont make it seem like the US is more receptive to muslims.

October 27th, 2008, 05:26 PM
Actually Spain was first to use slaves and then they taught the British the terrible trade.

October 27th, 2008, 05:47 PM
First the Ashley Todd affair in western Pennsylvania and now this in Tennessee. Very sad commentary on the hatred that still exists in this nation, as the Presidential election comes due next Tuesday.


October 27, 2008
Feds charge 2 with plot against Obama
Posted: 04:55 PM ET


Two men have been charged with a plot against Obama.

(CNN) — Federal prosecutors in Tennessee have charged two men with plotting a "killing spree" against African-Americans that would have been capped with an attempt to kill Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

The U.S. attorney's office in Jackson, Tennessee, said Daniel Cowart, 20, and Paul Schlesselman, 18, were self-described white supremacists who met online through a mutual friend. They have been charged with illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun, conspiracy to rob a federally licensed gun dealer and making threats against a presidential candidate.

Cowart and Schlesselman were arrested after an aborted robbery attempt last week, prosecutors said in a statement announcing the charges. They made their initial appearances before a federal judge Monday and are scheduled for a bond hearing

© 2008 Cable News Network LP, LLLP. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/)

October 27th, 2008, 06:14 PM
Oh ... and then there are the twisted E-Mails that target Jews, sitting beside the Robocalls about terrorist associations ...



October 27, 2008, 3:55 pm
Pennsylvania Republican Apologizes for Anti-Obama E-mail

By Jim Rutenberg

An author of the e-mail we told you about last week that the Pennsylvania G.O.P. sent to Jewish voters, equating a vote for Senator Barack Obama with the “tragic mistake” of those Jews who “ignored the warning signs in the 1930’s and 1940’s,” has apologized for it.

Former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Judge Sandra Schultz Newman, a member of John McCain’s national task-force monitoring Election Day voting, who initially stood by the letter when we contacted her about it on Friday, said Monday that she had not read the final draft before it was released.

“Some of the language was inappropriate and intemperate,” Ms. Newman wrote in an e-mail statement Monday. “I apologize to anyone who was offended by this misguided e-mail.”

The e-mail had also falsely asserted that Senator Obama had taught workers at ACORN how to “commit voter registration fraud.”

State GOP officials disavowed the e-mail on Friday night, saying they could not support that assertion as well as another in which the e-mail reported that the former Weather Underground leader William Ayers believed Al Qaeda didn’t do enough on September 11. The letter was twisting a quote Mr. Ayers gave to The New York Times, published on September 11 – before the attacks – speaking about his groups’ bombing campaign in the 1970’s, which resulted in several deaths include those of three police officers.

State party officials had blamed the letter on a consultant, Bryan Rudnick, who they said they dismissed in part because of the e-mail, which they said was not authorized.

Mr. Rudnick disputed their account and said he had several levels of approval to send the email.

Judge Newman refers to Mr. Rudnick as a “McCain campaign worker” in her statement, but she said in a follow up e-mail exchange that she was doing so loosely; Mr. Rudnick was officially on the Pennsylvania GOP payroll, he said last week.

Here’s her full statement:


Because of my preoccupation with preparing legal challenges for significant issues relevant to proper election procedures, I did not pay close enough attention to an e-mail which was drafted by a worker for the McCain campaign.

I regret that I did not carefully review the final draft before it was released with my signature, as well as the signatures of two other prominent supporters of Senator McCain.

Some of the language was inappropriate and intemperate.

I apologize to anyone who was offended by this misguided e-mail.

I am supporting Senator John McCain for President, and I hope you will not allow a stray e-mail message to alter your opinion in this important Presidential election.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/27/pennsylvania-republican-apologizes-for-anti-obama-e-mail/)

October 27th, 2008, 06:19 PM
First the Ashley Todd affair in western PennsylvaniaThen there's Ashley Baia (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08080/866621-457.stm). Side by side, they show the stark difference in the two campaigns.

The close of Barack Obama's speech in Philadelphia on March 18, 2008:

There is one story in particularly that I'd like to leave you with today - a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King's birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother's problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn't. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."

"I'm here because of Ashley." By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

October 27th, 2008, 07:11 PM
Dozens Of Call Center Workers Walk Off Job In Protest
Rather Than Read McCain Script Attacking Obama

TPM Election Central (http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/10/dozens_of_call_center_workers.php)
By Greg Sargent
October 27, 2008, 5:18PM

Some three dozen workers at a telemarketing call center in Indiana walked off the job rather than read an incendiary McCain campaign script attacking Barack Obama, according to two workers at the center and one of their parents.

Nina Williams, a stay-at-home mom in Lake County, Indiana, tells us that her daughter recently called her from her job at the center, upset that she had been asked to read a script attacking Obama for being "dangerously weak on crime," "coddling criminals," and for voting against "protecting children from danger."

Williams' daughter told her that up to 40 of her co-workers had refused to read the script, and had left the call center after supervisors told them that they would have to either read the call or leave, Williams says. The call center is called Americall, and it's located in Hobart, IN.

"They walked out," Williams says of her daughter and her co-workers, adding that they weren't fired but willingly sacrificed pay rather than read the lines. "They were told [by supervisors], `If you all leave, you're not gonna get paid for the rest of the day."

The daughter, who wanted her name withheld fearing retribution from her employer, confirmed the story to us. "It was like at least 40 people," the daughter said. "People thought the script was nasty and they didn't wanna read it."

A second worker at the call center confirmed the episode, saying that "at least 30" workers had walked out after refusing to read the script.

"We were asked to read something saying [Obama and Democrats] were against protecting children from danger," this worker said. "I wouldn't do it. A lot of people left. They thought it was disgusting."

This worker, too, confirmed sacrificing pay to walk out, saying her supervisor told her: "If you don't wanna phone it you can just go home for the day."

The script coincided with this robo-slime call (http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/10/another_new_mccain_robo-slime.php) running in other states, but because robocalling is illegal in Indiana it was being read by call center workers.

Representatives at Americall in Indiana, and at the company's corporate headquarters in Naperville, Illinois, didn't return calls for comment.

Copyright 2008 TPM Media LLC

October 28th, 2008, 03:47 AM
Although I hesitate to post almost anyone who is a Fellow at Hoover Institute – an often embarrassing political appendage of my alma mater – this article is both interesting and topical enough to make it into an exception. The author is a well-known contrarian in political discourse – Christopher Hitchens.

If you are unaware of Mr. Hitchens, despite his British accent and bearing he is now an American citizen by choice. He has ricocheted between left and right over his life as a writer, and is a frequent guest on several late night talk shows. An earlier post by asg (, indicates that Mr. Hitchens has recently endorsed Senator Obama in this race. Given Mr. Hitchen's stance on a number of political topics, that is quite a departure for him.


Sarah Palin's War on Science
The GOP ticket's appalling contempt for knowledge and learning.

By Christopher Hitchens
Oct. 27, 2008

Photograph of Sarah Palin by
Matt Stroshane / Getty Images

Sarah Palin

In an election that has been fought on an astoundingly low cultural and intellectual level, with both candidates pretending that tax cuts can go like peaches and cream with the staggering new levels of federal deficit, and paltry charges being traded in petty ways, and with Joe the Plumber becoming the emblematic stupidity of the campaign, it didn't seem possible that things could go any lower or get any dumber. But they did last Friday, when, at a speech in Pittsburgh, Gov. Sarah Palin denounced (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/10/24/palin_details_special_needs_po.html?hpid=topnews) wasteful expenditure on fruit-fly research, adding for good xenophobic and anti-elitist measure that some of this research took place "in Paris, France" and winding up with a folksy "I kid you not."

It was in 1933 that Thomas Hunt Morgan (http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1933/morgan-bio.html) won a Nobel Prize for showing that genes are passed on by way of chromosomes. The experimental creature that he employed in the making of this great discovery was the Drosophila melanogaster, or fruit fly. Scientists of various sorts continue to find it a very useful resource, since it can be easily and plentifully "cultured" in a laboratory, has a very short generation time, and displays a great variety of mutation. This makes it useful in studying disease, and since Gov. Palin was in Pittsburgh to talk about her signature "issue" of disability and special needs, she might even have had some researcher tell her that there is a Drosophila-based center for research into autism at the University of North Carolina. The fruit fly can also be a menace to American agriculture, so any financing of research into its habits and mutations is money well-spent. It's especially ridiculous and unfortunate that the governor chose to make such a fool of herself in Pittsburgh, a great city that remade itself after the decline of coal and steel into a center of high-tech medical research.

In this case, it could be argued, Palin was not just being a fool in her own right but was following a demagogic lead set by the man who appointed her as his running mate. Sen. John McCain has made repeated use of an anti-waste and anti-pork ad (several times repeated and elaborated in his increasingly witless speeches) in which the expenditure of $3 million to study the DNA of grizzly bears in Montana was derided as "unbelievable." As an excellent article (http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=mccains-beef-with-bears) in the Feb. 8, 2008, Scientific American pointed out, there is no way to enforce the Endangered Species Act without getting some sort of estimate of numbers, and the best way of tracking and tracing the elusive grizzly is by setting up barbed-wire hair-snagging stations that painlessly take samples from the bears as they lumber by and then running the DNA samples through a laboratory. The cost is almost trivial compared with the importance of understanding this species, and I dare say the project will yield results in the measurement of other animal populations as well, but all McCain could do was be flippant and say that he wondered whether it was a "paternity" or "criminal" issue that the Fish and Wildlife Service was investigating. (Perhaps those really are the only things that he associates in his mind with DNA.)

With Palin, however, the contempt for science may be something a little more sinister than the bluff, empty-headed plain-man's philistinism of McCain. We never get a chance to ask her (http://www.slate.com/id/2202642/) in detail about these things, but she is known to favor the teaching of creationism in schools (smuggling this crazy idea through customs in the innocent disguise of "teaching the argument," as if there was an argument), and so it is at least probable that she believes all creatures from humans to fruit flies were created just as they are now. This would make DNA or any other kind of research pointless, whether conducted in Paris or not. Projects such as sequencing the DNA of the flu virus, the better to inoculate against it, would not need to be funded. We could all expire happily in the name of God. Gov. Palin also says that she doesn't think humans are responsible for global warming; again, one would like to ask her whether, like some of her co-religionists, she is a "premillenial dispensationalist"—in other words, someone who believes that there is no point in protecting and preserving the natural world, since the end of days will soon be upon us.

Videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPmjQ_daNSQ&feature=related) taken in the Assembly of God church in Wasilla, Alaska, which she used to attend, show her nodding as a preacher says that Alaska will be "one of the refuge states in the Last Days." For the uninitiated, this is a reference to a crackpot belief, widely held among those who brood on the "End Times," that some parts of the world will end at different times from others, and Alaska will be a big draw as the heavens darken on account of its wide open spaces. An article (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/25/us/politics/25faith.html?partner=permalink&exprod=permalink) by Laurie Goodstein in the New York Times gives further gruesome details of the extreme Pentecostalism with which Palin has been associated in the past (perhaps moderating herself, at least in public, as a political career became more attractive). High points, also available on YouTube, show her being "anointed" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwkb9_zB2Pg) by an African bishop who claims to cast out witches. The term used in the trade for this hysterical superstitious nonsense is "spiritual warfare," in which true Christian soldiers are trained to fight demons. Palin has spoken at "spiritual warfare" events as recently as June. And only last week the chiller from Wasilla spoke of "prayer warriors" in a radio interview (http://www.citizenlink.org/clspecialalert/A000008476.cfm) with James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who said that he and his lovely wife, Shirley, had convened a prayer meeting to beseech that "God's perfect will be done on Nov. 4."

This is what the Republican Party has done to us this year: It has placed within reach of the Oval Office a woman who is a religious fanatic and a proud, boastful ignoramus. Those who despise science and learning are not anti-elitist. They are morally and intellectually slothful people who are secretly envious of the educated and the cultured. And those who prate of spiritual warfare and demons are not just "people of faith" but theocratic bullies. On Nov. 4, anyone who cares for the Constitution has a clear duty to repudiate this wickedness and stupidity.


Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the author of God Is Not Great.

2008 Washington Post / Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC (http://www.slate.com/id/2203120/)

October 28th, 2008, 04:19 AM

Why McCain Won
Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory:
how that scenario could (but likely won't) play out.

By Jonathan Alter
Published Oct 25, 2008

From the magazine issue dated Nov 3, 2008

The conventional wisdom, which I share, is that Barack Obama will win this election, perhaps by a healthy margin. But Democrats are nervous wrecks; they're having nightmares that defeat will be snatched from the jaws of victory. To add to their misery (and guard against complacency), here's how that horror film could play out:

In the end, the problem was the LIVs. That's short for "low-information voters," the three fifths of the electorate that shows up once every four years to vote for president but mostly hates politics. These are the 75 million folks who didn't vote in the primaries. They don't read newsmagazines or newspapers, don't watch any cable news and don't cast their ballots early. Their allegiance to a candidate is as easily shed as a T shirt. Several million moved to Obama through September and October; they'd heard he handled himself well in the debates. Then, in the last week, the LIVs swung back to the default choice: John McCain. Some had good reasons other than the color of Obama's skin to desert him; many more did not. In October, a study by the Associated Press estimated that Obama's race would cost him 6 percent. The percentage was smaller, but still enough to give the presidency to McCain.

Obama's field organization was superb, so it was no surprise that most of the 18 million Hillary Clinton voters came home to the Democrats; the person-to-person voter contact (and significant resentment about the selection of Sarah Palin) made a big difference. But the huge swath of more than 30 million independents broke heavily for McCain. By piling up overwhelming margins in big blue states like California, New York and Illinois, Obama carried the popular vote, but he ended up like Al Gore in 2000—denied admission to the Electoral College.

The first ominous sign was largely missed amid the Demo-cratic euphoria after Obama outclassed McCain on the financial crisis. While most of the country moved toward the Democratic nominee in early October, Ohio did not. Obama could never close the sale there. In a repeat of the Democratic primary, his big totals coming out of Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) weren't enough to offset larger-than-expected losses in the suburbs around Cincinnati and Columbus.

Florida had looked promising for Obama for a time, but his weakness among seniors caught up with him. One national poll from early October should have been a warning: it showed him up by 7 overall, but down 14 among those older than 65. And Sarah Silverman's "Great Schlep" fell short. Obama easily carried the Jewish vote, but not with the 75 percent won by Gore and John Kerry. As it turned out, the real problem wasn't south Florida, where Hispanics came in surprisingly well for Obama. It was erosion in the critical I-4 corridor near Tampa and in the Panhandle, where the astonishing Republican margins among whites could be attributed only to race.

Obama shifted New Mexico, Iowa and Nevada from red to blue. But there was a reason Virginia hadn't gone Democratic since 1964. The transformation of the northern part of the state couldn't overcome a huge McCain margin among whites farther south. They weren't the racists of their parents' generation, but they weren't quite ready to vote for the unthinkable, either.

As McCain closed the gap in the last week with his message on taxes and fear of another terrorist attack, the race came down to New Hampshire (which went for Kerry in 2004) and Colorado (which went for President Bush). Obama needed one of them to get to 270 electoral votes. New Hampshire's fabled independents had long had a soft spot for McCain in GOP primaries, and they delivered for him again. Colorado, after flirting with Obama, simply reverted to form, with Palin's frontier image helping a bit.

Obama had wired every college campus in the country, and he enjoyed great enthusiasm among politically engaged young people. But less-engaged students told reporters the day after the election that they had meant to vote for Obama but were "too busy." History held: young people once again voted in lower percentages than their elders. Waiting for them turned out to be like waiting for Godot.

The Obama margin among young voters was underestimated a little in some polls because so many 18- to 24-year-olds use only cell phones. But the deeper failure of the polling came from methodology that could not properly account for the nine in 10 voters who won't answer a polltaker's questions. With ceaseless robo-calls and as many as 15 live calls from campaigns to each household in a swing state, even fewer people than normal took time in the last two weeks to respond. Who were the voters slamming down the phone? Disproportionately for McCain. In rebuffing pollsters, they skewed the sample toward Obama, inflating his "support."

At the start of the campaign season NEWSWEEK asked, "Is America Ready" for a black president? The answer: only if Obama proved close to a flawless candidate, and even then, we won't know for sure until Election Day. That doesn't mean Obama lost because all, or even most, McCain voters allowed race to be a factor. But enough did to change the outcome.

Democrats are despairing over the results, fearing they might never view their country in the same light again. Even many Republicans are subdued at the news of McCain's victory. Having expected him to lose, they know the GOP has now completed a sorry transition from the party of Lincoln to the party of cynicism. McCain, they're reasoning, might prove a fine president, but it shouldn't have happened like this.

It probably won't. Millions of people in the rest of the world assume that Barack Obama cannot be elected because he is black. They assume that the original sin of American history—enshrined in our Constitution—cannot be transcended. I go into next week's election with a different assumption—that the common sense and decency of the American people will prove the skeptics wrong.

© 2008 Newsweek, Inc. (http://www.newsweek.com/id/165657/page/1)

October 28th, 2008, 04:43 AM
Copyright © 2008 David Horsey / Seattle Post-Intelligencer

October 28th, 2008, 07:48 AM
With one week to go, national tracking poll averages for the entire year.


October 28th, 2008, 09:31 AM
Two subconcious thnigs I like about that chart.

1st, McCain is below the line.

2nd, McCain is also in "red" while Barack is just regular black print.

I know it probably was not deliberately meant to be that way, but still.....

October 28th, 2008, 10:12 AM
The site developer has disclosed that he is pro-Obama, and most of the commentary and comments slant in that direction.

But the statistical models and data analysis are completely objective.

October 28th, 2008, 10:59 AM
^^^ At Zep, that article is scary, but I think ( at least hope) it won't play out. Ithink Obama is going to hold every Kerry state, NH worries me, but I think he can still win it (251 EV). I also, think the areas in Virginia such as NoVa and Hampton Roads, can over turn the more Conservative area of the states, especially if there is a large turn out, So I think Obama will win Va ( 265 EV) As for the other swing states, I think Obama could have a tough time taking the big prizes such as Ohio and Florida, but the good news is that over a million people all ready voted in Fl, and Ohio with it's double digit unemplyment rate could favor Obama.

October 28th, 2008, 01:12 PM
The site developer has disclosed that he is pro-Obama, and most of the commentary and comments slant in that direction.

But the statistical models and data analysis are completely objective.

I am not saying he is wrong. I just found it funny.

You would think that it would be red/blue just like everything else, you know?

October 28th, 2008, 03:19 PM
[INDENT][I][SIZE="3"][COLOR="Purple"]Although I hesitate to post almost anyone who is a Fellow at Hoover Institute – an often embarrassing political appendage of my alma mater – this article is both interesting and topical enough to make it into an exception. The author is a well-known contrarian in political discourse – Christopher Hitchens.

I know of Hitchens and notwithstanding his ongoing crusade against .. well Crusades, have always considered him fairly right winged in terms of his ideology. Considering some of his past writings, this article is remarkable.

October 28th, 2008, 05:04 PM


Six Ways McCain Could Still Win

Jon Wiener

Six ways McCain could still win:

6 ...
Thirty million young, first-time voters oversleep, forget to go to polls on Nov. 4.

5 ...
Sarah Palin reveals secret past as Rhodes Scholar; admits "hockey mom" thing was just a ruse -- to avoid being called an "elitist."

4 ...
Economic collapse ends, Dow hits new high. Mortage lenders that foreclosed on new homeowners say "never mind."

3 ...
Al Qaeda throws in the towel, Osama turns himself in at the gates of Gitmo -- Bush declares "Mission Accomplished."

2 ...
Jesus appears in Washington, D.C., urges Americans to vote the McCain-Palin ticket.

...and the number one way McCain could still win:
Supreme Court in 5-4 ruling declares McCain president.


You forgot Number 7!

7 ...
George W. Bush breaks with his party and endorses Barack Obama.
Posted by Metteyya at 10/28/2008 ...

Copyright © 2008 The Nation (http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion/377088)

October 28th, 2008, 11:53 PM
The fact that McCain & Crew are using this ignorant ill-informed faux-"Real Patriotic American" as a spokesman should worry anyone who is thinking of voting for McCain / Palin ...

'Joe the Plumber' Backs Claim That
Obama Would Bring 'Death to Israel'

Joe Wurzelbacher, on his first campaign trail appearance for John McCain,
says he agrees that a vote for Barack Obama would be "a vote for the death to Israel."

FOXNews.com (http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/10/28/joe-plumber-backs-claim-obama-bring-death-israel/)
October 28, 2008

Joe Wurzelbacher, a.k.a. "Joe the Plumber," on Tuesday twice agreed with a claim from an audience member at a John McCain rally that "a vote for Barack Obama is a vote for the death to Israel."

Wurzelbacher was hitting the campaign trail on behalf of McCain for the first time, joining former Rep. Rob Portman on a GOP bus tour through Ohio.

At a stop in Columbus, he fielded the question on Israel from a self-identified Jewish senior citizen.

The questioner said he was "concerned" with Barack Obama's associations and "It's my belief that a vote for Obama is a vote for the death to Israel."

Wurzelbacher responded: "I do know that."

The questioner then complained about Obama's tax policies and reiterated his Israel comment.

"Well, you know what, I'll actually go ahead and agree with you on that one," Wurzelbacher said. "You know ... no, I agree with ya.'"

Wurzelbacher's first trip to the podium as a McCain surrogate was freewheeling. He often apologized to reporters gathered in a flag store for talking from his gut.

"I'm honestly scared for America," Wurzelbacher said.

He later said Obama would end the democracy that the U.S. military had defended during wars.

"I love America. I hope it remains a democracy, not a socialist society. ... If you look at spreading the wealth, that's honestly right out of Karl Marx's mouth," Wurzelbacher said.

"No one can debate that. That's not my opinion. That's fact."

Though "Joe the Plumber" has become a centerpiece of McCain's campaign in the closing days of the presidential race, McCain aides told FOX News the Republican nominee does not share Wurzelbacher's opinion on Obama's view toward Israel.

Obama states on his Web site that he strongly supports the U.S.-Israel relationship, as well as Israel's right to defend itself and foreign assistance to the country.

McCain, though, has suggested Obama's commitment to Israel is not as deep as it should be.

A McCain TV ad out Tuesday ridicules Obama for saying Iran, whose president is openly hostile toward Israel, is a "tiny" country that "doesn't pose a serious threat."

The narrator says: "Terrorism, destroying Israel, those aren't serious threats? Obama -- dangerously unprepared to be president."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

© 2008 FOX News Network, LLC


October 29th, 2008, 12:00 AM
To Fox's credit, even they couldn't let the stupidity continue unmentioned ...

Fox host berates 'Joe the Plumber' after McCain
surrogate says Obama vote means 'death to Israel'

The Raw Story (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Joe_The_Plumber_attacks_Obama_would_1028.html)
David Edwards and Nick Juliano
Published: Tuesday October 28, 2008

The all-out effort from John McCain's presidential campaign to scare voters into backing the Republican candidate continued apace on Tuesday as McCain surrogate Joe the Plumber agreed that a Barack Obama presidency would mean the "death of Israel" and end democracy in America.

The Ohio plumber, who has no license and is actually named Samuel Wurzelbacher, spoke at a McCain campaign event in Columbus Monday. A McCain supporter asked if "a vote for Obama is a vote for the death of Israel." JTP hardly batted an eye.

"I'll go ahead and agree with you on that," Wurzelbacher said.

The push-back against Wurzelbacher's comments began, somewhat unexpectedly, at Fox News.

The network noted that the McCain campaign seemed hesitant to distance itself from Wurzelbacher. Correspondent Carl Cameron said that the McCain campaign was going to put out an ad today criticizing Obama policies on Israel.

"Just a coincidence?" he asked. "We report you decide."

Later Tuesday afternoon, Shepard Smith pressed Wurzelbacher on his comments, reminding the woefully misinformed McCain backer that Obama has consistently voiced support for Israel. Pressed several times to explain how he could agree with the conclusion that Obama would lead to the death of the Jewish state, Wurzelbacher was unable to come up with any good reasons aside from Obama's position in favor of negotiating with rogue regimes such as Iran.

"You don't want my opinion on foreign policy," Wurzelbacher said. "I know just enough to kind of be dangerous."

Smith seemed to agree with that assessment, implying that the only source for Wurzelbacher and the supporter's concern was "hateful things spread on the Internet." The host clearly worried that Wurzelbacher's endorsement of such a view might inspire violence against the candidate.

Why, Smith asked, would Wurzelbacher believe Obama was lying when he spoke of the importance of Israel's relationship with the United States.

Wurzelbacher was flummoxed. All he could offer was an appeal for people to "go out and find their own reasons ... go out and get informed."

If only the "plumber" had bothered to take his own advice before jumping onto the national stage. Smith, for his part, made sure to set his audience straight on the facts.

"I just want to make this 100 percent perfectly clear, Barack Obama has said repeatedly and demonstrated repeatedly that Israel will always be a friend of the United States, no matter what happens once he becomes President of the United States, his words," Smith said after the interview ended. "The rest of it, man, it just gets frightening sometimes."

October 29th, 2008, 02:45 AM

Obama Infomercial, a Closing Argument to the Everyman

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Senator Barack Obama at a rally at Widener University
in Chester, Pa., Tuesday. A preview of his 30-minute-long
infomercial was heavy on Americana.

Published: October 28, 2008

WASHINGTON — Senator Barack Obama will use his prime-time half-hour infomercial on Wednesday night to make what is effectively a closing argument to a national audience of millions. At times he will speak directly into the camera about his 20-month campaign, at others he will highlight everyday voters, their everyday troubles, and his plans to address them.

Mr. Obama’s campaign agreed to provide The New York Times with a minute-long trailer for the 30-minute program, which is to run on four broadcast networks at 8 p.m. It will be the first time in 16 years that a presidential candidate has bought network time, in prime time, for a prolonged campaign commercial.

The trailer is heavy in strings, flags, presidential imagery and some Americana filmed by Davis Guggenheim, whose father was the campaign documentarian of Robert F. Kennedy. As the screen flashes scenes of suburban lawns, a freight train and Mr. Obama seated at a kitchen table with a group of white, apparently working-class voters, Mr. Obama says: “We’ve seen over the last eight years how decisions by a president can have a profound effect on the course of history and on American lives; much that’s wrong with our country goes back even farther than that.”

Then, while standing before a stately desk and an American flag, Mr. Obama, in a suit, says: “We’ve been talking about the same problems for decades and nothing is ever done to solve them. For the past 20 months, I’ve traveled the length of this country, and Michelle and I have met so many Americans who are looking for real and lasting change that makes a difference in their lives.”

Jim Margolis, Mr. Obama’s senior advertising strategist, said the program would then go on to feature “the stories of four different Americans, or American families, and kind of what they’re confronting.”

He said the stories would highlight “the challenges people are facing and what we should do in terms of solutions.” He said Mr. Obama would also share the story of his mother, “who struggled through her bout with breast cancer and the difficulty she had with her insurance company, to help viewers understand why his health care reform program is what it is.”

It will also have a live component, featuring Mr. Obama at a rally in Florida. The infomercial has been under production for weeks in the Virginia office of Mark Putnam, whose firm, Murphy-Putnam, is part of the Obama advertising team.

The program is to be shown on NBC, CBS, Fox, Univision, MSNBC and two cable networks that cater to African-Americans, BET and TV One. Ross Perot, the last presidential candidate to run similar programming, broadcast eight long infomercials to an average of 13 million viewers, with one of them getting 16.5 million viewers.

Costing the campaign more than $3 million, the infomercial is the ultimate reflection of Mr. Obama’s spending flexibility. Mr. McCain, with far less money in the bank, has been unable to produce a similar commercial.

The McCain campaign has seized on the advertisement as excessive, with Mr. McCain pointing to reports that Mr. Obama’s infomercial would bump back the World Series on Fox by 15 minutes. “No one will delay the World Series with an infomercial when I’m president,” he said, in Hershey, Pa.

(Fox executives have said that they, and not the Obama campaign, had initially asked Major League Baseball to move the start of Wednesday’s game to 8:35 p.m. from 8:20, to make way for his infomercial. But as it turns out, such a delay was not necessary anyway; none of the World Series games has started before 8:30, and two started after 8:35.)

For its part, Mr. Obama’s campaign said it was not worried about turning off viewers.

“Many people have 150 channels; they’ve got plenty of other choices,” Mr. Margolis said. “Or they can drop into a video game.” Then again, Mr. Obama is advertising in video games, too.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/29/us/politics/29obama.html?_r=1&ref=politics&oref=slogin)

October 29th, 2008, 04:44 AM

Screenplay by
Maureen Dowd
Revised third draft
© Oct. 29, 2008


INT. A HOTEL SUITE — in the middle of the day in the middle of Ohio.

NICOLLE WALLACE, a slender, preppie-looking blonde wearing a string of pearls is pacing and frantically thumbing her BlackBerry. She is a top McCain adviser under STEVE SCHMIDT who has been seconded to SARAH PALIN. On the TV, MSNBC’s DAVID SHUSTER is asking ANNE KORNBLUT about rumors that PALIN has gone AWOL after McCain advisers anonymously labeled her a rogue “diva” and a “whack job.”



How’d she get away?

TRACEY SCHMITT, another blonde sorority type in pearls, also a Bush person who became a McCain person who was then sent over to manage PALIN as her press secretary, sits slumped in a chair, dejectedly checking her BlackBerry messages.

How the heck should I know? She told me she was going to the bathroom to change out of the Jimmy Choos into something more Target for the Joe the Plumber “They’re Not Smears, They’re Just Facts” Bus Tour. She never came back. I called Todd. He’s not picking up.


Steve’s freaking out. You know how he is about message discipline, much less completely losing a candidate. He’s got enough on his plate scaring the nursing-home Jews in Florida and painting Obama as a Palestinian Marxist Madrassa Child. Maybe all of those dudes painting their chests for Sarah and screaming “2012!” have her looking past the old man. Steve says he will annihilate her if she sabotages this campaign to get started on the next one, or if she plants negative stories about me — I mean McCain — with the base. Are the clothes gone from the belly of the plane?


It’s not like we were ever gonna return them anyway.


Think like a diva. Where would you go rogue?


Sean Hannity’s pocket. Could he pant over her more? Or maybe she’s hiding in Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s dressing room at “The View.”


She’s probably at The Weekly Standard, plotting her shining city on the tundra with Fred Barnes and Bill Kristol. I can’t believe Barnes called me a coward because I tried to update that $30 Wasilla beehive that made her look like the girlfriend in an Elvis movie and upgrade her from pleather to leather. And besides, she’s not going to find real Americans at Saks and Neiman’s. She’s got to go to Barneys and Armani for that.


Between us, Nicolle, she doesn’t look $150,000 different. Maybe we should have spent that money on getting Henry Kissinger to put on his snowshoes and best leer and tutor her.


Look, Tracey, maybe Sarah doesn’t know who Berlusconi is, but she does know who Valentino is. She saw those labels. She knew we were being sartorial socialists and spreading the wealth to Neiman’s and Saks. She liked being pampered like a movie star. We should have learned from W. If you can keep a war off budget, why can’t you keep a wardrobe off budget? I told the press if someone wants to throw me under the bus, my personal belief is that the most graceful thing to do is lie there.


That’ll be the day.


I’ll be glad when this blind date from hell is over and I can get away from the dysfunctional Palin clan and back to walking my dog, Lily, in Central Park with my pinko liberal friends. I knew Katie would be brutal, but thank God I arranged that interview because now I can go back to my gig as a political analyst at CBS.


I’m gonna miss Todd. He’s hot.


I won’t miss him or his 20 calls a day playing stage dad. He’s probably the one who masterminded her breakout.

(Her BlackBerry rings to the tune of “Eye of the Tiger.”)

Uh-oh, it’s Steve.

(She listens and then hangs up.)



Does McCain know the maverick’s maverick has gone all mavericky on him?


McCain is calling off the search.





He’s fed up with her getting bigger crowds and contradicting his message. He’s fed up with her interrupting him on TV interviews and taking them over. He’s fed up with her drilling him on drilling. He’s fed up with never being able to discuss anything with her, like the latest violence in the Congo. He’s weirded out by the way she keeps trying to explain the Rapture to him. His exact words to Steve were: “For my End of Days, I’d prefer to finish the race with Lieberman.” So forget Sarah. Let’s find Joe.


You betcha!

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/29/opinion/29dowd.html)

October 29th, 2008, 08:16 AM
Lofter, this may have been previously posted, but Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher has always been a McCain plant/opperative/sympathist.

Turns out that Joe Wurzelbacher from the Toledo event is a close relative of Robert Wurzelbacher of Milford, Ohio. Who’s Robert Wurzelbacher? Only Charles Keating’s son-in-law and the former senior vice president of American Continental, the parent company of the infamous Lincoln Savings and Loan. The now retired elder Wurzelbacher is also a major contributor to Republican causes giving well over $10,000 in the last few years.

Martin Eisenstadt | October 15th, 2008 (http://www.eisenstadtgroup.com/2008/10/15/joe-the-plumber-wurzelbacher-related-to-charles-keating-oops/)

October 29th, 2008, 08:36 AM
Battleground State Polls

Polling agencies get different results among themselves outside the margin-of-error mainly because of the models they construct to reflect the demographics. Some use the 2004 election data for 'registered' and 'likely' voters; others have adjusted turnout for 2008. Some use only landline phones; others include cellphones, which reflect younger voters, many of whom don't have landlines.


AP polls: Obama ahead in 6 swing states, even in 2

By The Associated Press – 1 hour ago


THE POLL: Associated Press-GfK poll, presidential race in Colorado among likely voters, 9 electoral votes

THE NUMBERS: Barack Obama 50 percent, John McCain 41 percent

OF INTEREST: Eight in 10 say they're worried about the state's economic conditions. Of that group, nearly six in 10 back Obama. Two-thirds of those not too concerned about the economy back McCain. Voters are split about evenly over which candidate they trust more on national security, but prefer Obama to handle the economy, the financial crisis and health care. Obama leads among people who say they've already voted, 57 percent to 34 percent. Men are evenly split between the two candidates while women prefer Obama by 19 percentage points. Whites lean only slightly toward McCain. Among them, white born-again and evangelical Christians prefer him by 42 percentage points, and whites without college degrees favor him by 14 points. Independents back Obama 49 percent to 37 percent. Slightly more oppose a fixed timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq than favor such a schedule, as Obama does. Democrat Mark Udall is solidly ahead of Republican Bob Schaffer in their race for the state's open Senate seat.

DETAILS: Conducted Oct. 22-26 by landline telephone, included 626 likely voters. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

MORE: AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


THE POLL: Associated Press-GfK poll, presidential race in Florida among likely voters, 27 electoral votes

THE NUMBERS: Barack Obama 45 percent, John McCain 43 percent

OF INTEREST: People in the state prefer Obama by only 4 percentage points for handling the financial crisis, but by bigger margins pick him for dealing with the economy, health care and understanding how the financial crisis affects them. McCain is their choice on national security by 7 points. Eight in 10 worry about the state's economy and seven in 10 are concerned about their personal financial situations — and both groups lean toward Obama by more than 10 percentage points. Fewer than three in 10 think McCain will win the election. Men prefer McCain by 15 points, women back Obama by about the same amount. People under age 35 back Obama by more than two-to-one, while those age 35 and up lean slightly toward McCain. White men prefer McCain by about two-to-one, while white women are split. Asked about characteristics of minorities, 13 percent of white Democrats in the state said blacks are "violent," making it one of three states in the poll where that answer exceeded 10 percent. Twelve percent of the state's white Democrats are voting for McCain. Independents back Obama by 10 percentage points. Obama is ahead by 7 points with those who say they've already voted.

DETAILS: Conducted Oct. 22-26 by landline telephone, included 600 likely voters. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

MORE: AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


THE POLL: Associated Press-GfK poll, presidential race in Nevada among likely voters, 5 electoral votes

THE NUMBERS: Barack Obama 52 percent, John McCain 40 percent

OF INTEREST: Obama leads by 23 points among people who say they've already voted. The state's whites are divided about evenly between the two candidates, including those who haven't completed college — a group Obama often struggles with. White men tilt toward McCain, women toward Obama. Voters under age 35 prefer Obama by nearly three to one, while those over age 35 are split. Unmarried people favor Obama by more than a two-to-one edge, married people are split. Obama is ahead by 10 percentage points with independents. Nearly nine in 10 worry about their state's economy. Of the worriers, about six in 10 support Obama. Obama is widely preferred for dealing with the economy, the financial crisis and health. He also has a slender edge for handling national security, an area where McCain often prevails. Voters are divided over whether they support a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq. Fifty-one percent say Obama has run a positive campaign, double the number who say so about McCain. Two-thirds think Obama will win the election.

DETAILS: Conducted Oct. 22-26 by landline telephone, included 628 likely voters. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

MORE: AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


THE POLL: Associated Press-GfK poll, presidential race in New Hampshire among likely voters, 4 electoral votes

THE NUMBERS: Barack Obama 55 percent, John McCain 37 percent

OF INTEREST: Only 14 percent in the state approve of the job President Bush is doing, just 10 percent give Congress positive marks, and a mere 8 percent say the country is moving in the right direction. Almost nine in 10 worry about economic conditions in the state, and Obama is ahead with this group by almost two-to-one over McCain. Obama has a 20-percentage-point edge for understanding how people are affected by the financial crisis, and similarly strong margins for handling the economy and health care. People are split over which candidate would better guide national security. They are divided over whether Obama's campaign has been positive, but only 21 percent say McCain's has. Almost three quarters predict Obama will win on Election Day. Obama leads among both genders, and whites back him by 18 percentage points. Obama leads among independents by 19 points. Republican Sen. John Sununu is trailing Democratic challenger Jeanne Shaheen by 6 percentage points. Democratic Gov. John Lynch is far ahead of his GOP challenger, Joseph Kenney.

DETAILS: Conducted Oct. 22-26 by landline telephone, included 600 likely voters. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

MORE: AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


THE POLL: Associated Press-GfK poll, presidential race in North Carolina among likely voters, 15 electoral votes

THE NUMBERS: Barack Obama 48 percent, John McCain 46 percent

OF INTEREST: Ninety percent say they worry about the state's economy, and 72 percent are concerned about their family's finances. Both groups are divided about evenly between Obama and McCain. Obama has an edge of just 6 percentage points on which candidate is most trusted to handle the economy, but a 13-point advantage for better understanding how the financial crisis affects people. McCain is favored slightly to best deal with national security. Two-thirds think Obama will be elected. Whites favor McCain by 24 percentage points. Fourteen percent of white Democrats said blacks are "violent," one of only three states where that answer exceeded 10 percent. Twenty percent of white Democrats are backing McCain. Whites who've not finished college back him by 31 points, and white evangelical or born again Christians support him by 50 points. Men are evenly split while women tilt a bit toward Obama. McCain is ahead by 9 points with independents. Obama leads among people who say they've voted already by 26 points. Democrat Kay Hagan is narrowly leading in her attempt to unseat Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole. Democrat Bev Perdue and Republican Pat McCrory are even in their fight to become governor.

DETAILS: Conducted Oct. 22-26 by landline telephone, included 601 likely voters. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

MORE: AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


THE POLL: Associated Press-GfK poll, presidential race in Ohio among likely voters, 20 electoral votes

THE NUMBERS: Barack Obama 48 percent, John McCain 41 percent

OF INTEREST: Nine in 10 are worried about the state's economic conditions, and more than six in 10 fret about their family's financial situation. Both of those groups tilt decidedly toward Obama. By more than 10 percentage points, more in the state trust Obama than McCain on the financial crisis, the economy and health care. They give McCain a small edge on national security. Women prefer Obama by 12 percentage points, while men are divided. Whites are about evenly split. Whites without college degrees, who usually prefer McCain, favor him by only 8 points. Independents back Obama by 9 points. More oppose than favor a timetable for a troop withdrawal from Iraq by 8 points. People who have already voted prefer Obama over McCain 56 percent to 28 percent.

DETAILS: Conducted Oct. 22-26 by landline telephone, included 607 likely voters. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

MORE: AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


THE POLL: Associated Press-GfK poll, presidential race in Pennsylvania among likely voters, 21 electoral votes

THE NUMBERS: Barack Obama 52 percent, John McCain 40 percent

OF INTEREST: Sixteen percent say the country is heading in the right direction. Twenty-one percent approve of the job President Bush is doing, while 15 percent rate Congress' work favorably. The state's voters are closely divided on whether a timetable should govern a troop withdrawal from Iraq. Almost nine in 10 worry about the state's economic conditions and nearly three quarters are concerned about their family's financial status, and the worriers from both groups lean toward Obama. By 15 percentage points or more, more pick Obama than McCain for dealing with the economy, the financial crisis and health care. People are divided over which nominee would better protect national security. Fifty-six percent say Obama's campaign has been positive, and 30 percent say so about McCain's. Men are closely divided over the two candidates, but women prefer Obama nearly two-to-one. Whites were more likely to back Obama by 5 points, while whites who aren't college graduates — a group that often prefers McCain — split evenly. Fifteen percent of white Democrats said blacks are "violent," and 8 percent of white Democrats are voting for McCain. Catholics prefer Obama by 10 points while white born-again or evangelical Christians back McCain by about two-to-one. Independents are closely split.

DETAILS: Conducted Oct. 22-26 by landline telephone, included 607 likely voters. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

MORE: AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com


THE POLL: Associated Press-GfK poll, presidential race in Virginia among likely voters, 13 electoral votes

THE NUMBERS: Barack Obama 49 percent, John McCain 42 percent

OF INTEREST: By 8 percentage points, more in the state oppose than favor a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq, which Obama has championed. Even so, one in four timetable opponents back the Democrat. Eighty-two percent worry about the state's economy and 64 percent are troubled by their family's finances, and majorities of both groups support Obama. Obama is favored by 13 percentage points over McCain to improve the economy, by 17 points to empathize with people on the impact of the financial crisis, and by 20 points to work on health care. Two-thirds expect Obama to be elected. Obama has modest leads with both men and women. McCain leads 49 percent to 42 percent with whites and has a slightly larger margin with whites who haven't completed college, a group that generally prefers Republicans. McCain has a three-to-one edge among white born again or evangelical Christians. Independents are divided evenly. Democrat Mark Warner is well ahead of Republican Jim Gilmore in their battle for the state's open Senate seat.

DETAILS: Conducted Oct. 22-26 by landline telephone, included 601 likely voters. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

MORE: AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

Note: Too few said they have already voted in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania or Virginia to provide meaningful figures on their responses. There were not enough blacks or Hispanics in state samples to provide statistically meaningful data on their preferences.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

What's interesting is how the traditional electoral map has changed. Obama has good leads in Virginia and the western combination Colorado New Mexico Nevada. This means that Obama could lose both Ohio and Pennsylvania, normally a disaster for Democrats, and all the toss-up states (most of which he has a lead) - and still win the election 270-268.

It would be nail-biting though. I'd like to see him take Florida, so I can get to bed early.

One key to the western states is that McCain has completely lost the Hispanic vote. This seems to be reflected even in Arizona, which although McCain will probably win, has become a tighter race.

As I type this, Chuck Todd (MSNBC), who noted that early voting in toss-up states is tilting Democrat, had it brought to his attention that an article in Boston Globe stated that early voting was evenly split. He replied that that was nationally, which isn't important, and in Florida, where Republicans have always had a good absentee ballot organization. But not in key states like North Carolina and Nevada.

It amazes me that the majority of TV 'political reporters' don't understand polls at all.

October 29th, 2008, 08:44 AM
Lofter, this may have been previously posted, but Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher has always been a McCain plant/opperative/sympathist.Good find.

It always seemed that way if you watched the complete exchange between Obama and The Plumber. It was a non-hostile conversation, and Joe seemed to accept the explanation he was given.

A set-up for talking points. And how does this guy suddenly become an expert on Middle East policy?

October 29th, 2008, 10:57 AM
"Joe The Plunger" (aka "Sam the Schill") is headlining a speech for M/P in Florida right now :eek:

The "surprise" entry of Joe / Sam into the McCain campaign really should have been expected. How perfect to push the buttons of confused middle-class and ever-poorer citizens. Bring on the big brawny white guy who (supposedly) does honest work with his hands and whose "instincts" tell him that everything about Obama is BAD.

And now this same Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher -- once a working class Everyman -- is suddenly an expert on Israel and the Middle East? (Odd how he seems to be letting all his clients wait until after the election for him to finish up those plumbing jobs :confused: How will he ever get his dreamt-of plumbing business off the ground with a work ethic like that :confused: :confused: .)

McCaim & Palin aren't interested in 'experts' who can give the people good information. They are only interested in Rove-ian word manipulation.

McCain touts Teddy Roosevelt as his inspiration, yet seems to have little historical understanding of much of what Roosevelt instituted as President (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/10/the-threat-of-s.html). Palin decries the supposedly Socialist motives of Obama, while at the same time she is guilty of using the very same words as Obama (http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389x4325293) and putting into action "share the wealth" policies back home in Alaska.

Both McCain and Palin cynically believe that there might be enough uninformed and frightened American voters who will fall for their song & dance.

For the sake of the Country let's all hope they're both wrong.

The Threat Of Socialism

Andrew Sullivan / Daily Dish (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/10/the-threat-of-s.html)
October 28, 2008

From an anti-T.R. letter to the editor (http://divisionoflabour.com/archives/005291.php) of the New York Times in 1908:

Moreover, most of the Rooseveltian policies - the arid land reclamation schemes,
the National forests, the leasing of coal and mineral rights, the renting of grazing lands,
the construction of the Panama Canal by direct employment, the development of
water powers under public ownership and control - are in strict harmony with
Socialist principles ... The faith of our forefathers in the sacred principle of
competition as the self-acting force which yielded ideal justice and rendered
to every man according to his deserts, has departed as surely as the belief
in witchcraft. [Socialists] can't threaten me worse than Theodore Roosevelt
does with his inheritance and income tax schemes and the social workers
of New York with their ever-increasing demands on the city budget.
Teddy Roosevelt is McCain's favorite president.

Palin The Wealth Spreader:
Gov. Imposed Oil Windfall Profits Tax
To Allow Alaskans To
‘Share In The Wealth’

thinkprogess.com (http://thinkprogress.org/2008/10/27/palin-shares-wealth/)
October 27, 2008

In recent days, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), has begun referring to Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) as “Barack the Wealth Spreader (http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2008/11/03/081103taco_talk_hertzberg?printable=true),” referring to his proposed tax plan that would provide greater tax relief for lower income individuals than those with higher incomes. Obama recently explained his support for progressive taxation, saying, “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody (http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/10/13/obama-plumber-plan-spread-wealth/).”

Palin contends that Obama’s characterization of his tax plan revealed him to be a “socialist” who wants to “redistribute” American wealth. Palin argues that the Obama tax plan “discourages productivity,” will “punish hardwork,” and will “stifle the entrepreneurial spirit.”
Watch a compilation of Palin’s recent comments about the Obama tax plan:

YouTube VID (http://www.youtube.com/swf/l.swf?swf=http%3A//s.ytimg.com/yt/swf/cps-vfl61644.swf&video_id=MGd2q2W7jAs&rel=1&showsearch=1&eurl=http%3A//www.wirednewyork.com/forum/newreply.php%3Fdo%3Dpostreply%26t%3D12290&iurl=http%3A//i2.ytimg.com/vi/MGd2q2W7jAs/hqdefault.jpg&sk=qISj7-XErruruWmJHV1Y4H5mavgpoYsMC&use_get_video_info=1&load_modules=1&hqt=1&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&fs=1%22%3E%3C/param%3E%3Cparam)

Conservatives in the media have echoed Palin’s sentiments, insinuating that Obama is a “Marxist (http://thinkprogress.org/2008/10/25/biden-marx-mccain/)” and referring to his tax plan as “welfare (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121910303529751345.html?mod=googlenews_wsj).”

But Palin’s criticisms of Obama’s “spread the wealth” remarks are ironic, as she recently characterized Alaska’s tax code in a very similar way. Just last month, in an interview with Philip Gourevitch of the New Yorker, Palin explained the windfall profits tax that she imposed on the oil industry (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008103325_alaskatax07.html) in Alaska as a mechanism for ensuring that Alaskans “share in the wealth (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/09/22/080922fa_fact_gourevitch?printable=true)” generated by oil companies:

And Alaska—we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs. … It’s to maximize benefits for Alaskans, not an individual company, not some multinational somewhere, but for Alaskans.
In fact, Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share (http://gov.state.ak.us/aces/aces_about.php) (ACES) program, which manages the redistribution of oil wealth (http://gov.state.ak.us/aces/aces_about.php) in Alaska, brings in so much money that the state needs no income or sales tax (http://www.bankrate.com/yho/itax/edit/state/profiles/state_tax_Aka.asp). In addition, this year ACES will provide every Alaskan with a check for an estimated $3,200 (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008103325_alaskatax07.html).

As Hendrick Hertzberg notes, “Perhaps there is some meaningful distinction between spreading the wealth and sharing it (http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2008/11/03/081103taco_talk_hertzberg?printable=true) … but finding it would require the analytic skills of Karl the Marxist.”

October 29th, 2008, 12:55 PM
Some time back, we post an article (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=252287&postcount=3491) on traditional Catholics largely resisting if not rejecting Democratic Party overtures to join their campaign due to a lethal combination of race of the Presidential candidate, the issue of abortion, and even aspects of doctrine as backed by the church's local hierarchy. That seemingly left only progressive Catholics, who were perhaps collectively a type of Trojan Horse, and the deteriorating economic conditions that have been known to garner self-interest in the past.

The article below represents a much welcomed part two to this discussion. It too is an "opinion piece" that presents an interesting twist from a western US perspective, with the added advantage of having time pass and a number of things clarified.

(Also recall the backstory to all this: First, Senator McCain aggressively pursuing the endorsement of Reverend John Hagee. Once that endorsement was granted, the fallout from revelations of the Reverend's many anti-Catholic tirades, which eventually led this endorser to publicly apologise (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=230773&postcount=2044) for these statements. Finally concluded with Senator McCain rejecting outright the endorsement he had originally sought (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=230776&postcount=2045), with a bit of obvious political spin.)


Until Ronald Reagan came along and created a new political category – "Reagan Democrats" – Catholics also were a reliable constituency in the party of Al Smith and Franklin D. Roosevelt. That had been true since the 1840s, when the first great waves of Catholic immigrants essentially were pushed into the Democrats' arms by the anti-immigrant sentiments of the Know Nothings and Whigs, most of whom ended up in the new Republican Party.

Karl Rove, Bush's strategic eminence grise, thought he'd found a way to pry Catholics, as ostensible social conservatives, out of the Democratic embrace and into a new conservative coalition using so-called wedge issues -- such as abortion, same-sex marriage and aid to parochial schools and social service agencies.

That approach isn't working for John McCain ...

Tim Rutten:
The end of the Catholic vote
Obama's lead among Catholic voters may signal a profound shift

Tim Rutten
October 29, 2008

It's an article of faith in U.S. politics that, when it comes to the popular vote at least, Catholics determine the winners in our presidential contests.

In fact, with the notable exception of George W. Bush eight years ago, no candidate in recent memory has entered the White House without securing a majority of the votes cast by Catholics, who now make up more than a fourth of the U.S. population.

Until Ronald Reagan came along and created a new political category – "Reagan Democrats" – Catholics also were a reliable constituency in the party of Al Smith and Franklin D. Roosevelt. That had been true since the 1840s, when the first great waves of Catholic immigrants essentially were pushed into the Democrats' arms by the anti-immigrant sentiments of the Know Nothings and Whigs, most of whom ended up in the new Republican Party.

Karl Rove, Bush's strategic eminence grise, thought he'd found a way to pry Catholics, as ostensible social conservatives, out of the Democratic embrace and into a new conservative coalition using so-called wedge issues -- such as abortion, same-sex marriage and aid to parochial schools and social service agencies.

That approach isn't working for John McCain, particularly in Pennsylvania, where strategists in both parties seem to agree the Republican nominee's chances will rise or fall.

That's interesting because if there's any place in America where the traditional blue-collar, ethnic white Catholics who voted in such numbers for Reagan and Bush continue to make their electoral clout felt, it's in the Keystone State. Western Pennsylvania, where both McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, have campaigned so hard, is a citadel of family-minded, working-class, white ethnic Catholics.

In fact, nearly one-third of all Pennsylvanians are Catholics, and in recent weeks, McCain's candidacy has received a major boost from their clerical leaders. Last week, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia wrote in his archdiocesan newspaper: "The transcending issue of our day is the intentional destruction of innocent human life, as in abortion ... [and] no intrinsic evil can ever be supported in any way."

Yet Barack Obama continues to lead McCain by double figures in every reliable Pennsylvania poll. In fact, according to a recent New York Times/CBS poll, Obama holds a commanding 59% to 31% edge over McCain among Catholics nationwide. What's significant about that is that at least 50 of the country's 197 Catholic bishops recently have published articles or given interviews in which they argued that abortion, more than any other issue, ought to determine how members of their flock cast their votes. Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput and St. Louis Bishop Robert Hermann have been two of the most forceful voices in this regard, but polls now put Colorado in Obama's column and have him slightly ahead in Missouri.

What we're seeing in these three swing states is the end of the Catholic vote, as conventional political strategists traditionally have expected it to behave – in part because it's now so large it pretty much looks like the rest of America; in part because of its own internal changes. National polls have shown for some time that, although Catholics are personally opposed to abortion, they believe it ought to be legal in nearly identical percentages to the rest of America. Moreover, as a survey by Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate found earlier this year, only 18% of Catholics "strongly" agree with the statement: "In deciding what is morally acceptable, I look to the church teachings and statements by the pope and bishops to form my conscience."

There's also a profound demographic shift occurring in this sector. Nearly one-third of all American Catholics now are Latinos, as are more than 50% of all Catholics under 40. They have broken overwhelmingly for Obama because of his stands on the economy and immigration. (Shades of the 1840s.)

What all this suggests is that, in this and coming election cycles, we may see a new model for the Catholic vote, one whose participation more closely resembles that of Jews, 75% of whom are overwhelmingly pro-Democratic, while a devout minority, the Orthodox, tends more strongly Republican. If you break the Catholic vote down in roughly the same pattern, you get something that looks like the current national spread. According to most reliable data, slightly less than one in four Catholics now assist at weekly Mass and are more open to GOP policies, while the overwhelming majority of their co-religionists have cast their lot with the Democrats' domestic and foreign policies.

In other words, back to the future.

Copyright 2008 Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-rutten29-2008oct29,0,6174226.column)

October 29th, 2008, 01:15 PM


US election: McCain in danger of losing his home state of Arizona to Obama

Elana Schor in Washington
Wednesday October 29 2008

Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

John McCain campaigns in North Carolina.

John McCain is in danger of suffering an embarrassing loss in his home state of Arizona, according to a shock new poll released today.

Democrats are seizing upon the results of today's Arizona State University poll, which found McCain on 46% and Obama on 44%, to depict the Republican as struggling to hang on to even his faithful backers.

McCain held a 7% lead over Obama in Arizona just one month ago and a double-digit polling advantage earlier this year. Although the state McCain has represented in Congress for 26 years has slightly more registered Republican voters than Democrats, today's poll gave Obama a 20% lead with Arizona independent voters.

Only three presidential candidates in US history have won an election while losing their state of residence. The loss of a home state became an especially harsh political prospect after Al Gore lost Tennessee in 2000, prompting public hand wringing over what might have been.

Republican spokesman Jeff Sadosky defended the candidate's prospects in a statement to Politico.com. "John McCain has never lost an election in Arizona, and this one will be no different, regardless of Obama's attempt to buy the election with millions of dollars in advertising," Sadosky said.

Yet even McCain's fellow Arizona senator and close ally, Jon Kyl, offered a subtly dire prediction in a Sunday interview with one of the state's local newspapers.

Asked whether Arizona, long known for its conservative ethos, could become a swing state as new residents change its demographics, Kyl foreshadowed a McCain defeat.

"Unfortunately, I think John McCain might be added to that long list of Arizonans who ran for president but never were elected … Maybe we'll be able to say, Arizona's the only state where your child can't grow up to be president," Kyl told the Daily Star.

Kyl closed by adding: "So let's hope that doesn't happen." But the caveat did not stop Democrats from circulating the critical quote, which Kyl later claimed was taken out of context.

Today's poll is a departure from the recent average of Arizona surveys, which finds McCain with a lead of more than 6%. Obama's advantage in his home state of Illinois has reached as high as 25%, according to the most recent polls.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/oct/29/uselections2008-johnmccain1)

October 29th, 2008, 02:36 PM
Tim Rutten:
[SIZE=6]The end of the Catholic vote
Obama's lead among Catholic voters may signal a profound shiftWe call it

Catholic Lite

October 29th, 2008, 02:38 PM


A National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman defended the ad.

"Kay Hagan recently attended a fundraiser held in the home of a founding member of the Godless Americans PAC," Online Communications Director John Randall said. "Now Hagan believes it is unfair to associate her with the group even though the soiree raised her thousands of dollars in campaign cash. I guess money is more important to Hagan than principles."

October 29, 2008
Dole's 'Godless' ad causes stir
Posted: 01:26 PM ET

From CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney


A new campaign ad from Elizabeth Dole
alleges her opponent is 'Godless.'

(CNN) — The already-contentious North Carolina Senate race took a brutal turn Wednesday after incumbent Sen. Elizabeth Dole released a television ad suggesting challenger Kay Hagan is "Godless."

“A leader of the Godless Americans PAC recently held a secret fundraiser for Kay Hagan,” the 30-second ad says before showing clips from members of the group declaring God and Jesus do not exist.

“Godless Americans and Kay Hagan. She hid from cameras. Took godless money,” the ad's narrator also says. “What did Kay Hagan promise in return?”

The ad ends with a female voice declaring, "There is no God." That quote is delivered by someone who sounds like Hagan, but those words have never been said by the candidate.

The Dole campaign says it's basing its charge on Hagan's attendance at a fundraiser that was in the home of an advisor to the Godless Americans’ political action committee, a group that promotes rights for atheists.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Hagan said she has never heard of the Godless PAC and said the fundraiser in question had more than 40 hosts, including Sen. John Kerry. She also said she has contacted her lawyers to issue a cease-and-desist order on the commercial.

"I am absolutely appalled at Elizabeth Dole's vile tactics," Hagan said. “This is politics of the worst kind, and I know it has been rejected by North Carolinians at every level. It is so unbecoming of a woman like Elizabeth Dole. This is a fabricated, pathetic ad."

Hagan went on to strongly defend her faith: "I am a Sunday school teacher, I am an elder at First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, my family has been going to this church for over 100 years, I have raised my children there. I have been involved in youth missions."

A National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman defended the ad.

"Kay Hagan recently attended a fundraiser held in the home of a founding member of the Godless Americans PAC," Online Communications Director John Randall said. "Now Hagan believes it is unfair to associate her with the group even though the soiree raised her thousands of dollars in campaign cash. I guess money is more important to Hagan than principles."

Recent polls suggest Hagan — a Democratic state senator from Greensboro who began the race at a major money disadvantage to Dole — is now leading the incumbent slightly with only days remaining before Election Day.

© 2008 Cable News Network LP, LLLP. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/10/29/doles-godless-ad-causes-stir/#more-27133)

"There you go again ... ," pressuming that the targeted electorate is witless and easily manipulated - set in motion by classic Republican tactics of guilt-by-association among many other ploys. Usually on one side is God and Country, on the other a combination of Liberals, Liberal-Left, and the dreaded Elitists. In elevated mode, the other side becomes un-American, Godless, Ultra-Left, un-Patriotic, Socialists, Communists, Marxists, etc.

Time to stop this divisive demagoguery, once and for all.

October 29th, 2008, 02:58 PM
So, let me get this strait.

A fundraiser was held at someone's house, not for the party or faction they are supposedly a part of, but for something completely different?

I am really hating this guilt by unknown association.

The whole "Kevin Bacon Politics"

October 29th, 2008, 03:28 PM
Kevin Bacon Politics- http://www.novahq.net/forum/images/smilies/thumb.gif
...no limit on degrees of separation!

October 29th, 2008, 05:28 PM
We know from the past that this kind of SH!T works. It scares the hell out of me. I hope my fears are proven wrong on November 4.


Optimus Prime
October 29th, 2008, 08:29 PM
Barack is fired up tonight. I hope undecided people are watching this.

October 29th, 2008, 08:33 PM
Obama is just so innovative and original. He is the man!

October 29th, 2008, 08:40 PM
I friggin' missed the whole thing.. God damn video games. Is there any way I can catch a repeat?

Optimus Prime
October 29th, 2008, 08:49 PM
I'm sure it will be posted on his website if it hasn't been already.

Optimus Prime
October 29th, 2008, 08:59 PM
Here it is:


October 29th, 2008, 09:10 PM
^^ thanks!

October 29th, 2008, 11:39 PM
Chew on this: The Philadelphia Phillies ( a PA team) defeated the Tampa Bay Rays ( a FL team) to win the 2008 WS. Obama's ad was played just before the game. Despite what McCain said about 'pushing back the WS"- it cut into the pre-game-Could this have a semi-effect on Obama's vote in Florida? Philly fans might view Obama as some sort of a lucky charm that brought back a championship title in 25 years, but what about fans in the Tampa Bay area?

Florida, after all, is a swing state. Tampa is in an area that is notorious for swing voters. Wouldn't it be odd if there is an Obama back lash because of the outcome of the Fall Classic?

October 30th, 2008, 12:32 AM
I thought the Obama program was very good and very effective. I don't think he'll in too many converts. The country is too divided for anyone who likes McCain to watch.

It's all about the GOTV efforts.

October 30th, 2008, 12:37 AM
Simpson to reveal names of 30 Palin ex-lovers

WEBWIRE (http://www.webwire.com/) – Wednesday, October 29, 2008
NEW YORK, NY (October 29, 2008) Jessica Simpson, one of America’s most popular singers and actresses, says she will reveal the names of 30 men who are former lovers of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin – and according to sources, one of them is a married television station executive and one is a former police chief...
According to sources, six of the Palin’s lovers are from the state of Hawaii, five are from Idaho, one is from England and the rest are Alaskan. The list of names will be revealed “by the end of the week.”

“There should be no surprises on the list,” says a source.
Says Simpson: “Governor Palin is a woman of my own age and generation and success level and attractiveness who is rightfully being held up as a role model to young women nationwide. Given that she has thrust herself into the public eye, it is not just her political accomplishments should be held up to young woman as an example, but her sexual record as well...
Simpson says Palin –- frequently ridiculed on the David Letterman Show as having the look of a “Lenscrafters spokesmodel” -- is far from a cold lifeless idol placed upon a pedestal, but is in reality “a living, breathing, very sensual and sexually active woman who has accomplished a lot -- and done it on her own political and sexual terms.”

The popular singer says she is releasing the list of names, apparently compiled by her celebrity security firm, to refute the double standard that cheers when men “play the field” before marriage but chastises women such as Palin and herself who do the same thing...
Palin was chosen by Republican presidential candidate John McCain on August 29 as his vice presidential running mate. Because of her age and sex, McCain’s choice has been viewed as a controversial one. Palin is the former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska and a one-term governor of the state of Alaska.

As a young woman, Palin attended four colleges and universities before graduating with a degree in Communications/Journalism from the University of Idaho in 1987. In 1982, she enrolled at Hawaii Pacific College but left after her first semester. She transferred to North Idaho community college, where she spent two semesters as a general studies major. From there, she transferred to the University of Idaho for two semesters.

During this time Palin won the Miss Wasilla Pageant, then finished third in the 1984 Miss Alaska pageant, at which she won a college scholarship and the "Miss Congeniality" award. Diane Osborne, Palin’s hairdresser during the pageants, recalls her as "so soft-spoken, so unobtrusive, so agreeable as to seem void of the urgent quest for attention that Osborne had recognized in others" After the pageants Palin attended the Matanuska-Susitna community college in Alaska for one term. The next year she returned to the University of Idaho where she spent three semesters completing her Bachelor of Science degree in communications-journalism, graduating in 1987...

October 30th, 2008, 12:40 AM
Teen Attempting To Take McCain Sign Shot By Man

Source: AP

POSTED: 7:24 am EDT October 28, 2008

LEAVITTSBURG, Ohio -- Authorities in northeast Ohio say a teenager was shot and wounded by a man who said he wanted to stop the boy and another from taking his John McCain yard sign.

Warren Township police Lt. Don Bishop said 50-year-old Kenneth Rowles told officers he got out a .22-caliber rifle Saturday afternoon to fire warning shots, not hurt anyone.

Rowles pleaded not guilty Monday to felonious assault. A preliminary hearing was set for Nov. 4, Election Day.

Bishop said 17-year-old Kyree Flowers was shot in the right arm and was treated at a hospital.

Police said two shots hit a van the other teen was driving.

No charges were filed against the boys.

Local Republican and Democratic officials say campaign signs are disappearing frequently and people are frustrated.

October 30th, 2008, 01:01 AM
Someoe is really deluded... Mrs. Palin, in relation to Jessica Simpson, is hardly "a woman of her [my] own age and generation".

October 30th, 2008, 06:25 AM


Although McCain was not seen during the half-hour, one could easily summon the contrasting image of the Republican while watching Obama. McCain has come across on television as relatively worried, whiny, fusty and falsely folksy. He brought bad news; he has come to epitomize and personify it. Obama brings you medication along with the list of symptoms; he has developed a great bedside, as well as fireside, manner.

ObamaVision: An Appeal to the Masses

By Tom Shales
Thursday, October 30, 2008

Barack Obama fired the final salvo in the great battle of images that is the 2008 presidential campaign last night with a half-hour, multimillion-dollar television infomercial that could be considered not the "feel-good" but rather the "feel-better" movie of the year.

Somehow both poetic and practical, spiritual and sensible, the paid political broadcast, which aired on seven major cable and broadcast networks (on Univision, it was identified as "Historias Americanas"), was a montage of montages, a series of seamlessly blended segments interweaving the stories of embattled Americans with visions of their deliverer, Guess Who.

(Images From Obama Campaign Via Associated Press)

Scenes from "Barack Obama: American Stories"
included the candidate in a setting evoking the Oval Office
and meeting with a family whose lot his administration's
policies would presumably improve.

As political filmmaking, "Barack Obama: American Stories" was an elegant combination of pictures, sounds, voices and music designed not so much to sell America on Barack Obama as to communicate a sensibility. The film conveyed feelings, not facts – specifically, a simulation of how it would feel to live in an America with Barack Obama in the White House. The tone and texture recalled the "morning in America" campaign film made on behalf of Ronald Reagan, a work designed to give the audience a sense of security and satisfaction; things are going to be all right.

Obama was narrator of his film, but also its star, appearing in excerpts from speeches delivered before tremendous crowds (including the finale to the Democratic convention, a nearly biblical pageant), sitting or standing in a flag-bedecked office that looked comfortable and White Housey, and in campaign footage out amongst the folks, the people, the faithful, the huddled masses.

It also included brief testimonials from estimable figures – running mate Joe Biden; Michelle Obama, the candidate's wife; Google chief executive Eric Schmidt; Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine; New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson; and others.

Absent were the kinds of figures and graphics featured in some of Obama's bread-and-butter commercials: his economic plan vs. that of competitor John McCain, his health plan vs. that of McCain, and so on. And while there was some outright rhetoric ("the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression" . . . "eight years of failed policies"), most of the talk was conversational in that laid-back, not-to-worry, calmly passionate, defiantly hopeful Obaman way.

Although McCain was not seen during the half-hour, one could easily summon the contrasting image of the Republican while watching Obama. McCain has come across on television as relatively worried, whiny, fusty and falsely folksy. He brought bad news; he has come to epitomize and personify it. Obama brings you medication along with the list of symptoms; he has developed a great bedside, as well as fireside, manner.

It was the easiest thing in the world, watching the skillfully edited hodgepodge put together by his campaign, to picture Obama as president. That's one thing the film was designed to do, especially for the doubters and those scared, "undecided" voters out there.

The vignettes – Obama called them "stories that reflect the state of our union" – were brief and dealt with or had ties to the current global economic strife. In North Kansas City, Mo., a family of eight in which the husband and father continues working at a tire retread plant even though he should have a leg operation, because he can't afford it. In Sardinia, Ohio, would-be retirees who have to defer the "golden years" because of a home equity loan and the lack of health insurance.

Interspersed with the vignettes were Obama's personal stories of hardships overcome while growing up and of the values inculcated by the grandmother who was largely in charge of raising him. For the umpty-umpth time, he told the story of how Granny woke his 8-year-old self up at 4:30 a.m. to go over homework and how, when he grumbled about it, she'd respond with, "Well, this is no picnic for me, either, buster."

Obama also spoke again of his mother's death from cancer, and how an insurance company refused to pay for the care she needed because her illness was coldly deemed "a preexisting condition." What Obama promises to fight are a number of preexisting conditions, too. Strangely or not, one of those – the war in Iraq – was barely mentioned. The war being fought by those portrayed in the film is strictly on the home front, though there was a weirdly retro reference at one point to curbing "Russian aggression."

The half-hour was underscored with music in a kind of elegiac, Aaron Copland mode – sorrow and stature. Obama seemed as heroic a figure as Henry Fonda's Tom Joad in "The Grapes of Wrath," but with more of a Jimmy Stewart personality. He has come, the film said, to show us all the way, and if we don't know it by now, and after all those millions spent to tell us, it's our fault.

There didn't have to be a big finish to the show, but there was: a live appearance by Obama, joined at the last moment by Biden, from a stadium in Florida. "America, the time for change has come," Obama boomed, and the crowd's roar grew louder with his voice. Now it seemed to be turning into a Frank Capra movie; after all, "Grapes of Wrath" did not have a happy ending, but, according to last night's multicast – in spectacular ObamaRama -- this movie will.

© Copyright 1996-2008 The Washington Post Company (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/29/AR2008102904753.html)

October 30th, 2008, 06:38 AM


October 29, 2008
Fact check: Is Columbia professor Khalidi a 'political ally' of Barack Obama?
Posted: 06:50 PM ET

The Statement: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, speaking on Oct. 29 in Bowling Green, Ohio, said Barack Obama "spent a lot of time with" Rashid Khalidi. "Rashid Khalidi, he, in addition to being a political ally of Barack Obama, he's a former spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organization," she said.

Get the facts!

The Facts: Rashid Khalidi is a scholar at Columbia University in New York, where he is director of the Middle East Institute.

His university profile says he specializes in the "history of Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt; the growth of nation-state; nationalism in the Arab World; problems of modern Middle East historiography and and an expert on Palestinian issues."

He has authored scholarly works on Palestinian issues, has been an activist for Palestinian causes, and has been a critic of U.S. foreign policy toward Israel.

In a 2004 Washington Times story, he denied ever being a spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Sen. Obama, on his Web site, described Khalidi as "a former neighbor and university colleague." But their relationship has sparked questions about Obama's stance on Israel and what Obama calls "ugly insinuations." Obama has said he has been a "clear and consistent" supporter of Israel and doesn't share Khalidi's views.

ABC News on May 22 aired comments Obama made at a Boca Raton, Florida, synagogue, where Obama faced questions from Jewish voters and addressed the issue. He said he knew Khalidi and had conversations with him in Chicago, where both men taught at the University of Chicago. And, he said, their children went to the same school.

"He is not one of my advisers; he's not one of my foreign policy people," Obama said. "He is a respected scholar, although he vehemently disagrees with a lot of Israel's policy."

"To pluck out one person who I know and who I've had a conversation with who has very different views than 900 of my friends and then to suggest that somehow that shows that maybe I'm not sufficiently pro-Israel, I think, is a very problematic stand to take," Obama said. "So we gotta be careful about guilt by association."

An April 10 Los Angeles Times story that explored the Khalidi-Obama relationship said Khalidi and his wife lived near the Obamas in Chicago and "the families became friends and dinner companions."

"In 2000, the Khalidis held a fund-raiser for Obama's unsuccessful congressional bid. The next year, a social service group whose board was headed by Mona Khalidi (Khalidi's wife), received a $40,000 grant from a local charity, the Woods Fund of Chicago, when Obama served on the fund's board of directors. At Khalidi's going-away party in 2003, the scholar lavished praise on Obama, telling the mostly Palestinian-American crowd that the state senator deserved their help in winning a U.S. Senate seat," the Times reported.

When asked about these details, the Obama campaign pointed to the May 22 comments aired by ABC News. Khalidi, asked by CNN to respond to Palin's assertions, declined to comment.

In a New York Daily News story published March 6, 2007, Khalidi said he hosted the fund-raiser because he had been friends with Obama in Chicago. "He never came to us and said he would do anything in terms of Palestinians," Khalidi is quoted as saying.

The Los Angeles Times report said, "though Khalidi has seen little of Sen. Obama in recent years, Michelle Obama attended a party several months ago celebrating the marriage of the Khalidis' daughter."

The Verdict: Misleading. While Khalidi eight years ago hosted a political fund-raiser for Obama, the two men strongly disagree over the Israeli-Palestinian issue and there's no evidence of a continuing political relationship.

© 2008 Cable News Network LP, LLLP. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/10/29/is-columbia-professor-khalidi-a-political-ally-of-barack-obama/#more-27209)

October 30th, 2008, 07:01 AM

McCain camp trying to scapegoat Palin


Photo: AP

If Sarah Palin is so awful,
why did McCain pick her?

John McCain's campaign is looking for a scapegoat. It is looking for someone to blame if McCain loses on Tuesday.

And it has decided on Sarah Palin.

In recent days, a McCain “adviser” told Dana Bash of CNN: “She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone.” Imagine not taking advice from the geniuses at the McCain campaign. What could Palin be thinking?

Also, a “top McCain adviser” told Mike Allen of Politico that Palin is “a whack job.” Maybe she is. But who chose to put this “whack job” on the ticket? Wasn’t it John McCain? And wasn’t it his first presidential-level decision?

And if you are a 72-year-old presidential candidate, wouldn’t you expect that your running mate’s fitness for high office would come under a little extra scrutiny? And, therefore, wouldn’t you make your selection with care? (To say nothing about caring about the future of the nation?)

McCain didn’t seem to care that much. McCain admitted recently on national TV that he “didn’t know her well at all” before he chose Palin. But why not? Why didn’t he get to know her better before he made his choice?

It’s not like he was rushed. McCain wrapped up the Republican nomination in early March. He didn’t announce his choice for a running mate until late August. Wasn’t that enough time for McCain to get to know Palin? Wasn’t that enough time for his crackerjack “vetters” to investigate Palin’s strengths and weaknesses, check through records and published accounts, talk to a few people, and learn that she was not only a diva but a whack job diva?

But McCain picked her anyway. He wanted to close the “enthusiasm gap” between himself and Barack Obama. He wanted to inject a little adrenaline into the Republican National Convention. He wanted to goose up the Republican base.

And so he chose Palin. Is she really a diva and a whack job? Could be. There are quite a few in politics. (And a few in journalism, too, though in journalism they are called “columnists.”) As proof that she is, McCain aides now say Palin is “going rogue” and straying from their script. Wow. What a condemnation. McCain sticks to the script. How well is he doing?

In truth, Palin’s real problem is not her personality or whether she takes orders well. Her real problem is that neither she nor McCain can make a credible case that Palin is ready to assume the presidency should she need to.

And that undercuts McCain’s entire campaign.

This was the deal McCain made with the devil. In exchange for energizing his base by picking Palin, he surrendered his chief selling point: that he was better prepared to run the nation in time of crisis, whether it be economic, an attack by terrorists or, as he has been talking about in recent days, fending off a nuclear war.

“The next president won’t have time to get used to the office,” McCain told a crowd in Miami on Wednesday. “I’ve been tested, my friends, I’ve been tested.”

But has Sarah Palin?

I don’t believe running mates win or lose elections, though some believe they can be a drag on the ticket. Lee Atwater, who was George H.W. Bush’s campaign manager in 1988, told me that Dan Quayle cost the ticket 2 to 3 percentage points. But Bush won the election by 7.8 percentage points.

So, in Atwater’s opinion, Bush survived his bad choice by winning the election on his own.

McCain could do the same thing. But his campaign’s bad decisions have not stopped with Sarah Palin. It has made a series of questionable calls, including making Joe the Plumber the embodiment of the campaign. Are voters really expected to warmly embrace an (unlicensed) plumber who owes back taxes and complains about the possibility of making a quarter million dollars a year? And did McCain’s aides really believe so little in John McCain’s own likability that they thought Joe the Plumber would be more likable? Apparently so. Which is sad.

We in the press make too much of running mates and staff and talking points and all the rest of the hubbub that accompanies a campaign.

In the end, it comes down to two candidates slugging it out. Either McCain pulls off a victory in the last round or he doesn’t. And if he doesn’t, he has nobody to blame but himself.

© 2008 Capitol News Company LLC (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1008/15073.html)

October 30th, 2008, 07:25 AM

"He's taken the thing that is most valuable, his (maverick) brand, and he's not staying true to it," Shays said. "I admire John McCain more than you can imagine. He would make a great president."

But, Shays added, "I don't see how he wins if he isn't true to who he is ... a straight shooter talking about the issues." …

Shays is co-chairman of McCain's Connecticut campaign along with Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. He's also battling Democrat Jim Himes for the congressional seat representing wealthy southwestern Connecticut.

It's the third consecutive tough election for Shays, a moderate with a reputation of being independent-minded and bucking his party on some issues.

Shays among Republicans upset with McCain campaign

Associated Press Writer

(AP Photo)

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee member Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn.

HARTFORD, Conn. - Locked in a tough re-election campaign in a district that overwhelmingly supports Barack Obama, Connecticut Rep. Christopher Shays has joined some fellow Republicans in publicly voicing frustration with John McCain's presidential campaign.

Shays told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the Republican nominee's campaign has gone too negative against Obama, and has muted his message of being an independent thinker with the best ideas and experience needed to solve the nation's problems.

With the tone of the campaign and Obama's lead in the polls, McCain will have a difficult time winning the presidency, Shays said, although he believes it's still possible.

"He's taken the thing that is most valuable, his (maverick) brand, and he's not staying true to it," Shays said. "I admire John McCain more than you can imagine. He would make a great president."

But, Shays added, "I don't see how he wins if he isn't true to who he is ... a straight shooter talking about the issues."

Shays is co-chairman of McCain's Connecticut campaign along with Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. He's also battling Democrat Jim Himes for the congressional seat representing wealthy southwestern Connecticut.

It's the third consecutive tough election for Shays, a moderate with a reputation of being independent-minded and bucking his party on some issues. Shays narrowly defeated Democrat Diane Farrell in 2004 and 2006 as Farrell criticized him for supporting the Iraq war and President Bush.

An Oct. 20 UConn-Hearst Newspapers poll shows Himes and Shays each supported by 44 percent of likely voters. The same poll showed voters in the district prefering Obama over McCain, 54 percent to 34 percent.

Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district 146,000 to 103,000, while nearly 157,000 more voters are unaffiliated.

Gary Rose, politics professor at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, said Shays needs to sway Democratic and unaffiliated voters to win another term in Congress. By criticizing McCain's campaign, Shays is attempting to distance himself from a ticket that's expected to lose badly in the 4th District on Election Day, Rose said.

"He's trying to reinforce the image that he's nobody's man but yours," Rose said. "Truly the maverick, the independent Republican."

Shays is the only Republican representing New England in the House following Democratic wins in 2006.

Several other notable Republicans, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, have made statements similar to Shays' comments in recent weeks. Some prominent Republicans, including former Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld, have gone so far as to endorse Obama. Others are still standing behind McCain, but are expressing doubts that he can win.

McCain's campaign did not return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

Connecticut Republican Party chairman Chris Healy said he didn't think Shays' comments were damaging to McCain's campaign. "Chris Shays is a loyal Republican, a great asset to the party," Healy said. "Chris Shays always speaks his mind, and that's why people like him. I think part of it is frustration with our message not getting out. "But like a lot of things about Chris Shays," Healy added, "he says things that give people something to reflect."

Shays first expressed discontentment with McCain's campaign in an interview with the Yale Daily News on Sunday, when he blamed the far right for having "hijacked" the Republican Party.

He also told the newspaper that McCain "did not live up to his pledge to fight a clean campaign."

Asked about Sunday's interview, Shays said he was giving honest answers to the questions. "He is well behind and we know that," Shays said of McCain. "He's behind because he's not running the kind of race we've seen him run.

"John McCain is different," he said. "He goes to Iowa and says, 'I don't believe in (corn ethanol) price support.' He goes to Michigan and says, 'We can't keep making big cars.' That's the straight talk of John McCain."

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. (http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/connecticut/ny-bc-ct--mccain-shays1029oct29,0,7578166.story)

October 30th, 2008, 09:50 AM
Thing is, you really do not know if these Republicans are truly upset with what McCain is doing, or if they are just trying to "De-Bush" themselves in a similar manner as McCain himself has tried to do.

Cut themselves free of a sinking ship before it drags them down with it.

October 30th, 2008, 11:21 AM
^^^ I think it could be a little bit of both. No doubt, the GOP is going to enter a new era of politics; sort of a "post" Bush era. I think we're going to see the Republicans moving back to the center-right.
I'm sure a lot of Republicans are highly upset at the way McCain is running his campaign. From his knee-jerk pick of Palin, to his "suspension" or his campaign, to saying the the fundamental of the economy is "strong".

No doubt, Bush is one of the most unpopular politican of our times. It could be political suicide, if someone from the GOP can't wash that taint from off their hands.

October 30th, 2008, 02:28 PM
^^^ I I think we're going to see the Republicans moving back to the center-right. .

As much as I would like to believe this will be true, I have my doubts.

Should Obama win the GOP will suffer an identity crisis as the various factions within the party will finger point and affix blame. In fact behind the scenes back stabbing and blaming has already begun. Clearly McCain is struggling to keep the party together.

But if history has shown us anything it is that during times of crisis the hard right wing of the GOP becomes especially prominent. That is how Goldwater came to power in '64, and it is how Gingrich moved to define the party in '96.

The fact is that despite his recent pandering to the right wing base, McCain has always represented the center-right wing of the party. The ultra-right wing will blame the McCain defeat on a failure to stick to core conservative principles and on the candidates centerist past, and use this as a vehicle to re-emerge as the defining ideological force within the party. It will take time, in fact they probably will not re-emerge until the mid-terms, but I think it will ultimately happen.

October 30th, 2008, 02:47 PM
What a difference eight years makes...

In 2000, McCain said there is ‘nothing wrong’ with the wealthy paying ’somewhat more’ taxes:
http://thinkprogress.org/2008/10/22/mccain-2000-tax-cuts/ (http://thinkprogress.org/2008/10/22/mccain-2000-tax-cuts/)

McCain on Hardball in 2000:

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Since I’ve been studying politics, I’ve had
this question that I’ve never fully understand. Why is it that someone
like my father, who goes to school for 13 years, gets penalized in a
huge tax bracket because he’s a doctor? Why is that — why does he
have to pay higher taxes than everybody else, just because he makes
more money? Why — how is that fair?

MATTHEWS: You mean…

MCCAIN: I think your question — questioning the fundamentals of a
progressive tax system where people who make more money pay more in
taxes than a flat, across-the-board percentage. I think it’s to some
degree because we feel, obviously, that wealthy people can afford
more. We have over the years, beginning with John F. Kennedy, reduced
some of those marginal tax rates to make them less onerous.

But I believe that when you really look at the tax code today, the
very wealthy, because they can afford tax lawyers and all kinds of
loopholes, really don’t pay nearly as much as you think they do when
you just look at the percentages. And I think middle-income Americans,
working Americans, when the account and payroll taxes, sales taxes,
mortgage pay — all of the taxes that working Americans pay, I think
they — you would think that they also deserve significant relief, in
my view…

...UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I still don’t see how the — how that’s fair.
Isn’t the definition of slavery basically where you work and all your
money goes? I’m not saying this is slavery, I’m saying that isn’t the
defin — are we getting closer and closer to, like, socialism and
stuff, when you have — you have some people paying 60 percent overall
in a year of their money to taxes. That’s their money, not the
government’s. How is that fair? I haven’t understood it.

MCCAIN: Could I point out, one of the fundamentals of a town hall
meeting is, we respect the views of others, and let them speak. So,
look, here’s what I really believe, that when you are — reach a
certain level of comfort, there’s nothing wrong with paying somewhat
more. But at the same time, that shouldn’t be totally out of
proportion. There’s some countries such as Sweden where it doesn’t pay
anything to work more than six months a year. That’s probably the

But I think the debate in this country is more about tax cuts rather
than anything else. And frankly, I think the first people who deserve
a tax cut are working Americans with children that need to educate
their children, and they’re the ones that I would support tax cuts for

October 30th, 2008, 03:56 PM
I saw that, and mentioned it somewhere.

Thanks for posting it!

The thing that irritates me most about his campaign, and in politics in general, is the duplicity.

If you believe in something, fine. Stick with it. But don't come out later and say that somehow it is idiotic, and "forget" to mention is was something you had stood in favor of yourself a few years back.

If he even made some attempt to admit "I thought this was good one time, but as I looked into it I found the faults that would not make it a viable solution...." or something like that. If he had made some effort to admit his own dalliance in the matter before calling anyone who proposed it an idiot.....


October 30th, 2008, 04:22 PM
Continuing on that theme of comparing John McCain in the past to John McCain in 2008,
take a look at this poster, when Senator McCain was the target:

Courtesy seeker’s Jar

Looks like Senator McCain is recycling a couple of these same lines,
only applied this time to his opponent.

(Note also that a few of these prior charges,
still haunt the Senator from Arizona.)

October 30th, 2008, 05:37 PM


That's a shame. McCain's repeated references to "maverick" have drained all meaning from the word, but it's true that he's an iconoclast with little reverence for Republican orthodoxy. Why he chose, in an election that was always going to be decided by independents and Reagan Democrats, to campaign on a platform of slavish devotion to Republican orthodoxy is beyond me.

Campaign on Empty

By Eugene Robinson
Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Probably, John McCain and Sarah Palin will lose this election. Certainly, they deserve to.

With a campaign designed more to play on insecurities than to promote ideas, McCain and Palin have practically framed Barack Obama's "closing argument" for him. "The question in this election is not 'Are you better off than you were four years ago?' " Obama told an audience yesterday in Canton, Ohio. "We know the answer to that. The real question is, 'Will this country be better off four years from now?' " …

There's always race, of course, and we can't say with certainty whether there's some huge, hidden racist vote out there just waiting to emerge next Tuesday. My hunch is that race is already factored into the poll numbers – that it has already been "discounted by the market," to use financial jargon that's fashionable these days. I believe that race is a subtext of Republican attack words such as "dangerous" or "socialist," and that it's the real substance of the attempt to paint Obama as unknown, mysterious, exotic and somehow alien. My guess is that voters who are responsive to this kind of coded appeal have already responded.

So we're not likely to see some kind of deus ex machina salvation for McCain, Palin and their down-ticket allies, and that's as it should be. It's not just that they have run a weirdly erratic campaign, bitingly sarcastic one minute, earnestly serious the next, uncertain whether to present McCain as a serious, experienced statesman or as a hypercaffeinated, overeager publicist for Joe the Plumber. It's not just that Palin, and let's be honest, should never have been allowed anywhere near the ticket – and certainly not anywhere near those frocks from Saks and Neiman Marcus.

More damning is that when it could hardly be more obvious that Americans desperately want to change direction – more than 80 percent tell pollsters the country is on the wrong track – the Republicans offer nothing new.

That's a shame. McCain's repeated references to "maverick" have drained all meaning from the word, but it's true that he's an iconoclast with little reverence for Republican orthodoxy. Why he chose, in an election that was always going to be decided by independents and Reagan Democrats, to campaign on a platform of slavish devotion to Republican orthodoxy is beyond me.

On the economy, McCain offers some relief for homeowners facing foreclosure, but only within a context of classic Republican trickle-down economics. He wants to lower taxes on business and rejects Obama's plan -- raise income taxes for the wealthy and lower them for the middle class -- as rampant socialism. If you set aside the incendiary rhetoric about class warfare that McCain and Palin have been tossing around, basically what they propose is staying the course that brought us to this point of global crisis.

McCain makes much of wanting to get rid of congressional earmarks; everybody wants to get rid of earmarks, except the one that benefits his community or his industry. He proposes an across-the-board spending freeze – during a recession? – and then, in the next breath, proposes new spending. He overestimates the voters' tolerance for incoherence.

On foreign policy, once the centerpiece of McCain's campaign but now mostly an afterthought, McCain promises "victory" in Iraq and Afghanistan without telling war-weary voters how much more time, money or blood he will spend.

In choosing a running mate, McCain made an absolute mockery of his "country first" slogan and instead put politics above all other considerations. It suffices to note that the Anchorage Daily News – the biggest newspaper in Palin's state – endorsed Obama, saying that Palin was being stretched "beyond her range" and that she clearly is not ready to be "one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world."

It's hard to imagine that a McCain presidency could possibly be as scattered, irresponsible, uninspiring and intellectually bankrupt as the McCain campaign. It's even harder to imagine that Americans, at this crucial juncture, will take that risk.

© Copyright 1996-2008 The Washington Post Company (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/27/AR2008102702408.html?nav=emailpage)

October 30th, 2008, 05:43 PM


Call Him John the Careless

By George F. Will
Thursday, October 30, 2008

From the invasion of Iraq to the selection of Sarah Palin, carelessness has characterized recent episodes of faux conservatism. Tuesday's probable repudiation of the Republican Party will punish characteristics displayed in the campaign's closing days.

Some polls show that Palin has become an even heavier weight in John McCain's saddle than his association with George W. Bush. Did McCain, who seems to think that Palin's never having attended a "Georgetown cocktail party" is sufficient qualification for the vice presidency, lift an eyebrow when she said that vice presidents "are in charge of the United States Senate"?

She may have been tailoring her narrative to her audience of third-graders, who do not know that vice presidents have no constitutional function in the Senate other than to cast tie-breaking votes. But does she know that when Lyndon Johnson, transformed by the 1960 election from Senate majority leader into vice president, ventured to the Capitol to attend the Democratic senators' weekly policy luncheon, the new majority leader, Montana's Mike Mansfield, supported by his caucus, barred him because his presence would be a derogation of the Senate's autonomy?

Perhaps Palin's confusion about the office for which she is auditioning comes from listening to its current occupant. Dick Cheney, the foremost practitioner of this administration's constitutional carelessness in aggrandizing executive power, regularly attends the Senate Republicans' Tuesday luncheons. He has said jocularly that he is "a product" of the Senate, which pays his salary, and that he has no "official duties" in the executive branch. His situational constitutionalism has, however, led him to assert, when claiming exemption from a particular executive order, that he is a member of the legislative branch and, when seeking to shield certain of his deliberations from legislative inquiry, to say that he is a member of the executive branch.

Palin may be an inveterate simplifier; McCain has a history of reducing controversies to cartoons. A Republican financial expert recalls attending a dinner with McCain for the purpose of discussing with him domestic and international financial complexities that clearly did not fascinate the senator. As the dinner ended, McCain's question for his briefer was: "So, who is the villain?"

McCain revived a familiar villain – "huge amounts" of political money – when Barack Obama announced that he had received contributions of $150 million in September. "The dam is broken," said McCain, whose constitutional carelessness involves wanting to multiply impediments to people who want to participate in politics by contributing to candidates – people such as the 632,000 first-time givers to Obama in September.

Why is it virtuous to erect a dam of laws to impede the flow of contributions by which citizens exercise their First Amendment right to political expression? "We're now going to see," McCain warned, "huge amounts of money coming into political campaigns, and we know history tells us that always leads to scandal." The supposedly inevitable scandal, which supposedly justifies preemptive government restrictions on Americans' freedom to fund the dissemination of political ideas they favor, presumably is that Obama will be pressured to give favors to his September givers. The contributions by the new givers that month averaged $86.

One excellent result of this election cycle is that public financing of presidential campaigns now seems sillier than ever. The public has always disliked it: Voluntary and cost-free participation, using the check-off on the income tax form, peaked at 28.7 percent in 1980 and has sagged to 9.2 percent. The Post, which is melancholy about the system's parlous condition, says there were three reasons for creating public financing: to free candidates from the demands of fundraising, to level the playing field and "to limit the amount of money pouring into presidential campaigns." The first reason is decreasingly persuasive because fundraising is increasingly easy because of new technologies such as the Internet. The second reason is, the Supreme Court says, constitutionally impermissible. Government may not mandate equality of resources among political competitors who earn different levels of voluntary support. As for the third reason – "huge amounts" (McCain) of money "pouring into" (The Post) presidential politics – well:

The Center for Responsive Politics calculates that, by Election Day, $2.4 billion will have been spent on presidential campaigns in the two-year election cycle that began in January 2007, and an additional $2.9 billion will have been spent on 435 House and 35 Senate contests. This $5.3 billion is a billion less than Americans will spend this year on potato chips.

© Copyright 1996-2008 The Washington Post Company (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/29/AR2008102903199.html)

October 30th, 2008, 07:10 PM
Edward B. Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University and an authority on voting litigation nationwide, said the settlement was noteworthy because many states had put the onus on voters to prove that their provisional ballots were legitimate before they could be counted. The settlement shifts this responsibility to the state, Mr. Foley said, and is more in keeping with the spirit of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, which calls for election officials to count a provisional ballot if they can determine the voter’s eligibility.

In Michigan, a federal appeals panel in Detroit delivered a similar victory on Thursday for about 5,500 voters who had been dropped from the rolls. The 2-to-1 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit said state elections officials should not remove registered voters from the rolls, even if their voter ID cards had been returned as undeliverable. The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the United States Student Association Foundation and the Michigan branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The New York Times
"Voter Purge Rejected in Colorado" (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/31/us/politics/31colorado.html?_r=1&ref=politics&oref=slogin)


denver and the west
A win for purged voters
Groups, state agree on process to tally, screen provisional ballots of those dropped from rolls

By Felisa Cardona
The Denver Post

Ballots cast by voters who have been canceled from the state's voter rolls since mid-May will get extra oversight to make sure their votes are counted, under an agreement reached late Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

Common Cause of Colorado, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund and the Service Employees International Union sued Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman, alleging that his office had violated the National Voter Registration Act by illegally purging about 31,000 eligible voters from the rolls 90 days before the election.

The state insists the actual number is smaller.

The plaintiffs had asked Senior U.S. District Judge John L. Kane Jr. for a preliminary injunction that by Tuesday would reinstate voters who had been
removed from the rolls. They also asked Kane to order the state to stop removing people until after the election.

Just before Kane was set to rule on the matter, the plaintiffs and the secretary of state's office reached an agreement.

The morning after the election, the state will generate a list of voters who were removed from the rolls since May 14 and send it to county clerks and the groups' attorneys for review.

The state then will order that the voters on the list who voted by provisional ballot will be verified before other provisional ballots that have been cast.

"Voters on the list shall be presumed to be eligible and their ballots will be counted," the agreement says. "Only upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that a voter is not eligible shall a provisional ballot be rejected by the county."

The secretary of state also must conduct an independent review of each ballot rejected at the county level and order the clerk to count the ballot of any voter whose ballot was incorrectly rejected no later than two weeks before the certification of the statewide election results.

During a hearing Wednesday, election officials testified that reinstating voters removed from the database would be a logistical nightmare, could crash the computer system and might jeopardize the election. About 1 million people have already voted.

Before the two sides reached an agreement, Kane indicated that he was weighing the impact of making a decision.

"I think there are places where the state went out of bounds on removal of these names," he said, "but at the same time, what I am concerned with primarily is trying to balance the equities so that I am not creating more harm." ...

All contents Copyright 2008 The Denver Post or other copyright holders. All rights reserved. (http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_10851260)

October 30th, 2008, 07:25 PM


October 30, 2008, 6:28 pm
Palin Changes the Subject

By Julie Bosman

ERIE, Pa. – Gov. Sarah Palin tried to change the subject from the economy to national security on Thursday, warning an audience of 7,000 not to vote based on economic concerns alone.

“In times of economic worry and hardship, the crisis that we’re in right now, sometimes it’s tempting to put those concerns aside on Election Day, national security issue, but we don’t have that luxury,” Ms. Palin said, adding that Senator Barack Obama intends to “soften the focus” in the closing days before the election.

“He’s hoping your mind won’t wander to the real challenges – national security – challenges that he is incapable of meeting. But in a time of choosing, we have to decide which man has proven that he can protect us from Osama bin Laden and from Al Qaeda.”

Ms. Palin spent the day burnishing her own national security credentials, meeting with a group of national security advisers that included former Gov. Tom Ridge; James Woolsey, the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency; Rear Admiral Marsha Evans; Lieutenant General Carol Mutter; John Lehman, the 17th Secretary of the Navy; and Ambassador Rich Williamson, the special envoy to Sudan.

The meeting was closed to the press, but Ms. Palin spoke to a small group of students, alumni and reporters afterward, flanked by the advisers and four large American flags.

“It may be hard to spend much time worrying about great troubles in far-off places when you fear for your own job and the possible life insurance threats that we have, maybe losing that life insurance plan, health benefits, by losing a job, those things that you perhaps are worried about today,” she said. “It may be hard to spare much thought even for the most urgent matters of national security.”

Mr. Ridge, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security, appeared to dutifully be back on message after saying last week that Senator John McCain might have been on the verge of winning Pennsylvania if he had chosen Mr. Ridge – not Ms. Palin – as his running mate.

This time, he noted his “three decades long” friendship with Mr. McCain and introduced Ms. Palin by asking the crowd to give a “very warm, northwest Pennsylvania welcome to the next vice president of the United States!”

It was the third time in a week that Ms. Palin has strayed from her standard stump speech and focused on a single policy issue. Last Friday, she spoke about special-needs children, and on Wednesday, she delivered a speech on energy security.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/30/palin-changes-the-subject/)

October 30th, 2008, 07:51 PM




October 31st, 2008, 03:47 AM

Growing Doubts on Palin Take a Toll, Poll Finds

Whitney Curtis/Getty Images

Gov. Sarah Palin, campaigning Thursday in Cape Girardeau, Mo.,
as poll numbers flagged.

Published: October 30, 2008

A version of this article … in print on October 31, 2008

A growing number of voters have concluded that Senator John McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, is not qualified to be vice president, weighing down the Republican ticket in the last days of the campaign, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

All told, 59 percent of voters surveyed said Ms. Palin was not prepared for the job, up nine percentage points since the beginning of the month. Nearly a third of voters polled said the vice-presidential selection would be a major factor influencing their vote for president, and those voters broadly favor Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee.

And in a possible indication that the choice of Ms. Palin has hurt Mr. McCain’s image, voters said they had much more confidence in Mr. Obama to pick qualified people for his administration than they did in Mr. McCain.

After nearly two years of campaigning, a pair of hotly contested nominating battles, a series of debates and an avalanche of advertisements, the nationwide poll found the contours of the race hardening in the last days before the election on Tuesday. Twelve percent of the voters surveyed said they had already voted. These were among the findings:

Mr. Obama is maintaining his lead, with 51 percent of likely voters supporting him and 40 percent supporting Mr. McCain in a head-to-head matchup.

Some perceptions of race are changing, with a marked increase in the number of people who say they believe that white and black people have an equal chance of getting ahead in America today.

Mr. McCain’s focus on taxes, including his talk about Joe the Plumber, seems to be having some effect, as a growing number of voters now say Mr. McCain would not raise their taxes.

Eighty-nine percent of people view the economy negatively, and 85 percent think the country is on the wrong track.

Mr. Obama continues to have a significant advantage on key issues like the economy, health care and the war in Iraq.


The survey found that opinions of Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain had hardened considerably, as 9 out of 10 voters who said they had settled on a candidate said their minds were made up, and a growing number of them called it “extremely important” that their candidate win the election. Roughly half of each candidate’s supporters said they were “scared” of what the other candidate would do if elected. Just 4 percent of voters were undecided, and when they were pressed to say whom they leaned toward, the shape of the race remained essentially the same.


Bolstered by the fiscal crisis and deep concerns about the direction of the country, Mr. Obama has seemed to solidify the support he has gained in recent months. When likely voters were asked whom they would vote for in an expanded field that included several third-party candidates, Mr. Obama got the support of 52 percent of them, Mr. McCain 39 percent, Bob Barr 1 percent, and Ralph Nader 2 percent.

The nationwide telephone poll was conducted Saturday through Wednesday with 1,439 adults nationwide, including 1,308 registered voters. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

The poll was conducted as a wide range of state polls have shown Mr. Obama, of Illinois, ahead or tied in several crucial contested states, including some traditionally Republican states that Mr. McCain, of Arizona, must carry to win the election.

The survey suggested that Mr. Obama’s candidacy — if elected, he would be the first black president — has changed some perceptions of race in America. Nearly two-thirds of those polled said whites and blacks have an equal chance of getting ahead in today’s society, up from the half who said they thought so in July. And while 14 percent still said most people they knew would not vote for a black presidential candidate, the number has dropped considerably since the campaign began.

Mr. McCain’s heavy focus on taxes in the final weeks of the campaign seems to be having some effect, the poll found. Forty-seven percent of voters said Mr. McCain would not raise taxes on people like them, up from just 38 percent who said so two weeks ago. (And 50 percent said they thought Mr. Obama would raise taxes on people like them, while 44 percent said he would not; both numbers are similar to two weeks ago.)

With just days until Americans choose a new president, the survey found them deeply uneasy about the state of their country. Eight-five percent of respondents said the country was pretty seriously off on the wrong track, near the record high recorded earlier this month. A majority said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq. And President Bush’s approval rating remains at 22 percent, tied for the lowest presidential approval rating on record (which was President Harry S. Truman’s rating, recorded by the Gallup Poll in 1952).

Mr. McCain’s renewed efforts to cast himself as the candidate of change have apparently faltered. Sixty-four percent of voters polled said Mr. Obama would bring about real change if elected, while only 39 percent said Mr. McCain would. And despite Mr. McCain’s increased efforts to distance himself from President Bush, a majority still said he would generally continue Mr. Bush’s policies.

Dixie Cromwell, a 36-year-old cosmetologist from Shelby, N.C., who is a Republican, said in a follow-up interview that she had already voted for Mr. Obama.

“I generally vote Republican, but this year I voted Democrat,” she said. “I just don’t feel we can go through any more of the same old thing that we’ve been going through with the Republican Party.”

Mr. Obama’s policies were seen as much more likely to improve the economy, provide health insurance to more people, and scale back military involvement in Iraq than Mr. McCain’s were. But Mr. McCain enjoyed an advantage when it came to questions about which candidate would make a better commander in chief: 47 percent of voters said Mr. McCain was very likely to be an effective commander in chief, compared with 33 percent who said Mr. Obama would be.

While a majority viewed Ms. Palin as unqualified for the vice presidency, roughly three-quarters of voters saw Mr. Obama’s running mate, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, as qualified for the job. The increase in the number of voters who said Ms. Palin was not prepared was driven almost entirely by Republicans and independents.

Over all, views of Ms. Palin were apparently shaped more by ideology and party than by gender. Ms. Palin was viewed as unprepared for the job by about 6 in 10 men and women alike. But 8 in 10 Democrats viewed her as unprepared, as well as more than 6 in 10 independents and 3 in 10 Republicans.

Marjorie Connelly, Megan Thee and Marina Stefan contributed reporting.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/31/us/politics/31poll.html?hp)

October 31st, 2008, 04:43 AM

last updated at 08:15 GMT, Friday, 31 October 2008
McCain in emergency donation plea

Republican US presidential hopeful John McCain
has made a plea for emergency donations in an effort to
pull off a surprise victory in Tuesday's election.

[No Byline Given – Z]


Mr McCain called for financial help
to counter anti-Republican attacks

'Not over'

Mr McCain made his emergency donations plea less a day after Mr Obama spent an estimated $5m (£3.1m) on a 30-minute primetime "infomercial" aired on US TV networks.

In an email to supporters the Arizona senator wrote: "I'm asking for your financial support today to help us respond to attacks against our entire ticket.

"This election is not over and we need everyone's hard work in the coming days to be victorious." …

BBC © MMVIII (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/us_elections_2008/7700070.stm)

October 31st, 2008, 01:49 PM
Early Voting

Public Policy Polling has released two polls that show large leads for Obama in Colorado and New Mexico.

Coupled with the polling results is data on early voting in the states. About 60% of the electorate has already voted in CO and NM.

Colorado votes cast by:
DEM - 315,000
REP - 300,000

New Mexico votes cast by:
DEM - 76,000
REP - 45,000

Early Voting Webite (http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/27/early.voting.map/index.html?eref=rss_latest)

October 31st, 2008, 02:27 PM

Updated 8:27 AM

Obama Is Allegedly Choosing His Chief Of Staff


Democratic officials said last night that Barack Obama's campaign approached Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel to possibly serve as White House chief of staff.

Emanuel worked in the White House under President Bill Clinton and currently serves as a member of the House Democratic leadership.

An aide to Emanuel said the congressman was not contacted to take a job in "an administration that does not exist."

According to a poll released today, Obama has opened up a big lead.

The new CBS-New York Times poll shows the Obama-Joe Biden ticket with a 13-point lead over John McCain and Sarah Palin, 52 percent to 39 percent.

Obama has stops planned today in Iowa and Indiana before finishing the day at home in Chicago. McCain remains in Ohio.

Meanwhile, the economy dominated talk on the campaign trail yesterday amid reports the U.S. economy shrunk by its sharpest rate in seven years.

Both candidates are capitalizing on the news in speeches and in new ads about the economy.

The Obama camp's latest ad says that John McCain's presidency would be like looking in a "rear view mirror."

"Wonder where John McCain would take the economy? Look behind you.

John McCain wants to continue George Bush's economic policies," says the ad.

Also on Thursday, the Obama campaign's New York headquarters in the Financial District got a dose of star power from actress Sarah Jessica Parker, who made calls to help sway undecided voters and recruit more volunteers.

"Tonight, we're calling volunteers to get them fired up for this weekend's phone bank, but the main push out of New York is calling to the battleground states and getting people out to vote," said David Pollak, the New York State director for the Obama campaign.


The headquarters are holding a final "Last Call for Change" weekend, pushing for a massive get-out-the-vote effort throughout the state.

Meanwhile, McCain made several campaign stops in the battleground state of Ohio Thursday. The Republican nominee said his campaign may be down, but not out.

"We're a few points down, but we're coming back," said McCain. Last night Senator Obama said that if he lost, he would return to the Senate and try again in four years for the second act. That sounds like a great idea to me, let's help him make it happen."

Both vice presidential candidates followed a similar trail yesterday.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden and Republican nominee Sarah Palin both held stops in Missouri before campaigning in Pennsylvania.

Copyright © 2008 NY1 News. All rights reserved.

October 31st, 2008, 05:22 PM

In Final Stretch, McCain to Pour Money Into TV Ads

By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 31, 2008; A03

Sen. John McCain and the Republican National Committee will unleash a barrage of spending on television advertising that will allow him to keep pace with Sen. Barack Obama's ad blitz during the campaign's final days, but the expenditures will impact McCain's get-out-the-vote efforts, according to Republican strategists.

McCain has faced a severe spending imbalance during most of the fall, but the Republican nominee squirreled away enough funds to pay for a raft of television ads in critical battleground states over the next four days, said Evan Tracey, a political analyst who monitors television spending.

The decision to finance a final advertising push is forcing McCain to curtail spending on Election Day ground forces to help usher his supporters to the polls, according to Republican consultants familiar with McCain's strategy.

The vaunted, 72-hour plan that President Bush used to mobilize voters in 2000 and 2004 has been scaled back for McCain. He has spent half as much as Obama on staffing and has opened far fewer field offices. This week, a number of veteran GOP operatives who orchestrate door-to-door efforts to get voters to the polls were told they should not expect to receive plane tickets, rental cars or hotel rooms from the campaign.

"The desire for parity on television comes at the expense of investment in paid boots on the ground," said one top Republican strategist who has been privy to McCain's plans. "The folks who will oversee the volunteer operation have been told to get out into the field on their own nickel."

Obama has maintained a substantial financial advantage during the general election campaign, forcing McCain to make tough decisions when locking down a final spending plan about two weeks ago.

Scott Reed, an informal McCain adviser who in 1996 ran then-Sen. Robert J. Dole's presidential bid, said the campaign made the right call by dedicating more money to its media effort. Ads are the most efficient way to persuade undecided voters, and possibly convince some who are only tepidly backing Obama, he said.

"Obama still has not closed the deal," Reed said. "He's still polling under 50 [percent] in most of these battleground states. Don't forget, a lot of people make these decisions late."

Tracey said everything McCain and the RNC are doing is "basically aimed squarely at 'undecideds' and 'lean Obamas.' They've got to bring 'soft Obamas' over their way. TV is the best place to do that."

McCain also is being aided in the campaign's final weekend by several conservative groups, which are airing ads supporting him in key media markets.

Left-leaning groups are also on the air. MoveOn.org announced yesterday it has begun airing ads backing Obama in Arizona.

RNC officials said the party would be picking up the slack for a portion of the Election Day field effort, but it would not be running the entire operation as it did in 2004. The RNC will pay per diems and travel costs for 750 volunteers who fanned out to battleground states yesterday.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company

October 31st, 2008, 05:34 PM
Regarding undecided voters:

When 'undecided voter' is mentioned, it's assumed that all these people are deciding who to vote on.

But as you move closer to the election date, the percentage within this group who aren't engaged in the process at all rises. Not many people polled who have no interest in voting will say that - easier to say "I'm not sure." A week before an election, the percentage of undecideds who don't vote is many times higher than that for the decided groups.

October 31st, 2008, 05:46 PM

Obama and the Runaway Train

The race, the case, a hope for grace.


The case for Barack Obama, in broad strokes:

He has within him the possibility to change the direction and tone of American foreign policy, which need changing; his rise will serve as a practical rebuke to the past five years, which need rebuking; his victory would provide a fresh start in a nation in which a fresh start would come as a national relief. He climbed steep stairs, born off the continent with no father to guide, a dreamy, abandoning mother, mixed race, no connections. He rose with guts and gifts. He is steady, calm, and, in terms of the execution of his political ascent, still the primary and almost only area in which his executive abilities can be discerned, he shows good judgment in terms of whom to hire and consult, what steps to take and moves to make. We witnessed from him this year something unique in American politics: He took down a political machine without raising his voice.

A great moment: When the press was hitting hard on the pregnancy of Sarah Palin's 17-year-old daughter, he did not respond with a politically shrewd "I have no comment," or "We shouldn't judge." Instead he said, "My mother had me when she was 18," which shamed the press and others into silence. He showed grace when he didn't have to.

There is something else. On Feb. 5, Super Tuesday, Mr. Obama won the Alabama primary with 56% to Hillary Clinton's 42%. That evening, a friend watched the victory speech on TV in his suburban den. His 10-year-old daughter walked in, saw on the screen "Obama Wins" and "Alabama." She said, "Daddy, we saw a documentary on Martin Luther King Day in school." She said, "That's where they used the hoses." Suddenly my friend saw it new. Birmingham, 1963, and the water hoses used against the civil rights demonstrators. And now look, the black man thanking Alabama for his victory.

This means nothing? This means a great deal.

John McCain's story is not of rise so much as endurance, not only in Vietnam, which was spectacular enough, but throughout a rough and rugged political career of 26 years. He is passionate, obstreperous, independent, sees existential fables within history. His self-confessed role model for many years was Robert Jordan in Ernest Hemingway's novel of the Spanish Civil War, "For Whom the Bell Tolls." Mr. McCain, in his last memoir: "He was and remains to my mind a hero for the twentieth century . . . an idealistic freedom fighter" who had "a beautiful fatalism" and who sacrificed "for something else, something greater." Actually Jordan fought on the side of the communists and died pointlessly, but never mind. He joined his personality to a great purpose and found meaning in his maverickness. In his campaign, Mr. McCain rarely got down to the meaning of things; he mostly stated stands. But separate and seemingly unconnected stands do not coherence make.

However: It was a night during the Republican Convention in September, and two former U.S. senators, who had served with Mr. McCain for a combined 16 years, were having drinks in a hotel dining room. I told them I collected stories of senators who'd been cursed out by John McCain, and they laughed and told me of times they'd been the target of his wrath on the Senate floor.

The talk turned to presidents they had known, and why they had wanted the job. This one wanted it as the last item on his résumé, that one wanted it out of an inflated sense of personal destiny. Is that why Mr. McCain wants it? "No", said one, reflectively. "He wants to help the country." The other added, with almost an air of wonder, "He wants to make America stronger, he really does." And then they spoke, these two men who'd been bruised by him, of John McCain's honest patriotism.

Those who have historically been sympathetic to the Republican Party or conservatism, and who support Barack Obama – Colin Powell, William Weld and Charles Fried, among others – and whose arguments have not passed muster with some muster-passers, go undamned here. Their objections include: The McCain campaign has been inadequate, and some of his major decisions embarrassing. All too true. But conservatives must honor prudence, and ask if the circumstances accompanying an Obama victory will encourage the helpful moderation and nonpartisan spirit these supporters attempt, in their endorsements, to demonstrate.

There is for instance, in the words of Minnesota's Gov. Tim Pawlenty, "the runaway train." The size and dimension of the likely Democratic victory seem clear. A Democratic House with a bigger, more fervent Democratic majority; a Democratic Senate with the same, and possibly with a filibuster-breaking 60 seats; a new and popular Democratic president, elected by a few points or more; a Democratic base whose anger and hunger have built for eight years; Democratic activists and operatives hungry for business and action. What will this mix produce? A runaway train with no one to put on the brakes, to claim a mandate for slowing, no one to cry "Crossing ahead"? Democrats in Congress will move for innovation when much of the country hopes only for stability. Who will tell Congress of that rest of the nation? Mr. Obama will be overwhelmed trying to placate the innovators.

America enjoyed divided government most successfully recently from 1994 to 2000, with Bill Clinton in the White House and Newt Gingrich in effect running Congress. It wasn't so bad. In fact, it yielded a great deal, including sweeping reform of the welfare system, and balanced budgets.

Whoever is elected Tuesday, his freedom in office will be limited. Mr. Obama is out of money and Mr. McCain is out of army, so what might be assumed to be the worst impulses of each – big spender, big scrapper – will be circumscribed by reality. In Mr. Obama's case, energy will likely be diverted to other issues. He will raise taxes, of course, but he may also feel forced to bow to a clamorous base with the nonspending items they favor: the rewriting of union law to force greater unionization of smaller shops, for instance, and a return to a "fairness doctrine" that would limit free speech on the air.

And there is this. The past few months as the campaign unfolded, I listened for Mr. Obama to speak thoughtfully about the life issues, including abortion. Our last Democratic president knew what that issue was, and knew by nature how to speak of it. Bill Clinton famously said, over and over, that abortion should be "safe, legal and rare." The "rare" mattered. It set a tone, as presidents do, and made an important concession: You only want a medical practice to be rare when it isn't good. For Mr. Obama, whose mind tends, as intellectuals' minds do, toward the abstract, it all seems so . . . abstract. And cold. And rather suggestive of radical departures. "That's above my pay grade." Friend, that is your pay grade, that's where the presidency lives, in issues like that.

But let's be frank. Something new is happening in America. It is the imminent arrival of a new liberal moment. History happens, it makes its turns, you hold on for dear life. Life moves.

A fitting end for a harem-scarem, rock-'em-sock-'em shakeup of a year -- one of tumbling inevitabilities, torn coalitions, striking new personalities.

Eras end, and begin. "God is in charge of history." And so my beautiful election ends.

Copyright ©2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122539802263585317.html)


Peggy Noonan is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal whose work appears weekly in the Journal's Weekend Edition and on OpinionJournal.com.

She is the author of eight books on American politics and culture. The most recent, "Patriotic Grace," is to be published in October 2008. Her first book, the bestseller "What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era," was published in 1990.

She was a special assistant to the president in the White House of Ronald Reagan. Before that she was a producer at CBS News in New York. In 1978 and 1979 she was an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.

October 31st, 2008, 06:36 PM
Senate Races

Including safe races and seats not up for election, the projected Senate composition is:

55 DEM....38 REP...2 IND

5 races are toss-up

DEM Franken leads REP incumbent Coleman. This races has become nasty, with both candidates filing suit against the other.

REP incumbent McConnell leads Lunsford.

REP incumbent Chambliss leads DEM Martin

REP incumbent Wicker and DEM Musgrove are tied.

DEM Begich leads convicted REP incumbent Stevens.

DEM wins in all 5 would give a 60-40 majority.

A race which is leaning DEM has also become nasty. DEM Hagan leads REP incumbent Dole, and is suing for defamation of character over a campaign ad.

November 1st, 2008, 12:30 AM

This year, the Obama campaign has appropriated [microtargeting] and taken it to a new level. ...

“They’ve used [it] to develop a better ground game and backed it with a phenomenal amount of resources,” said Alexander Gage, chief executive of TargetPoint, a Republican consulting firm and a pioneer of political microtargeting. “The quality and the quantity of their ground game is measurably better than the Republican campaign of 2004 or the McCain campaign. Obama has better deployed microtargeting and is using it more.”

Microtargeting uses computers and mathematical models to take disparate bits of information about voters — the cars they own, the groups they belong to, the magazines they read — and analyze it in a way to predict how likely a person is to vote and what issues and values are most important to him. Often these analyses turn up surprising results ...

Democrats Take Page From Their Rival’s Playbook

Published: October 31, 2008

As the election heads into its final days, Democrats are exploiting a powerful skill long mastered by the Republicans: microtargeting, or the ability to find hidden pockets of support by analyzing reams of personal data about voters.

Even some Republicans admit that the Democratic effort has surpassed their party’s pioneering use of microtargeting to help President Bush win the White House in the last two elections.

This year, the Obama campaign has appropriated that tactic and taken it to a new level. By investing heavily in microtargeting, the campaign has built a ground game that has helped put more closely contested states into play and forced the Republicans to compete in states they have handily won in the past.

“They’ve used microtargeting to develop a better ground game and backed it with a phenomenal amount of resources,” said Alexander Gage, chief executive of TargetPoint, a Republican consulting firm and a pioneer of political microtargeting. “The quality and the quantity of their ground game is measurably better than the Republican campaign of 2004 or the McCain campaign. Obama has better deployed microtargeting and is using it more.”

Microtargeting uses computers and mathematical models to take disparate bits of information about voters — the cars they own, the groups they belong to, the magazines they read — and analyze it in a way to predict how likely a person is to vote and what issues and values are most important to him. Often these analyses turn up surprising results; for instance, Democrats have taken advantage of the fact that many evangelical Christians are open to hearing a pro-environmental message.

The technique first came on the political scene in 2000 when Mr. Gage convinced Karl Rove, the Bush campaign’s chief strategist, that microtargeting, which was widely used by marketing companies in the business world, could be applied to politics and would to lead to a Bush victory. That victory helped spur the development of the Republican Party’s celebrated Voter Vault, which candidates can dip into to track down likely supporters and avoid wasting time on voters who cannot be persuaded.

For years, Republicans had the landscape to themselves. More recently, however, Democrats, along with such allies as trade unions and progressive groups, have poured millions of dollars into building two formidable databanks. One is managed by the Democratic National Committee and can be used by candidates up and down the ballot. The other is Catalist, a for-profit company headed by Harold M. Ickes, a Democratic political operative, that specializes in providing data for scores of liberal groups supporting the Democratic ticket as well as for the Obama campaign itself.

“Candidates and organizations like the Sierra Club and the A.F.L.-C.I.O. now have the time and money to start focusing beyond basic microtargeting and to understanding more advanced voter behavior,” said Vijay Ravindran, chief technology officer at Catalist, based in Washington. “There is a breadth and depth that we did not have before. We were just trying to crawl. There has been a concerted, deep and well-financed effort to catch up with and surpass what has been done on the other side.”

Microtargeting has become so widespread that it is now used by all House and Senate candidates, on both sides, in state legislative races and, in some cases, all the way down the ballot to local school board elections.

But until now, Democrats were far behind the Republican efforts, and they did not even begin to build a national voter file until after the 2004 election, which is when Mr. Ickes also decided to establish Catalist.

For Democrats, the big awakening came in 2006. On the day before Election Day, Democrats used microtargeting to identify 15,000 Montana voters who had never been contacted by the party but who appeared likely to vote for the party’s Senate candidate that year, Jon Tester. A last-minute get-out-the-vote blitz focused on those voters, and Mr. Tester won by 3,000 votes.

“What you are now seeing in politics is a level of precision in finding people who are potentially swayable,” said Colin Shearer, vice president at SPSS, a data-analysis company in Chicago with clients in both parties. “Once you find out who they are, you want to know what are the specific messages. It is not just who to target, but what is the right thing to say to provide a resonant message.”

Now those techniques are helping Democrats put states once considered unwinnable into play.

“The Obama campaign and its allies used the data to create an incredibly broad swath of battleground states,” said Mr. Ravindran of Catalist. “No one would have predicted that 30 states would be in play. It’s been a very pragmatic approach.”

While the Republicans continue to rely on the party’s Voter Vault, the Democratic National Committee has its Vote Builder, which is made available to Democratic candidates in all 50 states, often at no charge. In 2006, when Vote Builder was just getting started, it was available in only 25 states.

Neither the Republican National Committee nor the McCain campaign would comment on the use of microtargeting, citing a desire to not telegraph tactics in the heat of the campaign.

But Mr. Gage, of TargetPoint, the Republican firm, said that unlike the Democrats, Republican candidates had no large outside firm like Catalist to turn to, so all microtargeting efforts had to come through the party.

Mr. Gage added, “All of us are doing this better than we did four year ago.”

“We’ve all learned to do a 100-step process,” he said. “We’ve figured out how to do it. They’ve figured out how to do it. But once you have the information, what do you do with it? That’s the real question.”

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/01/us/politics/01target.html?_r=1&ref=politics&oref=slogin)

November 1st, 2008, 01:48 AM

A new leader for a new era

The US stands on the threshold of the new era it needs.
Americans should elect Barack Obama as their president

The Guardian,
Saturday November 1 2008

Every United States presidential election is important. Most of them provide dramatic political theatre. All of them are compulsively watched by the rest of the world. The election of 2008, however, is a record-breaker in all departments. It is important because it comes at the end of George Bush's calamitous two terms and amid such economic turmoil. It is memorable because it has involved so many ground-breaking candidates and long campaigns on both sides. And it has been watched and experienced by the world as no American election has been before. Not since the Kennedy era has such a contest resonated so potently with so many people in America and beyond, including in this country. But the circumstances of this year's contest, the character of the protagonists and the immediacy of the internet age combine to mean that the 2008 election is likely to make a defining statement about America for this global generation that may eclipse even the impact of the contest of 1960.

World interest

Though we lack the vote, this is our election too. Such statements outrage many Americans and inspire others. But the rest of the world has not just lived this election. Our life chances and societies will also be shaped by what happens next Tuesday. The world has an interest in the outcome because, in spite of everything, America remains the world's pre-eminent military, political, financial and cultural power. America's standing in the world has been damaged during the Bush years. He has inflicted massive direct harm to many parts of the world through his military actions, has set back the quality of life on our planet by his indifference to climate change, international cooperation and the rule of law. He has been anti-Americanism's best recruiting sergeant and al-Qaida's too.

The world may not have the vote on Tuesday. But it certainly has a candidate. That candidate is Senator Barack Obama. If the world could vote on November 4, Mr Obama would win by a landslide. Polling shows him preferred in Egypt by two to one, in Poland by three to one, in Canada by five to one, in Brazil by six to one, in Britain by seven to one, in France by 11 to one and in Kenya by more than 17 to one.

He is not just the preferred choice of liberal Europeans. He is also the choice of the rest of the world, of all races and creeds - and of young people in particular. No buses crammed with lawyers would be needed to validate the accuracy of these votes. He commands this support, not only because he is not George Bush but because he personifies so much of what the world still admires about America. Americans ought to think about that. The world longs, perhaps unrealistically but palpably nevertheless, for a new America. Only Mr Obama can provide that.

John McCain manifestly would not do this. Eight years ago, Mr McCain offered himself as a punchy and principled alternative to Mr Bush. The McCain of 2008 has been very different. He has made too many compromises with the social conservative wing of his party and in the last few weeks has run a partisan campaign in an attempt to re-energise the Republican faithful. His response to the economic crisis triggered by the credit crunch and the collapse of Lehman Brothers has been parlous. His party faces a bitter and enduring self-examination if it loses next week.

By choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, he made a huge error of both tactical and strategic judgment. Mrs Palin may have entranced the celebrity-driven parts of the media, but she has relentlessly alienated American voters, nearly 60% of whom now believe that she is not qualified to be the nation's vice-president. Mr McCain has made much of his experience and readiness to lead, but in this campaign he has been found lamentably wanting.

When the 2008 campaign began, Mr Obama stood for two things. He was against the Iraq war and he was in favour of a break with the embattled partisan politics of America's recent past. He was the candidate offering hope and change. He is still all those things today, but he has become much more than that. Over the past 20 months he has been tested in debate, in campaigning skills, and on policy. At each turn he has responded with enviable coolness and clarity of judgment and language, while developing a detailed programme of commitments on the issues that would shape his presidency - healthcare, economic restoration, the federal budget, energy and Iraq.

His performance in the televised debates was formidable, showcasing the discipline that has been such a feature of his campaign. He has responded well to the financial crisis, after a cautious start. In his 30-minute campaign infomercial this week, he reiterated the key pledges that he has made throughout this campaign, with a radical sustainable energy programme as a hallmark. Attacked by the Republicans as a redistributionist and a socialist, he has held his ground, insisting that America needs to be a fairer society.

High expectations

The voters may give the Democrats a clean sweep in Congress and the White House next week. Expectations will be high, hard to manage, and the honeymoon may not last. Yet Mr Obama will be in an enviable position. He will have the political space to write a new chapter for centre-left American governance. His election would mark the end of the conservative era that began under Ronald Reagan and which so inhibited the Democrats of the 1980s and 90s. His race is part of his appeal, and if he is elected it will mark a historic moment in American public life. But it is not, in the end, the central question next week. Mr Obama's greatest achievement is to have seized on the failures of the Republican era and to have developed a serious new progressive coalition and programme. America stands on the threshold of a new era. That is what the nation needs and the world craves, and Americans should elect Barack Obama as their president.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/nov/01/elections-obama-mccain-usa-bush)

November 1st, 2008, 09:31 AM
America stands on the threshold of a new era. That is what the nation needs and the world craves, and Americans should elect Barack Obama as their president.
Hear, hear!

November 1st, 2008, 10:30 AM
Did McCain, who seems to think that Palin's never having attended a "Georgetown cocktail party" is sufficient qualification for the vice presidency, lift an eyebrow when she said that vice presidents "are in charge of the United States Senate"?You would have thought that such a major blunder would have prompted the campaign to give Palin a crash course in civics.

But she's still at it. Now she's complaining that criticism by the press (excuse me - main stream media) is infringing on her First Amendment rights.

Dammit, Sarah. It's the first one, right at the top. Forget vice president; you should know it as a governor.

November 1st, 2008, 12:48 PM


November 1, 2008, 10:31 am
‘Hussein’ Chant at Palin Rally

By Julie Bosman

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. – “John McCain! Not Hussein!” So goes the latest popular chant on the campaign trail with Gov. Sarah Palin, demonstrated at a morning rally in central Florida.

(Photo: Todd Heisler/The New York Times)

Gov. Sarah Palin at a
rally in New Port Richey, Fla.,
on Saturday.

Ms. Palin was midway through her stump speech when a group of supporters began shouting it in unison, drowned out a few seconds later as Ms. Palin talked over them.

A similar chant, “Vote McCain, not Hussein,” was heard at a campaign event for Ms. Palin in Williamsport, Pa., earlier this week. Senator Barack Obama’s middle name is Hussein, a fact that some of his opponents say proves that he is a Muslim. Mr. Obama is, in fact, a Christian.

After the rally in Florida ended, two of the people leading the chant explained why they did so. “Because it rhymes,” said Shirley Mitten, 64, a volunteer at a pregnancy center and a resident of Brooksville, Fla. She said she does not know if Mr. Obama is a Muslim. “He says he’s not, but we have no way of knowing,” Ms. Mitten said.

Her husband, John A. Mitten, 64, took credit for starting the chant. “I was trying to get it going!” he said. “I just do not want Obama to be elected.”

Mr. Mitten said he could not trust Mr. Obama because of his past association with William Ayers, the 1960’s radical, and because of his relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. He also pointed out that Mr. Obama’s father was a Muslim. The middle name Hussein, he said, added to the suspicion. “I guess Obama was named after Saddam Hussein,” he said.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/01/hussein-chant-at-palin-rally/)

November 1st, 2008, 03:29 PM
Regarding undecided voters:

When 'undecided voter' is mentioned, it's assumed that all these people are deciding who to vote on.

But as you move closer to the election date, the percentage within this group who aren't engaged in the process at all rises. Not many people polled who have no interest in voting will say that - easier to say "I'm not sure." A week before an election, the percentage of undecideds who don't vote is many times higher than that for the decided groups.

My concern here is the obvious and has been alluded to by many of the pundits, that is, that the 'undecided' are really not undecided at all, but rather folks who are neither comfortable voting for a black candidate despite his credentials, nor admitting that race is an issue for them. There is a chance they will leaning to McCain, and those leanings are not being captured in the polls.

On the other there is the chance that pollsters are under estimating turnout as a result of using obsolescent trend methodologies to identify 'likely' voters, and my instincts tell me the turnout misestimations are significant. As a retsult I really believe this could be, and will be, a landslide win for Obama and that he may capture as many as 300 electoral votes

November 1st, 2008, 05:47 PM
There are a lot of misconceptions about undecideds (at this late date) and their ultimate effect on an election. Also the percentage of undecideds coupled with the Bradley Effect lead some to think that an African- American candidate has to be ahead by an amount equal to that of undecideds.

Let's say a poll shows Obama 49, McCain 43, Undecided 8. (Obama +6)

Assume ALL of the undecided vote (as I said, they don't vote at a higher rate), and give McCain a generous 60% of the split.

Now it's Obama 52.2, and McCain 47.8 (Obama +4.4).
All that for a 1.6 move.

I've read articles where the Bradley Effect percentage is subtracted from the black candidate; that's wrong, it should be added to the white candidate. So if Obama is consistently polling above 50%, it doesn't matter.

The Bradley election took place in 1982, when race relations were much more toxic, and polling was nowhere near as sophisticated as it is today. Recent elections between black and white candidates polled close to the election results.

If you want to get into nuts and bolts on undecided voting, there's several good posts here.

In my opinion, the election will be decided by two related items - voter turnout and vote suppression.

If the Hispanic vote in particular - which has moved to Obama by two to one - is high, I think it'll be a blowout.

Polling agencies seem to have been reluctant to adjust their models to account for the increased voter interest. It's their business, and their reputations are on the line. Gallup has hedged their bet. They publish two polls, a traditional and an expanded, which shows higher numbers for Obama.

I guess if either number comes in, they can say they were right.

And probably any number in between. :)

November 1st, 2008, 06:21 PM
Based on all that ^ ...

ZIP: How assured are you that Obama now has VICTORY in hand?

November 1st, 2008, 06:32 PM
She's warming up her voice in the wings,
getting ready for Tuesday night ....

November 1st, 2008, 07:00 PM
ZIP: How assured are you that Obama now has VICTORY in hand?From all the metrics I've been following, I thought the race was over weeks ago, since the credit market collapse. I just didn't want to jinx it.

By race over, I mean it moved out of McCain's control. Only a big Obama mistake or an outside influence could change the outcome.

That could still happen, but if the campaign follows a predicted path, I can't see a McCain win. I only caught the last minute of an interview with a Gallup rep, but he basically backed up what I said about undecideds - that they would split along expected proportions. I didn't catch the discussion of their two poll versions now showing the same +10 for Obama.

November 1st, 2008, 08:27 PM
Dick Cheney
:o aka Republican Darth Vader :o
Endorses McCain / Palin

Select Image Below
to Access YouTube Video

http://www.tarfumes.com/political/dick-cheney-angry.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGcM6MPqVM0)

Image – Courtesy Tarfumes.com
Video – Courtesy jjones423423 / YouTube

Runtime – 01:08

November 1st, 2008, 08:37 PM


November 1, 2008, 6:06 pm
Obama Talks Up Cheney’s Endorsement

By Jeff Zeleny

PUEBLO, Colo. – Senator Barack Obama ridiculed the endorsement that Vice President Dick Cheney extended to Senator John McCain on Saturday, asking voters here whether they believed that was a sign that Mr. McCain would take the nation in a new direction.

“Do you think Dick Cheney is delighted to support John McCain because he thinks John McCain’s going to bring change?” Mr. Obama said. “Do you think John McCain and Dick Cheney have been talking about how to shake things up, put Halliburton and get rid of the lobbyists and the old boys club in Washington?”

Mr. Obama seized upon remarks that the vice president delivered at a Republican campaign event on Saturday in Wyoming, where Mr. Cheney offered a forceful argument for Mr. McCain’s candidacy, saying: “John is a man who understands the danger facing America, he’s a man who has looked into the face of evil and not flinched.”

For months, Mr. Obama has been seeking to link Mr. McCain to the Bush administration. The comments from Mr. Cheney offered a fresh rationale for Mr. Obama, which he pitched to Colorado voters in the second stop on a three-state that began in Nevada and ended in Missouri.

“I’d like to congratulate Senator McCain on this endorsement because he really earned it. That endorsement didn’t come easy. Senator McCain had to vote 90 percent of the time with George Bush and Dick Cheney to get it,” Mr. Obama said. “He served as Washington’s biggest cheerleader for going to war in Iraq, and supports economic policies that are no different from the last eight years.”

For Mr. McCain, who has been working to distance himself from the administration, the endorsement presented an awkward moment. A spokesman for the McCain campaign issued a statement responding to Mr. Obama’s remarks, reminding voters that it was Mr. McCain who had opposed the Bush administration’s energy policy. Mr. Obama supported it.

“Barack Obama and Dick Cheney aren’t just cousins, they’ve shared support for the Bush energy policy and the out-of-control spending that John McCain has fought to oppose,” said Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for the McCain campaign.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/01/obama-talks-up-cheneys-endorsement/)

November 1st, 2008, 11:03 PM

November 2, 2008

Op-Ed Columnist

Who’s the Question Mark?


In the final moments of the most gripping campaign in modern history, John McCain is still trying to costume Barack Obama as a dangerous enigma.

But, in an odd and remarkable reversal, it is McCain who is the enigma, even though he entered the race with one of the best brands in American politics.

And it is Obama, who sashayed onto the trail two years ago as an aloof and exotic mystery man with a slim record and a strange name, now coming across as the steadier brand.

The McCain campaign specializes in erratica, while the Obama campaign continues to avoid any dramatica.

McCain pals around with Joe the Plumber and leaves Tito the Builder to Sarah Palin, exactly the kind of inane campaign silliness that the McCain formerly known as Maverick would have mocked mercilessly.

He’s getting a little traction on taxes, as he latches on to every possible scary image about Obama — except the suggestion that the Democrat’s gray Hart Schaffner Marx suits are red.

Before he was bubbled by Bushies, McCain was one of the most known and knowable quantities in American politics. For most of his long public career, he prided himself on his openness with the press — he even allowed some reporters to watch the results of January’s New Hampshire primary in his hotel suite in Nashua. He relished spending all day being challenged by voters and reporters.

Last summer, tapped out and unable to afford a paid staff of political professionals, he talked freely, telling reporters he would have a White House that would be the polar opposite of the secretive and dismissive Bush-Cheney operation. He imagined weekly press conferences and talked of subjecting himself to a version of British question time in Congress. While acknowledging he was a tech tyro, he promised to try “a Google,” as he called searching the Web, to put government spending online so citizens could bird-dog it.

He even went so far as to spin a dream of a West Wing in which he would cut back on his Secret Service so he wouldn’t feel so constrained.

In the end, “The Bullet,” or “Sarge,” as McCain calls his replacement campaign manager Steve Schmidt, was the one who did the shackling, turning the vibrant and respected McCain into a shell of his former self.

Schmidt abruptly cut off the oxygen supply to McCain’s brain. No more of the oldest established, permanent floating crap game of press confabs. No more audiences that weren’t vetted for friendliness. No more of McCain’s trademark insouciant mocking the process even as he participated in it.

Whether it was the five years he spent in a hole in Hanoi or just his gregarious makeup, McCain seemed to feed off of the company of people who interested him, be it reporters, voters or the pols in his posse, like Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham.

Unlike Obama, He Who Walks Alone, McCain always rejected the solitary in favor of the social. But ever since Sergeant Schmidt put Captain McCain into a sterile brig on the trail, the candidate has become a question mark.

Why would he repeat that oblivious line about the fundamentals of the economy being strong, saying it once in August and again in September?

Why would he threaten to not show up for a debate (after denouncing Obama for not rising to the challenge of joint town halls) so that he could go to Washington and play the shining knight if he had no plan and no prospect for success?

Why did he allow his campaign to become a host body for a Bush virus looking for someplace to infect? After working so hard to erase the image of what Senate aides called “the Bush hug,” McCain inexplicably hugged Bushies, surrounding himself with mercenaries trained in the same Rovian tactics that tore up his family — and tore apart his campaign — in 2000.

Why did a politician who once knew how to play the game so well, who was once so beloved by people of very different political stripes, allow his campaign to get whiny, angry, vengeful and bitter?

Why Palin?

(Her latest instant classics came Friday, when she entered a rally in York, Pa., to the tune of “Thriller” and when a conservative radio station broadcast an interview in which she accused reporters of threatening her First Amendment rights by attacking her for negative campaigning that she feels justifiably calls out Obama “on his associations.”)

Why did he allow his staff to put Palin on a couture catwalk in a tin-cup economy and then, when the price tags were exposed, trash her as a “diva” and “whack job,” thus becoming the rare Republican campaign devoured by Democratic-style vicious infighting?

The ultimate riddle is this: Why doesn’t McCain question why he has become a question mark?

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

November 1st, 2008, 11:14 PM


McCain's fate rests on who will vote

Many forecasts say he needs a perfect day to best Obama

Long lines for early voting, like this one in Charlotte, indicate that this
election may draw the highest turnout since 1908.
(Gary O'Brien/Charlotte Observer / November 2, 2008)

By Jim Tankersley

Washington Bureau

November 2, 2008

WASHINGTON — As the presidential race enters its final weekend after two years of battle, John McCain's best chance for a history-defying comeback rests in the greatest of electoral unknowns: voter turnout.

To win on Tuesday, analysts and polls suggest, the Republican nominee must win nearly all the remaining undecided voters in key swing states and peel a large chunk of "soft" supporters from Democratic rival Barack Obama. Then he must hope that his supporters vote in overwhelming numbers, and that more Obama supporters than expected stay home.

It would be a daunting task in any election, but it's particularly the case this year, when analysts predict the largest voter turnout ever, perhaps 130 million, and the biggest percentage of eligible voters casting ballots in a century.

"It would have to be almost like a perfect game," said Christopher Borick, a Muhlenberg College professor who conducts a daily tracking poll in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state. "Everything would have to break his way."

The McCain campaign believes it will, despite trailing by an average of more than 6 points in polls tracked by RealClearPolitics.com. In a conference call Friday, senior McCain campaign officials said they were picking up momentum and votes. They cast doubt on the turnout assumptions of several polls that showed them trailing badly nationwide and said they've recently matched Obama in TV ad spending.

They extolled a campaign ground game they said far exceeded President George W. Bush's vaunted re-election machine four years ago in terms of phone and door-to-door contact with voters.

But the GOP's central argument stems from political history, specifically, voters' shifting identification with political parties. McCain pollster Bill McInturff said polls that show Obama with wide leads appear to greatly overestimate the number of self-described Democrats. Some show Democrats with a 15-point identification advantage over the GOP; since 1984, McInturff said, the largest Democratic lead in presidential exit polling was 5 points.

"What we're seeing in Missouri and Pennsylvania and in other states," he said, "is that the Barack Obama number is dropping and John McCain is gradually coming up, and I think he is dropping because of that kind of structural barrier in terms of the historic vote in this country."

Analysts expect a historically large turnout Tuesday, a prediction McInturff shares. In 2004, 60 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. Michael McDonald, a George Mason University associate professor who tracks early voting, predicted Friday that this year could approach 64 percent, which would be the biggest percentage since 1908.

The question is, who will those voters be?

Pollsters disagree. The latest poll for CBS News and The New York Times shows Democrats outnumbering Republicans by 7 points and Obama leading McCain by 11. The latest Fox News poll shows Democrats with a 2-point identification edge and Obama leading by 3. Gallup's latest poll using its time-honed "traditional likely voter" model shows Obama up by 8.

There's disagreement as well on what sort of turnout to expect from first-time voters, young people and African-Americans. Democrats predict those groups will vote at a higher clip than usual, and break heavily for Obama. McCain's team believes they will too, but that voting will also increase among other demographic groups, keeping the general makeup of the electorate mostly unchanged.

Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg challenged the GOP logic in an open letter to McInturff.

"The McCain polls assume that young voters and other new voters will not play a disproportionate part in an expanded electorate," Greenberg wrote. "And yet, in the primaries, though turnout more than doubled, young voters and Latinos significantly increased their proportion of the overall expanded electorate. We would not assume that the same cannot happen next week."

McDonald predicted a larger proportion of African-American voters this year, but not young people.

With time running out for a big event to reshape the race, McCain's comeback potential could depend on whose turnout model is correct.

"It's not so much things that have to happen" for McCain to catch up, said Jay Cost, who writes the data-based Horse Race Blog for RealClearPolitics. "He needs certain things to be true."

He also said a half-century of polling doesn't allow for easily predicting the difference between closing, say, a 7-point gap or a 4-point one.

History does favor Obama on one turnout count: the weather. AccuWeather.com says it will be unseasonably warm and dry on Election Day. Poor weather, the service noted, citing a 2007 study, tends to boost Republicans.


Copyright © 2008, Chicago Tribune

November 2nd, 2008, 02:12 AM
...there is the chance that pollsters are under estimating turnout as a result of using obsolescent trend methodologies to identify 'likely' voters, and my instincts tell me the turnout misestimations are significant. As a retsult I really believe this could be, and will be, a landslide win for Obama and that he may capture as many as 300 electoral votes

I don't think Americans really view anything but a significant advantage in the popular vote as a "landslide". He wins based on the Electoral college - yes. his legitimacy will come from 60% or more of all votes going to him. THAT would be a landslide.

November 2nd, 2008, 02:44 AM

October 30, 2008
Found in a rundown Boston estate:
Barack Obama’s aunt Zeituni Onyango
'Auntie Zeituni', who, with Uncle Omar, dropped out of sight after moving to the US,
is backing the presidential candidate from her modest flat

James Bone in Boston, Rob Crilly in Kogelo and Ben Macintyre

(Tom Pilston / The Times)

[B]Exclusive picture of Aunt
Zeituni Onyango, walking from
the housing project in
a Boston suburb

Barack Obama has lived one version of the American Dream that has taken him to the steps of the White House. But a few miles from where the Democratic presidential candidate studied at Harvard, his Kenyan aunt and uncle, immigrants living in modest circumstances in Boston, have a contrasting American story.

Zeituni Onyango, the aunt so affectionately described in Mr Obama’s best-selling memoir Dreams from My Father, lives in a disabled-access flat on a rundown public housing estate in South Boston.

A second relative believed to be the long-lost “Uncle Omar” described in the book was beaten by armed robbers with a “sawed-off rifle” while working in a corner shop in the Dorchester area of the city. He was later evicted from his one-bedroom flat for failing to pay $2,324.20 (£1,488) arrears, according to the Boston Housing Court.

The US press has repeatedly rehearsed Mr Obama’s extraordinary odyssey, but the other side of the family’s American experience has only been revealed in parts. Just across town from where Mr Obama made history as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, some of his closest blood relatives have confronted the harshness of immigrant life in America.

In his book Mr Obama writes that “Uncle Omar” had gone missing after moving to Boston in the 1960s – a quarter-century before Mr Obama first visited his family in Kenya. Aunt Zeituni is now also living in Boston, and recently made a $260 campaign contribution to her nephew's presidential bid from a work address in the city.

Speaking outside her home in Flaherty Way, South Boston, on Tuesday, Ms Onyango, 56, confirmed she was the “Auntie Zeituni” in Mr Obama’s memoir. She declined to answer most other questions about her relationship with the presidential contender until after the November 4 election. “I can’t talk about it, I just pray for him, that’s all,” she said, adding: “After the 4th, I can talk to anyone.”

A photograph of Ms Onyango was later shown to George Hussein Onyango, Barack Obama’s half-brother in Nairobi, who confirmed that it was their aunt. George Onyango, 26, the youngest child of Barack Obama Sr, said that he had spent weekends with his Aunt Zeituni when he was growing up, and instantly recognised her.

George Onyango said that his aunt had left for the US about eight years ago but sent him e-mails. “She left to find work and I suppose she thought her life would be better there,” he said. “She was kind and caring.”

In his memoir Mr Obama describes the joy of meeting his father’s family during his first visit to Kenya in 1988. Aunt Zeituni, then a computer programmer at Kenya Breweries in Nairobi, is portrayed as a feisty woman who proclaims herself “the champion dancer”. Uncle Omar, by contrast, remains a mysterious figure who left for America and never came back. At one point in the book a half-sister tells Mr Obama that people “like our Uncle Omar, in Boston” move to the West.

“They promise to return after completing school. They say they’ll send for the family once they get settled. At first they write once a week. Then it’s just a month. Then they stop writing completely. No one sees them again.”

Aunt Zeituni and Uncle Omar are the children of Mr Obama’s grandfather Hussein Onyango Obama, by his third wife – the woman Mr Obama calls “Granny” because she raised his father. Mr Obama’s father, Barack Sr, was Onyango Obama’s son by his second wife, Akumu. That makes Zeituni and Omar a half-sister and half-brother of Mr Obama’s father, or Mr Obama’s half-aunt and half-uncle.

(Credited as “Copy Photo”)

A young Barack Obama
helping his Kenyan
grandmother, Sarah

While Mr Obama was on his voyage of personal discovery in Africa, his aunt and uncle were engaged in their own journey in his homeland.

The Times could not determine their immigration status and an official at Boston City Hall said that Ms Onyango was a resident of Flaherty Way but not registered to vote on the electoral roll. However, that Ms Onyango made a contribution to the Obama campaign would indicate that she is a US citizen. Records at the Boston City Hall confirmed Zeituni Onyango’s birthdate as May 29, 1952.

It is not clear when Ms Onyango first came to the US. She said: “I have been coming to America ever since 1975. I always come and go.”

She is a frail woman who walks with the aid of a metal stick. Neighbours said that she lived alone in a ground-floor flat normally set aside for people facing physical hardship.

An Associated Press story about poor people buying lottery tickets at cheque-cashing shops, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, on May 25, 2003, quotes a Zeituni Onyango whom it describes as out of work and without much money. “It's like when I feel luck might fall I do that, like manna might come from Heaven. That’s when I buy it,” she told AP.

A staff member at the Boston Housing Authority office, 50 yards from her house, said Ms Onynango had been a volunteer resident health advocate between December 2007 and August this year. She worked six hours a week for a small stipend. Records show she used the housing authority’s address to make her campaign contribution.

Ms Onyango is also listed on the internet as a volunteer with Experience Corps, a programme in which adults over 55 mentor children in their communities. The “former computer systems co-ordinator” tells the group’s online newsletter: “I felt that I should help the children in my community. I love people and enjoy interacting with them . . . Also, I was idle, and this was a chance to get involved.”

A public record search lists an “O. Onyango Obama”, born on June 3, 1944, at 24 Colgate Road whose name matches that of the “Uncle Omar” in Dreams from My Father.

Nelson Ochieng, a cousin of Mr Obama who lives in the Kenyan city of Kisumu, near the family village of Kogelo, said that Omar had changed his first name after moving to the US. “Before he went to America we all knew him as Omar, but he dropped that bit, changing it to Obama Onyango, because he said he preferred his African name,” he said. Gail Greenberger, the landlady who bought the four-storey brick block of flats at a foreclosure sale in 1994, knew her tenant, however, by the name Obama Onyango. “We used to call him ‘Oh-bummer!’. That is how I pronounced Obama in 2000,” she said.

Ms Greenberger said she inherited him with the building but was forced to evict him in 2000 for nonpayment of his rent of about $500 a month. “I remember him being decent but I think he lost his job. When they lose their job, they just stop paying rent. He did not even go to court. He bolted from the apartment,” she said. Records of Boston Housing Court show a “summary process” was executed against Mr Onyango on February 23, 2000, for unpaid rent of $2,324.70.

Mr Onyango was a business partner in a “convenience store” called the Wells Market at 1760 Dorchester Avenue, now a Hispanic bodega, or grocery. Records list him as the treasurer of the corporation, which was set up without his name in 1992 and involuntarily wound up in 2007 after failing to file annual reports since 1997.

In 1994 Obama Onyango was attacked in an armed robbery at the Wells Market, the Boston Herald reported. According to a police report, two masked black males entered the store around 9.30pm on June 7, 1994, and “did assault and beat the victim, and did rob victim of an undetermined amount of US currency. Suspects were believed to be armed with a ‘sawed-off’ rifle, and did flee the area on foot .”

Asked why the man believed to be “Uncle Omar” went by the name Obama Onyango, Zeituni Onyango said that Obama was his true name. “That is the name his father gave him,” she said. Dershaye Geresu, the Ethiopian-born president of Wells Market Inc, confirmed that Mr Onyango was a “cousin” of Mr Obama.

Lennard Tenende, whose wife Lucy was secretary to the shop, said: “I don’t know where he is. It seems as if he is getting a lot of inquiries, a lot of people trying to find him and find out about his relationship with Obama and he just doesn’t want to be found.” Mr Ochieng said that he believed Mr Onyango ran a chain of stores.

The Obama campaign was repeatedly approached for comment yesterday but had not responded at the time of going to press. It is not clear whether Mr Obama has been in touch with his African relatives living in the US, or even whether he is aware that they are on US soil.

In the preface to the 2004 reissue, he writes: “Most of the characters in this book remain a part of my life, albeit in varying degrees – a function of work, children, geography, and turns of fate.”

“What is family?” he reflects. “Is it just a genetic chain, parents and offspring, people like me?” Twenty years after he first met Aunt Zeituni, and first heard of the elusive Uncle Omar, the man likely to be the next president will have the opportunity for another family reunion, rather closer to home.


How Barack Obama tells of his first meeting with his aunt

“Barack!” I turned to see Auma [his Kenyan cousin] jumping up and down behind another guard who wasn’t letting her pass into the luggage area. I excused myself and rushed over to her, as we laughed and hugged as silly as the first time we’d met. A tall, brown-skinned woman was smiling beside us, and Auma turned and said: “Barack, this is our Auntie Zeituni. Our father’s sister.”

“Welcome home,” Zeituni said kissing me on both cheeks . . .

We went to drop Zeituni off at Kenya Breweries, a large, drab complex where she worked as a computer programmer. Stepping out of the car, she leaned over again to kiss me on the cheek, then wagged her finger at Auma. “You take good care of Barry now,” she said. “Make sure he doesn’t get lost again.”

Once we were back on the highway, I asked Auma what Zeituni had meant about my getting lost. Auma shrugged.

“It’s a common expression,” she said. “Usually it means that the person hasn’t seen you in a while. ‘You’ve been lost,’ they’ll say. Or, ‘Don’t get lost’. Sometimes it has a more serious meaning. Let’s say a husband or son moves to the city, or to the West, like our Uncle Omar in Boston. They promise to return after completing school. They say they’ll send for the family once they get settled. At first they write once a week. Then it’s just once a month. Then they stop writing completely. No one sees them again. They’ve been lost, you see. Even if people know where they are.”

Extracted from Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama, pp305-307 (Canongate)

Copyright 2008 Times Newspapers Ltd. (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/us_elections/article5042571.ece)

November 2nd, 2008, 02:53 AM


Obama says he didn't know aunt's illegal status

Associated Press Writer
01 November 2008

CHICAGO - Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama said Saturday he didn't know his aunt was living in the United States illegally and believes that laws covering the situation should be followed.

The Associated Press found that Obama's aunt had been instructed to leave the country four years ago by an immigration judge who rejected her request for asylum from her native Kenya. The woman, Zeituni Onyango, is living in public housing in Boston and is the half-sister of Obama's late father.

A statement given to the AP by Obama's campaign said, "Senator Obama has no knowledge of her status but obviously believes that any and all appropriate laws be followed." Traveling with Obama in Nevada, campaign strategist David Axelrod declined to elaborate on the statement, but said: "I think people are suspicious about stories that surface in the last 72 hours of a national campaign."

An adviser to Republican John McCain's campaign, Mark Salter, said he had no comment on the reports about Obama's relative. "It's a family matter," Salter said.

The campaign said it was returning $260 that Onyango had contributed in small increments to Obama's presidential bid over several months. Federal election law prohibits foreigners from making political donations. Onyango listed her employer as the Boston Housing Authority and last gave $5 on Sept. 19.

Onyango, 56, is part of Obama's large paternal family, with many related to him by blood whom he never knew growing up.

Obama's father, Barack Obama Sr., left the future presidential nominee when the boy was 2, and they reunited only once — for a monthlong visit when Obama was 10. The elder Obama lived most of his life in Kenya, where he fathered seven other children with three other wives. He died in a car crash in 1982.

Obama was raised for the most part by his mother and her parents in Hawaii. He first met his father's side of the family when he traveled to Africa 20 years ago. He referred to Onyango as "Auntie Zeituni" when describing the trip in his memoir, saying she was "a proud woman."

Obama's campaign said he had seen her a few times since that meeting, beginning with a return trip to Kenya with his future wife, Michelle, in 1992. Onyango visited the family in Chicago on a tourist visa at Obama's invitation about nine years ago, the campaign said, stopping to visit friends on the East Coast before returning to Kenya.

She attended Obama's swearing-in to the U.S. Senate in 2004, but campaign officials said Obama provided no assistance in getting her a tourist visa and doesn't know the details of her stay. The campaign said he last heard from her about two years ago when she called saying she was in Boston, but he did not see her there.

Few details from case

Onyango's refusal to leave the country would represent an administrative, noncriminal violation of immigration law, meaning such cases are handled outside the criminal court system. Estimates vary, but many experts believe there are more than 10 million such immigrants in the U.S.

The AP could not immediately reach Onyango for comment. When a reporter went to her home Friday night, no one answered the door. A neighbor said she was often not home on weekends. Onyango did not immediately return telephone and written messages left at her home.

Onyango was instructed to leave the country by a U.S. immigration judge who denied her asylum request, a person familiar with the matter told the AP. This person spoke on condition of anonymity because no one was authorized to discuss Onyango's case.

The matter was referred to the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General and the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility to determine if there were violations in publicly disclosing an individual's information, NBC News reported.

It was unclear why her request was rejected in 2004. A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Kelly Nantel, said the government does not comment on an individual's citizenship status or immigration case.

Information about the deportation case was disclosed and confirmed by two separate sources, one a federal law enforcement official. The information they made available is known to officials in the federal government, but the AP could not establish whether anyone at a political level in the Bush administration or in the McCain campaign had been involved in its release.

Directive may reflect political sensitivity

Onyango's case — coming to light just days before the presidential election — led to an unusual nationwide directive within Immigrations and Customs Enforcement requiring that any deportations before Tuesday's election be approved at least at the level of the agency's regional directors, the U.S. law enforcement official told the AP.

The directive suggests that the administration is sensitive to the political implications of Onyango's case coming to light so close to the election.

The East African nation has been fractured by violence in recent years, including a period of two months of bloodshed after December 2007 that killed 1,500 people.

In Boston, Lydia Agro, communications director for the Housing Authority, said Onyango had been screened and approved for public housing as an "eligible non-citizen" when she moved in in 2003. She said the authority is not notified of deportation orders and did not know Onyango was related to Obama until two days ago.

Agro said the authority doesn't believe it needs to take any action to remove Onyango from public housing despite the order.

She said that although Onyango entered the system under federal guidelines in a federal development, she now lives in a state-funded development. State law forbids the authority from even asking Onyango about her immigration status. That means the federal deportation order has no bearing on Onyango's eligibility for the state-funded project where she lives, Agro said.

"We're not convinced that the deportation decision will affect her housing at all right now," she said.

"She's been a very good resident," she added.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081101/ap_on_el_pr/obama_aunt)

November 2nd, 2008, 03:06 AM


Obama advisor questions 'aunt' story timing

Posted by Carrie Dann
November 01, 2008

From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones and Carrie Dann

Speaking to reporters today, Obama chief strategist David Axelrod addressed reports that Zeituni Onyango, the half-sister of Obama's Kenyan father, has been living illegally in the United States for four years. Axelrod expressed some skepticism about the timing of the news, which first broke in the Times of London and was confirmed by the Associated Press in the waning days of the presidential race.

"The campaign issued a statement on that," Axelrod told reporters, "And I don't have anything more to add to it, other than I think people are suspicious about stories that surface in the last 72 hours of a national campaign.

"I think that they're going to take that," he added, "They're going to put it in that context."

In a statement earlier today, the campaign said that "Sen. Obama has no knowledge of her status but obviously believes that any and all appropriate laws should be followed."

Campaign finance records indicate that Obama's aunt donated $265 to his campaign. The Obama team said today that the money would be refunded, as foreign nationals are not permitted to donate to presidential campaigns in the United States.

Onyango has lived in a public housing complex in Boston since an immigration judge turned down her request for asylum in 2004.

*** UPDATE *** Senior McCain campaign advisor Mark Salter declined to comment on the story, per NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy. Salter told reporters on McCain's plane that "it's a family matter."

© 2008 msnbc.com / © 2008 Microsoft (http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/11/01/1625096.aspx)

November 2nd, 2008, 03:16 AM


November 1, 2008
Lawmaker wants to know source of leak on Obama's aunt
Posted: 01:09 PM ET


Conyers called for an investigation into
the leak over Obama’s aunt.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A Democratic lawmaker on Saturday asked Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to investigate a leak to reporters regarding the immigration status of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's aunt, suggesting the Bush administration may have been behind it.

"I was startled to read in today's Associated Press that a 'federal law enforcement official' has leaked information about an immigration case involving a relative of Senator Obama," said a letter sent to Chertoff by Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee.

"Even more troubling, the AP reports that it 'could not establish whether anyone at a political level in the Bush administration or in the McCain campaign had been involved,' a very disturbing (suggestion) indeed," the letter said.

"This leak is deplorable and I urge you to take immediate action to investigate and discipline those responsible."

The AP reported Saturday that Obama's Kenyan aunt, Zeituni Onyango, is living in the United States illegally, even though an immigration judge rejected her request for asylum four years ago. The story cites two sources, one of them a federal law enforcement official.

CNN has not been able to independently verify the aunt's immigration status. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Kelly Nantel declined comment, saying the agency "is prohibited from commenting on any individual's status."

© 2008 Cable News Network LP, LLLP. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/11/01/lawmaker-wants-to-know-source-of-leak-on-obamas-aunt/#more-27658)

November 2nd, 2008, 04:29 AM


US election: Newspapers distribute anti-Obama DVDs as part of advert buy

Elana Schor in Washington
October 31 2008

Politics in the morning paper is nothing new in America - but days before the election, ideologically charged content being packaged with newspapers is sparking a heated debate over advertising standards.

Subscribers to the Cincinnati Enquirer, in the swing state of Ohio, today joined readers in Cleveland and Las Vegas as the latest to get a free add-on with their newspaper: a DVD of an anti-Barack Obama film. The Democrat's supporters, predictably, were displeased.

One newspaper subscriber in Cleveland accused John McCain of funding the DVD advert. "I think it's very sleazy," Marilyn Garfunkel told the local Fox TV network. "I think it does not bode well for them in terms of how they've approached the campaign up to this point."

But the free film, titled Hype: The Obama Effect, was unconnected to the McCain camp. A conservative activist group, Citizens United, is spending more than $1m to distribute 1.25m copies of the Hype DVDs in three election-year battleground states.

The 95-minute film features several attacks on Obama that have been discredited by independent fact-checkers, including a claim that he would raise taxes on most US small businesses. Jerome Corsi, the author of a controversial book criticising Obama, also appears in the film.

Another free advertising DVD, however, has elicited a bigger backlash in this highly contentious election year. A non-profit group called the Clarion Fund has paid for 28m newspaper readers in swing states to receive free copies of Obsession, a film that has drawn criticism from religion scholars for its comparison of radical Islam to Nazism.

Obsession uses stark imagery to create a frightening picture of violence-seeking Muslim extremists. Although the film includes no overtly election-related content, the Clarion's website contained language praising John McCain before later being removed.

As Obsession DVDs appeared on the front steps of news subscribers across the US, a wave of protest developed in response. About 75 readers marched in front of the Oregonian newspaper's offices in Portland, where the mayor had advised against promoting the film.

The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, drew attention to the DVD advert with an accompanying article and was met with a torrent of response that leaned towards angry criticism of the film. About 50 readers cancelled their subscriptions to the newspaper, according to the Associated Press.

"I do not appreciate this right-wing propaganda being put in this battleground state's newspaper. I find that appalling," one commenter on the News & Observer website wrote.

Another offered sarcastic hope that the newspaper "made a small fortune in distributing this abomination to your subscribers because, in all other ways, your newspaper is totally and irreversibly bankrupt".

Kelly McBride, leader of the ethics faculty at the Poynter Institute of Journalism in Florida, said that the anticipated reader frustration was not reason enough for newspapers to decline the Obsession advert.

"As long as it's clearly labelled as advertising, then I don't think you have grounds to reject it," McBride said. "I don't think you can create a different standard for political adverts than other adverts … The standard is, if you can pay, and it's legal and not grossly offensive to the community, then we'll take it."

The timing of the Obsession mailings, during a hotly contested election as Republicans criticise Obama for pursuing talks with Iran, has raised questions about whether the DVDs were intended to help McCain. The Republican Jewish Coalition, which has endorsed McCain, also has distributed free copies of the film to its members.

Newspapers in Cleveland, Detroit, St Louis, and Greensboro, North Carolina, were among the few that declined to run the Obsession DVD.

"Clarion was thinking of more creative ways to use newspapers than newspapers were," Seth Hettena, a reporter who investigated the film for the Columbia Journalism Review, said.

Hettena described the free DVDs as "fall[ing] into a grey area, at the very least". He cited the timing of the newspaper adverts, their distribution to 14 US states where voters are split on the presidential race, and Clarion's ability to keep its donors secret under the tax laws.

The two films have generated fresh scrutiny of media advertising standards, but DVD inserts are not the only paid content being questioned by readers and journalists alike. Two newspapers in Virginia this week rejected a bid by the National Rifle Association to package their daily editions in plastic bags with the potent message, "Vote for Freedom … Defeat Obama".

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/oct/31/uselections2008-barackobama-hype-obsession)

November 2nd, 2008, 04:44 AM

A record 1.99 million people, or 36% of Georgia's registered electorate, voted during the 45-day-period set aside for early voting, according to statistics from the Georgia Secretary of State's office. That is more than 60% of the 3.28 million total voters in the 2004 presidential election, and far more than the number that voted early that year.

NOVEMBER 1, 2008, 4:09 P.M. ET
Georgia's Early Voting Period Ends


DUBLIN, Ga. -- With early voting in Georgia closing at mid-day Saturday, Democrats are starting to think the unthinkable: the state could possibly turn blue.

A record 1.99 million people, or 36% of Georgia's registered electorate, voted during the 45-day-period set aside for early voting, according to statistics from the Georgia Secretary of State's office. That is more than 60% of the 3.28 million total voters in the 2004 presidential election, and far more than the number that voted early that year.

While a change in electoral laws making it easier to vote early is part of the reason for the heavy turnout thus far, concerns about the economy and a concerted effort by Democrats to enlist new voters and rouse a base that in recent years had been overshadowed by a solid Republican grip on the state are also major factors, according to political scientists.

African-Americans and other minorities, who are expected to lean heavily toward the Democratic ticket, cast about 35% of the early ballots, though they account for only 29% of the total electorate.

Around Atlanta, where a large African-American population forms the state's strongest base of Democratic support, long lines snaked through hallways of polling stations and on sidewalks outside last week as voters endured waits sometimes surpassing three hours. State government statistics show the Democratic strongholds of DeKalb and Fulton counties, which both contain parts of the city, led the state in turnout.

The upshot in the state's major races is a slim, but narrowing lead in most polls for Sen. John McCain over Sen. Barack Obama, and a surprisingly tight race for Sen. Saxby Chambliss as the Republican incumbent fights to keep a tenuous hold on his seat. "The Obama campaign has done a very good job of expanding the electorate and mobilizing Democratic voters across the state," said Merle Black, a professor of politics and government at Emory University. "Obama is probably in the lead right now, but there's still a lot of voting that has to happen on Tuesday."

Overall, about 13% more voters are registered in Georgia for the 2008 election compared with 2004, while population in the state has grown by just over 14% for most of the decade so far, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The high early turnout by minority voters could mean that proportionally fewer cast ballots on Tuesday, simply because so many voted early, political scientists said. Indeed, Georgia Republicans, while recognizing the inroads made by Democrats in the state, say they are using that fact to encourage GOP voters to rally on Nov. 4.

Though Republican yard signs, billboards, and bumper stickers dominate most of the landscape in central and southern parts of the state, the party understands the risks posed by the heavy Democratic voting so far. Addressing a crowd of supporters in north Georgia this week, Sen. Chambliss, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, warned: "We know that the people turning out early are not voting for Saxby Chambliss and John McCain…If we don't turn out, it could be a sad night on Nov. 4."

Ben Fry, executive director of the Georgia Republican Party, in an interview said, "We're out there telling our voters that the Democrats are hungry and fired up. We're confident they're going to respond."

Democrats say early voting patterns indicate they have a better chance to capture Georgia than at any time in recent history. "The momentum has already started and it's not going to let up on Tuesday," said Martin Matheny, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Georgia. With the race so tight, Sen. Obama's campaign over the next few days is flooding Atlanta airwaves, which reach most of the state, with an advertising blitz.

Copyright ©2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122556950854990867.html)

November 2nd, 2008, 07:45 AM
I don't think Americans really view anything but a significant advantage in the popular vote as a "landslide". He wins based on the Electoral college - yes. his legitimacy will come from 60% or more of all votes going to him. THAT would be a landslide.You're asking quite a lot.

US Presidential Election Results

Year_____REP_____DEM_____Vote total (millions)

*Major third candidate___Wallace, Perot

The last election winner to get over 60% of the vote was Nixon in 1972. Except for the immediate post-colonial period, it's only been done four times in US history - 1920, 1936, 1964, and 1972. In his four runs, FDR did it once.

The last Democrat candidate to get over 50% of the vote was Carter in 1976. The only other since FDR was Johnson in 1964.

The US electorate is pluralistic, and elections have always been close. Obama has a chance for 60%, but everything has to break for him. I'm thinking something in the 3 - 8% range.

November 2nd, 2008, 07:59 AM
One big mistake of the Obama campaign was not pouring more money into the Georgia Senate race, even when it seemed like the state was going to be carried by McCain.

The challenger Martin was relatively unknown, and would have benefited from early campaign funding.

One of the three southern states will have to be carried if there's any shot for a 60-40 majority. Mississippi is leaning REP, so that leaves Georgia and Kentucky.

November 2nd, 2008, 08:19 AM
With the worldwide interest in the US elections, why does early voting resemble elections in Third World countries.


This is a de-facto poll tax.

November 2nd, 2008, 08:28 AM
Last night I allowed myself to ponder a McCain / Palin victory on Tuesday. Scary. I think the entire planet will be a sad place on Wednesday if that occurs.

From the NY POST (http://www.nypost.com/seven/11022008/photos/news004a.jpg):


November 2nd, 2008, 09:13 AM

Why is Colorado red on the map?
Why is Missouri red on the map?
Why is Indiana red on the map?

There is no reputable polling site that shows the electoral split 248-194.

Pollster.com 311 - 142
RCP 311 - 132
FiveThirtyEight 344 - 194

If Obama takes Florida and Virginia, then the election could be an early callIf that happens, the election is over. Obama could lose Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada - and still win. The only early call would be, "Bartender, a round of shots."

If McCain takes Florida, then the election will turn into late night drama.Only if you expect something like McCain carrying California. Florida is a must win for McCain, not for Obama.

If the Republican senators in New Hampshire, John Sununu and North Carolina, Elizabeth Dole, lose, then the Democratic goal of gaining 60 seats in the Senate looks likely. Absolutely wrong. Shaheen is almost a lock in NH, and Hagan is leading in NC, but both of these wins will not be enough. Minnesota is a close race, and the DEMS will need one of the southern states I mentioned earlier.

There's more nonsense that's not even worth mentioning. It's a Fox News-NY Post spin.

November 2nd, 2008, 11:17 AM
Why is Colorado red on the map?
Why is Missouri red on the map?
Why is Indiana red on the map?
Why, it's the Heartland ... doncha know?

November 2nd, 2008, 03:56 PM
From all the metrics I've been following, I thought the race was over weeks ago, since the credit market collapse. I just didn't want to jinx it.

By race over, I mean it moved out of McCain's control. Only a big Obama mistake or an outside influence could change the outcome.

That could still happen, but if the campaign follows a predicted path, I can't see a McCain win. I only caught the last minute of an interview with a Gallup rep, but he basically backed up what I said about undecideds - that they would split along expected proportions. I didn't catch the discussion of their two poll versions now showing the same +10 for Obama.
Not that anyone asked, but i agree. I maintain Obama will clear 300 elecotral votes.

As for the Bradley effect, I think for the most part you are correct. A small percentage of delclared Obama voters may in fact pull the lever for McCain. The impact of these voters is to both subract from Obama and add to McCain, but it is the undecided that creat the problem and are additive to McCain's count.

Still, suppression and turnout will decide this election and I feel real good about our chances.

Not sure I agree with that. Reagan carried 58% of the vote in 1984 in what was described as a landslide victory. Nixon only carried 61% in the second largest margin of victory of all time. Still I will change the vernacular to 'mandate' if that helps.

If McCain takes Florida, then the election will turn into late night drama.

The key state to watch is Va. If it goes to Obama, it will likely mean that McCain's support in Western Pa will not be strong enough to overcome Obama's stregnth in Philly. And if Obama wins both PA and VA its lights out. If he picks up OH and FLA as well, we are looking at a minimum of 300 electoral votes.

In other words an Obama win in Va is a leading indicator (although a McCain win is NOT) of how the election goes. From there it is just a question of how big. Given the Va polls close at 7PM this could be over very early.

November 2nd, 2008, 08:24 PM
Why, it's the Heartland ... doncha know?I'm just an elitist dumbbell, with no common sense.

Why, I can't even fix a leaky faucet.

November 2nd, 2008, 08:29 PM
Obama margins by several polling agencies over the same time period.


The agencies that include cellphone users in their sampling are shown in yellow.

November 2nd, 2008, 09:38 PM
An Obama / Reverend Wright ad was played on MSNBC earlier this evening. Brought to us by the fear mongers (http://nationalrepublicantrust.com/) over at goptrust aka The National Republican Trust Political Action Committee (NRT PAC (http://nationalrepublicantrust.com/about.html)).

So it seems John McCain and company have dropped the No Race in This Race game and are scraping the bottom of the barrel.

His scars go deep. I hope he feels them when he tries to sleep.

November 2nd, 2008, 10:20 PM
^^^ Terrible. What hurt me is that I know McCain is a better person than this. This version of McCain isn't the same we've seen back in 2000. It seems this guy is going all out in his quest to be the next POTUS. Ambition can be a terrible thing, and if McCain looses, this will seem like a modern day Greek tragedy. Here we have a man who is known for his code of honor and ethic; a man who now stooped down into the gutter to reach the highest office in the land, and in the end, ultimately let his blind ambition be his down fall.

November 2nd, 2008, 11:35 PM
Obama's tactics leave plenty of room in his potential presidency to win over die hard Republicans. McCain and Palin are using the scorched earth policy. They will have a solid base of incredibly hateful, angry supporters and not a chance in hell of wooing all the people they insulted, called anti-american, terrorist, and unpatriotic.

I honestly do not think that a McCain victory, alleged from this election results, will be believed or accepted. McCain and Palin have pumped up there crowds to a very volatile level that they can maintain within the confines of their insular rallies.

They can feign outrage, but, if Obama loses, I expect their level of anger to be flattened by unimaginable rage from pro-Obama supporters, pro-change voters, progressives, and a sector of the population that will not accept governance any longer from a leader or party that so completely counters the ideals and desires of so many regional Americans.

I think we might see people radicalized and develop an armed resistance to a government that they view as illegitimate. I don't think anyone is going to sit back and let this election be stolen.

This country really needs to break up, not unlike the Balkan region. We are not united states and for the last 20 years the country and been nearly evenly divided.

New York certainly is not served by the greater country.

November 3rd, 2008, 12:06 AM
Just what we need ^

Another Civil War.

Which side would the Armed Services stand up for?

November 3rd, 2008, 12:26 AM

November 3, 2008

The Caucus

Level of White Support for Obama a Surprise


If Tuesday’s election were confined to white America, polls show, Senator Barack Obama would lose.

And yet Mr. Obama’s strength across racial lines lies at the heart of his lead in the polls over Senator John McCain heading into Election Day. Remarkably, Mr. Obama, the first black major party presidential nominee, trails among whites by less than Democratic nominees normally do.

America’s political parties grew decisively polarized by race after 1964, the year President Lyndon Johnson signed civil rights legislation that his Republican presidential opponent, Barry Goldwater, opposed. Since then, election pollsters estimate, Democratic nominees have averaged 39 percent of the white vote. In last week’s New York Times/CBS News poll, Mr. Obama drew 44 percent support among whites — a higher proportion than Bill Clinton captured in his general election victories.

Analysts ascribe that success to changing racial attitudes, Mr. Obama’s deftness, Republican missteps and the economic crisis. Whatever the cause, when combined with his two-to-one edge among Hispanics and his 10-to-1 edge among blacks, it has given him a national election-eve lead.

The race is not over, and Election Day could bring surprises. And Mr. McCain is capturing a majority of the white vote, according to these same polls. Yet population shifts have made racial and ethnic diversity an unavoidable fact of American life. When Ronald Reagan won re-election in 1984, whites made up 86 percent of the electorate; by 2004, they had dropped to 77 percent.

With that backdrop, some observers say racial attitudes have diminished as an independent force, fading into the broader fabric of cultural concerns that shape voters’ choices like religion, abortion and gun control.

“Anybody who votes against Barack Obama because of the color of his skin, the Republicans would have gotten on another cultural issue,” said David Saunders, a consultant in Virginia who advises Democratic candidates on attracting white rural and working-class voters.

The presidential historian Michael Beschloss credits Mr. Obama with reprising the approach adopted by John F. Kennedy in his 1960 breakthrough as the first Roman Catholic to win the presidency. “He was running to be president of all the people, not president of a faction,” Mr. Beschloss said.

A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll documents Mr. Obama’s success in making that case. Asked whether an Obama presidency would favor the interests of blacks over other Americans, 8 in 10 whites said it would not.

For Democratic strategists who have spent their careers laboring to regain white voters’ allegiance, that alone is a striking achievement. In the mid-1980s, research by the pollster Stan Greenberg in Macomb County, Mich., concluded that middle-class whites resented the “raw deal” they received from a political debate in which Democrats appeared focused on racial minorities and the poor.

Like Mr. Greenberg’s client Bill Clinton in 1992, Mr. Obama has emphasized broad-gauged assistance for the middle class. “He’s managed to campaign in ways that may not have changed their world view but have allowed them to put those feelings aside,” Mr. Greenberg said. He added with a note of bemusement, “Maybe he has crossed over into Tiger Woods territory.”

Frustrated Republicans see Mr. Obama’s steady performances on the stump and in debates as only part of the explanation for his surprising level of white support. Just as responsible, some argue, is that President Bush’s unpopularity in threatening economic times has veered close to Herbert Hoover territory. “You’ve got to give Obama an awful lot of credit for his likability,” said Tom Slade, a former Florida Republican Party chairman, who abandoned his own Democratic allegiance in 1964 in the early phase of white conservatives’ political migration. More important, he said, “We have done a miserable job of managing the affairs of government.”

In the early 1990s, the political reporter Peter Brown wrote “Minority Party,” a book exploring the pitfalls of the Democrats’ identification with the interests of African-Americans. He credited Mr. Obama with providing “a comfort zone” for white voters, but pointed to the major boost he received this fall from the financial crisis on the watch of a Republican president.

“The most important color is green,” said Mr. Brown, now assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “When Lehman Brothers went under, this thing changed dramatically. People are just terrified about their financial futures.”

In the spring, some Democratic strategists feared Mr. Obama might be crippled in states where he lost working-class white primary voters decisively to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. In Ohio, carried by Mr. Bush in 2000 and 2004, polls now show Mr. Obama is competitive; in Pennsylvania, a top target for Mr. McCain, he is ahead in the polls.

With a message muting racial concerns, Mr. Obama didn’t begin his presidential bid with overwhelming strength among blacks; that came only after he defeated Mrs. Clinton in the white-dominated Iowa caucuses. “Ironically, the biggest difficulty about race for Obama was the doubts among African-Americans about his ability to succeed in the nominating process,” said Tad Devine, a top strategist for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004.

“It’s amazing to me — almost unreal,” Representative John Lewis of Georgia said. Earlier this fall Mr. Lewis, the civil rights movement veteran, accused Mr. McCain’s campaign of “sowing the seeds of hatred” in a way that was reminiscent of George Wallace during the 1960s, an attack that the Republican nominee called “brazen and baseless” and that Mr. Obama distanced himself from.

More recently, Mr. Lewis added, the campaign has made him “sort of sad” since leaders of that movement, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Johnson, cannot witness Mr. Obama’s candidacy.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

November 3rd, 2008, 03:02 AM

... As he pressed his right hand to his forehead, his sober expression seemed at odds with the confident gleam in the eyes of his advisers. While Mr. Obama smiles less than he once did, gauging his mood simply by looking at him is risky: his baseline cool temperament has seldom spiked along the rocky points of his journey. ...

The lines in Mr. Obama’s face have grown a bit deeper since he started his campaign, with the notches of gray hair along his temples far more pronounced. ...

“In a marathon, when you are on mile 20 you start getting tired, but when you are on mile 25 you don’t,” said ... [Mark] Lippert, who has grown familiar with Mr. Obama’s travel rhythms while accompanying him on the four foreign trips he has taken since becoming a senator. “That’s where he’s at.”

Whatever emotions or anxiety Mr. Obama feels as his candidacy draws to a close, he displays little of it, either in public appearances or private conversations with his close advisers. The air of confidence he exudes, which some critics take as arrogance, grew in part out of the primary, when he worked to avoid perceptions that he was weak or not ready.

But now, he is described by friends as feeling as though he has been thoroughly tested and is prepared to take on the job he has spent 22 months fighting for. Still, it is hard for even those closest to Mr. Obama to fathom what these days are precisely like, even for the unflappable — often inscrutable — senator from Illinois.

His world is awash in powerful, conflicting emotions: the realization, presumably, that he may be about to become president; the huge optimism that he has unleashed, evident in the crowds he is drawing (and something he has told aides worries him a bit, given the expectations set for him); the weighty thinking he is gradually giving to how he would staff a government and deal with a transition in such a difficult time. All of this is taking place as a woman who played a large role in raising him, his grandmother, is approaching death.

“ ‘What if I disappoint people?’ ” Valerie Jarrett, a close friend and adviser, recalled Mr. Obama asking at several points throughout the campaign. “That’s what gives him the energy to keep getting up every day.” ...

If there is a feeling of nostalgia surrounding the Obama campaign in these final hours before the election, it does not seem to be coming from the candidate himself. He is eager to be finished campaigning, several of his friends said, and for months has been immersing himself in the work of the presidency, well before he knows if it will ever be his. ...

Even Keel for Obama in Final Turn to Election

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Senator Barack Obama on his plane late Saturday when he arrived in Springfield, Mo.,
during a final weekend pass through contested states before the election.

Published: November 2, 2008

A version of this article appeared in print on November 3, 2008

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A cellphone was pressed to Senator Barack Obama’s ear as he slouched down in a black leather chair in the front cabin of his campaign airplane. He leaned away from the headrest, where his name is spelled out in blue stitching.

A few miles away, thousands of people streamed into JFK Stadium at Parkview High School on Saturday for a late-night rally. But Mr. Obama stayed on his chartered Boeing 757 as he spoke by conference call to thousands of his team leaders around the country, the volunteers who form the ranks of an army that he hopes will give him an edge in the waning hours of the presidential race.

As he pressed his right hand to his forehead, his sober expression seemed at odds with the confident gleam in the eyes of his advisers. While Mr. Obama smiles less than he once did, gauging his mood simply by looking at him is risky: his baseline cool temperament has seldom spiked along the rocky points of his journey.

In a campaign where he has slogged through more competitive election days than any recent nominee, only one more lies ahead. And it is the long path of the Democratic primary, which lurched from the ups of Iowa to the downs of Ohio, that his friends say provided Mr. Obama with a steady equilibrium as he enters this final turn in the race for the White House.

“As painful as the primary season was and how agitating it could be, it turned out to be a blessing for him,” said Eric Whitaker, a longtime Chicago friend who joined Mr. Obama aboard the crowded campaign plane for the past three days. “But my role now is to keep him loose. There’s a lot going on in his world.”

The lines in Mr. Obama’s face have grown a bit deeper since he started his campaign, with the notches of gray hair along his temples far more pronounced. He often carries the look of exhaustion, but flying the other night to Nevada, where he arrived after midnight, Mr. Obama passed on the chance to take much of a nap.

Instead, he walked around the cabin of his airplane, which is about the size of a bedroom, and talked about a favorite diversion, the coming basketball season, as he took care not to step on a senior foreign policy adviser, Mark Lippert, who was asleep on the floor.

In the last days on the trail, he is finishing “Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the C.I.A., Afghanistan and Bin Laden,” and taking an occasional glance at US Weekly. He reads at least two newspapers a day, vigilantly checks his BlackBerry for updates on early voting tallies and browses briefing books.

“In a marathon, when you are on mile 20 you start getting tired, but when you are on mile 25 you don’t,” said Mr. Lippert, who has grown familiar with Mr. Obama’s travel rhythms while accompanying him on the four foreign trips he has taken since becoming a senator. “That’s where he’s at.”

Whatever emotions or anxiety Mr. Obama feels as his candidacy draws to a close, he displays little of it, either in public appearances or private conversations with his close advisers. The air of confidence he exudes, which some critics take as arrogance, grew in part out of the primary, when he worked to avoid perceptions that he was weak or not ready.

But now, he is described by friends as feeling as though he has been thoroughly tested and is prepared to take on the job he has spent 22 months fighting for. Still, it is hard for even those closest to Mr. Obama to fathom what these days are precisely like, even for the unflappable — often inscrutable — senator from Illinois.

His world is awash in powerful, conflicting emotions: the realization, presumably, that he may be about to become president; the huge optimism that he has unleashed, evident in the crowds he is drawing (and something he has told aides worries him a bit, given the expectations set for him); the weighty thinking he is gradually giving to how he would staff a government and deal with a transition in such a difficult time. All of this is taking place as a woman who played a large role in raising him, his grandmother, is approaching death.

“ ‘What if I disappoint people?’ ” Valerie Jarrett, a close friend and adviser, recalled Mr. Obama asking at several points throughout the campaign. “That’s what gives him the energy to keep getting up every day.”

It has been months since Mr. Obama has ventured with any regularity to the back of his plane where the journalists sit. (The one time he played the board game “Taboo” on a cross-country flight to Oregon is a distant memory.) A reporter shouted to Mr. Obama on Sunday as he climbed the steps of his airplane here, headed for Ohio, to ask why Mr. Obama had not held a news conference in weeks.

“I will,” Mr. Obama said. “On Wednesday.”

On a final weekend pass through electoral battlegrounds that spanned three time zones, the electoral climate and his campaign organization provide him the luxury of focusing on states that favored the Republican ticket four years ago. But when his Democratic crowds jeer at the mere mention of Senator John McCain, he offers a gentle scolding, “You don’t need to boo, you just need to vote.”

It is a true crowd pleaser, and he reprises it in city after city.

His crowds have rarely been larger or more enthusiastic — often, perhaps, more outwardly so than the candidate himself. These days, Mr. Obama is racing through his speeches, whittling down to a disciplined 30 minutes a message that once stretched for more than an hour. He works the rope line at every stop, but taking a closer look you realize that it is as much for a few photographs as for a lot of handshakes. At each event, though, he stays long enough to sign a stack of books for supporters.

At a rally outside Orlando, Fla., the other night, where he was joined onstage for the first time by former President Bill Clinton, Mr. Obama was visibly chilly in the 40-degree air. He had hoped to wear a coat, but Mr. Clinton did not, so Mr. Obama came to the stage without one. Not so the next night in Virginia, where a cool and damp chill also hung in the air.

“I did decide to wear a coat because you want a president who has sense,” Mr. Obama told the crowd from behind the lectern, where he was covered in a black wool overcoat.

While he may not be coasting to the finish line, he is not running as hard as he did during the down-or-out moments of his battle with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

On Sunday, he was in the gym of the Doubletree Hotel here shortly after 6 a.m., but he spent some time with his wife and daughters before boarding his plane at 9:30 a.m. He did not arrive for his first public event of the day at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus until 1 p.m.

His campaign schedule, like Mr. Obama himself, can be slow to start in the morning, but runs late into the night. After appearing with Bruce Springsteen at a rain-soaked dinnertime rally in downtown Cleveland, followed by a stop in Cincinnati for a stadium rally at 9:30 p.m., Mr. Obama did not arrive at his hotel in Jacksonville, Fla., until 1:35 a.m. on Monday.

And before bedtime on most nights, Mr. Obama needs to “circle and land,” as one of his advisers put it, by finishing a round of e-mail and calls before turning out the lights.

If there is a feeling of nostalgia surrounding the Obama campaign in these final hours before the election, it does not seem to be coming from the candidate himself. He is eager to be finished campaigning, several of his friends said, and for months has been immersing himself in the work of the presidency, well before he knows if it will ever be his.

He spends far less time on the telephone these days making political calls to local Democratic chairmen. His call list now includes officials in Washington, including Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., with whom he spoke several times a day for weeks about the government rescue plan. And he is in frequent conversations with Congressional leaders over how to proceed should he win on Tuesday.

On Saturday morning, Mr. Obama met for about 45 minutes in his hotel suite at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas with Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, the majority leader. Mr. Reid said he ticked through a list of items sketched on a note card in his breast pocket.

Mr. Obama also spoke about how his life had changed, a point that was driven home on Friday night when he went to Chicago to see his daughters for Halloween and grew agitated when he felt that a group of reporters and photographers had crowded him.

“He said he likes to go out trick-or-treating, but he can’t anymore,” Mr. Reid said in an interview, recalling the conversation he had with Mr. Obama. “He said he guessed he could have worn a Barack Obama mask.”

One of the greatest frustrations of his candidacy — being away from his wife, Michelle, and his two daughters, Malia and Sasha — will come to an end, win or lose. When his plane touched down on Saturday afternoon in Pueblo, Colo., his step carried an extra lilt. It was not because of the place that he finds himself in the closing moments of his campaign, but because his two daughters were standing on the breezy tarmac waiting to be scooped up by their father.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/03/us/politics/03obama.html)

November 3rd, 2008, 07:24 AM
This is yet another high-level gloss on topics that fascinate me, but may not get a rise out of most others.:) Specifically it concerns going beyond public polls, and into differences between public and internal polls, as well as how these polls are used politically to influence a campaign.

(See also a related post on "microtargeting" (, found elsewhere on this thread.)


McCain's Secret Polls
Why do a campaign's internal numbers look so different from the public data?

By Jacob Leibenluft
Posted Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008

Most public polls find Barack Obama with double-digit leads in Iowa and Pennsylvania, but members of the McCain campaign cite internal numbers showing a tight race (http://www.slate.com/id/2203341/). A campaign might have its own reasons for releasing numbers that favor its cause, but is there any other reason why internal polls might differ from the ones produced for the public?

Not really. In general, media organizations and private campaign pollsters compile their numbers in the same way. But there are a few key differences. First, a newspaper or TV station might be more likely find their respondents with random-digit dialing — calling any phone number that works and then asking whoever picks up whether he or she is registered to vote. Campaign pollsters often save time by pulling their samples from a list of all registered voters. In theory, the pollsters who use the voter files run the risk of missing voters whose information isn't up-to-date, but a study by two Yale professors (http://www.yale.edu/isps/publications/regsamp.pdf) (PDF) using data from the 2002 elections suggested that these samples were actually a little more accurate than those collected via random phone calls. Still, the difference between the two methods probably wouldn't affect the outcome all that much, particularly given all the challenges in figuring out who counts as a “likely” voter, anyway.

Campaign polls may differ more in their specific focus. At the state level, public polls tend to look primarily at the "top-line" numbers—which candidate is winning overall. An internal poll may ask more questions about voters' demographics, their political leanings, and how they feel about the issues or the candidates. So even if the top-line numbers suggest that a candidate is losing, a campaign pollster could find data that suggest a shift in the race is imminent. A memo released by McCain's pollster Bill McInturff (http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2008/10/28/in-memo-mccains-top-pollster-sees-tighter-race/) this week falls into that category: McInturff never mentions national head-to-head numbers but, instead, argues that McCain is gaining support among rural voters, non-college-educated men, and "Wal-Mart women." (Internal polls sometimes go on to test a campaign message—for example, by giving a series of statements about the candidates and seeing how voters react. A pollster following ethical standards (http://www.aapor.org/disclosurestandards) is obligated to say so if their results are skewed by those messages.)

Even if public polls and internal polls were conducted in exactly the same way, the results we hear about might still be different for a simple reason: Campaigns like to release only good news. Given that there will be a certain amount of random noise from poll to poll, the same methodology could produce several polls with different outcomes. In that case, a media organization would release all the numbers, while the campaign pollster might leak only the data that show his candidate winning. Two different (http://poq.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/69/3/342) analyses (http://www.polisci.wisc.edu/~behavior/papers/Franklin2003-ptypollbias.pdf) (PDF) using data from the early 2000s found a bias of a few percentage points among partisan polls that had been released to the public—although it's worth noting that outside pollsters can also have a so-called "house effect (http://www.pollster.com/blogs/how_pollsters_affect_poll_resu.php)," favoring one party or another throughout a given year. …

Explainer thanks Whit Ayres of Ayres, McHenry & Associates Inc., Charles Franklin of the University of Wisconsin, Adam Geller of National Research Inc., Alex Lundry of TargetPoint Consulting, Thomas Riehle of RT Strategies Inc., Michael Traugott of the University of Michigan, and Doug Usher of Widmeyer Communications.

2008 Washington Post.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC (http://www.slate.com/id/2203418/)

November 3rd, 2008, 07:28 AM

November 2, 2008

The Nation

The Mindset in the Middle of the Storm



WASHINGTON — Leave it to Jon Stewart to cut to the chase. Interviewing Senator Barack Obama last week as the campaign rolled toward its conclusion, the host of “The Daily Show” observed that being president today looks considerably less appealing than when Mr. Obama launched his candidacy two years ago.

“Is there a sense that you don’t want this?” Mr. Stewart asked. “That you may look at the country and think, ‘You know, when I thought I was going to get this, it was a relatively new car. Now look at it!’ ”

Mr. Obama laughed and gave an earnest answer about having an impact, but did not really address the larger question. Just why would anyone want this job, anyway? What is it about the psyche of would-be presidents that makes them wake up in the morning and think it would be gratifying to take on the troubles of the world, to assume responsibility for the lives of 300 million Americans at a time when their lives are so precarious?

And particularly now, in this moment of maximum crisis. Millions are in danger of losing their homes. Hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. The national debt is skyrocketing. The Taliban is rampaging through Afghanistan. Pakistan is a nuclear-armed shambles. The country is still at war in Iraq and trying to avoid it with Iran and North Korea. Russia has invaded a neighbor. And much of the world hates us.

“This is an unprecedented mess,” said Ted Sorensen, the former counselor to President John F. Kennedy. By many measures, no incoming president will have inherited quite such a sack of trouble in decades. Yet neither Mr. Obama nor Senator John McCain has expressed second thoughts.

“You have to not only have a sense of confidence but a pretty big ego — you have to almost be a fanatic,” Mr. Sorensen said. “You have to look at yourself and everybody else running for the office and think not only are you as good as they are but you and your ideas are better.”

And that you can fix what nobody else can fix. The ambition and drive that propel politicians to high office at a time of tribulations may convince them that the country’s deep problems are simply successes waiting to happen.

“Part of self-confidence is believing you have special gifts and how selfish of you not to use them to full capacity,” said Alvin S. Felzenberg, a University of Pennsylvania scholar and author of “The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn’t).” “It’s not a job for ordinary mortals. It may have been fairer in the Middle Ages to have them walk over hot coals than what we put them through now.”

Of course, this is not yet the hot-coals part of the program. For two more days, Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain can still enjoy the affirmation of the crowds. To see either on the campaign trail last week surrounded by fans proclaiming everlasting love was to taste the elixir of adulation that attracts politicians to the presidency even now.

“That’s a pretty heavy trip,” said Dr. Jerrold M. Post, a professor of political psychology at George Washington University. “The nature of the relationship between leaders and the people around them is very important. It’s a very heady experience and something happens when you become president.”

Yet even in the best of times, the presidency can be an enormous burden. Every American soldier killed abroad, every house foreclosed on at home, every monster storm from the Gulf of Mexico to the Indian Ocean ultimately becomes his responsibility.

Increasingly, that burden has come to define the job as much as the glamour. Parents get that. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll in 2006 found that only 41 percent of mothers and fathers would want their child to grow up to be president, compared with 58 percent who would not. And that was before things got as crazy as they are now.

Think about those before-and-after pictures of presidents leaving office. Let’s look back at how the vast majority in the modern era have left the White House. President Kennedy was assassinated. Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon were driven from power. Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush were repudiated by the voters. Bill Clinton departed after his most intimate personal failings were excavated for public examination. George W. Bush is leaving as the most unpopular commander in chief in the history of polling.

Perhaps the only president lately who left office reasonably intact was Ronald Reagan, who recovered from the Iran-contra scandal and found himself revered as time passed. “The thing about Reagan is he was not stuck on himself,” said David M. Abshire, a special counselor to Mr. Reagan and now the president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency. “He was not an ideologue. And his sense of humor was always on himself. In dealing with him, I was never dealing with a big ego.”

Those who think the office does not wear down presidents do not see them with their guard down. Critics consider President Bush immune to the devastation of the war he launched, but he has met privately with hundreds of relatives of slain soldiers, many of whom later described him weeping and genuinely anguished by their pain.

For all that, Mr. Bush still has that gene that makes presidents want to be president even in dark moments. He told aides and business people this fall that if the financial crisis was going to happen, he was glad it happened on his watch so he could put the country on a path to improvement by the time his successor takes office.

In some ways, Mr. Obama has expressed similar sentiments. His advisers said they warn him every day that he may be winning a pile of manure if he beats Mr. McCain on Tuesday. But they also hope that things are so bad, they can only get better.

Mr. Obama’s answer to Mr. Stewart suggested that he sees an opportunity for an ambitious program, that when people are struggling for answers they are less resistant to change. “I actually think this is the time to want to be president,” he said. “You know, if you went into public service thinking that you could have an impact, now is the time where you can have an impact.”

Ultimately, Mr. Felzenberg said, the motivation may come down to posterity. Every president sees himself on Mount Rushmore. “Maybe you have enough gumption to think you can defy the gods and come out intact,” he said. “I guess you have an opportunity for immortality. People like me still talk about Lincoln and Jefferson as if they were still living now and in a way they are. Every time we talk about them, we bring them back to life.”

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

November 3rd, 2008, 08:10 AM

Op-Ed Columnist
The Republican Rump

Published: November 3, 2008

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Paul Krugman

A version of this [online] article appeared in print on November 3, 2008

Maybe the polls are wrong, and John McCain is about to pull off the biggest election upset in American history. But right now the Democrats seem poised both to win the White House and to greatly expand their majorities in both houses of Congress.

Most of the post-election discussion will presumably be about what the Democrats should and will do with their mandate. But let me ask a different question that will also be important for the nation’s future: What will defeat do to the Republicans?

You might think, perhaps hope, that Republicans will engage in some soul-searching, that they’ll ask themselves whether and how they lost touch with the national mainstream. But my prediction is that this won’t happen any time soon.

Instead, the Republican rump, the party that’s left after the election, will be the party that attends Sarah Palin’s rallies, where crowds chant “Vote McCain, not Hussein!” It will be the party of Saxby Chambliss, the senator from Georgia, who, observing large-scale early voting by African-Americans, warns his supporters that “the other folks are voting.” It will be the party that harbors menacing fantasies about Barack Obama’s Marxist — or was that Islamic? — roots.

Why will the G.O.P. become more, not less, extreme? For one thing, projections suggest that this election will drive many of the remaining Republican moderates out of Congress, while leaving the hard right in place.

For example, Larry Sabato, the election forecaster, predicts that seven Senate seats currently held by Republicans will go Democratic on Tuesday. According to the liberal-conservative rankings of the political scientists Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal, five of the soon-to-be-gone senators are more moderate than the median Republican senator — so the rump, the G.O.P. caucus that remains, will have shifted further to the right. The same thing seems set to happen in the House.

Also, the Republican base already seems to be gearing up to regard defeat not as a verdict on conservative policies, but as the result of an evil conspiracy. A recent Democracy Corps poll found that Republicans, by a margin of more than two to one, believe that Mr. McCain is losing “because the mainstream media is biased” rather than “because Americans are tired of George Bush.”

And Mr. McCain has laid the groundwork for feverish claims that the election was stolen, declaring that the community activist group Acorn — which, as Factcheck.org points out, has never “been found guilty of, or even charged with” causing fraudulent votes to be cast — “is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.” Needless to say, the potential voters Acorn tries to register are disproportionately “other folks,” as Mr. Chambliss might put it.

Anyway, the Republican base, egged on by the McCain-Palin campaign, thinks that elections should reflect the views of “real Americans” — and most of the people reading this column probably don’t qualify.

Thus, in the face of polls suggesting that Mr. Obama will win Virginia, a top McCain aide declared that the “real Virginia” — the southern part of the state, excluding the Washington, D.C., suburbs — favors Mr. McCain. A majority of Americans now live in big metropolitan areas, but while visiting a small town in North Carolina, Ms. Palin described it as “what I call the real America,” one of the “pro-America” parts of the nation. The real America, it seems, is small-town, mainly southern and, above all, white.

I’m not saying that the G.O.P. is about to become irrelevant. Republicans will still be in a position to block some Democratic initiatives, especially if the Democrats fail to achieve a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

And that blocking ability will ensure that the G.O.P. continues to receive plenty of corporate dollars: this year the U.S. Chamber of Congress has poured money into the campaigns of Senate Republicans like Minnesota’s Norm Coleman, precisely in the hope of denying Democrats a majority large enough to pass pro-labor legislation.

But the G.O.P.’s long transformation into the party of the unreasonable right, a haven for racists and reactionaries, seems likely to accelerate as a result of the impending defeat.

This will pose a dilemma for moderate conservatives. Many of them spent the Bush years in denial, closing their eyes to the administration’s dishonesty and contempt for the rule of law. Some of them have tried to maintain that denial through this year’s election season, even as the McCain-Palin campaign’s tactics have grown ever uglier. But one of these days they’re going to have to realize that the G.O.P. has become the party of intolerance.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/03/opinion/03krugman.html?ref=opinion)

November 3rd, 2008, 08:34 AM

Obama camp turns to superstitions


COLUMBUS, Ohio—Barack Obama’s Ohio campaign manager has neither shaved his face in a month nor has he shown up to the office without his Columbus Clippers baseball hat.

Aaron Pickrell associated Obama’s uptick in the Ohio polls in late September with his personal hygiene and wardrobe choices at that time, so he kept the look. With only hours left in the longest presidential race in modern history, Pickrell stalked around a rally here Sunday sporting a lumberjack beard and a dog-eared cap.

The final days are a mix of strategy and superstition for those most intimately involved in the campaign. They fret over the precision of turnout models and early voting numbers and polling but also take comfort in the unscientific rituals that have provided some sense of control in a wildly unpredictable political season.

“It’s disgusting, isn’t it?” Pickrell, 36, said about his look, which involves a hairy neck and nearly disguised facial features. “Here’s what happened. We went ahead in the polls, two polls in a row. I had been lazy for a week and hadn’t shaved and had been wearing my hat to work and after the second poll came out that had us up, I decided, well, something is going right here, I’m not going to mess with it and here I am.”

There are no reports yet to match operative James Carville's 1992 decision not to change his underwear for an extended period of time when things were going well for Bill Clinton.

But chief strategist David Axelrod has been carrying the same pink quartz heart in his pants pocket for about three weeks. A woman he didn't know approached him at an event and gave it to him.

“She seemed to have an aura about her,” Axelrod said. “We have been doing pretty well since then.”

Mark Lippert, a senior foreign policy adviser who travels with Obama, carries a massive rucksack every day. The Navy reservist used the desert-colored, multi-pocketed backpack during a year’s deployment in Iraq, so he figures it might be powerful enough to deliver good luck in a presidential campaign, too.

Obama likes to say he’s superstitious, but he let himself speak Sunday night what many in his campaign ranks try not to think—let alone say out loud—for fear of jinxing it: He might be headed for victory.

“The past couple of days I’ve just been feeling good,” Obama told 80,000 people who gathered to see him and Bruce Springsteen in a downpour. “You start thinking maybe we might be able to win an election on November 4.”

Democrats have believed this before. The Obama campaign is infused with aides who remember Al Gore and worked for John Kerry, whose hopes were raised four years ago when early exit polls on Election Day showed him ahead in a contest he ultimately lost. They know all too well how the winds can suddenly gust in a different direction.

It wasn’t lost on Obama supporters that Springsteen appeared with Kerry on election eve in Cleveland, and that didn’t turn out well for them. The McCain campaign e-mailed reporters a reminder of this factoid under the subject line, “Glory Days?”

“I’m glad they let me come back,” Springsteen said Sunday, drawing twice the crowd he did in 2004. “They didn’t think I might jinx them or something.”

But Obama campaign aides remained giddy Sunday. The crowds at three Ohio stops were massive. The polls were holding steady. Hundreds of thousands of doors were knocked on across battleground states. Aside from the news Saturday that his Kenyan aunt had been living in the country illegally, which in political terms amounted to a minor distraction, there were no major surprises on the final weekend that threatened to shake up the race.

Democratic political circles were consumed with chatter about the look of a potential Obama cabinet, but senior strategist Robert Gibbs insisted Sunday that neither Obama nor his campaign aides were spending much time thinking about Nov. 5.

“Very few people are focused beyond Tuesday,” Gibbs said. “There is a group of people in each campaign focused beyond Tuesday. The people working on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are only worried about that.”

John McCain, who has long been known for his superstitions, stayed in the same hotel room on the night of the New Hampshire primary as he did in 2000, when he beat that year's Republican favorite, George W. Bush.

McCain returned Sunday to New Hampshire for a town hall meeting—his signature event in his signature state—despite a New Hampshire-WMUR poll released Thursday showing Obama up by nearly 20 points in the state.

Aides say Obama isn’t showing any more superstitious behavior than usual.

The Illinois senator admitted in June to carrying a pocket full of charms. He dug his hand into his pants pocket in the middle of an event and revealed what look like a junk drawer of goodies: a “lucky poker chip” given to him by a voter, an American eagle pin from a Native American woman and a small golden statue of the Monkey King.

Obama openly embraced superstition in January when he began correlating basketball with victory. He played on the day of the Iowa caucus, which he won, but did not shoot hoops on the day of the New Hampshire primary, which he lost. With rare exception, he has corralled aides, friends and occasionally members of the media to indulge his superstition on every primary election day.

Obama, naturally, will play basketball Tuesday.

His personal assistant, Reggie Love, will wear jeans, as he always does on election days. And Jen Psaki, the press secretary who has traveled with the Obama press corps almost every day since the Iowa caucus, will slip into the cowboy boots that she bought during the Texas primary—if for no other reason than she feels they are “lucky.”

About 20 guys in the Ohio office haven’t shaved since Obama pulled ahead of McCain, Pickrell said, pausing to point out a bearded colleague who walked by.

“We shower, we change clothes, we do all that stuff,” he said, but they haven’t put a razor to their faces.

“It’s ridiculous, I admit it, but what else are you going to do?”

© 2008 Capitol News Company LLC (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1108/15194_Page2.html)

November 3rd, 2008, 08:59 AM


Race for the White House
The world holds its breath as America decides

Tomorrow's election will affect everything from security in Afghanistan and Pakistan to trade with China and relations with Washington's former superpower rival in Moscow. Surveys show that if everyone in the world had a vote, Barack Obama would win a landslide victory. Yet John McCain can count on support in surprising places. Our writers look at public opinion in nine cities across the world

The Guardian,
Monday November 3 2008

Kabul: 'Whoever wins must bring a new leadership'

Photograph: Miguel Villagran/AP

Balloons at the
Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
during the opening of
the US embassy in June.

The newly-constructed American University of Afghanistan was supposed to herald a new era in Afghan-American relations. Instead, its affluent students are regular targets for attack and attempted kidnappings in an increasingly unstable Kabul. Some now believe foreign forces should leave and the Taliban come back into government.

"I think we have almost reached the point of no return. There are no good solutions left," said Ali Padsha, 19, who was raised in America. "The longer foreign forces stay, the more problems will be created. When we [Afghans] see foreign forces in our country, it makes us crazy, it always has.

"The new Taliban are smarter than before and not as hardcore. They know what to do to keep the people happy."

Seven years after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, the situation is deteriorating rapidly. "The rivers are running backwards," has become a popular lament in Kabul, whose residents are now looking to a change of leadership in America as the starting point for change in Afghanistan.

Afghans generally favour Barack Obama. Some like him because he is the son of a Muslim, affectionately referring to him as Hussein Jan, adding Jan (an Afghan term of endearment) to his middle name. Many educated Afghans believe he has a more nuanced understanding of the regional predicament and support his plans to get tough with Pakistan. But others are cynical, seeing no difference between the candidates and viewing both men's commitment to sending more troops with hostility.

Afghans face elections next year and are aware that the new American leader will play a defining role in determining who will be the next Afghan president.

"Whoever takes over America must bring a new leadership to Afghanistan," says Fahim Dashti, the editor of the popular Kabul Weekly. The victor will also have to work to counter the country's rampant anti-Americanism.

"The US has failed on everything they said they would do," says Dashti, a popular and influential thinker who fought with the Northern Alliance supported by America to drive out the Taliban in 2001.

"They said they were going to get rid of the Taliban - now the Taliban are at the edges of the city and even operating inside Kabul itself. They said they were going to end opium production but there is more opium than ever being produced. They said they were going to bring democracy but what we have is more like a dictatorship. Most people live beneath the poverty line and there is mass unemployment."

Ali and his university friends are sympathetic to the incoming president. "I feel bad for whoever wins this election," he said. "They are going to have a really hard job cleaning up the mess left by the previous administration."

-- Clancy Chassay

Paris: 'Obama is France's ideal of the American dream'

Paris's Rue La Fayette, named after the great French hero of American independence, is known for its hordes of shopping US tourists. But struggling bars, hotels and even famous department stores are lamenting a fall in trade as US tourist numbers in Paris shrink to a record low. "Business is down, we're all suffering," said Lionel Pinheiro, a waiter at one bistro. "If Obama wins, I hope it might ease the financial crisis and bring the tourists back."

Liberal Americans abroad have grown tired of having to apologise for their nationality during the Bush years. But France is now wondering: is it OK to start loving Americans again?

"We don't lynch Americans in the street," said Charlotte Lepri, a US specialist at the French thinktank, Institute for Research in Integrated Strategies (IRIS). "But there are certain associations with Bush. Now there is a turnaround and real enthusiasm for a black candidate who represents France's ideal of the American dream."

This new optimism could make it easier for the pro-US French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to deepen rapprochement with Washington if Obama is elected. The latest poll shows over 70% of French people would vote for Obama.

So great is the myth surrounding Obama, that some analysts warn the public could be in for a shock. The war in Afghanistan, France's increase in troops there and the growing death toll have unsettled public opinion. But few appear to realise that an Obama presidency will ask for more military involvement from allies. "I don't think all French voters are aware of this part of his project, and they are going to get a surprise," said Jacques Mistral of the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI).

-- Angelique Chrisafis

Baghdad: 'The Republicans must finish their commitment'

Dr Amira Edan al-Dabab, above, has spent the past five years picking up the pieces of Iraq's plundered past and fears the results may again be lost if America elects Barack Obama.

Since the fall of Baghdad in 2003, Edan, the director of the Iraqi Heritage and Antiquities Directorate, has been travelling the globe in search of up to 15,000 looted relics that used to comprise the essence of the National Museum of Iraq, treasures from three millennia which etched Iraq's place in the Arab heartland.

Through half a decade of occupation, several years of brutal insurgency and attempts at sectarian cleansing, Iraq has seen tens of thousands of people killed, and at least two million leave. Security has improved and so too have prospects for some. But throughout Baghdad, many like Edan believe the country could again find itself at the edge of the precipice if the US doesn't tend to unfinished business.

"The Republicans must finish their commitment to Iraq, especially by signing the security treaty," she said. "McCain is going to win," she continued. "I read that the other man nominated is going to pull out the troops. We wish, we need and we hope that this won't happen."

Most Iraqis seem more concerned about the short term. The time, they say, is not even nearly ripe for the Americans to leave and - for now - they'd rather the devil they know.

Twenty kilometres north of Baghdad, the Tarmeya and Qadr district was until earlier this year the most active spot in the most dangerous area of Iraq. But the worm has turned. Tarmeyah is no longer an al-Qaida safe haven and McCain is seen as the best bet to keep it that way.

"If they go now, we may as well all leave too," said Bassam Jassam, from the region's dominant tribe, the Mashadani. "McCain is best for us now. But we need to get through the next two years and after that all the Americans can leave."

"The thing we need is stability and strength," said Edan. "If that goes, and it could, all of this could go again. There is so much at stake for us."

-- Martin Chulov

Beijing: 'America is going down while China is rising up'

Rao Jin has a soft spot for Barack Obama; he's drawn to his friendly face as well as admiring his personal achievements. But the hero of young Chinese nationalists stops well short of an endorsement.

"I hope the next president can really change the way the US deals with things, always using weapons or economic sanctions," says the 24-year-old founder of anti-CNN.com. "The election has been a hot topic on our site. one individual can't change much. Both Obama and McCain are standing for certain interest groups, and both of them will serve for America's benefit."

Rao's website became a rallying point for fenqing ("angry youth") after the international storm over Tibet this year. He says it is not nationalist; merely a counterweight to western media bias and hegemony.

For many in China, the US epitomises Occidental aggression and hypocrisy: preaching free trade but practising protectionism; idealising democracy while allowing vast donations; using human rights to justify invading Iraq.

Some hope that Obama's mixed parentage and peripatetic childhood have made him more sympathetic to other cultures. He's popular among the young and there's fascination at the prospect of a black president - and what that would say about US tolerance of differences.

But younger people are not counting on America to change itself. Many see the end of its global dominance as inevitable, given China's growing economic and international power.

"America is going down, while China is rising up," said Rao. Hu Ben, erstwhile Chinese subtitler for The West Wing and international editor for a major portal, added: "A lot of young people still think America is our enemy. They're quite happy with the sub-prime crisis - they think this is China's chance."

Officials and analysts also seem relaxed about the election result. The "China card" has been waved less often in this race than previous campaigns. They sense an emerging, broadly optimistic bipartisan consensus on Sino-US relations. John McCain appears more hawkish on security issues and relations with Taiwan, but Obama seems tougher on trade, Tibet, human rights and environmental protection.

"There will be differences on detailed issues, but the big picture won't change whoever wins," predicted Jin Canrong, associate dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University.

[B]-- Tania Branigan

Moscow: 'We don't beg from the west any more'

With its padded vinyl seats, chrome fittings and Wurlitzer jukebox, the famous Starlite Diner is a little corner of small-town America right in the heart of Moscow. When it opened in 1994, Russia was reeling in post-Soviet turmoil and was trying to court the west for much-needed investment.

"That's all changed now," said Sergei Demidov, 35, a banker, tucking into a plate of tenderloin steak and fries. "We don't beg from the west any more and Washington can't order us around like it did in the 1990s."

Relations between the US and a resurgent Russia hit a post-cold war low this summer after a fierce proxy conflict in former Soviet Georgia. Most Russians see the US as an aggressive bully that wants to encircle and weaken their country - regardless of whether a Democrat or a Republican is in charge.

Barack Obama, however, is widely perceived as the lesser of two evils. A survey in October by Moscow's Levada Centre polling agency showed that 35% of Russians supported Obama, with 14% for John McCain and 37% confessing no sympathy for either. "Obama would be better," said Maria Balandina, 26, an arts events manager. "He's a democrat, he was against the war in Iraq, he's young."

Former Vietnam pilot McCain, on the other hand, has called for Russia to be ousted from the G8 for allegedly backsliding on democracy and famously claimed he saw only the letters K-G-B in the eyes of Vladimir Putin (unlike George Bush, who thought he glimpsed the Russian leader's soul).

However, observers say Obama's messianic zeal for reform inside America may not transform into a clear foreign policy. McCain, while a tough talker, might be more convenient for Kremlin hardliners who identify with his blunt rhetoric. "Obama represents a new challenge for Moscow," said Andrei Kortunov, an analyst from the New Eurasia foundation. "I'm just not sure Russia is ready for that challenge quite yet."

-- Tom Parfitt

Tehran: 'I'm not optimistic it will make much difference'

Rhythmic chants of "Marg bar Amrika" - "death to America" - boomed from loudspeakers in the streets as the crowd warmed up for Friday prayers, in an event unchanged since the 1979 revolution.

Ayatollah Mohammad Emami-Kashani, frail but imposing in the white turban and brown robes of a senior cleric, lambasted "global arrogance". That is shorthand for the US, but he spells it out anyway. "The claims the US makes against Iran are wrong. The world is waking up to its lies."

Weekly prayers combine politics and religion, agitprop with faith. Mullahs, militiamen and civilians, including schoolchildren, are bussed in to sit on the mosque's pale green carpets. Women in black chadors are kept separate behind a screen. Kashani does not mention Barack Obama, though there is plenty of discussion of whether victory for him will do anything to improve relations between these old enemies.

Iran's nuclear ambitions - which it insists are peaceful - and its role and influence in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine, have kept it locked in confrontation with the US since George Bush included the Islamic republic in his "axis of evil" address in 2002. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, seemed to be signalling no change ahead last week when he called Iran's dispute with America "deep-seated".

Still, Mohammad Khatami, the reformist former president, has spoken of "new possibilities" if Obama wins. Parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani found the Illinois senator "more rational" than John McCain.

By coincidence, the word obama is close to the Farsi for "with us," though few believe a Democratic victory will be enough to draw the sting from this relationship. Some think all the change must come from the US side - an unlikely prospect. "I'm not optimistic it will make much difference to Iran," Mohsen Rezaei, ex-commander of the Revolutionary Guards, told the Guardian.

Others hope it will. "The countries that have good relations with the US see the benefits," said Mehdi, a young consultant, walking past Tehran's "nest of spies" - the old US embassy, still festooned in angry slogans. "We should consider that."

-- Ian Black

Lahore: 'McCain understands the Pakistan reality better'

The liberal elite at Pakistan's most prestigious university, which offers American-style business education, look like their peers anywhere around the world. Except here many are backing John McCain.

The students at the Lahore University of Management Sciences are not drawn to McCain as a person, saying that Barack Obama is far more appealing, but many believe McCain will be better for Pakistan, a view that is widely held across the country.

It all goes back to Obama's statement that he would order unilateral and immediate strikes against Osama bin Laden in Pakistan if intelligence pointed to him being present in the country.

"Obama has stated, so clearly, that 'I'm going to attack Pakistan'," said economics student Motahar Saleheen, between classes at the sprawling LUMS campus. "One nation should not be allowed to interfere with the sovereignty of another."

In Pakistan, Obama's remarks have been distilled down to a commitment to "bomb Pakistan", causing fury in a country fearful of becoming the next theatre of war in Washington's anti-terror fight.

"Tomorrow, if Obama attacks Pakistan, we will all rise up to defend ourselves, and the western media will brand us all terrorists," said fellow student Shahzad Mehboob.

Even before Obama's position on Pakistan was known, there has long been a belief in the county that Republicans are more Pakistan-friendly than Democrats, rooted in the massive financial and military aid provided by he Eisenhower, Reagan and Bush presidencies to Islamabad.

Pakistan has been a key ally of the Bush administration, which heavily backed the military-led regime of former president Pervez Musharraf, so the change in US president could have a profound impact on the country.

"John McCain understands the Pakistan reality better," said politics undergraduate Osama Khawar. "But as a human being Obama is a better candidate. It's a dilemma for us."

-- Saeed Shah

Nairobi: 'Whether you're black or white, vote for Barack'

For reggae fans there is Makadem, for rock, Extra Golden. Folk lovers have Kenge Kenge while Tony Nyadundo offers a more traditional sound.

All have recently released songs in Kenya with a common word in the title - Obama - and a similar message.

"If you're voting for real change, Barack Obama be the right man, whether you're black or white, young or old, vote for Barack, Barack Obama," sings Makadem, who launched the video for "Obama be thy name" at Nairobi's National Theatre last week.

Obama-mania in Kenya is no surprise. The Democratic candidate's late father was Kenyan, and many of his relatives, including his 87-year-old step-grandmother Mama Sarah, still live here. Neither is it a recent phenomenon; during his Obama's trip to Kenya in 2006, thousands turned out to see him.

But the presidential campaign has lifted the excitement to a new level. Obama's face now appears on many of the ubiquitous Matatu minibus taxis, thousands of bumper stickers bear his name. Locally printed campaign T-shirts are selling fast; one features the slogan "Ndio Tunaweza" - Swahili for "Yes we can". A musical based on Obama's memoir is set to open. Underlying the enthusiasm, is aspiration: many people still believe strongly in the American dream; Kenya has more students studying in the US than any other African country. And Obama, whose father travelled to Hawaii on a scholarship, is the ultimate embodiment of that immigrant dream.

Policy-wise, a more nuanced US approach to terrorism issues, especially in places like Somalia, might be expected. But the biggest change may be intangible. One Kenyan columnist wrote this week an Obama win would unleash a "momentum of enlightenment" proving that talent and character rather than ethnicity and power should determine success.

-- Xan Rice

Gaza: 'Without pressure on Israel there's no solution'

Only a few years ago the bright yellow and orange al-Awda Factory for Biscuits and Ice Cream was a vibrant business and one of the largest factories in the Palestinian territories. Today, like most private firms in the Gaza Strip, it is in dire trouble.

Only one of four production lines is working. There are barely two-dozen staff producing packets of hazelnut-flavoured wafers. There is not enough ink to print a sell-by date, not enough cardboard boxes to hold the packets, not enough plastic to wrap the boxes. When the wafers are delivered, they arrive at stores in old fruit cartons. Sales are down to 25% of what they were eight years ago. And this is a good day - for the previous week all production lines were shut down for want of ingredients, packaging and spare parts.

The factors that have brought the biscuit factory to such a parlous state will be one of many unenviable Middle East challenges awaiting the new president.

Since the Islamist movement Hamas won Palestinian elections in 2006 and then took full control of Gaza last year, Israel has gradually increased the pressure on what it calls the "hostile entity". It has severely limited imports and prohibited all exports. Few of Gaza's 1.5 million people can ever leave. Despite this, Hamas grows steadily stronger, not weaker.

Like many Gazans, Mohammed Telbani, the factory's general manager, says he has little interest in the election. "Presidents have changed but no one did anything for us," he said, waving his hand dismissively. He doubts that a new president will have the power or the will to reverse decades of US policy in the Middle East which he, like most here, sees as decisively pro-Israeli. "Without pressure on Israel there won't be any solution to the problem," he said.

If they had to choose, most Palestinians, like most other Arabs, would probably side with Obama (and, conversely, opinion polls show more Israelis would side with McCain). Gazans talk urgently about the need to lift the economic blockade of the strip, to allow the crossings to open and the economy to restart. Palestinians as a whole simply want Washington to play a much tougher role as a Middle East peace broker, bringing concrete change and eventually that much-promised independent Palestinian state.

-- Rory McCarthy

This article was amended on Monday November 3 2008. Jacques Mistral is from the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), not the Institute for Research in Integrated Strategies (IRIS). This has been corrected.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/03/us-elections-international-opinion)

November 3rd, 2008, 09:14 AM



McCain to campaign on Election Day

by Jill Zuckman
Posted November 3, 2008

MIAMI - Sen. John McCain has always had a way of campaigning right up until the finish line.

While other candidates may saunter in the final days of a campaign, McCain keeps going, even when it seems he doesn't have a chance of winning.

Now, as the Republican candidate for president, McCain is breaking a time-honored tradition. Every Election Day, McCain goes to the polls to vote, and then he watches a movie to pass the time.

This year, campaign officials insist that they are gaining in the polls against Democrat Barack Obama. And they say, they will not ease up - even on Election Day.

Campaign manager Rick Davis said that McCain will travel to Grand Junction, Colorado and Albuquerque, New Mexico on Tuesday shortly after he votes in Phoenix - for himself. In part, it's because Obama is already planning on campaigning on Election Day. And in part, Davis said, it's because they believe McCain is making gains in western states, such as Colorado and Nevada, which he will hit on Monday.

That means that after 26-hours of campaigning starting Monday morning in Miami through Tuesday morning in seven states, McCain will grab a couple hours of sleep, get up and hit the trail again.

Davis also said that the campaign is prepared in case McCain wins. Obama's campaign has created a separate team to work on the transition if he is elected. Davis said the McCain campaign will move quickly if the senator wins, but that they don't plan on sharing any information about it ahead of time. "We can still keep a secret," Davis said.

No word on whether McCain will watch a movie on his campaign plane.

© 2008 Tribune Interactive (http://www.swamppolitics.com/news/politics/blog/2008/11/john_mccain_barack_obama_campa_3.html)

November 3rd, 2008, 10:05 AM
An Obama / Reverend Wright ad was played on MSNBC earlier this evening. Brought to us by the fear mongers (http://nationalrepublicantrust.com/) over at goptrust aka The National Republican Trust Political Action Committee (NRT PAC (http://nationalrepublicantrust.com/about.html)).

So it seems John McCain and company have dropped the No Race in This Race game and are scraping the bottom of the barrel.

His scars go deep. I hope he feels them when he tries to sleep.

I saw that. Pissed me off.

So I guess Obama is a Muslim Christian?

They are scraping so hard they cannot even keep their insults strait?

Oh, zip, I also noticed CO being red in that. That was the first, ironically, "red flag" I saw about that map/article. The post has been irritatingly puerile in its comments and "analysis">

Sadly, it sells.

November 3rd, 2008, 10:07 AM
Obama's tactics leave plenty of room in his potential presidency to win over die hard Republicans. McCain and Palin are using the scorched earth policy. They will have a solid base of incredibly hateful, angry supporters and not a chance in hell of wooing all the people they insulted, called anti-american, terrorist, and unpatriotic.

It worked for Bush, but I think they had to scorch too much earth on this one.

I will have to agree with John Stewart in his response to NY, North Virginia and other areas of the US not being "real America".

"F#$K YOU!"
(And, I believe, that is a direct quote)

November 3rd, 2008, 10:12 AM
The Election Year as seen over the past several months on walls and in windows & doorways around Downtown NYC 2008 ...




























usa 2008

November 3rd, 2008, 10:12 AM
In Retrospect

The Blinding Lights of a Campaign

Select Image Below
to Access YouTube Video

http://www.poynter.org/resource/70970/Balloons.jpg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtiAKqEykzY)

Image – Courtesy Poynter Online
Video – Courtesy cdejean22 / YouTube

Runtime – 05:54

November 3rd, 2008, 11:37 AM


November 3, 2008
McCain draws small Florida crowd on race’s final day
Posted: 10:40 AM ET

From CNN's Ed Henry

McCain's first rally of the day was
attended by only about 1,100 people.

TAMPA, Florida (CNN) – Barack Obama may lead John McCain by just 2 points in the latest CNN Florida poll of polls, but the enthusiasm gap appears a bit wider.

John McCain’s first rally of the day, in Tampa outside Raymond James Stadium, only drew about 1,100 people. Local reporters noting that at almost the same spot just before the 2004 election, President Bush drew about 15,000 people. Two weeks ago, Obama drew an estimated 8,000.

Republican Gov. Crist, who had previously agreed to do interviews with CNN and various local affiliates, bolted right after the rally with no explanation.

© 2008 Cable News Network LP, LLLP. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/)

November 3rd, 2008, 12:12 PM

Electoral Math: For McCain, the Numbers Aren't Adding Up

By Mark Halperin Monday, Nov. 03, 2008


Barring an extraordinary shock, Barack Obama will win more than 270 electoral votes on Tuesday, giving him the White House. Hours before voting starts, John McCain has no clear path to reaching that same goal.

In fact, based on interviews with political strategists in both parties, election analysts and advisers to both presidential campaigns — including a detailed look at public and private polling data — an Obama victory with well over 300 electoral votes is a more likely outcome than a McCain victory.

Under the Electoral College system, a candidate wins all of a state's electoral votes as long as he or she achieves a popular vote victory of any margin. Obama's commanding position results from the fact that he holds seemingly impregnable popular vote leads in twenty-four states, plus the District of Columbia, with 291 electoral votes, more than he needs to win. Obama's geographic anchors are the northeast, the mid-Atlantic, the upper industrial Midwest and the west coast, all areas that Democratic presidential candidates have dominated for several election cycles. But he is encroaching on other states as well that have recently gone dependably Republican, including Nevada, Virginia and Colorado.

With his superior spending, better organization on the ground, and poll standing, in fact, Obama actually seems poised to win the majority of the remaining toss-up states. If there is a pro-Democratic/anti-Bush wave cresting, as some top strategists in both parties believe, Obama could take all of the still contested battlegrounds, giving him nearly 400 electoral votes, and a significant multi-regional mandate. The remaining toss-up states are all large ones — Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri — with a total of 84 electoral votes, and were all won by Bush in 2000 and 2004. And some additional western and southern states that are currently leaning towards McCain (such as North Dakota and Georgia) could end up in the Democratic column, lifting Obama over 400.

McCain's challenge — and only hope — is to find a way to get just over 270 votes, starting with pulling back into the Republican column some states that appear to be titling clearly towards Obama. Then he needs to sweep the toss-ups, where in almost every case polling shows him behind. Right now, McCain leads solidly or more narrowly in 21 states with 163 electoral votes.

McCain's most likely victory scenario is to hold nearly all of the states that George W. Bush won in 2004. The Republican's strategists have claimed for several days that they are closing their gaps in many of the traditionally Republican states to within striking distance. Actually overtaking Obama in enough states to win would require a combination of factors: Obama's get-out-the-vote efforts have to turn out to be weaker than thought; young voters have to fail to channel their enthusiasm for Obama into actually voting; race has to be a bigger factor than most pollsters currently believe it to be; conservatives have to be more fired up than they have seemed; independents have to be more attracted to the Republican ticket than they have been all year; and, most of all, late-deciding voters have to break disproportionately to McCain.

If all that happened — improbable at this point — McCain could get to 270 by losing all the states Democrat John Kerry won in 2004, but holding all the Bush states plus two, from a group that includes Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada.

McCain's other path would be to win Pennsylvania — where public polls have shown Obama with a healthy lead, but where Republicans have invested a lot of resources. That would allow McCain to squeak to victory, even if he lost Virginia, as long as he won one of the four states above. McCain's Sunday night visit to New Hampshire also suggests Republicans see a glimmer of hope in a state that has just four electoral votes, but where Obama has pulled to a big lead in polls.

© 2008 Time Inc. All rights reserved (http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1855843,00.html)

November 3rd, 2008, 12:45 PM

Good post. There are several scenarios, however unlikely, that provide for McCain to win the electoral collage by a narrow margin and lose the popular vote by up to 10MM voters. For instance, McCain could win the battleground states of FLA, Ohio, Missouri, etc, by 4 digit margins, and lose CA and NY by 2-5MM each. That is the great injustice of the electoral collage.

November 3rd, 2008, 12:45 PM
Anyone hear the Palin crank call? She is NOT the smartest tool in the shed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnMp5y1ubGo
"When we started to work on the idea last Tuesday," Mr. Audette said in an interview yesterday, "we thought it would be mission impossible. But after about a dozen calls, we started to realize it might work, because her staff didn't know the name of the French President. They asked us to spell it." http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081102.wpalinprankreax1102/BNStory/Front/

November 3rd, 2008, 12:49 PM
Following up my previous post (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=259526&postcount=4213) on cellphone sampling, here's an analysis by Brian Shaffner at Pollster.com

Clink on the link

The Cell-Phone-Only Difference: A Final Look (http://www.pollster.com/blogs/final_update_on_the_cell_phone.php)

November 3rd, 2008, 01:49 PM
The somewhat hidden part of a political campaign is the ground game - the network of field offices, staff and volunteers who increasingly become the important factor as election day draws near.

Coming out of a convention, a candidate should have his core support in place, loyal and enthusiastic. Campaigning from that point is mining for independent and crossover votes, but it's the core people who do the work to Get Out The Vote.

This is where McCain is at a big disadvantage. He has had to tailor his message to keep the Republican core in line, which shut out the moderate voters he needed to attract. As a result, his campaign was unfocused, drifting between the two groups. McCain always liked the town-hall format, by he shut it down after he took the mike from the crazy "he's and Arab" woman. His efforts to move away from that rhetoric elicited some boos from the audience, and that was the last time he took any questions at rallies.

The result is that while Obama has an efficient, enthusiastic network of volunteers, McCain's is non-existent in many places. In polls on the subject of enthusiasm for the candidate, McCain polls near 40 percent, while Obama polls near 80 percent.

My wife made me canvass for Obama; here's what I learned

This election is not about major policies. It's about hope.

By Jonathan Curley

from the November 3, 2008 edition

Charlotte, N.C. - There has been a lot of speculation that Barack Obama might win the election due to his better "ground game" and superior campaign organization.

I had the chance to view that organization up close this month when I canvassed for him. I'm not sure I learned much about his chances, but I learned a lot about myself and about this election.

Let me make it clear: I'm pretty conservative. I grew up in the suburbs. I voted for George H.W. Bush twice, and his son once. I was disappointed when Bill Clinton won, and disappointed he couldn't run again.

I encouraged my son to join the military. I was proud of him in Afghanistan, and happy when he came home, and angry when he was recalled because of the invasion of Iraq. I'm white, 55, I live in the South and I'm definitely going to get a bigger tax bill if Obama wins.

I am the dreaded swing voter.

So you can imagine my surprise when my wife suggested we spend a Saturday morning canvassing for Obama. I have never canvassed for any candidate. But I did, of course, what most middle-aged married men do: what I was told.

At the Obama headquarters, we stood in a group to receive our instructions. I wasn't the oldest, but close, and the youngest was maybe in high school. I watched a campaign organizer match up a young black man who looked to be college age with a white guy about my age to canvas together. It should not have been a big thing, but the beauty of the image did not escape me.

Instead of walking the tree-lined streets near our home, my wife and I were instructed to canvass a housing project. A middle-aged white couple with clipboards could not look more out of place in this predominantly black neighborhood.

We knocked on doors and voices from behind carefully locked doors shouted, "Who is it?"

"We're from the Obama campaign," we'd answer. And just like that doors opened and folks with wide smiles came out on the porch to talk.

Grandmothers kept one hand on their grandchildren and made sure they had all the information they needed for their son or daughter to vote for the first time.

Young people came to the door rubbing sleep from their eyes to find out where they could vote early, to make sure their vote got counted.

We knocked on every door we could find and checked off every name on our list. We did our job, but Obama may not have been the one who got the most out of the day's work.

I learned in just those three hours that this election is not about what we think of as the "big things."

It's not about taxes. I'm pretty sure mine are going to go up no matter who is elected.

It's not about foreign policy. I think we'll figure out a way to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan no matter which party controls the White House, mostly because the people who live there don't want us there anymore.

I don't see either of the candidates as having all the answers.

I've learned that this election is about the heart of America. It's about the young people who are losing hope and the old people who have been forgotten. It's about those who have worked all their lives and never fully realized the promise of America, but see that promise for their grandchildren in Barack Obama. The poor see a chance, when they often have few. I saw hope in the eyes and faces in those doorways.

My wife and I went out last weekend to knock on more doors. But this time, not because it was her idea. I don't know what it's going to do for the Obama campaign, but it's doing a lot for me.

Jonathan Curley is a banker. He voted for George H.W. Bush twice and George W. Bush once.

www.csmonitor.com | Copyright © 2008 The Christian Science Monitor. .

November 3rd, 2008, 02:33 PM
Instead of walking the tree-lined streets near our home, my wife and I were instructed to canvass a housing project. ... We knocked ... and voices from behind carefully locked doors shouted, "Who is it?" ...

"This is how you answer the door
in MY neighbourhood (shouting):
'WHO IS IT?' "

Select Image Below
to Access Video

http://www.justzip.com/assets/clientpictures/V-106-picture (http://www.jibjab.com/view/130761)

Video – Courtesy JibJab: Eddie Murphy / SNL
Image – Courtesy Just ZIP

Runtime – 02:14

November 3rd, 2008, 04:36 PM


From the Los Angeles Times


In Ohio, Obama's ground game outguns McCain's

McCain has struggled to gain momentum in a battleground state that Bush won in 2004 -- and that he needs to win to beat the odds.

PITCHING IN: Jenifer Burks walks into Barack Obama’s campaign offices
in Delaware, Ohio. She is a former Republican who started working at an
Obama phone bank eight months ago.

By Bob Drogin and Robin Abcarian

November 3, 2008

Reporting from Delaware, Ohio — John McCain has targeted this wealthy area just north of Columbus as one of 15 counties in Ohio where he needs to drive up his vote tally if he is to beat Barack Obama on Tuesday in this must-win state.

But on Friday night, only nine volunteers manned the 24 phones in the McCain campaign office. The phone bank began operating on a daily basis just two weeks ago. And since then, only five people have shown up on most weekdays to canvass local neighborhoods.

Obama's campaign, in contrast, has flooded this GOP bastion with volunteers. Some canvassers first hit the winding streets of nearby subdivisions in March during the Democratic primary, and they have worked almost nonstop since in search of supporters.

Ohio is a battleground in the presidential race, and here's the view on the front line: McCain's get-out-the-vote operation has struggled to build momentum, and it appears outgunned by Obama's.

Both campaigns have mobilized armies of volunteers and paid staff for the final push across the state, and both claim their efforts to target likely voters are more sophisticated and more efficient than in 2004. In that contest, President Bush won reelection by beating back a stiff challenge from Democratic nominee John F. Kerry in Ohio.

Back then, Bush's aides started early in the year and built an elaborate ground-up organization that focused on driving up the GOP vote here in Delaware County and similar, fast-growing exurbs that surround Cincinnati, Dayton and Cleveland.

This time, the Democrats have shifted strategies -- and may have the upper hand.

Learning from the Bush effort, Obama has taken his fight directly into suburban and rural GOP strongholds in an effort to curb McCain's potential margins. Obama has 82 offices in the state, nearly twice as many as McCain. Labor unions are backing his effort with more than 12,000 volunteers.

"McCain does not have the kind of ground organization that Obama has, not even close," said Nancy Martorano, associate professor of political science at the University of Dayton.

"I've never seen anything like the Obama ground game," agreed Paul Beck, professor of political science at Ohio State University in Columbus. "It is light-years ahead of what the Democrats did four years ago."

Some Republican leaders in Ohio complain that McCain didn't open his state headquarters until June, three months after he secured the nomination, and that the state campaign appears top-heavy and run in part by outsiders.

McCain campaign officials insist they have contacted more voters than Bush's team did four years ago, and they tout their use of voice-over-Internet technology to improve and expand the effort.

The devices enable volunteers at GOP phone banks to punch buttons that instantly update a database called Voter Vault, which collects details on individual voters from dozens of public sources, such as magazine subscriptions and car registrations.

Using the data, the campaign can mail different fliers to different voter groups. Military veterans may hear about McCain's views on Iraq, and some church groups may receive information about his opposition to abortion. Jewish voters may learn about McCain's support for Israel.

"Every single mailbox needs a different message," said Ryan Meerstein, McCain's state director. "And we can do that. We can hit you with what is most important to you."

But the campaign didn't send the high-tech phones to some vote-rich areas it needs on election day.

"We're still on cellphones and use pen and pencil," said Pat Hennessy, GOP chairman in conservative Muskingum County, about 50 miles east of Columbus. "I don't know what they're collecting. They don't tell me."

Equally important, perhaps, McCain's campaign still wasn't canvassing in many areas last week.

"We've mostly done weekends until now," said Linda Smith, GOP chairwoman in Clark County, west of the capital.

McCain faces other potential difficulties in Delaware County, which has 165,000 residents and is one of the nation's fastest-growing counties.

In 2004, Bush swamped Kerry 2 to 1 in the wealthy subdivisions and shopping malls carved out of rich farmland that abuts the capital. But when foreclosure signs started sprouting and Bush's popularity began to crater, the GOP stronghold began to fracture.

In 2006, the county gave a whisker-thin margin to Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, who led a Democratic near-sweep of state offices, including the secretary of state, attorney general and treasurer.

The local economy has only worsened since.

Ed Helvey, the county Democratic chairman, said that Democrats outnumber Republicans in voter registrations for the first time.

"We are working our tails off," he said. "The Republicans had it in '04. It was like electricity in the air -- you could feel it."

This year, he said, Democrats were more visible than Republicans.

Still, Republicans were out in force in the town of Delaware, the county seat, on Saturday morning. At a restaurant called Buns, Rep. John A. Boehner, who represents a district near Cincinnati and is the House Republican leader, joined a breakfast for Rep. Pat Tiberi, who represents Delaware County. Boehner said he was unimpressed with the Obama ground game in Ohio.

"They've got people out there?" he asked. "So what? They don't have a candidate or a message that appeals to people in rural areas and exurbs."

But there was no sign that either congressman was stumping for McCain. Most supporters wore Tiberi T-shirts, and the two buses parked outside sported only Boehner and Tiberi signs.

Obama's campaign office was around the corner. About 30 canvassers already were out knocking on doors, including Jenifer Burks, a former Republican and part-time worker at Pizza Hut, who began working at an Obama phone bank eight months ago.

On Hearthstone Drive, she knocked on Monica Thompson's door. The young mother's entry hall was a jumble of kids' jackets and boots. The house got five calls from the Obama campaign on Halloween, she said, and someone left literature on her door the other day.

"I'm voting for Obama," Thompson said.

"How about your husband?" Burks asked.

She replied that her husband, Jeremy, was an independent voter who had not made up his mind. But she added that they had not heard from anyone in the McCain campaign -- not by phone, by mail or in person.

Burks smiled and made a note on her clipboard.

"If you're undecided," she promised, "we're going to talk to you till we know what you're doing."

Drogin and Abcarian are Times staff writers.



Times staff writer Tom Hamburger contributed to this report.

Copyright 2008 Los Angeles Times

November 3rd, 2008, 05:22 PM
I never wanted to see the Republicans win this election but for much of the race, Obama did not impress me.

What a difference a few months have made.

And I am amazed at how the Republicans, who seemed so on-track with their crafty ways, completely derailed.

To celebrate on wednesday: I am having lunch with a far-lefty ultra-liberal NYU professor friend (married a woman from my town and spends a few months a year here) at a Communist workers social club.

No joke.

November 3rd, 2008, 06:37 PM
The somewhat hidden part of a political campaign is the ground game - the network of field offices, staff and volunteers who increasingly become the important factor as election day draws near.

This is one place where facing hard challenges from HRC during the primaries paid, is paying huge dividends for the Obama campaign today. Axelrod and Obama needed to invest heavily in field operations early on in order to get through the primaries. Because those ground campaigns remained in place, they are now very well organized in most of the key battleground states. This advantage in field operation infrastructure may turn out to be the most important advantage Obama has in the 'get out / suppress the vote 'battle, and as a result may be the single most important factor in getting him elected.

Good article on that here:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122567081861291753.html

Democrats Far Outspend Republicans On Field Operations, Staff Expenditures


WASHINGTON -- The national and state Democratic parties are spending far more heavily than their Republican counterparts on field operations, after years of ceding the advantage in ground-level organizing to the Republican voter-turnout machine.

Finance records show Democrats have hired five to 10 times more paid field staff in swing states than the Republicans.

Democrats have set up 770 offices nationwide, including in some of the most Republican areas of traditionally "red" states -- like one in Goshen, Ind., a manufacturing town with a population of about 30,000. It is the seat of Elkhart County, which voted for President George W. Bush in 2004 by more than 40 percentage points. By comparison, Republicans have about 370 offices nationwide.

The focus on the ground-game is a change from past election cycles, when the Democratic party's prime objective was getting as many broadcast ads on the air as possible. In recent campaigns, Democrats outsourced their ground organization to outside groups, such as labor unions and liberal activists.

The year's change is made possible by Democratic Sen. Barack Obama's historic fundraising. His campaign is doing its own advertising, taking that pricey burden off the parties. Campaign-finance data show the Democratic Party has essentially ceded television advertising to Sen. Obama's campaign. In 2004, the Democratic Party spent nearly $120 million on advertising in support of then-nominee John Kerry, compared to only $500,000 this fall.

And the Obama campaign also is pouring money into state-party budgets. The senator's presidential campaign along with the Democratic National Committee have put at least $112 million into state parties in recent months, a review of campaign-finance filings shows. They have poured $6 million into both North Carolina and Virginia and even sent $1.8 million into Montana -- nearly two dollars for every resident of that state.

"We really feel that this election is going to come down to our ground organization and what happens in the final days of the campaign," said Jen O'Malley, the Obama campaign's battleground-states director.

Four years ago, the party's get-out-the-vote effort was largely run by an independent group named America Coming Together, or ACT, which was financed with $164 million from rich liberals but legally prevented from coordinating with their candidate. The group was criticized by some Democrats for not reaching deep enough into the outer suburbs and rural areas, where Republicans were victorious. ACT was also legally restricted when it came to mentioning candidates, and was fined $775,000 after allegedly attacking President Bush in its voter drives.

Republicans say their volunteer-based turnout machinery from 2004 is intact and more than twice as productive as last cycle in making phone calls and house calls. "This operation is working on all eight cylinders," said Rich Beeson, the political director of the Republican National Committee and a veteran of the 2004 effort. "It's doing what it was designed to do." The party has been honing the same model for eight years, developing veteran volunteers who often work full-time without pay.

Republican spending on field staff has grown just slightly since 2004, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis covering reports from the presidential campaigns, as well as national and state parties. The GOP spent an estimated $22 million on personnel from June 1 to Oct. 15, compared to $19 million over the same period in 2004.

Democrats have increased their staff expenditures from $30 million to $56 million -- and they employed an estimated 4,500 workers making more than $1,500 a month as of mid-October, the latest information available. Sen. McCain and the Republicans had about 1,100 at that point.

The expansion was made possible by Sen. Obama's decision to decline public financing for his campaign, freeing himself from its spending caps. Instead he has relied on the legions of supporters who have already contributed over $600 million.

Sen. McCain is limited to spending the $84.1 million he accepted from the government after his September nomination. Sen. Obama is on track to spend more on television advertising than any candidate in history, likely spending more than $100 million on ads in October alone.

Write to Brad Haynes at brad.haynes@dowjones.com

Copyright 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. Distribution and use of this material are governed by our Subscriber Agreement and by copyright law. For non-personal use or to order multiple copies, please contact Dow Jones Reprints at 1-800-843-0008 or visit

November 3rd, 2008, 09:26 PM
I've been reading some opinions and analyses that Georgia may provide some drama tomorrow.

From an AP article on early voting: (http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iXAkBilVhjbpsgAAHfgp6kGEShvwD947OSV00)
In Georgia, early voting has tripled since 2004. The state doesn't track early voters by party registration, but it does track them by race.

About 29 percent of the state's electorate is black, but 35 percent of early voters are black. Almost one-fifth of the early voters have come from two traditionally Democratic metro Atlanta counties.

Voters in one Georgia county stood in line until 10:30 p.m. last week to cast ballots.

Both the presidential and senate race in Georgia are close, although most projections show a REP win.

Over 60% of the total number of people who voted in Georgia in 2004 have already voted.

Over at FiveThirtyEight, Caroline Adelman, Obama Georgia Campaign communications director was interviewed. (http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/11/on-road-atlanta-georgia.html)

We'll see.

November 4th, 2008, 12:21 AM
EXCLUSIVE: Obama/DNC Incident Report Database Reveals Startling, Wide-Spread Voting Machine Problems Across Nevada During Early Voting
Presidential Race Not Available; Machines Go Down; Votes Not Recorded; Printers Jam
Attorneys Decline to Take Action to Remove Machines From Service, Ensure Paper Ballots for Voters...

Wide-spread voting machine failures have been reported to the Obama/DNC election protection hotline in Nevada since early voting began more than a week ago in the state, The BRAD BLOG has learned. All voters who vote in person in the crucial battleground state are forced to cast their vote on 100% unverifiable Sequoia EDGE touch-screen voting machines with the VeriVote "paper trail" printer add-on.

Attorneys monitoring the incident reports coming in to the hotline have taken no action in regard to removing the failed machines from service, despite reports of the presidential race not appearing at all on some ballots; voters having problems selecting their preferred candidates; machines not starting up at all; "paper trail" printers jamming or running out of paper, and; a number of machines at a number of sites which refuse to work at all.

And this is just during early voting. A number of those startling reports are posted at the end of this article...

FULL STORY: http://www.bradblog.com/?p=6616 (http://www.bradblog.com/?p=6616)

November 4th, 2008, 12:44 AM
Black Box Voting for New York State. Read and post voting irregularities and polling place problems:


November 4th, 2008, 02:00 AM


November 3, 2008
Cheney's hometown paper endorses Obama
Posted: 10:40 AM ET

From CNN's Emily Sherman


Vice President Cheney's hometown
newspaper endorsed
Sen. Obama Monday.

(CNN)—With just over a day before polls start to close, Vice President Dick Cheney's hometown newspaper named their presidential pick — Democratic Sen. Barack Obama.

"It is a foregone conclusion that Wyoming's three electoral votes will go to Sen. John McCain. It would be easy for the Star-Tribune to simply agree with the majority of voters in this red state and endorse the Republican candidate for president," the Editorial Board of Wyoming's Casper Star-Tribune wrote Monday.

"But this isn't an ordinary election, and Sen. Barack Obama has the potential to be an extraordinary leader at a time we desperately need one."

The board goes on to commend Obama's judgement, criticizing McCain's conduct during his campaign and choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate.

"If the John McCain of 2000 saw today's counterpart, he wouldn't recognize himself," the Board wrote. "McCain is no longer a GOP maverick, or the war hero whose principles were unwavering. He has flip-flopped on issues ranging from tax cuts to torture in an effort to win over the conservative base of his party. He has waged a dismal campaign based on fear and divisiveness."

Cheney formally endorsed McCain Saturday, while at an event in Laramie, Wyoming.

"This year, of course, I'm not on the ballot, so I am here … not to vote for me, but I want to join daughter Liz, who is with me today, join us in casting … our ballots for John McCain and Sarah Palin," Cheney said.

Obama quickly seized the moment as another opportunity to tie McCain to the Bush presidency.

"I'd like to congratulate Sen. McCain on this endorsement, because he really earned it. That endorsement didn't come easy," Obama said at the Pueblo rally.

He added that Cheney "knows that with John McCain, you get a twofer: George Bush's economic policy and Dick Cheney's foreign policy. And that is a risk the American people cannot afford to take."

Echoing Obama’s latest campaign ad, the Star-Tribune’s editorial board commended him for receiving endorsements from "extremely capable leaders."

"It's good to know that he turns to the likes of Warren Buffett for financial matters and retired Gen. Colin Powell on military issues."

© 2008 Cable News Network LP, LLLP. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/)

November 4th, 2008, 05:39 AM

This transformation did not happen this year alone. In 2000, Mr. Bush’s campaign, lead by Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman, pioneered the use of microtargeting to find and appeal to potential new supporters. In 2004, the presidential campaign of Howard Dean was widely credited with being the first to see the potential power of the Internet to raise money and sign up volunteers, a platform that Mr. Obama tremendously expanded.

“They were Apollo 11, and we were the Wright Brothers,” said Joe Trippi, the manager of Mr. Dean’s campaign.

The ’08 Race: A Sea Change for Politics as We Know It

Published: November 3, 2008

The 2008 race for the White House that comes to an end on Tuesday fundamentally upended the way presidential campaigns are fought in this country, a legacy that has almost been lost with all the attention being paid to the battle between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama.

Yana Paskova for The New York Times

Volunteers for Barack Obama in Chicago.

It has rewritten the rules on how to reach voters, raise money, organize supporters, manage the news media, track and mold public opinion, and wage — and withstand — political attacks, including many carried by blogs that did not exist four years ago. It has challenged the consensus view of the American electoral battleground, suggesting that Democrats can at a minimum be competitive in states and regions that had long been Republican strongholds.

The size and makeup of the electorate could be changed because of efforts by Democrats to register and turn out new black, Hispanic and young voters. This shift may have long-lasting ramifications for what the parties do to build enduring coalitions, especially if intensive and technologically-driven voter turnout programs succeed in getting more people to the polls. Mr. McCain’s advisers expect a record-shattering turnout of 130 million people, many being brought into the political process for the first time.

“I think we’ll be analyzing this election for years as a seminal, transformative race,” said Mark McKinnon, a senior adviser to President Bush’s campaigns in 2000 and 2004. “The year campaigns leveraged the Internet in ways never imagined. The year we went to warp speed. The year the paradigm got turned upside down and truly became bottom up instead of top down.”

To a considerable extent, Republicans and Democrats say, this is a result of the way that the Obama campaign sought to understand and harness the Internet (and other forms of so-called new media) to organize supporters and to reach voters who no longer rely primarily on information from newspapers and television. The platforms included YouTube, which did not exist in 2004, and the cellphone text messages that the campaign was sending out to supporters on Monday to remind them to vote.

“We did some very innovative things on the data side, and we did some Internet,” said Sara Taylor, who was the White House political director during Mr. Bush’s re-election campaign. “But only 40 percent of the country had broadband back then. You now have people who don’t have home telephones anymore. And Obama has done a tremendous job of waging a campaign through the new media challenge.

“I don’t know about you, but I see an Obama Internet ad every day. And I have for six months.”

Even more crucial to the way this campaign has transformed politics has been Mr. Obama’s success at using the Internet to build a huge network of contributors that permitted him to raise enough money — after declining to participate in the public financing system — to expand the map and compete in traditionally Republican states.

No matter who wins the election, Republicans and Democrats say, Mr. Obama’s efforts in places like Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia — organizing and advertising to voters who previously had little exposure to Democratic ideas and candidates — will force future candidates to think differently.

“The great impact that this election will have for the future is that it killed public financing for all time,” said Mr. McCain’s chief campaign strategist, Steve Schmidt. “That means the next Republican presidential campaign, hopefully a re-election for John McCain, will need to be a billion-dollar affair to challenge what the Democrats have accomplished with the use of the Internet and viral marketing to communicate and raise money.”

“It was a profound leap forward technologically,” Mr. Schmidt added. “Republicans will have to figure out how to compete with this in order to become competitive again at a national level and in House and Senate races.”

This transformation did not happen this year alone. In 2000, Mr. Bush’s campaign, lead by Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman, pioneered the use of microtargeting to find and appeal to potential new supporters. In 2004, the presidential campaign of Howard Dean was widely credited with being the first to see the potential power of the Internet to raise money and sign up volunteers, a platform that Mr. Obama tremendously expanded.

“They were Apollo 11, and we were the Wright Brothers,” said Joe Trippi, the manager of Mr. Dean’s campaign.

Terry Nelson, who was the political director of the Bush campaign in 2004, said that the evolution was challenging campaign operatives who worked for every presidential campaign, and would continue in 2012 and beyond.

“We are in the midst of a fundamental transformation of how campaigns are run,” Mr. Nelson said. “And it’s not over yet.”

The changes go beyond what Mr. Obama did and reflect a cultural shift in voters, producing an audience that is at once better informed, more skeptical and, from reading blogs, sometimes trafficking in rumors or suspect information. As a result, this new electorate tends to be more questioning of what it is told by campaigns and often uses the Web to do its own fact-checking.

“You do focus groups and people say, ‘I saw that ad and I went to this Web site to check it,’ ” said David Plouffe, the Obama campaign manager. “They are policing the campaigns.”

Mr. Schmidt said the speed and diversity of the news cycle had broken down the traditional way that voters received information and had given campaigns opportunities, and challenges, in trying to manage the news.

“The news cycle is hyperaccelerated and driven by new players on the landscape, like Politico and Huffington Post, which cause competition for organizations like The A.P. where there is a high premium on being first,” he said. “This hyperaccelerates a cable-news cycle driven to conflict and drama and trivia.”

Peter Wynn Thompson for The New York Times

The Obama campaign’s use of the Internet to organize supporters and to
reach voters has been cited as playing a large role in
upending how presidential races are fought.

Among the biggest changes this year is the intense new interest in politics, reflected in jumps in voters registration, early voting and attendance at Mr. Obama’s rallies. To no small extent, that is a reflection on the unusual interest stirred by his campaign. Thus, it is hardly clear that a future candidate who appropriated all the innovations that Mr. Obama and his campaign tried would necessarily have the same success as Mr. Obama.

“Without the candidate who excites people,” Mr. Plouffe said, “you can have the greatest strategy and machinery and it won’t matter.”

Mr. Trippi, who worked for one of Mr. Obama’s rivals in the Democratic primary, former Senator John Edwards, said: “It has all come together for one guy, Barack Obama. But now that it’s happened, it’s a permanent change.”

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/04/us/politics/04memo.html?ref=politics)

November 4th, 2008, 05:56 AM

National polls: Obama over 50 percent

11/4/08 4:40 AM EST

In 14 national polls completed over the weekend, Barack Obama surpassed the 50-percent threshold in all but one, suggesting he is within striking distance of a feat no Democrat has accomplished since Jimmy Carter in 1976: winning a majority of the vote.

The one notable and slight outlier is IBD/TIPP; it estimates Obama’s likely margin at 48 to 43 percent.

Two of those pre-election national polls, which project the undecided vote, show Obama in a particularly commanding position. Gallup reports Obama winning 55 to 44 percent, while the Pew Research Center has winning 52 to 46 percent.

Presidential elections, of course, are not national contests. Rather, the president is selected in 50 different state elections. Here is how the final polls look in 14 of the most competitive battlegrounds.


An Arizona State University poll (Oct. 23-26) had McCain’s lead cut within the margin of error early last week, at 46 to 44 percent. About a month earlier, the poll had McCain leading by 7 points. In the summer, McCain was leading by double-digits in the same survey.

Polls completed Oct. 28 by NBC News/Mason-Dixon and CNN/Time had McCain ahead by 4 and 7 points, respectively. However, a poll completed Friday by Research 2000 measured the race as effectively tied, with McCain on top 48 to 47 percent.


The most recent poll, conducted by FOX News/Rasmussen on Sunday, showed Obama ahead by 4 points, 51 to 47 percent—the survey’s same margin as one week earlier. The Denver Post/Mason-Dixon poll completed Friday and Saturday shows Obama ahead by 5 points, 49 to 44.


SurveyUSA’s final poll, completed Monday night, had Obama ahead 50 to 47 percent. The latest Reuters/Zogby poll, completed Sunday, shows Obama leading 48 to 46 percent— a statistical tie, as the poll showed one week earlier. Surveys by Quinnipiac University and Public Policy Polling, completed the same day, show the same 2-point margin. But in Sunday’s FOX News/Rasmussen poll McCain was up 50 to 49 percent, also a dead heat. One week ago, the FOX poll had McCain trailing by 4 points.


Two polls completed over the weekend, by InsiderAdvantage/Poll Position and SurveyUSA, show widely varying margins. InAdvantage/Poll Position reported a statistical tie but SurveyUSA showed McCain ahead by 7 points. Strategic Vision’s most recent survey, completed Sunday shows the margin right in between, with McCain leading 50 to 46 percent.


Last week’s Indianapolis Star/WTHR poll showed the two candidates statistically tied, with Obama at 46 and McCain at 45. But the Zogby poll competed Sunday has McCain ahead by 5 points, 49 to 44 percent—roughly the same margin it found the week earlier. SurveyUSA’s last poll completed Oct. 28 shows the race tied, while Rasmussen pegs McCain’s lead at 3 points.


Polls conducted since Thursday by Rasmussen, SurveyUSA and Zogby show the race tied. An Oct. 29 Politico/InsiderAdvantage poll had McCain ahead by 3 points, 50 to 47 percent.


The most recent Rasmussen (Oct. 29) and Research 2000 (Oct. 28-30) polls show McCain ahead by 4 points. A Public Policy Polling survey completed Sunday had the race effectively tied, with 48-47 tilting to Obama’s favor.


McCain has not held a lead in Nevada since mid-September. Sunday’s Reuters/Zogby poll showed Obama ahead 51 to 43 percent. A couple days earlier, the Las Vegas Review Journal/Mason-Dixon survey (Oct. 28-29) showed Obama leading by a slimmer 4-point margin, 47 to 43 percent, the same 4-point spread as Rasmussen’s Oct. 27 poll. The Reno Gazette-Journal poll, taken Oct. 25-28, puts Obama ahead by 5 points.

New Mexico

The last two SurveyUSA polls peg McCain down by 7 points. The latest, conducted Oct. 29-31, shows Obama leading 52 to 45 percent. Rasmussen’s Oct. 28 poll also showed Obama comfortably ahead, 54 to 44 percent.

North Carolina

In the past week several polls have shown McCain with the slightest lead, though always bobbing within the margin of error. Recent surveys by Rasmussen (Nov. 2), SurveyUSA (Oct. 30-Nov. 2), and Zogby (Oct. 30-Nov. 2) place McCain ahead by 1 point. Mason-Dixon (Oct. 29-30) pegs McCain ahead by 3, while the Oct. 29 Politico/InsiderAdvantage poll showed the state split evenly at 48.

North Dakota

A recent Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll (Oct. 28-29) showed McCain ahead 47 to 46 percent. The week earlier, the same survey showed the two candidates tied. In mid September, Research 2000 showed McCain ahead by 13 points.


Sunday’s Rasmussen poll showed the race exactly tied, at 49 percent each. SurveyUSA’s poll, also completed Sunday, has Obama ahead 48 to 46 percent--a statistical tie. Another recent poll (Oct. 31-Nov. 2), by Strategic Vision, shows McCain ahead by a similar margin, 48 to 46 percent. However surveys by Zogby, Quinnipiac and the Ohio Poll, also taken over the same period, have Obama ahead by 6 or 7 points.


No public poll has shown McCain ahead in Pennsylvania in the general election. Still, four polls completed over the weekend show Obama ahead by 6 to 8 points--with Zogby the outlier, measuring a 14-point lead for the Democrat.


McCain has not led in a public poll in the state since September. Two polls completed over the weekend, by SurveyUSA and Rasmussen, show Obama ahead by 4 points. In the same period, Zogby shows Obama ahead by 6 while Mason-Dixon estimates the Democrat’s lead at 3.

© 2008 Capitol News Company LLC (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1108/15241.html)

November 4th, 2008, 06:15 AM

The sad campaign of John McCain

11/4/08 4:21 AM EST

As his campaign rattles to an end, John McCain has never been better on the stump. Not a natural orator, McCain finally has found his voice.

“Stand up! Stand up! Stand up and fight!” McCain thundered Monday in Blountville, Tenn. “We never give up! We never quit! We never hide from history; we make history!”

Photo: AP

John McCain greets enthusiastic
supporters Monday in Indianapolis.

And he will make history Tuesday night. He will enter the history books either as having pulled off one of the greatest upsets in modern political history or for having run one of its worst campaigns.

As of now, he appears to be heading for the latter. Let’s take a look just at some recent examples.

How about that Dick Cheney endorsement Saturday? Wasn’t that a brilliant move with just three days to go in the race?

Here is John McCain struggling to demonstrate to the voters that his election will not represent four more years of the George W. Bush administration, and so who does McCain’s campaign trot out? The leading architect of the George W. Bush administration!

You would have a hard time finding a less popular national political figure in America today than Dick Cheney. His approval rating is around 18. And that is 18 people, not 18 percent. (OK, OK, I am kidding. But an 18 percent approval rating is pretty awful.)

In September, the McCain campaign artfully avoided having Cheney and Bush show up at the Republican National Convention by basically canceling the first day of the convention, allegedly because of concerns over Hurricane Gustav.

It was a pretty nifty move — which the campaign has now undone by wheeling out Cheney. And did the McCain campaign really think Barack Obama would miss the opportunity to exploit it? The Obama campaign immediately put up an ad attacking the endorsement, and Obama mocked it from the stump.

“Yesterday, Dick Cheney came out of his undisclosed location and hit the campaign trail,” Obama said. “That endorsement didn’t come easy. Sen. McCain had to vote 90 percent of the time with George Bush and Dick Cheney to get it.”

So what is the defense for Cheney’s thoroughly unnecessary high-profile endorsement of McCain? (Cheney, after all, had already announced his support for McCain.) Well, it was supposed to energize the base.

But haven’t we heard that one before? Wasn’t the selection of Sarah Palin supposed to energize the base?

The trouble with this strategy is not just that part of the Republican base has recoiled from Sarah Palin but that the Republican base has never been smaller. McCain’s great strength as a candidate was supposed to be his ability to reach beyond the base and get swing voters. Does Palin help with that? Does Cheney?

But wait. There is also Joe the Plumber. Joe the Plumber — real name: Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher — has become the embodiment of the McCain campaign, its central image. The McCain campaign has Joe the Plumber tours and Joe the Plumber rallies and an “I am Joe the Plumber” commercial.

Not content, however, to be a symbol of middle-class anxiety over Barack Obama (which is what he is supposed to be, I guess), Wurzelbacher decided to show off his own foreign policy credentials.

At a rally in Ohio last week, a McCain supporter in the crowd asked Wurzelbacher if he agreed that “a vote for Obama is a vote for the death of Israel.”

Wurzelbacher replied: “I’ll go ahead and agree with you on that.”

When asked later on Fox News to explain his extraordinary statement, Wurzelbacher demurred. “You don’t want my opinion on foreign policy,” he said. “I know just enough about foreign policy to probably be dangerous.”


And then there was “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend. I admire John McCain for appearing on the show so close to Election Day. And he did show a flash of the old, easygoing, likable John McCain from 2000.

But I thought the evening turned out to be more poignant than funny.

I winced during the sketch when Tina Fey, impersonating Sarah Palin, joked that the McCain campaign was hopeless. “OK, listen up, everybody, I am goin’ rogue right now, so keep your voices down,” Fey/Palin said. “Available now, we got a buncha these ‘Palin in 2012’ T-shirts. Just try and wait until after Tuesday to wear ’em, OK?”

John McCain — the real one — was standing a few feet away and gamely went on with the show, coming back to do a bit about how he might adopt some new strategies to save his campaign.

One, he said, was the “sad grandpa” strategy.

“That’s where I get on TV and go, ‘C’mon, Obama’s gonna have plenty of chances to be president! It’s my turn! Vote for me!’” McCain said.

In the final days of this campaign, John McCain has indeed found his voice. Sometimes tough, sometimes appealing ... and sometimes sad.

© 2008 Capitol News Company LLC (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1108/15227.html)

November 4th, 2008, 06:16 AM

In last night's appearance, McCain invoked both Goldwater and Mo Udall, a Democrat from Arizona who ran for - and lost - a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. McCain took the opportunity to repeat one of his favourite campaign lines, that Arizona is "the only state in America where mothers don't tell their children they can grow up to be president of the United States. Tomorrow, I'm going to reverse that and be president of the United States."

McCain makes final election pitch in Arizona

Underdog invokes spirit of home state's most famous loser as he delivers late-night address in Prescott

Dan Glaister in Prescott, Arizona
Tuesday November 04 2008

Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

John McCain addresses a campaign rally in Prescott, Arizona.

After almost two years, and having covered seven states in the final 24 hours, John McCain gave his last stump speech of the 2008 presidential campaign in the early hours of election day.

A little over two hours previously, the first official results of the election had been announced in the hamlet of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire. In something of a landslide, Barack Obama won 15 votes to John McCain's 6.

Appearing on the steps of the Yavapai county courthouse in Prescott, in his home state of Arizona, McCain reiterated some of the most well-worn lines from his stump speech while urging his supporters to encourage people to vote.

"It's been a long journey and we've got one more day," he told the crowd of a few thousand gathered in the city's historic central plaza. "We're closing in the polls. All we've got to do is get out the vote."

His speech was brief, possibly because of the arduous final day of campaigning, possibly because of the late hour - he arrived on stage in Prescott at 12.34am (7.34am GMT).

"God bless America," he declared. "It's wonderful to be home. I thank you."

The choice of Prescott as the final resting place of the McCain-Palin campaign was laden with significance. McCain has made a point of ending all his campaigns in this city; he has never lost an electoral race in Arizona.

Although McCain's principal Arizona home is 60 miles away in the crystals and beads mecca of Sedona, he alights on Prescott at election time to summon up the spirit of Arizona's most famous loser, Barry Goldwater.

It was on the steps of Prescott's courthouse that Goldwater began and ended his ill-fated campaign for the presidency in 1964. That election led to one of the most sweeping landslides in US presidential history. Unfortunately for the Republicans, Goldwater was trounced, losing to the gangly Texan Democrat Lyndon Johnson.

In last night's appearance, McCain invoked both Goldwater and Mo Udall, a Democrat from Arizona who ran for - and lost - a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. McCain took the opportunity to repeat one of his favourite campaign lines, that Arizona is "the only state in America where mothers don't tell their children they can grow up to be president of the United States. Tomorrow, I'm going to reverse that and be president of the United States."

His audience, surprisingly mixed for the conservative heartland of a home state senator, was not so convinced. Al Anderson, a financial adviser who was at McCain's April rally in Prescott, admitted the race was going against him.

"You've got to be crazy to run for this job," he said. "You have to over-promise and neither of these guys can deliver half of what they say they can."

As well as a few hundred noisy Obama supporters marching around the perimeter of the square, there were several inside the barricades listening to the speeches.

"I have friends in the armed services," said Shawn Henley, who plans to vote for Obama. "The ones who are already overseas are for McCain, but a lot of them haven't gone yet. I don't want to see them go. If it wasn't for that I would honestly vote for McCain."

Making his way home at 1am, Jack Hendricks had seen it all before, starting with a glimpse of Franklin D Roosevelt on the back of a railroad truck in 1933 when Hendricks was three years old.

"There weren't as many people there," he confided, and the politicians then "were more trustworthy".

Hendricks concluded: "You can distill it down to a few words: whose half-truths do you want to believe?"

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/04/uselections2008-johnmccain)

November 4th, 2008, 06:37 AM
In Retrospect 02

Election 2008 – Choosing a President – The New York Times

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to Access NYT MultiMedia Video

http://and-still-i-persist.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/election2008.jpg (http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/politics/2008-election-overview/)

Image – Copyright © Bruce Henderson and / or Bruce F. Webster; Courtesy “And Still I Persist”
Video – Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Runtime – 13:41

November 4th, 2008, 07:19 AM
A couple of good early indicators

1.Obama wins Dixville Notch, NH in a landslide. Obama gets 71% of the vote, 15 to 6.

2.Steelers beat Redskins. Since 1936, in 17 of the last 18 presidential elections, the result of the last home game before the election of the Washington Redskins has determined the winner. A Redskin win, and the incumbent party holds the White House.

I'll take all the help I can get.

November 4th, 2008, 07:29 AM
^Works for me - and the loss is welcome!

I went to vote today at 6:00am and the line was all the way down the block. Never seen that before in my precinct. I can only imagine what its like where they're really pushing the get-out-the-vote.