Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Alright to Be White

I had to work tonight, so I didn't get to take up Chris Dodd on his costume advice. I also did not get to sit around and watch his ad. But I did have time to sit and his white hair really the best look for those Halloween parties?


Hillary Clinton's peeps are proudly touting her AFSCME endorsement she received today. Barack Obama's folks are proudly touting the past.

1. Mike Blouin--received the endorsement in the 2006 Iowa Democratic Gubernatorial Primary. Chet Culver won the primary.

2. Howard Dean--received the endorsement in the 2004 Democratic Presidential Primary. John Kerry won the primary.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Only 99, Senator?

John Edwards is celebrating this weekend the number 99. He's now made it to all of Iowa's counties this campaign season, making him the only candidate to do that so far. You'll remember Tommy Thompson pledged to visit all counties, as well. Although when he did it, he made a slight (major, perhaps, if you live in Iowa) that he would visit all 100 counties. I mentioned this to Edwards. He seemed a bit surprised about Thompson's counting problems.

Edwards refused to say he would boycott any other states that move before Iowa's caucuses on January 3 (if any state would dare to do so). He said he assumes Iowa would just move again if another state tried to leapfrog. Edwards also refused to give me a prediction on how well he would have to do in the caucuses. Iowa Democratic long-time activists tell me they think Edwards has to win Iowa to stop Hillary Clinton's current stranglehold in the national polls. I'm told a big reason Edwards has to win here is that he already ran here once. And he nearly caught John Kerry in the final days of the campaign. So people in Iowa already know him.

The Edwards camp send me a campaign memo outlining what he should do well in the caucus. They point out how he's not only been to every county so far, but he's also taken questions from Iowans in every county. No other candidate, the memo writes, has done this. This is yet another shot towards Clinton, who other camps love to point doesn't always take questions from the audience and almost never takes questions from the Iowa media. Obama seemed to go through a period where he didn't give much media access either. Although, he has picked that up in the past several months.

Anyway, I've included the Edwards memo below (this is pretty lengthy...I can't figure out how to do an attachment to this, which undoubtedly would keep it a little cleaner). It lays out why Edwards will do well because of his 99 county strategy, the fact that he's really hitting rural areas and that he hasn't really begun tv ads yet like Obama and Clinton have.


TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Harrison Hickman
Global Strategy Group, LLC
Jennifer O’Malley Dillon
Iowa State Director
John Edwards for President
RE: 99 County, 50 State Strategy
DATE: October 27, 2007

On Saturday, as he visits Coulter, Iowa, John Edwards reaches a critical milestone: holding events at which he answered questions from Iowans in all 99 counties.
No other Democratic candidate has achieved this goal – including Senators Obama and Clinton who have each spent similar numbers of days in Iowa. This is significant to the campaign for at least three reasons:

• It represents a significant achievement for the campaign and highlights the growing strength of
Edwards’ organization in all 99 counties.
• It reflects Edwards’ ability to go anywhere in Iowa -- especially rural and traditionally Republican areas – and connect with regular people. Other leading candidates have stuck more heavily to urban and traditionally safe Democratic areas.
• It demonstrates Edwards’ willingness to stand before Iowans and take their questions on any
topic, rather than sticking to tightly scripted events and limiting access from Iowans and reporters.
Edwards’ 99 County, 50 State Strategy
John Edwards’ strategy for winning the caucuses rests on building the strongest and deepest
organization in each of Iowa’s 99 counties, including a focus on rural Iowa. Similarly, his strategy for the general election will be to compete in all 50 states rather than trying to cherry pick the electoral map and squeak out a narrow electoral victory.
Edwards has unique advantages – in both the Iowa Caucuses and the general election – that set him apart from other Democrats in his ability to pursue a 99 county, 50 state strategy. He is the only candidate who has ever won an election in a solidly “red” state, he is the only candidate who comes from a rural community, and he is the only candidate from the South – which has been home to the only Democratic presidents of the last 40 years.
These advantages are confirmed by numerous published polls, which document that he is – by nearly every measure – the strongest Democratic candidate against Republicans like Giuliani, Romney, McCain, and Thompson. This is true in nationwide polling as well as in the key battleground states that will decide the November 2008 presidential election and control of Congress.

Global Strategy Group 2

Clinton, Obama Caucus Strategies Limit Their Appeal
An analysis of travel patterns by Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, and John Edwards demonstrates that Senators Obama and Clinton are pursuing a fundamentally different – and more narrow – strategy than John Edwards.
As of Saturday, Edwards will have spent 53 days in Iowa and have visited all 99 counties, taking question from Iowans in every county along the way. Obama has spent a nearly identical number of days in Iowa – 52 – but has only visited 59 counties. Senator Clinton has visited 38 days – but reached only 39 counties.
The reason for the disparity is simple: John Edwards has placed a higher priority on visiting small, rural communities, talking to the people who live there, and answering their questions.
Why the 99 County Strategy Matters The Iowa Caucus is a unique process that requires not only garnering the most supporters but also requires a broad and deep campaign structure in all of Iowa’s 99 counties. A candidate who does not visit certain counties – or refuses to take questions from local Iowans and/or local reporters – will have a much more difficult time successfully organizing those counties.
The Edwards campaign is the strongest and deepest of any campaign in Iowa. Edwards began this process with an existing base of support. In fact, in 2004, John Edwards either won or came in 2nd in 52 of Iowa’s 99 counties. The campaign has spent 2007 building on its support from 2004 and successfully expanding it across the state.
The caucuses are very different than a primary because they require asking people to spend two hours in the evening in the dead of winter in January to publicly show who they support. This is done in front of their neighbors, their family and friends, and maybe even their bosses. Because of the public and demanding nature of this process, it is critical that candidate’s support is deep enough to withstand the barrage that will come at them on caucus night from the other campaigns.
With Iowa’s proportionally representative system, a campaign that can turn out five additional caucus goers in 100 rural precincts will almost certainly make greater gains than a rival campaign that can turn out an additional 500 caucus goers in one precinct.

Global Strategy Group 3
John Edwards is the only candidate from a rural, red state. He grew up in a rural community. He was the first candidate to outline a comprehensive agenda to revitalize rural communities. He is the only candidate to have announced an organization of 99 rural county chairs (in April) and 1000 rural supporters. Additionally, the campaign is on track to announce steering committees in all 99 counties, demonstrating John Edwards’ deep support in areas both rural and urban. The strength of his organization in rural Iowa is a major asset for the campaign.
The campaign has also announced a 1500 member Women for Edwards organization – far surpassing the total number of women any other campaign has announced. They represent all 99 counties and more than 800 precincts throughout the state.
With 15 offices, more than 100 field organizers, county chairs for all 99 counties, and more than 75 percent of precinct captains already identified, the campaign has a strong organization and continues to build upon this strength. The campaign also benefits from the endorsements of the United Steelworkers, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners in America, the Iowa Postal Workers Union, the Transport Workers Union of America, the United Mine Workers of America, and most recently, the Iowa State Council of the Service Employees International Union along with state councils in 10 other states who are lending their resources and credibility to the effort in Iowa. Together, these unions represent about 17,000 workers and their families in Iowa – a powerful bloc given that the highest caucus turnout in history was 126,000 (in 1988).

The 50 State Strategy: Why it Can Work … If John Edwards is the Nominee
Nationwide general election polling shows John Edwards is the Democrat with the best chance of
defeating the Republican candidate in the 2008 general election for President. Edwards is the only Democrat with a significant lead in a head-to-head match-up against Republican frontrunner Giuliani.
Against the other three major Republican candidates, Edwards’ average margin of victory is identical to or better than that of Barack Obama, and significantly higher than Hillary Clinton’s average margin.
Edwards also outperforms the other Democratic candidates in match-ups with Republican candidates in key battleground states including Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio. Further, unlike other Democrats who must “run the table” in states where Democrats have been competitive in recent elections, Edwards brings new states into play. This provides alternate scenarios – and a margin for error – when it comes to amassing 270 electoral votes.
Former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes has said, “We need a leader who can compete anywhere in America, and win. Some pundits say that a Democrat can’t win in some places in the South, Midwest or West. But they’re wrong. The right Democratic presidential nominee – one who shares our values, understands our issues and offers real and bold solutions – can win these states. That candidate is John Edwards.”
Earlier this year, Oklahoma State Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan endorsed Edwards saying, “Numerous Oklahoma Democrats from both chambers agree that John Edwards is the strongest Presidential candidate in the field. He relates to our values and can communicate with the people of our state.”
• Nationwide head-to-head match-ups. General election polls show Edwards outperforming all
other Democrats against all Republicans. The following table summarizes nationwide general
election polling since Memorial Day, and shows the average margin for each Democrat for polls
in which they are included in horse race questions.

General Election Match-ups
Edwards Clinton Obama
Rudy Giuliani ..................... +4 (11 polls) +2 (35 polls) +2 (27 polls)
John McCain ..................... +6 (9 polls) +3 (18 polls) +6 (16 polls)
Mitt Romney ...................... +15 (8 polls) +10 (17 polls) +13 (11 polls)
Fred Thompson................. +11 (9 polls) +7 (25 polls) +10 (26 polls)

Global Strategy Group 4

• It is likely that national general election polls understate Edwards' general election advantage.
The reason for this is simple: Clinton runs further ahead of Republicans than Edwards in some of the large “blue” states any Democrat will carry (e.g., Massachusetts, New York, California).

“Big Blue State” General Election Match-Ups
John Edwards Hillary Clinton Barack Obama
New York*
Rudy Giuliani ................. Edwards -1 Clinton +24 Obama +5
Mitt Romney .................. Edwards +34 Clinton +40 Obama +28
Fred Thompson............. Edwards +22 Clinton +34 Obama +15
Rudy Giuliani ................. Edwards +8 Clinton +25 Obama +5
Mitt Romney .................. Edwards +25 Clinton +34 Obama +22
Fred Thompson............. Edwards +25 Clinton +29 Obama +17
Rudy Giuliani ................. Edwards +2 Clinton +20 Obama +4
Mitt Romney .................. Edwards +31 Clinton +33 Obama +15
Fred Thompson............. Edwards +21 Clinton +26 Obama +16

SOURCE: Survey USA polling. Best Democrat in each category shown in BOLD.

• Battleground state match-ups. As was evident in 2000, the President is elected in the Electoral College, not in the national vote. Thus, it is even more important that – while still winning the solid “blue” states - Edwards outperforms other Democratic candidates in key battleground states, including Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio. Other Democrats must win in virtually every state where Democrats have been competitive in recent years. In contrast, Edwards brings new states into play, and introduces a margin for error when it comes to winning 270 electoral votes.

Battleground State General Election Match-Ups

John Edwards Hillary Clinton Barack Obama
Rudy Giuliani ................. Edwards +5 Clinton -1 Obama +2
Mitt Romney .................. Edwards +24 Clinton +11 Obama +11
Fred Thompson............. Edwards +10 Clinton +3 Obama +3
Rudy Giuliani ................. Edwards +14 Clinton +8 Obama +8
Mitt Romney .................. Edwards +16 Clinton +7 Obama +10
Fred Thompson............. Edwards +17 Clinton +6 Obama +10
Rudy Giuliani ................. Edwards +3 Clinton +2 Tied
Mitt Romney .................. Edwards +18 Clinton +13 Obama +18
Fred Thompson............. Edwards +15 Clinton +7 Obama +15
Rudy Giuliani ................. Edwards – 1 Clinton -1 Obama -13
Mitt Romney .................. Edwards +20 Clinton +10 Obama -1
Fred Thompson............. Edwards +9 Clinton +1 Obama -8
Rudy Giuliani ................. Edwards +9 Clinton -3 Obama -21
Mitt Romney .................. Edwards +21 Clinton +3 Obama -6
Fred Thompson............. Edwards +6 Clinton -6 Obama -20

Global Strategy Group 5
Battleground State General Election Match-Ups
John Edwards Hillary Clinton Barack Obama
Rudy Giuliani ................. Edwards +5 Clinton +6 Obama +1
Mitt Romney .................. Edwards +19 Clinton +15 Obama +12
Fred Thompson............. Edwards +10 Clinton +7 Obama -2
Rudy Giuliani ................. Edwards – 7 Clinton -10 Obama -18
Mitt Romney .................. Edwards +10 Tied Obama -2
Fred Thompson............. Edwards +1 Clinton -5 Obama -7
Rudy Giuliani ................. Edwards – 10 Clinton -12 Obama -11
Mitt Romney .................. Edwards +14 Clinton +1 Obama +6
Fred Thompson............. Edwards – 7 Clinton -13 Obama -10
Rudy Giuliani ................. Edwards – 10 Clinton -11 Obama -27
Mitt Romney .................. Edwards +6 Clinton -1 Obama -17
Fred Thompson............. Edwards – 12 Clinton -13 Obama -26

SOURCE: Survey USA polling. Best Democrat in each category shown in BOLD.
Battleground Influence: ‘Electability’ Key
Iowa caucus goers are highly sophisticated and have a track record of assessing the electability of the candidates before making their decision. Additionally, caucus goers often do not choose a candidate until very close to the caucuses, making this a very late breaking process. A perfect example of this is 2004,
when in the last few weeks leading up to the caucuses, a large percentage of caucus goers abandoned
Howard Dean in favor of two candidates seen as more electable: John Edwards and John Kerry. With
less than 100 days until the caucuses, our campaign is in a strong position to take advantage of the large
number of undecided caucus goers, especially since caucus goers will be paying close attention to the
race when we go up on air.
In the 2008 caucuses, with a large share of caucus goers either still undecided or not firmly committed to
their choice, concerns about strength in the general election are likely to emerge as a major factor as
Iowans decide whom to support. This was a major strength for Edwards in 2004 and will help him in 2008
as well.
Iowa Polling: Edwards in Strong Position
The Iowa caucuses are inherently difficult to poll accurately, and while there is a wide range of public
polling available, the quality of that polling data also varies widely. Nevertheless, the polling consistently
shows that Edwards is in a strong position in Iowa, and that his support has proven to be deep and
Edwards’ support in public polling of Iowa caucus goers has averaged in the high 20’s since summer,
2006. An overview of sampling and survey findings reveals that Clinton benefits when the screen for the
poll is wider, while a tighter screen – that more closely reflects likely turnout – is to Edwards’ advantage.
Another way to gauge the screen’s selectivity is by looking at the percentage of first-time caucus goers in
the sample. As this percentage declines, Edwards’ support increases. Among those Iowans that will
most certainly attend the caucuses, Edwards is the clear frontrunner. In the Iowa caucuses, having the
most dedicated, experienced base of supporters will be critical to success.
Global Strategy Group 6
Edwards’ strength in Iowa is particularly notable given that his
campaign has yet to run a single television advertisement in the
state. (Notwithstanding the campaign’s small, $23,000 ad buy in
May that featured Iowans speaking out against the war but,
aside from the disclaimer, did not actually have Edwards in it).
In comparison, Obama and Clinton have each spent
considerable sums in the past months, for modest gains.
A strong finish by Edwards in Iowa will fundamentally change the
dynamic of the race, particularly because primary history
teaches us that voters generally decide on their presidential
nominee in a short window prior to the election. In the
2003/2004 primary election cycle, Howard Dean led John Kerry
by an average of 20 percentage points in New Hampshire before
Iowa caucus goers selected Kerry (38%) and Edwards (32%) as their top two candidates. After his
victory in Iowa, Kerry jumped to a 10 point lead in the New Hampshire polls, eventually winning the
primary by a 12 point margin.
Recent Iowa Caucus Polling – Twelve Poll Average
John Edwards’ 99 county, 50 state strategy is uniquely suited to him given his experience with the Iowa
caucuses and his status as the only candidate who has won an election in a “red” state. While the polls in
Iowa remain deadlocked, Edwards’ strategy of aggressively working to earn the support of Iowans in
every county and every part of the state puts him in a very strong position.
June 26th: Obama ads begin
August 14th: Clinton ads begin
7 5/20/2007 6 /16/2007 6/24/2007 7/31/2007
8/19/2007 9/10/2007 9/27/2007
TV Spending
Since June 26th
Edwards Clinton
$23,000 $2,100,000
Obama Richardson
$3,900,000 $2,000,000
Global Strategy Group 7
Citations and Links:
CNN/Opinion Research 927 Registered voters 10/14/2007
CNN/Opinion Research 914 Registered voters 9/9/2007
CNN/Opinion Research 1029 Registered voters 6/24/2007
Cook/RT Strategies 855 Registered voters 10/21/2007
Cook/RT Strategies 855 Registered voters 9/15/2007
Cook/RT Strategies 844 Registered voters 6/23/2007
Cook/RT Strategies 885 Registered voters 6/17/2007
Fox News/Opinion Dynamics 900 Registered voters 10/10/2007
Fox News/Opinion Dynamics 900 Registered voters 9/26/2007
Fox News/Opinion Dynamics 900 Registered voters 7/18/2007
Fox News/Opinion Dynamics 900 Registered voters 6/6/2007
GWU-Battleground 1000 Likely voters 7/18/2007
LA Times/Bloomberg 522 Registered voters 10/22/2007,1,6122726.acrobat?coll=la-news-times_poll
LA Times/Bloomberg 512 Registered voters 10/22/2007,1,6122726.acrobat?coll=la-news-times_poll
LA Times/Bloomberg 1056 Registered voters 6/10/2007
LA Times/Bloomberg 1056 Registered voters 6/10/2007
NBC News/WSJ 1002 Adults 9/13/2007
NBC News/WSJ 1005 Adults 7/30/2007
Global Strategy Group 8
NBC News/WSJ 1008 Adults 6/11/2007
NPR 800 Likely voters 10/7/2007
Newsweek/PSRA 831 Adults 6/21/2007
Quinnipiac 1545 Registered voters 8/13/2007
Quinnipiac 1711 Registered voters 6/11/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 10/18/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 10/16/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 10/11/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 10/9/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 10/4/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 10/2/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 9/27/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 9/25/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 9/20/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 9/18/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 9/13/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 9/11/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 9/4/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 8/30/2007
Global Strategy Group 9
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 8/28/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 8/23/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 8/21/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 8/16/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 8/14/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 8/9/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 8/7/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 8/2/2007
Rasmussen 839 Likely voters 7/31/2007
Rasmussen 643 Likely voters 7/26/2007
Rasmussen 1472 Likely voters 7/24/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 7/19/2007
Rasmussen 1029 Likely voters 7/17/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 7/10/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 7/10/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 6/28/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 6/26/2007
Rasmussen 1200 Likely voters 6/24/2007
Rasmussen 792 Likely voters 6/21/2007
Global Strategy Group 10
Rasmussen 1200 Likely voters 6/17/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 6/14/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 6/12/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 6/7/2007
Rasmussen 800 Likely voters 6/5/2007
USA Today/Gallup 918 Registered voters 7/15/2007
USA Today/Gallup 927 Registered voters 6/14/2007
USA Today/Gallup 905 Registered voters 6/3/2007
Washington Post/ABC News 1114 Adults 9/30/2007
Zogby 1012 Likely voters 7/14/2007
SurveyUSA State-by-state polling:
Alabama 500* Registered voters 9/16/2007
California 500* Registered voters 9/16/2007
Iowa 500* Registered voters 9/16/2007
Kansas 500* Registered voters 9/16/2007
Kentucky 500* Registered voters 9/16/2007
Massachusetts 500* Registered voters 9/16/2007
Missouri 500* Registered voters 9/16/2007
New York 500* Registered voters 9/16/2007
Global Strategy Group 11
Ohio 500* Registered voters 9/16/2007
Oklahoma 500* Registered voters 9/16/2007
Oregon 500* Registered voters 9/16/2007
Virginia 500* Registered voters 9/16/2007
*SurveyUSA respondent totals vary by matchup within each state poll, but average approximately 500 interviews.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

D's and R's to Share the Night

Cut those holiday plans a little short. Iowa Democrats and Republicans will caucus the same night after all. At 2pm Thursday afternoon, the Iowa Democratic Party will notify its 50 or so members of the state central committee to be close to their phones Sunday night.

That's when State Party Chair Scott Brennan will hold a statewide conference call at 8pm to say he wants the caucuses to move up to January third, instead of the previously scheduled (very loosely scheduled) January 14th. I'm not sure I can tell you a single Democrat who thought Dems would stick to their original date.

The move lets the Dems caucus with the Repubs, something that oughta make all of our out-of-state friends' bosses happy. They won't be spending nearly as much dough on hotel rooms, meals, etc., in Des Moines. They can save their coin for an earlier, longer stop in New Hampshire. This is good news for Iowans who can now likely find tables at Centro and 801 Steak and Chop House.

As long as New Hampshire's Sec of State doesn't crazy, this should keep Iowa first in this complicated, ever-changing Presidential picking process. It's sounding like New Hampshire would move up to January 8th and leave it there. Let's hope that's the case and no one decides to hold seemingly meaningless 2008 contests in 2007.

One thing we learned through this is that former Secretary of State-turned-Governor Chet Culver may now better understand how this all works. At a news conference two months or so back, Culver told us he'd consider calling back the Iowa Legislature to change state law that says Iowa has to caucus eight days before the next state. Apparently, that isn't quite correct. It's up the state parties to decide when we caucus. And the parties have now decided we all caucus a little sooner next year.

Monday, October 22, 2007

No Mo Joe

Tony LaRussa's coming back to my beloved St. Louis Cardinals. So end the Joe Torre-back-to-the-Cards-LaRussa-to-the-Yankees-talk. The Cards fired Torre as manager in 1995. LaRussa took over. Torre went to the Yankees. The rest is history.

Rudy Giuliani told me during his recent stop here that if Torre didn't go back to the Yankees, he would only manage in St. Louis. Looks like neither thing will happen now.

Walker, Arkansas Ranger

Chuck Norris likes Mike Huckabee. The internet tells me Chuck Norris kills people. Hopefully, Chuck Norris won't kill Mike Huckabee. Today, Huckabee's camp proudly announced Norris' endorsement.
Don't know much about Chuck Norris? You should. Or he'll kill you. I found out this from

Friday, October 19, 2007

And Then There Was This...

Biden: Unlike Richardson, "I Don't Just Pull It Out"

My IowaVotes' colleague, Jarrett Schneider, sat in on this Friday a.m. in Des Moines. (btw, thanks to him for blogging here while I was surrounding myself with pineapples on my Hawaii honeymoon).

October 19, 2007 -- Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called out fellow Democratic presidential contender Gov. Bill Richardson several times by name during a coffeehouse visit with Democrats in Des Moines Friday morning.

Responding to an audience member's question about soldiers of the Iowa National Guard's 1st, 133rd being denied education benefits under the G.I. Bill, Sen. Biden -- in a single statement -- leveled criticism towards both the Bush administration and Gov. Richardson.

"It's a look into the window of how this administration has mistreated our soldiers - mistreated our veterans," Biden said. "I don't say that lightly. I'm no Bill Richardson. I don't just pull it out - I always kid Bill about that."

Later in the same question-and-answer session, a woman asked the Delaware Senator why he doesn't differentiate himself more from the other Democratic candidates. Biden started his response by saying he was not comfortable doing so, but then said he didn't have a problem pointing out differences with Richardson, who, "we've seen flip on a number of issues". Biden went on to say Richardson originally was in favor of Biden's Iraq plan, but then changed his position.

But Biden ended his response where it started, "I'm just not comfortable with it."

By Jarrett Schneider

Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road

"My family and I are taking the first steps on the yellow brick road to the White House."
--January 20, 2007

“My yellow brick road came just short of the White House this time.”

--October 19, 2007

So long, Sam. Republicans had wondered aloud for a while now how long Sam Brownback could stay in the race. His exit from the prez race made me think back to the Iowa Republican Straw Poll in Ames last August. Brownback's campaign seemed to go all out to do well in the event. Brownback went negative against Romney for probably a good month before the event. He spent almost as much money as Romney to get one of the prime spots near the voting site. He even brought in barbecue like Romney.

Late that afternoon, I walked around outside Hilton Coliseum. Frankly, I didn't have much to do at the time. Most people who were going to vote had already done so (not nearly as many as State Republicans would have liked). Tommy Thompson's place had already cleared out to head back to the land of beer and cheese (or is it, beer and sausage? or cheese and sausage?)

Brownback's people were sitting in a row outside his tent still working the phones, trying to get people to show up and vote. I remember thinking Brownback would likely to well compared to the others. It just seemed like he had a pretty decent crowd compared to Tancredo, McCain, Fred Thompson. But his staffers didn't seem to be all that enthusiastic.

And when the numbers came in, it seemed like reality had set in. Later, the camp tried to spin it like he had done well. But it didn't seem like the staff really believed that. It took two months before Brownback came back to the state. And when he did, he did that dual-event with Democrat Joe Biden.

Perhaps, the writing was already on the wall. Perhaps, there just weren't enough yellow bricks for this long road to the White House after all.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dick Cheney and Barack Obama Related...What?

This afternoon, Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, made an appearance on MSNBC to promote her new book. Her interview didn't make much news until she dropped this to MSNBC anchor Norah Jones when asked about the Democratic candidates:

"One of the things I discovered [when researching for the book] is that Dick and Barack Obama are eighth cousins... Isn't that an amazing thing?"

Below is a link to the video... Fast forward to about '7:57' to hear Mrs. Cheney discuss her genealogical findings.

Lynne Cheney on new book, husband
Lynne Cheney on new book, husband

UPDATE: A bit more web browsing comes across this Sept. article from the Chicago Sun-Times discussing Obama's relation to BOTH President Bush and V.P. Dick Cheney. Does this mean Obama has the Presidency in his blood? Hmm...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Hey, Look! Your Moc's Untied!

Unless you're partial to wearing Velcro New Balances, everyone's had their shoelaces come undone at some inopportune time. But if your knot comes free on your kickers and you're a presidential candidate delivering a major financial policy proposal before a large crowd, it can make for an awkward moment. Here's what I'm talking about (video courtesy of NBC's Carrie Dann)...

Clinton said she picked up her comfy moccasins from a shop in Fort Dodge. M.E. Sprengelmeyer of Rocky Mountain News has a close-up of her chic slip-ons.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

We're Playin' Hardball

David Yepsen was in the studio this afternoon for a live appearance on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews… Here’s what the Register columnist had to say on polling numbers, the caucuses, and the candidates.

On latest poll numbers:

“The polls in Iowa are very different from the national polls. As David Schuster mentioned in that setup piece of his, the polls in Iowa are showing this thing a statistical tie. Newsweek’s poll has Barack Obama up by two points. Now, that’s all margin of error stuff but you can ask Howard Dean what a big lead in the polls means right now if you lose Iowa. It tends to evaporate everything else down the road in New Hampshire.”

Q: Will the Iowa caucuses still have that power, that punch to help the winner and hurt the loser?

“I think so Chris, and I think so because of this business of these other states moving up their contests. Everybody hates Iowa and New Hampshire so their solution is to move their contests closer to IA and N.H. which just makes IA and N.H. that much more important. A winner gets the ball rolling here. A challenger has to slow the front runner down the end result is everybody pours it on out there. That phenomenon is happening in both parties – particularly on the democratic side – where you do have this three-way race among three candidates.”

“And right now I think Barack Obama has got a better organization in this state than Hillary Clinton does. He’s got more field offices. He’s spending more time in small towns in Iowa. Sen. Clinton knows this that’s why she’s planning a trip out here to get into some of these small towns were there are a lot of delegates to be had. So the predictive value of these national polls in Iowa is pretty limited.”

Q: Do you see anyone out there running who is going to take this country of our’s to a different place if they get elected?

“Not yet, Chris, but I think Barack Obama has the best potential for doing that. You can see that in some of the crowds he attracts – new people, young people – they’re interested in what he represents. A fresh face. A change. So I think he’s got the potential for that. He’s not been doing such good work on the stump. So he needs to sharpen that message and do better in these debates. I think if he does that he can start accomplishing what you’re talking about.”

Q: If Hillary sits on her lead and doesn’t say anything and simply has a smart operation – smug and smart – can she get blown away here?

“Yes, she can, Chris. I mean I think there’s some evidence that that could happen. They’re not a very nimble campaign. It reminds me of Ronald Reagan in 1980 when he thought he could bypass Iowa and wound up firing John Sears in New Hampshire. Or Al Gore when he had to strip down his campaign in 2000 and move it to Nashville. The Clinton campaign is very, sort of top heavy and sluggish. It’s bureaucratic. She’s got to get rid of some of that. Get out from underneath that bubble. Allow some media people a chance to interview her. Get into the small towns of Iowa and do some retail.”

Matthews: She went on the Sunday talk shows – all five of them – made no news in five appearances. It was a tour de force if her goal is to say nothing. David?

“Well I think she’s got to start fleshing some of this stuff out. She’s done a good job in some of these debates. I mean one reason she has taken off in national polls is she’s had some good performances in some of these debates. So I think, you know, let Hillary be Hillary. Let her get out there. Quit trying to treat her like an incumbent. She engages well. I think it’s one of the reasons she’s come up in Iowa. I mean, six months ago when we looked at these polls, she was back in second and third place. Now she’s very competitive. I just think they need to get closer to the ground with her and get her out of that shell. Get her out of that bubble and let people see her because she could become the instrument of change. She’s a women in this campaign with serious chance to become President and that has a lot of appeal to women and last time I checked the majority of caucus goers are women.”

Q: Wondering if he’ll [Giuliani] will benefit from Hillary’s ascendancy?

“You know, I don’t think so. I think he’s running a pretty poor campaign out here, not doing what he should. He’s flying all over the country. It’s like he’s already moved to the general election strategy. And out here he’s got to get by Mitt Romney…Well, first thing’s first.”

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

An Obama Anniversary

A little blogging from the Obama event here in the Polk Co. Complex (aka the Plex). The event comes on the fifth anniversary of Obama's anti-Iraq war speech in Chicago.

It's a little after 4 o'clock (event slated to start now. I guess Obama comes later) and we're getting a little time-filler "Iowa Caucus Trivia" courtesy of Polk Co. Assessor Jim Maloney as we wait for Obama to arrive... "When are the caucuses?" he asks the crowd. Someone yells "Jan. 14." Maloney quips his response, "to be determined."

A few others take the stage to sing their support for the Illinois senator.

"Are Ya Fired Up!? Ready To Go?!" The crowd responds somewhat in unison "Fired up, Ready to Go!"... "Sen. Obama will be out in several minutes."

Tina Turner's "Simply The Best" is now pumping through the speakers.

Enter Ted Sorenson, former adviser and speechwriter for President John F. Kennedy.

Sorenson says Obama is "the only serious candidate for the democratic nomination for the President of the United States who five years ago was the first and the only presidential candidate to oppose the single worst blunder in the history of American foreign policy: the needless, endless occupation in Iraq."

Sorenson is now reminiscing back to JFK and the Cold War... a time when "Kennedy believed in negotiation."

Sorenson is making connections between JFK and Obama... "we don't even need to go into the fact that there were those who said Kennedy had lost his chance to be President the day he was baptized, like they say Obama lost the day he was born black."

"Those that say Kennedy was too inexperienced, too young."

"The next president of the United States, Barack Obama."

Enter Obama.

Thank-yous for Sorenson and campaign staffers... Thank-yous to Co-Chairs IA Attny. Gen. Tom Miller and State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald. (Both were some of Obama's earliest Iowa endorsers).

Sign-up to volunteer, Obama pitches to the audience.

Obama now getting into the war on Iraq by telling a story about redeployed soldiers.

"Hard truth is the war in Iraq is not about a catalogue of many mistakes it's about one big mistake," says Obama. "The war in Iraq should have never been fought." (Long applause).

Obama discussing his anti-war speech from five years ago today. "Some told me to keep quiet. To wait longer. Going to war was popular."

"I didn't see how Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat."

"Let's be clear: without that vote there would be no war."

"We need to ask those voted for the war, how can you expect to give the President a blank check and not expect him to cash it?"

Obama says "conventional thinking" in Washington needs to be challenged.

"I'm running to change this country."

"Who got it write and who got it wrong?"

"This is not just a matter of debating the past or 'I told ya so.' It's about making a determination who's got the best judgement to make the critical decisions going into the future."

"No matter what we think about George Bush he will be gone in 2009."

"We're not going to unify a divided America by playing conventional politics."

"This election is a turning point... are we going to turn back the clock or are we going to turn the page?"

"I want to be straight with you. If you want someone with conventional Washington thinking, I'm not your man. If you want rigid ideology, I'm not your man. If you think fundamental change can wait, then I am definitely not your man..."

"... but if you want to bring this country together... If you want experience broader than just learning the ways of Washington..."

"I offer a different choice in this race... A different vision for our future. First thing we have to do is end this war and the right person to end it is someone who had the judgement to oppose it from the beginning.' (applause).

"Not military solution in Iraq and there never was." Barack says he will remove troops immediately: 1-2 brigades per month and get all "combat" troops out within 16 months."

Obama says he will leave some troops to "perform limited ordinary missions of protecting our diplomats" and to "carry out targeted strikes on al-Qaida."

"Let there be no doubt, I will end this war."

Obama says we can't win if we "outsource critical missions to unaccountable contractors like we've been reading about over the last several weeks."

"Let there be no mistake. We must always be prepared to use force to protect America."

"All nations friend and foe. It's time to turn the page..."

"Time to offer a message of hope instead of a message of hate."

"To lead... must lead by example."

"When I'm President, I will close Gitmo." (loud cheer).

"The American people are not the problem, they are the answer."

"I will always tell you what I think. I will always tell you were I stand. I will always tell you the truth and it's what I'll do as the President of the U.S. of America."

"Time to unite America."

"I'm not a perfect man and I will not be a perfect President."

"I would not have been here if the torch -- as Tom suggested -- had not been passed by the new generation."


Monday, October 01, 2007

Applauding Fred

It's great to say, "I saw a first today." Today, I did. Fred Thompson had just finished his stump speech at "Tremont on Main", a restaurant in downtown Marshalltown. Yes, it's on Main Street. No one in the crowd of about 60 was clapping (well, what was left of the crowd. About 10 or so of them had taken off already.) So Thompson took matters in his own hands. I've never heard a presidential candidate do this. But after hearing the silence, Thompson said to the crowd, "First of all, could I have a round of applause?" Polite applause then followed. He thanked them and added he "had to drag it" out of them.

If Thompson becomes President next year, I need to think back about Orland Jeons (it's pronounced like "Jones". He told me it's the traditional German spelling). Mr. Jeons lives in Marshalltown after moving from Manning to be closer to his daughter who owns the restaurant where today he listed to Thompson speak.

Mr. Jeons wants to vote republican. Although, these days, he's considering himself more of an independent. He voted for Bush. Twice. He was o.k. with the first term. He's far from o.k. with the second term. So now he's concerned with electing someone who can help the image of the U.S., an image he believes that has been badly tarnished because of Bush's decisions. Mostly the war. He agrees we should have gone to war. He doesn't think we've done it the right way or handled it the right way. Mr. Jeons first decided John McCain was his man this time around. But he says when McCain started "going downhill", he moved on to Mitt Romney. Now, he's rooting for Thompson. He likes what he's seen from Thompson, the actor. He liked his image. Now, he's hoping Thompson can use that tough, good decision-making image to repair the image of the U.S.

Mr. Jeons says he thinks he's like a lot of his republican friends. They keep changing their minds as they search for the "right" candidate. But then he ended by saying, they would pick the best one, even though he will "just get defeated." Republicans may have an optimism problem, don't you think?