It looks like mayors from the east make poor surrogates. Rudy Giuliani had his Cory Booker moment today on CNN”s State of the Union:
“Well, I mean, there’s a certain amount of personal ego in that — at that point, I was probably comparing his record to my record,” he said about his dings at Romney. “And maybe it was circumstances or whatever, but I had massive reductions in unemployment. He had a reduction in unemployment of about 8,10 percent — I think it was 15 percent. I had a reduction of unemployment of 50 percent. He had a growth of jobs of about 40,000; we had a growth of jobs of about 500,000. So I was comparing what I thought was my far superior record to his otherwise decent record. … That’s all part of campaigning.”
The spring, before many are paying attention, is providing both campaigns with a period in which to look at potential surrogates and decide who might be helpful to the campaign. Of course Giuliani is generally a more effective speaker when ranting against liberalism, especially when he delivers his speeches in the original German.
Although the conventional wisdom has been that Mitt Romney is the probable Republican nominee, he is certainly having a hard time establishing himself as a front runner. Before today’s poll came out, Nate Silver listed ten previous front-runners in alphabetical order, including some Republicans who led in the polls without being a declared candidate: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Donald Trump. Today, Public Policy Polling makes Rick Santorum the eleventh. Santorum leads at 38 percent. Romney trails at 23 percent, with Gingrich at 17 percent and Ron Paul at 13 percent.
Rick Santorum does even better if he does not have to divide he conservative vote with Newt Gingrich. If Gingrich were to drop out, the poll shows that 58 percent of his supporters would go to Santorum. In a such a three way race, Santorum get to 50 percent, while Romney would be at 28 percent and Paul at 15 percent.
Leadership in the GOP race has not meant very much to date, but falling behind at this stage does create problems for Romney. He might go negative against Santorum as he did against Gingrich, but his negative ads are starting to backfire. Some suggest that instead of going negative against Santorum, Romney must convert to a positive campaign. I’m not sure how a man who lacks any core beliefs or convictions can do this. His strongest pitch is that he can make up the biggest lies about Barack Obama.
The Maine caucuses conclude tonight with a two-man race between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. There is speculation that Paul might be able to pull an upset victory. If you cannot beat a crackpot like Ron Paul, it is hard to see victory for the nomination as inevitable.
There’s another potential embarrassment for Romney. Public Policy Polling is also seeing the start of a surge for Santorum in Michigan. A loss in Michigan would be devastating to Romney, both for losing his home state and because of reinforcing Santorum’s dominance over Romney in the Midwest. Perhaps Romney will try to flip-flop on having been born and raised in Michigan. Would Mitt Romney’s birth certificate then become an issue?
CPAC is also conducting their straw poll. To paraphrase Jay Leno, Romney is promising to change his views to whatever views CPAC members desire. Romney pandered before them, claiming to be “severely conservative.” The word severe might sound out of place here, unless you see it as an honest admission from Romney, such as “I am severely insane” or, at very least, “I am severely out of touch with the voters of this country.”
It was bad enough when former Bush press secretary Dana Perino claimed, “We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term.” After all, anyone speaking for George Bush couldn’t be expect to have that great a grasp on reality. What is surprising is that Rudy Giuliani made the same mistake. That’s Rudy Giuliani, who can hardly say a sentence which is not made up of a a noun, a verb, and 9/11. That’s Rudy Giuliani, who has to wear depends because he pees in his pants every time anyone looking vaguely like they might be a Muslim walks by.
Giuliani must have lost hims memory as on Good Morning America he said, “What he [Obama] should be doing is following the right things that Bush did – one of the right things he did was treat this as a war on terror. We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We’ve had one under Obama.”
The Mayor’s spokesman says that the remark “didn’t come across as it was intended” and that Giuliani was “clearly talking post-9/11 with regards to Islamic terrorist attacks on our soil.”
There’s three problems with this. First, it is not what Giuliani said. Second, it hardly makes sense to ignore the big one. Third, it is not even true when limited to post-9/11. There were the more prominent examples such as the anthrax attacks, the DC Sniper, and Richard Reid, along with a number of less discussed examples such as this.
The New York Daily News reports that authoritarian war monger Rudy Guiliani plans to announce that he will not be running for Governor of New York as many have speculated. They report that instead he will announce plans to run for the Senate. A Senate seat might be used as a spring board for a future presidential run.
There’s no word as to whether Giliani’s announcement will be in English or German. The speeches he gave at the Republican National Convention in 2004, along with many of his subsequent speeches, did sound much better in the original German.
Add Sarah Palin to the list of Republicans who have flip-flopped on end of life counseling. Yesterday I noted that Newt Gingrich supported end of life counseling similar to that which is in the House health care reform bill in an article in July but now claims this would bring about “death panels.” Think Progress has found that Sarah Palin had endorsed this type of counseling back in April, 2008.
Either Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich are former supporters of “death panels” or they are being dishonest now in claiming that this is what is contained in the House bill.
Think Progress also reports that Rudy Giuliani is the latest demagogic Republican to claim that the bill will lead to “death panels.”
Republicans are willing to fabricate any claims in their attempts to stop health care reform. The fact that they resort to such fabrications rather than discussing the real content of the health reform legislation is good evidence that they realize the American people would never agree with the Republicans in an honest discussion of health care reform.
NORML provides an unfortunate progression in Barack Obama’s statements on drugs:
“The war on drugs has been an utter failure. … (W)e need to rethink and decriminalize our (nation’s) marijuana laws.”
-Barack Obama, January 2004 (Watch the video here.)
“I inhaled frequently, that was the point.”
-Barack Obama, November 2006 (Watch the video here.)
Q: “Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?”
I’m not at all surprised that Barack Obama is not publicly coming out in favor of legalization of marijuana at this time. What is said now and what happens over the next four or eight years is a different matter. It is premature for titles such as the one at Talk Left which reads Another Change You Won’t See From Obama. He hasn’t even taken office yet. It is too early to say with certainty which changes we will see.
Most likely we will not see legalization of marijuana and a total end to the drug war in the next eight years, but a brief denial of interest in such a controversial subject at this time can not be taken an absolute prediction of what will happen. More importantly we are likely to see more progress in reforming drug policy than we would see if Hillary Clinton had received the nomination, and see a considerable improvement over the status quo.
After the selection above, NORML also quotes Obama on medical marijuana:
In fact, Obama essentially said as much earlier this year when asked about the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Obama: “When it comes to medical marijuana, … my attitude is if it is an issue of doctors prescribing marijuana, … I think that should be appropriate. … Whether I want to use a whole lot of political capital on (this) issue; the likelihood of that being real high on my priority list is not likely.” (Watch the video here.)
This is not going to be overly exciting to those who rank legalization of marijuana as a top issue, but this leaves open a far greater chance of at least seeing legalization of medical marijuana than under the Republicans. At least we are likely to see an end to the type of insanity I reported here and here.
Under the Bush administration the federal government has ignored Republican principles of federalism by using the DEA to take action against those using medical marijuana even in states where it is legal. Obama was the strongest opponent of this policy of the major candidates this year. Last year I linked to videos showing the major Republican candidates dodging the question or outright supporting continuation of the raids on marijuana clinics and arrests of patients.
While the greatest differences between the candidates was between the major Democratic and Republican candidates, there were also significant differences between Obama and Clinton on drug policy. For example, Obama has supported needle exchange programs while Clinton has been opposed. They also differed on the drug war with Obama supporting sentencing reform which Clinton opposed.
It is disappointing that Obama is not going further on drug policy, but he is also the best candidate we were likely to see elected. We will still need to push Obama on this issue. It is understandable that this is not at the top of his priority list, but he is sympathetic to scaling back the drug war and making real changes. There is also hope that once his presidency is more firmly established he might be willing to go even further than he is at present.
The winner of the 2008 election hasn’t even taken office yet but CNN is already polling for 2012. The results:
Mike Huckabee – 34%
Sarah Palin – 32%
Mitt Romney – 28%
Newt Gingrich – 27%
Rudy Giuliani – 23%
Bobby Jindal – 19%
Charlie Christ – 7%
Note even all conservatives are thrilled with this. Hot Air writes, “Tough choice. Do we go with the blue-collar populist social con who’s soft on immigration? Or do we go with Huckabee?”
Fortunately a poll this far before 2012 is primarily a test of name recognition and has little predictive value with regards to who will actually win. After the 2000 election Joe Lieberman led many polls for Democratic nominee in 2004 due to having been on the ticket, but he went nowhere once people actually started campaigning and voting. Having been on the ticket in 2004 didn’t help either John Kerry or John Edwards compete in 2008.
What is distressing is that sixty-six percent support the top two candidates who are from the religious right. Huckabee, who does have increased name recognition after running in 2008 even edges out Palin (but within the margin of error). The rest aren’t exactly social liberals either (considering the compromises Giuliani made in running this year). As I discussed yesterday, the religious right is currently the base of the GOP. A candidate they support will receive a boost in support, but also alienate far too many people for such a candidate to be likely to be viable in a national election.
Another night of a Republican convention and we have another night of Factcheck revealing untrue statements. Many of these were also noted in previous posts debunking last night’s speakers. Factcheck has the following errors in their summary, with further details in the full post:
Sarah Palin’s much-awaited speech at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night may have shown she could play the role of attack dog, but it also showed her to be short on facts when it came to touting her own record and going after Obama’s.
We found Rudy Giuliani, who introduced her, to be as factually challenged as he sometimes was back when he was in the race. But Mike Huckabee may have laid the biggest egg of all.
Palin may have said “Thanks, but no thanks” on the Bridge to Nowhere, though not until Congress had pretty much killed it already. But that was a sharp turnaround from the position she took during her gubernatorial campaign, and the town where she was mayor received lots of earmarks during her tenure.
Palin’s accusation that Obama hasn’t authored “a single major law or even a reform” in the U.S. Senate or the Illinois Senate is simply not a fair assessment. Obama has helped push through major ethics reforms in both bodies, for example.
The Alaska governor avoided some of McCain’s false claims about Obama’s tax program – but her attacks still failed to give the whole story.
Giuliani distorted the time line and substance of Obama’s statements about the conflict between Russia and Georgia. In fact, there was much less difference between his statements and those of McCain than Giuliani would have had us believe.
Giuliani also said McCain had been a fighter pilot. Actually, McCain’s plane was the A-4 Skyhawk, a small bomber. It was the only plane he trained in or flew in combat, according to McCain’s own memoir.
Finally, Huckabee told conventioneers and TV viewers that Palin got more votes when she ran for mayor of Wasilla than Biden did running for president. Not even close. The tally: Biden, 79,754, despite withdrawing from the race after the Iowa caucuses. Palin, 909 in her 1999 race, 651 in 1996.
While the fact checking can go on endlessly due to the number of untrue statements made at the Republican convention as noted in several previous posts, overall impression can be much briefer.
Authoritarian war monger Rudy Giuliani showed once again that he can give an attack speech better than anyone else, and as usual he sounds even better in the original German. Sarah Palin did an excellent job of reading the teleprompter, and certainly did not waste any times with actual discussion of issues between all her lies and baseless attacks. As I suggested last night, Mitt Romeny might be the most ridiculous Republican of them all. Megan McArdle first makes a good point on the general idea of his speech and then hits him on one significant specific point:
Mitt Romney seems to use the word “liberal” in a randomly perjorative fashion. I half expect him to say “I was eating breakfast this morning, and my hash browns were all liberal. I sent them back and told the waitress to bring me some good, conservative hash browns.”
He also seems to think that giving American citizens habeas corpus rights is some sort of crazy scheme dreamed up by liberal justices intent on destroying America’s proud tradition of secret trials and warrantless arrests.
The Republicans have repeatedly been making untrue statements during their convention, but this is to be expected. After all, the Republican convention is packed with Republicans, along with Joe Lieberman who might as well be a Republican. Factcheck.org corrects just a few of the incorrect statements made last night. From their summary:
Joe Lieberman and his former Senate colleague Fred Thompson both made misleading claims about Obama in their prime time GOP convention speeches on Tuesday. We’ve heard two of them before – many times.
Lieberman said Obama hadn’t “reached across party lines” to accomplish “anything significant,” though Obama has teamed with GOP Sens. Tom Coburn and Richard Lugar to pass laws enhancing government transparency and curtailing the proliferation of nuclear and conventional weapons.
Thompson repeated misleading claims about Obama’s tax program, saying it would bring “one of the largest tax increases in American history.” But as increases go, Obama’s package is hardly a history-maker. It would raise taxes for families with incomes above $250,000. Most people would see a cut.
Lieberman also accused Obama of “voting to cut off funding for our American troops on the
battlefield.” But Obama’s only vote against a war-funding bill came after Bush vetoed a version of the bill Obama had supported – and McCain urged the veto.
Factcheck provides further detail in their full post. Unfortunately they missed the worst lie of the night when Fred Thompson said, “And we need a President who doesn’t think that the protection of the unborn or a newly born baby is above his pay grade.” This is quite a distortion of Obama’s actual words regarding how determining when life begins is above his pay grade. While Factcheck didn’t address this point in discussing the convention, they have a previous posting which debunks the right wing lies that Obama supports infanticide.
This is one reason why the Republicans have been doing poorly the last couple of years. They are still picking up votes from low-information voters who believe these lies, but as more voters realize what Democrats really believe the Republicans lose support. When Republicans concentrate on such straw men arguments they have no effect among those who realize such claims have little bearing on actual Democratic beliefs.
There should be plenty to Factcheck tonight also. Mitt Romney showed why many Democrats hoped he would be McCain’s pick (not suspecting McCain would pick someone as unqualified as Sarah Palin). Romney repeated all the standard claims of the right wing as to what Democrats believe. What is amusing is that a very large number of Republicans really do believe that Democrats believe what Romney claims. When the actual views on the issues are considered, most people will support the views of the Democrats over those of the Republicans. This is why the McCain campaign does not want the election to be decided over the issues.
Watching this convention I also cannot decide which is the biggest absurdity. We have the Republicans who have been in control of the government trying to run against Washington. We have the party responsible for tremendous increases in the size of government claiming to be the party of small government. We have the party which promotes authoritarianism claiming to be the party of freedom. We have the party of corporate welfare claiming to be the party of free enterprise. We have the party which ignored warnings, including those from Democrats, on the risk from al Qaeda leading to the 9/11 attacks occurring on their watch. Then they got us involved in a war against the wrong country based upon lies. Now they claim they are the party which can be trusted to keep us safe.
Update II: I almost forgot Mike Huckabee. He falsely claimed that Sarah Palin got more votes as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Sen. Joe Biden got running for president. Taegan Goddard notes that Biden received more votes in Florida alone than Palin received, and this was in a primary which officially did not count after Biden withdrew from the race.
Lost has benefited greatly from centering the final seasons around telling a story with a definite end point. They have also avoided using the exact same format week after week. This week’s episode got away from telling about one of the Oceanic Six in the flash forwards and instead dealt with Desmond, who is unstuck in time. There was even a brief homage to Billy Pilgrim from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, who was also unstuck in time.
We find that Desmond’s situation isn’t unique. Every episode lately tries to end with a surprise which is consistent with the events of the episode. This week’s ending suggests that Daniel Faraday’s problem is similar to Desmond’s as we see an entry in his notebook saying, “If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant.”
The episode also verifies the earlier hints that something strange is going on with time. The helicopter with Desmond and Sayid left the island at dusk and landed mid day, with those on the island finding a delay which did not surprise Faraday.
Jericho is becoming increasingly political, with some aspects of the United States resembling Iraq, and other aspects containing allusions to the Bush administration. We’ve already seen that the Cheyenne government is pushing a new flag, a new Constitution, and even a new right wing history. This week’s episode has many comparisons to Halliburton and Blackwater with Jennings & Rall being involved in everything, including government functions. Meanwhile Ravenwood is being used as a private army. Does it mean anything that the new government and Dick Cheney both come from Wyoming?
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles remains mixed in quality but is doing an interesting job of applying aspects from the original movie series to current plot lines. A new twist is being added as it is unclear if the cyborg Cameron (Summer Glau, above) can be trusted. The final two episodes of the season are being aired as a two-hour episode on Monday.
Torchwood as aired on BBC America remains behind the BBC showings, but delaying SciFi Friday at least allows me to comment on the more recent episodes while avoiding spoilers for episodes which have not aired yet. Last week’s episode, Adam, involved an alien who lives off of false memories planted in others. He gives the members of the Torchwood team false memories of him having been one of them for years, but in the process disrupts their memories and changes them. Gwen loses all memory of her fiancè Rhys and thinks he is a stalker when she finds him in her apartment. Owen undergoes the biggest change, becoming a real geek. The most dramatic actions come when Adam gives Ianto false memories of being a serial killer after Ianto notes that there is no mention of Adam in his diary.
The episode might be most notable for providing information on Jack’s childhood, but those memories, as well as all other memories involving Adam, must be removed in order for Adam to be eliminated. At the end nobody has memories of Adam but there are clues that he had been there. I did find it a little unrealistic that they would not want to investigate the last couple of days which were missing from their memories.
This week’s episode, Reset, works in three different groups which are involved in studying aliens. Besides Torchwood, there’s UNIT which lends a medical specialist, and there’s a medical center which uses aliens in an unsafe manner to attempt to cure human diseases. The UNIT medical specialist happens to be Martha Jones, who finished medical school very quickly after returning from her adventures with The Doctor. The episode ends with Owen being shot, which will lead into the events of the subsequent two episodes which have already aired in the U.K.
Looking at television beyond science fiction, Saturday Night Live has managed to be in the news several times after returning last week. Last week’s episode began with a skit based upon the Texas debate, which Hillary Clinton mentioned during the Ohio debate (video above). There was some controversy over having a non-black cast member play Obama’s role. The episode also included a defense of Clinton by Tina Fey who argued that it is bitches who get things done. Mike Huckabee also had an appearance.
This week they began with another debate in which Clinton argues that she can get the most done by being so obnoxious that people will just give up on opposing her. This is followed by an appearance by the real Hillary Clinton (video here). Rudy Giuliani also had an appearance in which he compared his campaign to a Saturday Night Live skit which starts out strong but goes nowhere. The musical guest was Wilco, a big supporter of Obama.
There’s good news for fans of Scrubs. While NBC has never shown the show much respect, ABC is now negotiating to pick up eighteen episodes to allow the series to be completed as planned.
A high definition trailer for the Sex and the City movie is available on line here. We find that Carrie and Big do get engaged, but things might not go well at the alter. Charlotte is pregnant, as was seen in earlier pictures, and Steve admits to Miranda that he cheated on her once.
The Other Boleyn Girl opened to mixed reviews. Any movie with both Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson can’t be all bad. There’s one minor coincidence I noted in the cast when comparing this with Showtimes’s version of the story, The Tudors. Scarlett Johansson appeared in the Woody Allen movie Match Point with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who plays Henry in The Tudors.
Season two of The Tudors begins on March 30. During season one, Mary, followed by Anne Boleyn (Natalie Dormer), worked to seduce Henry. Anne always found ways to ensure that Henry would not be satisfied until they married, as can be seen at the end of season one. Video is available here (definitely not safe for work).
One of the things I watched during the strike was the DVD set of Arrested Development. It is certainly understandable that there were a lot of protests when the show was canceled. Plans have now been announced to make a movie version of the show.
Barack Obama has another string of landslide victories, sweeping Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Once again he beat expectations. His victory demonstrates how he is taking control of the race by receiving increasing support from Clinton’s core voters. CNN’s exit polls note:
Obama was expected to poll well among young voters, independents and African-Americans, and he did — taking 60 to 70 percent of the votes in the first two groups and nearly 90 percent of black voters, the polls suggest.
But he also was edging out Clinton among voters 65 and older, blue-collar workers and women, all groups that Clinton was counting on as the core of her support…
And young voters flocked to the Obama campaign, the polls suggest. Seventy-five percent of poll respondents under 30 and 67 percent of those under 45 voted for him in Virginia. Those numbers were 68 percent and 71 percent in Maryland.
However, Obama also edged Clinton — 52-47 — among voters over 60 in Virginia and 50 percent of those voters in Maryland, compared with 46 percent for Clinton.
And he split white votes about 50-50 with Clinton in both states — edging her 50-49 in Virginia and trailing 51-46 in Maryland. That’s a big change from previous contests in which Clinton held a big lead over Obama among white Democrats…
In Virginia, Obama led Clinton 59 to 41 percent among the women who were polled. He also took 57 percent of the votes of respondents who said they earn less than $50,000 a year and 59 percent of those who said someone in their household is a member of a union.
Among those voters in Maryland, 59 percent of women backed Obama, 65 percent of those making less than $50,000 voted for him and 61 percent of those in union households supported him.
He was the winner among respondents who said the economy, the Iraq war or health care — a trademark issue for Clinton — was the most important issue to them…
In Virginia, Clinton took an overwhelming 96 percent of the support from voters who said experience was the most important quality a candidate should have. In Maryland, that number was 91 percent.
The increased support for Obama from many of these groups might alter predictions that Clinton can survive the race by winning the final three large states. Clinton has largely based her campaign on a number of myths which are no longer working. Her claims of being the inevitable winner do not hold up as she continues to lose primaries in every region of the country.
The results above also show that voters are no longer blindly accepting her claim of being more experienced. The reality is that Obama is by far the more experienced of the two. Obama has more years of legislative experience. During his years of legislative experience Obama has done far more positive than Clinton has, while Clinton has frequently been on the wrong side of the issues.
Besides his more impressive legislative experience, Obama’s experience in teaching Constitutional law is a skill which should be valuable in undoing much of the harm caused by George Bush. In contrast Clinton has been an advocate of increased presidential power and Executive privilege.
Obama’s experience as a community organizer can also be seen in how he has run his campaigns. Clinton sees both her campaign and her role in government as purely top down. Her Nanny State philosophy results in proposals based upon government control to force her views on all, while Obama shows a far better understanding of the necessary balance between government and private life.
As a result of today’s victories, CNN estimates that Obama leads 1,052 to 951 in pledged delegates. While he might not be able to accumulate enough delegates to clinch victory, if he continues to extend his lead over Clinton it will be difficult for the super delegates to deny him the nomination.
Clinton doesn’t know how to respond. This is the second time in a row that Clinton failed to acknowledge or congratulate Obama for his victory. After Saturday’s victories the Clinton campaign said that the victories didn’t matter because the caucuses were dominated by “activists.” Apparently the views of Democratic “activists” don’t count. Some Clinton supporters are claiming that these losses don’t matter because Clinton didn’t campaign in some of the states she has lost. This sure contradicts the Clinton argument that Michigan and Florida should count, despite the fact that not only didn’t Obama campaign, but all the candidates had pledged not to do so.
Clinton is still holding on to the belief that the Giuliani strategy will work for her as she waits for the big states to vote. Some still believe this will work:
Mike DuHaime, a Republican consultant who managed Rudolph W. Giuliani’s campaign, said Mrs. Clinton was making the right decisions in trying to make the most of her strengths.
“Clearly, she has had success in larger states and there are a whole bunch of delegates at stake on March 4,” Mr. DuHaime said. “They are not trying to figure out who can win the most states; they are trying to figure out who can win the most delegates.”
Some people just do not learn from their mistakes. We sure saw how well this logic worked for Giuliani.
The good news for Rudy Giuliani is that he was finally able to soundly beat Ron Paul. The bad news is that he came in a distant third place and will be leaving the race to endorse John McCain. At this point McCain is looking very hard to beat, and we will probably know for sure if he’s unstoppable next week. Unless the anti-McCain conservatives can quickly and effectively unite around Romney there’s no stopping McCain. Complicating matters, Huckabee will continue to draw the support of a large share of the social conservatives, reducing potential conservative voters for Romney. Further complicating the issue is that conservatives have good reason to doubt Romney’s commitment to their views.
The good news for Hillary Clinton is that she won. The bad news is that this is a Pyrrhic victory which highlights her growing problems. In terms of delegates, Clinton ties Obama, Edwards, and even Gravel at zero. By celebrating a victory Clinton highlights how she has broken the spirit of the pledges made by the Democratic candidates not to campaign in Florida. As The New Hampshire Union Leader wrote on Tuesday:
Clinton coldly and knowingly lied to New Hampshire and Iowa. Her promise was not a vague statement. It was a signed pledge with a clear and unequivocal meaning.
She signed it thinking that keeping the other candidates out of Michigan and Florida was to her advantage, but knowing she would break it if that proved beneficial later on. It did, and she did.
Clinton has lost a lot of credibility for zero delegates. She might manage to get the delegates at the convention, but if she squeaks by with a stolen victory in this manner she will have a hard time getting enough Democrats out to vote for her to win a general election.
An initial review of the results also highlights Clinton’s growing weaknesses. There was a disproportionate number of women and elderly voters compared to earlier primaries, suggesting that Clinton supporters were more likely to turn out. The Democratic vote was 59% female and 41% male. Greater turnout by Clinton supporters is hardly surprising considering that she was doing the most to appeal for votes in the state.
Clinton’s base remains women and the elderly, except those who are educated. Having Ted Kennedy campaigning should help Obama pick up votes among the elderly, the core Democratic voters, Latinos, and even some working class women. Obama picks up the young, the educated, blacks, and more independent minded Democratic voters on his own. Obama beat Clinton among voters who decided who to vote for in the past week, further showing who has the momentum.
Having John McCain as the likely opponent can also hurt Clinton among Democrats who are choosing based upon electability. McCain negates Clinton’s strengths. If Clinton wants to run based upon experience, McCain has her beat. McCain will be portrayed as the straight talker, running against a candidate who has been widely and accurately branded as a liar and a cheat by members of her own party. McCain has the support of many independents while Clinton’s support is limited to hard core Democrats, potentially reducing her constituency to those who voted Democratic during the party’s losing years.
Clinton offers nothing to inspire very many people to get out to vote for her over John McCain. Both supported the war. Neither is particularly strong on social issues or civil liberties from a liberal perspective, but neither is as awful as the current president. A government junkie like Clinton who has been a strong backer of presidential power and nanny state regulations is hardly going to expand her appeal. It’s really hard to find reasons why it is even worth the wear and tear on my shoes to get out to vote for Hillary Clinton and extend the Clinton/Bush dynasty for yet another four years.
Obama is the only Democrat who can take on John McCain. Obama has shown the ability to not only receive the support of the young, but the ability to get them out to vote, negating McCain’s advantage of strong support among the elderly. Obama, but not Clinton, can challenge McCain on his support for the war, providing a reason to ignore McCain’s greater experience. Obama, but not Clinton, can frame the election as a choice of looking towards the future instead of the past.
The Republican primary in Florida is playing a major role in their nomination battle. After a period in which a different candidate appeared to be winning every week, the race now appears to be down to McCain vs. Romney. Fred Thompson and Duncan Hunter have dropped out, with Hunter endorsing Huckabee. Huckabee appears to have a ceiling on his support which will keep him from winning the nomination. Rudy Giuliani’s strategy was to use a win in Florida to propel him to victories on Super Tuesday.
The problem with Rudy’s strategy is that candidates who do not win early are generally not taken seriously in the subsequent contests. Wesley Clark might have doomed his 2004 campaign from the start by not entering into the Iowa caucus. This year Giuliani’s support has gradually eroded, with the final polls showing him in a distant third place. He’s in a tight battle for third with Huckabee, but at least he appears to be on the way to a rare victory over Ron Paul.
Giuliani has predicted that the winner of today’s primary will win the Republican nomination and hinted he might drop out if he doesn’t wn. He might be right about the importance of Florida, especially if McCain or Romney is able to achieve a decisive victory over the other which provides a bounce for next week. Today’s primary, along with big states on Super Tuesday, are winner take all events. Even a string of narrow victories could give one candidate an insurmountable lead in delegates.
With the entire race possibly depending upon today’s results, the race between McCain and Romney became more heated. It even resembled the Democratic race in one respect. McCain pulled a Clinton in distorting Romney’s position, similar to the manner in which Clinton has been distorting many of Obama’s positions in her attacks. McCain distorted an answer from Romney in an interview from last April to claim that Romney supported a deadline to get out of Iraq.
Many conservatives have become upset with McCain for this tactic, similar to how many Democrats have protested the smear campaign launched by the Clintons. I wonder if this could be the start of a trend away from acceptance of this type of campaigning. The real test will be to see if this tactic can be kept out of the general election when there aren’t members of one’s own party who are as likely to be offended. In this case it was particularly strange for McCain to resort to this type of dishonesty. I wouldn’t think McCain would have much difficulty blowing out Romney in a debate over foreign policy. Sure, McCain is crazy to call for remaining in Iraq for one hundred years, but this is a debate before a Republican audience. If Giuliani is really knocked out after today, it is also possible McCain will benefit further from Republicans voters who are concentrating on their view of national security.
As I already noted, Mitt Romney won in Nevada. There is a race for second place with all far behind and, with some votes still left to count, it looks like Ron Paul will come in second place. Currently Romney has 51% of the vote, with Ron Paul at 14% and John McCain at 13%. How many times can Giuliani trail Paul and still be considered a serious candidate? How many Paul supporters will declare this a huge victory?
John McCain has won in South Carolina, helping him go into Super Tuesday as the front runner. Mike Huckabee came in a close second but if he couldn’t win in South Carolina it is getting hard to see enough states where he can win in order to win the nomination. This very well might turn into a race between McCain and Romney unless Rudy Giuliani can manage to start winning somewhere. Should McCain win the nomination, Democrats who have been taking a general election victory for granted might be in for a surprise, especially if Clinton is the nominee.
Duncan Hunter didn’t even wait for the polls to close in South Carolina to drop out. Without being able to do anything in South Carolina it is hard to see how Fred Thompson has a chance, but he says he is staying in. Apparently he enjoys playing the part of a presidential candidate.
Update: Ron Paul isn’t going anywhere despite beating Giuliani in South Carolina and coming in second in Nevada. Paul came in second in Nevada primarily because he was the only one besides Romney to spend money there, yet he still came in far behind. That said, there is one point where Paul’s results do have meaning. It is sure hard to justify having a debate which includes Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson but excludes Ron Paul.