Archive for: June, 2008

Poll Update: Obama Leads McCain by 13 in Massachusetts

Jun 30 2008 Published by under Featured News

A new Survey USA poll of that state of Massachusetts released today shows that despite losing the Democratic primary to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama has sprinted out to a 13 point lead over John McCain, 53%-40%. As is becoming the norm with these state polls, Obama leads with women and McCain with men.

McCain has a six point lead with men in the state, 50%-44%, while Obama has a 30 point lead with women, 61%-31%. Obama leads McCain with both voters under and over 50. With voters under 50, Obama leads 53%-41%, and with voters over 50 he leads 53%-39%. This is a bit of role reversal as Obama’s strength is usually perceived to be with younger voters. Obama has a 20 point lead with voters age 18-34, and he also has a 15 point lead with voters over 65. Obama has much smaller leads of 6 and 8 points with voters age 35-49 and 50-64.

Obama leads among Independents in the state 47%-43%, and despite the fact that McCain is pro-life, he picks up 32% of the anti-abortion vote in the state. A battle is shaping up for the support of those voters who attend religious services regularly. Currently, McCain holds a slim 46%-45% lead over Obama with these voters.

Massachusetts is one of the solid blue states. It has not gone Republican since it supported Ronald Reagan’s reelection in 1984. Bill Clinton carried the state in 1992 by 18. Al Gore won by 27 in 2000, and John Kerry won by 25 in 2004. It might seem a little surprising that Obama is only leading McCain by 13 right now, but I suspect that as the campaign goes on, Obama’s lead will grow closer to the numbers that Gore and Kerry each carried the state by.

Full Poll Results

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Obama Camp Disavows Wesley Clark’s Experience Comments

Jun 30 2008 Published by under Featured News

Just when it looked like the Obama campaign would be the first Democrats to challenge Republicans on the patriotism issue, they turn around today and disavow Wesley Clark’s criticism of John McCain. “As he’s said many times before, Senator Obama honors and respects Senator McCain’s service, and of course he rejects yesterday’s statement by General Clark,” said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.

During his speech today in Independence, Missouri, Obama himself sought some distance from Clark. “For those who have fought under the flag of this nation – for the young veterans I meet when I visit Walter Reed; for those like John McCain who have endured physical torment in service to our country – no further proof of such sacrifice is necessary. And let me also add that no one should ever devalue that service, especially for the sake of a political campaign, and that goes for supporters on both sides. We must always express our profound gratitude for the service of our men and women in uniform. Period. Full stop,” Obama said.

What is most disappointing is how quickly the Obama campaign accepted McCain’s meaning of Clark’s comment. Here is what Clark said, “I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.” In my mind, Clark was stating a fact. Just as being the first African American major party nominee does not make Obama better qualified than McCain, the Republican is not better qualified because of his Vietnam experiences.

I supported the Barack Obama we saw in the primaries, but his campaign is starting to play it safe. In the last week or so, we have seen him support the FISA bill, and now refuse to challenge the shameless flag waving of the GOP. The sad thing is that Obama gave a good speech today on positive meaning of patriotism, but he is unwilling to challenge McCain’s own experience. It is clear that they are afraid of the same things John Kerry was in 2004.

The campaign is afraid of being painted as unpatriotic and liberal, but instead of fighting against this kind of politics, the Obama campaign has chosen to back down. In my mind this isn’t a new kind of politics, but the same old Democratic fear of the patriotism label. If Obama is really interested in change then his campaign needs to do what Clark did, and challenge the reasoning behind the politics of patriotism, not embrace the GOP logic.

Obama camp’s statement on Clark

Obama’s speech

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Obama Leads McCain by 2 in Virginia

Jun 30 2008 Published by under Featured News

A new poll of the state of Virginia was released recently by Survey USA, and it reveals a tight race between Barack Obama and John McCain. Obama holds a slight two point lead, 49%-47%. Thus far, the state is starkly split along gender lines. McCain leads with men 58%-40% and Obama with women, 58%-36%.

Virginia voters are also divided by age. Voters under age 50 favor Obama, 55%-41%, while voters who are over 50 favor McCain by the same margin, 55%-41%. Surprisingly, Obama only leads with voters age 18-34, 51%-47. The Democrat’s big lead is with voters age 35-49 where he leads, 59%-37%. McCain leads with voters age 50-64, 53%-43%, and he has a big lead with voters over 65, 58%-37%.

McCain leads with white voters, 54%-41%, and Obama with African Americans, 74%-25%. McCain’s level of African American support is his highest level in any state measured so far. The trend of Hispanic voters favoring Obama continued. He leads McCain with Hispanic voters, 63%-37%. Unlike in other states, McCain has a slight lead among Independents, 49%-43%.

Interestingly, the poll also showed that Jim Webb would only add two points to Obama’s lead over McCain, no matter who the Republican chose as his running mate. An Obama/Webb ticket tops out at 49% in the state. Virginia has the look of a state that is split down the middle along the lines of age, race, and gender. We are starting to get our first glimpse of the states that could determine the 2008 election. It looks like Ohio and Florida might be out, and places like New Mexico and Virginia will be the states to watch.

Full Poll Results

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Wesley Clark Hammers McCain’s Experience

Jun 29 2008 Published by under Featured News

Wesley Clark was on Face the Nation today, and he took aim at the idea that McCain’s Vietnam War experience makes him more qualified to be president. “He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn’t held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded, that wasn’t a wartime squadron,” Clark said.

Host Bob Schieffer said that Barack Obama hasn’t had these experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. Clark replied that, “I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.” With one swoop, Clark attacked the entire basis for the McCain presidential campaign.

McCain spokesman Brian Roberts tried to use Clark’s statement to paint Obama as a typical politician, “If Barack Obama’s campaign wants to question John McCain’s military service, that’s their right. But let’s please drop the pretense that Barack Obama stands for a new type of politics. The reality is he’s proving to be a typical politician who is willing to say anything to get elected, including allowing his campaign surrogates to demean and attack John McCain’s military service record.”

Of course, Clark is correct. The whole idea that McCain would make a better president because he was a P.O.W. is stupid. Clark was not challenging McCain’s military record, what he was challenging is the phony idea that McCain’s military record makes him a more qualified candidate than Obama. McCain’s experience in Vietnam probably shaped his ideology, so isn’t it fair to ask if this ideology is the correct one to lead the nation forward at this time.

I am glad that somebody finally had the guts to stand up and challenge the Republican Party and their faux patriotism. For too long Democrats have cowered at the prospect of being labeled un-American, so it was refreshing to see Wesley Clark finally step up and challenge these GOP myths. Now I am left to wonder if Clark just elevated himself on Obama’s VP short list.

You can watch the interview here.

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Nader: Anybody Would Be Better Than the Republicans

Jun 29 2008 Published by under Featured News

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader was on ABC’s This Week program today. In a wide ranging interview he talked about his disagreements with Barack Obama, John McCain morphing into a Bush clone, and the need for more third parties.

Host George Stephanopoulos said Obama has been working on Nader’s issues, but he hasn’t been listening. “I have been, just look at the positions he has taken that corporate America are very congenial to,” he answered. Nader talked about Obama being opposed to a single payer healthcare system. He criticized Obama for wanting to increase the military budget, “If you want more jobs in the inner city…you’ve got to reduce the bloated wasteful military budget, and he is not doing that, he wants to expand the military budget.”

Nader claimed that Obama talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk. “He has not done it. Look, 97% of the CEOs in the Fortune 500 are white. This is a white power structure… Let me give you an illustration about what is going on here, if he was really serious about lead paint, asthma and asbestos he would propose in Congress a major task force for the inner city. He hasn’t done that. It’s easy just to talk.”

Nader said, “He has backed off on so many things. He has voted for the war, funding for the war, except once, he voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act, he has ducked on the FISA thing for example. He has pandered to AIPAC… He said he against the Iraq War, but his plan would keep 50,000-80,000 troops there and bases.”

Nader was asked if Obama would be better than McCain. He said, “Anybody would be better than the Republicans. John McCain is moving towards becoming a clone of George W. Bush. He used to be seen as a maverick… He stands in front of the corporatists and says I’m your man. Nobody is going to vote for a pro-war Republican in any majority in the next election.” He interestingly pointed out that he seems to talk about Obama more, because nobody asks him about McCain.

He brought up a good point about the need for more competition for the two parties, “I think the two parties are hurting our country and they need more competition. The problem is there is too much political bigotry against small parties and candidates. You see it in these huge ballot access laws. Why do we ration debates? We’re appealing to the people in this country who want more choices on their ballot.” We are excluded from the debates.”

It seems that Ralph Nader’s biggest problem with Obama is that he isn’t liberal enough. Even if Nader does make it on to the ballot in 45 of 50 states, I doubt that he will damage Obama much. The Democratic Party rank and file is mostly happy with Obama, so I don’t believe that there will be a move to Nader. Libertarian candidate Bob Barr is third party candidate that is in position to impact a few states this time.

You can watch the Nader interview here.

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Obama: McCain Walked Away From Immigration Reform

Jun 28 2008 Published by under Featured News

While speaking before the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama called out John McCain for walking away from his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform.

“Now, one place where Senator McCain used to offer change was on immigration. He was a champion of comprehensive reform, and I admired him for it,” Obama said. “But when he was running for his party’s nomination, he walked away from that commitment and he’s said he wouldn’t even support his own legislation if it came up for a vote. If we are going to solve the challenges we face, you need a President who will pursue genuine solutions day in and day out. And that is my commitment to you.”

The McCain campaign’s response was to dodge the issue of the flip-flop and blame Obama for working against the Bush immigration reform bill, “It’s quite audacious for Barack Obama to question John McCain’s commitment to immigration reform when it was Obama himself who worked to kill the Senate’s bipartisan immigration reform compromise last year. Barack Obama voted for five ‘poison pill’ amendments designed by special interests to kill the immigration reform deal.”

However in his speech Obama called for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, “We need immigration reform that will secure our borders, and punish employers who exploit immigrant labor; reform that finally brings the 12 million people who are here illegally out of the shadows by requiring them to take steps to become legal citizens. We must assert our values and reconcile our principles as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. That is a priority I will pursue from my very first day.”

No matter who wins the election in November, immigration reform is going to continue to be a hot button issue. I think that a pathway to citizenship is the sensible thing to do, but I also thought that the Bush immigration reform bill was a hodgepodge of ideas with no clear purpose behind them. McCain can try to shift the focus and blame to Obama, but he can’t hide from the fact that he caved in to the right wing of his party on immigration.

Full Text of Obama’s Remarks

McCain’s Response

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The Top 5 John McCain Flip-Flops

Jun 28 2008 Published by under Featured News

Here is a list of the top five John McCain flip-flops of the 2008 election so far. McCain has shown that his strongest trait as a candidate is his ability to change his position and contradict himself at any time. What is most amazing is McCain’s flip-flopping knows no limits. There is no policy area that is off limits for his talents, and no tale he won’t tell in order to satisfy his lust for the presidency.

1). Immigration:

John McCain used to support amnesty for illegal immigrants. May 29, 2003 interview: “Amnesty has to be an important part because there are people who have lived in this country for 20, 30 or 40 years, who have raised children here and pay taxes here and are not citizens.” Dec. 15, 2000 press release: “I support the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act (LIFA). Negotiations between the White House and the leadership, which endorsed more limited immigration reform, have resulted in a compromise…. this bill makes meaningful but insufficient progress on amnesty for those wrongly denied it. [Source: Factcheck.org]

McCain 2008:

“Look, I have said time after time that no one can be reward for illegal behavior. The context of that conversation, don’t you call that “amnesty.” I have said in hundreds of hours of debate on the Senate floor, we reward no one for illegal behavior They have to pay fines. They have to take the naturalization. About two million people here in this country who have come illegally, have committed crimes here in America, and they have to be deported immediately.” [Source: Meet the Press Candidates 2008 series]

2). Abortion:

In 1999, McCain didn’t support repealing Roe v. Wade. “I’d love to see a point where it is irrelevant, and could be repealed because abortion is no longer necessary. But certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations.” [Source: San Francisco Chronicle]

McCain 2008:

“I am pro-life and an advocate for the Rights of Man everywhere in the world, because to be denied liberty is an offense to nature and nature’s Creator. I will never waver in that conviction. Our liberty will not be seized in a political revolution or by a totalitarian government. But, rather, as Burke warned, it can be “nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts.” I am alert to that risk and will defend against it, and I will be encouraged in that defense by my fellow conservatives.” [Source: Conservative Political Action Conference Feb 7, 2008]

3). Offshore Drilling:

McCain used to be a staunch opponent of offshore drilling. Here is what a questionnaire from the Sustainable Energy Coalition said about his position on offshore drilling, “Senator John McCain, who criticized the Clinton Administration for its decision to extend 36 offshore oil leaves along the central California coast over the objections of that state’s Governor and Attorney General, has promised to never lose sight of the fundamental principle that federal land management decisions affecting local communities must be made in cooperation with the Americans who call those communities home.”

McCain 2008:

“We have proven oil reserves of at least 21 billion barrels in the United States. But a broad federal moratorium stands in the way of energy exploration and production. And I believe it is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions and to put our own reserves to use.” [Speech Houston, TX June 17,2008]

4). The Bush Tax Cuts: McCain was one of only two Senate Republicans to vote against the Bush tax cuts in 2001. “I am disappointed that the Senate Finance Committee preferred instead to cut the top tax rate of 39.6% to 36%, thereby granting generous tax relief to the wealthiest individuals of our country at the expense of lower- and middle-income American taxpayers.” [McCain Senate floor statement, May 21, 2001]

McCain 2008:

“I will not let the Democrats roll back the Bush tax cuts. I believe we should protect the American family against partisan tax increases by requiring a three-fifths majority in Congress to raise taxes. But that is just a start.” [Detroit Economic Club, October 9, 2007]

5). The Economy: This is a record even for McCain. He managed to change his position on whether or not Americans were better off now than they were 8 years ago overnight. In an April 17 interview with Bloomberg TV, McCain said, “I think if you look at the overall record and millions of jobs have been created, et cetera, et cetera, you could make an argument that there’s been great progress economically over that period of time. But that’s no comfort. That’s no comfort to families now that are facing these tremendous economic challenges.”

The next day in an interview with Al Hunt on the very same network McCain said, “I respect the views of people who basically think that the status quo is satisfactory today. I don’t. I think Americans are hurting, and hurting badly. In fact, I think Americans are not better off than they were eight years ago, when you look at what’s happened to middle-income Americans.” [Source: Thinkprogress.org]

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Obama on His Trip to Europe, Israel, Jordan

Jun 28 2008 Published by under Featured News

The Obama campaign announced today that Barack Obama will be making his first international trip as the Democratic nominee to the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Jordan, and Israel. “This trip will be an important opportunity for me to assess the situation in countries that are critical to American national security, and to consult with some of our closest friends and allies about the common challenges we face,” said Barack Obama.

He talked about Israel and Jordan in terms of confronting threats in the Middle East, “Israel is a strong and close friend of the United States, and is confronting grave threats from Gaza to Tehran. Jordan has been a close partner in the peace process and a host of other issues of common concern.”

In terms of the European visit Obama is looking to incorporate our allies, and radically depart from the Bush administration policies, “France, Germany, and the United Kingdom are key anchors of the transatlantic alliance and have contributed to the mission in Afghanistan, and I look forward to discussing how we can strengthen our partnership in the years to come. This will be an important opportunity to have an exchange of views with leaders in these countries about these and other issues that are critical to American national security — and global security — in the 21st century.”

This trip really serves two purposes. Obama wants to answer the McCain campaign’s daily attacks that he doesn’t have enough international experience. This is also a chance for the Obama campaign to demonstrate to voters how well their message of change plays with U.S. allies, but he needs to walk a fine line on this point, because as the 2004 election demonstrated, too much international support for his candidacy could be used against him by the Republicans in the fall.

There is no downside to this trip. Even Obama supporters will admit that he needs to be more visible on the world stage. One final added benefit of this trip is that it gives the candidate a chance to look presidential. Although this is an election that will be decided on domestic issues, with two wars going on, a great deal of Obama’s time as president will be dedicated to foreign policy, that makes this is critical trip that barring some sort of major gaffe will be another step on the path to victory in November.

Obama’s statement on the trip

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Feel the Love

Jun 27 2008 Published by under Featured News

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama came together for a rally in Unity, NH this afternoon where the theme was global monetary policy. (Just kidding, of course the theme was Democratic unity). Clinton delivered an outstanding performance in front of the crowd of 6,000 which made me wonder, where was this Hillary Clinton during most of the primary campaign?

Gone was the stiff, rigid Clinton who seemed to feel entitled to the Democratic nomination, and spent too much time attacking Republicans and ducking questions. She had been replaced by a relaxed, smiling person who looked like she had the weight of the world lifted off of her shoulders. If she would have presented herself this way, and spoken about change, along with apologizing for her Iraq war vote, early on in the primary campaign, she probably would have been the Democratic nominee.

Clinton had one of the best lines of the entire political year when she said, “In the end, Senator McCain and President Bush are like two sides of the same coin, and it doesn’t amount to a whole lot of change.” I freely admit that I am a sucker for a good pun, and Clinton’s was fairly clever. Obama was full of praise for Mrs. Clinton, “Hillary and I may have started with separate goals in this campaign, but we made history together.”

Obama also stated what had become obvious to most campaign observers, that he had learned from her, “I’ve admired her as a leader, I’ve learned from her as a candidate. She rocks. She rocks. That’s the point I’m trying to make.” At the beginning of the campaign, it didn’t seem like Obama was very comfortable talking about the economy, but now his economic message isn’t far off of what Clinton used in the primaries.

While there are still some lingering bad feelings between the two camps staffers and supporters, and things are certainly frosty between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, it seems that the candidates themselves are building, at the least, a decent working relationship. It looks like Clinton is committed to keeping her promise to work hard to get Obama elected, now if only she could do something about her husband.

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What to Watch For at the Clinton-Obama Unity Rally

Jun 27 2008 Published by under Featured News

According to a memo released by the Obama campaign this morning, today’s event in Unity, NH is designed to bring together a very unique coalition in American politics, young people, women, African-Americans, and Latinos. The message this rally wants to send is uniting to break barriers.

“He and Senator Clinton may have started with separate goals in this campaign, but they have made history together. Together, they attracted millions of Americans who cast their ballot for the very first time. Together, they inspired a record number of women, and African-Americans, and Latinos, and young people to participate in their democracy. Together, in this campaign, in 2008, they shattered barriers that have stood firm since the founding of this nation,” the memo said.

You should also expect lots of praise for Clinton’s groundbreaking presidential campaign, “Because of this campaign, and because of the campaign waged by Hillary Clinton, our daughters will forever know that what they look like and who they are is no barrier to who they can be in the United States of America.”

While there has been some grumbling among top Clinton supporters about the Obama campaign’s help in paying off her campaign debt, all recent state and national polls indicate a strong movement among women voters from Clinton to Obama. Originally many thought that top Clinton supporters would fall into line, but Obama would struggle with courting her base of support. In fact, the opposite has happened. Most rank and file Clinton supporters have shifted, but her top donors are tending to resist.

The history that Obama is poised to make goes beyond the color of his skin. Never in the history of the nation has a candidate won the presidency a majority of support from men, specifically white men. In this way the 2008 could remake the entire political landscape, and change the way elections are won, but in order for this to happen, Obama needs a unified coalition, and Hillary Clinton is the key to this unity.

Obama Campaign Memo

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