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Archive for the ‘McCain’ Category

Thought you would all love this. I heard about the blog last week and never had a chance to post a link.

A couple of my favorite things that are younger than John McCain:

1). The Golden Gate Bridge

2). Penicillin

3). Minimum Wage

John McCain is Older than Penicillin

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Senator John McCain has launched a new TV spot advertising his new funeral home business. It shows him wheeling out the corpse of his one thousand year old mother to chat with him about his birth during the French and Indian War.

If your reading this Senator McCain (or if any of your campaign staff are tuned in) let me give you some free (and excellent) political advice. If you’re trying not to reinforce the negative stereotype about your age, you’d better not put your white-haired self in front of a camera next your blue-haired mother. Perhaps your intention was to look young next to the woman who so kindly gave birth to you, but I look at this ad and I immediately see two half-dead senior citizens reminiscing about Life Magazine in the crumbling library of a nursing home.

Senator, it might be time that you accepted your age as a disadvantage and stopped trying to remind us that, compared to your mom, you’re as healthy as a horse. Voters overlook things like age if you’ve got a solid message, proven skills and an unimpeachable character. Which you have in spades.

And you’re a war hero. And not just any war hero. One that was continuously tortured for years and as a result, can’t fully use your arms because of the trauma you’ve sustained. If there’s a contrast between your age and Obama’s youth, there’s an even better one between your awesomeness and Obama’s complete inexperience.

Look, if you’re ever going to look young in your ads, this isn’t the way to do it. The only way you can ever achieve that is if you eat nails or shoulder-press a live tiger.

I don’t see that happening. In fact, that scenario is the opposite of what your Mother’s Day commercial is. And that’s my point. If you’re not willing to go to one extreme to pedal your youth, don’t go to the other. Having your mother make speeches introducing you at campaign stops is one thing, but having her appear in commercials seen by millions of voters is quite another. I hope for your sake, your campaign staff has learned their lesson.

And, of course, Happy Mother’s Day.

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In a 24 hour period, Sen. Barack Obama has started to sound presidential and Sen. Hillary Clinton’s message is getting lost in the weeds. Take a look at just a few minutes of Obama’s speech from North Carolina and you’ll see what I mean. If you’re the presumptive nominee, you should be talking like this guy.

If this is our Democratic nominee (and I have said in this space for a long time that I think he is) the question now becomes, how did Hillary fall so hard?

As we so often do here at thinkmatter, let’s look at her messaging. Peter S. Canellos of the Boston Globe yesterday had picked up exactly the line that the Clinton campaign had been hoping every reporter would. Specifically, a softer, less opportunistic and distinctly blue collar Hillary who understands the needs of everyday people.

“Few politicians in American history have carried less of a reputation for “Cheers”-like camaraderie than the senator from New York, who was widely seen as cold and calculating.

But that stereotype has been cast aside by many voters, replaced by its positive twin: The same steely-eyed characteristics that made Clinton seem cold now make her seem purposeful; what was once seen as calculation is now determination.

Part of the transformation has been a matter of comparison. Some people think her opponent, Barack Obama, has an academic aloofness to him. Next to him, Clinton’s grittiness stands out in far sharper relief.”

This is an unprecedented success for a candidate, and an especially unusual one for a candidate like Hillary, whose past reputation has been weighed down by perceptions that she’s an…ahem, ‘rhymes with rich’.

Had this cream-puff story carried any water into the May 6th contests, she would have gotten a pass for the last few months she has spent essentially asking for the most unprecedented thing in American political history – crown her the nominee based on her own projection that she could be a better candidate against McCain. Ignore the numbers and vote tallies, she’s saying, and make me your nominee because I might have a better shot at winning in November.

Unfortunately, her campaign is faced with an entirely different storyline. Instead of the glowing reviews she was getting prior to Indiana/North Carolina, she woke up today faced with a sharp rebuke of her continued candidacy:

“Very early this morning, after many voters had already gone to sleep, the conventional wisdom of the elite political pundit class that resides on television shifted hard, and possibly irretrievably, against Senator Hillary Clinton’s continued viability as a presidential candidate.

The moment came shortly after midnight Eastern time, captured in a devastatingly declarative statement from Tim Russert of NBC News: “We now know who the Democratic nominee’s going to be, and no one’s going to dispute it,” he said on MSNBC. “Those closest to her will give her a hard-headed analysis, and if they lay it all out, they’ll say: ‘What is the rationale? What do we say to the undeclared super delegates tomorrow? Why do we tell them you’re staying in the race?’ And tonight, there’s no good answer for that.” Jim Rutenberg writes in today’s New York Times.

I understand the strength of her logic before Indiana/North Carolina. For many voters casting their ballots in a primary season, the ‘electability’ question is often taken into account when voting for a candidate. But after her showing in these primaries, it will be a Sisyphean effort to convince entire groups of electors (namely superdelegates and the Democratic Party establishment) to take this into account over and above the will of the voters.

Her arguments are now seen for the absurdity with which they were formulated. She has no measurable numbers on her side and now that she took such a huge hit in North Carolina, it would be difficult for her to achieve any viability from here on out.

Now, she says that she will fight until there is a nominee.

If you will permit me just one last thought before the unveiling of the Delegate and Superdelegate tracker. How long do we think the Republicans won’t latch themselves on to the following storyline: “The political ambitions of a few people are now superseding the interests of many Americans. Democrats aren’t bickering about policies, they are simply bickering about ambition. It’s not about becoming president, it’s about what you want to do when you are president. Sen. McCain is going around the country touting his plans to solve real problems for real Americans, and Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton are simply trying to outwit and outflank each other just for the sake of a seat in the Oval Office. The Democrats arent’ talking about real issues.” Commence launch of potential GOP talking points.

Staying in this race hurts her and it hurts Sen. Obama. Let’s see what she does after the last primary in June. The smart money might be on her striking a deal to become V.P. prior to the Puerto Rico Primary. Of course, the even smarter money might be on Obama marginalizing her by addressing only Senator McCain in his speeches and letting the press hammer her into dropping out.

All speculation aside, if we see anything at all in the next few weeks, it’s going to be Hillary scrambling.

And now, the long awaited Delegate and Superdelegate Trackers.

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NBC’s Sunday morning juggernaut and ABC’s less successful little brother have finally achieved some relevance outside the Beltway. The Boston Globe, Washington Post and New York Times are all referring to the cross-network debate that Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama held between themselves on NBC’s Meet the Press and ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopolous just prior to the primary showdown this Tuesday. Opinions about suspending the gas tax dominated the jabs Clinton and Obama threw at one another and made the network execs happy when they woke up Monday morning to the front page news about the sparring on their shows.

To the average American these programs are on the channels they flip through on their way to cartoons for the kids. The only audience that they really attract are journalists, wonks and of course, campaign staffers. Perhaps this is why the candidates took pains to throw out indirect questions about the other’s competence in handling public affairs; it allowed them to score hits with the live viewers and facilitate a carry over into print the next day (where average Americans will actually see it).

A good strategy for both camps and an especially economical way to get a cadre of reporters talking about you when you’ve only done one TV interview. Playing these two shows at the same time and obliquely engaging in an unchoreographed debate is a shotgun blast that achieves some good print attention on issues you want voters to think about before going to the polls in Indiana and North Carolina.

Hillary wants to get her populist message accross so that voters will think about the price of gas when driving to their polling location. She wants them to think about her electability and if she can handle other  crisis’s around the world . Not a bad tactical move for her messaging and by attacking Obama, she maintains the offense that could win her one (or both) of these states.

Seizing the opportunity with Tim Russert, Obama came out Sunday to put to bed his relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and made a further plea to the American people that Clinton’s gas tax was simply Washingtonspeak. He knows that his back is against the wall and if Hillary is scoring points with a plan to immediately reduce the burden on America’s wallets, he had better have a quick quip to cut her down.

I’m starting to doubt his effectiveness in these past few days and am growing less confident that Indiana and North Carolina are going to pan out according to Obama’s designs. Sure, Clinton is still trailing overall (and badly, I might add) but thus far his jabs have had soft landings since the Rev. Wright debacle. Obama seems wobbly on his feet and isn’t snapping off hard punches like he was in the early rounds. I think Hillary has rattled him and it might take some time after these next two primaries for him to get back into his former fighting shape.

Can I keep the boxing metaphor alive any longer? I’ll stop here, but I will say that I can’t wait for the results tomorrow night. Boxing, boxing, boxing.

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Once seen as closing the lead that Hillary Clinton had over him in the Keystone State, Barack Obama now finds himself trying to explain remarks he made at a San Francisco fundraiser that won’t sit well with blue-collar Pennsylvanians in the run-up to the April 22nd primary. Take note of Hillary’s response.

This is the moment that John McCain and Hillary Clinton were waiting for in this election – a chance to exploit a self-created dent in Obama’s armor. I don’t think that this is Obama’s ‘John Kerry moment’ (you’ll remember the classic ‘for it before I was against it’ remark), but it isn’t a stumble he’ll soon recover from. In a state that prides itself on the hardscrabble lives of its legendary coal miners and steel workers, a remark like this won’t quickly be forgotten.

If there is one error he has made thus far, it could be this one. Clearly, another chance for Hillary is on the horizon.

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Much has happened since the last update to the Delegate Trackers. Obama has swept the Chesapeake Primary and made himself the front-runner in one night. Counting superdelegates, he has placed himself in the lead according to CNN, ABC, NBC and the Associated Press (all of which are cited below).

This is great news for Obama. He is showing that his message is getting to voters in such a way that a healthy plurality of them are turning out at the polls. On a winning streak, the Obama victories in every state has made the all-important political momentum shift in his favor. He is also winning in the money primary, though Hillary is quick to meet nearly all of his benchmarks (with her own money or with larger and larger fundraising efforts).

Basking in his victories and the incredibly positive press he is getting, Senator Obama can expect the rest of February to look similar for him. Though I would caution that Hillary’s campaign is still the coiled cobra – ready to strike fiercely at her opponent in the next round of March and April primaries, where the demographics of states like Ohio, Texas, Mississippi and Pennsylvania appear more in line with her Democratic traditionalism.

On the Republican side, McCain had a narrow victory in Virginia and Mike Huckabee is quickly looking like the spoiler of this GOP nominating process, rather than the serious candidate he is hoping to be taken as.  Huckabee’s tactics look to be a play for the Vice Presidency, but on a more practical note, he is an ordained Baptist pastor and one very much answerable to the evangelical wing that lifted him to victory in Iowa and the southern states. Staying in makes him the evangelical favorite and boosts the GOP recognition of that demographic as an important group to please if there is any hope of another Republican revival.

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We are at a furious pace to update the 2008 horse race. Nearly everywhere you look, the media outlets are attempting to portray momentum for Obama and a Clinton sinking into despair. I don’t think that this is true just yet (and will have further posts describing why not) but for now, let’s look at the numbers.

Clinton is coming off a bad weekend where she has tried to temper Obama’s momentum by claiming that his wins were expected in Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington. True or not, the Junior Senator from Illinois is closing the gap quickly, and may even take the lead when Virginia, Maryland and DC vote this Tuesday. Clinton clearly has a Barack Problem and his late surge has her organization scrambling to stop him at the March 4th primaries in Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont where 444 delegates are at stake. She can hope to split those counts with him and battle for the 188 remaining in Pennsylvania on April 22nd. I think we might see a spring equinox before we see an Democratic nominee.

I’ve also moved Romney to the bottom rung in the GOP tracker given his drop-out status (and unbelievable robotic concession speech) from last week. This does not make Huckabee a threat to McCain, but quite simply a hold-out until McCain can eventually clean up the messy nomination process and focus his efforts on November.

Lastly, I’m keeping Edwards and Romney on these lists only because they have not chosen to endorse anyone yet, and when they do decide to make their choices public, their delegate counts could give the recipient a boost. Huckabee stands to benefit the most in this situation, but if Edwards were to endorse Obama, both anectdotal endorsement and his delegate count could shoot Barack’s momentum into the stratosphere.

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