[Note: As we go to press, Kostner brings a Chicago Sun-Times news article to our attention. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign “scored a significant hit” against chief rival Hillary Rodham Clinton “by helping to place” a story about tainted Democratic donor Norman Hsu, according to an article about Obama in the December issue of The Atlantic. [snip] If Obama’s operatives had a hand in “helping to place” the Hsu story, it would be counter to the claim that Obama was running a different and unconventional campaign.
This is further evidence of Obama’s Dirty Mud Politics. We wrote a few weeks ago, in Barack Obama and The Suicide Note: Was Obama responsible for planting the Hsu stories in the press? We don’t know specifically, but this is typical for the Chicago Obama crowd.
We now have our answer. The Obama denials continue, but the truth is emerging. As Obama himself says “I’m not going to change who I am.”]
They threw everything at Hillary — even the kitchen sink.
What were the results?
Meanwhile, the Democrats have done the very Republican thing of finding a favorite candidate and sticking with him (her, actually). And so, as Sen. Barack Obama loses his way , and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton loses her voice , a quiet desperation is creeping into the campaign to beat Clinton.
Obama, D-Ill., added another piece to his scattershot criticism of Clinton yesterday: He’s making it a “generational fight,” Michael McAuliff writes in the New York Daily News. “I think there’s no doubt that we represent the kind of change that Sen. Clinton can’t deliver on, and part of it is generational,” Obama told Fox News.
The increasingly desperate Obama campaign appears to have a contempt for the biggest voting bloc in the nation and in Iowa – over 50 year old voters. Obama’s generational attack on Hillary was on FOX News [Video HERE]:
“I think there’s no doubt that we represent the kind of change that Senator Clinton can’t deliver on and part of it is generational. Senator Clinton and others, they’ve been fighting some of the same fights since the ’60’s and it makes it very difficult for them to bring the country together to get things done.”
The Hillary “pile-on” comes in different styles and flavors, Christina Bellantoni writes in the Washington Times. “Mr. Edwards is the aggressor — often putting the words ‘corrupt’ and ‘Clinton’ in the same sentence,” she writes. “Mr. Obama is more nuanced, and even used a friendly ‘Saturday Night Live’ venue to push his message — ‘I’m not going to change who I am’ — with the subtext being that this is exactly how Mrs. Clinton operates.”
Look for the anti-Hillary forces to get more organized before caucus day — and in the caucus rooms themselves, Des Moines Register columnist David Yepsen writes. “Piling on? She ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” Yepsen writes. “Emboldened, the boys will be noodling up other ways to dip her pigtails in the printer. One way they can do it is by throwing in together. A majority of caucus-goers still aren’t for her. If they all coalesce around one of the boys, she loses.”
But strident criticism of the frontrunner carries a risk — and if you’re going to attack a frontrunner for inconsistencies, it helps if you’re consistent yourself.
Former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., has been clear on debate stages: “Combat missions ended. Combat troops out of Iraq, period,” he said at last week’s debate in Philadelphia, as he sought to differentiate himself with Clinton. But he told a Boston Globe editorial board meeting Wednesday that he would continue combat “expeditions” against Al Qaeda in Iraq — from bases outside the country, per the Globe’s Jenn Abelson. Said Edwards: “We’re battling Al Qaeda all over the world right now and we don’t occupy countries to do it.”
And on the immigration issue that got Clinton into so much trouble at the debate (and its long aftermath), Edwards has endorsed an “incoherent” policy that “appears to hinge on blurring the distinction between state and federal powers,” Politico’s Ben Smith writes. Says the Edwards campaign: “He supports licenses as part of a path to citizenship. He doesn’t support the Spitzer plan because it doesn’t include a path to citizenship.” Governors, of course, can’t grant citizenship. Says Frank Sharry of the National Immigrantion Forum: “I don’t know if they think you’re stupid or what they think.”
Time’s Joe Klein sees the firestorm passing over Clinton. “The propensity of Democrats to be chuckleheaded in ways easily exploited by Republicans is what Clinton, in most cases, is trying to avoid with her lawyerly answers,” Klein writes. “Clinton has always had a problem with authenticity. . . . But her plans on the big domestic-policy issues — health care and energy — have been courageous and detailed, more sophisticated than her opponents’ — and very, very smart politically.”
In a twist on what a lot of people out there believe about the mainstream media, Cook accused the media of being desperate for a competitive race for the Democratic nomination, which in turn is what led many journalists and pundits to overinterpret Hillary’s bad week last week and to declare that suddently the race was more competitive. “Just wishing for a race and wanting a race doesn’t make it a real race,” Cook said dismissively. Hillary, in Cook’s view, is no less prohibitive now than she was a week ago. [snip]
As you would expect from the creator of the Cook Political Report, he said more and cited more polls and more history, but he, too, concluded that Clinton would win the Democratic nod and that she would then have a 65-70% chance of winning the White House.
Former Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey was brutal in his assessment:
Of Hillary, Armey said: “I don’t think she’s going to make a mistake. She’s the best politician in the race..probably the best politician in America. In my view, she’ll win the nomination and will probably win the presidency.” [snip]
Later, Armey warned that opponents of Hillary should understand two things: “One, she’s smarter than they are. And two, she’s meaner than they are.”
Smarter? Yes. Meaner? No. But we do love that SHE FIGHTS.
The Hillary campaign itself, was not slouching. In the most significant improvement to any presidential candidate website the Hillary campaign unveiled a needed FACT LADEN, debunk rumors and lies and mistruths section to its HillaryHub page. Visit the FACTS page. It’s rumor debunking at its best – without having to search through all the other information on the good Hillary website. HERE.
As a response, we expect the Barack Obama campaign will soon unveil its latest innovation: a “Latest Rumors and Smears About Hillary to Circulate Page” – Michelle and Axelrod and Gibbs will edit that page. The John Edwards campaign will respond with its own page as well: “Latest Apologies Page” by John Edwards.
Bill Clinton meanwhile took Tim Russert to task on presidential papers.
TPM backed President Bill Clinton on another statement he made this week on the “swiftboating” issue, simply by printing a transcript of the former president’s remarks. Read the full transcript and how Bill Clinton notes the same thing that happened to Al Gore could happen again, if real Democrats and real progressives let Big Media, Naderites, PINOs and Big Blogs smear our Democratic candidates again:
“But, more than that I came here to tell you today, don’t you dare let them take this election away from you…Don’t be diverted, don’t be divided.”
Okay. This is murky stuff. But a fair reading of this shows that Bill is not saying that Dems “swiftboated” Hillary when they criticized her immigration answer. Instead, he’s saying that forcing simplistic “raise your hand” answers to complex questions ultimately makes it easier for Republicans to “swiftboat” Dems later by using them as wedges.
Even somnambulent Big Media came to Hillary’s defense on the immigration issue:
Tim Russert, the debate moderator, posed this to Clinton on the subject of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s proposal to give illegal immigrants driver’s licenses: “You told the Nashua, N.H., editorial board it makes a lot of sense. Why does it make a lot of sense to give an illegal immigrant a driver’s license?”
Great question. As Clinton herself put it, a chance for everyone to play “gotcha.” Which Clinton’s opponents immediately did.
The problem is, in the context of her full answer in response to a question from Telegraph columnist Eduardo de Oliveria, we think Clinton was pretty clear that she didn’t support Spitzer’s plan.
She began her answer by calling for comprehensive immigration reform on a federal level and a plan that could provide “an earned path to legalization.”
Then she said: “I hate to see any state being pushed into trying to take this into their own hands because the federal government has failed. So I know exactly what Governor Spitzer is trying to do and it makes a lot of sense, because he’s trying to get people out of the shadows, come forward and we’ll give you this license – but without a federal policy in effect people will come forward and they could get picked up by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) tomorrow. This can’t work state by state – it has to be looked at comprehensively.”
In the full context of this quote, we think it’s obvious that she’s saying Spitzer’s plan “makes sense” from his perspective and based on the position he’s in, but it is not a good idea.
It’s the rhetorical equivalent of saying to somebody you’re about to disagree with: “Yes, I understand your position and respect the process you used to arrive at it, but I think a better solution would be . . .” [snip]
The problem is that Russert’s question was based on an incorrect interpretation of what she said to begin with, when she stated more clearly her position on the Spitzer plan.
This means that Russert – along with the numerous blogs, Clinton’s political opponents and media outlets like The New York Daily News on Oct. 19 (when Celeste Katz wrote that Clinton, in our edit board, stood up for Spitzer’s efforts and said he had the right idea) – chose to read Clinton’s comments out of context.
Good thing our industry – and American politics – has so much credibility to burn.
Senator Chris Dodd was rewarded for his abuses at the debate by falling to 4th place behind Hillary, Obama, Edwards – IN Connecticut, his home state.
The polls of course continued to reflect support for Hillary nationwide (Gallup with Hillary at 50%) and in individual states. The Hotline summarized the current situation:
Here’s something HRC isn’t used to getting lately: a week of bad press. But is it taking a toll on her campaign? If so, who can exploit it?
— Pollster.com shows no signs of HRC’s lead slipping in the Dem primary. More importantly, she doesn’t seem to have a ceiling of support. This makes it hard to argue that there’s an ABC vote out there to coalesce.
— For example, the latest NBC/WSJ poll shows Edwards dropped 5 pts. since 9/07, while both Obama and HRC numbers bumped up. If these voters had chosen Edwards simply b/c they disliked HRC, wouldn’t Obama or other candidates have been the sole beneficiaries?
— DMR’s Yepsen notes HRC’s shaky IA lead, but when supporters of third-tier challengers like Biden, Dodd and Richardson were asked their 2nd choice, HRC maintains her 6-pt edge.
— The better news for Obama/Edwards: HRC lost her 9/07 7-pt lead over Giuliani. Even so, neither of the other Dems did any better against him.
— That, of course, is why attacks on HRC as polarizing haven’t sunk her among Dems. To move primary voters, Obama and Edwards need to resonate among regular voters first.
Former Republican Congressman and all around loony Bob Barr assessed the presidential race this week too while remaining true to his extreme right views:
In fact, far from falling, Clinton’s support among Democrats remains solid and far in excess of that enjoyed by any of her rivals. Polls, including those taken after the Oct. 30 debate that so negatively impressed the former speaker, place Clinton (D-N.Y.) at least 20 points in front of her closest rival, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) — a lead she has managed to maintain consistently for months.
Republican hopes that a less-than-stellar performance in one early debate will doom Clinton’s presidential aspirations amount to little more than wishful thinking. This is especially true, at least to the objective observer, when one considers polls showing that Clinton continues to maintain a lead of several points over former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani — considered by many to be the Republican with the best shot at defeating his New York rival in a general-election matchup.
GOP pundits who try simplistically to weaken Clinton by pointing to one night’s performance in a debate few American voters actually watched, might be better advised instead to pay closer attention to a recent Newsweek poll indicating that Hillary Clinton enjoys more support among voters in so-called “Red States” (that went for President Bush in ’04) than Giuliani enjoys among “Blue State” voters (those that went for John Kerry in ’04).
Republicans appear to be placing a degree of emphasis on early presidential debates that recent history does not warrant. [snip]
However, more often than not, the majority of voters are not swayed one way or another based on what political pundits perceive as a “mistake” made in a pre-primary debate, especially a year out from an election.
Even Republican efforts to play “gotcha” and label as fatal Clinton’s defense last week of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s program to allow unlawful aliens in the Empire State to obtain a form of a driver’s license, are almost certain not to succeed.
By any objective measure, Clinton’s primary campaign thus far has been masterful. Even as it has virtually locked in the nomination of her party (Newt’s prediction to the contrary notwithstanding), it is already positioning her for the general election.
As the top GOP hopefuls — Giuliani, Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney — continue to run from the center and toward the right wing, which is where they apparently believe their primary votes will come from, Clinton is methodically moving in the opposite direction — from the left wing toward the center. If she is successful in continuing this route through the primary season, by the time the Republicans have resolved their intra-party squabbles and decided on a standard bearer, the Republican nominee may find the middle ground already solidly staked out by Clinton.
None of this is to say that Clinton is a centrist or a moderate. She is not. [snip]
She remains a Democrat, firmly committed to a statist approach to virtually every major social problem — perceived or real — on the national agenda; from education to health care to taxation. But what she has done, in articulating an approach to domestic and international problems that gives the appearance of solid thinking and careful planning, is to claim the solid middle ground, which, in presidential politics, is the high ground.
The longer the country witnesses the specter of Republicans beating up on one another, with each trying to out-conservative the others, the deeper they allow Clinton to plow her roots into that fertile, hallowed, middle ground.
Two months before Iowa’s Jan. 3 caucuses, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton said Saturday she’s comfortable with the heat she’s taking from rivals for the party’s nomination.
“With two months left, 60 days left until the caucuses, things are going to get a little hotter,” said Clinton. “Obviously the campaign is going to get heated up and speeded up.”
She quoted former President Harry Truman’s dictum that “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
“I feel real comfortable in the kitchen,” said Clinton