Les anglonautes

About | Search | Vocapedia | Learning | Podcasts | Videos | History | Arts | Science | Translate

 Previous Home Up Next


History > 2008 > USA > Politics (II)




Obama Casts Wide Blame

for Financial Crisis

and Proposes Homeowner Aid


March 28, 2008
The New York Times


Senator Barack Obama called Thursday for tighter regulation of mortgage lenders, banks and financial houses, even as he spoke of pumping $30 billion into the economy to shield homeowners and local governments from the worst effects of the collapse of the housing bubble.

Mr. Obama laid much of the blame for the crisis on lobbyists and politicians who dismantled the regulatory framework governing the energy, telecommunications and financial services sectors.

Speaking at Cooper Union in Manhattan, Mr. Obama blamed Democrats no less than Republicans for the crisis that now casts a shadow of foreclosure and insolvency over millions of Americans. He did not mention former President Bill Clinton by name, but the target of his criticism seemed clear.

“Under Republican and Democratic administrations, we failed to guard against practices that all too often rewarded financial manipulation instead of productivity and sound business practices,” Mr. Obama said. “The result has been a distorted market that creates bubbles instead of steady sustainable growth, a market that favors Wall Street over Main Street but ends up hurting both.”

Mr. Obama, an Illinois Democrat, proposed to rebuild a regulatory structure without clamping too tight a hand on economic innovation. But he was unsparing in his view that industry lobbyists and weak legislators had failed to deal with the risks of a more complex financial system.

“Instead of establishing a 21st-century regulatory framework, we simply dismantled the old one,” he said, “aided by a legal but corrupt bargain in which campaign money all too often shaped policy and watered down oversight.”

Mr. Obama also took shots at Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Mr. McCain argued this week against a vigorous federal intervention to address the crisis, saying Washington should not bail out banks and homeowners who in his view had knowingly taken on risky mortgages.

Mr. Obama argued that such a response offered too little. “While this is consistent with Mr. McCain’s determination to run for George Bush’s third term,” he said, “it won’t help families who are suffering.”

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York also focused on the ailing economy Thursday while campaigning in North Carolina. She announced a $2.5-billion-a-year proposal to retrain laid-off workers.

“We’ve had enough of a president who didn’t know enough about economics and didn’t do enough for the American middle class,” Mrs. Clinton said in Raleigh. Referring to Mr. McCain, she added, “I don’t think we can afford four more years of that kind of inaction.”

Mrs. Clinton’s speech made no mention of Mr. Obama. Instead, she wanted to train voters’ minds on a general election matchup between her and Mr. McCain.

Mr. McCain “recently admitted, ‘The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should,’ ” Mrs. Clinton said. “And it turns out he’d rather ignore the credit crisis and mortgage crisis — or blame middle-class families instead of offering solutions on their behalf.”

The speeches of the Democratic candidates for the presidential nomination served as a reminder of the thin wall that separates their policy views. (Mrs. Clinton gave a speech this week in Philadelphia on the housing crisis.) Both candidates have talked about spending billions to help homeowners at risk of foreclosure, and are moving so closely in step that their subordinates have shouted about stolen ideas.

Both warned of a national credit crisis and advanced proposals to amend bankruptcy laws to aid those facing housing foreclosure. Each endorsed Democratic legislation — sponsored by Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts — to create a housing security program in the Federal Housing Administration that would provide incentives to refinance mortgages carrying onerously high interest rates.

“They are very close; they are pointing to very similar proposals,” said John Irons, research and policy director for the Economic Policy Institute, a labor-oriented research center. “There are minor differences, but when you compare their proposals with McCain, that’s night and day. The Democrats are more like noon and 12:30.”

Still, differences of emphasis exist. Mrs. Clinton says the nation’s financial difficulties are rooted in the housing slump. Mr. Obama took pains to cast the blame on what he said was decades of weakening of the nation’s regulatory apparatus, and talked of more oversight of credit-rating agencies and requiring stronger capital requirements for complex financial instruments like mortgage-backed securities.

Two of Mr. Obama’s chief advisers for his speech served under President Clinton: Joseph E. Stiglitz was chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, and Robert B. Reich was secretary of labor.

Mr. Obama said the housing slump was a result of another of the bubbles that have distorted the economy in the past decade. Few doubted, he noted, that the nation needed to reform the 1930s-era law — the Glass-Steagall Act — that had erected a wall between commercial and investment banks. But, as Mr. Obama’s aides noted, the banking and insurance industries spent more than $300 million on a successful effort to repeal that act in 1999.

The resulting changes, Mr. Obama said, granted far greater freedom to investment houses without modernizing the regulatory regime and demanding transparency. The same pattern played out in regulation of home mortgages to bad effect, he said.

    Obama Casts Wide Blame for Financial Crisis and Proposes Homeowner Aid, NYT, 28.3.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/28/us/politics/28dems.html






Criticizing Pastor,

Obama Assesses Race in U.S.


March 18, 2008
The New York Times


PHILADELPHIA — Senator Barack Obama renewed his objection to the controversial statements delivered by the longtime pastor of his Chicago church, but declared in a speech here Tuesday that it was time for America to “move beyond some of our old racial wounds.”

“It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years,” Mr. Obama said. “Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy — particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.”

In an address at the National Constitution Center, a building steeped in the nation’s historic symbolism, Mr. Obama delivered a sweeping assessment of race in America. It was the most extensive speech of his presidential campaign devoted to race and unity, a moment his advisers conceded presented one of the biggest tests of his candidacy.

For nearly a week, Mr. Obama has struggled to distance himself from a series of controversial statements by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., who characterized the United States as fundamentally racist and the government as corrupt and murderous. Mr. Obama concluded over the weekend that he had failed to resolve the questions, aides said, and told advisers he wanted to address the firestorm in a speech.

In his address here, delivered in an auditorium to an audience of about 200 elected officials and members of the clergy, Mr. Obama disavowed the remarks by Mr. Wright as “not only wrong, but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity.” But he did not wholly distance himself from his pastor or the church, Trinity United Church of Christ, on Chicago’s South Side.

“I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community,” Mr. Obama said. “I can no more disown him than I can disown my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.”

Standing against a backdrop of American flags, Mr. Obama offered the most thorough explanation to date about his association with the church and his pastor, whom he has known for nearly 20 years.

“For some, nagging questions remain,” Mr. Obama said. “Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely — just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.”

In a 45-minute address, interrupted numerous times by applause, Mr. Obama acknowledged the political risks facing his campaign, particularly as he tries to increase his appeal to white male voters here in advance of the Pennsylvania primary on April 22 and the remaining other contests.

“Race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now,” he said.

“I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork,” Mr. Obama said. “We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.”

He spoke about his diverse upbringing, a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas. He noted that his candidacy had been successful in predominantly white states and black states, but he conceded that the nation’s racial divisions remained firmly entrenched, a notion underscored by the polarization in the presidential campaign.

“We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.”

He added: “Against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African-Americans and white Americans.”

Yet in recent weeks, as the Democratic nominating fight has intensified with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, discussions of race and gender have emerged from an underlying subtext to providing an overriding narrative of the campaign.

“The comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through — a part of our union that we have not yet made perfect,” Mr. Obama said. “And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education or the need to find good jobs for every American.”

    Criticizing Pastor, Obama Assesses Race in U.S., NYT, 18.3.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/18/us/politics/18cnd-obama.html?hp






On Defensive, Obama Plans Talk on Race


March 18, 2008
The New York Times


Faced with what his advisers acknowledged was a major test to his candidacy, Senator Barack Obama sought on Monday to contain the damage from incendiary comments made by his pastor and prepared to address the issue of race more directly than at any other moment of his presidential campaign.

Though he has faced questions about controversial statements by the pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., for more than a year, Mr. Obama is enduring intense new scrutiny now over Mr. Wright’s characterizations of the United States as fundamentally racist and the government as corrupt and murderous.

Mr. Obama, in a speech Tuesday in Philadelphia, will repeat his earlier denunciations of the minister’s words, aides said. But they said he would also use the opportunity to open a broader discussion of race, which his campaign has said throughout the contest that it wants to transcend. He will bluntly address racial divisions, one aide said, talking about the way they play out in church, in the campaign, and beyond.

Mr. Obama continued to write the speech on Monday evening, which he believes could be one of the most important of his presidential candidacy, aides said. His wife, Michelle, had not been scheduled to travel with him this week, but hastily made plans to be in Philadelphia.

Mr. Obama said Monday that in his speech, to be given at the National Constitution Center, he would “talk a little bit about how some of these issues are perceived from within the black church community, for example, which I think views this very differently.”

After removing Mr. Wright from a religious advisory committee on his campaign on Friday, Mr. Obama concluded over the weekend that he had not sufficiently explained his association with the pastor. He told several aides he was worried that if voters did not hear directly from him — in the setting of a major speech — doubts and questions about him might grow.

Some associates advised him against giving the speech. “Race is now officially on the table. It’s not going away after this,” a senior aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, recalled one adviser saying.

The episode has left Mr. Obama tending to a firestorm fed by matters no less combustible than faith, patriotism and race. It could help Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign advance its argument that Mr. Obama is “unvetted,” and that he is less electable than Mrs. Clinton come fall. In interviews, Republican strategists mapped out how Mr. Obama’s association with Mr. Wright could be used against him in a general election.

By addressing head-on such sensitive topics, his speech, aides and other Democrats said, could be a pivotal moment for Mr. Obama, who, for all of his electoral victories and copious news coverage, is still known only in the broadest terms by many Americans.

“This isn’t red and blue America,” said Donna Brazile, a Democratic consultant, referring to the address that catapulted Mr. Obama to prominence at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. “This is black and white America.”

“And when you really have a serious conversation about race, people clear the room,” said Ms. Brazile, who as the manager of Al Gore’s bid for the White House in 2000 was the first black woman to run a major presidential campaign.

Mr. Obama is particularly vulnerable because voters are still getting to know him, said Democratic and Republican strategists — and a few voters as well. The Wright affair “makes me question other things. What else do we not know?” asked Karen Norton, 58, a computer saleswoman in North Carolina and a Republican who said that, until now, she had been stirred by Mr. Obama’s message of national reconciliation.

Mr. Wright’s statements, said strategists, threaten his greatest strength, his reputation as a unifying, uplifting figure, capable of moving the country past old labels and divisions.

“The problem is the complete contradiction between the message of the Obama campaign and the message of the minister who’s been his close friend and confidant for 20 years,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican consultant unaffiliated with any campaign.

Mr. Obama has also pitched himself as a candidate who can attract religious voters back to the Democratic Party, one who speaks the language of the Bible fluently and testifies about what he says is the impact of Christianity on his own life.

“What better way to try to undercut the way he integrates faith and political vision than to say we should all be secretly afraid of his church?” said Jim Wallis, a left-leaning evangelical who has had longstanding relationships with both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton, and who says that Mr. Wright has been unfairly caricatured in recent portrayals.

In strategic terms, Mr. Wright’s statements are tricky for the Obama campaign to address. The more the candidate denounces the minister’s words, the more voters may question why Mr. Obama attached himself to Mr. Wright in the first place and stuck with him for so long, not only attending his church but naming a book after one of his sermons.

Because of his own emphasis on powerful oratory, said Todd Harris, a Republican strategist, Mr. Obama cannot dismiss Mr. Wright’s words as mere rhetoric.

“At the core of the campaign is the fact that words matter,” said Mr. Harris, who is not now affiliated with any campaign. “Central to the idea of his candidacy is the idea that a speech can change the world. You can’t have a campaign that has that notion at its core and then point to other people’s words and say, those don’t really matter.”

Asked how Republicans might use the Wright matter in the general election, Mr. Harris cited several incidents that could be used to question Mr. Obama’s patriotism. “Negative ads are built on negative patterns,” he said.

He pointed to Mr. Obama decision to stop wearing a American flag lapel pin and the statement that his wife made about being proud of her country for the first time in her lifetime. (Mr. Obama has called the lapel pin an empty symbol of patriotism, and Mrs. Obama has said she was quoted out of context).

Five weeks before the Pennsylvania primary, Mr. Obama had hoped to be refining his strategy to win over the support of white male voters — a demographic that began to slip away in his Ohio defeat. Instead he is facing his second straight week of negative news coverage. In a television interview with PBS on Monday, Mr. Obama called his pastor’s remarks “stupid” and conceded, “it has been a distraction from the core message of our campaign.”

If his earlier appearances in the day were any guide, he is making a few subtle alterations to his routine on the campaign trail.

In his many months of stumping, Mr. Obama has rarely bid farewell to an audience the way he did at a morning event in Monaca, Pa. “God bless you and God bless America!” he proclaimed.

Jeff Zeleny reported from Monaca, Pa.

    On Defensive, Obama Plans Talk on Race, NYT, 18.3.2008,http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/18/us/politics/18wright.html






'Super delegate' win would be unfair,

voters say


17 March 2008
USA Today
By Susan Page


WASHINGTON — A majority of Democratic voters say it would be unfair for Hillary Rodham Clinton to win the presidential nomination through the support of "super delegates" if she lags among the convention delegates elected in primaries and caucuses, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.

If that happens, one in five say they wouldn't vote for the New York senator in the general election.

The findings in the survey, taken Friday through Sunday, underscore some of the perils ahead for Democrats as the closely fought nomination battle between Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama continues.

By 55%-37%, Democrats and independents who "lean" Democratic say an outcome in which Clinton lost among pledged delegates but prevailed with the help of super delegates would be "flawed" and unfair" — including 77% of Obama supporters and 28% of Clinton supporters.

Super delegates are party leaders and elected officials who can vote at the national convention and aren't bound by the results of their state's primary or caucus.

Most at risk is Democratic support from independents. Nearly two-thirds of those voters call that result unfair, and one-third say they would then vote for the Republican or stay home in November.

"It goes back to this notion: As this race winds down, it's not how we started the campaign, it's how we end it," says Donna Brazile, campaign manager for Al Gore's 2000 campaign, expressing concern that divisions in the party will present "obstacles" to a Democratic victory in November.

"I feel the emotions on both sides," says Brazile, herself an uncommitted super delegate. "I feel the pain and I feel the bruising."

Obama leads Clinton by 1,617 delegates to 1,498, according to an Associated Press count.

Neither candidate is likely to reach the 2,024 needed for nomination without including the support of super delegates.

The two campaigns have clashed over whether the super delegates should feel obligated to support the candidate with the most pledged delegates.

In the nationwide poll, Obama leads Clinton 49%-42% among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, a narrower margin than his record 12-percentage-point lead late last month.

In another shift from the February survey, Clinton does better than Obama against the presumptive Republican nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, though the numbers are within the poll's margin of error of +/—3 points.

Clinton beats McCain by 51%-46%. Obama leads McCain by 49%-47%.

The survey of 1,025 adults also asked Americans to assess the traits of the major presidential contenders.

Among the findings:

•Obama rates highest on five of 10 characteristics. He is seen as a candidate who "understands the problems Americans face in their daily lives" and "would work well with both parties in Washington to get things done." His weakest showing was in having "a clear plan for solving the country's problems."

•McCain ranks first on three characteristics: As "a strong and decisive leader," as honest and trustworthy, and as someone who could "manage the government efficiently." His lowest rating also is on having a clear plan to solve the nation's problems.

•Clinton rates highest on two traits, on having a vision for the country's future and a clear plan for solving the nation's problems. Her lowest rating is as someone who is honest and trustworthy.

    'Super delegate' win would be unfair, voters say, UT, 17.3.2008, http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/election2008/2008-03-17-poll_N.htm






Obama Denounces Statements of His Pastor as ‘Inflammatory’


March 15, 2008
The New York Times


In the handful of years Senator Barack Obama has spent in the national spotlight, his stance toward his pastor has gone from glowing praise to growing distance to — as of Friday — strong criticism.

On Friday, Mr. Obama called a grab bag of statements by his longtime minister, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., “inflammatory and appalling.”

“I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue,” he wrote in a campaign statement that was his strongest in a series of public disavowals of his pastor’s views over the past year.

Earlier in the week, several television stations played clips in which Mr. Wright, of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, referred to the United States as the “U.S. of K.K.K. A.” and said the Sept. 11 attacks were a result of corrupt American foreign policy.

On Friday, Senator John McCain’s campaign forwarded to reporters an article in The Wall Street Journal in which Mr. Wright was quoted as saying, “Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run,” and accusing the United States of importing drugs, exporting guns and training murderers.

Later in the day, Rush Limbaugh dwelled on Mr. Wright in his radio program, calling him “a race-baiter and a hatemonger.”

In the statement he released a few hours later, Mr. Obama, known for his uplifting messages about national unity, professed a certain innocence about his pastor’s most incendiary messages.

“The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation,” he said.

The eight-paragraph statement, first posted on the Web site The Huffington Post, did not recount Mr. Wright’s claims but addressed concerns about whether his beliefs reflected Mr. Obama’s. “He has never been my political adviser,” Mr. Obama wrote. “He’s been my pastor.”

Mr. Obama has belonged to Trinity for two decades. He was married by Mr. Wright, and his two daughters were baptized by him.

Mr. Obama credits a sermon of Mr. Wright’s, “The Audacity of Hope,” with drawing him to Christianity, and he used those words as the title of his second book.

But the evening before he announced his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Mr. Obama started to distance himself from Mr. Wright, canceling an invocation he had asked the minister to give at his presidential announcement.

Mr. Wright, 66, who last month fulfilled longstanding plans to retire, is a beloved figure in African-American Christian circles and a frequent guest in pulpits around the country. Since he arrived at Trinity in 1972, he has built a 6,000-member congregation through his blunt, charismatic preaching, which melds detailed scriptural analysis, black power, Afrocentrism and an emphasis on social justice; Mr. Obama praised the last quality in Friday’s statement.

His most powerful influence, said several ministers and scholars who have followed his career, is black liberation theology, which interprets the Bible as a guide to combating oppression of African-Americans.

He attracts audiences because of, not in spite of, his outspoken critiques of racism and inequality, said Dwight Hopkins, a professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School, in an interview last year.

But Mr. Wright’s blistering statements about American racism can shock white audiences.

“If you’re black, it’s hard to say what you truly think and not upset white people,” said James Cone, a professor at Union Theological Seminary and the father of black liberation theology, who has known Mr. Wright since he was a seminary student.

Mr. Wright is no longer on Mr. Obama’s African American Religious Leadership Committee, though Mr. Obama’s aides would not elaborate on the circumstance of his departure, and Mr. Wright did not answer a message left on his cellphone requesting an interview.

The minister’s defenders say the statements that have been playing this week on television are outliers, taken out of context, and that he is not antiwhite. The United Church of Christ, the denomination of the Chicago church, is overwhelmingly white. And Mr. Wright is an equal opportunity critic, often delivering scorching lectures about black society, telling audiences to improve their education and work ethic.

“I can remember Jeremiah saying in probably half his sermons: Everyone who’s your color ain’t your kind,” Richard Sewell, a church member, said in an interview last year.

One of the statements that have been most replayed this week comes from the sermon Mr. Wright delivered following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards,” he said. “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”

Asked in an interview last March to explain the sermon, Mr. Wright said he had been questioning the country’s desire for vengeance against the perpetrators, counseling his congregants to look inward instead.

Immediately after the attacks, the country’s response was “to pay back and kill,” he said. But before it got “holier than thou,” he said, the nation should have considered how its own policies had led to the events of that day. (Last year, Mr. Obama said, “The violence of 9/11 was inexcusable and without justification,” and added that he and his wife were at home on the day of the sermon, tending to their new baby.)

In the interview last spring, Mr. Wright expressed frustration at the breach in relationship with Mr. Obama, saying the candidate had already privately said that he might need to distance himself from his pastor. But perhaps the two could repair things, said Mr. Wright, pointing out that Mr. Obama’s opponent, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, had faced worse.

“At least there are no semen stains on any dresses,” Mr. Wright said, one of several digs he has taken at the Clintons.

“That kind of frankness scares people in the campaign,” he added.

    Obama Denounces Statements of His Pastor as ‘Inflammatory’, NYT, 15.3.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/15/us/politics/15wright.html






Obama Wins in Mississippi


March 12, 2008
The New York Times


Senator Barack Obama won Mississippi’s Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday, building his delegate lead over Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the final contest before the nominating fight heads to Pennsylvania for a six-week showdown.

Mr. Obama’s victory was built on a wave of support among blacks, who made up half of those who turned out to vote, according to exit polls conducted by television networks and The Associated Press. The polls found that roughly 90 percent of black voters supported Mr. Obama, but only a third of white voters did.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting across Mississippi, Mr. Obama led Mrs. Clinton 60 percent to 37 percent.

“It’s just another win in our column, and we are getting more delegates,” Mr. Obama, of Illinois, said in declaring victory in an interview on CNN from Chicago, where he arrived Tuesday evening after spending the day in Mississippi and Pennsylvania. “I am grateful to the people of Mississippi for the wonderful support. What we’ve tried to do is steadily make sure that in each state we are making the case about the need for change in this country.”

Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, won the primary for his party, taking him closer to the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination, according to a count by The New York Times.

After a frenzied string of primaries and caucuses for more than two months, Mississippi was alone in holding its contest Tuesday, where 33 delegates were at stake. It was the last primary before a six-week interlude. The Pennsylvania primary on April 22 opens the final stage of the Democratic nominating fight, with eight states, Puerto Rico and Guam left to weigh in.

Mississippi offered Mr. Obama an opportunity to regain his footing after losing the popular vote to Mrs. Clinton last week in three contests, Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island. Mr. Obama had been expected to win resoundingly in Mississippi, a state where 36 percent of the population is black, the highest percentage in the nation. He has enjoyed strong support among black voters and won all the other contests in the Deep South by large margins.

While Mrs. Clinton, of New York, campaigned in Mississippi last week and former President Bill Clinton dropped in over the weekend, the Clinton campaign has mostly been looking ahead to Pennsylvania, with its 158 delegates at stake.

Mrs. Clinton was campaigning in Pennsylvania on Tuesday when Mr. Obama began the day with a final appeal for support in the Mississippi Delta. After having a scrambled-egg breakfast at Buck’s Restaurant in Greenville, he shook hands with those who had gathered outside the strip mall and urged people to vote.

“We need some jobs!” someone from the crowd called to Mr. Obama.

“I promise when I’m president of the United States, I’ll come back to the Delta,” Mr. Obama said. “You all keep me in your prayers, now.”

It is unclear how much difference the late campaigning had. The early surveys of voters, conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International, showed that 6 of 10 Democratic primary voters made up their minds more than a month ago.

In the final days of the primary race, Mrs. Clinton raised the idea that Democrats struggling to decide between the candidates could have it both ways, implying that Mr. Obama would make a suitable running mate.

Mr. Obama rejected that idea on Monday as he campaigned in Mississippi, telling voters, “With all due respect, I’ve won twice as many states as Senator Clinton.”

Still, according to preliminary exit polls, not all voters seemed eager to rule out the notion.

As voters left the polls on Tuesday, 6 in 10 Obama supporters said that he should select Mrs. Clinton for vice president if he won the nominating fight. And 4 in 10 Clinton voters said she should choose Mr. Obama if he she won.

As in many other states, an overwhelming share of voters said they were looking for change and were worried about the economy. Mr. Obama won the support of voters who listed those as their chief concerns, according to the surveys of voters.

Mississippi Democrats were twice as likely to say Mr. Obama inspired them about their future as opposed to Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Obama was more than twice as likely to be seen as honest.

Anita Nichols, who came to see Mr. Obama on the eve of the primary at Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, said she was delighted that voters in her state had an opportunity to be heard in the Democratic presidential contest. Ms. Nichols said she hoped a convincing Mississippi victory would nudge him along in the protracted fight.

“I’m praying that he wins; I really am,” Ms. Nichols said in an interview, an Obama button fastened to her lapel. “This country is ready for change, but it’s not just him. The president can only do so much. He’s got to surround himself with qualified people, and the citizens have to work, too.”

    Obama Wins in Mississippi, NYT, 12.3.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/12/us/politics/12mississippi.html?hp






Spitzer Resigns, Citing Personal Failings


March 12, 2008
The New York Times


Gov. Eliot Spitzer, reeling from revelations that he had been a client of a prostitution ring, announced his resignation today, becoming the first governor of New York to be forced from office in nearly a century.

Mr. Spitzer, appearing somber and with his wife at his side, said his resignation is to be effective Monday, and that Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson would be sworn in to replace him.

“I am deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me,” he said. “To every New Yorker, and to all those who believed in what I tried to stand for, I sincerely apologize.”

“Over the course of my public life, I have insisted — I believe correctly — that people regardless of their position or power take responsibility for their conduct,” he added. “I can and will ask no less of myself. For this reason, I am resigning from the office of governor.”

Mr. Spitzer is the first governor of New York to resign from office since 1973, when Nelson A. Rockefeller stepped down to devote himself to a policy group, and the first to be forced from office since William Sulzer was impeached and removed from his post in 1913 in a scandal over campaign contribution fraud.

In his brief statement at his headquarters in Manhattan, Mr. Spitzer thanked his family for offering support and compassion, and said he had spent the last several days atoning for his personal failings.

Mr. Spitzer ended his speech by saying he would leave politics, and then departed quickly without taking questions.

“As I leave public life, I will first do what I need to do to help and heal myself and my family,” he said. “Then I will try once again, outside of politics, to serve the common good and to move toward the ideals and solutions which I believe can build a future of hope and opportunity for us and for our children.”

Since issuing an initial apology on Monday, Mr. Spitzer had been holed up at his apartment at Fifth Avenue and 79th Street in Manhattan, where his aides said he had been engaged in an intense legal and family debate about whether to resign or, as his wife was urging, to stay on. Part of that debate involved whether Mr. Spitzer would be able to work out a deal with prosecutors to avoid criminal charges.

In a rare move, Michael J. Garcia, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, released a statement after Mr. Spitzer’s resignation saying that there is no deal.

“There is no agreement between this Office and Governor Eliot Spitzer, relating to his resignation or any other matter,” Mr. Garcia said.

In the moments after Mr. Spitzer resigned, his successor, Mr. Paterson, also released a statement saying that he was “saddened” by what had happened and that “my heart goes out to him and to his family at this difficult and painful time.”

“It is now time for Albany to get back to work as the people of this state expect from us,” he said.

As Mr. Spitzer, a first-term Democrat, took the past two days to contemplate his next move, the New York political world remained in a suspended state, with cries — even from fellow Democrats — growing louder for him to step down.

In one of the last and desperate rounds of the end game, a top Spitzer administration official reached out to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s staff on Tuesday to see if the governor could avoid an impeachment vote. But the prospects were grim.

Republicans had pledged to try to have Mr. Spitzer impeached and only 34 of the more than 100 Democrats in the Assembly would be needed for the matter to be referred to the Senate for an impeachment trial. It was clear during the discussions that 34 or more Democrats were almost certain to vote against the governor.

That outcome would have been dire for the governor, because his top political rival, Senate majority leader Joseph L. Bruno, leads the Senate, where a trial would have been held.

“An impeachment proceeding would force Democrats to either abandon him or defend him,” said one leading Democrat. “They would abandon him.”

Sheldon Silver, the Assembly speaker, said Tuesday that Mr. Spitzer should do “what’s best for his family,” but stopped short of calling on the governor to step down. “It is now up to the governor to make a determination that’s best for his family. I pray for his children.” When asked what Mr. Silver thought was best for the Spitzer family, he did not respond.

Mr. Silver offered a few details of his conversation with Mr. Spitzer on Tuesday afternoon before the governor briefly spoke to the public. “I said to him then and I say it now, he’s got to take care of his family first and be concerned about them. I told him that we will carry on in the legislative process that moves the budget forward. We intend to pass our budget tomorrow. I hope the Senate will do the same.”

At a televised news conference on Wednesday morning, Mr. Bruno, the Senate majority leader who will become the lieutenant governor when Mr. Paterson replaces Mr. Spitzer, told reporters that he had not spoken with Mr. Spitzer or any of his top aides about the impending resignation.

“No one has contacted me officially,” he said. “We are following the reports as you are. But in the meantime, I am staying with our plan to pass a budget, talk to the speaker, and we’re going to go public in a real way on Monday.”

Mr. Bruno, a Republican who clashed frequently with Mr. Spitzer, said he was praying for the governor and his family and urged all New Yorkers to do so as well.

On Tuesday, Mr. Spitzer cut himself off from all but the most senior members of his staff. His lawyer, Michele Hirschman, was reaching out to federal prosecutors to try to strike a deal in hopes of avoiding charges.

Close aides to the governor suggested on Tuesday that the mood in the Spitzer home was tense, with the governor’s wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, recommending that he not step down, but they cautioned that the situation could change at any time.

The revelation of Mr. Spitzer’s involvement with the high-end prostitution ring gripped the nation, and more than 70 reporters and photographers clustered outside the governor’s Upper East Side high-rise on Tuesday, separated from the building by a metal barricade erected by the police.

Three helicopters whirred overhead as tourists atop passing double-decker buses snapped pictures of the scene. When Mr. Spitzer finally emerged from the building at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday and got into an S.U.V. with his wife, news helicopters followed above as the S.U.V. made the 40-block trek to Mr. Spitzer’s headquarters on Third Avenue.

Mr. Spitzer’s patronage of the prostitution agency, Emperor’s Club V.I.P., came to light after prosecutors charged four people with operating the service. They said the governor was intercepted on a federal wiretap arranging payments and an encounter with a prostitute in a Washington hotel room last month. The affidavit referred to a Client 9 and did not identify Mr. Spitzer by name, but law enforcement officials said that Client 9 was the governor.

Investigators reviewing the scope of Mr. Spitzer’s involvement with prostitutes said on Tuesday that just in the past year he had had more than a half-dozen meetings with them and had paid tens of thousands of dollars to the ring, one law enforcement official said.

A person with knowledge of the service’s operations said that Mr. Spitzer had begun meeting with the prostitutes of the Emperor’s Club about eight months ago and had had encounters in Dallas as well as Washington. A law enforcement official said Mr. Spitzer also had an encounter with a prostitute in Florida. On some trips of several days’ duration, Mr. Spitzer scheduled more than one visit with a prostitute, this person said.

In his Washington visit with the prostitute, Mr. Spitzer is said to have used an alias to book one of his rooms at the Mayflower Hotel, the name of a close friend, the financier George Fox.

Mr. Fox released a statement yesterday that said he was surprised and disappointed by Mr. Spitzer’s misuse of his name. “There is absolutely no connection between Mr. Fox and the governor’s alleged activity beyond the unauthorized use of his name,” the statement said.

Authorities were seeking the testimony of the woman known as Kristen, who worked for the Emperor’s Club service and is identified in the criminal complaint as having met with the governor last month in Washington, people briefed on the case said.

The woman is said in the complaint to have typically charged $1,000 an hour.

After her encounter with Client 9, the prostitute told the booker for the agency that it had gone well, and the booker told her that he, in an apparent reference to Client 9, sometimes asked the women “to do things that, like, you might not think were safe.”

Two of the defendants from the escort service were still being held in federal custody on Tuesday. Two other employees, who have been released, declined to discuss their work for what has become a highly publicized business.

“We are too early in this complex investigation for me to make any comment,” said Marc Agnifilo, the lawyer representing one of the bookers, Temeka Lewis.

Mr. Spitzer, who has three daughters, offered a general apology to his family and the people of New York on Monday, but did not address the specific allegations.

Reporting was contributed by Ian Urbina, Sewell Chan, Jo Becker, Cara Buckley, Russ Buettner, Nicholas Confessore, Lisa W. Foderaro, Kate Hammer, C. J. Hughes, Andrew Jacobs, Serge F. Kovaleski, Trymaine Lee, Jennifer Mascia, Mike McIntire, Jeremy W. Peters, Michael Powell and William K. Rashbaum.

    Spitzer Resigns, Citing Personal Failings, NYT, 12.3.2008,http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/12/nyregion/12cnd-resign.html?hp






NY Republicans threaten to impeach Spitzer


Tue Mar 11, 2008
1:16pm EDT
By Claudia Parsons


NEW YORK (Reuters) - State Republicans threatened on Tuesday to impeach New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer if he does not quit over a sex scandal that has raised questions over whether he could face criminal charges.

The threat added to pressure on Spitzer, a Democrat and former state chief prosecutor who made his name fighting white-collar crime on Wall Street, to step down after a report that he hired a high-priced prostitute.

The Wall Street Journal quoted a person close to Spitzer, who is 48 and married, as saying he could resign as early as Tuesday but he wanted to deal with his family crisis first.

"If he does not resign within the next 24 to 48 hours, we will prepare articles of impeachment to remove him," said Assembly Republican Minority Leader James Tedisco.

"We need a leader in place that has the support of people on both sides of the aisle," Tedisco told Reuters.

The New York Times said on Monday that Spitzer hired a $1,000-an-hour prostitute and was caught on a federal wiretap at least six times on February 12 and 13 arranging to meet with her at a Washington hotel.

Spitzer, who investigated prostitution as New York state's chief prosecutor but was best known for his high-profile probes of Wall Street, apologized on Monday for what he described as a "private matter" but said nothing about resigning.

He neither confirmed nor denied the report.

"Eliot Spitzer, the onetime nemesis of Wall Street now engulfed in a sex scandal, is likely to resign, perhaps as early as today, according to a person close to him," the Wall Street Journal said on its Web site on Tuesday.

Tedisco said on Monday night he had received a phone call from Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson to discuss a possible transition of power if Spitzer resigns.

Spitzer, viewed as a rising star in the Democratic Party, spent the night holed up at his Manhattan home, besieged by media.

The New York Times, citing unnamed law enforcement officials, reported on Tuesday that the investigation began last year during an Internal Revenue Service review of suspicious financial transactions as reported to it by banks.

"The payments were made over a period of several months in a way that investigators believe was intended to conceal their purpose and source, which could amount to a crime called structuring," punishable by up to five years in prison, the Times said.

Spitzer was elected governor with nearly 70 percent of the vote in late 2006 following a stint as state attorney general when he conducted a series of investigations into financial cases, attracting much publicity but also resentment on Wall Street.



The Times said in an editorial that Spitzer's insistence in his brief appearance on Monday that it was a "private matter" displayed arrogance. "He did not just betray his family in a private matter," the newspaper said.

"He betrayed the public and it is hard to see how he will recover from this mess and go on to lead the reformist agenda on which he was elected to office."

The Wall Street Journal said Spitzer had shown his lack of restraint in overly aggressive tactics as attorney general, making "extraordinary threats" to entire firms and to those who criticized his pursuit of high-profile Wall Street figures.

"The stupendously deluded belief that the sitting Governor of New York could purchase the services of prostitutes was merely the last act of a man unable to admit either the existence of, or need for, limits," it said in an editorial.

At the heart of the scandal is a criminal complaint unveiled last week charging four people with running a prostitution ring dubbed The Emperors Club. Prosecutors rarely bring charges against clients of prostitutes in such cases.

The New York Times said Spitzer was an individual identified as Client 9 in the court papers filed last week. Client 9 arranged to meet with "Kristen," a prostitute who charged $1,000 an hour, on February 13 in a Washington hotel and paid $4,300 for services rendered and as a down payment for future engagements, according to the court documents.

Among the charges brought against the four defendants last week was transporting women across state lines for prostitution purposes. It was not clear if a similar charge might be brought against Spitzer if it were proven he arranged for "Kristen" to travel from New York to Washington to have sex with him.

(Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta and Robert Campbell, and Joan Gralla in Albany; editing by Frances Kerry)

    NY Republicans threaten to impeach Spitzer, NYT, 11.3.2008, http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN1062947520080311






FACTBOX - Quotes on N.Y. Gov. Spitzer prostitute report


Tue Mar 11, 2008
11:26am EDT


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Following are comments on reports that New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer hired a $1,000-an-hour (499.3 pounds) prostitute in a scandal that threatens to force his resignation.

A New York Times report said the man who made his name fighting corruption hired a $1,000-an-hour prostitute and was caught on a federal wiretap at least six times on February 12 and 13 arranging to meet with her at a Washington hotel.

SPITZER, then attorney general, speaking to ABC News two years ago, gave advice to people who break the law:

"Never talk when you can nod, and never nod when you can wink, and never write an e-mail because it's death. You're giving prosecutors all the evidence we need."

THE NEW YORK TIMES, in an editorial:

"New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer could not have been more wrong in his brief public appearance after the world learned that he was suspected of patronizing a prostitution ring. ... His short, arrogant statement simply was not enough, not from the Sheriff of Wall Street, not from the self-appointed Mr. Clean who went to Albany promising a new and better day."

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, in an editorial:

"One might call it Shakespearian if there were a shred of nobleness in the story of Eliot Spitzer's fall. There is none. Governor Spitzer, who made his career by specializing in not just the prosecution, but the ruin, of other men, is himself almost certainly ruined."

DINA MCGREEVEY, estranged wife of former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey who resigned in 2004 over a gay affair with a man whom he hired, said she had expected Spitzer to resign immediately: "By not doing so he's only prolonging the pain and anguish and humiliation."

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, famed civil liberties lawyer, on CNN:

"I don't think he should face criminal charges for federal charges for the actual sex act itself. ... I know nothing about the financial aspects of it. But this is a traditional state misdemeanour case. If anything, he should be charged with a class-B misdemeanour, which is a very, very slight offence, because being a John to an adult prostitute who was making $3,000 to $4,000 or $5,000 sounds to me very much like a victimless crime."

DAILY NEWS, in an editorial:

"Eliot Spitzer brought his once-promising governorship to a crashing end with a display of recklessness and hypocrisy of such magnitude that you had to question his sanity.

Three words to the man: Just get out."

JAMES TEDISCO, New York State Assembly Republican Minority Leader, told Reuters: "We have called for his resignation. We think it's a breach of his office and we don't see how he can continue to lead. He has broken his promises with his lack of ethics."

ED ROLLINS, Republican political consultant, on CNN:

"There's no way he can survive it. All the facts aren't out there, but as they're being reported, there's no way you can survive."

JULIAN ZELIZER, professor of politics and history at Princeton University, told Reuters:

"The Democrats want to talk about their two great (presidential) candidates. They don't want to talk about a sex scandal, and now they're talking about a sex scandal, because this is a dramatic one with a powerful, dramatic figure that is going to be in the news for a while. On that level it's demoralizing for Democrats."

(Reporting by New York bureau)

    FACTBOX - Quotes on N.Y. Gov. Spitzer prostitute report, R, 11.3.2008, http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUKN1156425920080311?virtualBrandChannel=10005






Politics, and Scandal, as Usual


March 11, 2008
The New York Times


It keeps happening. Recklessly, shamelessly, cavalierly — as if this time they’re the ones who will somehow manage to get away with it all.

But they don’t.

Congressmen, senators, governors, presidents, mayors — politicians at all levels keep starring in this familiar and non-partisan soap opera rerun. They engage in clandestine sexual entanglements, commonly cloaked in the tawdry textures of hotel pseudonyms and airport bathrooms and pay-by-the-hour copulation. All too often, their stealthy frolics then poison their political careers.

And now add to the lengthening list Gov. Eliot Spitzer, husband, father of three teenage daughters, who authorities on Monday said had been involved with a ring of prostitutes.

“I think biologists could tell you this has something to do with natural selection — the person who acquires power becomes the alpha male,” said Tom Fiedler, who teaches a course in press and politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School. He was involved in reporting Gary Hart’s notorious fling with Donna Rice in 1987 that terminated the senator’s presidential bid.

Politics and sex is an old story, and as Mr. Fiedler and others point out, it simply reinforces the lessons of the aphrodisiac of power taught in Shakespeare. Its prime characters constitute a crowded society.

Gov. Spitzer’s startling appearance with his wife, Silda, at his side is itself something of a contrapuntal answer to New Jersey’s 2004 entry in this dubious catalog of political misbehavior, Gov. James E. McGreevey’s relinquishing office after disclosing a gay affair.

By now, many of the more publicized escapades have become embedded in political lore, from President Clinton encounters with Monica Lewinsky to Sen. Bob Packwood and his unwanted advances on women to Rep. Mark Foley and his lewd e-mails to House pages.

Who can forget the late Wilbur D. Mills, the one-time powerful head of the House Ways and Means committee, and his dalliances back in 1975 with the stripper Fanne Foxe? She’s the one who barreled out of Mr. Mills’s car and waded into the Tidal Basin in Washington when the park police stopped them. Enterprisingly, she went and changed her name from the Argentine Firecracker to the Tidal Basin Bombshell, and got a book out of her adventures.

There was, as well, Rep. Gary Condit, whose career imploded when it came out that he had been involved with Chandra Levy, an intern who was murdered. And Wayne Hays, the Ohio Representative, who quit in 1976 after it was revealed that the job requirements of Elizabeth Ray were less as a secretary than as his mistress. In her famous words: “I can’t type. I can’t file. I can’t even answer the phone.”

Sexual missteps among politicians are nothing peculiar to the United States, having firm grounding in England, for instance, and turning up with good regularity throughout the world. But they seem to reach more absurdist proportions in this country, and have almost the quality of a catch-me-if-you-can game at a time when private borders have gotten extremely porous.

“There is a broader anxiety about what is private anymore,” said Paul Apostolidis, a political science professor at Whitman College and the co-editor of the book “Public Affairs: Politics in the Age of Sex Scandals.” “It’s not that politicians are behaving more badly. We’re just learning about it more often.”

But why does it go on repeatedly when the ramifications can be so dire?

“I don’t see why we would expect politics to be more free of the psychological contradictions of other humans beings,” said Mr. Apostolidis. “People do self-destructive things that are not rational.”

Psychologists mention the sense of entitlement felt by those who attain political standing that blinds them to the consequences of their actions. And they say that ambitious politicians are invigorated by risk and feel impervious.

Dr. Frank Farley, a psychologist at Temple University, said that many politicians are what he calls Type T personalities, with T standing for thrill-seeking. “Politics is an uncertain business,” he said. “You’re at the whim of the electorate. There’s no tenure. It’s often hard to know what the criteria for success are. It’s either all or nothing — you either win or you lose. And so it inspires a risk-taking person to go into that line of work. But on the public side, they’re supposed to show stability and responsibility, and so this risky nature may show itself more on the private side.”

Despite the intensified scrutiny of politicians in recent times, and the ongoing parade of those who do get caught, Dr. Farley said public officials keep acting recklessly because their nature is hard to restrain. “It’s deep,” he said. “It’s very hard to throttle back.”

Dr. Judy Kuriansky, an adjunct professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University’s Teachers College, said that “sex and power are extremely connected, because they’re basically an expression of this huge energy that these people have.”

Not uncommonly, she said, politicians speak out vigorously against the very behavior that they then indulge in, as is the case with Governor Spitzer. “You project wrong onto others that is symptomatic of your own behavior,” she said. “It’s called a defense mechanism. Basically, it’s unconscious.”

Moreover, she added, “Even though Spitzer is a lawyer, when you get into a position of power, you think you’re above the law.”

Some secrets do in fact have long lives. Not until 2004, three decades afterward, did it come out that Neil Goldschmidt, who became governor of Oregon in the 1980s, had sexually abused a 14-year-old babysitter while he was mayor of Portland.

Well, what could Oregon legislators do at that point? They took his official portrait and hung it in a less visible spot in the state capitol.

Not always, of course, are political careers ruined by sexual irregularities. Rep. Barney Frank continued to win re-election in Massachusetts even after it was disclosed in 1989 that he had hired a male prostitute who ran a brothel out of his apartment.

It is sometimes speculated that certain politicians, at least subconsciously, want to be caught and have their careers upended. But do they?

“I’ve never seen it,” said Dr. Farley. “I don’t believe it’s a factor with these people. It’s just in their nature to push things. I don’t think they have a death wish. I think they have a life wish. They just love all aspects of life — some of it too much.”

    Politics, and Scandal, as Usual, NYT, 11.3.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/11/nyregion/11cnd-scandals.html?hp







FACTBOX - Sex scandals in U.S. politics


Mon Mar 10, 2008
9:29pm EDT


(Reuters) - New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, the one-time "Sheriff" of Wall Street who campaigned on a promise to clean up state politics, is embroiled in a sex scandal that threatens to force his resignation.

Following are some other sex scandals involving politicians in the United States.

* IDAHO SEN. LARRY CRAIG was publicly admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee for improper conduct after his arrest in a sex-sting operation in a men's toilet in June 2007.

The Republican lawmaker pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after he was caught in an undercover investigation of lewd behaviour in a men's room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. He later tried to recant saying he agreed to a misdemeanour charge without consulting a lawyer and in hopes of quickly disposing of the case. He remains in the Senate.

* LOUISIANA SEN. DAVID VITTER, a Republican and social conservative, apologized and admitted "a very serious sin" after he was linked last July to a Washington escort service. Vitter said his misdeeds occurred several years previously and he had dealt with them in confession and marriage counselling. He remains in the Senate.

* MARK FOLEY, a Florida Republican, resigned from the House of Representatives in 2006 after it was disclosed he had sent sexually explicit text messages to teenage boys who served as interns in the House. The revelations led to charges that Republican leaders tried to cover up the matter.

* NEW JERSEY GOV. JAMES MCGREEVEY, a Democrat, stepped down in 2004 over a gay affair with a man whom he hired in 2002 to head the state's Homeland Security department.

* PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, a Democrat, had a sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky, then 21, which led to his impeachment after accusations he lied about it under oath. He survived the impeachment process and was able to serve out his term but his presidency, which ended in 2001, was badly damaged.

* FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH, a Republican, has admitted he was having an extramarital affair while leading the impeachment charge in Congress against Clinton.

* SEN. BOB PACKWOOD, a Republican from Oregon, resigned in 1995 after 26 years in Congress. He had been accused of sexual misconduct with 17 women, among other charges.

* REP. BARNEY FRANK, a Massachusetts Democrat who is homosexual, was reprimanded in 1990 after it was learned that a lover had run a prostitution ring out of his Washington apartment.

* SEN. GARY HART, a Colorado Democrat, saw his second presidential bid end in 1987 when it was learned he spent the night on a yacht, named the Monkey Business, with a woman who was not his wife.

* REP. DAN CRANE, a Republican from Illinois, and REP. GERRY STUDDS, a Democrat from Massachusetts, were censured in 1983 for illicit affairs with underage pages. Crane, who had had sex with a teenage girl, was voted out of office but Studds, who had had an affair with a boy, was returned to office many times.

* REP. WILBUR MILLS, a Democrat from Arkansas and chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, was caught in 1974 with stripper Fanne Foxe, who performed as "the Argentine firecracker." Foxe leapt from Mills' limousine after it was stopped by police and jumped into the Tidal Basin. Mills went into treatment for alcohol and retired two years later.

(Compiled by Claudia Parsons)

    FACTBOX - Sex scandals in U.S. politics, R, 10.3.2008, http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUKN1050929120080311






Obama Wins Wyoming Caucuses


March 9, 2008
The New York Times


CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Senator Barack Obama chalked up a victory in another caucus state on Saturday, beating Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in Wyoming by a wide margin.

The victory, while in a state with only 18 delegates, was welcome news for the Obama campaign as it sought to blunt any advantage Mrs. Clinton might gain from her victories in Ohio and Texas on Tuesday.

Mrs. Clinton campaigned here Friday, a day after her husband and daughter, signaling the stakes every contest holds in the fierce battle for the Democratic nomination.

Party officials reported extremely high turnout at caucus sites across the state. In Laramie County, more than 1,500 came to cast votes at the caucus site, quickly filling the auditorium in downtown Cheyenne. Hundreds waited outside for hours until they could enter and vote. (In 2004, only 160 people showed up for the Laramie County caucus.)

Wyoming Democrats, usually a lonely bunch in an overwhelmingly Republican state, basked in their moment in the spotlight.

“Wyoming, this is our 15 minutes,” Kathy Karpan, a former Wyoming secretary of state who supported Mrs. Clinton, said on Saturday morning.

Mr. Obama beat Mrs. Clinton by 23 points. He appeared to have to won seven new delegates, while she will probably gain five.

While both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama pushed hard to win the state, the Obama campaign’s early organizing here appeared to have paid off.

The campaign set up shop two weeks before Mrs. Clinton’s did, opening five offices in the state to two for Mrs. Clinton. And Mr. Obama went on the air with television and radio commercials this week. Mrs. Clinton had two radio advertisements running.

David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, said Saturday afternoon that the Wyoming victory was “evidence that Senator Obama is going to be able to put more states in play.”

“This is a big win for us,” Mr. Plouffe said. “You saw very furious campaigning by the Clinton campaign here.”

Coupled with victories in Colorado, Nebraska and Washington state, he said, the result in Wyoming “speaks to Senator Obama’s strength in the West.”

Maggie Williams, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, issued a statement saying the campaign was “thrilled with this near split in delegates.”

Mrs. Clinton’s decision to focus on Wyoming was a tactical departure for a campaign that had played down the importance of such caucus states, essentially ceding many of them to Mr. Obama, while deriding the caucus process as undemocratic.

But with Mr. Obama collecting 11 victories in these contests, and with Mrs. Clinton determined to cut into his stubborn lead in delegates, the Clinton campaign deployed Chelsea Clinton and Bill Clinton on Thursday, with a final campaign sprint by Mrs. Clinton on Friday.

The newfound attention by the candidates and the national news media drew many newly registered Democrats to caucus on Saturday — officials said there were more than 2,000 registrations recently — and lifelong Democrats who had never caucused before.

Vernice Sack, 80, and her husband, Paul Sack, 83, counted themselves among the first-time caucusgoers. They both supported Mr. Obama, they said. “He’s got the right ideas,” Mr. Sack said.

The campaign now moves to Mississippi, which holds its primary Tuesday.

Wyoming, with its half-million residents, is the least populated state. It will award 12 delegates based on the results of the caucuses, with 6 others who could go to the convention uncommitted.

Instead of the traditional caucus format, most of Wyoming’s 23 counties held caucuses conducted by paper ballots, where participants simply placed a check mark next to the name of their chosen presidential candidate and put the slip into a ballot box.

Most of the attention focused on the most heavily Democratic towns situated in the southern half of the state, where the Union Pacific railroad was built in the late 1800s, leaving a strong union tradition that remains.

In Natrona County, where Mrs. Clinton was endorsed by two local state representatives, Mr. Obama won by seven votes. Mr. Obama also won a lopsided victory in Laramie County, the most populous county in the state, where 1,532 people cast ballots and where Mr. Obama did not even campaign.

The first caucus to report results, in Niobrara County, said there had been a tie between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton. Fredda Lou Kilmer and her husband, Everett, played host to the caucus at their home in Lusk, in east central Wyoming. There are 101 registered Democrats in the county, Mrs. Kilmer said, and 20 participated in the caucus on Saturday.

“Nobody will admit to being a Democrat here,” she said.

First-time caucusgoers included Judy Dunn, of Cheyenne, her husband, Ted Dunn, and their daughter, Pam Pafford.

Leaving the auditorium in Cheyenne, all three said they had cast their votes for Mr. Obama. “Wyomingites are pretty independent,” Mrs. Dunn said. “We like somebody who speaks like him.”

In Mississippi on Saturday, Mr. Clinton, campaigning in Pass Christian, repeated the suggestion that Mrs. Clinton was “very open” to taking Mr. Obama as a running mate if she won the nomination, ABC News reported.

A Clinton-Obama ticket, he said, would be “an almost unstoppable force.”

    Obama Wins Wyoming Caucuses, NYT, 9.3.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/09/us/politics/09wyoming.html






News Analysis

In 2 Battlegrounds, Voters Say, Not Yet


March 5, 2008
The New York Times


Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s victories in Ohio and Texas on Tuesday night not only shook off the vapors of impending defeat, but also showed that — in spite of his delegate lead — Senator Barack Obama was still losing to her in the big states.

Those two states were the battlegrounds where Mr. Obama was going to bury the last opponent to his history-making nomination, finally delivering on his message of hope while dashing the hopes of a Clinton presidential dynasty.

Yet then the excited, divided American electorate weighed in once more, throwing Mrs. Clinton the sort of political lifeline that New Hampshire did in early January after her third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

For Mrs. Clinton, the battle ahead is not so much against Mr. Obama as it is against a Democratic Party establishment that had once been ready to coalesce behind her but has been drifting toward Mr. Obama. The party wants a standard-bearer now to wage the war against the newly minted leader of the Republicans, Senator John McCain, who enjoys a head start with every day that the Democrats lack a nominee of their own.

Clinton advisers said her decisive victory in Ohio and her narrow one in Texas — where exit polls showed her winning the votes of women, whites and Hispanics in an extremely close race — were more than enough to argue that she should go forward to the April 22 primary in the Ohio-esque Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, even if Mr. Obama has more delegates after Tuesday night.

Mr. Obama, meanwhile, appeared likely to accumulate enough delegates from Texas and Ohio (as well as from his victory in Vermont) to strengthen his mathematical edge for the nomination and portray Mrs. Clinton as a spoiler to a unified party. Yet the results on Tuesday also bring fresh questions about his electability in crucial swing states like Ohio that Democrats are eager to carry in the November election.

“Hillary is very much in the game,” Patti Solis Doyle, Mrs. Clinton’s former campaign manager, said on Tuesday night.

Bill Burton, an Obama spokesman, brimmed with equal brio. “This was her last, best chance to significantly close the gap in pledged delegates,” Mr. Burton said of Mrs. Clinton, who began the night with about 50 fewer pledged delegates and 100 fewer over all. “They have failed.”

Mrs. Clinton spent much of 2007 running as the candidate of the Democratic establishment — racking up endorsements from party leaders, enlisting major party donors from past presidential campaigns and setting up bases of operations in populous states like California and Florida.

But after losing momentum to Mr. Obama in February, she is now viewed by many party leaders as an obstacle to the fight ahead — even as she continues to argue that she is the best candidate, by dint of her experience, to carry the party’s flag into the “wartime election” fight against a Vietnam hero and national security pro like Mr. McCain.

Mrs. Clinton’s advisers say there is no party elder who has the stature or power to pressure her to bow out, aside from her husband, former President Bill Clinton. And he more than anyone wants her to keep running.

The nomination is not determined by the number of states won, but Mr. Obama’s inability to win major battleground states beyond Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and his home state, Illinois, is a concern of some Democrats — especially since Ohio and Florida have become must-wins in presidential elections.

Mrs. Clinton has been enjoying her first real burst of momentum lately, thanks to her new advertisements and speeches questioning Mr. Obama’s abilities in a crisis, raising the fact that he has not convened his Senate subcommittee to hold hearings on the Afghanistan war. A potentially embarrassing trial of a former Obama friend and contributor has begun. And major Clinton fund-raisers said that one big victory on Tuesday night would be enough to energize donors and keep $1 million or more flowing in daily.

“Each time people think we’re down, like after Iowa, or South Carolina, or the February primaries, Hillary has found ways to come back up,” said Jonathan Mantz, the national finance director of the Clinton campaign.

The results will also embolden her campaign’s efforts to persuade the Democratic Party to factor in the delegates from Florida and Michigan, her advisers say. The party counted out those states after they moved up their primaries; Mrs. Clinton stayed on the ballot in both and “won” them in January — despite having no real competition in Michigan and no real campaign in Florida. In a sign of her thinking, She shouted out to them in her Ohio victory speech Tuesday night.

“If we want a Democratic president, we need a Democratic nominee who can win the battleground states, just like Ohio,” she said. “We’ve won Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Michigan, New Hampshire, Arkansas, California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Tennessee!”

But for all the millions of votes Mrs. Clinton has now won, simple math is still her enemy. She needs to use Tuesday night to persuade superdelegates — the hundreds of party leaders who have a vote on the nomination — to stop abandoning her. Or, at least, stop long enough for Mrs. Clinton to damage him with a line of attack, goad him into a colossal gaffe (or watch him make one on his own) or rely on the media to unearth a campaign-altering scandal about him.

But it is not clear if Ohio and Texas were enough to give Mrs. Clinton — a politician who has been a known quantity for 16 years— a real chance for a fresh assessment by the many superdelegates who know her well.

“The great irony is, she is now the ‘hope’ candidate,” said Dan Gerstein, a Democratic strategist who backs Mr. Obama. “She can only hope to catch some breaks and catch Obama stumbling.”

    In 2 Battlegrounds, Voters Say, Not Yet, NYT, 5.3.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/05/us/politics/05assess.html?hp






FACTBOX: Delegate counts for presidential candidates


Wed Mar 5, 2008
1:56am EST


(Reuters) - Delegates at national party conventions in August and September will be the key to selecting the Democratic and Republican candidates who will face off in the presidential election on November 4.

Voters choose the delegates state by state.

The field of candidates has narrowed and Sen. John McCain of Arizona has taken a commanding lead in the Republican race, while the Democratic contest remains close between Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York.

Here are the total numbers of delegates awarded so far in nominating contests to the leading candidates, as estimated by MSNBC. Other news organizations may have reached different estimates.


DEMOCRATS (number needed for nomination 2,025)

- Barack Obama 1,202

- Hillary Clinton 1,042

REPUBLICANS (number needed for nomination 1,191)

- John McCain 1,205

- Mike Huckabee 248

- Ron Paul 14




Democrats distribute delegates in proportion to candidates' vote statewide and in individual congressional districts. That means candidates can come away with big chunks of delegates even in states they lose.

In contrast, most Republican contests are winner-take-all when awarding delegates. McCain became the likely Republican nominee when his chief rival dropped out. But former Arkansas Gov. Huckabee remains in the race.

In addition to those elected state by state, a certain number of delegates at the conventions are set aside for members of Congress, elected state officers and other leading party officials.

These "superdelegates" are not committed to a particular candidate and can back anyone they choose.

Source of Delegate Count: msnbc.com 

(Compiled by Deborah Charles and Donna Smith; Editing by David Wiessler)

    FACTBOX: Delegate counts for presidential candidates, R, 5.3.2008, http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN0336894120080305?virtualBrandChannel=10112






Democrats Vie for Delegates


March 5, 2008
Filed at 2:20 a.m. ET
The New York Times


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton split delegates in four states Tuesday while Republican John McCain claimed his party's nomination for president.

Clinton picked up at least 115 delegates in Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont and Texas, while Obama picked up at least 88. Nearly 170 delegates were still to be awarded, including 154 in Texas.

Obama had a total of 1,477 delegates, including separately chosen party and elected officials known as superdelegates, according to the Associated Press count. He picked up three superdelegate endorsements Tuesday,

Clinton had 1,391 delegates. It will take 2,025 delegates to secure the Democratic nomination.

McCain surpassed the 1,191 delegates needed to secure the nomination by winning delegates in the four states. He also picked up new endorsements from about 30 party officials who will automatically attend the convention and can support whomever they choose.

McCain had 1,224 delegates, according to the AP count. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who had 261 delegates, dropped out of the race Tuesday night.

The AP tracks the delegate races by calculating the number of national convention delegates won by candidates in each presidential primary or caucus, based on state and national party rules, and by interviewing unpledged delegates to obtain their preferences.

Most primaries and some caucuses are binding, meaning delegates won by the candidates are pledged to support that candidate at the national conventions this summer.

Political parties in some states, however, use multistep procedures to award national delegates. Typically, such states use local caucuses to elect delegates to state or congressional district conventions, where national delegates are selected. In these states, the AP uses the results from local caucuses to calculate the number of national delegates each candidate will win, if the candidate's level of support at the caucus doesn't change.

    Democrats Vie for Delegates, NYT, 5.3.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Campaign-Delegates.html






Big Wins for Clinton in Texas and Ohio;

McCain Clinches Race as Foe Concedes


March 5, 2008
The New York Times


Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton defeated Senator Barack Obama in Ohio and Texas on Tuesday, ending a string of defeats and allowing her to soldier on in a Democratic presidential nomination race that now seems unlikely to end any time soon.

Mrs. Clinton also won Rhode Island, while Mr. Obama won in Vermont. But the results mean that Mrs. Clinton won the two states she most needed to keep her candidacy alive.

Her victory in Texas was razor thin and came only after most Americans had gone to bed. But by winning decisively in Ohio earlier in the evening, Mrs. Clinton was able to deliver a televised victory speech in time for the late-night news. And the result there allowed her to cast Tuesday as the beginning of a comeback even though she stood a good chance of gaining no ground against Mr. Obama in the hunt for delegates.

“No candidate in recent history — Democratic or Republican — has won the White House without winning the Ohio primary,” Mrs. Clinton, of New York, said at a rally in Columbus, Ohio. “We all know that if we want a Democratic president, we need a Democratic nominee who can win Democratic states just like Ohio.”

On the Republican side, Senator John McCain swept to victory in Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont and claimed his party’s nomination, capping a remarkable comeback in his second bid for the presidency.

Mr. McCain’s main remaining rival, Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, announced he was dropping out minutes after the polls closed and pledged his cooperation to Mr. McCain. Aides to Mr. McCain said he would head Wednesday morning to Washington to go to the White House and accept the endorsement of President Bush, his one-time foe, and begin gathering his party around him.

Mr. McCain, of Arizona, delivered his victory speech in subdued tones to a boisterous crowd of supporters in Dallas.

“Now, we begin the most important part of our campaign,” he said, “to make a respectful, determined and convincing case to the American people that our campaign and my election as president, given the alternatives presented by our friends in the other party, are in the best interests of the country we love.”

Mr. McCain proceeded to offer a preview of attacks for his Democratic rival. “I will leave it to my opponent to propose returning to the failed, big-government mandates of the ’60s and ’70s to address problems such as the lack of health care insurance for some Americans,” he said. “I will campaign to make health care more accessible to more Americans with reforms that will bring down costs in the health care industry without ruining the quality of the world’s best medical care.”

Mrs. Clinton’s twin victories in Ohio and Texas gave her, at the least, a psychological boost after a tough month in which she watched Mr. Obama, of Illinois, roll up victory after victory and build a lead in delegates. There was virtually no chance that Mrs. Clinton could have survived had she lost Ohio and Texas; her husband, former President Bill Clinton, said last month that his wife needed to win both states.

Mrs. Clinton was already planning ways to capitalize on her performance; she was scheduled to appear Wednesday on all the morning news programs. But she will continue to find herself in a difficult position mathematically. Given the way the Democratic party allocates delegates, it remained unclear whether Mrs. Clinton would close Mr. Obama’s lead on that front.

Even before the polls closed, Mr. Obama’s aides said that given their lead in delegates over Mrs. Clinton, it was not possible for her to catch up in the few remaining contests.

Mr. Obama came out shortly before midnight to speak to a crowd in San Antonio, and laid out the argument his campaign would make in the days ahead.

“No matter what happens tonight,” he said, “we have nearly the same delegate lead that we did this morning, and we are on our way to winning this nomination.”

But Mrs. Clinton’s supporters, exultant over the victory, tried to cast the results in Ohio and Texas as a turning point.

Mrs. Clinton took the stage in Columbus before a sea of waving white-and-blue “Hillary” signs and immediately portrayed her victory in Ohio as an indication of her electability in a general election. And she reprised a line of criticism against Mr. Obama that appeared to have gained her some traction in this contest.

“Americans don’t need more promises,” she said. “They’ve heard plenty of speeches. They deserve solutions, and they deserve them now.”

As she spoke, the crowd responded with chants of “Yes, she will!” — apparently an orchestrated response to Mr. Obama’s trademark “Yes, we can!”

Turning one of Mr. Obama’s themes against him, she said, “Together, we will turn promises into action, words into solutions and hope into reality.”

The results left the two parties at very different stages of the race. Mr. McCain’s nomination has been all but assured for almost a month. His campaign looked to the results on Tuesday as an opportunity to begin framing the contest ahead. In contrast to his previous victory speeches, Mr. McCain made no mention of Mr. Obama, presumably because the result when he spoke was hardly clear.

Nonetheless, Mr. Obama called Mr. McCain at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday from his hotel room in San Antonio to congratulate him and to say he looked forward to running against him, said Mr. Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs. Mrs. Clinton said much the same in her speech.

The voting proceeded on a day of problems at the polls in both states, in part because of a recurrence of the huge turnouts that almost every contest to date has experienced. In Ohio, the Obama campaign asked a judge on Tuesday to keep polls open longer in Cuyahoga County because of paper ballot shortages.

The Texas vote was actually two contests: a primary, where two-thirds of the delegates were selected, followed by a caucus, where the remaining one-third were selected. The Clinton campaign claimed irregularities by Mr. Obama’s supporters who, Mrs. Clinton’s aides said, sought to gain improper advantage in the caucuses.

In an illustration of the tension between the two campaigns, Bob Bauer, an election lawyer for Mr. Obama, called into a conference call arranged by the Clinton campaign. The call had been set up to discuss the Texas caucuses, and Mr. Bauer challenged the assertions being made by Howard Wolfson, Mrs. Clinton’s communications director. The men, referring to each other by first names, engaged in a testy seven-minute exchange.

For Democrats, and particularly for Mrs. Clinton, the contests were as consequential as any to date. To that end, Mrs. Clinton delivered some of the toughest attacks of her campaign over the weekend, including a television advertisement in Texas that challenged Mr. Obama’s national security credentials and attacks on Mr. Obama in Ohio over free trade and a meeting his economic adviser had with a Canadian diplomat about the North American Free Trade Agreement.

There was evidence that the attacks had some effects. Mrs. Clinton did well among the 20 percent of voters in both states who said they made their decision in the last three days. She won about 60 percent of those voters in Texas and about 55 percent of those who voted in Ohio, according to exit polls conducted statewide by Edison/Mitofsky for the National Election Pool.

Surveys of voters leaving the polls showed Mrs. Clinton doing well among Hispanics in Texas, a major target for her there, as well as among lower-income voters and women in Ohio, suggesting that she was reassembling the coalition that had broken down in her losing 11 straight state contests to Mr. Obama over the past month. Mr. Obama was showing strength among black voters who made up 20 percent of the Democratic electorate in both states.

In Ohio, Mrs. Clinton’s emphasis on economic issues helped her to some extent. Three-quarters of respondents said they were concerned about their families’ financial situation, and more than half of those voted for Mrs. Clinton. She also won a majority of union households in Ohio and, in a reversal of her standing in early races, won decisively among white men.

Marjorie Connelly and Megan Thee contributed reporting from New York, and John M. Broder from Columbus, Ohio.

    Big Wins for Clinton in Texas and Ohio; McCain Clinches Race as Foe Concedes, NYT, 5.3.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/05/us/politics/05primary.html?hp






FACTBOX - Texas and its presidential primary


Tue Mar 4, 2008
2:48am EST


(Reuters) - The Texas Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday is considered a must-win for Sen. Hillary Clinton's embattled campaign against rival Sen. Barack Obama.

Republican presidential front-runner Sen. John McCain has an almost insurmountable lead over his last major Republican rival, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Voting ends in most of the state at 8 p.m. EST (1 a.m. British time on Wednesday), with a tiny portion at 9 p.m. EST.

Following are a few facts about Texas and its primary:

* Texas Democrats will send 228 delegates to the national convention, the biggest single bloc remaining. Of those, two-thirds are granted based on the popular vote in each of 31 state Senate districts, with districts that were more Democratic in the 2004 and 2006 elections getting more delegates. The other one-third are awarded based on the outcome of caucuses held after the polls close on Tuesday.

* The Lone Star State's economy, with a gross domestic product of $881 billion (444 billion pounds) in 2004, is larger than Indonesia's, the 16th biggest national economy in world. Only California and New York have bigger U.S. state economies. The leading industries in Texas are trade, real estate, and oil and gas. With a population of about 23.5 million people, Texas is the second most populous U.S. state after California.

* Clinton's hopes in Texas rest heavily on her ability to win overwhelming support from the state's Hispanic voters. There are an estimated 8.3 million Hispanics in Texas, second only to the estimated 12 million in California.

* Conservatives have dominated both political parties in Texas in recent years. The state political climate has been marked by a preference for low taxes and a relatively low level of state services, a generally anti-union work environment, culturally conservative social policy and limited environmental regulation.

* Texas ranks last in the country by percentage of residents with a high school diploma (78.3 percent) and total tax burden per capita ($1,368). It ranks first among states for executions since 2005 (19) and shopping malls built since 2004-2005 (112).

Sources: Texas Democrats; Texas State Library and Archives Commission; Census Bureau; "Texas Politics," the University of Texas at Austin; StateMaster.com

(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal, editing by Stacey Joyce)

    FACTBOX - Texas and its presidential primary, R, 4.3.2008, http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUKN0339705420080304?virtualBrandChannel=10112






FACTBOX: Ohio and its presidential primary


Tue Mar 4, 2008
2:33am EST


(Reuters) - The Midwestern industrial state of Ohio is hosting a crucial showdown between Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as it holds its primary contest on Tuesday.

Following are a few facts about the Buckeye State:

* Ohio is considered a "must win" state for Clinton if she is to prevent Obama from becoming the Democratic nominee. Republican front-runner John McCain hopes to move closer toward clinching his party's nomination.

* White working-class voters make up a large share of Ohio's electorate and Clinton has done well with these voters in many other state contests, though Obama has begun to win them over. Recent public opinion polls show Clinton's one-time double-digit lead has evaporated and she is in a virtual tie with Obama.

* Pocketbook issues top voters' concerns in Ohio. The state has lost 23 percent of its manufacturing jobs since 2000 and the subprime mortgage crisis has hit hard, with foreclosures climbing 88 percent in 2007. Cleveland is the nation's poorest large city, where nearly half the children live in poverty.

* Polls close at 7:30 p.m. EST. Both the Republican and Democratic contests are open to independent voters.

* Ohio has been a swing state in presidential races, narrowly handing President George W. Bush a re-election victory in 2004. Democrats in 2006 picked up a number of statewide offices, including the governor's mansion and a U.S. Senate seat, after scandals hurt incumbent Republicans.

Sources: Ohio Secretary of State; Alliance for American Manufacturing; Real Clear Politics; RealtyTrac; Almanac of American Politics

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan, Editing by Sandra Maler)

    FACTBOX: Ohio and its presidential primary, NYT, 4.3.3008, http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN0339591820080304?virtualBrandChannel=10112






Obama and Clinton Flush With Cash From February


February 29, 2008
The New York Times


Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton each had a record-breaking month of fund-raising in February, bringing in more than $80 million combined, but with Mr. Obama again far outraising Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Obama’s campaign did not release an official estimate of its February fund-raising on Thursday. But several major donors estimated it to be about $50 million, based on their calculations and knowledge of tallies during the month, when on many days the campaign took in as much as $2 million.

The large sum underscores the challenge facing Mr. Obama in his decision whether to accept public financing for the general election if he becomes the Democrats’ presidential nominee and abide by the spending limits that come with it, something he indicated last year he would do if the Republican nominee also signed up for the campaign finance program. Senator John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican nominee, has criticized Mr. Obama for wavering on the issue.

Obama campaign officials were still tabulating their numbers and said only that their total was “considerably more” than the $35 million that Senator Clinton’s campaign announced Thursday that it had raised in February.

“It’s a leap year,” said Bill Burton, an Obama campaign spokesman. “There’s one more day.”

Clinton campaign officials, meanwhile, held a rousing conference call with donors on Thursday to trumpet their results.

“It’s an extraordinary number for us, $35 million in February alone,” said Terry McAuliffe, the Clinton campaign chairman.

Clinton campaign officials also sought to buck up donors dismayed about being on the losing end of 11 straight contests and emphasized that they still believed they could win the nomination. The officials underscored that their successful month in raising money meant they had more than enough resources to be competitive in the contests on Tuesday in Texas, Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island, and beyond.

“Hillary Clinton’s not going anywhere,” Mr. McAuliffe said. “Hillary’s going to one place. She’s going to Denver as the Democratic Party nominee.”

But Mr. Obama’s fund-raising appears once again to have sharply outstripped Mrs. Clinton’s, just as it did in January, when Mr. Obama brought in $36 million and Mrs. Clinton raised just under $14 million.

After spending enormously to compete in Iowa, in New Hampshire and heading into the 20-plus Feb. 5 nominating contests, Mrs. Clinton finished the month essentially in the red, forcing her to lend her campaign $5 million.

Mr. Obama’s total is expected to exceed the $44 million that Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts raised in March 2004, a month that set a record in a presidential campaign. Mr. Kerry, however, was already clearly on track to being the Democratic nominee when he raised the then-extraordinary sum.

The Clinton campaign offered some details about its February resurgence: $30 million came in over the Internet or in other small donations; 200,000 of the 300,000 people who contributed were new donors; the average contribution for the month was just over $100.

Perhaps most important, $34 million can be used for the primaries, with the rest set aside for the general election.

The breakthrough moment, Mr. McAuliffe said, came after Mrs. Clinton announced early in the month that she had lent money to her campaign. “Our Internet exploded, and it has never stopped,” Mr. McAuliffe said.

Mrs. Clinton, of New York, was similarly ebullient Thursday afternoon at a news conference in Hanging Rock, Ohio.

“It’s incredibly gratifying to see people coming forward with their vote of confidence,” Mrs. Clinton said.

She said her loan had not yet been paid back, despite the flow of money.

A closer look at the candidates’ spending on television commercials heading into Texas and Ohio on Tuesday illustrates how the disparity in cash is playing out in concrete ways on the campaign trail, with Mr. Obama outspending Mrs. Clinton by a significant margin.

In Texas, Mr. Obama had spent $5.1 million as of Tuesday, compared with Mrs. Clinton’s $3.1 million, said Evan Tracey, chief operating officer of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks advertising spending.

In Ohio, Mr. Obama had spent $2.4 million, Mrs. Clinton $1.3 million.

Mr. Obama’s outspending of Mrs. Clinton in prime time appears to be a major reason for the difference, Mr. Tracey said. About 35 percent of his advertising spending has been for prime-time spots, compared with 20 percent of Mrs. Clinton’s.

“You buy that if money’s not an issue,” Mr. Tracey said.

The difference between the two is also pronounced in Vermont and Rhode Island. In Vermont, Mr. Obama has spent $256,000 to Mrs. Clinton’s $63,000; in Rhode Island, he has spent $311,000 to her $130,000.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama, of Illinois, is starting to focus less on the Democratic primaries and more on the general election. In recent days, he has spent more time skirmishing with Mr. McCain than with Mrs. Clinton.

Asked by reporters if he was counting Mrs. Clinton out, he declared: “I am not. I am not. Remember New Hampshire?” Mrs. Clinton was thought to be behind in New Hampshire, but pulled off a surprise victory in that primary.

Clinton campaign officials insisted in their conference call that their spirits were high, contrary to news accounts of flagging morale.

“We believe we can win this thing,” said Maggie Williams, the campaign manager, though Harold Ickes, a campaign adviser, acknowledged that Mrs. Clinton was “facing a real wall of money from the Barack Obama campaign.”

Katharine Q. Seelye contributed reporting.

    Obama and Clinton Flush With Cash From February, NYT, 29.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/29/us/politics/29donate.html?hp






Obama Cutting

Into Clinton’s Edge Among Superdelegates


February 29, 2008
The New York Times


Senator Barack Obama has made significant inroads over the last month among the Democratic elected officials and party leaders known as superdelegates who will cast a fifth of the votes at the party’s convention, cutting into Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s long-held advantage with the group.

What began for Mr. Obama as a trickle of support from the superdelegates has grown into more of a stream as he has won the last 11 nominating contests in a row against Mrs. Clinton, of New York. Those victories have led to a few prominent defections — Representative John Lewis of Georgia formally switched sides this week — and prompted other undecided superdelegates to get off the fence and to support Mr. Obama. At least nine superdelegates have declared their support for Mr. Obama in the last few days.

The effect has been to whittle away at Mrs. Clinton’s lead with a group that her campaign had been counting on as a bulwark against the nomination’s going to Mr. Obama, of Illinois.

The Clinton campaign said Thursday that it had the support of 258 of the 795 superdelegates (not counting those from Florida or Michigan, whose delegations are the focus of a dispute), while the Obama campaign said it had the support of more than 200. It said it had won the support of 39 since Feb. 5, including four that formerly supported Mrs. Clinton.

A survey of superdelegates conducted by The New York Times and CBS News, which had lower superdelegate counts for both candidates, found that Mrs. Clinton’s edge with superdelegates was more than halved during February. Her Feb. 2 lead of 105 superdelegates over Mr. Obama has since been cut to 42 superdelegates, the survey found.

The superdelegates are especially important this year because both campaigns believe that they could prove decisive in an election in which neither candidate is likely to win the 2,025 delegates needed to secure the nomination by the time of the convention in August.

Mr. Obama’s momentum in the recent primaries and caucuses appears to have influenced some superdelegates.

Marianne T. Stevens, a vice chairwoman of the Maine Democratic Party, announced this week that she would be casting her vote as a superdelegate for Mr. Obama. Ms. Stevens said she was moved to support him in part because his recent victories led her to believe that he would be the party’s nominee.

“He’s won, what, 11 primary contests in a row?” she said in a telephone interview. “The momentum doesn’t hurt. So yeah, I think he’s going to unify the upcoming primaries, and I think he’s going to win them.”

But as the switch by Mr. Lewis has shown, these superdelegates can change their minds. And the Clinton campaign is counting on strong showings next week in Ohio and Texas, as well as the other states yet to vote, to retain its advantage with the party regulars who make up the bulk of the superdelegates.

For now, though, almost all of those publicly changing their minds are gravitating toward Mr. Obama.

Christine Samuels, a member of the Democratic National Committee who is active with the New Jersey N.A.A.C.P., said she switched her support from Mrs. Clinton to Mr. Obama in part because she was upset by some remarks the Clintons made around the time of the South Carolina primary.

But Ms. Samuels also cited Mr. Obama’s recent successes in the nominating contests.

“I wouldn’t have switched if I didn’t think he could win,” she said.

Representative John Barrow, a Georgia Democrat who faced a close re-election battle in 2006, announced Thursday that he would support Mr. Obama. “Seventy percent of the folks in my district voted for Senator Obama,” Mr. Barrow said, “and I think they voted for him for some of the same reasons I think people voted for me.”

As the Obama campaign has advanced the notion that the superdelegates should follow the popular vote, the Clinton campaign has countered that the superdelegates have a responsibility to do what they think is best for the Democratic Party and the nation. It even has a Web site — www.delegatehub.com — that notes none of the superdelegates are “required to cast a vote on the basis of anything other than his or her best judgment about who is the most qualified to be president.”

The Clinton campaign notes that it has its own defectors. On Thursday, it announced that Veronica Escobar, an El Paso County, Tex., commissioner, was switching her support from Mr. Obama to Mrs. Clinton.

Unfortunately for the Clinton campaign, Ms. Escobar is not a superdelegate.

Megan Thee contributed reporting.

    Obama Cutting Into Clinton’s Edge Among Superdelegates, NYT, 29.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/29/us/politics/29delegates.html?hp







Superdelegates, or Ordinary Voters?


February 27, 2008
The New York Times


To the Editor:

Re “Got a Problem? Ask the Super,” by Geraldine A. Ferraro (Op-Ed, Feb. 25):

As a lifelong Democrat and supporter of Ms. Ferraro’s candidacy for vice president in 1984, I was sorely disappointed and angry at her patronizing attitude toward voters who have participated in the party’s primaries and caucuses.

Those voters are the key to a Democratic victory in November. They took part in the process in the belief that their opinions and votes mattered. As Democrats we want to widen our base to include independents, disaffected Republicans and new voters.

What does the party say to those new voters and young people who have participated in record numbers this year? Do the superdelegates say, “Thank you for your excitement and participation, but now the wiser elders of the party will adjourn to our back room and make the grown-up decision”?

How does a political party grow if it doesn’t reach out and include new people, respect their opinions and include them in the process? Please keep the process fair and transparent.

Lynda Withbroe
Woodbury, Minn., Feb. 25, 2008

To the Editor:

Clearly, Geraldine A. Ferraro wants what is best for her candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton. But if you follow Ms. Ferraro’s logic that the superdelegates should “lead, not follow,” I can imagine the Democratic Party self-destructing if Barack Obama is leading in regular delegates and popular numbers but the superdelegates overturn that vote and nominate Mrs. Clinton.

The same goes for changing the rules in midstream and allowing Florida and Michigan to be seated when they clearly violated the rules of the party. It sounds like much of the old entrenched vested-interest opportunistic politics that many of us are trying to change.

William Kennard
Madison, N.J., Feb. 25, 2008

To the Editor:

At last, from Geraldine A. Ferraro, we have a well-reasoned analysis of the superdelegates and their history and function that you don’t need a Ph.D. in political science to understand.

What Ms. Ferraro concludes most clearly is that you can’t have it both ways. If the superdelegates were created to solve deadlocks and other party problems, then you can’t nullify them at critical junctures.

And Ms. Ferraro could have gone a bit further in her discussion of the shift by superdelegates based on their constituents to note that many of them, since they are members of the Democratic National Committee and formerly elected officials, are not beholden to constituents.

There is a major obstacle ahead, and as Ms. Ferraro observes cogently, the superdelegates were designed to be the final arbiter, so let them arbitrate wisely.

Herb Boyd
New York, Feb. 25, 2008

To the Editor:

The pretense of Geraldine A. Ferraro’s article is to explain the purpose of the superdelegates, a class of delegates she helped create. The not so subtle subtext is to promote Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s candidacy.

But there is a central contradiction in her logic that undermines the whole analysis. The superdelegates, she explains, determine the rules and exist to look out for the party.

It is a reasonable point. But then she asks the superdelegates to push for the seating of delegates from Michigan and Florida.

The Democratic Party rules were that Michigan and Florida’s votes would not count because they moved up their primaries in defiance of the party. You can’t pick and choose the rules but by doing so in this article, Ms. Ferraro reveals that she isn’t really all that concerned with the wisdom of her party’s leaders.

Jane Savoca
Richmond, Va., Feb. 25, 2008

To the Editor:

Geraldine A. Ferraro hits the nail on the head when she describes the 796 superdelegates as “Democratic governors, former presidents and vice presidents, and members of the Democratic National Committee and former heads of the national committee,” as well as “every Democratic member of Congress.”

That is exactly the problem: the superdelegates are the incumbent power of the Democratic Party, and as such have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and resisting any change that may threaten that power, regardless of the wishes of the electorate.

Robert Read Thrun
Covington, Ky., Feb. 25, 2008

To the Editor:

Geraldine A. Ferraro, in her defense of the Democratic National Committee’s use of superdelegates, rather casually remarked, “Besides, the delegate totals from primaries and caucuses do not necessarily reflect the will of rank-and-file Democrats.” Here’s a radical notion: let all Democrats vote for their preferred nominee, and whoever gets the most votes wins.

Aaron Christopher Cohen
Davis, Calif., Feb. 25, 2008

To the Editor:

If, as Geraldine A. Ferraro writes, that Democratic insiders should be able to pick the party’s nominee, perhaps overturning the votes of Democrats who went to the polls, the nomination will be worthless because I, as a lifelong Democrat, will either stay home on Election Day, or I might even vote for John McCain. I am surely not the only Democrat who feels that way.

Selma Prager
Springfield, N.J., Feb. 25, 2008

To the Editor:

Geraldine A. Ferraro’s thinking confirms, as conservatives have been saying for years, the Democrats’ belief that the people of this country cannot be trusted to know what is best for them. Such knowledge, they believe, is the sole province of the liberal elite.

Joseph Fink
Bronx, Feb. 25, 2008

    Superdelegates, or Ordinary Voters?, NYT, 25.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/27/opinion/lweb27elect.html






William F. Buckley Jr. Is Dead at 82


February 27, 2008
The New York Times


William F. Buckley Jr., who marshaled polysyllabic exuberance, famously arched eyebrows and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse, died Wednesday at his home in Stamford, Conn.

Mr Buckley, 82, suffered from diabetes and emphysema, his son Christopher said, although the exact cause of death was not immediately known. He was found at his desk in the study of his home, his son said. “He might have been working on a column,” Mr. Buckley said.

Mr. Buckley’s winningly capricious personality, replete with ten-dollar words and a darting tongue writers loved to compare with an anteater’s, hosted one of television’s longest-running programs, “Firing Line,” and founded and shepherded the influential conservative magazine, “National Review.”

He also found time to write at least 55 books, ranging from sailing odysseys to spy novels to celebrations of his own dashing daily life, and to edit five more. His political novel “The Rake” was published last August, and a book looking back at the National Review’s history in November; a personal memoir of Barry Goldwater is due to be publication in April, and Mr. Buckley was working on a similar book about Ronald Reagan for release in the fall.

The more than 4.5 million words of his 5,600 biweekly newspaper columns, “On the Right,” would fill 45 more medium-sized books.

Mr. Buckley’s greatest achievement was making conservatism — not just electoral Republicanism, but conservatism as a system of ideas — respectable in liberal post-World War II America. He mobilized the young enthusiasts who helped nominate Barry Goldwater in 1964, and saw his dreams fulfilled when Reagan and the Bushes captured the Oval Office.

To Mr. Buckley’s enormous delight, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., the historian, termed him “the scourge of liberalism.”

In remarks at National Review’s 30th anniversary in 1985, President Reagan joked that he picked up his first issue of the magazine in a plain brown wrapper and still anxiously awaited his biweekly edition — “without the wrapper.”

“You didn’t just part the Red Sea — you rolled it back, dried it up and left exposed, for all the world to see, the naked desert that is statism,” Mr. Reagan said.

“And then, as if that weren’t enough,” the president continued, “you gave the world something different, something in its weariness it desperately needed, the sound of laughter and the sight of the rich, green uplands of freedom.”

The liberal advance had begun with the New Deal, and so accelerated in the next generation that Lionel Trilling, one of America’s leading intellectuals, wrote in 1950: “In the United States at this time liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition. For it is the plain fact that there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation.”

Mr. Buckley declared war on this liberal order, beginning with his blistering assault on Yale as a traitorous den of atheistic collectivism immediately after his graduation (with honors) from the university.

“All great biblical stories begin with Genesis,” George Will wrote in the National Review in 1980. “And before there was Ronald Reagan, there was Barry Goldwater, and before there was Barry Goldwater there was National Review, and before there was National Review there was Bill Buckley with a spark in his mind, and the spark in 1980 has become a conflagration.”

Mr. Buckley weaved the tapestry of what became the new American conservatism from libertarian writers like Max Eastman, free market economists like Milton Friedman, traditionalist scholars like Russell Kirk and anti-Communist writers like Whittaker Chambers. But the persuasiveness of his argument hinged not on these perhaps arcane sources, but on his own tightly argued case for a conservatism based on the national interest and a higher morality.

His most receptive audience became young conservatives first energized by Barry Goldwater’s emergence at the Republican convention in 1960 as the right-wing alternative to Nixon. Some met in Sept., 1960, at Mr. Buckley’s Connecticut estate to form Young Americans for Freedom. Their numbers — and influence — grew.

Nicholas Lemann observed in Washington Monthly in 1988 that during the Reagan administration “the 5,000 middle-level officials, journalists and policy intellectuals that it takes to run a government” were “deeply influenced by Buckley’s example.” He suggested that neither moderate Washington insiders nor “Ed Meese-style provincial conservatives” could have pulled off the Reagan tax cut and other reforms.

Speaking of the true believers, Mr. Lemann continued, “Some of these people had been personally groomed by Buckley, and most of the rest saw him as a role model.”

Mr. Buckley rose to prominence with a generation of talented writers fascinated by political themes, names like Mailer, Capote, Vidal, Styron and Baldwin. Like the others, he attracted controversy like a magnet. Even conservatives — from members of the John Birch Society to disciples of conservative author Ayn Rand to George Wallace to moderate Republicans — frequently pounced on him.

Many of varied political stripes came to see his life as something of an art form — from racing through city streets on a motorcycle to a quixotic campaign for mayor of New York in 1965 to startling opinions like favoring the decriminalization of marijuana. He was often described as liberals’ favorite conservative, particularly after suavely hosting an adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s “Brideshead Revisited” on public television in 1982.

Norman Mailer may indeed have dismissed Mr. Buckley as a “second-rate intellect incapable of entertaining two serious thoughts in a row,” but he could not help admiring his stage presence.

“No other act can project simultaneous hints that he is in the act of playing Commodore of the Yacht Club, Joseph Goebbels, Robert Mitchum, Maverick, Savonarola, the nice prep school kid next door, and the snows of yesteryear,” Mr. Mailer said in an interview with Harpers in 1967.

Mr. Buckley’s vocabulary, sparkling with phrases from distant eras and described in newspaper and magazine profiles as sesquipedalian (characterized by the use of long words) became the stuff of legend. Less kind commentators called him “pleonastic” (use of more words than necessary).

And, inescapably, there was that aurora of pure mischief. In 1985, David Remnick, writing in The Washington Post, said, “He has the eyes of a child who has just displayed a horrid use for the microwave oven and the family cat.”

William Francis Buckley Jr., was born in Manhattan on Nov. 24, 1925, the sixth of the 10 children of Aloise Steiner Buckley and William Frank Buckley Jr. (John B. Judis relates in his 1988 biography, “William F. Buckley, Jr.: Patron Saint Of the Conservative,” that he was christened with the middle name Francis instead of Frank, according to his sister, Patricia, because there was no saint named Frank. Later, in “Who’s Who” entries and elsewhere, he used Frank.)

The elder Mr. Buckley made a fortune in the oil fields of Mexico, and educated his children with personal tutors at Great Elm, the family estate in Sharon, Conn. They also attended exclusive Roman Catholic schools in England and France.

Young William absorbed his family’s conservatism along with its deep Catholicism. At 6, he wrote the King of England demanding he repay his country’s war debt. At 14, he followed his brothers to the Millbrook School, a preparatory school 15 miles across the New York state line from Sharon.

In his spare time at Millbrook, young Bill typed schoolmates’ papers for them, charging $1 a paper, with a 25-cent surcharge for correcting the grammar.

He did not neglect politics, showing up uninvited to a faculty meeting to complain about a teacher abridging his right to free speech and ardently opposing United States’ involvement in World War II. His father wrote him to suggest he “learn to be more moderate in the expression of your views.”

He graduated from Millbrook in 1943, then spent a half a year at the University of Mexico studying Spanish, which had been his first language. He served in the Army from 1944 to 1946, and managed to make second lieutenant after first putting colleagues off with his mannerisms.

“I think the army experience did something to Bill,” his sister, Patricia, told Mr. Judis. “He got to understand people more.”

Mr. Buckley then entered Yale where he studied political science, economics and history; established himself as a fearsome debater; was elected chairman of the Yale Daily News, and joined Skull and Bones, the most prestigious secret society.

As a senior, he was given the honor of delivering the speech for Yale’s Alumni Day celebration, but was replaced after the university’s administration objected to his strong attacks on the university. He responded by writing his critique in the book that brought him to national attention, in part because he gave the publisher, Regnery, $10,000 to advertise it.

Published in 1951, “God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of ‘Academic Freedom,’” charged the powers at Yale with having an atheistic and collectivist bent and called for the firing of faculty members who advocated values not in accord with those that the institution should be upholding — which was to say, his own.

Among the avalanche of negative reviews, the one in Atlantic by McGeorge Bundy, a Yale graduate, was conspicuous. He found the book “dishonest in its use of facts, false in its theory, and a discredit to its author.”

But Peter Viereck, writing in The New York Times Sunday Book Review viewed the book as “a necessary counterbalance.”

After a year in the Central Intelligence Agency in Mexico City (his case officer was E. Howard Hunt, who went on to win celebrity for his part in the Watergate break-in), Mr. Buckley went to work for the American Mercury magazine, but resigned after spotting anti-Semitic tendencies in the magazine.

Over the next few years, Mr. Buckley worked as a freelance writer and lecturer, and wrote a second book with L. Brent Bozell, his brother-in-law. Published in 1954, “McCarthy and His Enemies” was a sturdy defense of the senator from Wisconsin who was then in the throes of his campaign against communists, liberals and the Democratic Party.

In 1955, Mr. Buckley started National Review as voice for “the disciples of truth, who defend the organic moral order” with a $100,000 gift from his father. The first issue, which came out in November, claimed the publication “stands athwart history yelling Stop.”

It proved it by lining up squarely behind Southern segregationists, saying blacks should be denied the vote. After some conservatives objected, Mr. Buckley suggested instead that both uneducated whites and blacks should not be allowed to vote.

Mr. Buckley did not accord automatic support to Republicans, starting with Eisenhower’s campaign for re-election in 1956. National Review’s tepid endorsement: “We prefer Ike.”

Circulation increased from 16,000 in 1957 to 125,000 at the time of Goldwater’s candidacy in 1964, and leveled off to around 100,000 in 1980. It is now 155,000. The magazine has always had to be subsidized by readers’ donations.

Along with offering a forum to big-gun conservatives like Russell Kirk, James Burnham and Robert Nisbet, National Review cultivated the career of several younger writers, including Garry Wills, Joan Didion and John Leonard, who would shake off the conservative attachment and go their leftward ways.

National Review also helped define the conservative movement by isolating cranks from Mr. Buckley’s chosen mainstream.

“Bill was responsible or rejecting the John Birch Society and the other kooks who passed off anti-Semitism or some such as conservatism,” Hugh Kenner, a biographer of Ezra Pound and a frequent contributor to National Review told The Washington Post. “Without Bill — if he had decided to become an academic or a businessman or something else — without him, there probably would be no respectable conservative movement in this country.”

Mr. Buckley’s personal visibility was magnified by his “Firing Line” program which ran from 1966 to 1999. First carried on WOR-TV and then on the Public Broadcasting Service, it became the longest running show hosted by a single host — beating out Johnny Carson by three years. He led the conservative team in 1,504 debates on topics like “Resolved: The women’s movement has been disastrous.”

There were exchanges on foreign policy with the likes of Norman Thomas; feminism with Germaine Greer and race relations with James Baldwin. Not a few viewers thought Mr. Buckley’s toothy grin before he scored a point resembled nothing so much as a switchblade.

To New York City politician Mark Green, he purred, “You’ve been on the show close to 100 times over the years. Tell me, Mark, have you learned anything yet.”

But Harold Macmillan, former prime minister of Britain, flummoxed the master. “Isn’t this show over yet?” he asked.

At age 50, Mr. Buckley added two pursuits to his repertoire — he took up the harpsichord and became novelist. Some 10 of the novels are spy tales starring Blackford Oakes, who fights for the American way and bedded the Queen of England in the first book.

Others of his books included a historical novel with Elvis Presley as a significant character, another starring Fidel Castro, a reasoned critique of anti-Semitism, and journals that more than succeeded dramatizing a life of taste and wealth — his own. For example, in “Cruising Speed: A Documentary,” published in 1971, he discussed the kind of meals he liked to eat.

“Rawle could give us anything, beginning with lobster Newburgh and ending with Baked Alaska,” he wrote. “We settle on a fish chowder, of which he is surely the supreme practitioner, and cheese and bacon sandwiches, grilled, with a most prickly Riesling picked up at St. Barts for peanuts,” he wrote.

Mr. Buckley’s spirit of fun was apparent in his 1965 campaign for mayor of New York on the ticket of the Conservative Party. When asked what he would do if he won, he answered, “Demand a recount.” He got 13.4 percent of the vote.

For Murray Kempton, one of his many friends on the left, the Buckley press conference style called up “an Edwardian resident commissioner reading aloud the 39 articles of the Anglican establishment to a conscript of assembled Zulus.”

Unlike his brother James who served as a United States senator from New York, Mr. Buckley generally avoided official government posts. He did serve from 1969 to 1972 as a presidential appointee to the National Advisory Commission on Information, and as a member of the United States delegation to the United Nations in 1973.

The merits of the argument aside, Mr. Buckley irrevocably proved that his brand of candor did not lend itself to public life when an Op-Ed article he wrote for The New York Times offered a partial cure for the AIDS epidemic: “Everyone detected with AIDS should be tattooed in the upper forearm to prevent common needle users, and on the buttocks, to prevent the victimization of homosexuals,” he wrote.

In his last years, as honors like the Presidential Medal of Freedom came his way, Mr. Buckley gradually loosened his grip on his intellectual empire. In 1998, he ended his frenetic schedule of public speeches (some 70 a year over 40 years, he once estimated). In 1999, he stopped “Firing Line,” and in 2004, he relinquished his voting stock in National Review. He wrote his last spy novel the 11th in his series), sold his sailboat and stopped playing the harpsichord publicly.

But he began a new historical novel and kept up his columns, including one on the “bewitching power” of “The Sopranos” television series. He commanded wide attention by criticizing the Iraq war as a failure.

On April 15, 2007, his wife, the former Patricia Alden Austin Taylor, who had carved out a formidable reputation as a socialite and philanthropist but considered her role as a homemaker, mother and wife most important, died. Mr. and Mrs. Buckley called each other “Ducky.”

He is survived by his son, Christopher, of Washington, D.C.; his sisters Priscilla L. Buckley, of Sharon, Conn., Patricia Buckley Bozell, of Washington, D.C., and Carol Buckley, of Columbia, S.C.; his brothers James L., of Sharon, and F. Reid, of Camden, S.C., a granddaughter and a grandson

In the end it was Mr. Buckley’s graceful, often self-deprecating wit that endeared him to others. In his spy novel “Who’s on First,” he described the possible impact of his National Review through his character Boris Bolgin.

“ ‘Do you ever read the National Review, Jozsef?’ asks Boris Bolgin, the chief of KGB counter intelligence for Western Europe, ‘it is edited by this young bourgeois fanatic.’ ”

An earlier version of this article included an outdated reference to books Mr. Buckley published in 2007 and to the total number of books he wrote.

    William F. Buckley Jr. Is Dead at 82, NYT, 27.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/27/business/media/27cnd-buckley.html?hp






Pieces of Texas Turn Primary Into a Puzzle


February 26, 2008
The New York Times


CRAWFORD, Tex. — When Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton issued her gunslinger’s invitation to Senator Barack Obama recently, challenging him to “meet me in Texas,” the question many people here asked was, Which one?

The frontier-conservative Texas of Amarillo, in the Panhandle, where former President Bill Clinton stumped for his wife this month, sharing the civic center with the annual gun show? The vast, immigrant-heavy Texas of Houston, where more than 100 languages are spoken in the city’s schools?

Maybe the one of East Texas, with its Deep South ethos, a region one Democratic consultant described as being more like Mississippi than Texas? Or the profoundly unpredictable one found here, in the central part of the state, among the most heavily Republican areas in the country (and home to President Bush’s ranch), yet represented in Congress by Chet Edwards, a well-liked Democrat who recently endorsed Mr. Obama?

“It’s like running a national campaign,” said one veteran Texas Democrat, Garry Mauro, state director for Mrs. Clinton. “There are no similarities between Amarillo and Brownsville and Beaumont and Texarkana and El Paso and Austin and Houston and Dallas. These are very separate demographic groups with very diverse interests.”

In a 1968 essay, Larry McMurtry wrote that Texas was divided but “not yet fragmented to a degree that would raise difficulties for the novelist.” Forty years later, you could sympathize with the writer, but you should feel really sorry for the presidential candidate, trying to make sense of a state as large as New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina combined, and probably even more diverse.

With recent polls showing that Mr. Obama has cut deeply into Mrs. Clinton’s lead in Texas, or even erased it, the state has become a political battleground to a degree not witnessed in a generation. And the rapidly mounting fight has reminded national political strategists yet again of Texas’ strange largeness — or large strangeness — a state that Congress decided in 1845, the year it joined the Union, might well be later divided into four more states should it consent.

That provision stemmed from the debate over slavery, but it was an acknowledgment of the state’s unwieldy size and stark geographical differences, from prairie towns with plainly descriptive names like Notrees and Levelland to the swamps and cypress forests of the Big Thicket National Preserve in the southeast to coastal towns like Galveston, with old Victorian neighborhoods reminiscent of San Francisco.

“Five Texases is about right, maybe a couple more,” said A. R. Schwartz, known as Babe, a Democrat who represented much of the Texas coast, including Galveston, in the Legislature for a quarter-century. “You could say they’re just physical differences, but they do create differences in the people.”

Even within each region, the campaign calculus can be treacherous.

“My senatorial district was a nightmare,” said Mr. Schwartz, who now works as a lobbyist, describing how he courted coalitions of voters in both densely urban and extremely rural areas, home to family farms and massive oil refineries, with large Hispanic and African-American populations and even a small Jewish one, to which he belonged. “And then you didn’t forget to think about whether you were talking to a Baptist or a Catholic,” he said.

Laid on top of the complicated statewide map, 790 miles long and 660 miles wide at its farthest points, there are others, like the one — studied with scientific precision now by both campaigns — that divides Texas into 31 primary-election districts and apportions delegates according to a formula based on the Democratic voter turnout in those districts in the 2004 presidential election and the 2006 election for governor.

The higher the turnout in a district, the more delegates it has to offer, meaning that urban areas like Austin — where Mr. Obama has been received in recent days with the kind of fervor usually accorded only Willie Nelson — will award a large number. The Austin district has eight delegates at stake, while the district that includes Brownsville, a heavily Hispanic area in which Mrs. Clinton has deep roots as a Democratic organizer, will award only three.

“We have grown men crying over it,” Mrs. Clinton said recently of the byzantine rules of the system, which also includes caucuses, leading people here to refer to March 4 as “primacaucus night” or “the Texas two-step.”

Texas is also separated into 20 media markets, among the most of any state in the country, with the added necessity of buying advertisements in Oklahoma and Louisiana if you want to cover every corner of it. Representative Edwards said that to reach all the voters in his long, irregularly shaped district, he would need to buy air time in five markets.

“I spent $3 million in each of my last two campaigns, and I didn’t even buy media in Houston and Dallas in those campaigns,” said Mr. Edwards, whose recent endorsement of Mr. Obama is seen as significant here because Mr. Edwards is viewed as a coalition builder able to survive in a place where Democrats are few and far between.

One of them is Ben Kerr, 66, a medical clinic administrator in Waco who was eating lunch there Friday at a venerable old diner that serves Tater Tots, shakes and dripping burgers but is incongruously called the Health Camp. Mr. Kerr described living for many years east of Houston in Port Arthur, which he said many people considered the true capital of Louisiana because of its Cajun population. But he now considers himself a man of Central Texas, and as part of a smaller area around Waco with a deeply independent bent.

He said he had not yet decided between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama but was leaning that morning, after watching their debate the night before, slightly toward Mr. Obama. “Change sounds good,” he said. “Washington is just a mess.”

“Maybe Hillary has too much experience,” he added. “Maybe she’s been up there too long.”

Juan Rodriguez, a Crawford-area ranch worker who grew up near Acapulco but has lived in Texas for more than 20 years, is a good example of the area’s unpredictability for the campaigns. He is 38 and by conventional wisdom should probably support Mrs. Clinton, who has the backing of many influential Hispanic politicians in the state. But as he gassed up his pickup, Mr. Rodriguez said he would vote for Mr. Obama, explaining that he found him more knowledgeable and more trustworthy on immigration issues.

Bruce Buchanan, a professor of political science at the University of Texas, said that the state had always been a complicated, counterintuitive place to campaign but that as populations and allegiances shifted — more Hispanic voters concentrating in urban areas, for example, reducing their influence in the Rio Grande Valley — the regional differences had become even trickier.

“Some people have wondered, for example, why Hillary has gone to El Paso, which is 75 percent Hispanic, and not spent more of her time elsewhere,” maybe in bigger urban areas trying to fight for votes there, Dr. Buchanan said. “She and her team didn’t see it that way, and there’s undoubtedly a lot of thinking behind it. There are all kinds of these double feints going on now as they try to outstrategize each other.”

Mr. Mauro, the Clinton state campaign director, said the state’s importance to both campaigns was ultimately about much more than delegates. It has emerged as a near-perfect proving ground for Democratic candidates to make the case that they can win in November.

“You’ve got to carry a big, diverse state if you want to be the nominee of the national Democratic Party,” he said, adding of Mr. Obama, “He hasn’t done that yet.”

“So I would suggest he has as much at stake here as we do,” Mr. Mauro said, adding that at least one thing about Texas remained predictable: It has always appreciated a good old-fashioned showdown.

“If you can’t keep more than one ball in the air,” he said, “you don’t deserve to be in this business.”

    Pieces of Texas Turn Primary Into a Puzzle, NYT, 26.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/26/us/politics/26texas.html?hp






Op-Ed Contributor

Got a Problem? Ask the Super


February 25, 2008
The New York Times


AS the race for the Democratic presidential nomination nears its end and attention turns to the role of so-called superdelegates in choosing the nominee, it is instructive to look at why my party created this class of delegates.

After the 1980 presidential election, the Democratic Party was in disarray. That year, Senator Ted Kennedy had challenged President Jimmy Carter for the presidential nomination, and Mr. Kennedy took the fight to the convention floor by proposing 23 amendments to the party platform. When it was all over, members of Congress who were concerned about their re-election walked away from the president and from the party. The rest of the campaign was plagued by infighting.

In 1982, we tried to remedy some of the party’s internal problems by creating the Hunt Commission, which reformed the way the party selects its presidential nominees. Because I was then the vice chairwoman of the House Democratic Caucus, Tip O’Neill, the speaker of the House, appointed me as his representative to the commission. The commission considered several reforms, but one of the most significant was the creation of superdelegates, the reform in which I was most involved.

Democrats had to figure out a way to unify our party. What better way, we reasoned, than to get elected officials involved in writing the platform, sitting on the credentials committee and helping to write the rules that the party would play by?

Most officeholders, however, were reluctant to run as delegates in a primary election — running against a constituent who really wants to be a delegate to the party’s national convention is not exactly good politics.

So we created superdelegates and gave that designation to every Democratic member of Congress. Today the 796 superdelegates also include Democratic governors, former presidents and vice presidents, and members of the Democratic National Committee and former heads of the national committee.

These superdelegates, we reasoned, are the party’s leaders. They are the ones who can bring together the most liberal members of our party with the most conservative and reach accommodation. They would help write the platform. They would determine if a delegate should be seated. They would help determine the rules. And having done so, they would have no excuse to walk away from the party or its presidential nominee.

It worked. In 1984 I headed the party’s platform committee. We produced the longest platform in Democratic history, a document that stated the party’s principles in broad terms that neither the most liberal nor the most conservative elected officials would denounce. It generated no fights at the convention. It was a document that no one would walk away from. We lost in 1984, big time. But that loss had nothing to do with Democratic Party infighting.

Today, with the possibility that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will end up with about the same number of delegates after all 50 states have held their primaries and caucuses, the pundits and many others are saying that superdelegates should not decide who the nominee will be. That decision, they say, should rest with the rank-and-file Democrats who went to the polls and voted.

But the superdelegates were created to lead, not to follow. They were, and are, expected to determine what is best for our party and best for the country. I would hope that is why many superdelegates have already chosen a candidate to support.

Besides, the delegate totals from primaries and caucuses do not necessarily reflect the will of rank-and-file Democrats. Most Democrats have not been heard from at the polls. We have all been impressed by the turnout for this year’s primaries — clearly both candidates have excited and engaged the party’s membership — but, even so, turnout for primaries and caucuses is notoriously low. It would be shocking if 30 percent of registered Democrats have participated.

If that is the case, we could end up with a nominee who has been actively supported by, at most, 15 percent of registered Democrats. That’s hardly a grassroots mandate.

More important, although many states like New York have closed primaries in which only enrolled Democrats are allowed to vote, in many other states Republicans and independents can make the difference by voting in Democratic primaries or caucuses.

In the Democratic primary in South Carolina, tens of thousands of Republicans and independents no doubt voted, many of them for Mr. Obama. The same rules prevail at the Iowa caucuses, in which Mr. Obama also triumphed.

He won his delegates fair and square, but those delegates represent the wishes not only of grassroots Democrats, but also Republicans and independents. If rank-and-file Democrats should decide who the party’s nominee is, each state should pass a rule allowing only people who have been registered in the Democratic Party for a given time — not nonmembers or day-of registrants — to vote for the party’s nominee.

Perhaps because I have endorsed Mrs. Clinton, I have noticed that most of the people complaining about the influence of the superdelegates are supporters of Mr. Obama. I can’t help thinking that their problem with the superdelegates may not be that they’re “unrepresentative,” but rather that they are perceived as disproportionately likely to support Mrs. Clinton.

And I am watching, with great disappointment, people whom I respect in the Congress who endorsed Hillary Clinton — I assume because she was the leader they felt could best represent the party and lead the country — now switching to Barack Obama with the excuse that their constituents have spoken.

I may be a cynic, but I’m a fairly knowledgeable political cynic. If Mr. Obama wins the nomination, those members are undoubtedly concerned that they would be inviting a primary challenge in their next re-election campaign by failing to support his candidacy.

But if they are actually upset over the diminished clout of rank-and-file Democrats in the presidential nominating process, then I would love to see them agitating to force the party to seat the delegates elected by the voters in Florida and Michigan. In those two states, the votes of thousands of rank-and-file party members will not be counted because their states voted on dates earlier than those authorized by the national party.

Because both states went strongly for Mrs. Clinton, standing up for the voices of grassroots Democrats in Florida and Michigan would prove the integrity of the superdelegate-bashers. The people of those states surely don’t deserve to be disenfranchised simply because the leaders of their state parties brought them to the polls on a day that had not been endorsed by the leaders of our national party — a slight the voters might not easily forget in November.

As it happens, the superdelegates themselves can solve this problem. At this summer’s Democratic national convention in Denver, the superdelegates could assert their leadership on the credentials and rules committees. That is, after all, one of the reasons they were created in the first place in 1982.

Geraldine A. Ferraro, a lawyer and a former member of Congress, was the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 1984.

    Got a Problem? Ask the Super, NYT, 25.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/25/opinion/25ferraro.html?ref=opinion






Texas Hispanics Face a Tough Choice in Primary


February 25, 2008
The New York Times


SAN ANTONIO — As recently as two weeks ago, Rudy Davila III, a pharmacist, was part of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s political firewall, the bloc of Hispanic voters from here to the border with Mexico whom she counted on to keep her presidential campaign from collapse. But the firewall is showing signs of cracking.

The Davila family has been doing business in this overwhelmingly Mexican-American city for more than 100 years, beginning with a corner grocery that in four generations has become a $16 million medical supply company. The same neighborhoods that propelled the Davilas’ business gave rise to powerful Mexican-American civil rights organizations, whose leaders built a following that has largely remained loyal to the Democratic Party.

It was loyalty to Mrs. Clinton that initially motivated Mr. Davila to support her candidacy. He said that not only had his family’s business prospered during Bill Clinton’s time in the White House, but that he also saw improvements across the city’s impoverished West side.

Mr. Davila’s loyalty weakened, however, after Mrs. Clinton began losing primary after primary. Then, after watching the effect Senator Barack Obama had on his community last week, feelings of loyalty were overcome by a sense of pragmatism.

“The lines to get into the plaza went more than a mile,” said Mr. Davila, showing photographs his assistant had taken at the Obama rally held less than half a block from his pharmacy. “The crowd was one-third white, one-third black and one-third Latino. I had never seen anything like it in San Antonio. And I knew right then he was the best candidate to defeat the Republicans in November.”

Here in the heart of Hispanic Texas, voters like Mr. Davila are being pulled hard from both directions. It is hard to interview a Clinton supporter at a coffee shop or taco joint without next running into someone supporting Mr. Obama. A P.T.A. meeting that started with polite applause during the presentation of the bilingual spelling bee awards ended in prickly political debate.

Recent polls have found the same trend that foiled Mrs. Clinton in her string of recent losses has begun to play out in Texas. Her double-digit lead over Mr. Obama has plummeted to a virtual tie. Mr. Obama has a significant lead over Mrs. Clinton among blacks and white men. His support among white women is about even with hers. And although she still has an advantage among Latinos — an estimated 25 percent of the electorate and some of her most steadfast supporters — that gap has begun to narrow.

With the Texas primary just over a week away, political pundits are reluctant to predict how things would ultimately play out among Texas’ Latino voters. Still, there is endless hashing over how Mr. Obama has made considerable gains in such a short time with an electorate whose ties to Mrs. Clinton date to 1972, when she registered voters along the border with Mexico in support of George McGovern.

But today’s Hispanic voters are a generally younger, more educated and more affluent electorate than they were two decades ago — qualities that make them impervious to Mrs. Clinton’s big-name endorsements.

For Hispanics in South Texas who live along the border, their ties to Mexico are little more than symbolic. Lydia Carrillo of the Southwest Voters Registration and Education Project said that most Hispanics here had been in this country for generations, and that they were just as concerned about issues involving education, the economy and health care as they were about an immigration overhaul.

Veterans groups pointed out that Houston and San Antonio had suffered the second- and third-highest numbers of fatalities from the war in Iraq, after New York, so Mr. Obama’s opposition to the war from the beginning resonated strongly here.

“Predicting a winner in the March 4 primary would be foolhardy,” wrote Jaime Castillo, a columnist at The San Antonio Express-News. “Hillary’s supporters are die-hards, the kind of voters who cast ballots in every Democratic primary. Obama’s backers are energized, but their commitment is untested over the long haul. They are an amalgam of party regulars, young kids, independents and the politically disenchanted.”

Other pundits and politicians echoed Mr. Davila, saying heart had less to do with Hispanic voters’ choices than hard-headed calculations about which Democratic candidate had the better chance of winning the White House.

“Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have strong platforms,” said Representative Charles A. Gonzalez, who has endorsed Mr. Obama. “It may sound clinical, but Hispanic voters, like all voters, not only want someone who speaks to their hearts. Obama is not only the best positioned to win in November, but also to live up to the promise to unite the country.”

Those who have managed statewide campaigns in Texas said the state had two important dividing lines: the one that marked the border with Mexico and the one marked by Interstate 10 from El Paso through San Antonio to Houston that divides North Texas from the south. North of the interstate are Texas’s prosperous, racially diverse economic capitals. The south is overwhelmingly Hispanic, and poorer, though the region has enjoyed some growth since the North American Free Trade Agreement turned the Rio Grande Valley into one of the most bustling commercial zones in the world.

Political analysts said Mrs. Clinton’s base of support had been the south, and they added that she remained stronger than Mr. Obama here. But because of the complicated way Texas selects its presidential nominee — a contest that is part primary and part caucus, and which assigns delegates to state Senate districts according to turnout during the 2004 presidential contest — the regions with the largest numbers of delegates are in the north, where Mr. Obama is expected to receive significant support.

“Texas is more like the South than the West,” said Antonio Gonzalez of the Southwest Voters Registration and Education Project. “Institutions, unions, community organizations are weak. Voters are increasingly individualistic. They are not organized on either the left or the right. So a charismatic candidate can come in and run the table.”

Nina Perales of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund agreed, saying, “Mrs. Clinton was counting on the old ward captains, and I’m not sure they’re really there anymore.”

Mrs. Clinton has endorsements from more than 100 Hispanic community leaders, businesspeople and elected officials. She has retained considerable support among Hispanic men. But Mrs. Clinton’s staunchest support is from Hispanic women, who see their own struggles in hers.

“I think as a female she’ll have more compassion for the elderly,” said Mary Louise Arce, 63. “We’ve become a lost group. Even doctors don’t take care of us the way they take care of the young.”

Mary Perez, wife, mother of two and president of the 20,000-member student body at San Antonio Community College, served as host to Chelsea Clinton at the campus last week. She said that she identified closely with Hillary Rodham Clinton’s drive and determination and that electing a woman would make a much bigger, and better, difference to the country, than electing a black man. And as a mother without medical insurance who said she had occasionally put her own health at serious risk in order to keep the rest of her bills paid, Ms. Perez said universal health care was much more important than affordable health care.

“I blocked out the pain as long as I could,” Ms. Perez, 26, said of a recent kidney infection that she waited several weeks to treat. “And then, when I started getting 105-degree fevers, I decided to go to the hospital.”

When asked whether she was still paying off the $10,000 bill, Ms. Perez voice cracked, “Yes.”

But Mr. Obama has made an aggressive play for some of Mrs. Clinton’s southern stronghold, with forays into the Rio Grande Valley to talk to students about his plans to offer tax breaks that would defer the costs of their loans, to veterans about building more military hospitals, and to single mothers about improving public schools.

As has been the case elsewhere, the tight race between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama has produced divided loyalties in Texas.

Mary Olga Montez, a retired military aircraft mechanic, said she had been focused on keeping the peace in her house. In her 53 years of marriage to her husband, Robert, an accountant, she said they had differed on presidential candidates numerous times. But Mrs. Montez typically kept her choice to herself — until this year.

“He kept telling people that both of us were supporting Clinton, so finally, I told him, ‘No. I’m supporting Obama,’ ” recalled Mrs. Montez, 73. “I said, ‘We need change. We need something different, new ideas.’ ”

Mr. Montez, 75, said: “How soon people forget. The Clintons did a lot for African-Americans, for Hispanics, for everybody. Now it seems like everyone’s forgotten.”

Referring to his wife, he half joked, “Some people, you just want to send them to the corner with a dunce cap on.”

When asked whether all the talk of politics had put a strain on their relationship, Mrs. Montez got the last laugh. “I just feed him a good dinner,” she said, “and that’s the end of that.”

    Texas Hispanics Face a Tough Choice in Primary, NYT, 25.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/25/us/politics/25texas.html?ref=politics






For Hispanics in South Texas, the Choice Is Tough


February 25, 2008
The New York Times


SAN ANTONIO — As recently as two weeks ago, Rudy Davila III, a pharmacist, was part of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s political firewall, the bloc of Hispanic voters from here to the border with Mexico whom she counted on to keep her presidential campaign from collapse. But the firewall is showing signs of cracking.

The Davila family has been doing business in this overwhelmingly Mexican-American city for more than 100 years, beginning with a corner grocery that in four generations has become a $16 million medical supply company. The same neighborhoods that propelled the Davilas’ business gave rise to powerful Mexican-American civil rights organizations, whose leaders built a following that has largely remained loyal to the Democratic Party.

It was loyalty to Mrs. Clinton that initially motivated Mr. Davila to support her candidacy. He said that not only had his family’s business prospered during Bill Clinton’s time in the White House, but that he also saw improvements across the city’s impoverished West side.

Mr. Davila’s loyalty weakened, however, after Mrs. Clinton began losing primary after primary. Then, after watching the effect Senator Barack Obama had on his community last week, feelings of loyalty were overcome by a sense of pragmatism.

“The lines to get into the plaza went more than a mile,” said Mr. Davila, showing photographs his assistant had taken at the Obama rally held less than half a block from his pharmacy. “The crowd was one-third white, one-third black and one-third Latino. I had never seen anything like it in San Antonio. And I knew right then he was the best candidate to defeat the Republicans in November.”

Here in the heart of Hispanic Texas, voters like Mr. Davila are being pulled hard from both directions. It is hard to interview a Clinton supporter at a coffee shop or taco joint without next running into someone supporting Mr. Obama. A P.T.A. meeting that started with polite applause during the presentation of the bilingual spelling bee awards ended in prickly political debate.

Recent polls have found the same trend that foiled Mrs. Clinton in her string of recent losses has begun to play out in Texas. Her double-digit lead over Mr. Obama has plummeted to a virtual tie. Mr. Obama has a significant lead over Mrs. Clinton among blacks and white men. His support among white women is about even with hers. And although she still has an advantage among Latinos — an estimated 25 percent of the electorate and some of her most steadfast supporters — that gap has begun to narrow.

With the Texas primary just over a week away, political pundits are reluctant to predict how things would ultimately play out among Texas’ Latino voters. Still, there is endless hashing over how Mr. Obama has made considerable gains in such a short time with an electorate whose ties to Mrs. Clinton date to 1972, when she registered voters along the border with Mexico in support of George McGovern.

But today’s Hispanic voters are a generally younger, more educated and more affluent electorate than they were two decades ago — qualities that make them impervious to Mrs. Clinton’s big-name endorsements.

For Hispanics in South Texas who live along the border, their ties to Mexico are little more than symbolic. Lydia Carrillo of the Southwest Voters Registration and Education Project said that most Hispanics here had been in this country for generations, and that they were just as concerned about issues involving education, the economy and health care as they were about an immigration overhaul.

Veterans groups pointed out that Houston and San Antonio had suffered the second- and third-highest numbers of fatalities from the war in Iraq, after New York, so Mr. Obama’s opposition to the war from the beginning resonated strongly here.

“Predicting a winner in the March 4 primary would be foolhardy,” wrote Jaime Castillo, a columnist at The San Antonio Express-News. “Hillary’s supporters are die-hards, the kind of voters who cast ballots in every Democratic primary. Obama’s backers are energized, but their commitment is untested over the long haul. They are an amalgam of party regulars, young kids, independents and the politically disenchanted.”

Other pundits and politicians echoed Mr. Davila, saying heart had less to do with Hispanic voters’ choices than hard-headed calculations about which Democratic candidate had the better chance of winning the White House.

“Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have strong platforms,” said Representative Charles A. Gonzalez, who has endorsed Mr. Obama. “It may sound clinical, but Hispanic voters, like all voters, not only want someone who speaks to their hearts. Obama is not only the best positioned to win in November, but also to live up to the promise to unite the country.”

Those who have managed statewide campaigns in Texas said the state had two important dividing lines: the one that marked the border with Mexico and the one marked by Interstate 10 from El Paso through San Antonio to Houston that divides North Texas from the south. North of the interstate are Texas’s prosperous, racially diverse economic capitals. The south is overwhelmingly Hispanic, and poorer, though the region has enjoyed some growth since the North American Free Trade Agreement turned the Rio Grande Valley into one of the most bustling commercial zones in the world.

Political analysts said Mrs. Clinton’s base of support had been the south, and they added that she remained stronger than Mr. Obama here. But because of the complicated way Texas selects its presidential nominee — a contest that is part primary and part caucus, and which assigns delegates to state Senate districts according to turnout during the 2004 presidential contest — the regions with the largest numbers of delegates are in the north, where Mr. Obama is expected to receive significant support.

“Texas is more like the South than the West,” said Antonio Gonzalez of the Southwest Voters Registration and Education Project. “Institutions, unions, community organizations are weak. Voters are increasingly individualistic. They are not organized on either the left or the right. So a charismatic candidate can come in and run the table.”

Nina Perales of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund agreed, saying, “Mrs. Clinton was counting on the old ward captains, and I’m not sure they’re really there anymore.”

Mrs. Clinton has endorsements from more than 100 Hispanic community leaders, businesspeople and elected officials. She has retained considerable support among Hispanic men. But Mrs. Clinton’s staunchest support is from Hispanic women, who see their own struggles in hers.

“I think as a female she’ll have more compassion for the elderly,” said Mary Louise Arce, 63. “We’ve become a lost group. Even doctors don’t take care of us the way they take care of the young.”

Mary Perez, wife, mother of two and president of the 20,000-member student body at San Antonio Community College, served as host to Chelsea Clinton at the campus last week. She said that she identified closely with Hillary Rodham Clinton’s drive and determination and that electing a woman would make a much bigger, and better, difference to the country, than electing a black man. And as a mother without medical insurance who said she had occasionally put her own health at serious risk in order to keep the rest of her bills paid, Ms. Perez said universal health care was much more important than affordable health care.

“I blocked out the pain as long as I could,” Ms. Perez, 26, said of a recent kidney infection that she waited several weeks to treat. “And then, when I started getting 105-degree fevers, I decided to go to the hospital.”

When asked whether she was still paying off the $10,000 bill, Ms. Perez voice cracked, “Yes.”

But Mr. Obama has made an aggressive play for some of Mrs. Clinton’s southern stronghold, with forays into the Rio Grande Valley to talk to students about his plans to offer tax breaks that would defer the costs of their loans, to veterans about building more military hospitals, and to single mothers about improving public schools.

As has been the case elsewhere, the tight race between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama has produced divided loyalties in Texas.

Mary Olga Montez, a retired military aircraft mechanic, said she had been focused on keeping the peace in her house. In her 53 years of marriage to her husband, Robert, an accountant, she said they had differed on presidential candidates numerous times. But Mrs. Montez typically kept her choice to herself — until this year.

“He kept telling people that both of us were supporting Clinton, so finally, I told him, ‘No. I’m supporting Obama,’ ” recalled Mrs. Montez, 73. “I said, ‘We need change. We need something different, new ideas.’ ”

Mr. Montez, 75, said: “How soon people forget. The Clintons did a lot for African-Americans, for Hispanics, for everybody. Now it seems like everyone’s forgotten.”

Referring to his wife, he half joked, “Some people, you just want to send them to the corner with a dunce cap on.”

When asked whether all the talk of politics had put a strain on their relationship, Mrs. Montez got the last laugh. “I just feed him a good dinner,” she said, “and that’s the end of that.”

    For Hispanics in South Texas, the Choice Is Tough, NYT, 25.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/25/us/politics/25texas.html






Political Memo

In Painful Past, Hushed Worry About Obama


February 25, 2008
The New York Times


DALLAS — There is a hushed worry on the minds of many supporters of Senator Barack Obama, echoing in conversations from state to state, rally to rally: Will he be safe?

In Colorado, two sisters say they pray daily for his safety. In New Mexico, a daughter says she persuaded her mother to still vote for Mr. Obama, even though the mother feared that winning would put him in danger. And at a rally here, a woman expressed worries that a message of hope and change, in addition to his race, made him more vulnerable to violence.

“I’ve got the best protection in the world,” Mr. Obama, of Illinois, said in an interview, reprising a line he tells supporters who raise the issue with him. “So stop worrying.”

Yet worry they do, with the spring of 1968 seared into their memories, when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated in a span of two months.

Mr. Obama was 6 at the time, and like many of his admirers, he has only read about the violence that traumatized the nation. But those recollections and images are often invoked by older voters, who watch his candidacy with fascination, as well as an uneasy air of apprehension, as Democrats inch closer to selecting their nominee.

Mr. Obama has had Secret Service agents surrounding him since May 3, the earliest a candidate has ever been provided protection. (He reluctantly gave in to the insistent urging of Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, and others in Congress.) As his rallies have swelled in size, his security has increased, coming close to rivaling that given to a sitting president.

His wife, Michelle Obama, voiced concerns about his safety before he was elected to the Senate. Three years ago, she said she dreaded the day her husband received Secret Service protection, because it would mean serious threats had been made against him.

Among friends and advisers, danger is something Mr. Obama rarely mentions.

“It’s not something that I’m spending time thinking about day to day,” said Mr. Obama, who has been given the Secret Service nickname Renegade, a way for agents to quickly identify him. “I made a decision to get into this race. I think anybody who decides to run for president recognizes that there are some risks involved, just like there are risks in anything.”

Not long ago, his advisers worried that some black voters might not support his candidacy out of a fierce desire to protect him. It was a particular concern in South Carolina, but Mr. Obama said he believed the worry was also rooted in “a fear of failure.”

Now that he has won a string of primaries and caucuses in all corners of the country, and built a coalition of black and white voters, failure would seem to be less of an issue. The fears, however, remain.

Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, raised concerns in a letter in January to officials who oversee the Secret Service. While Mr. Obama was already receiving protection, Mr. Thompson said that the intense interest in the election prompted him to make sure that Mr. Obama and the other candidates were offered adequate security.

“The national and international profile of Senator Barack Obama gives rise to unique challenges that merit special concern,” Mr. Thompson wrote. “As an African-American who was witness to some of this nation’s most shameful days during the civil rights movement, I know personally that the hatred of some of our fellow citizens can lead to heinous acts of violence. We need only to look to the assassinations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and 1968 presidential candidate Robert Kennedy as examples.”

In an interview, Mr. Thompson declined to elaborate on any specific threats that had come to the attention of his committee or authorities. He said he wrote the letter to the Homeland Security Department without discussing it with Mr. Obama, whom he has endorsed.

“His candidacy is so unique to this country and so important that the last thing you would want is for him not to have the opportunity to fulfill the role of a potential presidential nominee,” Mr. Thompson said. “It’s out of an abundance of caution that I wrote the letter, rather than keep our fingers crossed and pray.”

Before Mr. Obama decided to run for president, he discussed his safety with his family. His campaign employed a team of private security guards before he was placed under Secret Service protection. Since then, he has grown fond of the agents who surround him, inviting them to watch the Super Bowl at his home in Chicago and playing basketball with them on the days he awaits the results of an election.

Mr. Obama was reticent in speaking about his security or the period in American history that is often raised — without prompting — by voters who are interviewed at campaign events. Mentions of the fate that befell President John F. Kennedy and Senator Kennedy only increased after Mr. Obama was joined on the campaign trail by Caroline Kennedy and Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.

“I’m pretty familiar with the history,” Mr. Obama said. “Obviously, it was an incredible national trauma, but neither Bobby Kennedy nor Martin Luther King had Secret Service protection.”

Indeed, the assassination of Senator Kennedy in 1968 prompted Congress to authorize protection of major presidential and vice presidential candidates. In this campaign, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has had Secret Service protection from the beginning, because she is a former first lady. None of the other candidates had protection during their primary campaigns.

“Some candidates are bigger targets than others — any transition candidate or change candidate has a higher profile,” said former Senator Gary Hart, who received protection as a Democratic presidential contender in 1984 and 1988. “The evocation of the same excitement surrounding John and Robert Kennedy triggers both negatively and positively.”

The Secret Service does not discuss details of its protection, including whether Mr. Obama is receiving more protection than Mrs. Clinton.

Gerald Posner, author of books on the assassinations of President Kennedy and Dr. King, said he did not believe that Mr. Obama was under a significantly higher risk than President Bush or Mrs. Clinton. The fears are more openly discussed, he said, because he is the first black candidate to come this close to winning a major party’s presidential nomination.

“Barack scares those of us who think of the possibility of an assassination in a different way,” Mr. Posner said. “He represents so much hope and change. That is exactly what was taken away from us in the 1960s.”

Here in Dallas, those memories were raised in conversation after conversation with several of the 17,000 people who came to see Mr. Obama at a rally last week.

“Right around the corner is the John Kennedy Memorial; everyone all around me was talking about it,” said Imogene Covin, a Democratic activist from Dallas. “In the back of my mind, it’s a possibility that something might happen because he’s something to gawk at right now. But you know why I think he will be safe? He has a broad range of people behind him.”

That afternoon, Mr. Obama’s motorcade passed Dealey Plaza and the Texas Book Depository building, where the fatal shot was fired at President Kennedy in 1963. Several campaign aides looked out their windows, silently absorbing the scene.

Not so for Mr. Obama, who later said he had not realized he was passing the site. And no one in his car pointed it out.

“I’ve got to admit, that’s not what I was thinking about,” he said. “I was thinking about how I was starting to get a head cold and needed to make sure that I cleared up my nose before I got to the arena.”

    In Painful Past, Hushed Worry About Obama, NYT, 25.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/25/us/politics/25memo.html?hp


















Clinton Donors Worried by Campaign’s Spending        NYT        22.2.2008
















Clinton Donors

Worried by Campaign’s Spending


February 22, 2008
The New York Times

This article was reported by Michael Luo, Jo Becker and Patrick Healy and was written by Mr. Healy.

Nearly $100,000 went for party platters and groceries before the Iowa caucuses, even though the partying mood evaporated quickly. Rooms at the Bellagio luxury hotel in Las Vegas consumed more than $25,000; the Four Seasons, another $5,000. And top consultants collected about $5 million in January, a month of crucial expenses and tough fund-raising.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s latest campaign finance report, published Wednesday night, appeared even to her most stalwart supporters and donors to be a road map of her political and management failings. Several of them, echoing political analysts, expressed concerns that Mrs. Clinton’s spending priorities amounted to costly errors in judgment that have hamstrung her competitiveness against Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.

“We didn’t raise all of this money to keep paying consultants who have pursued basically the wrong strategy for a year now,” said a prominent New York donor. “So much about her campaign needs to change — but it may be too late.”

The high-priced senior consultants to Mrs. Clinton, of New York, have emerged as particular targets of complaints, given that they conceived and executed a political strategy that has thus far proved unsuccessful.

The firm that includes Mark Penn, Mrs. Clinton’s chief strategist and pollster, and his team collected $3.8 million for fees and expenses in January; in total, including what the campaign still owes, the firm has billed more than $10 million for consulting, direct mail and other services, an amount other Democratic strategists who are not affiliated with either campaign called stunning.

Howard Wolfson, the communications director and a senior member of the advertising team, earned nearly $267,000 in January. His total, including the campaign’s debt to him, tops $730,000.

The advertising firm owned by Mandy Grunwald, the longtime media strategist for both Mrs. Clinton and Bill Clinton, the former president, has collected $2.3 million in fees and expenses, and is still owed another $240,000.

“Fees and payments are in line with industry standards,” Mr. Wolfson said. “Spending priorities have been consistent with overall strategic goals.”

But some Democrats are now asking if the money spent on a campaign that appears to be sputtering — $106 million so far — was worth it.

“It’s easy to be critical, but had she won Iowa, none of this would have mattered. It wouldn’t have mattered what she spent because money would have come pouring in,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic political consultant and a veteran of Mr. Clinton’s successful 1996 re-election bid. “But the fact that she did not has made everyone focus on where the dollars went — and where they think the money should’ve gone.”

Mrs. Clinton came into January with a cash advantage over Mr. Obama, with about $19 million available for the primary, compared with about $13 million for him. She wound up spending at roughly the same rate as Mr. Obama, about a million dollars a day, but because she performed dismally compared to him in raising money, she ended the month essentially in the red and was forced to lend her campaign $5 million, while he had $19 million for the coming contests.

Over all, Mrs. Clinton has spent more than $35 million on media, polling and consulting. A comparison with Mr. Obama’s spending is difficult because of the ways the campaigns labeled expenses, but it appears he spent about $40 million in those areas.

In other notable expenditures during the lean month of January, Mrs. Clinton paid $275,000 to Sunrise Communications, a South Carolina firm that was supposed to turn out black voters for her and collected nearly $800,000 in total. She lost that state to Mr. Obama by a wide margin. Even small expenses piled up in January: the campaign spent more than $11,000 on pizza and $1,200 on Dunkin’ Donuts runs.

Mr. Penn, the chief strategist, said in an interview that, since 2001, he no longer owned any of the political consulting firm of Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates. He said the firm’s fees were capped at $20,000 a month and that the “great bulk” of the payments went for direct mail.

Joe Trippi, who was a senior adviser to John Edwards’s presidential campaign, said he believed that the Clinton team had made two fundamental errors.

First, he argued, Mrs. Clinton built a top-down fund-raising operation that relied on a core group of donors to write checks early on for the maximum amount, $4,600 for the primary and the general election, which left few of them to go back to when money became tight. Mr. Obama, by contrast, focused on building a network of small donors whose continued ability to give has been essential to his success this winter.

And second, Mr. Trippi said, the Clinton campaign spent money as though the race were going to be over after a handful of states had voted and was not prepared for a contest that would stretch for months.

“The problem is she ran a campaign like they were staying at the Ritz-Carlton,” Mr. Trippi said. “Everything was the best. The most expensive draping at events. The biggest charter. It was like, ‘We’re going to show you how presidential we are by making our events look presidential.’ ”

For instance, during the week before the Jan. 19 caucuses in Nevada, the Clinton campaign spent more than $25,000 for rooms at the Bellagio in Las Vegas; nearly $5,000 was spent at the Four Seasons in Las Vegas that week. Some staff members also stayed at Planet Hollywood nearby.

From the start of the campaign, some donors had concerns about the Clinton team’s ability to manage money.

Patti Solis Doyle, Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign manager until she was replaced on Feb. 10, also ran her Senate re-election bid in 2006. That campaign spent about $30 million even though Mrs. Clinton faced only token Democratic and Republican opposition.

“The Senate race spending in 2006 was an omen for a lot of us inside the campaign, but Hillary assured us that her presidential bid would be the best run in history,” said one major Clinton fund-raiser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations within the campaign.

Yet the Clinton campaign at times found itself spending money on items that were not ultimately helpful. As part of their get-out-the-vote effort in Iowa, the campaign came up with a plan to have a local supermarket deliver sandwich platters to pre-caucus parties. It spent more than $95,384 on Jan. 1 at Hy-Vee Inc., a local grocery chain in West Des Moines, Iowa, in addition to buying loads of snow shovels to clear the walks for caucusgoers. Mrs. Clinton came in third in the Jan. 3 caucus. It did not snow.

Mr. Obama’s fund-raising surged after his Iowa victory. In January, he brought in more than $2.50 for every $1 she was given, and from Jan. 5 to Feb. 5, Mr. Obama spent nearly $16 million on political advertisements — more than $4 million more than Mrs. Clinton, according to a survey by the Campaign Media Analysis Group at TNS Media Intelligence. Mr. Obama broadcast 3,000 more advertisements than she did, and he was able to air those ads not only in the states that were immediately up for grabs but also in contests on Feb. 5 and beyond.

For instance, Mr. Obama spent nearly $480,000 on 1,331 spots in Missouri; he won the state’s primary, a closely fought contest and a national political bellwether, by one percentage point.

Mr. Obama’s campaign is not without highly paid consultants. His top media strategist is David Axelrod, whose firm received $175,000 in January and has collected $1.2 million over all. Mr. Obama’s polling is spread between four firms that have received $2.8 million collectively.

“Obviously, some campaigns are more careful and wise with their money than others,” Jim Jordan, a Democratic consultant who ran John Kerry’s presidential campaign until November 2003. “But these budgetary post-mortems tend to follow a familiar pattern; winners are by definition smart, and losers are dumb and wasteful. In truth, campaign budgeting is hard and complicated and three-dimensional and just impossible to understand without the full time-and-place context of the whole race.”

    Clinton Donors Worried by Campaign’s Spending, NYT, 22.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/22/us/politics/22clinton.html?hp






Obama and Clinton Spending Furiously


February 21, 2008
The New York Times


Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton both spent at the furious clip of nearly a million dollars a day in January as they battled to win the initial contests for the Democratic nomination, according to filings on Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission.

But by the end of the month, Mr. Obama was in a much better position financially because he raised more than twice as much as Mrs. Clinton did in January, giving him a commanding cash advantage heading into a pivotal series of contests in February.

Mr. Obama spent more than $30 million in January, compared with the $28.4 million spent by Mrs. Clinton. But Mr. Obama brought in $36.1 million in January, more than anyone has ever raised in a single month in the history of American politics, with $28 million coming over the Internet, according to his campaign. Mrs. Clinton raised just $13.8 million in January. She also lent her campaign $5 million at the end of the month and still has $7.6 million in outstanding debts.

As a result, aided by money he began the month with in the bank, Mr. Obama ended January with $18.9 million heading into the coast-to-coast primaries and caucuses on Feb. 5.

In contrast, Mrs. Clinton was left at the end of January with just $8.9 million in cash available for the nominating contests, along with more than $20.3 million set aside for the general election that cannot be used to help her in the primaries.

As of the end of January, the Clinton campaign had spent $106 million over all on Mrs. Clinton’s primary campaign and raised $118 million, including money for both the primary and the general election, although her total receipts were $138 million, including transfers from her Senate campaign fund as well as her loan and other money. Mr. Obama had spent $115 million for operating expenditures and raised $137 million. Most significant, all but $6 million of his money is available for use in the primary.

On the Republican side, candidates saw their financial fortunes in January rise and fall with their political prospects. Senator John McCain, who emerged at the end of the month as the Republican front-runner, brought in $11.7 million in contributions for the month, close to the most he had ever raised in a three-month span, as Republican donors jumped on his bandwagon with his victories in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.

Even with his best fund-raising month yet, however, Mr. McCain had raised just $48 million since his campaign began through January, a fraction of the nearly $140 million that Mr. Obama brought in during the same period.

Mr. McCain’s financial report for January illustrates the depths he rose from. With his hopes for the Republican nomination pinned almost entirely on winning the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 8, Mr. McCain turned to what was left of a $4 million loan that he took out in November to bolster his final push there.

Mr. McCain had already drawn down nearly $3 million from that loan in multiple installments in November and December to keep his flagging campaign afloat. In early January, he pulled out another $950,000 — almost all of what was left in the loan — to help him in the homestretch for New Hampshire’s primary. The infusion of cash enabled him to beat back Mitt Romney’s well-financed campaign in New Hampshire, setting Mr. McCain on the path to the nomination.

Mr. Romney’s report showed that he pumped in another $7 million of his own money into his campaign, bringing the total amount of money he gave his campaign to $42.3 million. He also raised $9.7 million in January and was left with $8.8 million in the bank at the end of the month, although he would ultimately pull out of the race after a disappointing performance in the states that voted on Feb. 5.

Bolstered by his newfound fund-raising prowess and the loan to his campaign, Mr. McCain ended up matching Mr. Romney’s spending for the month as they battled each other from New Hampshire to Michigan and then on to South Carolina and Florida, which proved to be pivotal. Mr. McCain spent $10.4 million in January, compared with Mr. Romney’s $10.3 million.

Mr. McCain finished the month with $5.2 million in cash on hand, although his campaign owes $5.5 million to various creditors. Also, $2.5 million of his money is general election money. At this point, however, he is the presumptive nominee of his party. His advisers said many former fund-raisers for rival Republican campaigns are signing up to help Mr. McCain, and he is beginning to build a fund-raising apparatus to be able to compete with the eventual Democratic nominee.

Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucus in the beginning of January but went winless throughout the rest of the month before rebounding in Southern states on Feb. 5, reported raising nearly $4 million for the month. After spending nearly $5 million, he finished the month with $929,401 in cash in hand.

Rudolph W. Giuliani’s campaign, which went into a free fall in January after leading national polls and many early state surveys for months, raised $3.1 million in January and finished the month with nearly $9 million on hand, although the campaign also listed $2.2 million in debt. Almost $6 million of his money was also set aside for the general election.

Some senior staff members voluntarily went without salaries in January, but the filings revealed that many continued to be paid, a sign that the campaign was not necessarily on the verge of bankruptcy but had been trying to save money to prepare for contests that would never materialize after Mr. Giuliani pulled out at the end of the month.

Leslie Wayne, Griffin Palmer and Aron Pilhofer contributed reporting.

    Obama and Clinton Spending Furiously, NYT, 21.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/21/us/politics/21donate.html






After Wins, Obama Is Focus of McCain and Clinton


February 20, 2008
The New York Times


The Democratic contenders are scheduled to appear at rallies on Wednesday in Texas, which has emerged as a critical race for the campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

With Senator Barack Obama having won primaries in Wisconsin and Hawaii on Tuesday by broad margins across nearly every voter group, Mrs. Clinton has now lost 10 contests in a row since splitting votes and delegates with him on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5. Mrs. Clinton’s aides have calculated that she must win the party’s next two major contests, in Texas and Ohio, on March 4.

Senator John McCain, all but assured of the Republican nomination, is in Ohio on Wednesday. Mr. McCain has turned his attention to Mr. Obama, calling on him to pledge to abide by the limits of public financing for the campaign.

Mrs. Clinton also focused on Mr. Obama as she went on the offensive early Wednesday in a speech at Hunter College in Manhattan, charging that her rival has substituted rhetoric for practical experience.

“It is time to get real,” Mrs. Clinton, of New York, said. “To get real about how we actually win this election and get real about the challenges facing America. It’s time we moved from good words to good works, from sound bites to sound solutions.”

It is a familiar theme, but Mrs. Clinton delivered it with fresh intensity after the crushing defeats in Wisconsin and Hawaii on Tuesday.

Mrs. Clinton spent Wednesday morning in New York raising money before flying to Texas to campaign. Voters in Texas and Ohio, along with Rhode Island and Vermont, go to the polls in less than two weeks in contests that Democratic strategists say Mrs. Clinton must win if she is to have any hope of capturing the nomination.

Mr. Obama began Wednesday in Dallas, where he was scheduled to hold an afternoon rally. His campaign schedule was trimmed to one public event, aides said, so he could prepare for a debate in Austin against Mrs. Clinton on Thursday evening.

Speaking before a crowd of about 20,000 people in Houston on Tuesday night, Mr. Obama told his supporters that there was still a long way to go before the convention.

“The change we seek is still months and miles away and we need the good people of Texas to help us get there,” he said.

David Plouffe, the campaign manager for Mr. Obama, said that Mr. Obama had amassed a 159-delegate lead over Mrs. Clinton, based on his campaign tally. Following a win in Wisconsin by 17 percentage points, Mr. Plouffe said Mrs. Clinton would need to win in Texas and Ohio by double-digits to gain an edge in the fight for delegates.

“We have opened up a big and meaningful delegate lead,” Mr. Plouffe said, speaking in a conference call with reporters. “They are going to have to win landslides to reverse it.”

Reflecting Mr. Obama’s lead on the Democratic side, Mr. McCain focused his criticism on him during a news conference in Columbus Wednesday morning. He pounded Mr. Obama yet again for his commitment in writing a year ago to accept public funds for the general election about $85 million for each candidate — if the Republican nominee did the same. In doing so, Mr. Obama would have to surrender a phenomenal advantage in fundraising and accept the limits of public financing.

Mr. McCain, who was the only other presidential candidate to sign on to the pledge, was responding to a column by Mr. Obama in USA Today on Wednesday in which the candidate wrote that he remained open to public financing but that he was concerned about the spending of outside groups on behalf of candidates and that he wanted to reach a “meaningful agreement” with whoever is the Republican nominee. But he did not expect, he wrote, “that a workable, effective agreement will be reached overnight.”

As conditions for such an agreement, Mr. Obama wrote that candidates “will have to commit to discouraging cheating by their supporters; to refusing fundraising help by outside groups; and to limiting their own parties to legal forms of involvement.”

Mr. Obama has broken all political fundraising records in this election he has taken in more than $150 million so far, $36 million in January alone, and Mr. McCain’s advisers have privately questioned why he would disarm himself of that advantage and not spend the prodigious amounts he has raised on his own. Mr. McCain, who raised $12 million in January, appears to be preparing for that possibility, but in the meantime is attacking Mr. Obama as someone who could not keep his word should bear the responsibility for breaking the pledge.

If Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton did not accept public financing in the general election, Mr. McCain said, “I obviously would have to re-evaluate.”

Reporting was contributed by John M. Broder in New York, Elisabeth Bumiller in Columbus, Ohio, and Jeff Zeleny in Texas.

    After Wins, Obama Is Focus of McCain and Clinton, NYT, 20.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/20/us/politics/20cnd-politics.html?hp






Wisconsin Hands Obama a Victory, the Ninth in a Row


February 20, 2008
The New York Times


Senator Barack Obama decisively beat Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday night, accelerating his momentum ahead of crucial primaries in Ohio and Texas and cutting into Mrs. Clinton’s support among women and union members.

With the two rivals now battling state by state over margins of victory and allotment of delegates, surveys of voters leaving the Wisconsin polls showed Mr. Obama, of Illinois, making new inroads with those two groups as well as middle-age voters and continuing to win support from white men and younger voters — a performance that yielded grim tidings for Mrs. Clinton, of New York.

On the Republican side, Senator John McCain of Arizona won a commanding victory over Mike Huckabee in the Wisconsin contest and led by a wide margin in Washington State. All but assured of his party’s nomination, Mr. McCain immediately went after Mr. Obama during a rally in Ohio, deriding “eloquent but empty” calls for change.

For Mr. Obama, Wisconsin was his ninth consecutive victory, a streak in which he has not only run up big margins in many states but also pulled votes from once-stalwart supporters of Mrs. Clinton, like low- and middle-income people and women. Voters in Hawaii were also holding caucuses, but results were not expected until Wednesday morning.

Mrs. Clinton wasted no time in signaling that she would now take a tougher line against Mr. Obama — a recognition, her advisers said, that she must act to alter the course of the campaign and define Mr. Obama on her terms.

In a speech in Ohio shortly after the polls closed in Wisconsin, she alluded to what her campaign considers Mr. Obama’s lack of experience, and his support for a health insurance plan that would not initially seek to cover all Americans.

“This is the choice we face: One of us is ready to be commander in chief in a dangerous world,” Mrs. Clinton said in the remarks, which she also planned to expand upon in a speech in New York City on Wednesday. “One of us has faced serious Republican opposition in the past — and one of us is ready to do it again.” Mrs. Clinton did not mention the Wisconsin results; she did, however, call Mr. Obama to congratulate him on the victory.

As Mrs. Clinton was speaking, Mr. Obama appeared on stage at a rally in Texas, effectively cutting her off as cable television networks dropped her in midsentence, a telling sign of the showmanship power of a front-runner.

“Houston, I think we achieved liftoff here,” Mr. Obama told a crowd of 20,000 people in that city as he hailed the voters of Wisconsin. “The change we seek is still months and miles away, and we need the good people of Texas to help us get there.”

With 90 percent of the electoral precincts in Wisconsin reporting, Mr. Obama had 58 percent of the vote to Mrs. Clinton’s 41 percent. On the Republican side, Mr. McCain had 55 percent to Mr. Huckabee’s 37 percent. And early returns in Washington State showed him with 48 percent of the vote to Mr. Huckabee’s 21 percent.

In Wisconsin, the survey of voters leaving the polls found that Democrats believed Mr. Obama would be more likely than Mrs. Clinton, by 63 percent to 37 percent, to defeat the Republican nominee in the fall.

Her latest loss narrowed even further Mrs. Clinton’s options and leaves her little, if any, room for error. Her road to victory is now a cliff walk.

By the calculation of her own aides, she now almost certainly will need to win the next two big contests, Texas and Ohio on March 4, as well as Pennsylvania on April 22 in order to maintain a viable claim to the nomination and stop so-called superdelegates from breaking for Mr. Obama. But there has been evidence this month that Mr. Obama is building momentum with each victory, and recent polls have suggested that Mrs. Clinton’s once-large lead in Ohio and Texas is shrinking.

What is more, it may not be enough at this point for Mrs. Clinton to simply win Ohio and Texas. She needs delegates to catch up with Mr. Obama; under the rules by which the Democratic Party allocates delegates, she will need to win double-digit victories to pick up enough delegates to close the gap.

Finally, Mrs. Clinton continues to struggle to find a way to try to raise questions about Mr. Obama and stop what has been a rush of voters to his side. Her Tuesday night speech about Mr. Obama’s experience level was one of her toughest yet; still, she has been making similar arguments for months now, and they have not caught fire thus far.

With his Wisconsin victory, Mr. Obama moved into a lead over Mrs. Clinton in delegates; going into the vote, he had 1,078 delegates to Mrs. Clinton’s 1,081, according to a count by The New York Times. Wisconsin had 74 pledged delegates in play, while Hawaii had 20 pledged delegates.

Although Wisconsin borders Mr. Obama’s home state, Illinois, the primary presented a challenge because of the large share of blue-collar workers, a group that he has struggled to win over. Yet the results represented a turnaround for Mr. Obama: About one-third of voters in the Democratic primary came from union households, and they split their votes evenly between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama, according to a statewide exit poll conducted by Edison/Mitofsky for the National Election Pool.

By contrast, in the Feb. 5 primaries in New Jersey and California, two states Mrs. Clinton won, the percentage of Democratic voters from union households was also about one-third of those surveyed by Edison/Mitofsky, but they supported Mrs. Clinton more strongly than in Wisconsin.

About 6 in 10 white men voted for Mr. Obama, while white women split evenly between him and Mrs. Clinton, the polls showed. Mrs. Clinton turned in another strong performance with voters over the age of 60, meanwhile.

In forging ahead, Clinton advisers say she is determined to win strongly among women and union members in Ohio and Texas, and cited a number of factors that they were counting on: Mrs. Clinton’s performance in televised debates in each state this month, including one in Texas on Thursday; her increasingly populist message at campaign rallies; attacks by her and her advisers on Mr. Obama’s authenticity; and her continuing portrayal of him as inexperienced.

On the Republican side, Mr. McCain declared victory in Wisconsin shortly after the polls closed and continued rolling past his last major challenger, Mr. Huckabee, toward the goal of winning the 1,191 delegates needed to seal the party’s nomination.

But surveys of voters gave evidence of misgivings about his candidacy: more than 4 in 10 voters said Mr. McCain was not conservative enough; conservative voters split their votes evenly between the two men. And Mr. Huckabee won a majority of the vote of the one-third of evangelical voters who participated in the Republican primary.

Addressing a packed ballroom in Columbus, Ohio, Mr. McCain said to cheers that he would urge the nation not to be “deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change that promises no more than a holiday from history” and warned against risking “the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate.” He did not even allude to Mrs. Clinton.

Both Democrats have been increasingly sounding populist notes recently to reflect the economic concerns of voters. In her remarks in Youngstown on Tuesday night, Mrs. Clinton allied herself with Americans working on the “night shift” — a phrase that is also the title of a new advertisement that began running in Ohio on Tuesday night. The ad ends with an image of Mrs. Clinton doing paperwork, illuminated by a lamp, as a narrator says, “She’s worked the night shift, too.”

While Mrs. Clinton drew some of her largest crowds to date in Texas, her decision to spend time away from Wisconsin troubled some of her supporters, who believed she had erred in not campaigning enough in states she lost recently, like Maine.

Mr. Obama’s audiences, meanwhile, were filled with a tapestry of supporters — young and old, black and white — many of whom said they had been following the presidential race as it unfolded in neighboring states like Iowa.

Mary Liedtke, a defense lawyer in Eau Claire, Wis., said she had been a supporter of Mrs. Clinton. But in the final weeks of the Iowa caucus campaign, she said she had become inspired by Mr. Obama’s supporters.

“Some elderly women I’ve heard say, ‘I want to see a woman president before I die,’ and I know that’s why some of them are supporting Hillary,” Ms. Liedtke said in an interview after seeing Mr. Obama last weekend in her town.

“But you know what? That’s a selfish reason to vote for a president just because you want to see a woman before you die,” she added. “What about the kids coming up? I feel we should vote for the young people.”

John M. Broder contributed reporting from Ohio, and Megan Thee from New York.

    Wisconsin Hands Obama a Victory, the Ninth in a Row, NYT, 20.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/20/us/politics/20elect.html?hp






FACTBOX: Presidential candidates' economic policy views


Mon Feb 18, 2008
11:37am EST

(Reuters) - The following are highlights from recent comments on economic policy from the top U.S. presidential candidates.



New York Sen. Hillary Clinton

Clinton unveiled a plan she said would save $55 billion by taking on corporate interests such as drug companies, oil firms and Wall Street. The plan included a proposal to overhaul credit-card regulations to shield consumers from high fees and sudden rate hikes.

Clinton has proposed a retirement savings plan for lower- and middle-class families that would include tax credits as incentives for savings.

Her health-care plan would require all Americans to get health insurance. Under a public-private partnership, they would keep existing coverage or choose from private insurance options available to members of Congress. Individuals could also choose a public plan similar to Medicare.

On China, Clinton has said tougher import standards are necessary to keep consumers safe. "We also have to deal with their currency manipulation," she said.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama

Obama offered a plan that he said would create 5 million new jobs in the green energy sector and establish a infrastructure bank to spend $60 billion over a decade to repair deteriorating roads, bridges and waterways. He said he would pay for the plan by ending the Iraq war and raising taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans.

Obama has called for a refundable tax credit worth $4,000 for college tuition every year, and wants to automatically enroll workers in retirement plans to boost savings.

He has proposed a national public insurance program to allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health care similar to that available to federal employees.

He said if trade partners are manipulating their currency, "we take them to the mat on this issue. It means that we are also not running up deficits and asking China to bail us out and finance it, because it's pretty hard to have a tough negotiation when the Chinese are our bankers."


Arizona Sen. John McCain

McCain has said opening new trade markets "is a key to U.S. economic success," but also advocates education and retraining for workers displaced by global trade.

Excessive government borrowing and deficit spending should be stopped, McCain has said. He has maintained that too much federal money is siphoned off "to satisfy special interests."

On health care, besides offering a refundable $2,500 tax credit, $5,000 for families, his plan would promote open health care markets by letting providers practice nationwide, rather than restricting them regionally.

McCain says taxes should be low, simple and fair and he advocates lower tax rates and spending cuts.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee

Huckabee has said the "greatest source of short-term stimulus is the Federal Reserve" but that the Fed also must be mindful of inflation.

Huckabee vowed to increase spending on both defense and public infrastructure.

He has promised to "preserve and expand" the Bush tax cuts and touts his "Fair Tax" plan, which would replace the income tax with a national sales tax.

Huckabee says the United States must fight unfair foreign competition that is costing American jobs, but globalization can be a "blessing" because it lowers prices of consumer goods. He criticizes China for manipulating its currency to boost exports and discourage imports.

(Compiled by JoAnne Allen; Editing by Alan Elsner)

    FACTBOX: Presidential candidates' economic policy views, R, 18.2.2008, http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUKN1451512820080218







Here Come the Superdelegates


February 18, 2008
The New York Times


To the Editor:

Re “Delegate Lead by Obama Shifts Campaign Focus” (front page, Feb. 14):

My message to the Clinton campaign is this: If your campaign meddles with the nomination process, and somehow manages to assign the delegates from Michigan and Florida to Hillary Rodham Clinton, I, a lifelong Democrat, will vote for John McCain in the general election.

I have had enough of stolen elections. It was bad enough when the Supreme Court awarded the 2000 election to George W. Bush, even though a recount in the entire state of Florida was clearly called for.

Significant questions remain about discrepancies between the exit polls and the voting machine counts in Ohio, the critical state in the 2004 election. It’s bad enough to have the election stolen by the other side, but I will not abide it from my own party.

Hillary Clinton is not entitled to the nomination because of her stature within the Democratic National Committee. If she wins the nomination honestly through the nominating process, then I will support her in the general election.

But if her campaign tries to change the rules in the middle of the game with regard to the Florida and Michigan delegates — delegates who, according to D.N.C. rules, were supposed to have been off limits to both candidates — then I will no longer support her as the Democratic nominee, and I suspect that I will not be alone.

Alexandra Olins
Winooski, Vt., Feb. 15, 2008

To the Editor:

Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein (Op-Ed, Feb. 15), writing about the superdelegates to the Democratic convention, posit that the superdelegates are more likely than other delegates to transcend emotions to find a reasonable outcome to the Democratic contest, including whether to seat delegates from Michigan and Florida.

But no outcome brought about by the superdelegates other than ratifying an otherwise clear choice of the Democratic electorate will be seen as fair by the loser or his or her supporters unless the candidates have agreed to the role of the superdelegates.

I am a Democrat who above all wants a unified party after the convention. So I propose that Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama agree now that if, at the convention, the pledged delegates for one of them — apart from any delegates from Florida or Michigan — exceed the other’s total by more than 5 percent, the superdelegates should support that candidate; but that if the difference between them in those pledged delegates is less than 5 percent, then the choice of the superdelegates should be respected.

Tom Litwack
New York, Feb. 15, 2008

To the Editor:

In “Superdelegates, Back Off” (Op-Ed, Feb. 10), Tad Devine draws comparisons between the current Democratic nomination race and that of 1984, in which both he and I were involved. My recollection of the circumstances of the 1984 contest varies from that of Mr. Devine in significant degrees.

Mr. Devine suggests that the superdelegates were persuaded to support former Vice President Walter Mondale after the primaries were over, when in fact a large majority of superdelegates committed to Mr. Mondale even before the primaries began. Mr. Devine further says the superdelegates “provided the margin of victory to the candidate who had won the most support from primary and caucus voters.”

In fact, Mr. Mondale and I won almost the same number of overall votes and divided almost evenly the number of states won. In this regard, I could not agree more that the superdelegates “should resist the impulse and pressure to decide the nomination before the voters have had their say.” That is exactly what they did not do in 1984.

Finally, Mr. Devine states that the superdelegates should support the candidate “who has proved to be the strongest in the contest that matters — not the inside game of the delegate hunt, but the outside contest of ideas and inspiration, where hope can battle with experience.”

Once again, I could not agree more, but that is not what happened in 1984.

Gary Hart
Kittredge, Colo., Feb. 10, 2008

    Here Come the Superdelegates, NYT, 18.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/18/opinion/l18elect.html






Op-Ed Contributors

Delegates of Steel


February 15, 2008
The New York Times



THE Democratic presidential nomination battle is virtually dead even between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. And while Senator Obama has moved ahead in recent days, neither is likely to come close to the 2,025 delegates needed to win the nomination from the pledged delegates they are awarded in primaries and caucuses. So the key to victory is in the 796 votes given to so-called superdelegates, the elected and party officials — members of the Democratic National Committee, Democratic members of the House and Senate and others with automatic status under the party rules. Superdelegates are free agents, able to switch their endorsements or commitments at any time.

No one expected that this year’s Democratic race would evolve this way. But now that it looks as if the nomination battle could go on for months, conceivably all the way to the convention, a reaction against superdelegates has begun. Donna Brazile, a commentator, long-time party strategist and superdelegate herself, told CNN, “If 795 of my colleagues decide this election, I will quit the Democratic Party.” Gary Hart, the former senator and presidential candidate, recently declared that the influence of the superdelegates “should be curtailed.”

These reactions reflect in part a legitimate concern that heavy-handed lobbying of the superdelegates might reverse the outcome of the contest for pledged delegates in the primaries and caucuses. But a review of the history of superdelegates suggests they are likely to play a constructive role in resolving the nomination before the convention and in unifying the party for the general election campaign.

Superdelegates were created by the Hunt Commission, set up in 1982 and led by Gov. James Hunt of North Carolina. The commission was reacting in part to a nominating process in which the weight of influence was with a relatively small cadre of ideological activists whose involvement with the party was essentially limited to the once-every-four-years push to nominate a like-minded presidential candidate. Their influence coincided with election losses in 1972 and 1980, when Jimmy Carter’s re-election effort was crimped by a draining primary challenge from the left.

The Hunt Commission proposed superdelegates (initially set at 14 percent of all delegates, subsequently increased to about 20 percent) to improve the party’s mainstream appeal by moderating the new dominance of these activists and by increasing the contributions of elected and party officials to the Democratic platform and their impact on the selection of a nominee; to provide an element of peer review, weighing the requirements of the office, the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates and the chances that they’ll win; and to create stronger ties between the party and its elected officials to promote a unified campaign and teamwork in government.

In 1984, the superdelegates stepped in to provide a majority for Walter Mondale — who had a huge edge in pledged delegates over Gary Hart but not enough to win the nomination — avoiding a potentially bitter and divisive convention that would have fractured the party.

Contrary to the assertion by Mr. Hart, who is understandably unhappy with the system, the superdelegates do have to answer to the party’s electorate. They have to go through the fire of elections themselves, or, as state or local party officials, are responsible for the election of the party’s slate. No delegates are more sensitive to the potential pitfalls of the presidential candidates or their electability than the superdelegates.

They are not immune to the emotions that drive other delegates to be enthusiastic about certain candidates. But superdelegates, sensitive to the implications of internecine battles, are more likely to try to transcend emotions to find a reasonable outcome that enhances the party’s chances of winning an election. The superdelegates do not unite to block the candidate with the strongest support from voters; they have always cast a majority of their votes for the candidate who won a majority or plurality of votes in the primaries.

In 2008, where two strong and capable candidates are fighting it out on every front, where the difficult issues of race and sex are on the table and where the gap between the two in total votes and pledged delegates is likely to be small, the potential for an explosive convention, where in the end half the delegates (and half the party) feels they have been cheated, is real.

In this case, the nomination could come down to a difficult and complex credentials battle over whether to seat delegates from Michigan and Florida. To have a nomination settled in this way is a bit like having an election settled by a 5-4 vote of the Supreme Court. Averting this kind of disaster is just what superdelegates are supposed to do.

Thomas E. Mann is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Norman J. Ornstein is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. They are the co-authors of “The Broken Branch.”

    Delegates of Steel, NYT, 15.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/15/opinion/15mann.html






Obama Supports Individual Gun Rights


February 15, 2008
Filed at 1:07 p.m. ET
The New York Times


MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Barack Obama said Friday that the country must do ''whatever it takes'' to eradicate gun violence following a campus shooting in his home state, but he believes in an individual's right to bear arms.

Obama said he spoke to Northern Illinois University's president Friday morning by phone and offered whatever help his Senate office could provide in the investigation and improving campus security. The Democratic presidential candidate spoke about the Illinois shooting to reporters while campaigning in neighboring Wisconsin.

The senator, a former constitutional law instructor, said some scholars argue the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees gun ownerships only to militias, but he believes it grants individual gun rights.

''I think there is an individual right to bear arms, but it's subject to commonsense regulation'' like background checks, he said during a news conference.

He said he would support federal legislation based on a California law that would facilitate immediate tracing of bullets used in a crime. He said even though the California law was passed over the strong objection of the National Rifle Association, he thinks it's the type of law that gun owners and crime victims can get behind.

Five people, including the shooter, were killed during Thursday's ambush inside a lecture hall. Authorities said the two guns used were purchased legally less then a week ago.

''Today we offer them our thoughts and prayers, but we also have to offer them our determination to do whatever it takes to eradicate this violence from our streets, from our schools, from our neighborhoods and our cities,'' Obama said. ''That is our duty as Americans.''

Although Obama supports gun control, while campaigning in gun-friendly Idaho earlier this month, he said he does not intend to take away people's guns.

At his news conference, he voiced support for the District of Columbia's ban on handguns, which is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court next month.

''The notion that somehow local jurisdictions can't initiate gun safety laws to deal with gang bangers and random shootings on the street isn't born out by our Constitution,'' Obama said.

Obama also:

-- Said Clinton now is attacking him for watering down a bill to regulate the nuclear industry that she also voted for and touted on her Web site. He suggested her attack was made out of desperation because his campaign is ahead.

''I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she's feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal,'' he said. ''But I think this kind of gamesmanship is not what the American people are looking for.''

-- Seemed to hedge on his statement last year that he would accept public funds if his Republican opponent did as well. Likely GOP nominee John McCain has said he would adhere to such an agreement, but Obama was not willing to make such a firm commitment.

''If I am the nominee, then I will make sure that our people talk to John McCain's people to find out if we're willing to abide by the same rules and regulations with respect to the general election going forward,'' Obama said. ''But it would be presumptuous of me to say now that I'm locking myself into something when I don't even know if the other side is going to agree to it and I'm not the nominee yet.''

-- Blamed problems with the economy on a ''failure of leadership in Washington'' that includes decisions by the Bush administration on taxes and the Clinton administration on trade. He criticized ''politicians (who) tout NAFTA as a success when they're in the White House and then call it a mistake when they're on the campaign trail.''

-- Said he has not considered whether he would give up his Senate seat if he wins the presidential nomination.


On the Net:


    Obama Supports Individual Gun Rights, NYT, 15.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Obama.html






Large Union Backs Obama; Another Is Likely to Do Same


February 15, 2008
The New York Times


Giving Senator Barack Obama new momentum, one of the nation’s largest labor unions, the United Food and Commercial Workers, endorsed him on Thursday. Another giant, the Service Employees International Union, was on the brink of backing him.

The endorsement of the service employees, which with 1.9 million members is seen as the nation’s most politically potent union, would be considered a special boon. Members of the service employees’ board were casting votes by e-mail and fax on Thursday night, and two top S.E.I.U. leaders said an Obama endorsement was likely.

The two unions did not make endorsements until now largely because they were so torn among Mr. Obama, John Edwards and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. But with Mr. Edwards out and Mr. Obama winning eight straight contests, many of the top leaders of the unions decided it was time to back him.

“Both candidates are good on worker issues, but there is something about Senator Obama that has mobilized our leadership and mobilized our membership,” said Joseph Hansen, president of the food and commercial workers, which represents 1.1 million workers in the United States. “Forty percent of our members are less than 30 years old, and a lot of them like Obama.”

The two endorsements could go far to help Mr. Obama, of Illinois, increase his support among Hispanics, who have overwhelmingly favored Mrs. Clinton, of New York. The two unions have many immigrant members.

The service employees represent janitors, nurses, nursing home workers and home-health workers, while the food and commercial workers represent supermarket, warehouse and meat-processing workers.

The S.E.I.U. has especially strong ties with the nation’s Hispanic leaders because it played a major role in the campaign to win a path to legalization for the nation’s illegal immigrants.

One top service employees’ official said the union was moving to endorse Mr. Obama now because many leaders hoped the nomination could be decided without a fractious fight at the Democratic convention in August. “It’s a two-person race and we want to be involved,” said the official, who insisted on anonymity because the union is not scheduled to formally announce its endorsement until Friday. “It’s not an anti-Hillary move.”

Unlike the service employees, the United Food and Commercial Workers is not known for its political muscle, but it has many members in several states with contests coming up: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.

“Obama is the front-runner now, and we decided now was the time to make an endorsement,” Mr. Hansen said.

When the service employees’ national board failed to agree on an endorsement last October, it gave its state chapters permission to make endorsements. The S.E.I.U.’s California state chapter endorsed Mr. Obama several days before the primary there on Feb. 5, but Mrs. Clinton handily won the state. Service employee officials said they did not have enough time to muster a full-throated campaign on Mr. Obama’s behalf, asserting that if they had several weeks they could have helped persuade many Hispanic voters to back him.

Mrs. Clinton has the endorsements of two other large, politically savvy public-sector unions that have campaigned for her: the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the American Federation of Teachers.

    Large Union Backs Obama; Another Is Likely to Do Same, NYT, 15.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/15/us/politics/15obama.html






Black Leader, a Clinton Ally, Tilts to Obama


February 15, 2008
The New York Times


MILWAUKEE — Representative John Lewis, an elder statesman from the civil rights era and one of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s most prominent black supporters, said Thursday night that he planned to cast his vote as a superdelegate for Senator Barack Obama in hopes of preventing a fight at the Democratic convention.

“In recent days, there is a sense of movement and a sense of spirit,” said Mr. Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who endorsed Mrs. Clinton last fall. “Something is happening in America, and people are prepared and ready to make that great leap.”

Mr. Lewis, who carries great influence among other members of Congress, disclosed his decision in an interview in which he said that as a superdelegate he could “never, ever do anything to reverse the action” of the voters of his district, who overwhelmingly supported Mr. Obama.

“I’ve been very impressed with the campaign of Senator Obama,” Mr. Lewis said. “He’s getting better and better every single day.”

His comments came as fresh signs emerged that Mrs. Clinton’s support was beginning to erode from some other African-American lawmakers who also serve as superdelegates. Representative David Scott of Georgia, who was among the first to defect, said he, too, would not go against the will of voters in his district.

The developments came on a day in which Mrs. Clinton set out anew to prove that the fight for the Democratic nomination was far from over. Campaigning in Ohio, she pursued a new strategy of biting attack lines against Mr. Obama, while adopting a newly populist tone as she courted blue-collar voters.

Mrs. Clinton also intensified her efforts in Wisconsin, which holds its primary on Tuesday and where she and Mr. Obama now have the first dueling negative television advertisements of the campaign.

In the ads, Mrs. Clinton taunted Mr. Obama for refusing to debate her in Wisconsin. And she and former President Bill Clinton prepared for a new fund-raising blitz to try to counter Mr. Obama’s edge of several million dollars in campaign cash.

Yet even as the Democratic rivals looked ahead to the primaries in Wisconsin, Ohio and Texas, Mr. Lewis said he and other prominent African-American party leaders had been moved by Mr. Obama’s recent victories and his ability to transcend racial and geographic lines.

Though Mr. Lewis had praise for Mrs. Clinton and for her historic candidacy, he said he could decide within days whether to formally endorse Mr. Obama.

He also said he and other lawmakers would meet in the coming days to decide how they intended to weigh in on the nominating fight. If neither Mrs. Clinton nor Mr. Obama receive enough pledged delegates to win the nomination, superdelegates like Mr. Lewis may play the deciding role in who wins.

“If I can be used as a mediator, a negotiator or a peacemaker, I’d be happy to step in,” Mr. Lewis said, adding that he intends to speak to both candidates in hopes of ending the race amicably in the next month. “I don’t want to see Mrs. Clinton damaged or Mr. Obama damaged.”

Jay Carson, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, said Thursday: “Congressman Lewis is a true American hero, and we have the utmost respect for him and understand the great pressure he faced. And Senator Clinton enjoys incredibly strong support from superdelegates around the country from all regions and races.”

The comments by Mr. Lewis underscored a growing sentiment among some of the party’s black leaders that they should not stand in the way of Mr. Obama’s historic quest for the nomination and should not go against the will of their constituents. As superdelegates, they may have the final say, which is something Mr. Lewis said he feared would weaken Democrats and raise Republicans’ chances of winning the White House.

Still, the Democratic nominating fight clearly has many turns ahead. On Thursday, Mrs. Clinton unleashed the most ambitious mobilization of her forces in weeks, reflecting the intense pressure she is under from Mr. Obama, the political necessity for her of towering performances in the delegate-rich primaries in Ohio and Texas on March 4, and her fresh hope of an upset victory in Wisconsin.

Specifically, Mrs. Clinton is hoping to gain political mileage by turning one of Mr. Obama’s attributes, his oratory, against him. She is warning voters about politicians who give great speeches and make big promises but ultimately do not deliver on them.

“Speeches don’t put food on the table,” Mrs. Clinton said at a General Motors plant in Warren, Ohio, on Thursday morning. “Speeches don’t fill up your tank, or fill your prescription, or do anything about that stack of bills that keeps you up at night.”

“My opponent gives speeches,” she added. “I offer solutions.”

Mrs. Clinton has been also criticizing Mr. Obama with populist language, saying she would “take on” insurers and credit card companies and “go after” drug companies. She portrayed Mr. Obama as untested on the battlefield against special interests.

If there was a sign of the imbalance in momentum between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama on Thursday, it could be gleaned from Mr. Obama’s travel itinerary. He took a respite from the campaign trail, aides said, so he could spend Valentine’s Day with his family in Chicago before returning to Wisconsin on Friday.

Clinton advisers said Thursday that it was unlikely they would broadcast “horrible nasty negative ads,” in the words of one adviser, and that they were wary of going too negative against Mr. Obama, given what the Clintons say is the news media’s tendency to coddle and protect Mr. Obama and portray the Clintons as an attack machine.

At the same time, Clinton advisers say that the stakes are so high — in Ohio and Texas in particular — that Mrs. Clinton cannot afford to let Mr. Obama gain momentum. In Wisconsin, for instance, Mrs. Clinton is hoping to stave off a blowout — and perhaps even pull off a surprise — by blasting Mr. Obama for refusing to debate her there.

“The last time we debated was in California, and I convincingly won California, which may be why Senator Obama doesn’t want to have a debate in Wisconsin,” Mrs. Clinton said in a telephone conference call with reporters.

Mr. Carson, her spokesman, said she would keep the debate issue alive until Tuesday.

“A refusal to debate one’s primary opponent is always seen by regular voters as being chicken,” he said. “And voters, especially Democratic voters hungry for a general election win, want a candidate who is tough and ready.”

Mr. Obama responded to the attacks with a television spot of his own in Wisconsin.

“After 18 debates, with two more coming, Hillary says Barack Obama is ducking debates?” the advertisement says, showing images from their debates over the last year. “It’s the same old politics, of phony charges and false attacks.”

As Mrs. Clinton was delivering her criticism of Mr. Obama in Ohio, a similar argument was presented to Wisconsin voters by Mr. Clinton, who referred to Mr. Obama as “the excitement of the now.”

“It’s about whether you choose the power of solutions over the power of speeches,” Mr. Clinton told a small gathering of voters in Milwaukee, ticking through a list of his wife’s platforms and accomplishments.

In New Mexico, one of the more than 20 states to hold contests on Feb. 5, the votes were finally counted Thursday, giving Mrs. Clinton a victory and providing more evidence that the contest was far from concluded. She continued to hold a lead among superdelegates, even as a New Jersey official, Christine Samuels, changed her support to Mr. Obama and at least two others went back to being uncommitted.

Jeff Zeleny reported from Milwaukee, and Patrick Healy from Ohio.

    Black Leader, a Clinton Ally, Tilts to Obama, NYT, 15.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/15/us/politics/15clinton.html?hp






Obama’s Lead in Delegates Shifts Focus of Campaign


February 14, 2008
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — Senator Barack Obama emerged from Tuesday’s primaries leading Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton by more than 100 delegates, a small but significant advantage that Democrats said would be difficult for Mrs. Clinton to make up in the remaining contests in the presidential nomination battle.

Neither candidate is expected to win the 2,025 pledged delegates needed to claim the nomination by the time the voting ends in June. But Mr. Obama’s campaign began making a case in earnest on Wednesday that if he maintained his edge in delegates won in primaries and caucuses, he would have the strongest claim to the backing of the 796 elected Democrats and party leaders known as superdelegates who are free to vote as they choose and who now stand to determine the outcome.

Mrs. Clinton’s aides said she could still pull out a victory with victories in the biggest primaries still to come, including Ohio and Texas next month. But Mr. Obama’s clear lead in delegates allocated by the votes in nominating contests is one of a number of challenges facing her after a string of defeats in which Mr. Obama not only ran up big popular vote margins but also made inroads among the types of voters she had most been counting on, including women and lower-income people.

Should the cracks in her support among those groups show up in Ohio and Texas as well, it could undermine her hopes that those states will halt Mr. Obama’s momentum and allow her to claim dominance in many of the biggest primary battlegrounds.

With every delegate precious, Mrs. Clinton’s advisers also made it clear that they were prepared to take a number of potentially incendiary steps to build up Mrs. Clinton’s count. Top among these, her aides said, is pressing for Democrats to seat the disputed delegations from Florida and Michigan, who held their primaries in January in defiance of Democratic Party rules.

Mrs. Clinton won more votes than Mr. Obama in both states, though both candidates technically abided by pledges not to campaign actively there.

Mr. Obama’s aides reiterated their opposition to allowing Mrs. Clinton to claim a proportional share of the delegates from the voting in those states. The prospect of a fight over seating the Florida and Michigan delegations has already exposed deep divisions within the party.

Julian Bond, the head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, called for the delegates to be seated, saying failure to do so would amount to disenfranchising minority voters in those states. But on Wednesday, such a move was denounced by the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York, who said many people in those states did not go the polls because they assumed their votes would not count.

Mrs. Clinton’s advisers acknowledged that it would be difficult for her to catch up in the race for pledged delegates even if she succeeded in winning Ohio and Texas in three weeks and Pennsylvania in April. They said the Democratic Party’s rules, which award delegates relatively evenly among the candidates based on the proportion of the vote they receive, would require her to win by huge margins in those states to match Mr. Obama in delegates won through voting.

The delegate math set up a new front in the battle for the party’s presidential nomination, one based on competing views of how the party leaders and elected officials whose vote will determine the outcome should make their decisions.

Mrs. Clinton’s aides said the delegates should make their decision based on who they thought would be the stronger candidate and president. Mr. Obama argues that they should follow the will of the Democratic Party as expressed in the primary and caucuses — meaning the candidate with the most delegates from the voting.

Mr. Obama’s aides said they hoped to end the voting season with a delegate lead of more than 100, which they would seek to portray as a decisive affirmation by Democratic primary voters of Mr. Obama’s candidacy. Mrs. Clinton’s advisers said they were looking to bring the margin down significantly below 100 in hope of arguing that the result was too close for delegates to consider in deciding how to vote.

Much for Mrs. Clinton depends on shoring up her support in the portions of the electorate — including women, low- and middle-income voters and Hispanics — that have provided her with victories in key states.

“Hillary does better with blue-collar voters, working-class voters, union members,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, the Ohio Democrat who has not endorsed anyone in the race. “Barack does better among African-Americans and younger voters and upper-income voters. If that holds, Ohio tilts toward Hillary.”

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign showed signs of being buffeted by conflicting forces as it sought to grapple with a dwindling number of options. Mrs. Clinton’s advisers, after some discussion about whether to focus exclusively on Ohio and Texas for the next three weeks, finally decided to send her for three days this week to Wisconsin, which votes next Tuesday.

Mrs. Clinton’s advisers said that they did not think she could win there but that they had concluded at this point they could not afford to leave any delegates on the table or allow Mr. Obama to run up another big margin of victory in the popular vote.

Mrs. Clinton’s aides said they would also argue to superdelegates that they should give less deference to a lead from Mr. Obama because much of that had been built up in states where there were caucuses, which tend to attract far fewer voters than primaries, where Mrs. Clinton has tended to do better than she has done in caucuses.

“I think for superdelegates, the quality of where the win comes from should matter in terms of making a judgment about who might be the best general election candidate,” said Mark Penn, Mrs. Clinton’s senior campaign adviser.

The final Democratic primary contests are in early June; Montana and South Dakota vote June 3, and Puerto Rico four days later. It would then be almost three months until the Democratic convention, a period in which, if enough superdelegates have not expressed a firm preference to decide the outcome, the party could face a period of intense horse trading or worse.

Meanwhile, the likely Republican nominee, Senator John McCain of Arizona, would have a long period to rally his fractious party to his side and hone his attacks on the Democrats.

A delegate count by The New York Times, including projections from caucuses where delegates have not yet been chosen, showed Mr. Obama with a 113-delegate lead over Mrs. Clinton: 1,095 to 982.

Delegate counts by other news organizations and by the campaigns showed somewhat different results, reflecting the difficulty of trying to make exact delegate counts at this point in the process. The figures do not include superdelegates.

Mr. Obama’s campaign said that he had a lead of 1,139 to 1,003; by the count of the Clinton campaign organization, Mr. Obama was doing even better: 1,141 to 1,004 for Mrs. Clinton.

There are 1,082 delegates left to be selected.

By any measure, Mr. Obama is in a much stronger position on Wednesday than he was just a few days ago and in a significantly stronger position than Mrs. Clinton thought he would be at this point. That is because Mr. Obama not only won a series of states, but also won them by large margins — over 20 percentage points — so that he began picking up extra delegates and opening a lead on Mrs. Clinton.

And that is the problem for Mrs. Clinton going forward. If these were winner-take-all states, Mrs. Clinton could pick up 389 delegates in Texas and Ohio on March 4. Now she would have to beat Mr. Obama by more than 20 percentage points in order to pick up a majority of delegates in both states.

“We don’t think our lead will drop below 100 delegates,” David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, said in an interview. “The math is the math.”

Mr. Plouffe said by his count, Mr. Obama had won 14 states by a margin of over 20 percentage points or more; Mrs. Clinton has won two states by that margin.

Mr. Penn said the Clinton campaign believed that it could mitigate the losses she suffered by winning in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania. In addition to whatever demographic advantage she might have in Ohio, Mrs. Clinton enjoys the support of the governor, Ted Strickland.

“They are working very hard on her behalf,” said Chris Redfern, the party chairman, who is neutral in the race. “It’s not one of those ‘we show up the last week and do a press conference’ things.”

In Texas, Mr. Penn said Mrs. Clinton would be helped by the Latino vote — which he said could ultimately be as much as 40 percent of the electorate.

But Mrs. Clinton faces another problem there in the form of that state’s unusual delegation allocation rules. Delegates are allocated to state senatorial districts based on Democratic voter turn-out in the last election. Bruce Buchanan, a professor of political science at the University of Texas at Austin, noted that in the last election, turnout was low in predominantly Hispanic districts and unusually high in urban African-American districts.

That means more delegates will be available in districts that, based on the results so far, could be expected to go heavily for Mr. Obama. Mrs. Clinton, Dr. Buchanan said, “has got her work cut out for her.”

    Obama’s Lead in Delegates Shifts Focus of Campaign, NYT, 14.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/14/us/politics/14delegates.html?hp






Obama and McCain Sweep 3 Primaries


February 13, 2008
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — Senator Barack Obama rolled to victory by large margins in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia on Tuesday, extending his winning streak over Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to eight Democratic nominating contests.

The outcome provided him his first chance to assert that the Democratic race, which had seemed to be heading into a protracted standoff, is beginning to break in his direction. And it left Mrs. Clinton facing weeks in which she has few opportunities for the kind of victory that would alter the race in her favor after a string of defeats notable not just for their number but also their magnitude.

In Tuesday’s contests, Mr. Obama showed impressive strength among not only the groups that have backed him in earlier contests — blacks, younger voters, the affluent and self-described independents — but also among older voters, women and lower-income people, the core of Mrs. Clinton’s support up to now, according to exit polls. Mr. Obama also won majorities of white men and Hispanic voters in Virginia, though not in Maryland.

With almost all precincts reporting, Mr. Obama won 75 percent of the vote in the District of Columbia and 64 percent in Virginia. He had 60 percent of the vote in Maryland with results from 67 percent of the precincts.

On the Republican side, Senator John McCain won in Virginia over Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, virtually eliminating any threat that Mr. Huckabee might have posed to Mr. McCain’s status as his party’s all but certain nominee.

Mr. Huckabee got a boost from conservative and evangelical Christian voters in the state, but not enough to overcome support among moderates and nonevangelical Christians for Mr. McCain, who won 50 percent of the vote. Mr. McCain also prevailed in the District of Columbia, with 68 percent of the vote, and in Maryland, where he had 55 percent of the vote with 67 percent of the precincts reporting.

He said of Mr. Huckabee, “He certainly keeps things interesting — maybe a little too interesting at times tonight, I must confess.”

Mr. McCain turned his attention to attacks on his Democratic opponents, saying they “promise a new approach to governing but offer only the policies of a political orthodoxy that insists the solution to government’s failures is to simply make it bigger.”

In all, 168 pledged delegates were at stake for the Democrats and 116 for the Republicans. The Democrats will divide delegates proportionally to the candidates’ vote statewide and at the Congressional level while the Republican races are winner-take-all.

Mr. Obama’s victories gave him a lead over Mrs. Clinton among pledged delegates, according to preliminary counts by the Obama campaign and some news organizations. Obama aides calculate that he also leads in delegate counts that include so-called superdelegates, the party officers and elected officials who control 20 percent of the total delegates to the Democratic convention.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign has suffered in recent weeks from overspending and internal upheaval, including the demotion of the campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, late last week and the resignation Tuesday of the deputy campaign manager, Mike Henry.

Mr. Obama, looking ahead to the next contest, was in Madison, Wis., when the results came in. In remarks to a boisterous rally, he did not mention Mrs. Clinton by name. But over loud applause he declared: “We also know that at this moment the cynics can no longer say our hope is false. We have now won east and west, north and south, and across the heartland of this country we love.”

Mrs. Clinton essentially conceded the three contests Tuesday morning by leaving Washington to campaign in Texas. She scheduled four days of appearances in Wisconsin, which holds its primary next Tuesday, but where Mr. Obama already has a significant ground operation and is spending heavily on advertising. Hawaii, where Mr. Obama largely grew up, also holds its nominating caucuses next Tuesday. But the Clinton campaign’s major efforts will be in Texas and Ohio, which vote on March 4. Rhode Island and Vermont also hold primaries that day.

Mrs. Clinton’s advisers say she will focus on winning over voters in Ohio and Texas to halt Mr. Obama’s growing momentum and to try to stay close in the count of pledged delegates. The Clinton campaign hopes that Ohio, with large numbers of lower-income and older voters, and Texas, with a large Latino electorate, will serve as a seawall against the Obama surge. The Clinton campaign is also looking to Pennsylvania, which votes on April 22, to provide another big-state victory and to stay competitive in the delegate chase.

“We are going to sweep across Texas in the next three weeks bringing our message about what we need in America, the kind of president we need on Day One to be commander in chief and turn the economy around,” Mrs. Clinton said at a rally in El Paso on Tuesday night, making no reference to her losses back East. “I’m tested. I’m ready. Let’s make it happen.”

But in the meantime, Mr. Obama will have a chance to begin convincing his party that his series of convincing wins in the last week represents a turning point in the campaign and that now is the time for Democrats to begin rallying around him as the strongest candidate to take back the White House.

Turnout was brisk in all three jurisdictions, with long lines at polling stations but few serious problems reported. Bill O’Field, spokesman for the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics said that turnout had surpassed previous primaries, with some precincts ran out of paper ballots, but that voting was never halted because the stations had electronic voting machines as well.

In Maryland, polls stayed open an extra 90 minutes, until 9:30 p.m., because of bad road conditions caused by sleet and freezing rain.

Three in 10 voters in Tuesday’s Republican primary in Virginia described themselves as very conservative, and two-thirds of them supported Mr. Huckabee. And 6 in 10 evangelical Christians, who accounted for nearly half of Republican voters here, backed Mr. Huckabee.

Mr. McCain, for his part, had an edge among voters who said they were “somewhat” conservative, as well as broad support among moderates and non-evangelical Christians.

But the exit poll further underscored some of Mr. McCain’s potential vulnerabilities among conservatives going forward. Half of all Republican voters in Virginia said his positions on the issues were not conservative enough. And while 7 in 10 conservative voters said they would be satisfied if Mr. McCain wins the nomination, fewer than 4 in 10 of them would be “very” satisfied.

Mr. Obama’s strength in Virginia and Maryland crossed a range of demographic groups, according to exit polls conducted by Edison/Mitofsky for the National Election Pool. He received support from voters across all income and education levels, as well as across political ideologies, from those who described themselves as liberal, moderate and conservative Democrats. And independents, who were allowed to vote in Virginia’s Democratic primary and accounted for 2 in 10 voters there, supported Mr. Obama two to one over Mrs. Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton received the support of a majority of white women voting in Virginia and Maryland, but Mr. Obama countered with overwhelming support among black voters, men and women alike. Among white men, Mr. Obama won a majority in Virginia and ran close to Mrs. Clinton in Maryland.

More than 6 in 10 men in both states supported Mr. Obama, as did a majority of women, big changes from numbers in earlier primaries.

Michael Cooper contributed reporting from Arlington, Va.; Patrick Healy from El Paso; and Jeff Zeleny from Madison, Wis.

    Obama and McCain Sweep 3 Primaries, NYT, 13.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/13/us/politics/13elect.html?hp






FACTBOX: Tuesday's "Potomac Primary" presidential contests


Tue Feb 12, 2008
11:13am EST


(Reuters) - Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, the U.S. capital, hold nominating contests on Tuesday, part of the state-by-state process to choose the Republican and Democratic candidates for the November presidential election.

Following are a few facts about the "Potomac Primary," nicknamed after the river that splits the region:

* Voters in the U.S. capital city will have a rare chance on Tuesday to affect national politics. The District of Columbia has no voting representation in Congress, and the city's overwhelmingly Democratic tilt means presidential candidates rarely bother to campaign there in general elections.

* In the Democratic contests, 83 delegates are at stake in Virginia, 70 in Maryland and 15 in the District. The primaries are not winner-take-all, and the delegates will be divided between New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama based on how they do statewide and in individual congressional districts.

* In the Republican contests, 63 delegates are at stake in Virginia, 37 in Maryland and 19 in the District. The winner of each contest gets all of the delegates, which could allow front-runner John McCain, an Arizona senator, to pull farther ahead of his last remaining rival, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

* Blacks make up 57 percent of the population in the District, 30 percent in Maryland and 20 percent in Virginia -- above the national average of 13 percent. Blacks have heavily favored Obama, who would be the first black president, over Clinton in Democratic state contests so far.

* Voting ends at 7 p.m. EST in Virginia and at 8 p.m. EST in Maryland and the District.

* In Maryland and the District voters must register ahead of time and select a party. They can only vote for candidates running from the party with which they registered. Since voters in Virginia do not register by political party, any registered voter may choose either the Democratic or Republican ballot.

Source: National Association of Secretaries of State, U.S. Census Bureau

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

    FACTBOX: Tuesday's "Potomac Primary" presidential contests, R, 12.2.2008, http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN1163438020080212






Op-Ed Contributor

Superdelegates, Back Off


February 10, 2008
The New York Times



ON the first Wednesday in June, the morning after the last day of voting in the 1984 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, the long, drawn-out battle that began with Gary Hart’s stunning victory in New Hampshire ended — but only after one last plot twist. I was Walter Mondale’s delegate counter, and I had stayed up all night to estimate the delegates won and lost in the five states, including California and New Jersey, that had voted the day before. I realized we were in big trouble. Mr. Mondale was not going to deliver on his pledge to be over the top in the delegate count by noon on the day after the last primary. He fell 40 delegates short of a majority.

We began a frantic morning of telephone calls to superdelegates, the party leaders and elected officials who only two years earlier had been given 15 percent of the vote in the Democratic nominating process. By noon, the former vice president had persuaded enough delegates to ensure himself the nomination. The superdelegates did the work they were created to do: they provided the margin of victory to the candidate who had won the most support from primary and caucus voters.

Now, a quarter-century later, the Democratic Party is once again engaged in a nominating process — this time between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama — in which the margin of victory will be achieved only with broad support from the superdelegates, the nearly 800 party leaders and elected officials who become delegates not on the basis of votes cast in primaries and caucuses, but because of their status under party rules.

Democrats created these superdelegates after the 1980 election with several purposes in mind.

Party leaders had been underrepresented on the floor of the 1980 convention, which was the culmination of a bitter contest for the nomination between President Jimmy Carter and Senator Ted Kennedy that left our party deeply divided and contributed to the party’s loss of the presidency that year.

Many party leaders felt that the delegates would actually be more representative of all Democratic voters if we had more elected officials on the convention floor to offset the more liberal impulses of party activists.

But the superdelegates were also created to provide unity at the nominating convention.

They are a critical mass of uncommitted convention voters who can move in large numbers toward the candidate who receives the most votes in the party’s primaries and caucuses. Their votes can provide a margin of comfort and even victory to a nominee who wins a narrow race.

The superdelegates were never intended to be part of the dash from Iowa to Super Tuesday and beyond. They should resist the impulse and pressure to decide the nomination before the voters have had their say.

The party’s leaders and elected officials need to stop pledging themselves to either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama, the two remarkable candidates who are locked in an intense battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.

If the superdelegates determine the party’s nominee before primary and caucus voters have rendered a clear verdict, Democrats risk losing the trust that we are building with voters today. The perception that the votes of ordinary people don’t count as much as those of the political insiders, who get to pick the nominee in some mythical back room, could hurt our party for decades to come.

The damage would be amplified if African-Americans or women, two of the party’s key constituencies, feel that a candidate who represents their most fervent hopes and aspirations is deprived of a nomination rightfully earned by majority support from voters.

Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama, and their campaigns, are pressuring superdelegates to pledge support to them before Democratic voters in the remaining primaries and caucuses have made their decisions. But Democratic leaders need to let the voters sort out which one of these two remarkable people will lead our party and, we hope, the nation.

After listening to the voters, the superdelegates can do what the Democratic Party’s rules originally envisioned. They can ratify the results of the primaries and caucuses in all 50 states by moving as a bloc toward the candidate who has proved to be the strongest in the contest that matters — not the inside game of the delegate hunt, but the outside contest of ideas and inspiration, where hope can battle with experience and voters can make the right and best choice for our party and our future.

Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist, was the chief political consultant to Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 2000.

    Superdelegates, Back Off, NYT, 10.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/10/opinion/10devine.html?ref=opinion






Neck and Neck, Democrats Woo Superdelegates


February 10, 2008
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — Seeing a good possibility that the Democratic presidential nomination will not be settled in the primaries and caucuses, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama are lavishing attention on a group that might hold the balance of power: elected officials and party leaders who could decide the outcome at the convention in August.

There are 796 of them, and if neither Mr. Obama nor Mrs. Clinton emerges from the primary season with the 2,025 delegates necessary to secure the nomination, they will in essence serve as tiebreakers. That is a result both sides see as increasingly likely.

Known as superdelegates because they are free to cast their votes at the convention as they see fit, they are the object of an intensifying and potentially high-stakes charm offensive by the candidates and their supporters.

“We have all been bombarded with e-mails from everybody and their mamas,” said Donna Brazile, a senior member of the Democratic National Committee. “Like, ‘Auntie Donna, you’re a superdelegate!’ My niece called me today to lobby me. I didn’t know what to say.”

Mr. Obama, of Illinois, and Mrs. Clinton, of New York, are setting aside hours each week to call superdelegates, and their campaigns have set up boiler rooms to pursue likely targets.

The Clinton campaign has established a system, overseen by one of the party’s most seasoned behind-the-scenes operators, Harold Ickes, to have superdelegates contacted by carefully chosen friends and local supporters, as well as by big-name figures like Madeleine K. Albright, a former secretary of state. For particularly tough sells, the campaign has former President Bill Clinton or Chelsea Clinton make the call.

Mr. Obama has enlisted Tom Daschle, the popular former Senate majority leader, as well as Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona and Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the party’s 2004 presidential nominee.

“You know there is something interesting going on when you pick up your cellphone and see all those out-of-state phone numbers,” said Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who reported getting calls from Ms. Napolitano and Mr. Daschle.

A survey of the superdelegates by The New York Times that was completed a week ago found that 204 had decided to back Mrs. Clinton, 99 backed Mr. Obama and the rest said they were undecided or did not respond. The survey came before the coast-to-coast contests on Tuesday, and the superdelegates can change their minds at any time.

Surveys by other news organizations have shown Mr. Obama in a stronger position, underlining the difficulties facing news organizations — and campaigns — trying to get a firm count from this group of delegates.

The superdelegates include all Democratic governors and members of Congress, as well as officials and other prominent members of the party. In interviews, some said they were grappling with how to use their power if it comes into play, especially if their judgment does not match the will of a majority of voters.

Should they ratify the decision by regular delegates and vote for the candidate who is ahead in June, no matter how small the lead? Are they obligated to follow the vote of their constituents in primaries or caucuses? Or should they simply follow their conscience and vote for whomever they think is the best nominee?

Superdelegates, created in 1982, were intended to restore some of the power over the nomination process to party insiders, tempering the zeal of party activists. About 15 to 20 percent of the delegates at Democratic conventions are superdelegates.

In the close race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984, superdelegates overwhelmingly supported Walter F. Mondale, helping to secure his defeat of Gary Hart. This year, the competition is more intense, and the superdelegates’ support more evenly divided.

Mr. Obama, talking to reporters in Seattle on Friday, said he believed superdelegates should follow the will of the voters.

“My strong belief is that if we end up with the most states and the most pledged delegates from the most voters in the country, that it would be problematic for the political insiders to overturn the judgment of the voters,” Mr. Obama said. “I think it is also important for superdelegates to think about who will be in the strongest position to defeat John McCain in November and who will be in the strongest position to ensure that we are broadening the base, bringing people who historically have not gotten involved in politics into the fold.”

Mrs. Clinton, campaigning Saturday in Maine, disputed Mr. Obama’s interpretation of how superdelegates should make their decision, arguing, as her aides have in conversations with superdelegates, that they should make an independent decision based on who they thought would be the strongest candidate and president. She brought up Senators Kerry and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts; both men have endorsed Mr. Obama, but Mrs. Clinton won that state on Tuesday.

“Superdelegates are, by design, supposed to exercise independent judgment,” she said at a news conference in Maine, according to MSNBC. “But, of course, if Senator Obama and his campaign continue to push this position, which is really contrary to what the definition of a superdelegate has historically been, I will look forward to receiving the support of Senator Kennedy and Senator Kerry.”

Chris Redfern, the Ohio Democratic Party chairman, said he did not intend to pledge his vote until after all the primaries were completed. “You want to make the convention interesting, don’t you?” Mr. Redfern asked.

He said Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama had sought his support, as a superdelegate and as the head of the Ohio party. Neither offered him any inducements, he said, “not even a T-shirt.”

Democrats, including aides to both candidates and party leaders, said they were concerned about a summer-long fight should the primary voting end in June without a clear winner.

“It is going to be an enormous train wreck unless by June 3 a candidate has a majority,” said Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, who supports Mrs. Clinton. “I don’t think we want to go back to those wheeling-dealing, smoke-filled back-room days.”

The prospect that the nomination could be decided by party insiders rather than by the voters has stirred unease among many superdelegates as they weigh potentially conflicting loyalties to their constituents and to Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama.

Several legislators said they would stay neutral as long as possible, hoping to be spared a decision. But, they said, they are prepared to step in and try to push the party to a decision as soon as the voting is over.

“Once the primary season is over, I am hoping we will have a nominee,” said Senator Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland. “If those of us who are uncommitted can help bring that about, then I think we should try to do that.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who is neutral, said she would not stay on the sidelines for long once the voting was over. “I will not go through the summer, I can tell you that, without endorsing a candidate,” she said. “I am not a big believer in smoke-filled rooms.”

Aides to Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama said it had been increasingly challenging to lock down supporters as they traded victories in primaries and caucuses.

Under Democratic Party rules for primaries, delegates are allocated proportionately — rather than winner take all — which complicates the candidates’ efforts to build up a big lead.

“The people who were initially inclined to either candidate got on board early,” said Mr. Ickes, a 40-year veteran of Democratic National Committee battles who is running the operation for Mrs. Clinton out of her headquarters in Virginia. “But at this point, it’s getting harder to get people — especially if they now think there is no front-runner.”

Some of Mr. Obama’s supporters signaled they might battle hard to keep any advantage Mrs. Clinton maintained in superdelegates — in part a dividend from the long relationship of the Clintons with the Democratic National Committee and elected officials — from overcoming any advantage Mr. Obama might have in pledged delegates from the primaries and caucuses.

“My personal opinion is it would be a mistake and disastrous either way for the superdelegates — insiders, establishment politicians — to come along and overturn the expressed view of those pledged delegates,” Mr. Kerry said.

Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said he had not taken sides, partly out of the hope that the fight would not end up on his plate, but also because he needed to work with both candidates in the Senate on health care legislation.

“I want to spend my time doing as much as possible to have this teed up for a Democratic president,” Mr. Wyden said of the health care plan. “That being said, if this goes until the very end, I am going to have to swallow hard and make a judgment.”

John M. Broder contributed reporting from Washington, and Jeff Zeleny from Seattle.

    Neck and Neck, Democrats Woo Superdelegates, NYT, 10.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/10/us/politics/10superdelegates.html?hp






Divided evangelicals key to election


Sat Feb 9, 2008
8:43am EST
By Ed Stoddard - Analysis


DALLAS (Reuters) - Widening political divisions in the once-united U.S. evangelical community as Arizona Sen. John McCain closes in on the Republican presidential nomination could hurt the party in the November White House race.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney dropped out of the U.S. presidential race on Thursday, a decision that almost certainly will make McCain the nominee of his party.

But that is an unappealing prospect to some conservative white evangelical Protestants, whose support could prove to be the difference in the November election against a galvanized Democratic Party.

McCain is an abortion-rights foe but his failure to support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and backing of embryonic stem-cell research are among the political heresies that some conservative evangelicals cannot forgive him for.

With the influential James Dobson, the founder of the conservative advocacy group Focus on the Family, already saying he will not vote for McCain, analysts say evangelical turnout -- or lack thereof -- could be key on November 4.

"It's possible that the lack of enthusiasm for McCain could lead to a lower turnout among evangelicals in the fall," said Scott Keeter of the Pew Research Center.

That scenario could tilt the election in favor of the Democrats as Republicans have come to rely heavily on an evangelical community energized to get out and vote by its opposition to abortion rights and gay rights.

Their vote was widely seen as the difference for President George W. Bush in his two successful White House runs.

"Anything short of a fully engaged and mobilized Republican base will spell disaster for the Republican nominee," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative lobby group with strong evangelical ties.

"Evangelicals do more than vote ... they volunteer, they work in campaigns. They'll do volunteer phone work and pass out flyers," he said.

Evangelicals comprise about a fifth of the U.S. population and according to Pew surveys account for at least a third of the Republican electorate, giving them serious clout in politics.



On the surface, the 71-year-old McCain would seem an ideal candidate in evangelical eyes.

He has long opposed abortion rights -- the litmus test for many conservative Christians -- and as a Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war he is regarded as a national war hero.

His tough guy persona and unflinching support for the Iraq war also resonate with many evangelicals, who see the "war on terrorism" as part of a broader "clash of civilizations" and Middle East events as unfolding Biblical prophecy.

And exit polls show he has been picking up as much as a third of the evangelical vote or more in some states.

But the Republican evangelical vote remains divided, largely because of the continued presence in the race of Mike Huckabee, a Baptist preacher and former Arkansas governor.

And some evangelicals will clearly not warm to McCain for the reasons Dobson and other conservative Christians have outlined, such as his support for embryonic stem cell research and campaign finance reform which many evangelicals believe hampers their ability to participate in the electoral process.

Still, some evangelicals are glad to back a anti-abortion candidate who they see as much more of a uniter for their movement than former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a supporter of abortion rights who once led the polls but faltered and dropped out.

"I'm concerned with the disunity among Christian conservatives and I am upset with the pundits bashing McCain. I think he (McCain) is a very honorable man. I think we have to get united or else the Democrats will win," said Rix Tillman, a Southern Baptist pastor based in El Paso, Texas.

McCain also appeals to evangelicals who have conservative views in areas such as abortion but are more liberal on social and economic issues and thus he can be a bridge between the old "Religious Right" and the "evangelical center."

(Editing by David Wiessler)

    Divided evangelicals key to election, R, 9.2.2008, http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN0741664120080209






Obama Defeats Clinton in 3-State Sweep


February 9, 2008
The New York Times


Senator Barack Obama won powerful victories over Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in Washington, Louisiana and Nebraska, giving him a Saturday sweep going into a month when the Democratic nominating contests were expected to favor him.

The successes come just as Mr. Obama is enjoying a strong advantage over Mrs. Clinton in raising money. Still, the results were expected to do little to settle the muddle in the delegate race that resulted after the wave of contests last Tuesday in which the two candidates split up states from coast to coast.

In Republican contests on Saturday, Mike Huckabee won in Kansas, an embarrassing setback for Senator John McCain as he tries to rally the party around him as the nominee. The two were locked in races in Louisiana and Washington that were too close to call. The Associated Press called the Louisiana race for Mr. Huckabee.

While Mr. Obama had been expected to win the contests on Saturday, the margin of victories were surprising, particularly in Washington, a predominately white state where he captured 57 percent of the vote in caucus voting compared to Mrs. Clinton’s 31 percent. And in Nebraska, which also held caucuses, he received an impressive 68 percent of the vote to Mrs. Clinton’s 32 percent.

“Today, voters from the West Coast, the Gulf Coast and the heart of America are joining the chorus of Americans who are choosing change over more of the same failed politics in Washington. They see in Barack Obama the best chance to beat John McCain in the fall, unite our country, take on the special interests, and confront the challenges facing working families,” said Obama campaign manager David Plouffe.

In the Lousiana primary, Mr. Obama received 57 percent of the vote to Mrs. Clinton’s 36 percent.

The results on the Republican side provided their own surprise, particularly since Mr. Huckabee’s victories came as Mr. McCain seemed headed to the nomination.

Mr. Huckabee declared that the voters had spoken: “They spoke with one voice: they said I am the authentic conservative in this race.”

The McCain campaign played down Mr. Huckabee’s victories, saying they were expected.

“John McCain is the presumptive nominee in this race and our path forward is unchanged by today’s results,” a spokeswoman, Jill Hazelbaker, said. “Our focus remains the same: uniting the Republican Party to defeat Democrats in 2008.

Even before any results were in, Mr. Huckabee told reporters Saturday that despite the daunting number of delegates Mr. McCain has amassed, he was not pulling out of the race. Mr. Huckabee, a pastor before he became governor of Arkansas, said: “I didn’t major in math. I majored in miracles, and I still believe in them, too.”

In Washington, the Democratic Party reported record-breaking numbers of people attending caucuses, with early totals suggesting turnout would be nearly be nearly double what it was in 2004 — itself a record year — when 100,000 Democrats caucused.

While Mr. Obama’s victories were impressive, the Democratic Party awards delegates proportionally, so Mrs. Clinton stands to walk away from the contests with a sizable number, and both campaigns have dug in for a long and fierce delegate fight.

With the fight for the nomination extending beyond the 22 contests on Feb. 5, voters in a fresh batch of states have suddenly found themselves in the thick of the most competitive primary in a generation, after years of casting votes well after the nominee was effectively chosen.

The nominating fight now turns to Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, which hold their primaries on Tuesday. Mr. Obama is considered well-positioned in those states.

The Republican contest seems more settled, with Mr. McCain holding a nearly insurmountable lead in delegates over Mr. Huckabee. Still, before the Kansas results came in Saturday, Mr. Huckabee addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington and then told reporters he had no intention of dropping out until one of the Republican candidates amassed the 1,191 delegates needed to be the nominee.

Mr. McCain has 695 delegates so far, Mr. Huckabee, 159, and former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, 5.

Mr. McCain is far enough ahead in the delegate race that his advisers have said it would be all but impossible for anyone else to win the nomination. His other chief contender, Mitt Romney, bowed to those odds when he suspended his campaign on Thursday.

After the caucus vote in Kansas, Mr. Huckabee told reporters that Republican leaders “ought to be begging me to stay in” the race. “It’s an awfully weak party that can’t handle competition,” he was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. “Competition breeds excellence.”

He compared himself to Ronald Reagan challenging Gerald R. Ford for the Republican nomination in 1976. “He was the pariah of the party,” he said. “Now people love Ronald Reagan.”

On the Democratic side, after being in Washington on Friday, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama switched coasts on Saturday, campaigning in Maine , which holds its caucuses on Sunday. Both then headed to Virginia where they were due to address about 4,000 Democratic officials and activists Saturday night at the state party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson day fund-raiser.

The dinner stands as a major barometer of support among the state’s most dedicated Democrats with the two candidates virtually deadlocked in their quest for national convention delegates three days before Mid-Atlantic neighbors Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia hold their primaries.

Then comes a brief intermission, followed by a string of election nights, some crowded, some not.

The date of March 4 looms large, with 370 delegates in primaries in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont.

In Louisiana meanwhile, exit polls showed about one in five voters said gender was an important factor in their vote in the historic Democratic contest to nominate either the first black or first woman for president, The Associated Press reported. About as many said the same thing about race. Of those whites who said race was an issue in their vote, almost 9 in 10 of them voted for Mrs. Clinton, while blacks who said it was important voted 9 in 10 for Mr. Obama. The racial gap in Louisiana was more extreme than in many other states this year: 9 in 10 blacks voted for Mr. Obama, while 7 in 10 whites voted for Mrs. Clinton.

Unlike previous Democratic contests, there was apparently no significant gender gap, with men and women voting in similar ways, even across races. Mrs. Clinton won the votes of most white men, a group she has lost to Obama in some states but has tended to win in the South. Those women who said gender was important to their vote went 6 in 10 for Mrs. Clinton, while women who said gender wasn’t important went 6 in 10 for Mr. Obama.

Voters over 50 years old were much more likely than those under 50 to say they were looking for a candidate with experience, and those looking for experience voted overwhelmingly for Mrs. Clinton. While older whites favored change and experience about evenly, more than half of younger whites favored a candidate who would bring about needed change. But even though Mr. Obama tends to be associated with change in this campaign, most younger whites voted for Mrs. Clinton instead of Obama. Blacks of all ages favored change, and they voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Obama. Most younger voters were black, while most older voters were white.

Given three choices, nearly half of Democratic voters said the economy was the most important issue facing the country. About three in 10 said the war in Iraq and the rest said health care. Nine in 10 Democrats rated the national economy not good or poor. Mr. Obama had a slight edge among those Democrats concerned about the economy and Iraq, while Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama tied among voters concerned about health care.

One the Republican side, one in three Republican voters said the economy was the top issue. Each of the other three choices presented to them — the war in Iraq, illegal immigration and terrorism — was picked by one in five voters. Half of Republicans viewed the economy positively, the A.P. reported. Mr. Huckabee had an advantage among Republicans most concerned about the economy and terrorism, while Mr. McCain had an advantage among voters concerned about the war in Iraq. The two were about even among voters concerned about immigration.

In the Republican race, almost half of the voters were born-again, evangelical Christians, and most of them voted for Mr. Huckabee. The former Baptist minister also won two-thirds of those voters who said they were looking for a candidate who shares their values.

Mr. Huckabee won half the votes of Republicans favoring a candidate who says what he believes, usually a quality associated with Mr. McCain, who won only a third of those voters. Mr. McCain, who has nicknamed his campaign bus after his “straight talk” theme, won overwhelmingly among those Republicans who favored a candidate with experience.

-The exit polls came from partial samples of 709 Democratic primary voters and 368 Republican primary voters conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International in 30 precincts across Louisiana on Saturday. Margin of sampling error plus or minus 6 percentage points for the Democratic primary and 8 points for the Republican.

On the campaign trail in Lewiston, Me., on Saturday, Mrs. Clinton continued to emphasize that her health care package made her a better contrast, and thus a better opponent, to Mr. McCain.

On the day before the Maine Democratic caucuses, Mrs. Clinton disparaged Mr. Obama as being soft on the issue of health care, an issue she has made a centerpiece of her campaign.

“I am the only candidate left in this race on either side who is committed to universal health care,” she said. “It is a core value, it is a human right. It is not a privilege.”

Mrs. Clinton spoke highly of John Edwards, who dropped out of the race before the Super Tuesday primaries.

“I want to compliment Senator Edwards, who is a fighter,” Mrs. Clinton said. “There is a lot that John and I have in common. And I intend to ask John Edwards to be a part of anything I do.”

A campaign spokeswoman said that Mrs. Clinton was not necessarily naming Edwards as a running mate in the event of her nomination.

Maine appeared to be one of the post-Super Tuesday states where Mrs. Clinton was very competitive with Mr. Obama, although there have been no polls. A victory could help Mrs. Clinton blunt the edge of what many analysts suggest will be Mr. Obama’s expected victories in some of the other eight states voting before Ohio and Texas in March.

“If she wants to win before March, Maine is her best shot,” said Mark Brewer, a political scientist at the University of Maine in Orono.

At stake in Maine are 34 delegates, 10 of whom will be unpledged superdelegates. They are allocated proportionately, and with the national delegate count neck and neck, each one matters.

Analysts say that Mrs. Clinton could run well against Mr. Obama here because many of Maine’s voters fit the demographic profile of voters she has won elsewhere: older, blue-collar and heavily female, in a state that is economically stressed. It has a large population of people without college degrees and who make less than $50,000 a year. Almost all voters here are white.

“The demographics don’t favor Obama,” said Amy Fried, also a political scientist at the University of Maine. “But there are other factors at work, like a populist, independent streak, that could work for Obama.”

Mr. Obama is expected to do well with the state’s more affluent voters in the southern part of the state and its many college students. In addition, he has won most of the states that have held caucuses, which require a strong organization and a more devoted following.

After flying in from Chicago, Mr. Obama went to Nicky’s, a popular retro diner, for his first event, here in the northern half of the state. He held a round table discussion in which he talked about the economy, health-care costs and college tuition issues with four middle-class voters, at least three of whom make less than $44,000.

Afterward, he drew 10,000 people to a thunderous rally here at the Bangor Auditorium, where 7,000 people were packed to the rafters and about 3,000 others constituted an overflow crowd outside, according to official estimates.

He took some shots at Mr. McCain and Mrs. Clinton but fired up the crowd when he talked about hope. When John F. Kennedy looked up at the moon, Mr. Obama said, “he didn’t say, ‘Ah, it’s too far.’ He said, ‘Let’s go!’”

“This is our moment, Bangor” he declared. “This is our time.”

The caucuses in Maine take place on Sunday, with sites open at varying intervals throughout the day. The last closes at 8 P.M.

Officials are expecting a high turnout here, just as in other states. In 2004, 17,000 Democrats turned out. About 4,000 absentee ballots had been cast by Wednesday’s deadline.

Kate Zernike reported from New York and Katharine Q. Seelye from Bangor, Me. Paul Vitello, Steven Lee Myers and David D. Kirkpatrick contributed reporting from Washington and Joel Elliott from Lewiston, Me.

    Obama Defeats Clinton in 3-State Sweep, NYT, 9.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/09/us/politics/09cnd-campaign.html?hp






Obama: Rockin' in the USA


February 8, 2008
Filed at 2:41 p.m. ET
The New York Times


SEATTLE (AP) -- Regularly drawing crowds of 10,000 or more, Democrat Barack Obama has been likened to a rock star so often that it has worn thin.

But the cliche got put to a real test this week in Omaha, Neb., and Obama passed.

Warming up for the presidential candidate at the jam-packed Omaha Civic Center on Thursday was local acoustic rock band Bright Eyes, fronted by singer-songwriter Conor Oberst. Known mainly by indie-rock fans outside Nebraska, the band is widely followed and admired in Omaha.

The crowd of 10,000 warmly applauded the quartet's half dozen songs. But when Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., introduced Obama nearly an hour later, the roar was far more deafening. One young woman seemed at risk of falling over a rail as she tried to touch the presidential candidate's upstretched hand.

Obama delivered his 40-minute stump speech, hitting all his usual applause and laugh lines, including: ''In November, my cousin Dick Cheney's name will not be on the ballot!''

Armchair sociologists are pondering whether Obama's remarkable primary-election crowds, which sometimes reach 20,000, will translate into huge voter turnouts. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton hopes the Oberst-Obama analogy is apt. She will settle for him attracting hip, college-age folks if it makes him a niche candidate while she gets Dave Matthews-like turnouts.


The campaign's exhausting pace often shows on the candidates, but Obama seemed upbeat and bouncy most of the week.

Touring an elementary school in New Orleans, he tried to banter with pre-K children, but some seemed too awed -- or perhaps frightened by the crush of reporters and cameras -- to shake his hand or even look at him.

When Obama greeted kindergartner Xavier Adkins by name, the child seemed stunned. ''How did you know my name?'' he asked.

''You have a name tag,'' Obama said with a laugh. ''Did you think I was guessing?''

He teased youngsters in the lunchroom, saying, ''I'm not sure I'd drink that strawberry milk. Now chocolate milk, I'll drink that.''

Later, at Dooky Chase's Creole restaurant in New Orleans' Tremee neighborhood, Obama joshed with longtime owner Leah Chase.

''You're too frail, baby,'' she said, feeling the candidate's rib cage. ''We gotta fatten you up.''

Obama agreed to a bowl of gumbo, and even offered to buy a round for the reporters and photographers tagging along.

Usually smooth and charming, Obama showed he is capable of an offkey note. Before sampling the gumbo, he asked for a bottle of hot sauce, and generously dosed his serving.

''I hope this isn't insulting,'' he said. Chase, sitting at his side, stared straight ahead.

The reporters, for what it's worth, agreed that the gumbo was perfect without doctoring.

    Obama: Rockin' in the USA, NYT, 8.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Obama-Bright-Eyes.html






Obama Raises $7M Post Super Tuesday


February 7, 2008
Filed at 2:43 p.m. ET
The New York Times


NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Democrat Barack Obama raised $7.2 million in less than 48 hours post Super Tuesday and rival Hillary Rodham Clinton collected $4 million, giving him a financial edge that's caused consternation within a Clinton campaign clamoring for attention-getting debates.

The remarkable outpouring of contributions recorded since Tuesday's contests in 22 states comes on the heels of an eye-popping $32 million raised by Obama in January and the record-shattering $100 million each Obama and Clinton raised in 2007 in their neck-and-neck race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Obama has been riding a wave of fundraising from large donors and small Internet contributors. While not matching Obama's pace, Clinton also saw an online surge of donations from 35,000 new contributors since midnight Tuesday, Clinton campaign aides said.

Clinton acknowledged Wednesday that she loaned her campaign $5 million late last month as Obama was outraising and outspending her heading into the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday contests. Some senior staffers on her campaign also are voluntarily forgoing paychecks as the campaign heads into the next round of contests.

Clinton said the loan and salary deferrals were not a sign of financial difficulties.

''No, not at all,'' Clinton told ABC News in an interview Thursday. ''We were outraised in January, which we took steps immediately to address, and I think the results on Super Tuesday showed that we were more than competitive. Since Tuesday we've raised millions of dollars on the interest, so we're going to be fine.

''And my staff is so dedicated that they stepped up and said, 'Look, this is so important we're going to do our part.' I did my part. So we're going to be in very good financial shape. People are rallying around, and I think by the end of the week we'll be back on track.''

Clinton's national finance co-chairman Alan Patricof said Tuesday that fundraisers were targeting many thousands of potential high donors nationally who had not yet given the maximum donation of $2,300 to spend in the primary season.

He also said Clinton planned to return to New York before the end of February to attend a major fundraising gala there.

''We are feeling very positive about the outcome Super Tuesday, and we're attracting a lot of new people who want to contribute. But we know we have to raise a lot of money to be competitive,'' he said.

Buoyed by strong fundraising and a primary calendar in February that plays to his strengths, Obama plans a campaign blitz through a series of states holding contests this weekend and hopes to win primaries in the Mid-Atlantic next week and Hawaii and Wisconsin the following week.

He campaigned in Louisiana Thursday, vowing to help New Orleans recover from Hurricane Katrina by improving levees, schools and health care, and closely overseeing the Federal Emergency Management Agency if he becomes president. The state holds its contest Saturday.

Obama accused President Bush of failing to do enough to help the Gulf Coast recover from the devastating storm of August 2005. He proposed a multi-faceted program for the area, but did not indicate its total cost or how he would pay for it.

His proposal would help New Orleans hire police officers, repair schools and improve public transit. It would provide financial incentives to attract teachers, businesses and medical professionals.

''When I am president,'' Obama told about 4,000 people in Tulane University's basketball arena, ''we will finish building a system of levees that can withstand a 100-year storm by 2011, with the goal of expanding that protection to defend against a Category 5 storm.''

Clinton, with less money to spend and less confident of her prospects in the February contests, plans to concentrate on Ohio and Texas, large states with primaries March 4 and where polling shows her with a significant lead. She even is looking ahead to Pennsylvania's primary April 22, believing a large elderly population there will favor the former first lady.

In a sign of Clinton's increasing concern about Obama's growing strength, her campaign manager, Patti Solis, sent a letter Thursday to the Obama campaign seeking five debates between the two candidates before March 4.

''I'm sure we can find a suitable place to meet on the campaign trail,'' Solis wrote. ''There's too much at stake and the issues facing the country are too grave to deny voters the opportunity to see the candidates up close.''

Obama rejected a debate proposed as soon as this Sunday to be broadcast on ABC, but his campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday, ''there will definitely be more debates, we just haven't set a schedule yet.''

    Obama Raises $7M Post Super Tuesday, NYT, 7.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Obama.html






In Vote, Obama Fell Short of Fervor


February 7, 2008
The New York Times


Senator Barack Obama of Illinois made some headway in building a coalition of support among Democrats in Tuesday’s cross-country sprint of primaries.

He won the support of many white men, a group that had voted for John Edwards of North Carolina before Mr. Edwards dropped out of the race last week. Mr. Obama seems to have cut the long-established ties between black voters and the Clintons. He made slight inroads among Hispanic voters, a solid part of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s base.

But one of the most intriguing finding in the surveys of voters leaving the polls across the nation on Tuesday was when they arrived at their final decision. Throughout a week when Mr. Obama was campaigning with members of the Kennedy family, when there was a sense that he was creating a movement that cut across racial and generational lines, there was a steady movement of Democrats toward Mr. Obama, the survey suggested. But those who reported making their decision on the last day bucked the trend, tending to vote for Mrs. Clinton, of New York.

Mr. Obama more than held his own against Mrs. Clinton: he won more states and may well have won more delegates, once all of them, including those from caucus states, are officially allocated.

But once again — as in New Hampshire — the result on Tuesday did not match the fervor that had been signaled by Mr. Obama’s dramatic march of rallies across the nation leading up to the vote. In that dynamic rests one of the central questions about the Obama candidacy, which may well go the heart of whether he can win the presidency. Is this campaign a series of surges of enthusiasm, often powered by the younger voters who form long lines waiting to hear Mr. Obama speak, that set expectations that are not met at the voting booth?

Or is it rather a slow-building force, one that despite faltering in New Hampshire and falling short on Tuesday in big states like California has allowed Mr. Obama to battle one of the most formidable political dynasties to a draw and will eventually propel him to victory?

The differing views of the Obama campaign’s trajectory are only one way in which this race has cleaved the party neatly in two: the Clinton Democrats and the Obama Democrats. Age, race and gender have become the dividing lines; nothing comes close to mattering as much.

The Obama Democratic Party is made up of younger voters (under 44), blacks, white men (to a more limited extent) and independents whose show of support accounted for his victories in states like Missouri. Their level of enthusiasm for Mr. Obama — their excitement about the possibility of an Obama White House — is palpable in their response to him, or in any conversation.

The Clinton Democratic Party is the party of women, older voters, Hispanics and also some white men. A Clinton rally may not have the energy of a rock concert the way an Obama rally does. Yet the older women who have embraced Mrs. Clinton as the culmination of years of hope and other core supporters are no less passionate in their intensity and devotion.

If there is a difference between these two parties, it is that Clinton Democratic voters tend to have a history of being more likely to vote, particularly compared with younger voters and, as was the case this week, black voters. That in part might account for the enthusiasm fall-off between the campaign trail and the voting booth that Mr. Obama has to deal with.

“There’s no question that he has tapped into something,” said Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat whose endorsement and appearances with Mr. Obama added to the Obama frenzy. “I don’t think there’s any question that it’s a phenomenon and it is broadening. But I’m mindful that crowds don’t always turn into votes.”

“These campaigns go through different transitions,” Mr. Kennedy said. “He has a very engaging kind of charm, and that is going to become stronger and stronger as he gets known.”

For all the passion Mr. Obama may be generating on the trail, Mrs. Clinton still has a bulwark in women at the polls. Mr. Obama tried to chip away at it — dispatching Oprah Winfrey and Caroline Kennedy to campaign for him, broadcasting television advertisements with women backing him — but to little if any avail.

“He had a really fantastic week last week. It’s hard to think of a candidate having a better news media week than he had,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster who is not working for any candidate. “And her support among white women was really quite durable in the face of all that.”

“Unless one of them figure out how to transcend their demographic niches, we are going to be locked into this for a long time,” Mr. Garin said. “The thing is, if you have to pick a niche in the Democratic Party, women is a pretty good niche to have.”

There are other considerations having to do with the reach of Mr. Obama’s appeal that are going to come increasingly into play in a contest in which Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton seem to be arm-wrestling for each delegate.

Mr. Obama split the white male vote nationally with Mrs. Clinton, but there was an important geographical disparity there: White men in California voted for Mr. Obama but white men in Southern states like Alabama did not. The question is what white men in Ohio will do next month, during what is shaping up as a critical showdown for Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Obama showed signs of doing slightly better with Hispanic voters in some states than he did in Nevada earlier this month, and Mr. Kennedy suggested this augured well for the Texas primary next month, with its heavy population of Latino voters. Still, if Mr. Obama is making progress with these voters, Mrs. Clinton still has the upper hand.

But at the end of the day, the task for Mr. Obama may well transcend the demographics or voting blocs that are the brick and mortar of the traditional American campaign. As even Mrs. Clinton’s aides will acknowledge, Mr. Obama has brought a level of excitement and involvement to the campaign trail that few people involved in this contest have seen before. The question is whether he can move them one more step on the electoral process — into voting — in the dwindling number of contests that make up this campaign.

Marjorie Connelly contributed reporting.

    In Vote, Obama Fell Short of Fervor, NYT, 7.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/07/us/politics/07dems.html






Support Divided, Top Democrats Trade Victories


February 6, 2008
The New York Times


Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama carved up the nation in the 22-state nominating contest on Tuesday, leaving the Democratic presidential nomination more elusive than ever. Mrs. Clinton won California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and her home state, New York, while Mr. Obama took Connecticut, Georgia, Minnesota and his base in Illinois.

It was a night of drama as millions of Democrats cleaved sharply between two candidates offering them a historic first: The opportunity to nominate a woman or an African-American to lead their party’s effort to reclaim the White House. Yet it was also a night when neither Mr. Obama nor Mrs. Clinton could decisively lay claim — or even secure an edge — to the nomination, assuring an electoral fight that will unfold for weeks to come.

In remarks to their supporters in Manhattan and Chicago, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama smiled broadly but were relatively low key in their assessments of the night, as if they knew that their state-by-state successes did not add up to the grand prize of Democratic standard-bearer. Both sounded a little tired at times, already exhausted by campaigning and fund-raising, with only more of both ahead.

The wild race from the East Coast to the Pacific began with the first results in Georgia, then Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton traded victories about every 30 minutes. Preliminary vote figures in multiple states were close enough to spike adrenaline in the two camps as each sought an edge.

And throughout the night, uncertainty about the biggest delegate prize, California, vexed both campaigns. Early Wednesday, however, Mrs. Clinton solidified her lead there, providing a huge morale boost to her team from a state that has long been a cornerstone of successful Democratic campaigns.

Missouri proved to be another story. Historically a presidential bellwether, the state was almost evenly split between the two Democrats at 1 a.m. Wednesday, with Mr. Obama leading by half of a percentage point.

Before California and Missouri were counted, an analysis by The Associated Press based on incomplete vote totals showed that Mrs. Clinton had won 166 delegates and Mr. Obama had won 146 at stake Tuesday. All told, Mrs. Clinton had 479 delegates and Mr. Obama had 386. Those figures are likely to change as the vote tallies are completed and delegates are awarded under complicated rules that vary from state to state.

The results and exit polls showed formidable strengths for each candidate, with Mr. Obama gaining appeal with white voters — particularly white men — and Mrs. Clinton solidifying her support among Hispanics. Mrs. Clinton won Democratic primaries in states that her party rarely carries in a general election, like Arkansas — where she served as first lady — as well as Oklahoma and Tennessee.

“Tonight we are hearing the voices of people across America — people of all ages, of all colors, of all faiths, of all walks of life,” a broadly smiling Mrs. Clinton told supporters in Manhattan just before 11 p.m. “Tonight, in record numbers, you voted not just to make history, but to remake America.”

Mr. Obama, who appeared to be building momentum in recent days, held wide leads in states like Minnesota, and ran close behind her in states like New Jersey. That left him poised to pick up a hefty number of delegates, even in some states that Mrs. Clinton won.

“There is one thing on this February night that we do not need the final results to know: our time has come,” Mr. Obama said to cheers at a party in Chicago. “Our time has come, our movement is real, and change is coming to America.”

Because most states gave nominating delegates to both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama based on vote proportions, as opposed to winner take all, the two campaigns were predicting on Tuesday that neither candidate would have a blowout lead, setting up an intensifying race as Louisiana, Washington, Virginia, Ohio and Texas hold nominating contests over the next four weeks.

A total of 1,678 pledged delegates were at stake in the 22 state contests on Tuesday, with 2,025 delegates needed to win the nomination.

Exit polls showed Mr. Obama winning a majority of men in many of the states — in some places by substantial margins — and doing particularly well among white men, blacks and young people. The polls showed three primary bases of support for Mrs. Clinton: women, Hispanics and older voters.

As polls closed in the East and Midwest, Clinton advisers were initially worried about New Jersey, where Mrs. Clinton had endorsements from Gov. Jon Corzine and Senator Robert Menendez, and recognition for her work after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 in neighboring New York. While she was drawing votes from 60 percent of white and Hispanic Democrats, Mr. Obama had more than 80 percent of black votes. But as returns came in, she solidified a lead.

Mr. Obama convincingly won Georgia, with exit polls indicating that his support transcended racial lines by an even greater margin than in South Carolina, his earlier Southern primary victory.

More than half of Democratic voters in Georgia were black, and they strongly supported Mr. Obama, according to exit polls conducted by Edison/Mitofsky for the National Election Pool of television networks and The Associated Press. Mr. Obama also received more than 4 in 10 votes from white Democrats, winning about half of white men and 40 percent of white women.

Mr. Obama also carried Alabama, Colorado, Delaware and Idaho. In Illinois, his home state (though he was born in Honolulu and Mrs. Clinton in Chicago), he won 70 percent of men overall and two-thirds of both women overall and white men. His weakest showing was among older voters, with only half of them supporting him. He was strongly supported across income and education backgrounds.

The Clinton campaign, meanwhile, portrayed Massachusetts as an upset victory in an e-mail statement Tuesday night, noting that Senators Edward M. Kennedy and John Kerry and Gov. Deval Patrick had endorsed Mr. Obama, who campaigned there on Monday. (Mrs. Clinton visited there twice and enjoyed a reservoir of support for her and her husband.)

“This is a strong victory and shows that Hillary Clinton has strength in places where Barack Obama was expected to win,” the Clinton statement said.

Exit polls showed that Mrs. Clinton continued to enjoy the same solid support from Hispanic voters that fueled her victory in the Nevada caucuses in mid-January. Exits polls indicated that she was receiving a majority of the Hispanic vote in all states, with Arizona being close. While most groups went for Mr. Obama in Illinois, Mrs. Clinton won about 55 percent of Hispanic women.

Among Democrats voting on Tuesday, a majority said that they were most concerned about the economy, outpacing those worried about the Iraq war or health care. Nine out of 10 Democratic voters said the economy was in bad shape.

A majority of Democrats in most states said they believed that Mrs. Clinton was best suited to be commander in chief, while Mr. Obama had a similar edge among Democrats regarding who was more likely to unite the country.

Mr. Obama was receiving at least half of the votes from white men in Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, and Illinois, and he received 4 in 10 in Missouri, New York and New Jersey. But Mrs. Clinton appeared to have an edge in the delegate-rich state of Missouri late Tuesday.

He also won a majority of voters under 30 in most of the states. Similarly, Mrs. Clinton received most of the votes from people over 65.

For months now, the Obama and Clinton campaigns have viewed Tuesday as a decisive moment in the presidential race. When Mrs. Clinton lost the first nominating contest, in Iowa, she and her advisers noted that the 45 delegates at stake there were a mere fraction of the delegates at stake in the state contests on Tuesday.

Mr. Obama and his aides made similar remarks after his losses in New Hampshire and Nevada, and both he and Mrs. Clinton increasingly spoke of the nomination fight as a two-way battle for delegates, pure and simple.

Mrs. Clinton underscored this viewpoint by campaigning in California and Arizona, two states that voted Tuesday, in the week before the South Carolina primary — signaling, in effect, that her strategy was much more focused on winning contests on Tuesday than on South Carolina, which Mr. Obama ended up winning in a rout.

Over the last week, however, public and private opinion polls have showed tightening races in states where Mrs. Clinton had held substantial leads, including Massachusetts and New Jersey (where a combined total of 200 delegates were at stake) and California, which had 370 delegates.

Marjorie Connelly contributed reporting.

    Support Divided, Top Democrats Trade Victories, NYT, 6.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/06/us/politics/06delect.html?hp






News Analysis

Diverging Paths for Two Parties


February 6, 2008
The New York Times


The Republican and Democratic presidential contests began diverging Tuesday, leaving the Democrats facing a long and potentially divisive nomination battle and the Republicans closer to an opportunity to put aside deep internal divisions and rally around a nominee.

The differing situations for the Republicans and Democrats have clear implications for both parties as they begin to move from the nomination battle toward the general election.

On the Democratic side, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama seem likely to continue their state-by-state struggle, after a night of tit-for-tat division of states and delegates, though Mrs. Clinton claimed the formidable prize of California.

But after months of disarray, Republicans seemed closer to coalescing around Senator John McCain of Arizona. As Mr. McCain logged victories in populous states, including California, and added more delegates to his count, he moved nearer his goal of wrapping up his competition with Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. A third Republican candidate, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, underlined Mr. Romney’s weakness by posting a series of victories, in a performance that highlighted the discomfort social conservatives have with the field.

Mr. Huckabee’s relatively strong showing was both a blessing and a curse for Mr. McCain, though perhaps more of a blessing. It injected a small note of uncertainty into the Republican race, and potentially delayed the day when Mr. McCain would have the stage to himself. But Mr. Huckabee appeared to drain votes primarily away from Mr. Romney, contributing to his overall weak showing on this night.

This split in the road for Democrats and Republicans should — if and when Mr. McCain can claim his party’s nomination — be a welcome development for Mr. McCain, who would have time to begin quelling doubts about him among conservatives.

James C. Dobson, a longtime conservative leader, greeted Mr. McCain on primary day with a statement announcing that he would under no circumstances vote for Mr. McCain in November. In many states, the vote total for Mr. McCain’s main opponents — Mr. Romney and Mr. Huckabee, a Baptist minister — easily outweighed his own. Mr. Huckabee’s strong showing was all the more notable for the shoestring nature of his campaign, which has been limping along with little money and no victories since his win in the Iowa caucuses at the beginning of last month.

It is hard to see how Mr. McCain can be a strong general-election candidate — particularly going up against a Democratic Party so energized — without the support of the party’s conservative wing. Assuming Mr. Huckabee is unable to wound Mr. McCain as he wounded Mr. Romney, the results on Tuesday could give Mr. McCain time now to begin trying to repair breaches. The riveting competition between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama could provide Mr. McCain some cover as he deals with this peacemaking.

The picture is decidedly less auspicious for the Democrats. These were the first head-to-head contests between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama since John Edwards of North Carolina dropped out, and the results suggest that Democrats are fracturing along gender and racial lines as they choose between a black man and a white woman.

Surveys of voters leaving the polls suggested a reprise of the identity politics that has so long characterized — and at times bedeviled — Democratic politics. Black voters overwhelmingly supported Mr. Obama, suggesting an end to a period in which Mrs. Clinton could remain competitive with Mr. Obama for the support of that segment of the Democratic electorate.

Women went, by large margins, to Mrs. Clinton. But in one development that augurs well for Mr. Obama, white men — who had largely voted for Mr. Edwards before — appeared to be heading in his direction. And young voters also went overwhelmingly for Mr. Obama, suggesting a generational divide.

Tough nominating fights can be debilitating for parties. Mike Murphy, a Republican consultant, noted the financial advantage that Mr. Obama had going into the weeks ahead and said that Mrs. Clinton might well be tempted to fight back in a way that could leave the party polarized and provide an opening for Mr. McCain.

“This could put Hillary into a corner,” Mr. Murphy said, “and if she tries a real negative campaign, it could split the party and be a hangover in a general election.”

But the history of their contest — and the sensibilities displayed by Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton — suggests that would not necessarily be the case.

The most bitter period of their campaign was in South Carolina, when Mrs. Clinton and former President Bill Clinton repeatedly challenged Mr. Obama’s credentials and credibility. But after signs of backlash, she scaled back, and since then, the two have expressed their differences for the most part with fewer sharp edges. Should that tone continue, this contest may end without the bitterness Republicans were hoping for.

Finally, whatever the passions of Mr. Obama’s and Mrs. Clinton’s supporters — and by every measure, their passions are about as high as they ever get in politics — Democrats have throughout this year been unified by the intensity of their desire to win back the White House after eight years of President Bush.

And that, more than anything else, may continue to be the best thing Democrats have going as they enter this potentially turbulent period.

Robin Toner contributed reporting.

    Diverging Paths for Two Parties, NYT, 6.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/06/us/politics/06assess.html?hp






Decisive California Wins for Clinton and McCain


February 6, 2008
The New York Times


LOS ANGELES — Hillary Clinton and John McCain scored decisive victories in California late Tuesday night after a heated skirmish for the state’s opulent troves of delegates.

Most significantly for Mr. McCain was his strong showing across a wide swath of the state’s 53 Congressional districts — each worth three delegates each to a candidate — including areas in the southern portion of the state where a strong anti-immigration sentiment appeared earlier to poison his chances. Exit polls showed Mitt Romney carried a two to one advantage over the Arizona senator among people who were principally concerned with that issue. Mr. McCain also cleaned up among voters who were focused on the war and the economy.

For Mrs. Clinton, the picture seemed equally clear; her support was widespread across the state and strong among constituencies who have supported her in other states. For example, according to exit polls, Mrs. Clinton won Hispanic votes by a 2-to-1 margin, and Asians by a 3-to-1 margin. Mr. Obama beat Mrs. Clinton among white voters and took 8 out of 10 African-Americans, while besting her among voters under the age of 30.

As went the rest of the eager and riveted nation, so did this most populous state, with at least half of the state’s 15.7 million registered voters from the forest-line northern precincts to its beach communities in the south were expected to have cast a vote in favor of a presidential candidate.

A judge in Alameda County one of the most populous counties in the San Francisco Bay Area, ordered some precincts there open until 9:30 P.M. PDT, to serve the throngs of voters who showed up, leaving some precincts without ballots.

The importance of California — with its 370 Democratic and 170 Republican pledged delegates in play in a hotly contested race on both sides — was never lost on candidates. On the Republican side, Senator McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, added last-minute California campaign stops on Monday, with Mr. Romney essentially toe-touching the state after a cross-country plane ride.

For Mrs. Clinton’s part, her husband, the former President Bill Clinton, traveled the state to campaign for her. Both Mr. Clinton and her rival, Barack Obama, were looking for inroads among Hispanic voters and called in to a Spanish language morning show Tuesday morning.

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen said that about 700,000 more Californians were on the voter rolls this month than during the 2004 presidential cycle, but not everything went well among them, especially when it came to independent voters.

In Los Angeles County, independent voters in at least 15 precincts said they were never told they had to mark an extra box on their ballots for them to be counted and voters from over a dozen polling places also reported being erroneously told that they were not allowed to vote for a Democratic candidate.

Unaffiliated or “decline to state” voters account for nearly 20 percent of registered voters in California and more than 700,000 voters in Los Angeles County. The Republican Party does not allow them to vote in its primary, but Democrats and the state’s American Independent Party do.

The confusion may well have hurt the Obama campaign, which has fared well with independents previously and who carried two-thirds of them here, exit polls showed. His campaign set off automated calls, or “robocalls,” to voters on Monday reminding independent voters to fill in the second oval declaring that they were voting in the Democratic primary.

Still, the final results will be known in fuller detail on Wednesday, because roughly half the state voted by mail using paper ballots. Those must be fed manually into scanners, following Ms. Bowen’s decision last year to decertify the vast majority of electronic voting machines saying they were defective and vulnerable to tampering and.

    Decisive California Wins for Clinton and McCain, NYT, 6.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/06/us/politics/05cnd-calif.html






Huckabee Revived With Strong Showing in South


February 6, 2008
The New York Times


Senator John McCain of Arizona captured the California primary and its windfall of delegates on Tuesday night, capping an evening of impressive victories in New York, Illinois, Arizona and New Jersey that catapulted his campaign to a significant lead in the Republican field.

Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, revived his candidacy with a surprise string of wins in the South, including the delegate-rich states of Georgia and Tennessee.

Their victories posed a serious challenge to the candidacy of Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, who vowed to press on with his campaign despite a string of defeats. Mr. Romney won contests in his current and former home states of Massachusetts and Utah, but his hopes for a strong showing in the West were dampened by the loss in California.

On the Democratic side, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton won her adopted home state of New York and neighboring New Jersey, as well as the big prize of California, while Senator Barack Obama claimed his home state of Illinois and won in Georgia, Alabama and Delaware.

As voters in 21 states made their choice for the Republican presidential nomination, several of Mr. McCain’s victories came in states that award all their delegates to the statewide winner, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware, allowing him to proclaim himself the favorite in the race.

“Tonight, I think we must get used to the idea that we are the Republican Party front-runner for the nomination,” Mr. McCain said to cheers on Tuesday night in Phoenix, after winning his home state, Arizona. “And I don’t really mind it one bit.”

In his speech, Mr. McCain saluted Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Romney, but gave particularly warm praise to Mr. Huckabee, whose decision to remain in the race was credited by many analysts with splitting the votes of conservatives and religious voters who might otherwise have supported Mr. Romney.

“Not for the first time, he’s surprised the rest of us and proved again his exceptional skills as a campaigner, and the extraordinary commitment and determination of the people who believe so passionately in him,” Mr. McCain said of Mr. Huckabee.

If Mr. McCain failed to sweep the contests that followed his big win last week in Florida, his victories in the delegate-heavy Northeast and in Oklahoma were a sweet reward for his resurgent candidacy. Eight years ago, he had his presidential hopes dashed when he lost a coast-to-coast swath of nominating contests that were held that March that effectively ended his campaign.

The night buoyed Mr. Huckabee, who had been all but written off after his cash-starved candidacy struggled in the wake of his surprise victory in the Iowa caucuses. He defied expectations Tuesday by winning the West Virginia convention and primaries across a broad swath of the South, including Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and his home state of Arkansas.

“You know, over the past few days a lot of people have been trying to say that this is a two-man race,” he told his supporters in a suburb of Little Rock, Ark. “Well, you know what? It is. And we’re in it!”

The huge number of contests — the most nominating contests ever held on a single day — posed enormous challenges for candidates already drained of money after their hard-fought nominating contests in the early states and with too little time to campaign everywhere. In hindsight, some of their choices appeared unwise: Mr. McCain’s decision to campaign in Massachusetts may have been calculated to try to rattle Mr. Romney, but it kept him away from several close-fought states where more campaigning might have strengthened his position.

Mr. Romney, who also won contests in Colorado, Montana and Nouth Dakota, told supporters in Boston that the Republican race, which some had predicted could have ended on Tuesday, would continue. “One thing that’s clear is, this campaign’s going on!” he said to cheers.

On a day when the stock market experienced its worst day in nearly a year, about 4 in 10 Republican primary voters cited the economy as the most important issue facing the nation in surveys of voters leaving the polls. That made it the top issue everywhere except for two states along the Mexican border, Arizona and California, where it vied with illegal immigration as most important.

Voters who said they were most concerned about the economy, the Iraq war or terrorism were more likely to favor Mr. McCain, the surveys found. But those who called immigration the most important issue were more likely to favor Mr. Romney, who has assailed Mr. McCain’s support last spring for a failed immigration bill that many Republicans said amounted to amnesty.

The voter surveys showed a stark ideological divide among Republican voters. While Mr. Romney did better among conservatives in almost every state, Mr. McCain did best among moderates. Mr. McCain has campaigned in recent weeks with Republican moderates like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and independents like Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, and he has been criticized in recent days by conservative talk radio hosts, like Rush Limbaugh, who have proclaimed him not conservative enough.

Mr. Romney did best among those who said they were looking for a candidate who shared their values, while Mr. McCain did best among voters who said they wanted a candidate who says what he believes.

In Georgia, Tennessee and Missouri, half or more of the Republican primary voters described themselves as evangelical or born-again Christians, and in those states Mr. Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher, got about 4 in 10 of their votes. In a number of states he split conservative and religious voters with Mr. Romney.

The voter surveys also showed that Mr. McCain was backed by those who said they were looking for an experienced candidate, and those who want a candidate who can win in November. And voters were more likely to say that Mr. McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam who has made the Iraq war his central issue, was most qualified to be commander in chief.

The exit polls were conducted by Edison/Mitofsky for the National Election Pool of television networks and The Associated Press.

The primaries drew unusually large turnout in many states. But despite long lines, confusion among poll workers and scattered computer malfunctions, there were no reports of widespread problems Tuesday as voters showed up in record numbers to cast ballots for their preferred presidential candidates.

The day of battles between the Romney and McCain campaigns, which do little to conceal their distaste for each other, got off to a bare-knuckled start in West Virginia. At the Republican convention there, Mr. Romney captured the lead on the first ballot but failed to get a majority. He then lost on the second ballot to Mr. Huckabee when the McCain delegates cast their lot with him.

The loss was a setback for Mr. Romney, who had invested time and money in West Virginia, building an organization there, having phone banks make calls, and advertising on the radio and through the mail.

The Romney campaign cried foul: its campaign manager, Beth Myers, blasted Mr. McCain and Mr. Huckabee, saying in a statement that “this is what Senator McCain’s inside Washington ways look like: he cut a back-room deal with the tax-and-spend candidate he thought could best stop Gov. Romney’s campaign of conservative change.”

Asked about the statement in a hangar in San Diego, Mr. McCain smiled wryly. “You know, with all due respect, I know what it’s like to win, and I know what it’s like to lose,” he said. “I obviously prefer winning. But generally speaking, rather than blaming it on someone else, I suggest that he move on.”

Marjorie Connelly and Michael M. Grynbaum contributed reporting from New York, Michael Luo from Boston and Kate Zernike from Phoenix.

    Huckabee Revived With Strong Showing in South, NYT, 6.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/06/us/politics/05cnd-relect.html?hp






States Prepare for Tests of Changes to Voting System


February 5, 2008
The New York Times


As voters in 23 states head to polls or caucuses today to pick their party’s presidential candidate, local election officials around the country are bracing for a long, exhausting night and an array of unpredictable factors that might prevent some states from reporting final tallies until early Wednesday morning. Although no one is predicting serious problems, many voting officials acknowledge that they could happen.

Isolated problems were already cropping up as polls opened this morning.

In New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine was scheduled to vote shortly after 6 a.m. when his polling station in Hoboken opened, but he had to wait for nearly an hour because two of the voting machines were not working properly. One machine was fixed after a 45 minute, but about a dozen voters were turned away in the meantime. Voting officials there also did not have provisional ballots on hand as backup. By 7:15 a.m., the governor was able to cast his ballot.

Several states are expecting a higher than usual turnout, which could increase bottlenecks in precincts with too few voting machines. The growing popularity of absentee voting is also contributing to possible delays because the ballots take more time to process and often arrive at the last minute.

By late morning, problems were being reported in two Georgia counties. The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which runs a national help hotline for voters experiencing problems at the polls (1-866-OUR VOTE), reported that there were problem in DeKalb and Fulton counties.

By 11 a.m Eastern time, at least 50 voters had been turned away from a polling station in Lithonia in DeKalb County. The polling district had been split because of long lines in the last election. Elections officials said they sent notices informing affected voters of their new polling location, but the 50 voters, who were being sent to another location about five miles away, said they were never told, according to Deetric Hicks, a lawyer and volunteer poll monitor in Lithonia who works for the hotline.

In Fulton County, which includes most of Atlanta, several voting machines were not functioning properly, leading to long lines at the Martin Luther King Towers elementary school. Officials were handing out provisional ballots, said Clare Shexnyder, a spokeswoman for the hotline.

Voting experts have raised concerns about at least five states using paperless touch-screen machines, which could make recounts impossible in close races or cases of computer failure. And the rush by states to move up their caucus and primary dates has shortened the amount of time voting officials have to hire and train poll workers.

After California ordered a switch to paper ballots from touch-screen voting machines for Tuesday’s primary, election officials in the sprawling, 7,200-square-mile Riverside County had to decide the best way to pick up the ballots so they could be centrally counted on time: helicopter or truck?

They chose land rather than air, because the last time the helicopter had been grounded by fog. But then they encountered another problem: 60,000 absentee ballots had begun to fall apart at the fold lines.

“They may be high-tech or they could be low-tech, but the problems are always there,” said Barbara Dunmore, the county registrar of voters.

In California, which has the highest number of delegates, election officials in at least 20 counties without paper-trail machines were told by the state in August to switch back to paper ballots. But those ballots will have to be counted at a central location using the same scanners that normally count the absentee votes, because the counties were not able to acquire enough machines to perform tallies at individual polling places.

About half of California voters are expected to vote by mail, and many of them, voting officials say, have waited until the last moment to send their ballots. These ballots take longer to process than those cast on Tuesday because workers must open the envelopes, separate the contents and check for signatures, even before the ballot is fed into the counting machine.

Thirty-four states, including 15 of those with votes Tuesday, now make it easier to vote early or absentee, dropping a requirement that such voters explain themselves. Several of these states may face delays in counting, according to the Early Voting Information Center, a research group based at Reed College in Portland, Ore.

Georgia adopted no-excuse absentee voting in 2005 and, like Arizona and California, has seen a recent increase in the number of absentee voters, said Paul Gronke, a political science professor at Reed.

“If there is a sudden and unexpected surge in absentee ballots and election officials have not prepared, we could see serious delays in tallies,” Professor Gronke said.

All polling places in New Jersey, Delaware and Georgia, as well as most in Tennessee and some in Arkansas, will use paperless touch-screen machines on Tuesday. These states were rated “high risk” for voting problems, according a report released Thursday by Common Cause and the Verified Voting Foundation, two advocacy groups that have been critical of electronic voting.

Meaningful recounts in close races are impossible without a paper trail, and if problems emerge with those voting machines, officials will be unable to audit disputed results.

Amid growing concerns about the potential for tampering or malfunctions, election directors in Ohio, Florida, California and Colorado have decided, usually after intensive state reviews, to shift away from paperless touch-screen machines. But only in California will the changes significantly affect Tuesday’s voting.

New Jersey was supposed to have already made the shift after the Legislature ordered voting officials to retrofit the state’s 10,000 or so electronic-voting machines with paper printers by Jan. 1. When prototype printers failed to meet standards established by the state, the attorney general requested, and the Legislature granted, an extension of the deadline until June 3.

Elsewhere, different worries exist. Georgia faces the first statewide test of its new voter ID law, and Arizona will hold its first contest for national office under its own ID law. In Connecticut, Tuesday’s election will be the first in which the entire state is voting on optical-scan machines instead of lever machines, but most voting experts say the state is well prepared.

Because some Northern states have pushed up their primary dates, they may also find that their poll workers have gone south for the winter, or are unable to cope with bad weather.

Many voters in New York State will vote on the same mechanical-lever machines that have been in use since the early 1960s. The state, which is the last in the nation to comply with a federal election-modernization law, is under court order to buy at least one machine for disabled voters for each polling place by the September primary, and to replace all of its 20,000 lever voting machines by the fall of 2009.

    States Prepare for Tests of Changes to Voting System, NYT, 5.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/05/us/politics/05cnd-voting.html?hp






FACTBOX: New Jersey and its presidential primary


Fri Feb 1, 2008
11:56pm EST


(Reuters) - New Jersey is among 24 states taking part in "Super Tuesday," the February 5 contests in which voters will choose nominees from the Democratic and Republican parties for the November U.S. presidential election.

Following are a few facts about New Jersey and its primary:

* Television advertising in New Jersey can be expensive, as the state is dominated by the large media markets of New York and Philadelphia. New York, home to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, holds its primary on the same day.

* Polls close at 8 p.m. EST. Democrats allocate delegates on a proportional basis, while all of the Republican delegates go to the winner of that contest.

* With a population of 8.7 million, New Jersey is the most densely populated state. The state's median household income of $66,752 was highest in the nation in 2006.

* New Jersey is home to many pharmaceutical companies, which have come under fire in the health care debate for high prices and heavy marketing practices.

* For much of the 20th century, New Jersey was a competitive state in national elections but has leaned Democratic since the 1990s. Among registered voters, 24 percent are Democrats and 18 percent are Republicans.

* The state's rich working-class culture has been celebrated by rocker Bruce Springsteen and "The Sopranos" TV show. In recent years, the state has drawn large numbers of immigrants.

Sources: Almanac of American Politics, U.S. Census Bureau

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

    FACTBOX: New Jersey and its presidential primary, NYT, 1.2.2008, http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN3130813920080202






Enlisting New Donors, Obama Reaped $32 Million in January


February 1, 2008
The New York Times


As he was winning contests in Iowa and South Carolina, Senator Barack Obama raised $32 million in January for his presidential bid, tapping 170,000 new contributors to rake in nearly double the highest previous one-month total for any candidate in this election cycle.

This extraordinary influx of cash comes at a critical time, and is helping to fuel the Obama campaign’s nationwide advertising blitz and get-out-the-vote effort as it competes in the 22 states holding nominating contests on Tuesday, including expensive ones like California and New York.

The money was mostly collected from small donors, who the campaign is hoping will continue to give in coming months and who represent an increasingly formidable force in presidential fund-raising. By contrast, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has relied more on a smaller pool of big-money donors, many of whom have already given the maximum allowable under the law.

The $32 million is significant because no candidate who has not yet secured the party nomination has raised this amount in a single month. In March 2004, Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, raised $44 million, but that was after it was clear he would be the nominee. In this election cycle, the highest monthly take previously was the $17 million raised by Mrs. Clinton, of New York, last March.

“This is astonishing, and it may be Obama’s secret weapon,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign spending. “He has more small donors that he can squeeze for more donations, fewer donors who have maxed out and more donors in general.”

The Clinton campaign had not yet released fund-raising totals for January.

For all of 2007, Mrs. Clinton raised $118 million, and Mr. Obama $103 million. But a greater share of Mrs. Clinton’s money than Mr. Obama’s is directed to the general election, as many of her donors have reached the maximum they can give to her primary campaign.

The one-month total for Mr. Obama, of Illinois, also shows the growing power of the Internet as a fund-raising tool. Veteran fund-raisers said it would have been impossible for the campaign to raise that sum by relying solely on well-heeled donors and “bundlers,” donors who tap networks of acquaintances for support.

“When you get $32 million in one month, it is not because you have bundlers working,” said Orin Kramer, a New York financier and Obama fund-raiser. “It is because you have an avalanche of small donors operating online. It’s a revolution. People like me don’t achieve those kinds of numbers.”

What is particularly surprising is that this one-month total, which the campaign was eager to preview on Thursday, is coming after a year of intense fund-raising by Democratic candidates, who have far outraised their Republican counterparts. But with the race going beyond the Feb. 5 contests, the need for cash by the Clinton and Obama campaigns is expected only to increase.

“Most money is usually raised at the beginning, when the strongest supporters quickly come up with the most,” said Jan Baran, a campaign finance lawyer in Washington who advises Republicans.

On the Republican side, the candidate filings show other struggles. That of Senator John McCain of Arizona shows that his finances were perilously thin as the year ended and before he scored a major victory in the New Hampshire primary, which reinvigorated fund-raising efforts.

For the year, Mr. McCain raised $42.1 million, with $10 million of that coming in during the fourth quarter; he ended the year with $2.9 million in cash on hand. The McCain campaign said Thursday that it raised $7 million in the first three weeks of 2008.

But Mr. McCain also ended the year with debts of $4.5 million.

His chief opponent, Mitt Romney, raised more than twice as much, $90 million, in 2007. But Mr. Romney, who has a personal net worth estimated at up to $250 million, lent his own campaign $35 million. His campaign ended the year with only $2.4 million in cash on hand, an indication of the campaign’s high spending rate.

Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, who had been running a shoestring campaign, reported raising $9 million in 2007, with $6.6 million of that raised in the fourth quarter. The money began to flow as his campaign gained traction in Iowa, where he won the Republican caucuses on Jan. 3. Mr. Huckabee ended 2007 with $1.9 million in cash on hand. He had not released figures for January.

By contrast, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor, who withdrew from the race Wednesday and threw his support to Mr. McCain, had robust fund-raising through 2007, even as his political fortunes fell. He reported having $12.8 million in cash on hand at the end of the year, having raised $14.4 million in the fourth quarter and $61.4 million for the year. He withdrew after losing the Florida primary.

Wilbur Ross, a New York financier and Giuliani fund-raiser, said Giuliani donors had been “getting a lot of phone calls” from the McCain camp. Many Giuliani backers withheld donations to Mr. McCain out of courtesy until Mr. Giuliani officially withdrew. In addition, Mr. Ross said some Giuliani money might well go to Mr. Romney, former governor of Massachusetts.

The Romney campaign had not yet filed its fund-raising data for the year.

Mr. Obama’s fund-raising has also taken a page recently from the Ron Paul, a Republican candidate who has an interactive fund-raising clock on his Web site that has excited donors and brought him tens of millions of dollars.

The Obama campaign boasts of having 650,000 contributors over all and said that the strength of the campaign’s recent fund-raising drive would sustain Mr. Obama in the primary battles ahead.

“If this ends up going through March and April, we think we’re going to have the resources necessary to conduct vigorous campaigns in every state,” said David Plouffe, the Obama campaign’s manager.

    Enlisting New Donors, Obama Reaped $32 Million in January, NYT, 1.2.2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/01/us/politics/01donate.html



home Up