Posted at 07:29 PM ET, 03/13/2008
Clinton's campaign points to polling in Florida, Arkansas and Ohio that shows her running close to or ahead of Sen. John McCain(Ariz.); Obama's campaign makes the same argument for Iowa, Colorado, North Carolina and even ruby red Kansas.
So, who's right?
Welcome to the newest Fix Line where we try to answer just that question. Once a month -- in between ranking the top House and Senate races as well as handicapping the Veepstakes, we'll consider the ten states most likely to switch from Democrat to Republican (or vice versa) in the presidential election this fall.
Obviously, this Line -- like all the others -- is fluid and will change as events unfold. The state ranked number one today, meaning it is the most likely to switch from red to blue or blue to red in November, might fall far down the Line by the time the air grows crisp and the Catholic University field hockey season starts.
In other words, stay tuned. The Presidential Playing Field is meant as a conversation-starter not a conversation-ender -- so get to it in the comments section below.
To the Line!
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Roll-over a state to see its 2004 presidential election result.
10. Missouri (Bush, 53 percent in 2004): The Show-Me State is one of the truest election barometers out there. Only once in the last 100 plus years has Missouri gone for a candidate who did not ultimately win the White House. Democrats seemed to be on the decline in the early part of the decade as Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) pulled out of the state in 2004 under the belief he couldn't win. (He lost to President Bush 53 percent to 46 percent.) But, since that election Democrats are on the move in the state -- typified by Sen. Claire McCaskill's (D) win over Jim Talent in 2006. The state is still conservative-minded on most social issues, however, which could make it something of a longshot for either Obama or Clinton.
9. Minnesota (Kerry, 51 percent): Most people think of Minnesota as a dyed-in-the-wool blue state, but Kerry carried it by only three points in 2004. Democrats blew the doors off Republicans in the Gopher State in 2006 by taking an open Senate seat and winning an upset victory in the 1st congressional district. The wildcard here, of course, is Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) who is almost certain to be in the final pool of potential vice presidential picks for McCain. If Pawlenty is picked, Minnesota is in play and could certainly move up the Line.
8. Florida (Bush, 52 percent): Heading into the 2004 election, it was assumed that Florida would be THE battleground between Bush and Kerry, as it was for Bush and then vice president Al Gore in 2000. The Sunshine State race wound up not being all that close; Bush took 52 percent and a winning vote margin of nearly 300,000. Since then Republicans have elected Charlie Crist governor -- another of the great-mentioned when it comes to McCain's veep. Our guess it that Florida in 2008 looks more like 2000 than 2004 -- especially if Clinton is the Democratic nominee.
7. New Hampshire (Kerry, 50 percent): In the 2006 election, New Hampshire was the epicenter of the rejection of Republican rule in Washington. Voters threw out both House Republican incumbents and re-elected the state's Democratic governor with 74 percent of the vote. In this election cycle, Democrats have their sights clearly set on Sen. John Sununu (R). And yet, it's hard to imagine this state not being competitive at the presidential level with McCain as the GOP nominee; Granite State voters created McCain in 2000 and saved him eight years later. There is real affinity there and, given the close result in 2004, the state is almost certainly in play.
6. Virginia (Bush, 54 percent): Just four years ago, you would have been laughed at by mentioning Virginia as a potential swing state in the general election. After all, the Commonwealth hasn't gone for a Democrat at the presidential level since Lyndon Johnson way back in 1964. But, the election of Mark Warner (D) as governor in 2001, which once looked like just a blip on the Republican radar, has turned into the seminal moment for the Democratic comeback in the state. Gov. Tim Kaine's (D) win in 2005 followed by Sen. Jim Webb's (D) upset victory in 2006 gave Democrats reason to believe again. The massive growth of the northern Virginia suburbs and the area's increasing Democratic lean makes Virginia truly a toss up. McCain's military background could well help him in the Hampton Roads area, but, if Obama is the Democratic nominee, the Commonwealth's 19 percent black population could also make a major difference.
5. Ohio (Bush, 51 percent): If Ohio in 2004 was the Florida of 2000, what will be the Ohio of 2008? The 2006 election was an absolute disaster for the state Republican Party as they lost the governor's mansion (badly) and watched as Sen. Mike DeWine (R) was defeated. Ohio Republicans now hold just one of the six statewide offices. While the disaster that is the Ohio GOP at the moment makes it very tough for them to win statewide races, McCain and the Republican National Committee will fund and build their voter identification and get out the vote effort. This is going to be a really good one.
4. Colorado (Bush, 52 percent): No state in the country has changed as fast as Colorado. Since 2004, Democrats have won an open Senate seat, the governorship and two U.S. House seats. The progressive movement in Colorado is as active, well funded, and ready to make a major push to turn the state blue in November. Registered Republicans still outnumber registered Democrats, but unaffiliated voters are a large and growing segment. McCain's ties to the west should help his cause but Colorado looks like it's moving in the opposite direction.
3. Nevada (Bush, 50 percent): Every four years the presidential campaign arrives in Nevada and finds an almost entirely new state. Nevada is one of the fastest growing states in the Union, with people from all over the country moving in -- most of them to Clark County (Las Vegas). As a result of the ever-changing electorate, it's tough to predict what November will hold for the two parties. But, the growing Latino population in the state should make Nevada a major target for Democrats. And don't forget that the state held a very high-profile presidential caucus in January -- a process that led to massive amounts of money spent by both Clinton and Obama on voter identification efforts. That investment should pay off in the fall.
2. New Mexico (Bush, 50 percent): President Bush won the state by less than 6,000 votes in 2004, a margin that looks like a landslide when compared to Gore's 365-vote victory in the state four years earlier. Gov. Bill Richardson (D) is one of the most politically savvy governors in the country and will make sure the party's get-out-the-vote apparatus is in tip-top shape for both the presidential election and the open seat vacated by Sen. Pete Domenici (R). Democrats enjoyed a 50 percent to 33 percent registration edge over Republicans at the start of the year; that is a considerable head start heading into November.
1. Iowa (Bush, 50 percent): The millions spent by the Democratic presidential campaigns in advance of the state's Jan. 3 caucus should give a HUGE boost to their party's chances in the general election. And never forget -- because Iowa voters won't -- that McCain skipped the state entirely during the 2000 nomination fight and campaigned only sparingly there in 2007 and 2008. Iowans take their place in picking the nominee very seriously and many aren't likely to forgive McCain for his blasphemy.
Posted at 02:50 PM ET, 07/18/2007
Clinton's Promises, or Lack Thereof
Before an enthusiastic crowd of at least 500 Planned Parenthood supporters at the Ritz-Carlton, Sen. Hillary Clinton pitched her plans to improve women's health care if elected president.
Yet surprisingly, she left universal health care -- a system she has promised to establish if elected president -- out. Four months ago, Clinton said, "We're going to have universal health care when I'm president, there's no doubt about that. We're going to get it done."
At the Take Back America Conference in June, Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards described universal health coverage as the "number one domestic issue" facing the nation.
Planned Parenthood endorsed Clinton's bid for the Senate in 2000 but has yet to endorse a candidate seeking election in 2008.
Last night, Clinton acted as if that were not a priority on her agenda, vowing instead that she would increase funding for Title X, a service that affords lower-income women to receive contraception and fight sexually transmitted diseases, and proposed sending emergency contraception to the armed services.
Meanwhile, just hours before, Sen. Barack Obama offered just the dose of universal health care rhetoric Planned Parenthood supporters may have been looking for, vowing to provide universal health care for all Americans by the end of his first term.
Clinton may have scored some points with the activist crowd as she chided Republicans for standing "against family planning" Opponents of family planning, she continued, "are not just opposing abortion, they're opposing contraceptives and women's rights."
Yet she steered clear of criticism that came her way just a few days ago. In a recent Salon piece, Elizabeth Edwards quesitoned Clinton's sincerity on keeping her promises to improve women's health. Clinton just doesn't seem "as vocal a women's advocate as I want to see," she told Salon.
Posted at 11:26 AM ET, 07/18/2007
Clinton Has Mayor Love Too
On the same day Barack Obama earns the endorsement of D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, Hillary Clinton's camp sent out a release yesterday reminding the media, and other interested parties that she's got the backing of more than 100 current and former mayors who form her new Mayors Council.
(Make sure to watch the washingtonpost.com video of the Fenty-Obama meeting.)
According to the release, the Mayor's council "will advise the campaign on policy and outreach. The council represents a broad cross-section of America, including urban, rural and suburban cities and towns that reflect the nation's diversity."
Clinton certainly claims a healthy group of mayors, though many of them hail from her home state of New York, as well as California and New Jersey. A list of mayoral support provided by the Obama campaign is shorter, but also geographically diverse.
Here's the full list of Clinton's mayoral support. A list of mayors supporting Obama, as provided by the Obama campaign, is posted below:
Clinton Mayors Council Co-Chairs:
Doug Palmer - Trenton, NJ
Lois Frankel - West Palm Beach, FL
Francis Slay - St. Louis, MO
Byron Brown - Buffalo, NY
Frank Willis - Florence, SC
Lena Johnson - Lovelock, NV
Kay Halloran - Cedar Rapids, IA
Sylvio Dupuis - Former Mayor, Manchester, NH
Antonio Villaraigosa - Los Angeles, CA
Otto Lee - Sunnyvale, CA
Miguel Pulido - Santa Ana, CA
Members of Clinton's Mayors Council:
Elba Guerrero - Huntington Park, CA
Laura Lee - Cerritos, CA
Louis Byrd - Lynwood, CA
Beverly Johnson - Alameda, CA
Manuel Lozano - Baldwin Park, CA
Kris Wang - Cupertino, CA
Janet Lockhart - Dublin, CA
Barbara Pierce - Redwood City, CA
Jennifer Hosterman - Pleasanton, CA
Ray Soleno - Reedley, CA
Vicki Vidak-Martinez - Rohnert Park, CA
Robert Fierro - Commerce, CA
Ray Luna - Santa Paula, CA
Daniel Furtado - Campbell, CA
Thomas Masters - Riviera Beach, FL
Frank Ortis - Pembroke Pines, FL
Michael Udine - Parkland, FL
Jim Erb - Charles City, IA
Carolyn Shawaker - Garrett Park, MD
Peter Fosselman - Kensington, MD
Kathy Porter -Takoma Park, MD
Diana Fennell - Colmar Manor, MD
Bettyjean Bailey-Schmiedigen - Brentwood, MD
Walter Behr - Somerset, MD
Tom Menino - Boston, MA
Virg Bernero - Lansing, MI
Christian Bollwage - Elizabeth, NJ
Chuck Chiarello - Buena Vista, NJ
Meryl Frank - Highland Park, NJ
Glen Gilmore - Hamilton, NJ
Alberto Santos - Kearny, NJ
Joey Torres - Paterson, NJ
Joe Doria - State Senator and Mayor of Bayonne, NJ
Sammy Rivera - Passaic, NJ
Matt Driscoll - Syracuse, NY
Jerry Jennings - Albany, NY
Robert Duffy - Rochester, NY
Sam Teresi - Jamestown, NY
Wayne Hall - Hempstead, NY
Michael Sullivan - Fredonia, NY
Darryl Hayden - Fulton, NY
Ernie Davis - Mount Vernon, NY
Noam Bramson - New Rochelle, NY
Randy Bateman - Oswego, NY
Paul Pontieri - Patchogue, NY
Ellen Polimeni - Canandaigua, NY
Shawn Hogan - Hornell, NY
Ted Young - Waterloo, NY
Brian Stratton - Schenectady, NY
Valerie Keehn - Saratoga Springs, NY
LeRoy Akins - Glens Falls, NY
James Sottile - Kingston, NY
Nancy Cozean - Poughkeepsie, NY
John McDonald - Cohoes, NY
Robert Carlson - Waterlivet, NY
Ellen McNulty-Ryan - Green Island, NY
Marlinda Duncanson - Middletown, NY
John Nader - Oneonta, NY
Dan Pocek - Bedford, OH
John Street - Philadelphia, PA
David Cicilline - Providence, RI
Raul Reyes - El Cenizo, TX
James Holley - Portsmouth, VA
Wendy Baker - Former Mayor, Fairfax, CA
Sally Lieber - Former Mayor, Mountain View, CA
Carol Liu - Former Mayor, La Canada, CA
Mike Eng - Former Mayor, Monterey Park, CA
Judy Chu - Former Mayor, Monterey Park, CA
Joaquin Gonzalez - Former Mayor, Hanford, CA
Diane Martinez - Former Mayor, Paramount, CA
Leticia Vasquez - Former Mayor, Lynwood, CA
Ofelia Hernandez - Former Mayor, Huntington Park, CA
Juan Noguez - Former Mayor and current Councilman, Huntington Park, CA
Emelina Pedras - Former Mayor, Lynwood, CA
Maria Davila - Former Mayor, South Gate, CA
Frank Quintero - Former Mayor, Glendale, CA
Tomas Martin - Former Mayor, Maywood, CA
Henry Manayan - Former Mayor, Milpitas, CA
Dan Hauser - Former Mayor, Arcata, CA
Thea Gast - Former Mayor, Arcata, CA
Alex Stillman - Former Mayor and current Councilman, Arcata, CA
Jim Test - Former Mayor, Arcata, CA
Cindy Chavez - Former Vice Mayor, San Jose, CA
Wellington Webb - Former Mayor, Denver, CO
Raul Martinez - Former Mayor, Hialeah, FL
Delbert Dean Vokes - Former Mayor, Floyd, IA
Roger Palmer - Former Mayor, Hampton, IA
Steven Van Grack, Former Mayor, Rockville, MD
Richard Castaldi - Former Mayor, Greenbelt, MD
Susan Bass Levin - Former Mayor, Cherry Hill, NJ
Cardell Cooper - Former Mayor, East Orange, NJ
David Dinkins - Former Mayor, New York, NY
Edward Koch - Former Mayor, New York, NY
Lee Brown - Former Mayor, Houston, TX
Obama's Mayoral Support:
Larry Nelson - Mayor, Waukesha, WI
RT Rybak - Mayor, Minneapolis, MN
Tom Barrett - Mayor, Milwaukee, WI
Scott Brook - Mayor, Coral Springs, FL
Adrian Fenty - Mayor, Washington, DC
Corey Booker - Mayor, Newark, NJ
Jerimiah Healy - Mayor, Jersey City, NJ
Bill Euille - Mayor, Alexandria, VA
C. Jack Ellis - Mayor, Macon, GA
Norma Torres - Mayor, Pamona, CA
Michael B. Coleman - Mayor, Columbus OH
-- Ed O'Keefe
Posted at 06:14 PM ET, 07/17/2007
Obama: Universal Health Care in Four Years
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards set the tone for the event when she said women who visit the group's clinics "come from red and blue states ... but they are sick of what they are seeing and hearing from this administration."
Obama echoed that disdain for the president's policies as he spoke before an invigorated crowd of at least 500 activists, supporters and staffers from across the country. He also took aim at the current Supreme Court.
"It's time for a different attitude," Obama said. "We know that five men don't know better than one woman."
But "one woman" Obama failed to make reference to is his chief rival for the presidential nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was scheduled to speak to the conference later in the day. The Planned Parenthood political arm endorsed Clinton's 2000 bid for the Senate, but it has yet to endorse a 2008 presidential candidate. The fight between the two candidates for the fund's support mirrors their larger battle for the women's vote.
Obama said that as a father of two daughters he appreciates the importance of educating people about safe sex: "I want my daughters to understand sex is not casual."
If elected, Obama said, he would devise a public plan to push what he considers "essential" sex education, as well as the kinds of medical services offered through Planned Parenthood, which includes counseling and abortions.
He said sex education goes hand-in-hand with teaching kids science: "There's nothing wrong with science. ... We must never be willing to consign a teenage girl to suffer because she [lacks] birth control."
In what was perhaps the boldest statement of the evening, Obama claimed he would achieve a universal health care system in four years. Speaking as if he were already president, he said, "I believe we can have universal health care by the end of this term [pause] ... By the end of my first term."
Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 07/ 3/2007
McCain Campaign Casualty
Looks like he's been replaced by Amanda Henneberg. Here's the e-mail as delivered a few minutes ago (we've taken out contact information):
I know you all had a great relationship with Kevin here at the campaign, and we are very sad to see him go! Going forward, if you have any booking requests or need any information, please don't hesitate to contact me. My full contact information is below:
If you are covering the changes that are taking place here at the campaign and would like to speak to a McCain surrogate, please let me know.
Posted at 03:44 PM ET, 06/27/2007
Jews & Evangelicals for Giuliani?
Rudy Giuliani sought to cover all of his theological bases on Tuesday.
His first campaign event of the day was a speech at the evangelical Regent University in Virginia Beach, where he appeared along with school founder Pat Robertson. Five hours later Giuliani spoke to the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington in Rockville, Md.
"I'm coming from Regent University to a Jewish house of worship," joked hizzoner. "Now if I hit a Catholic Church tonight..."
In his remarks to both groups, Giuliani focused on the threat of "Islamic Terrorists" and expressed strong support for Israel.
Giuliani told the Regent group that Democrats are "in denial" about the threat posed by terrorists to the United States and at the JCRC he drew a direct line between Nazi Germany and current terrorist groups.
"If Europe had confronted Hitler at an earlier stage... there would have been millions and millions of lives saved," he said.
He added that terrorists "are at war with us. You got to look at Iraq in a context that is them versus us.... We made the mistake [of not doing that] with Hitler. I'm not going to make that mistake again. If I'm president, I'm not going to let any man destroy Israel."
Evangelical and Jewish voters could provide key support for Giuliani in his bid for the presidency, and a strong stand in support of Israel combined with hawkish views on terrorist threats could shore up support from both groups.
Giuliani leads his Republican rivals in the national opinion polls, a surprising fact to some political observers given the party's conservative bent on social issues and Giuliani's support for abortion rights and gay marriage. And although in his mayoral runs Giuliani performed well among Jewish voters, the group has not lent the bulk of its support to Republican presidential candidates in recent years.
In his two races for mayor against David L. Dinkins, a Democrat and former New York City mayor, Giuliani, running as "a law-and-order Republican, won two-thirds of the Jewish vote," according to American Jewish Historian Murray Friedman.
In 1997, when Giuliani ran for re-election against Ruth Messinger, a Jewish Democrat, Friedman said Giuliani received "some 75 percent of the Jewish vote."
In 2004, 25 percent of registered Jewish voters helped elect President Bush, according to the Pew Research Center, up from 19 percent in 2000.
Posted at 02:09 PM ET, 06/21/2007
Democratic Campaigns Play Phone Tag
Add Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to the list of Democratic presidential candidates who want to reach out and touch you -- on your cell phone.
Obama Mobile, a new feature the Obama camp launched Wednesday night, sends text message alerts about campaign news and local Obama events to supporters who sign up.
The service offers anonymity, requiring only a zip code and your mobile digits. The campaign says the first message you will receive is an offer for a free Obama bumper sticker (if you register by June 30).
Obama Mobile users can download campaign-created ringtones, including speeches by the senator and user-submitted hip hop, rock or techno songs. It is not clear whether the smash YouTube hit, "I Got a Crush... On Obama," will be available.
Obama's subscribers can also request instant campaign information via a text message. Clinton's mobile service offers free access to her campaign site via phone, while Edwards's provides e-mail alerts.
Obama New Media Director Joe Rospars says text messaging is "a key tool that helps us reach out to people who rely on their mobile phone service for information." If the number of people attending fundraisers and events goes up, another campaign official explained, the mobile effort will be considered a success.
Posted at 02:33 PM ET, 06/18/2007
L.A.'s Chief Bratton on Giuliani, Clinton, and Immigration
SAN JOSE, CALIF. -- Having worked for Rudy Giuliani, offered advice to Sen. Hillary Clinton, and served as chief of police in the immigrant-rich cities of Boston, New York, and Los Angeles, William J. Bratton's opinions carry water with politicians these days.
Bratton has served as LAPD chief since 2002, and previously ran the New York Transit Police, Boston Police, and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. But he's best known for running New York Police Department when Giuliani lived in City Hall.
The love-hate relationship between mayor and chief is legendary. Bratton helped create the CompStat crime-tracking computer system that's credited with guiding New York's crime drop in the 1990s. When it came time for the media to tout New York's innovative crime-fighting tactics, Bratton got the high-profile credit. (Remember this TIME Magazine cover?) Giuliani fired Bratton in 1996, and the two had not spoken until recently. They've now met twice in recent months to talk about gang crime, and Giuliani's idea to adapt CompStat for use by the federal government.
"In terms of the fact that we met, after having not met for 10 years, that's of significance," Bratton said. At the same time however, Bratton makes clear he's willing and ready to meet with any and all presidential candidates who are interested in speaking about law enforcement issues. He says he's not an adviser of any kind of Giuliani exclusively, and pointed out that he advised Sen. Clinton when she ran for the Senate in 2000. He spoke highly of both leading presidential contenders.
"They consume phenomenal amounts of information. They're not people who just skim the surface. They absorb a lot of information upon which they make their decisions," he said. "Certainly, in my time working with [Giuliani], in my brief time working with Senator Clinton...I was just impressed with the inquisitiveness and the capacity. So it's kind of a shared trait that both of them have."
In his current role as LAPD chief, Bratton is dealing with the fallout of the so-called "May Day Melee." At least nine members of the media and 23 participants were injured after Los Angeles police officers shot rubber bullets to clear the city's MacArthur Park during a relatively peaceful immigration rally on May 1. Meeting with members of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists conference on Friday, Bratton once again apologized for the actions of his police force, stated changes have been made, and assured them that more change is coming. He called the incident a "perfect storm," since the scuffle between city residents and journalists was captured by TV cameras and involved the sensitive issue of immigration.
As for the ongoing immigration reform fight, Bratton wants Washington to tackle immigration, crime, and terrorism simultaneously, suggesting lawmakers cannot address one without considering the others.
"The way to deal with terrorism is to deal with local crime," he said. "By being better at fighting crime, community policing will not only deter traditional crime but deter terrorism. And inasmuch as the immigrant population is such a dynamic percentage of our population, and a population that is in the demographics of the country that is most victimized by crime, as well as having a significant percentage of those who commit the crime, you cannot again look at each of these in isolation," he said.
Bratton suggested the federal government is like a one-eyed Cyclops. "It can only look at one issue at a time. And if you think of it, it's immigration today. Then we'll be back to the war in Iraq. I'm trying to get them to focus on crime again. And instead of just focusing on one thing at a time, like the old traditional projectors, where you put one slide up, now you have these multimedia slides with all these images on the screen. We need to be looking at all the images on the screen at the same time."
Click on the video below to watch Bratton's remarks on Giuliani, Clinton, and immigration reform.
Posted at 09:55 AM ET, 06/ 8/2007
A Conversation With Mr. and Mrs. Kucinich
Wednesday night at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in D.C., three Democratic presidential candidates -- Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) engaged in a "debate" on the war in Iraq.
Off-stage, with his wife Elizabeth by his side, Kucinich came alive as he shared some of his background. The anti-war candidate, turned vegan, turned husband offered stories from his days living in a car to what it's like to avoid meat on the campaign trail.
Posted at 06:24 PM ET, 06/ 7/2007
Three Democrats "Debate" Iraq
Last month at a Democratic debate in South Carolina, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) challenged rival presidential candidates to a 90-minute debate on Iraq. Wednesday night at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in D.C., just two of Biden's Democratic opponents, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) answered the call.
The end result was more stump speech than debate as each candidate took to the stage individually to offer ideas about the war. SAIS director Robert Guttman and Financial Times Washington Bureau Chief Ed Luce served as moderators, interjecting questions as the candidates spoke.
Before the event Guttman wondered, "Can any candidate actually talk about Iraq for more than 90 seconds?"
The participants demonstrated that they could. Although all three were scheduled to appear at 8:00 p.m., Biden and Kucinich arrived fashionably late, leaving the stage to Gravel, a situation to which he is not accustomed.
"This is an experience for me," said Gravel. "I've got more than five minutes and I'm not sitting somewhere where you can't find me."
Calling himself the "crazy uncle who's come out down from the attic after 26 years," the dark horse candidate drew parallels between Iraq and Vietnam and outlined a plan to bring the troops home by Christmas. He slammed Congress for not voting to defund the war and said congressional leaders should endeavor to break any attempt to filibuster a defunding/withdrawal bill by keeping Congress in session and brining up a cloture vote every day -- until the opposition simply wears out. Gravel said leaders should deal with an inevitable presidential veto in the same way. He estimated the plan would be successful in a matter of weeks.
Asked how realistic he thought the plan was, Gravel said, "I guarantee you it will work."
When told his remarks had exceeded a half hour Gravel asked, "Then does anyone else want to speak?" As if on cue, in walked the Kuciniches.
Kucinich began with a shot at the opposition: "Anyone who's running for president and [approved] the war, has already disqualified himself in the race. And we're not talking about American Idol."
As president, he said he would "reject war as an instrument of policy and... reclaim the morality of our country." The United States, he said, should exist not only "as a unity of the states but a unity of countries around the world." He said one of his first acts as president would be to cancel NAFTA and create a Department of Peace to compete with the Pentagon.
As for Iraq, he said he'd boost reconstruction efforts and offer Iraqis "full control of their oil."
After strolling in at 9:20, Biden chided candidates who chose to skip the forum and expounded on his plan to break Iraq into semi-autonomous regions, asserting that defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq will not solve the problem:
"If every member of Al Qaeda was taken off the face of the earth and that was assured to you by the Lord... you'd still have a Civil war on your hands."
Watch each candidate's remarks made available by the SAIS Web site:
-- Sarah Lovenheim
Posted at 11:37 AM ET, 06/ 6/2007
Huckabee Frustrated With Format
Mike Huckabee is the latest presidential candidate to express frustration with CNN's debate format, following Chris Dodd's complaints on Sunday. The network decided to do away with time limits, instead giving moderator Wolf Blitzer discretion over who to call on, and for how long they could speak.
CNN's Washington bureau chief David Bohrman defended the format on Tuesday, saying it gave TV viewers a better chance to hear from candidates leading the pack. He also said frontrunners may get more air time because lesser-known candidates spend their air time attacking them, forcing the top tier to respond.
In this video clip, Huckabee explains his frustration with the format, and is then caught off-guard when asked about Ronald Reagan's birthday. As Chris Cillizza pointed out during the debate Tuesday night, Huckabee incorrectly named June 5 as the Gipper's birthday. It's on Feb. 6. Following the debate Tuesday night, Huckabee was once again asked about Reagan's birthday, incorrectly named the date June 5, and then explained his mistake.
Watch the clip below.
-- Ed O'Keefe