Shortly before a Republican presidential primary debate in Columbia, South Carolina, this last May, several conservative activists in the state received mysterious envelopes in the mail. The letters arrived anonymously, each one containing an eight-page document, a typewritten manifesto with a pseudo-academic title: "Mormons in Contemporary American Society: A Politically Dangerous Religion?" The letters depicted Mormonism as based on "hoaxes" and ridiculed the church's founder, Joseph Smith, as a "gold digger turned prophet.
Ron Paul has raised nearly more than $4 million in one day. That's four times what Mike Huckabee raised in the entire last quarter. It's still impossible to see Paul winning the GOP nomination. But he will certainly have the money to heavily influence Iowa and New Hampshire if he chooses--and to make life miserable for any opponents of his choosing. Think Rudy Giuliani might regret jumping down his throat at that first debate? P.S. The occasion is Guy Fawkes day, the anniversary of a failed 1605 attempt to blow up the British parliament. Quote of the day: Mr. Benton clarified that Mr.
Remember the Rev. McClurkin? A week ago Obama's preacher problem was reaching crisis levels, with some asking whether the Obama campaign was up to snuff. Then the Philadelphia debate rebooted the campaign narrative, killing off this controversy. Even if Hillary weathers the current storm, Obama has benefited immensely from the change of subject. --Michael Crowley
Yglesias has some useful thoughts related to what I was saying about Iraq last night: [U]nlike on other issues, neither Hillary Clinton nor any of her rivals could afford to wait before talking about their plans for Iraq. As a result, the frontrunner has a stated position on Iraq today that's really based on the year-old Baker-Hamilton proposals.
CBN's David Brody watched Fred Thompson on "Meet the Press" and wonders whether his federalism--i.e. his opposition to a "Human Life Amendment" and his willingness to tolerate gay marriage if state legislatures approve it--will fly with social conservatives. --Michael Crowley
From NYT public editor Clark Hoyt's column: After The Caucus, The Times’s politics blog, reported recently that the five organized crime families of New York had voted 3-to-2 not to put out a hit contract on Rudolph Giuliani when he was a crusading United States attorney, a reader with the screen name chopsticks posted this one-word comment: “Recount!” --Michael Crowley
John Edwards was the featured guest on ABC's "This Week" today. Here's one question he got from George Stephanopoulos: Sometimes when you talk about [electability] a lot of people listen and say you're slipping into code. You say things like, in Iowa, "picture in your head, each us is running in a tough place"--you, Senator Obama, Senator Clinton--"which one's gonna be more helpful, which one's not? Your instincts will tell you the right answer." A lot of people hear that and say that's some kind of racial/gender code. "Absolutely not," Edwards replied.
It hasn't become much of a campaign issue--yet--but for the first time in a long while the news from Iraq isn't unrelentingly ghastly. Some previously hard-to-imagine glimmers of hope are now emerging. Of course there are a thousand caveats here, and Slate's Phil Carter has a good summation of them.
From today's LAT: Speaking on a conference call with donors Wednesday, Clinton strategist Mark Penn said his polling shows that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) were already suffering a "backlash" among female voters. Now on the one hand, I believe that Penn's polling really shows that. On the other hand, as a rival strategist points out, isn't Penn simply affirming another famous critique of the Clinton machine: That it simply never stops polling? --Michael Crowley
This email from a Democratic strategist to Time's Mark Halperin... “There’s just no way she wins running as a victim. She and her team reflexively go there because it’s worked before. But this is different. She’s not the first lady. She’s an aspiring commander-in-chief.