In response to my previous item about possible critiques of Hillary, a Democratic strategist writes in to point out that there's a third one, which he suspects will be the most effective: character. The danger of her votes on Iraq and Iran isn't so much ideological as it is the risk they be used to portray her as cynical and calculating. I agree. I'd kind of been lumping that in with the ideological dimension--and they're obviously related--but it's probably a separate issue. Moreover, Edwards does have some credibility leveling this critique, given that he apologized for his Iraq vote.
With a $5 million warchest, Ron Paul has the power to wreak havoc in the GOP field. But his spokesman tells the NYT today that the $1.1 million ad blitz he's launching in New Hampshire will be " geared toward introducing Mr. Paul to a greater audience — not to attacking fellow Republicans." I'm guessing the biggest sigh of relief comes from Rudy Giuliani, who's had the sharpest exchanges with Paul in the debates thus far. But have you noticed that ever since Paul started raising big bucks no one jumps down his throat anymore? --Michael Crowley
Methinks the economic-conservative establishment may be getting jittery about Mike Huckabee's pluck. The WSJ's John Fund lets it rip today: But I also know he is not the "consistent conservative" he now claims to be. Nor am I alone. Betsy Hagan, Arkansas director of the conservative Eagle Forum and a key backer of his early runs for office, was once "his No. 1 fan." She was bitterly disappointed with his record. "He was pro-life and pro-gun, but otherwise a liberal," she says.
Chris Cillizza has a good post up pointing out that the only two times Hillary Clinton has been knocked back on her heels this campaign--over her ties to lobbyists and her support for the Kyl-Lieberman resolution on Iran--John Edwards was behind it. Chris then takes up the question of who stands to benefit from this: [W]hile recent evidence suggests that it is Edwards not Obama who is best carrying the anti-Clinton message, it may not matter all that much when the actual votes are cast.
I noticed in The New York Times this morning that John McCain's new ad echoes some comments he made at a recent debate. From the ad: A few days ago, Senator Clinton tried to spend $1 million on the Woodstock concert museum. Now, my friends, I wasn't there. I'm sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event. I was tied up at the time. No one can be president of the United States that supports projects such as these. Wrapped up in his plea for fiscal "restraint" is a more powerful message. McCain, you might be surprised to learn, fought in Vietnam and was even tortured.
Slate's John Dickerson says "a door feels like it's closing for Thompson," and I have to agree--but then I recall that everyone was throwing dirt on John McCain's corpse about three months ago and now I wouldn't bet my life against him winning New Hampshire. One problem for Thompson is how ineffectively he's reponded to the (overblown!--but real) "laziness" rap. Thompson's latest tack has been to dismiss the charge of indolence with a certain indignation, as he did in Sunday's debate when he listed his life's achievements at tedious length.
Today's Times has a piece on the starring role of Elizabeth Edwards in her husband's campaign, and I just thought I'd add a dash of anecdotal evidence to a point the story raises: That some people inclined to support Edwards may not be doing so because of Elizabeth's cancer. The Times specifically cites an Iowa woman who told the paper she would support Hillary Clinton for this reason. And when I was in Iowa last month, I met a woman an at Obama event in Anamosa who said something similar.
Debating Iran: [Dan Balz, The Washington Post]: "Iran is now the front line in a foreign policy debate that has found Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) defending a vote that her rivals said could embolden President Bush to once again launch unilateral military action against a Middle Eastern nation." Subjective Torture?: [Michael Cooper, The New York Times]: "Asked at a community meeting here whether he considered waterboarding torture, Mr. Giuliani said: 'It depends on how it’s done. It depends on the circumstances. It depends on who does it.'" Levin v.
Alex Bolton has a great piece in The Hill about today's meeting between Sam Brownback and Rudy Giuliani. It made me think three things: 1.) Notwithstanding the meeting, it would be pretty hard for Brownback to endorse Giuliani. Consider, for example, this passage involving an anti-abortion activist in Iowa: Kim Lehman, president of Iowa Right to Life Committee and a member of the Iowans for Brownback Leadership Committee ...
Kerrey Out [Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times]: "After flirting with the idea for months, Bob Kerrey closed the door today on the idea of returning to Nebraska to run for his old seat in the United States Senate. It was an anguishing decision for Mr. Kerrey, according to friends and supporters, who heard him argue both sides of the equation.