Dole

Jim Lehrer is a terrible debate moderator, but he's not the only one.

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Ties That Bind

On April 19, Republican Senator Marco Rubio appeared at a policy breakfast in Washington. The ostensible topic was his proposal for a Republican alternative to the DREAM Act, but it wasn’t long before the conversation drifted to vice presidential talk. Since the start of the Republican primary, Rubio has been named at the top of nearly every short list of likely running mates—and for good reason. He is young, charismatic, and popular with both the Tea Party and the GOP establishment. He has a reputation for being serious about policy.

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Over the next three weeks, the heat-to-light ratio in the press coverage of the Iowa caucuses will rise steadily. Here are a few basics to keep in mind. 1. Iowa is a flawed leading indicator, especially for Republicans. Of the past five contests without an incumbent Republican president, the Iowa winner has gone on to receive the nomination only twice—in 1996 (Dole) and 2000 (George W. Bush). On the other hand, Iowa typically winnows the field and seems likely to do so again.

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By all accounts, the Obama campaign wants to avoid having the 2012 election turn into a referendum on the president’s first term, hoping instead to turn it into a choice between the two major parties’ candidates and visions for the country’s future. But if history is any guide, that will be an uphill battle. Some presidential elections do consist of a head-to-head comparison of the candidates: They just happen to be the ones involving non-incumbents, candidates whose competence to serve as president can only be predicted.

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The debate over whether, and how much, the House GOP budget would reduce employment is a battle of economists: The budget debate in Washington isn't just President Obama's vision against that of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), but Mark Zandi versus John B. Taylor. ... Republicans responded later in the day by sending out a blog post by Taylor, a professor of economics at Stanford whose views they frequently invoke. John Taylor is the man Republicans use to back up their unconventional fiscal program.

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A Gallup poll finds that the only contemporary Republican political leader who makes the Republicans' list of "most admired people" is Sarah Palin (who is cited as "most admired woman" by 26% of Republicans -- no other current politician cracks 3% among Republicans.) Ezra Klein notes: The closest thing the GOP has to a Dole or a Gingrich is Sarah Palin, whose interests and messages frequently diverge from those of the Republican Party and who polls very poorly among the broader populace. Perhaps the idea that you need a leader to deliver your message is outdated in an age when Fox News and o

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Sarah Palin touches Bill Kristol's erogenous zone by telling him that McCain should "take the gloves off" in tomorrow night's debate. (A quibble: Wouldn't a real hockey mom recommend that McCain "drop the gloves"?)  The McCain campaign has obviously decided to take the gloves off in its other campaign venues, such as stump speeches and ads. But it'll be interesting to see if McCain goes after Obama in such a fashion when he's actually seeing him in person (although, of course, not looking him in the eye, which McCain is apparently unwilling to do).

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It looks like MoveOn has decided to throw around some of its weight in the North Carolina Senate race with this ad linking Liddy Dole to John McCain: Of course, I'm not sure linking Dole to McCain will hurt her that much, since he currently leads in the polls in North Carolina. Wouldn't the smarter play have been to link her to Bush, who has a 38 percent approval (and a 48 percent disapproval) rating in the state? P.S. If you want to see what a good anti-Dole ad looks like, check out this one from the DSCC: --Jason Zengerle

McCain vs. Romney (plus Laura Ingraham) vs. Dole vs. Limbaugh vs. McCain. From Marc Ambinder: After Dole sent a letter to Rush Limbaugh (kind of a weird choice, there), Romney told Fox News that Dole is "probably the last person I would have wanted to have write a letter for me. I think there a lot of folks who tend to think that maybe John McCain's race is a bit like Bob Dole's race.

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Correspondence

Icky Pop NIALL FERGUSON AND SAMUEL J. Abrams claim that anti-immigrant feeling in Europe stems from an illiberal, racist, and xenophobic populism that is especially pronounced in countries where people "most strongly support the proposition that immigrants should embrace the culture of their adoptive countries" ("Pop Up," June 19). Is that an unreasonable expectation? Aren't there elements of Muslim culture that, in the interest of liberal values, Europeans should not be prepared to welcome? Polygamy? Female circumcision? Honor killings of women in cases of adultery and rape?

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