First thoughts are that John Edwards and a populist agenda were missing. That being said, it is a good night to be a Democrat regardless. We should all be proud about what a civil and real debate we got tonight. In a civil debate Obama really shined tonight, not that Clinton did horribly but it was in my opinion Obama's best debate. He was especially effective on immigration while she seemed to stumble a bit. She does seem to have him a bit on healthcare. . .not in reality but he has a very hard time articulating why his plan actually works and she does.
Yes I am an Obama voter 100% and have been since he declared his candidacy, but I think most people would agree that when the attacks stop and he has time to really respond to the questions as he does in one on one debates he is quite effective. Whomever we end up with in the general election, we are most definitely going to have the upper hand in the debates.
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, John Edwards has ended his bid for the White House in 2008. His campaign's farewell speech was the same fiery and profoundly charismatic speech we've all come to expect from the former senator. Watch it here
So the question looms for the Democratic primary. . .now what?
First - This is seemingly good news for the Barack Obama campaign as far as numbers go, even though he lost a powerful voice in the debates and on the stump against the Clinton campaign. According to most estimates, Obama will pick up over half of Edwards supporters, amounting to probably between 3 and 5 percentage points nationally. We'll see how that translates on Tuesday when the smoke clears on what will be a completely stressful and insane day.
Second - Where does Edwards go from here? If he endorses a candidate and soon it could change the entire scope of the primary. Most believe that candidate would be Obama (I'm keeping my fingers crossed personally) but don't rule out the deal making ability of Hillary Clinton. If he doesn't endorse a candidate we may be seeing him in either a cabinet position or (a stretch) a VP slot. I know he has said in the past that he has no desire to run as VP again, but that was before the primary season really kicked off and it became apparent that he was frequently no more than a second choice to the front runners. I doubt Edwards stays out of the primary news for long.
Third - A huge "Thank You" to Edwards for running the kind of campaign that was needed to bring some "sweep under the rug" issues right into people's faces. Let's hope that his message and his agenda remains an important part of this primary and the national campaign. Too many people are forgotten in our system - it is on the shoulders of our two candidates to keep on fighting that fight or face disenfranchising an enormous group of people again.
I echo the sentiment of Todd from a previous post - Go out and vote if your state holds a primary on the 5th. Vote your conscience and vote for a new direction. No matter who you think will be the one to change this country. . .go vote. This is our country, let's take it back.
After his substantial win in the South Carolina primary last night, Obama did what only he can do. Here's the complete text and video:
Over two weeks ago, we saw the people of Iowa proclaim that our time for change has come. But there were those who doubted this country???‚¬?„?s desire for something new ???‚¬??? who said Iowa was a fluke not to be repeated again.
Well, tonight, the cynics who believed that what began in the snows of Iowa was just an illusion were told a different story by the good people of South Carolina.
After four great contests in every corner of this country, we have the most votes, the most delegates, and the most diverse coalition of Americans we???‚¬?„?ve seen in a long, long time.
They are young and old; rich and poor. They are black and white; Latino and Asian. They are Democrats from Des Moines and Independents from Concord; Republicans from rural Nevada and young people across this country who???‚¬?„?ve never had a reason to participate until now. And in nine days, nearly half the nation will have the chance to join us in saying that we are tired of business-as-usual in Washington, we are hungry for change, and we are ready to believe again
But if there???‚¬?„?s anything we???‚¬?„?ve been reminded of since Iowa, it???‚¬?„?s that the kind of change we seek will not come easy. Partly because we have fine candidates in the field ???‚¬??? fierce competitors, worthy of respect. And as contentious as this campaign may get, we have to remember that this is a contest for the Democratic nomination, and that all of us share an abiding desire to end the disastrous policies of the current administration.
But there are real differences between the candidates. We are looking for more than just a change of party in the White House. We???‚¬?„?re looking to fundamentally change the status quo in Washington ???‚¬??? a status quo that extends beyond any particular party. And right now, that status quo is fighting back with everything it???‚¬?„?s got; with the same old tactics that divide and distract us from solving the problems people face, whether those problems are health care they can???‚¬?„?t afford or a mortgage they cannot pay.
So this will not be easy. Make no mistake about what we???‚¬?„?re up against.
We are up against the belief that it???‚¬?„?s ok for lobbyists to dominate our government ???‚¬??? that they are just part of the system in Washington. But we know that the undue influence of lobbyists is part of the problem, and this election is our chance to say that we???‚¬?„?re not going to let them stand in our way anymore.
We are up against the conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as President comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House. But we know that real leadership is about candor, and judgment, and the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose ???‚¬??? a higher purpose.
We are up against decades of bitter partisanship that cause politicians to demonize their opponents instead of coming together to make college affordable or energy cleaner; it???‚¬?„?s the kind of partisanship where you???‚¬?„?re not even allowed to say that a Republican had an idea ???‚¬??? even if it???‚¬?„?s one you never agreed with. That kind of politics is bad for our party, it???‚¬?„?s bad for our country, and this is our chance to end it once and for all.
We are up against the idea that it???‚¬?„?s acceptable to say anything and do anything to win an election. We know that this is exactly what???‚¬?„?s wrong with our politics; this is why people don???‚¬?„?t believe what their leaders say anymore; this is why they tune out. And this election is our chance to give the American people a reason to believe again.
And what we???‚¬?„?ve seen in these last weeks is that we???‚¬?„?re also up against forces that are not the fault of any one campaign, but feed the habits that prevent us from being who we want to be as a nation. It???‚¬?„?s the politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon. A politics that tells us that we have to think, act, and even vote within the confines of the categories that supposedly define us. The assumption that young people are apathetic. The assumption that Republicans won???‚¬?„?t cross over. The assumption that the wealthy care nothing for the poor, and that the poor don???‚¬?„?t vote. The assumption that African-Americans can???‚¬?„?t support the white candidate; whites can???‚¬?„?t support the African-American candidate; blacks and Latinos can???‚¬?„?t come together.
But we are here tonight to say that this is not the America we believe in. I did not travel around this state over the last year and see a white South Carolina or a black South Carolina. I saw South Carolina. I saw crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children. I saw shuttered mills and homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from all walks of life, and men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. I saw what America is, and I believe in what this country can be.
That is the country I see. That is the country you see. But now it is up to us to help the entire nation embrace this vision. Because in the end, we are not just up against the ingrained and destructive habits of Washington, we are also struggling against our own doubts, our own fears, and our own cynicism. The change we seek has always required great struggle and sacrifice. And so this is a battle in our own hearts and minds about what kind of country we want and how hard we???‚¬?„?re willing to work for it.
So let me remind you tonight that change will not be easy. That change will take time. There will be setbacks, and false starts, and sometimes we will make mistakes. But as hard as it may seem, we cannot lose hope. Because there are people all across this country who are counting us; who can???‚¬?„?t afford another four years without health care or good schools or decent wages because our leaders couldn???‚¬?„?t come together and get it done.
Theirs are the stories and voices we carry on from South Carolina.
The mother who can???‚¬?„?t get Medicaid to cover all the needs of her sick child ???‚¬??? she needs us to pass a health care plan that cuts costs and makes health care available and affordable for every single American.
The teacher who works another shift at Dunkin Donuts after school just to make ends meet ???‚¬??? she needs us to reform our education system so that she gets better pay, and more support, and her students get the resources they need to achieve their dreams.
The Maytag worker who is now competing with his own teenager for a $7-an-hour job at Wal-Mart because the factory he gave his life to shut its doors ???‚¬??? he needs us to stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship our jobs overseas and start putting them in the pockets of working Americans who deserve it. And struggling homeowners. And seniors who should retire with dignity and respect.
The woman who told me that she hasn???‚¬?„?t been able to breathe since the day her nephew left for Iraq, or the soldier who doesn???‚¬?„?t know his child because he???‚¬?„?s on his third or fourth tour of duty ???‚¬??? they need us to come together and put an end to a war that should???‚¬?„?ve never been authorized and never been waged.
The choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. It???‚¬?„?s not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white.
It???‚¬?„?s about the past versus the future.
It???‚¬?„?s about whether we settle for the same divisions and distractions and drama that passes for politics today, or whether we reach for a politics of common sense, and innovation ???‚¬??? a shared sacrifice and shared prosperity.
There are those who will continue to tell us we cannot do this. That we cannot have what we long for. That we are peddling false hopes.
But here???‚¬?„?s what I know. I know that when people say we can???‚¬?„?t overcome all the big money and influence in Washington, I think of the elderly woman who sent me a contribution the other day ???‚¬??? an envelope that had a money order for $3.01 along with a verse of scripture tucked inside. So don???‚¬?„?t tell us change isn???‚¬?„?t possible.
When I hear the cynical talk that blacks and whites and Latinos can???‚¬?„?t join together and work together, I???‚¬?„?m reminded of the Latino brothers and sisters I organized with, and stood with, and fought with side by side for jobs and justice on the streets of Chicago. So don???‚¬?„?t tell us change can???‚¬?„?t happen.
When I hear that we???‚¬?„?ll never overcome the racial divide in our politics, I think about that Republican woman who used to work for Strom Thurmond, who???‚¬?„?s now devoted to educating inner-city children and who went out onto the streets of South Carolina and knocked on doors for this campaign. Don???‚¬?„?t tell me we can???‚¬?„?t change.
Yes we can change.
Yes we can heal this nation.
Yes we can seize our future.
And as we leave this state with a new wind at our backs, and take this journey across the country we love with the message we???‚¬?„?ve carried from the plains of Iowa to the hills of New Hampshire; from the Nevada desert to the South Carolina coast; the same message we had when we were up and when we were down ???‚¬??? that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope; and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can???‚¬?„?t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people in three simple words:
From all the exit polls, this one wasn't even close. According to CNN exit polls, Barack Obama won 80% of the black vote, and barely lost the white vote. Every single network has called the race.
Huge news for the Obama campaign. He overcame the childish antics of the Clinton campaign. It sent the message that if you are trying to become the chief executive of the most powerful country in the world, you had better be able to pick your own fights, and not send your spouse out to do the fighting for you -- otherwise, you aren't qualified to lead.
If you support Barack Obama and live in a state that votes on February 5th, you have an obligation to do your part and help Barack Obama. Buy a yard sign. Volunteer. Donate. You can't be part of history unless you help make history.
Barack Obama is poised to win the primary in South Carolina, while he continues to remain behind Hillary Clinton in every single February 5th state. Where can he strengthen himself? It seems as though Obama, over the course of the last two weeks, forgot what he had going for him:
Electability: Hillary Clinton will not win in Midwestern states. She will unify the Republican Party against her, and we will have to put up with eight more years of divisive politics. Obama, on the other hand, is being supported by flocks of independents and demoralized Republicans.
Iraq: Hillary Clinton voted for the war. Barack Obama opposed the war from the very beginning. Maybe try putting Obama's 2002 Iraq speech in a campaign ad. Clinton's stances have changed with the polls.
Washington: Our capital is broken both politically and ethically. Hillary has been in Washington since the 90s. If she claims that her experience has prepared her, try asking, "Well, where did that get us?"
New Era: Above all, Obama needs to win more Democratic voters, and not rely so heavily on independents. In order to do that, Obama needs to convince Democratic voters that the party needs to begin a new era. No going backward. Hillary Clinton is the party of old. Barack Obama is a fresh, optimistic face that embodies the hopes of a young generation. Sure, this point sounds pretty idealistic. But strategically speaking, Obama's best bet in securing more Democratic voters is to send the message that it's time to move on. No more old faces. We need new ones.
This primary process is far from over. Originally I had thought that my state, Washington, which holds its primary in mid-February, would not have any impact on the nomination because it would already be decided two weeks earlier. Not so. This thing could drag on until March, only because Hillary and Obama are splitting delegates. But Hillary will significantly increase her lead on February 5th unless Obama capitalizes on his pending South Carolina victory, and begins aggressively stating his case. He certainly is inspirational. But he could do better -- a lot better!
I'll be at work until 7:30 PM ET, when we will probably know who the winner is. Nonetheless, we are using this post as the thread to discuss the results as they happen. Here is the schedule for this afternoon:
Begin at 11:30 am PT (2:30 pm ET).
Preference groups form at 12 pm PT (3:00 pm ET)
Second alignment begins at 12:15 pm PT (3:15 pm ET)
Results start coming into Nevada Democratic Party at 2 pm PT (5 pm ET).
The GOP Nevada Caucus and South Carolina primary are today as well.
A new poll just in on the morning of the Nevada Caucus shows Hillary leading by six points, 45% to 39%. However, there is great news for Obama. It seems as though the number of Edwards supporters is falling fast. He was at 25% earlier in the week. Now he only has 6%. That means Edwards supporters could jump to Obama in very close precincts, as it often happens in caucuses, just because supporters of the likely third place finisher might want to make a difference in the overall outcome. Also, there are Kucinich votes too! They might do the same.
Politics can be arough game. Candidates need to hold their competitors accountable andchallenge distortions and lies. And God knows, we need a Democraticnominee who's willing to fight. But Hillary Clinton's campaign hasincluded far too many cheap shots, sleazy manipulations, and unsavoryplayers.
New questionable actions emergedaily. You're probably familiar with many. But it's the broader patternthat disturbs me--how much the Clinton campaign seems to nurturequestionable actions from her operatives, supporters, and surrogates.And how the campaign's actions go beyond drawing legitimate politicallines to an all-too-Rovian instinct to do whatever's deemed necessaryto take down those blocking Clinton's potential victory. Here's arepresentative list of actions that, taken together, offer a troublingportent for her candidacy and presidency.
Start with the hiring of chief campaign strategist, Mark Penn. He's CEO of a PR firm, Burson-Marsteller, that prepped the Blackwater CEOfor his recent congressional testimony, is advising the giantindustrial laundry corporation Cintas in fighting unionization, andwhose website proudly heralded their union-busting expertise until it became a potential Clinton liability and they removed that section. B-M has historically represented everyone from the Argentine military junta and Philip Morris to Union Carbide after the 1984 Bhopal disaster.
Thenthere are Clinton's campaign donors. Any major candidate has somedubious supporters, but Clinton's gotten money from particularlynoxious sources. Start with her donation from Rupert Murdoch, who'sgiven to no other Democrat. Add in massive amounts of money fromWashington lobbyists and from industries like defense, banking, health care, and oil and energy providers (though Obama's also gotten a lot from some of these industries). Then there's Norman Hsu, who brought in over $850,000to Hillary's campaign after returning to the US following his flight toevade a fraud conviction (Hsu was subsequently rearrested, sentenced tothree years, and is facing further federal charges, and the campaigneventually returned the money he'd raised). There's the Nebraska dataprocessing company InfoUSA,whose CEO, Vin Gupta, used private corporate jets to fly the Clintonson business, personal, and campaign trips, gave Bill Clinton a $3.3million consulting contract, and is now being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly diverting company money to his own personal uses. Mississippi attorney Dickie Scruggs recently canceled a major December 15 Hillary fundraiser (with Bill Clinton headlining) after being indicted for trying to bribe a judge. Major international sweatshop owners, the Saipan-based Tan family,have given Clinton $26,000, complementing their previous massivesupport for Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay. That doesn't even countdubious supporters from the past, like Peter Paul,the convicted con-artist turned event producer who coordinated amassive Hollywood Clinton fundraiser during the 2,000 election. Takentogether, it's a pretty tainted constellation of backers.
Likemost candidates, Clinton spends the bulk of her money on ads andmailings, and she's taken some pretty problematic approaches there too.I wonder how many of the New Hampshire women who voted last minute forClinton were swayed by a mailingclaiming that Obama wasn't really committed to abortion rights becausehe'd voted "present" on some abortion-related legislative votes. Exceptthat Obama had done so as part of a strategy devised byIllinois Planned Parenthood to protect vulnerable swing districtrepresentatives. New England Planned Parenthood's Board Chair stronglyrefuted Clinton's letter, pointing out that Obama had a 100% record onall the votes that really mattered. But the mailing may still havedamaged his support.
The distortion of Obama's position on abortion echoes Hillary's audacious argument that Obama really wasn't againstthe Iraq war and betrayed his promises by failing to vote against warappropriation bills after the Democrats couldn't override Bush's veto.I wish Obama had bucked the Democratic leadership and taken a strongerstand. But it's a gross distortion of history to equate his positionswith Clinton's overt support for the war authorization, refusal toapologize for her vote, and claim that she was really doing it all topromote more diplomatic solutions.
We canfind further distortions in a mailing sent out before the Iowa caucusesby the independent expenditure committee of a key Clinton ally, theAmerican Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. TheAFSCME mailing attacked Obama on his health care plan by using a John Edwardsquote that was featured so prominently that recipients could assumethat his campaign was the source of the attack piece. This and otheractions so disturbed a group of seven AFSCME International VicePresidents wrote a public letterto their union president, saying that although the union had endorsedClinton on a split vote, the political committee had no mandate toattack Obama. They demanded the committee stop what they called"fundamentally dishonest" attacks.
Othersurrogates have attacked Obama's character. Twice they've tried toraise Obama's early drug use as a campaign issue--despite his havingaddressed it directly and frankly in his book Dreams From My Father. Hillary'sNew Hampshire campaign chair, Billy Shaheen, mentioned it first,claiming that he was only worried about how the Republicans might useit. Sheehan resigned from the campaign after a storm of criticism, thenBlack Entertainment Television CEO Robert Johnson (who's backed Bushon issues like the estate tax) raised it again, with Clinton standingnext to him at a South Carolina rally. After Johnson's words drew majorheat, Clinton belatedly distanced herself from them, but the smearstill stands, along with the disingenuous claim that those making itwere just neutral participants, only trying to serve the Party's bestinterests.
Clinton's campaign alsoattacked the John Edwards campaign for appearing in New Hampshire withthe parents of Nataline Sarkisyan, the 17-year-old leukemia patient whodied after CIGNA refused her a liver transplant. Clinton presssecretary Jay Carson claimed that the US needs to elect "somebody who's actually going to help people and not use them as talking points." Nevermind that the Sarkisyans had initiated the chance to speak out bycontacting Edwards about appearing at a Manchester New Hampshire townhall campaign appearance. To the Clinton campaign, their appearance hadto be suspect, because they were supporting Edwards and his ideas.
Thecampaign has also attempted more directly to discourage participationby voters who might support Clinton's opponents. A judge just shut downthe lawsuit filed by the pro-Clinton leadership of the Nevada teacher'sunion, which sought to prevent long-scheduled caucuses from being heldat central locations on the main casino strip, where workers largelyrepresented by the Obama-endorsing Culinary Workers Union would find iteasier to attend. When asked, Hillary Clinton claimed to have "no opinion on the lawsuit" and Bill Clinton overtly supported it.
New Hampshire saw parallel voter suppression tactics,as the campaign encouraged the New Hampshire Democratic Party to evictObama get-out-the-vote observers from the polls. In Iowa, the ClintonCampaign tried to discourageout-of-state students from returning to their campuses to participatein the caucuses. In the Michigan primary, Clinton kept her name on theballot after the state violated Democratic National Committee rules by moving its primary ahead of the Feb 5 "Super Tuesday" vote, while Edwards and Obama took theirs off.
Campaignscan have either closed or open information styles. Clinton's comes fartoo close to the Bush-Cheney model, as when the Clintons successfully killeda major story in the national men's magazine GQ about Clinton campaigninfighting. Author Josh Green had written a long critical previouspiece on Clinton for The Atlantic, and campaign press secretary JayCarson threatened to deny the magazine access to Bill Clinton for aseparate cover story on his international foundation work. GQacquiesced and pulled the critical piece.
The flip side of trying to stop negative coverage is manufacturing praise. Clinton's campaign did this when they gave planted questionsto Iowa student Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff, and according to Chasanoff, toother students as well. After being driven to a public event by Clintoninterns, Chasanoff was introduced to a Clinton staffer who showed her alist of suggested questions to ask, one of which she used at Clinton'sforum. It's not quite like Bush inviting the softball inquiries of former male-prostitute turned right-wing blogger Jeff Gannon. But it isn't so different either.
Takentogether, these examples echo the Bush's administration's tendency toattack anyone who challenges them. They echo Clinton's refusal toapologize for her Iraq war vote or for an Iran vote so reckless thatJim Webb called it "Dick Cheney's fondest pipe dream." They hardly bodewell for reversing the massive erosions of transparency of the pastseven years.
The list could go on, butit's the pattern that's important. It's true that one person's cheapshot artist is another's fierce competitor. Obama himself has called politics "a full-contact sport," and used legal maneuvers to block a long-time state legislator when he first ran for office. AndDemocrats will need to be fierce in their campaigning if they're goingto defeat the right-wing Swiftboating machine that gave Bush the lasttwo presidencies. So maybe I'd be more charitable if I didn't disagreeso strongly with Clinton's Iraq and Iran votes, and utter failure totake leadership in standing up to Bush when he was riding high in thepolls. But I think I'd still have a problem. I look at the actions ofher campaign, and see an ugly example, a ruthlessness not remotelyequaled by either Obama or Edwards. I'll vote for the last Democratstanding, because the Republicans will continue the currentadministration's disastrous priorities. But Hillary's scorched-earthapproach threatens to fracture the party if she does get thenomination, and to leave a trail of bitterness even if she wins. We cando better for the Democratic nominee.