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Category Archive for ‘Iraq’ at Campaign Diaries
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Archive for the 'Iraq' Category


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McCain plays up Obama’s canceled event, shifts his argument on Iraq

As Obama’s latest national numbers are rising, Republicans are clearly worried that Obama significantly shifted the electorate’s impression of him. I explained two nights ago that McCain’s increasingly negative tone, his new ad and his attacks on Obama’s character indicate that his campaign is worried that it needs to up the volume to play on voters’ doubts about Obama and cut whatever advantage he might have gained this week.

Yesterday, McCain continued in that vein by focusing on foreign policy and stepping up his attacks on Obama’s trip. On ABC, he harassed Obama for having canceled that now (in)famous visit to wounded troops in Germany: “Those troops would have loved to see him, and I know of no Pentagon regulation that would’ve prevented him from going there.”

This was the main novel attack of McCain’s ad released on Saturday. I still question how effective this charge could be for voters who just see the ad and have no idea what the canceled visit is referring to. Can the ad’s sarcastic’s tone (”It seems the Pentagon wouldn’t allow cameras…”) appeal to those who don’t have a prior sense of what is going on and don’t already share the contempt of McCain operatives? And I am still amazed that this is being made into a controversy given the clear evidence that the trip was canceled when the Pentagon intervened at the last minute to tell Obama that he could not take the staff he has wit him because they were part of his campaign. First Read confirms that this had nothing to do with the press:

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports that there was never a plan for Obama to take the press to Landstuhl. The plan was to go with his military aide, retired General Scott Gration. The Pentagon said Gration was off-limits because he had joined the campaign — violating rules that it not be a political stop. Obama had gone to see wounded troops in Iraq earlier in the week, without even confirming he’d been there. No press, no pictures. He has done the same when he goes to Walter Reed — never any press.

Senators Reid and Hagel were quick to denounce McCain’s line of attack today and the Obama campaign accused McCain, an “honorable man,” of running a “dishonorable campaign. (On a side note, Chuck Hagel’s increasingly prevalent role as an Obama surrogate confirms Hagel’s growing hostility towards his former friend John McCain and Obama will be able to benefit greatly from this given Hagel’s profile as a conservative Republican who has shown few signs of hostility towards his party beyond the Iraq issue. In fact, the fact that Hagel hasn’t even endorsed Obama makes his rebuking McCain an even more powerful weapon in Obama’s arsenal.)

In an instructive article published today on Politico, Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin take a closer look at McCain’s character strategy and the GOP’s increasingly powerful temptation to play on the online smears that have been circulating about Obama. McCain’s latest ad evokes a recent debunked e-mail recanted by its author sent around accusing Obama of having “shunned” the troops in Afghanistan. The article also quotes a Clinton voter saying she could not support Obama because she questions the fact that he is “a true American,” perhaps because “of his name.”

As McCain steps up his attacks on Obama’s character, however, his attacks on Obama’s Iraq policies are getting increasingly muddied because the Arizona Senator is shifting his argument on the issue. On Friday, McCain called a 16-month plan a “pretty good timetable.” On Sunday, he denied that he had endorsed an Obama-style timetable. What gives? McCain no longer appears to be focusing on the argument that withdrawal would lead to chaos and civil war (Maliki endorsing Obama’s timetable makes that claim politically more difficult).

McCain appears to be downplaying his opposition to timetables (which is by itself a victory for Obama); his argument is reduced to the claim that he would be attentive to conditions on the ground whereas Obama would not and would stick to 16-months no matter what is happening in Iraq. Thus, McCain both fudges his position to imply he favors some kind of withdrawal plan (as Heather Wilson suggested last week and as McCain did too on Friday by talking about a “pretty good timetable”) and he plays up the contrast between pragmatism and ideology.

This ignores most of what Obama has said on the subject, as the Illinois Senator talks about these ground conditions just as much as McCain and seems more willing to adapt his timetable than the anti-war movement would like him to be. (You might remember that he joined Clinton and Edwards in refusing to have all troops out by 2013 at a Democratic debate this fall.)

Practically, then, McCain is leaving increasingly little space between himself and Obama on the one issue that is supposed to define him the most, the issue he is the most comfortable talking about - a turnaround that would have been quite unpredictable just a few months ago. With McCain ceding so much ground on Iraq, what does he have left to draw a contrast between himself and Obama? By taking issues like the appropriateness of talking about withdrawal off the table, McCain will be forced to spend more time on issues like Afghanistan and the economy. Unless, that is, his plan is to get issues out of the way and make the election entirely a contrast of character and biography. McCain’s comments over the past week are certainly a step in that direction.

Republicans have long been looking to make the election a referendum about Obama, and it looks like the McCain campaign has decided to embrace that strategy. How far will they go - and how far will McCain (who did denounce the Swift Boat ads in 2004, after all) take this?


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Surge and withdrawal: Shifting perceptions in Iraq debate

In electoral politics, perception matters more than reality. Whatever the surge’s actual impact and whatever the consequences setting a timetable might have, there is no question that public perception on these two issues has shifted noticeably over the past few weeks - even over the past few days! On the one hand, Republicans have been pushed into a corner in withdrawal discussions; on the other, Democrats have noticeably quieted down their rhetoric when talking about the surge (though it is McCain who is committing grave mistakes on this topic, as I explain below). As a result, we have two presidential candidates wrestling to gain the upper-hand on issues that have come to define them.

The debate over withdrawal changed dramatically over the week-end, after Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki endorsed Barack Obama’s plan. And in case anyone was tempted to take Maliki’s post-interview denials seriously, another Iraqi official (Ali al-Dabbagh) said essentially the same thing as Obama was arriving in the country, ensuring maximum exposure of the Iraqi government’s position. That President Bush also moved in the direction of Obama this week-end to the extent that he called for a “time horizon” must have made McCain feel quite lonely in defending the impracticality of withdrawal.

Against these shifting winds, the McCain campaign has adopted four strategies:

  1. Insist that withdrawing would have chaotic consequences and lead the country into civil war. This is what Admiral Mike Mullen told Fox News on Sunday - but it is a position that has become politically untenable once the Iraqi government said it supported the departure of American troops
  2. Fudge McCain’s position and make it seem like he favors some kind of withdrawal plan. This is what (retiring) Rep. Heather Wilson attempted today. In truly stunning comments, she declared McCain was so much more flexible he could bring troops home sooner: “He’d like troops to come home earlier than 16 months if the conditions allow it… Senator Obama has said it’s a 16-month timeline no matter what.” Not only does this fly in the face of most everything McCain says, but Marc Ambinder points out that one of the reasons McCain opposes Obama’s plan is that he argues 16-month is too short a time for an orderly withdrawal, whatever the conditions on the ground.
  3. Reframe the opposition between candidates, away from a debate pro or anti-withdrawal and towards a differential of pragmatism versus ideology. This is one of the favorite arguments of the McCain campaign, for instance in this statement by Randy Scheunemann: “Senator McCain is driven by conditions on the ground … and the advice of military commanders that led our troop in achieving the successes to date. Senator Obama’s unconditional 16 month timetable is artificial and ignores all these critical factors.”
  4. Change the subject and talk about the surge. As soon as Maliki’s comments were made public, the McCain campaign rebutted that the only reason we were even talking about withdrawal was the success of the surge. This reply has little to do with the issue at hand, but the GOP believes it points the debate back to McCain’s strength.

That last item - talk about the surge - points to a second shift in perception that has occurred in recent weeks. That McCain would now be in a position to benefit from advocating the surge is a stark contrast to the time Democrats called that military strategy the “McCain doctrine” in a deliberate strategy to associate the Arizona Senator with an unpopular war. Now, McCain would love nothing more than to be associated with the surge and we seldom find a Democrat willing to go too far in criticizing the surge.

Indeed, the media narrative has changed drastically over the past few months. The reduction of violence is leading to the perception that the military surge has worked and the candidates are campaigning against the backdrop of that new conventional wisdom. Interviewed on ABC yesterday, Obama sought to strike a delicate balance, neither walking away from his strong opposition to the surge in 2007 nor denying its potential as strongly as he would have last year:

I did not anticipate, and I think that this is a fair characterization, the convergence of not only the surge but the Sunni awakening in which a whole host of Sunni tribal leaders decided that they had had enough with Al Qaeda, in the Shii’a community the militias standing down to some degrees. So what you had is a combination of political factors inside of Iraq that then came right at the same time as terrific work by our troops. Had those political factors not occurred, I think that my assessment would have been correct.

Obama’s point here is essentially that the improvement of the situation in Iraq is due as much if not more to events internal to Iraq than to the implementation of the surge. This claim can certainly be rebutted intelligently - for instance Matthew Yglesias doubts that the Sunni awakening had much to do with the reduction of violence given that it had little impact with the situation in Baghdad (where a lot of the surge troops were deployed).

McCain, however, made a major mistake on CBS tonight in his attempt to rebut Obama’s causation claim. “I don’t know how you respond to something that is as– such a false depiction of what actually happened,” McCain said, before adding: “Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that’s just a matter of history.” In fact, McCain’s argument is simply wrong. The Anbar awakening occurred 7 months prior to the surge - a disturbing chronological disruption on what is supposed to be the issue McCain knows best. (Kevin Drum reminds us that al-Sadr’s ceasefire, the second event Obama alludes to, also took place months before the surge.)

At the same time, Obama is no longer willing to clearly state that the surge was a bad idea. Speaking to CBS’s Katie Couric today, Obama was asked repeatedly to talk about the surge. Asked whether he thought that the strategy he was advocating at the time would have resulted in the same reduction of violence, Obama demurred: “I have no idea what would have happened had we applied my approach, which was to put more pressure on the Iraqis to arrive at a political reconciliation. So this is all hypotheticals.”

Of course, McCain is not advocating for a timetable, nor is Obama praising the surge. But both candidates are aware that the perception of these two issues is shifting, and they are reacting by playing down the issue that is shifting away from them and playing up the one they have an advantage in.

So where does that leave us? Has Iraq become a draw between the Obama and McCain campaign? It is of course too early to say how the issue will play out in the coming months, but something is missing in these discussions. Whose plan will be better in 2009 concerns the policies of the candidates. Who was right in 2007 concerns their judgment. But there is another Iraq-related moment that is linked to the candidates’ judgment: who was right in 2002-2003.

The question, then, is not whether the “surge” or the “timetable” will be more important in voters’ mind because the issue that is equivalent to the surge is not the timetable but the initial rush to war. Obama has already won the public opinion debate over who exercised the best judgment six years ago and as such he can easily neutralize McCain’s claim to have better judgment and a better record on Iraq. Remains, then, the question of future Iraq policy - and there Obama is increasingly gaining an upper-hand.


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The debate over Maliki’s statements and Obama’s stay in Afghanistan extend into its second day

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s appears to be doing everything he can to give his statements advocating a timetable maximum exposure. Just days before Obama’s trip to Iraq, Maliki must have known that the American press was ready to cover the issue of Iraq in greater depth than usual and that his endorsement of Obama’s Iraq plan would work its way in every article written about Obama’s travel to Afghanistan.

As if that was not enough, Maliki’s office stated that his comments had not been reported accurately in Der Spiegel, but did so without specifying anything specific that had been mistranscribed or or mistranslated, ensuring a second round of stories about Maliki’s nondenial and a second round of reports that Maliki had indeed said what people thought he had said.

It is hard to believe that Maliki did not have some hope of influencing American politics and direct the domestic debate on withdrawal in the direction the Iraqi government wants it to go in. As a new president is coming into office in a few months, Maliki is in a uniquely powerful position to influence the positions of Bush, McCain and Obama at a time all three American politicians have to be especially attentive to public opinion and defend their positions more specifically than usual. In other words, they would face a bigger problem today if they were to advocate a position that goes against the wishes of the Iraqi government than they would in a few months.

As the AP explains in a detailed analysis of the situation, Maliki has already succeeded at forcing a shift at the White House, with the Administration now accepting the idea of a “time horizon” - notice how desperate the White House remains to not use the word “timetable.” In that context, it will get increasingly difficult for McCain to keep up his dire warnings of impending doom if America withdraws from Iraq. Not only will he face Democratic criticism, but his policy is now running contrary to that of the White House and is disrespecting the wishes of an Iraqi government the US is doing its best to legitimize as sovereign.

Aware of this predicament, the McCain campaign found an ally today: Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Mullen declared when asked about the consequences of a withdrawal within two years that it could be “very dangerous:” “I’d worry about any kind of rapid movement out and creating instability where we have stability.” Desperate to get any support for its candidate’s position, the McCain campaign was quick to blast Mullen’s comments out in a statement:

Today, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen, the nation’s highest ranking officer, made clear that he believes such an approach could be ‘very dangerous.’ Admiral Mullen further added that his view is shared by U.S. commanders in Iraq, who are ‘adamant about continuing progress, about making decisions based on what’s actually happening in the battle space.’ Barack Obama says he wants a ’safe and responsible’ withdrawal from Iraq, but is stubbornly adhering to an unconditional withdrawal that places politics above the advice of our military commanders, the success of our troops, and the security of the American people.

Joe Lieberman also rushed to McCain’s rescue, echoing the talking-point the campaign first responded with yesterday, namely that the success of (McCain’s) surge is the only reason we can even talk of withdrawal today. Lieberman declared today,

If Barack Obama’s policy in Iraq had been implemented, he couldn’t be in Iraq today, is because he was prepared to accept retreat and defeat, and that would mean, today, al Qaeda would be in charge of parts of Iraq, Iranian-backed extremists would be in charge of other parts of Iraq. There’d be civil war and, maybe, even genocide.

Again, this is the very argument that is undermined by Maliki’s support for withdrawal. The Iraqi Prime Minister’s stakes are as high if not higher in seeing his own country not fall into utter chaos and civil war, making it difficult for Republicans to argue that the position he has endorsed would do just that. But the McCain campaign is determined to not yield an inch on this issue and launched its surrogates and relied on army commanders to relay that message.

Meanwhile, Obama spent his second day in Afghanistan, where he met with President Hmid Karzai. Given how little Afghanistan is covered in the American media, it is quite a shift to see the increased coverage that the country’s deteriorating condition is receiving while Obama is there. It might seem counter-intuitive that a Democrat is trying to expand the national security debate beyond Iraq and onto the broader war on terror, as the contrary dynamic has been prevalent over the past few years. In 2004 and 2006, voters who said they cared about Iraq tended to vote Democratic, those who said they cared about terrorism tended to vote Republican.

But in 2008, a central part of Obama’s foreign policy argument is that the war on Iraq is spreading American troops thin and is proving a distraction from other vital efforts, including that in Afghanistan. And any increased coverage of that country and of the fact that Bin Laden is still loose is welcome news for Democrats that are frustrated that more has not been made of that over the past few years. Lieberman also sought to address this question today, as he declared: “You can’t choose, as Sen. Obama seems to think, to lose in Iraq so you can win in Afghanistan. The reality is, if we lost in Iraq, which Obama was prepared to do, we — we would go to Afghanistan as losers.”

The problem for the McCain campaign is that Obama’s trip has been perfectly choreographed for now and that, four years after the late October Bin Laden video appeared to help Bush get a last-minute advantage over Kerry, a major outside event has shifted the foreign policy debate in Obama’s direction.


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As Obama lands in Afghanistan, Maliki endorses the Democrat’s Iraq plan

Barack Obama launched his foreign trip today, as Americans woke up on this Saturday morning to learn that Obama had landed in Afghanistan. Obama’s choice to travel to that country first is a way for the campaign to make its point that the war in Afghanistan has been overlooked and that it is time for the United States to refocus its national security priorities.

The Obama campaign was mindful of one of the potential downfalls of the coming week, namely that Obama’s high-profile travel makes him look arrogant and acting as if he has already won the presidential nomination. McCain’s spokesperson accused Obama of holding “campaign rally overseas” today. Obama sought to address that by telling reporters that “I think it is very important to recognize that I’m going over there as a U.S. senator. We have one president at a time.”

The second point of debate between the two campaigns concerns the fight over the pragmatism mantle. McCain has long sought to cast Obama as an ideologue who has his ideas set and will not reevaluate them based on what he sees on the ground. Just today, McCain said in a radio address: “Apparently, he’s confident enough that he won’t find any facts that might change his opinion or alter his strategy — remarkable.” Obama sought to also address that issue: “I’m more interested in listening than doing a lot of talking,” he said, and the campaign is not planning any major speeches in Afghanistan and Iraq that might look like Obama is using these countries as a stage for his political ambition.

Democrats are hoping that images do the talking, as Obama’s trip is being covered with great attention in the US - much more, in any case, than McCain’s foreign trip received back in March. That discrepancy must be driving the GOP crazy, but Republicans have known for a while that they would not be able to match Obama’s profile in the media.

The Obama could not have expected that today, they would even benefit from Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki doing the talking. In what was a huge gift to the presumptive Democratic nominee, Maliki declared today in an interview to German magazine Der Spiegel:

U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes. … Whoever is thinking about the shorter term is closer to reality. Artificially extending the stay of U.S. troops would cause problems.”

These statements are a bombshell thrown in the American political landscape. Maliki has endorsed a key element of Obama’s Iraq plan (a speedy timetable) and rejected the central tenet of McCain’s Iraq doctrine (a permanent South Korea-style military presence). And he has done so as explicitly as he can, with no room for the McCain campaign to argue that its proposals could be tolerated by the Iraqi government and forcing the American media to cover this for what it is: Iraq’s Prime Minister endorsing Barack Obama’s Iraq plan.

This will make it significantly easier for Obama to score points on Iraq in the coming months as he can now advocate for a timetable while invoking Maliki’s support. If the goal is to pacify Iraq, should that support not count for something? The Iraqi Prime Minister, after all, is not the enemy and the stakes of a pacified Iraq are as great for him as for American interests. If he is on record calling for American troops to leave Iraq and if he is not buying Bush’s argument that withdrawal would heighten chaos and civil war in Iraq, can McCain continue making that argument? And he can remain credible on issue of Iraq?

Of course, Maliki’s statement is dictated as much by strategic considerations than by political ones: Iraq’s public opinion and Maliki’s electorate do not want to hear about permanent bases and are in favor of American withdrawal, leaving Maliki no choice but to push for American withdrawal. But whatver Maliki’s motivations, it will be difficult for the McCain campaign to maneuver around it.

The campaign responded to Maliki’s comments today but made sure to avoid getting in a debate with the Prime Minister. Instead, McCain’s spokesperson insisted that the mere fact that Maliki is now talking of withdrawal is a testament to the success of the McCain-backed surge:

Let’s be clear, the only reason that the conversation about reducing troop levels in Iraq is happening is because John McCain challenged the failed Rumsfield-strategy in Iraq and argued for the surge strategy that is responsible for the successes we’ve achieved and which Barack Obama opposed.

Joe Klein points out that the success of the surge is a “tactical point” and is only useful to voters insofar as it informs the question of withdrawal. Even if voters become convinced that the surge is working, will they take that as a sign that troops should remain in Iraq or that it is time to bring them back home? Maliki weighing in on that debate has the potential to shift the Iraq debate and help Obama on what McCain regards as his own defining issue.


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In anticipation of Obama’s overseas trip, McCain airs first attack ad

Barack Obama will be leaving for Europe in a few days, owning the international stage and attempting to seize the advantage on Iraq. Once Obama is overseas, it will be seen as bad form for McCain to attack his opponent, so the Republican is unveiling his national security-related criticisms before Obama’s departure. (In fact, McCain will devote next week entirely to the economy.) Today, the McCain campaign released its very first attack ad:

While it is not particularly brutal or negative, the ad does goes through a number of accusations. First, one that was first used by Hillary Clinton in a late spring debate: That Obama has not held hearings on Afghanistan. At that debate, Obama was clearly not expecting that new charge and offered a very weak response, saying that he had become the chairman of the subcommittee in 2007 and was campaigning ever since — which was, of course, exactly the point Clinton wanted to make. Now, Democrats have a much better response ready thanks to Joe Biden. As I reported this morning, Biden rose to Obama’s defense about this issue, noting that the Foreign Relations Committee was holding hearings on Afghanistan and that there was no reason for Obama’s subcommittee to do the same.

The ad’s second charge - “he hasn’t been to Iraq in years” - is one McCain can voice for only one more week, and I am doubtful it has the potential to be particularly effective. Third, “he voted against funding our troops,” the ad warns, before accusing Obama of changing his positions: “Obama is changing, to help himself before president.” McCain, on the other hand, puts his “country first” and has “always supported our troops.” The ad makes no mention of any particular measures McCain might have supported, and this is a subject Democrats are looking to use against McCain by blasting his votes against veteran benefits.

Overall, the ad seeks to exploit Obama’s national security inexperience but it does not seem to me to be as effective as it could be. It lacks a unifying theme: None of the anti-Obama talking points are particularly precise and they aren’t coordinated enough for the ad to make a lasting impression. It also does not set a clear narrative to the contrast between Obama and the Arizona Senator. The opposition it suggests (consistency versus opportunism) is only supported by one of the four accusations thrown at Obama (”he is changing to help himself”).

Unlike the RNC’s contrast ad on energy and prior statements made by the McCain campaign, the pragmastism v. ideology is only vaguely hinted at here. That is surprising considering how fond McCain is of the argument that Obama has his Iraq policy set before he even hits ground in Iraq. This is a theme that has a lot of potential considering the attributes voters find attractive in McCain.

And I also question the effectiveness of the ad’s first accusation. In a spot that makes only four charges, should the lack of hearings on Afghanistan make the cut? Will voters even know why Obama should have held a Senate hearing on Afghanistan? Are they familiar enough with the fact that Obama chairs a Foreign Relations subcommittee in which he might have had the authority to hold hearings on Afghanistan? This seems like too long a point to explain for it to be powerful in 30-second advertising.

Seeking to hold Obama accountable on what the GOP sees as his foreign policy mistakes, gaffes and weaknesses, the McCain campaign also distributed a 16-page document to the press that will accompany Obama on his trip. The document contains questions to be asked to Obama, a list of quotes outlining Obama’s “evolution on Iraq” and his “evolution on troop funding” as well as talking points describing Obama’s weakness on Afghanistan and Israel (including a section about his “blunders with the Jewish community”). This is a fairly exhaustive look of the GOP’s anti-Obama foreign policy talking point, so it is definitely worth taking a look at.

Simultaneously, the McCain campaign faced its own controversy today when a campaign surrogate, Bud Day, described the war on terror as a crusade against Muslims: “The Muslims have said either we kneel or they’re going to kill us. … I don’t intend to kneel and I don’t advocate to anybody that we kneel, and John doesn’t advocate to anybody that we kneel.” Contacted by TPM, the McCain campaign is refusing to disavow this comment.


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In speech on Iraq and in new national security ad, Obama seeks to gain advantage on pragmatism

As the economic crisis is deepening and Fannie and Freddie are spiraling downward, we might expect that the economy would be the focus of the presidential election. But today the two presidential candidates proved once again that they would prefer to duel on the Iraq War, an issue both believe underlies their appeal — judgment for Obama and strength for McCain. But a third attribute, pragmatism, is one that is dear to both candidates and Obama scored points today by showing he had an effective strategy to take the upper-hand in that battle.

Both campaigns are confident that they have the support of public opinion — the GOP is heartened by the building media narrative that the surge is working, while Democrats believe that voters have already made up their mind that the war is a disaster. As a result, Iraq is one issue on which both parties are eager to highlight their differences.

Today, Obama delivered what was billed as a major speech in which he made sure to draw stark contrasts with his opponent. As he did throughout his race against Hillary Clinton, Obama framed the issue as one of judgment, past and present. He blasted McCain for being off the mark back in 2002: “I opposed going to war in Iraq… Senator McCain claimed that we would be greeted as liberators, and that democracy would spread across the Middle East. Those were the judgments we made on the most important strategic question since the end of the Cold War.”

And he attacked him for displaying similarly poor judgment today: “Now, all of us recognize that we must do more than look back - we must make a judgment about how to move forward. … George Bush and John McCain don’t have a strategy for success in Iraq - they have a strategy for staying in Iraq.” He contrasted this with his own judgment that the time had come for “ending this war:”

At some point, a judgment must be made. Iraq is not going to be a perfect place, and we don’t have unlimited resources to try to make it one. (…) That is why the accusation of surrender is false rhetoric used to justify a failed policy. In fact, true success in Iraq - victory in Iraq - will not take place in a surrender ceremony where an enemy lays down their arms. True success will take place when we leave Iraq to a government that is taking responsibility for its future.

At the same time, Obama broadened the speech by framing Iraq as a distraction from America’s other problems that have been forgotten because of the cost of the Iraq War. First, Obama focused on Afghanistan and the fact that Al-Qaida’s leaders are still loose. And more generally, Obama explained that

This war distracts us from every threat that we face and so many opportunities we could seize. This war diminishes our security, our standing in the world, our military, our economy, and the resources that we need to confront the challenges of the 21st century. By any measure, our single-minded and open-ended focus on Iraq is not a sound strategy for keeping America safe.

McCain was ready with his response, accusing Obama of committing himself to policies before having seen the situation on the ground and leaving for Iraqi-Afghani trip later this month: “I note that he is speaking today about his plans for Iraq and Afghanistan before he has even left. … In my experience, fact-finding missions usually work best the other way around: first you assess the facts on the ground, then you present a new strategy.”

Translation: McCain is a pragmatist who puts facts before party and who advocated for a new strategy when Rumsfeld was in command, while Obama is an ideologue, Obama is blinded to facts by his commitment to principles, Obama is the creature of his party’s liberal base and cannot do anything but advocate for a timetable. This is exactly the same charge the GOP made recently against Obama on environmental and energy issues. The RNC’s ad that premiered last week contrasted McCain the pragmatist to Obama the ideologue. Given McCain’s predilection for portraying himself as a maverick, this is a story we will hear over and over again in this campaign.

But just as Hillary Clinton remained hammered by her vote in favor of the Iraq War (remember the Feb. 1st CNN debate, for instance, where she had to spend an awfully long time revisiting her old votes), McCain could be forced in a similar predicament: Obama’s strength has long been his ability to use the issue of judgment to create a link between the 2002 debates and current debates.

Obama’s attack will go straight at McCain’s pragmatism claim and the Democrat will portray his original opposition to the war as proof that he is the most in touch with reality. And while the electorate might not yet have decided for or against withdrawal, it long ago made up its mind that the Iraq War was a mistake.

Obama also launched an offensive on broader national security issues today by launching a new ad addressing the need to control nuclear proliferation:

The ad highlights Obama’s cooperation with Republican Senator Dick Lugar and portrays him in a non-partisan role. Note the different strategies employed on the issue of the war in Iraq, on which Obama sounds a combative position, and in this ad, in which he advocates bipartisanship. In both cases, the goal is the same: Demonstrate that Obama is first and foremost concerned with protecting his country, putting the country’s interest before his comfort, his party or his ideological considerations.

This argument strikes at the heart of McCain’s strength. Will it succeed? A similar strategy worked against Clinton in the primary, but McCain is a different candidate with much more national security experience. But the advantage for the Obama campaign is that their candidate does not need to win on national security. The latest Washington Post poll shows Obama is more trusted by 19% on the economy and that his weakness is foreign affairs. Obama needs to pass the commander-in-chief test and convince voters that he is strong enough on these issues, and that’s what he is working on. His European/Middle Eastern trip will indeed be very important.


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Obama will travel to Iraq with Hagel and Reed

After days of speculation, the news was confirmed today: Barack Obama will travel to Iraq and Afghanistan accompanied with Republican Senator Chuck Hagel and Democratic Senator Jack Reed.

Hagel has not (yet?) endorsed Obama, but he has also pointedly refused to support the campaign of his longtime friend John McCain. Obama’s choice to travel with Hagel is first of all Obama’s effective response to McCain’s association with Joe Lieberman. Even if Hagel does not officially endorse the Illinois Senator, Obama’s campaign knows that he would be a very effective voice if he were to defend the Democrat’s national security credentials — and perhaps even offer the media some scathing soundbites regarding McCain’s Iraq plan.

Hagel would be an especially powerful spokesperson on Iraq because of how unlikely a candidate he is for such a role. Besides being the Republican Senator most critical of the Iraq War, Hagel has a very conservative voting record, putting him in a very different position than a politician like Zell Miller who had always been known as a conservative Democrat.

This leads to an obvious question: Does this mean that Hagel is under consideration to be Obama’s vice-presidential pick? I remain skeptical of that possibility. As anti-war as Hagel has become, he remains a very conservative politician and is miles away from acceptable Democratic positions on a whole range of issues — starting with abortion (TNR points out that he has a zero rating with NARAL and argues that he would surely have voted in favor of the Medicare bill earlier this week if he wanted to be considered). Given that the Clinton-Obama reconciliation process has not gone as smoothly as it could have, will Obama take the risk of angering woman and pro-choice groups?

In fact, Obama choosing Jack Reed is as significant as the selection of Chuck Hagel — and could end up a more significant development in the veepstakes. If Obama is looking for a Senator with foreign affairs expertise and does not want to go with Joe Biden (who said this week that he was not being vetted…), Jack Reed could be a very viable possibility. And Reed did vote against the Iraq War resolution back in 2002, something Obama argued throughout the primaries was an essential test of judgment.

Overall, Obama’s two choices are clearly meant to make his trip appear less political and he chose Hagel and Reed rather than, say, Biden and Clark to discourage veep speculation and add gravitas to the trip. Obama is aware that the GOP will be looking to criticize his days in Iraq as a political stunt. By choosing Hagel and Reed, Obama is ensuring that his trip is taken as a serious commitment to reevaluate possible exit strategies based on careful assessments of the conditions on the ground.

That Obama will receive advice as to how he should assess what he is seeing around him from a Senator of the opposite party who has not even endorsed him will allow the Obama campaign to present their candidate as freed from ideological constraints — a theme that has long been at the center of Obama’s candidacy.

As a closing note, some speculation about the future of Hagel’s counterpart Joe Lieberman: While no definite plans have been leaked, it has long been rumored that Lieberman would address the GOP convention in St. Paul in early September. This has led liberal activists to up their pressure on the Senate leadership to dump Lieberman from the caucus and strip him of his chairmanship. Robert Novak now reports that Lieberman would be sure of being kicked out of the Democratic caucus if he does indeed address the GOP convention. That would mean that Democrats need… 10 seats to reach a filibuster-proof (as if 9 wasn’t hard enough).


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Just like 2004: Democrats hit on Iraq, Republicans emphasize terrorist threat

In a replay of the 2004 election, McCain and Obama’s campaigns do not see eye to eye on what the dominant national security issue should be. While Republicans want to frame the conversation in terms of the terrorist threat, Democrats know they would be better of by focusing on the Iraq War. Yet, something has changed in the past four years: Democrats today seem more confident than they were four years ago that they can afford to stand their ground when accused of being weak on terror.

Ever since the Supreme Court issued its decision on Guantanamo detainees last week, the right has been taking increasingly hostile positions against the ruling. After 24 hours of indecision, McCain chose to blast the SCOTUS, lamenting “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.” McCain’s motivations were clear: fire up the base on an issue he can ill-afford to distance himself from Republican orthodoxy and prepare his party’s general election offensive against Barack Obama.

In an interview with ABC yesterday, Obama weighed in on an issue that is likely to remain at the forefront the next 5 months by declaring that

It is my firm belief that we can track terrorists, we can crack down on threats against the United States, but we can do so within the constraints of our Constitution. And there has been no evidence on their part that we can’t. (…) What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks — for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.

The McCain campaign wasted no time before blasting Obama for his alleged naivety. McCain aide Randy Scheunemann denounced Obama’s suggestion that it was a good idea to prosecute the first bombers of the WTC. “These aren’t just your run of the mill drug dealers that are picked up on the South Side of Chicago,” he said, reproaching Obama with “ignor[ing] that we are in a war against terrorism.” And in what was the most memorable line of attack (one that had obviously been rehearsed and meant to stick), Scheunemann added that Obama’s is the “perfect manifestation of a Sept. 10 mindset.”

There was never any doubt that the McCain campaign would go after Obama on national security, seeking to portray him as an unacceptable choice that would endanger the country’s security. I am a bit surprised by the rapidity with which McCain’s entourage seized on Obama’s comments today. They were not particularly controversial or unexpected, after all, and the fact that the GOP attempted such sustained fire suggests this particular offensive had been coordinated and planned out much before Obama said anything to ABC. The McCain campaign seems to know exactly what they want: a clear contrast when it comes to civil liberties and the fight against terrorists.

And if there is any doubt in anyone’s mind that there is such a contrast, well, McCain will not hesitate to call on Joe Lieberman to explain why the Democrats’ decision to give up on protecting American security is pushing him away from his (old?!) party.

What is surprising, however, is that the Obama campaign does not appear to mind! In fact, they seem very happy to draw a stark contrast, and Obama has not shied away from giving his opinion on Boumediene. This would have been unthinkable four years ago: Democrats accepting to be defined as the protector of civil liberties and to publicly defend law enforcement for terrorist? After all, the party even ended up easily caving on the issue of wiretapping. This goes to show how much the collapse of Bush’s approval rating and of the Iraq enterprise has hurt Republicans. Democrats now believe that the clearer the contrasts with John McCain the easier it will be for them to stand for change and to paint McCain as a third term for Bush.

The Democrats’ preferred issue when it comes to foreign policy, of course, is the war in Iraq and they have been talking about stepping up their effort to portray McCain as a war-mongering hawk ever since his “100 year” comment spread like wildfire. Unfortunately for Dem hopes to paint McCain early, no third-party group really stepped up all these months to define McCain before he had the chance to raise money and organize his campaign. Now, however, MoveOn and AFSCME are about to start running a brutal ad remarkable for its simplicity that hits McCain on the war and specifically on the effect his professed desire to keep soldiers in Iraq for the next century could have on baby Alex:

The ad will run in the important battleground states of Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin as well as on national cable (CNN and MSNBC). Hotline reports that the ad buy nears $500,000, a sum large enough that this effort can be described as a serious one, not just an attempt to get some free media attention. Better late than never, however. John McCain continues to over-perform his party among independents, suggesting that his moderate image still stands strong. This ad also suggests that Democrats are particularly worried about holding on to the vote of white women (the latest ABC poll shows McCain trouncing Obama in that constituency).

Update: More confirmation that the Obama campaign does not intend to shy away from this one. He personally responded to the McCain campaign’s suggestions that he was weak on terror tonight by hitting the GOP right back: “Let’s think about this: these are the same guys who helped engineer the distraction of the war in Iraq at a time when we could have pinned down the people who actually committed 9-11… What they’re trying to do us what they’ve done every election cycle, which is to use terrorism as a club to make the American people afraid,” Obama said.”


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What worries Republicans: McCain’s careless sound bites

As the presidential campaign shifts into general election mode, battle lines are easier to draw, the two camps are more clearly defined and it is easier to determine what events might upset — or hearten — one campaign or the other. This entry inaugurates a new series devoted to cataloging what keeps Republicans and Democrats up at night. Today’s installment concerns the GOP and McCain’s damaging sound bites: Before McCain can even hope to convince the country to not reject his imperialist designs, he needs to stop harming himself with careless statements.

Ever since he returned to the media spotlight in December 2007, John McCain has been accumulating sound bites that will undoubtedly harm his candidacy in the months ahead. The most famous clips are his “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” and his talking about staying in Iraq for 100 years. Today came a third statement. Asked on NPR when he thought troops could start coming home from Iraq, McCain responded that the question was “not that important.”

McCain’s argument is clear. He is against withdrawing from Iraq because of what he considers a risk of chaos and because leaving troops in the country to maintain a network of permanent bases is part of his design. Longterm presence has always been part of the imperialist design to which McCain has long been sympathetic — and even more so in recent years as he has drifted closer to the neoconservative position. The “100 years” quote and now the “not that important” statement were both attempts to express this argument: Once Iraq is pacified, troops can stay in Iraq as long as we want them to and they will not be in harm’s way. In fact, they will be proud of helping America keeps its influence and empire — just as soldiers in South Korea face absolutely no risk to their safety. That is why McCain explained that what is important is the casualty level, not the troop level.

This is not an argument that McCain should expect to win easily even if he were to articulate it eloquently. Many believe that the moment has never been so ripe for Americans to repudiate grand imperialist plans and that voters are ready to reject such designs this year, and do so more explicitly than they could have in 2004 as John McCain represents a much purer version of empire-building than even George Bush did.

But the first challenge Republicans are facing is not even voters’ increasing hostility towards empire-building. It’s simply that McCain keeps messing up his delivery of the issue. Whatever the context, whatever his true meaning and however much Democrats might be distorting McCain’s meaning when they imply that he wants the combat phase to last 100 years, the Republican nominee should never utter such statements. Just as the “100 years” quote, McCain declaring that the date of withdrawal is “not important” provides an incredible sound bite for Democrats to use.

There will be many voters who might perhaps support the idea of keeping bases in Iraq and who might perhaps understand what McCain means when he says that the important factor is the reduction of casualties (in other words, voters who are not shocked by the idea of empire-building) but who will be turned off McCain’s candidacy when they hear about these two quotes and when they see ads running McCain’s these two sound bites on Iraq. And that is enough for Republicans to lose sleep over McCain’s tendency to rashly dismiss any talk of a timetable.

It is hard to call McCain’s statements a gaffe since the Arizona Senator has not misspoken, nor has he said anything he did not mean to say. And it is only because the war has become so unpopular and the imperialist project has become such a liability that a controversy is arising from his statements. It is a testament to how politically difficult McCain’s position is that he needs to express himself carefully and in as complex terms as possible to avoid giving Democrats any opening. Complicating things for McCain is his tendency to commit actual foreign policy gaffes, like his repeated confusion between Shiites and Sunni.

Demonstrating how much Democrats have grown since 2004 and how aware they are of the damage McCain is inflicting itself, the Obama campaign did not waste a second before entering full battle mode as soon as news of the NPR interview spread. Joe Biden, Harry Reid were hitting McCain within hours and the Obama campaign organized a conference call on which John Kerry unleashed harsh criticism (the mere fact that Obama is choosing to call upon Kerry as its national security surrogate is fascinating, of course).

In the era in which a You Tube clip can destroy a mighty frontrunner’s candidacy, John McCain might not realize how damaging one sound bite can be, but you can bet many Republicans are losing sleep over it.



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  • All good things must come to an end

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  • Confusion in Connecticut (Updated)

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Results thread, part 2: Dems suffer staggering losses in House and legislatives races, limit damage in statewide races

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Election Night results thread: Rep. Boucher’s fall first surprise of the night

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Election night cheat sheet

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Final ratings: Democrats brace for historic losses

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • What to watch for down-ballot

Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

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