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


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Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize

Health care can move over. A new topic is sure to consume the political world over the next few days: Barack Obama was just awared the Nobel Peace Prize.

I for one remain speechless by this decision. Even if Obama has improved international dialogue, he has been in office for only nine months. He might very well go on to doing great things, but he has yet to devote anywhere near as much of his energy to do this as thousands of people around the globe who have devoted decades of their lives to resolving conflict and promoting human rights. At this point of his presidency, what does Obama have above them apart from power and fame?

This is all the more problematic given the Nobel Prize Peace’s potential to shine light on areas of the globe that are undercovered yet plagued by conflict. Obama has little use for this prize, but think of how international recognition could help human rights activists and associations in dozens of countries the media has gotten bored of covering? What about reminding the world of Darfur or of Burma- and those are still the most famous examples? (Relatedly: the committee has become bizarrely US-centric: In 3 of the past 8 years, the prize has been given to Democratic politicians: Jimmy Carter in 2002, Al Gore in 2007 and now Obama.)

Even if the committee prefers to reward people working in higher-profile situations, they could at the very least wait for some type of clear milestone to be achieved: Nelson Mandela did not receive the prize until 1993, after apartheid was abolished, despite having spent 27 years in jail as a symbol of the anti-apartheid movement.

Then, there are political reasons that make Obama’s prize bizarre. He is funding two wars (against the desires of the left of his party), he is considering escalating one of them (against the desires of the Speaker of the House) and he is attracting a lot of criticism for Bagram, for his policy surrounding torture and for his administration’s pursuing the use of state secret arguments. (Update: Not to mention his 2008 vote to legalize of warrantless surveillance. The majority of House Democrats voted ‘no.’) Shouldn’t the committee have at least waited until Obama completed Guantanamo’s closure?

I don’t want to overstate this news’s importance on the domestic stage. But to the extent that it does have consequences, it should make it more difficult for anti-war Democrats to voice their displeasure at administration policies.

Remember the intensity of the debate over last June’s supplemental war funding, which the Democratic leadership barely managed to pass through the House after days of lobbying; next time around, Obama will be able to point out that he won the Peace Prize - pushing progressives against the wall. Right now, two burning political questions are the renewal of controversial provisions of the Patriot Act, which Obama has said he supports, and the White House’s Afghanistan policy; whatever it decides to do on the latter, the White House now has more cover to argue it is dramatically shifting the direction of US policy.

Looking forward to electoral consequences, I here again don’t want to overstate this prize’s importance. But it will certainly be useful for Obama in the 2012 presidential campaign. The United Nations have a popularity problem in the US, but I doubt most have the same skepticism toward the Nobel Peace Prize, which should make it hard for the GOP to use this against Obama (though I imagine they will try to do so, just as they attempted to turn his Berlin speech against him).

It will also help Obama argue he has turned the page of the Bush years and fostered better international relations - a central promise of his presidency whose success conservatives put in question last week over the unrelated matter of Chicago’s failed Olympic bid.


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From quasi-terrorist to 1970s-style liberal

The McCain campaign has improved its offensive game over the past week. Whether or not their current attacks are effective, at least they are consistent - which is much more than we can say of the GOP’s strategy over the past 8 weeks. Unfortunately for Republicans, this change probably comes too late.

Over the summer, McCain was making progress by questioning Obama’s readiness to lead, but his campaign got distracted by petty controversies like “lipstick on a pig.” In any other year, the GOP might have pulled off a victory by keeping Obama on the defensive with such shiny objects, but the year’s environment is too toxic for Republicans to win with such minor attacks. The task Republicans were facing this year was simple: disqualify Barack Obama to such an extent that voters who were looking to vote Democratic would not dare vote for this Democrat.

As the experience argument was thrown out of the window at the end of August, the McCain campaign pivoted to attacking Obama’s character, and William Ayers became the focal point of the Republican offensive. But we can now say that those attacks largely backfired. For one, they were poorly executed: The McCain campaign launched vicious one-liners while attempting to stay clean and not quite going all the way, thus suffering the drawbacks of going negative without enjoying the benefits.

Second, the timing was atrocious. They might have been more effective had the financial crisis not forced an unusually issue-driven campaign starting in mid-September, but in the aftermath of the financial crisis, voters did not care about character attacks. Third, there were simply not enough data points for Republicans to exploit in their attempts to make Obama into a dangerous radical: McCain had put Wright off limits, so all the GOP had left was Ayers and a whole array of Internet-fueled conspiracy theories. No wonder the McCain-Palin suddenly became parades of hatred.

Ever since the third debate, Republicans have switched gears to more policy-centered attacks. Rather than alluding to Obama the quasi-terrorist, they are now aiming to paint the Illinois Senator into a classical 1970s liberal. In fact, they are taking their criticism of Obama’s economic priorities so far that even that is becoming a charge on his character and his Americanism.

At the very least, the GOP has more data points to make Obama look ultra-liberal; say, Obama’s votes in the Illinois State Senate, statements he made while around Hyde Park or those National Journal voting ratings. Furthermore, attacking Obama on taxes feels more relevant in these times of economic crisis than the Ayers craze that had seized the GOP last week.

Finally, the Right has spent decades accusing liberals of being economy-killing tax-raisers, and they are now drawing on that repertoire to discredit Obama. Taxes, spreading the wealth and redistribution: McCain’s Joe the Plumber routine has become quite the caricature, but it has the merit of simplicity and of familiarity - two things Republicans attacks on Obama had lacked ever since they stopped the celebrity ads.

All of this has to be maddening for Republicans to watch: Why did the McCain campaign wait so long before articulating this offensive? Why did their waste their time since Labor Day, particularly if they were not willing to push their attacks to fruition, particularly if McCain was not willing to push Ayers more than he did in that third debate?

Attacking Obama on taxes might not work (I have repeatedly argued that it could make Obama look like just another typical Democrat, which might be exactly what voters are looking for this year and what some voters have been worried he is not), but at least it is something - and the McCain campaign has certainly been willing to take this attack all the way to its illogical conclusion: Marxism.

Now, not only does it feel too late for Republicans to force a whole new narrative to take hold around Obama, but the Illinois Senator has had the time - and the resources - to turn the tables on his opponent and accuse him of wanting to raise taxes by taxing health care benefits. Obama’s offensive has been largely under the radar in the sense that he is primarily propagating it through a multi-million ad campaign without necessarily releasing all those ads to the press. But most polls show this has led Obama to cut into the traditional GOP advantage on taxes. Under those circumstances, can McCain really put Obama on the defensive by calling him a socialist?

Another interesting question is how all of this will affect an Obama Administration. Some like David Sirota are saying that Obama will have a mandate for truly progressive governance if he wins while being attacked as a tax-raising socialist; if voters heard him talk about “spreading the wealth” and gave him a resounding victory, what does that say about their alleged antipathy towards social democracy?

Another possibility is that the way in which Obama has framed some of these issues will make it more difficult for progressive reform to be implemented and will strengthen right-wing economics, for instance his accepting the premise that tax cuts should be a priority. That is also the case on health care, where Obama has been spending millions telling voters that government-run health care is a bad idea or insisting that “choice” is an important value in the health care debate. Those have long been conservative talking points against health care reform, and Obama’s attempts at appropriating them had become an issue in the Democratic primaries (particularly in Paul Krugman’s columns).

Unless something dramatic happens over the next week, we will soon move on from discussing how the Right views Obama to debating which of the Left’s two views of Obama corresponds to his true persona.


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Ground game: Obama’s voter registration drive and the NRA mailer

If the election shifts enough in the coming weeks for one of the two candidates to win by a decisive national margin, it is unlikely that the ground game, electoral map and the campaigns’ careful strategic planning will matter much. But if the election remains as close as it looks to be today, investments at the micro level could very well determine the result. And this is one area in which Barack Obama retains an advantage.

But this is not the type of edge that pollsters can pick up on, making any number we can find that much more precious. Most of the data we have seen up to now has looked at shifts in voter’s party affiliations. That tells us how many more (or less) voters are registered as Democrats or Republicans, but not much about new voters, as much of these partisan shifts are due to already-registered voters changing their affiliation. These new voters are one of the key weapons of the Obama campaign, and one of the reasons he won the Democratic nomination (for instance, his influx of new voters overwhelmed Clinton and Edwards’s caucus organization on January 3rd).

Now, Time provides us this very useful table of voters who have newly registered from January to July 2008, and the numbers are very encouraging for the Obama campaign. More than 3 million voters registered in that period, and while a lot of them are not Democrats, Time’s table shows that these new voters are registering as Democrats at much higher than normal proportion; also, a disproportionate number of new registrants are under 35, Obama’s strongest demographic group.

The most impressive numbers come from Florida (441,225 new voters, 45% of which are Democrats and half of which are under 35), Michigan (where 63% of the 411,207 new voters are under 35), North Carolina (429,059 new voters, 49% of which are Democrats and 55% of which are under 35), Pennsylvania (where an outstanding 67% of the 286,255 new voters are Democrats and 69% are under 35). Remarkable numbers as well out of Nevada (where 110,124 new voters is a lot considering the state’s size, especially as 53% of them are new voters) and Ohio (65% of the 255,587 new voters are under 35).

In some of these states, a lot of work was done during the primary season. In others, these gains are due to Obama’s general election effort. And Democrats should feel even better that these numbers only cover the period ending in July. The campaign is sure to continue voting overtime until the registration deadlines start coming up in late September/early October; in other words, the final numbers are likely to be much higher than this.

Of course, registering new voters is only the first step - getting them to the polls requires a whole other round of effort. As the New York Times reported today, this is where early voting comes in - and we will have to keep track of any data from that department once the first states open their ballots at the end of this month.

One obstacle to all of this will come in the form of legal challenges. A month ago, the GOP signaled it was sending teams of lawyers to key battleground states to review voter registration applications and issue challenges. Now, Florida election authorities are saying they will start enforcing a voter ID law that was on hold pending legal review for the past year. This law (read the details here) could lead to a lot of new voters being forced to cast provisional ballots on Election Day; they would have two days to prove their identity. If the election comes down to a small margin in FL, expect a huge legal battle. (In other news from Florida, the Obama campaign seems to be aware of its relative weakness among the Jewish community and is organizing very extensive outreach among the community.)

Meanwhile, McCain supporters are also increasing their ground game. Today marked the NRA’s first move in the presidential race, and they made sure to make a splash by producing a brochure that warns that Obama would be “the most anti-gun president in American history.”

The brochure contains a lot of text and tells voters not to believe Barack Obama - contrasting what he says and what he does: “He has supported bans on handguns and semi-automatic firearms, and he has voted to ban possession of many shotguns and rifles commonly used by hunters and sportsmen across America. And we will remind voters every single time he lies.”

They will print 6 million brochures, and it will reach at least 4 million NRA member. Of course, this is not a surprise - the NRA targeted John Kerry four years - but it is a reminder that this is one of more obstacle Obama has to overcome to address his weakness among culturally conservative white voters, whether Reagan Democrats or independents (remember that today’s CNN poll found Obama trailing by 18% in the Detroit suburbs).


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As battle over change mantle continues, Obama’s response ad takes on Palin

Following McCain’s “original maverick” ad released this morning, the Obama campaign quickly fired back with an ad of its own, using McCain’s ties with President Bush, the lobbyists working on his campaign and Palin’s distortions on the bridge to nowhere to accuse the GOP ticket of being “no mavericks” and “more of the same:”

Overall, I am not sold on the ad’s visuals, as it seems more obvious than usual to me that the ad was produced in a few hours. And I am not sure how much a voter who does not follow every news of the campaign trail will get of that image of Palin and the “Nowhere Alaska” tee-shirt at first viewing, nor why the Obama campaign chose to attack her for flip-flopping rather than lying (after all, it is disputable that Palin can be said to have ever opposed the bridge, since she did so when it did not matter anymore, so why are Democrats granting that she “opposed” it at some point?).

However, the ad’s particular points and its overall strategy are strong, and exactly what Obama should now hit the GOP ticket on. August was mostly about Obama, the fall looks like it will mostly be about McCain and Palin. Obama welcomes that given the risks of letting his persona define voters’ choice and is moving to define McCain and Palin before they get a chance to redefine themselves. For instance, this is to my knowledge the first time the Obama campaign is using the lobbying ties of McCain aides in an ad,  a useful angle of attack that paints McCain as a creature of the establishment - the very thing he is trying to avoid.

Here, we go back to our discussion of risks of McCain’s abandoning the experience argument to argue that he represents more “change.” I discussed this in detail on Saturday, pointing out the obvious: the electorate associates that word with Obama, not with McCain, and McCain might eventually regret making the election entirely about that word when there is still little evidence that the electorate feels better about McCain’s party label or ties with Bush. Today’s CBS poll shows that 65% of respondents associate the word change with Obama, versus 47% that associate it with McCain.

Today’s ad exchange highlights why McCain might be in a danger zone here. Throughout the summer, he attacked Obama and forced the Democrat on the defensive, forcing him to argue on terrain on which McCain was stronger (readiness, experience). Now, McCain’s ad forced Obama to air a response ad… on the topic on which Democrats loves airing ads in the first place!

In other words, Obama’s defensive ad is exactly what Obama’s offensive ad would look like.

Another important consideration in this ad is the Obama campaign’s choice to take on Palin and the bridge to nowhere. In a sense, this was not a surprise. In fact, it was stunning to see the GOP use that argument to tout Palin’s reformist credentials given how much the press discredited Palin’s “thanks but no thanks” claim when she made it in her introductory address and then in her acceptance speech. The Obama campaign immediately fired a statement calling the ad a “lie” and Obama accused his opponents of “stretching the bounds of spin.” Even the AP came out with a fact-checking article.

McCain weighed in to explain Palin’s change of heart was based on a sudden understanding of the problem with earmarks: “The fact is that Gov. Palin learned that earmarks are bad and she did say, we don’t need our bridge to nowhere.” Not only does this resemble a Romney-like explanation (an incoherent link between a supposed revelation on one issue and a change of heart on another), but Marc Ambinder links to a video of Palin this past July in which she says she only opposed the bridge when she saw “the writing on the wall.”

Yet, the Democrats’ choice to take on Palin is a change of strategy, as the Obama campaign was reported to be planning to keep its focus on McCain and leave Palin alone. Under most circumstances, it would seem foolish for a campaign to waste time attacking the opposition’s vice-presidential nominee. But this is not a normal situation. And the McCain campaign itself was baiting Obama to go on the attack against its running-mate by repeating a thoroughly debunked claim this morning.

Palin is proving to be such a sensation and she is attracting so much attention that the McCain campaign is betting its entire campaign strategy on her right now. As I explained this morning, McCain’s attempt at wrestling the change mantle away from Obama only has a chance at succeeding because he has Palin by his side, and McCain is trying to bask in the glory of her reformist credentials. It might be a huge risk for Obama to bring Palin up in an ad and draw more attention to her, but he might have little choice at this point, especially when the McCain campaign is using claims like her opposition to the bridge to nowhere. (The Obama campaign can also move to exploit Palin’s first gaffe today as she complained Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae had cost way too much to taxpayers.)

That Obama has little choice but to respond to Palin certainly does not mean that such attacks don’t come with significant risks. By her taking, Democrats give McCain’s Palin strategy a fighting chance by making the Alaska Governor a burning issue on the campaign, pitting her directly against Obama, and leading voters to consider her as a potential agent of change. If McCain wants to win on a change ticket, he needs Palin to remain an issue over the next few weeks. He needs voters to ask themselves “Do McCain-Palin represent change?” rather than simply whether McCain does.


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In historic fourth night, Obama stood as a proud Democrat, delivered the speech he needed

For weeks, the GOP has been attacking Barack Obama for being a vapid celebrity. But you certainly can’t accuse the Obama campaign of being scared away from its game plan. As pundits moaned and Republicans mocked, Democrats stood their ground, moved Obama’s speech to a giant auditorium that they succeeded in filling to full capacity and taunted their opponents with pictures of Greek columns.

And when Barack Obama took the stage, he put behind him three nights of often (though certainly not always) dull proceedings and managed to combine in one solid speech the often contradictory goals that were expected of him - he fired up his base and reached out to independents, attacked George Bush and John McCain more directly and more relentlessly than most people expected but stayed true to his talk of unity, presented an overarching narrative of change while finally getting down to specifics.

This might not have been the best speech of Obama’s career. It did not awake the same emotion in viewers than some of his past addresses sparked, nor did it soar to heights of rhetoric. But that was not Obama’s intention tonight, nor should it have been. His dual challenge was first to remind voters that John McCain belongs to the party of George W. Bush and second to put some meat on his slogan of change. Wednesday’s speakers had started the former task - but they had neither the time nor the media coverage to complete it; and they had vouched for Obama’s experience and qualifications more than the substantiveness of platform.

Tonight, Obama delivered on both front. His speech did go in many directions at once, but it weaved the different themes together. If nothing else, it allowed Democrats to regain optimism and go back on the offense after weeks of declining poll numbers.

By the time Barack took the stage, a lengthy video shown on all network channels had painted him as an average Joe, a candidate embodying the American Dream who was raised by a family that resembled that of “you,” the average viewer. That is the story that we have been hearing for days now, starting with Michelle’s speech on Monday. Obama was all set to conclude the two other tasks - attack and substance.

Let’s start with the latter. We knew that Obama was aware voters wanted to know what this “change” and “hope” meant, and he tackled that quite literally today. “Let me spell out exactly what that change would mean,” he said.

When running against a GOP Senator weighed down by his party’s unpopularity, the specifics of change are very simple - replace a Republican political philosophy with a Democratic one that uses government to solve some of the country’s pressing problems. That was one of the main themes of Bill Clinton’s speech last night.

But that argument does not necessarily fit with Obama’s usual focus on post-partisanship: One of his main arguments during the primary campaign was to lump Clinton’s presidency alongside that of Bush as the “old politics” Obama was running to overcome. In the past, Obama’s “change” had not meant ideological change or the change of one party for another; it had been a promise to change the process.

Tonight, four years after his keynote address at the last convention, we saw a different Obama, one that presented himself as a partisan Democrat and tweaked the definition of change he had embraced for the past four years to fit the circumstances of the the current political climate and of the general election. If we were to assess the speech’s intellectual merits, this inconsistency was probably its biggest weakness - but it was not one that is likely to cause much trouble.

Standing as a proud Democrat - a posture he has not always put at the center of his political identity - Obama called upon the country’s Democratic voters to write a new chapter to the party’s history. Obama’s targets tonight were not swing voters or Republicans. Rather, Obama was talking to conservative-leaning Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who might be considering voting for John McCain but who ultimately would be happy to be identified with the party of Roosevelt and Kennedy, whom Obama invoked.

Not only did Obama call on these voters loyalty to the Democracy Party, he appealed to their commitment to New Deal ideology by pledging to turn away from the conservatism that has dominated the country since the 1980s. After Obama described at length what he saw as the country’s dreadful state, he put it all not only at Bush’s doorstep but at the doorstep of Reaganomics - a significant move given that Obama got in trouble in his primaries for praising Reagan a few months back:

For over two decades, [McCain]’s subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy – give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is – you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps – even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own.

Obama outlined a list of policies taken out of his party’s playbook in a lengthy issue-by-issue run-down that reminded me of Al Gore’s acceptance speech in 2000 (one of the most successful conventions of recent elections): No tax cuts to companies that ship jobs oversees, renewable energies, governmental support for early childhood education, higher income for teachers, no over-reliance on drilling, universal (though not single-payer) health care, equal pay and reform of the bankruptcy laws.

This is not to say that he consistently stood as a defender of a liberal political philosophy. Obama also insisted that he would reduce taxes, talked about individual responsibility, reducing unwanted pregnancies, protecting gun rights; he announced that he would cut government programs and making bureaucracy more efficient - all talking points that will certainly please conservative-minded voters.

Such centrist platforms are at the center of Obama’s political identity and they have always been. But tonight, Obama added a new sense of pride for his Democratic roots.

That is a winning recipe for a convention speech, particularly in 2008. With independent voters behaving like Democrats in their disapproval of President Bush, Obama’s best bet is to run as a generic Democratic alternative to the Bush Administration, and he played up by that contrast by going on the attack.

By mocking John McCain’s bid to look like a change agent while belonging to Bush’s party, Obama did what the past few Democratic presidential nominees had shied away from: attack Republicans frontally.

Many expected the duties of the attack dog to be reserved to the likes of Biden and Clinton, but it is Obama who took on the role with the most determination. He clarified the stakes of this election: a referendum on Bush’s America. “They actually want us to reward them for the last eight years by giving them four more,” Bill Clinton had said yesterday. Today, Obama sounded the same theme:

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this… Enough! This moment – this election – is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: “Eight is enough.”

Obama continued by taking on his opponent, repeatedly calling him out by name - a stark contrast to Kerry’s acceptance speech four years ago. He attacked McCain’s association with Bush as evidence that the Arizona Senator would be a typical Republican: “The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives – on health care and education and the economy – Senator McCain has been anything but independent.”

And Obama detailed his accusation issue after issue. He did not shy away from drawing clear contrasts, for instance on the Iraq War and on his refusal of a timetable. “John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war,” he said. One of his harshest line came soon after: “John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell, but he won’t even go to the cave where he lives.” In an attack one seldom associates with a Democrat, Obama concluded, “That won’t keep America safe.” “If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice,” he added.

On economic issues, Obama invoked some of McCain’s gaffes about which Democrats have been salivating for months. He hit Phil Gramm’s “nation of whiners” statement, as well as McCain’s declaration that the rich are those who make $5 million and more. Obama portrayed his opponent as out-of-touch, a theme the party has been hinting it for the past few weeks. “Now, I don’t believe that Senator McCain doesn’t care what’s going on in the lives of Americans,” Obama said. ” I just think he doesn’t know.”

But Obama’s best moments came when he was playing defense, because he managed to turn the tables and go right back on the offense. Obama did not simply defend his American roots and he did not just pledge patriotism; rather, he transformed such defensive moves into vigorous attacks that undercut Republican talking points. He linked McCain’s attacks on Obama’s character to the GOP’s need to distract voters from their connection to Bush. (”If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from,” he said.) And in what was one of Obama’s most effective lines, he turned McCain’s “Country First” slogan against the Republican by getting the crowd to chant USA and proclaiming, “I’ve got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.”

This might not have been the best speech of Obama’s career, nor was this week the perfect convention for Democrats. But Obama - following Bill Clinton and John Kerry yesterday - did what he to do. He put the burden on Republicans to disqualify him without looking like they are attempting to do what Obama mocked today; he dared them to try and stand for change while running for Republicans.

We’ll see next week whether the McCain campaign is up to the task.


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First night: Michelle and Teddy rock the crowd, but there was no red meat

The Denver convention is meant to to showcase Barack Obama’s life story but also to unleash attacks against John McCain, tying him with President Bush. This first night successfully and enthusiastically did the former thanks to powerful speeches delivered by Michelle Obama and Teddy Kennedy; but it did not truly attempt the latter - despite the promises that the 2008 convention would not be repeat of John Kerry’s.

Sure, this is only one night and it is important for voters to get introduced to the Obamas given that the main danger facing Democrats this year is that the GOP succeeds in painting their candidate as an unacceptable (in some sense foreign, radical and elitist) choice. But in 2004, Democrats also thought that their most important task was to protect Kerry from Republican attacks, and the result was that the election became all about the Democratic candidate.

Given the year’s fundamentals, the GOP will only be able to do that if it distracts voters from their distrust of Bush. Thus, Democrats ought to relentlessly remind voters of Bush’s record and associate McCain to it. There wasn’t much of that tonight at all, though you can be sure that the Republican convention will have a lot of red meat every step of the way. Bush-bashing could go a long way towards uniting registered Democrats behind their party’s nominee: reminding Dems (and Clinton supporters) who are reluctant to support Obama that they hate Bush and thus should reject McCain without consideration could be as (if not more) effective than anything else that happens during the convention.

Tonight, Michelle Obama and Teddy Kennedy had the most important speeches, but should former GOP Rep. Leach have been given such a prominent slot? And was Senator McCaskill the best choice to lead into the networks’ primetime coverage? [Update: I am certainly not suggesting that Michelle should have gone on the attack, as that could have been disastrous. But her speech started at 10:35pm. The first part of the primetime slot could have been used for a more fiery indictment of the Bush Administration.] Mark Warner, tomorrow’s keynote speaker, has already said that his address would not be an attack speech; the Democrats’ keynote speech will thus resemble Obama 2004 more than Zell Miller 2004. While the former won raving praises, the latter fired up the GOP against John Kerry.

That said, Democrats have a lot to be happy about as well. First, Ted Kennedy’s appearance (which was uncertain until the last minutes due to his health condition) heightened the night’s emotional power. After a tribute devoted to him, Kennedy emerged with his wife to pass the torch to the Illinois Senator. “Nothing, nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight,” he said. “I have come here tonight to stand with you, to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States.” Kennedy and the decades of history that his speech invoked had the potential to rally Democrats around one of their party’s most beloved statesmen by invoking the memories of the Democrats’ past heroes.

And then came Michelle Obama, whose speech was powerful beyond expectations. She took the stage, introduced by her brother, and facing a clear challenge: To portray herself and the Obamas as the typical and familiar all-American family and show that they have grown out of working-class families to work on behalf of working-class families. In other words, convince voters that she and her husband are anything but an enigma, that they are the most familiar form of the American Dream.

Her script by itself made a powerful case, but her delivery was impeccable. She spoke more like an actress delivering a monologue than a politician reading a teleprompter, and her gestures and intonations were wonderfully theatrical (I mean that in a very good way). Her emotion was palpable, and she conveyed her emotion, her love for her husband and her concern for the future of her children (”Their future - and all our children’s future - is my stake in this election”) better than is expected from someone who is said to have been reluctant to become such a public figure.

No where was she more more moving than when she talked about her own upbringing and her father (”And I come here as a daughter - raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue collar city worker, and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me”). That was meant to anchor her as someone voters can relate to, as was her description of the values she and Barack share, values that are identifiable with the “American” way of life:

And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.

And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children - and all children in this nation - to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.

Whether all of that will be enough, of course, will be determined in the coming days and weeks. But what we can say is that the script and delivery were as good as Democrats could have hoped for. Michelle Obama even cited the name of a certain New York Senator as someone who worked hard every day on behalf of the American people. “People like Hillary Clinton,” she said, “who put those 18 million cracks in that glass ceiling.” The crowd celebrated with thunderous applause.

Bringing Clinton supporters back in the Democratic camp is, after all, the convention’s crucial task - more urgent than bashing Bush and defining Obama. And that will be what we will be watching for tomorrow night, when Hillary Clinton takes center stage for what is sure to be one of the week’s defining moments. For now, the night had things Democrats should celebrate (a strong introduction to the Obama family) and things that I believe they should be worried about (the lack of red meat).


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State of the race: Outspent in key battlegrounds, Obama ups the volume

Barack Obama is back from his Hawaii vacation - and Democrats better hope he was able to recharge his batteries, because the next few months are sure to be extremely intense. Polls remain as tight as ever, and while Obama retains a slight edge prominent Democrats have been getting jittery about the race and are increasingly eager to talk about it to the press.

In his Saddleback appearance on Saturday night, Obama was a bit rusty. But in the next 48 hours, Obama has apparently heard his allies’ advice that he get “tougher.” We have noted numerous times in the past weeks that the Obama campaign was not as high-minded as it tried to portray itself, as a series of state-specific ads that were not released to the national press were being aired at the state level in response to McCain’s negative ads. But now Obama himself is sounding more aggressive, offering somewhat of a contrast with the pre-vacation period.

Obama went after McCain’s strength - his straight-talker appeal - by portraying him as just another opportunistic politician beholden to his party’s special interests. Obama said, for instance, that McCain’s new found support for offshore drilling “is something he only came up with two months ago when he started looking at polling.” And he blasted McCain’s team “as the same old folks that brought you George W. Bush. The same team.”

Obama also sought to make use of McCain’s comment that rich people are those making above $5 million (this compilation of income data points out that the cut-off of the top 0.1% is an income of $1.6 million, and that only 10,000 families have a yearly income of $5.5 million). “This explains why his tax plan gives hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax breaks to people making more than $2.5 million. I guess they’re middle class,” Obama said. We will now wait and see whether his campaign will include this McCain quote in ads. (something they have been doing increasingly in recent weeks).

Finally, Obama sought to discredit McCain’s tactics. Two weeks ago, Obama’s suggestion that the GOP was preparing to attack his sparked the “race card” discussion. This time, Obama was careful to avoid any suggestion that he was referring to his race. “People are questioning my patriotism. John McCain himself personally said I’d rather lose the war so I can win an election… They try to make it out like Democrats aren’t tough enough, aren’t macho enough. It’s the same strategy.” As if to illustrate what Obama was talking about by “aren’t macho enough,” Republicans responded by mocking his “hysterical litany” of complaints.

In an election year in which voters undoubtedly are looking to vote for a Democrat, the best strategy Obama can adopt is to make this election into a choice between two candidates rather the referendum on his character, his promise and his potential that it became throughout the summer. The McCain campaign was able to exploit how much Obama was at the center of attention through July and the international trip by putting the spotlight on Barack and blasting him as a phony “celebrity.”

McCain’s strategy did not significantly move numbers, but it did freeze the race at a time we were expecting to see Obama inch ahead. This has been somewhat of a surprise, but new information about how much both campaigns’ have been spending on ads confirms that the GOP put some serious money behind its attacks, ensuring that they penetrate in the political conversation. The Republican’s finances have been more solid than expected and he is spending roughly as much as his rival on ads; yet because McCain chose to air ads in only 11 states, compared to 18 for Obama, the Democrat’s resources have been spread more thin.

We already knew the 7 states in which Obama is alone (AK, FL, GA, IN, MT, NC and ND). Now, TPM came out with a detailed look at the spending in the 11 states in which both Obama and McCain are airing ads. Only in Virginia has Obama invested significantly more. In most other states, McCain has poured much more resources than his rival - including $1.5 million more in Pennsylvania, $1 million more in Ohio and $700,000 more in Iowa!

Despite this spending unbalance, poll numbers have remained remarkably stable in most of these 18 states - no matter which candidate has been spending more. That is obviously good news for both candidates, as neither has fallen behind in the states in which he has invested less. But Obama retains two key advantages:

  1. In the weeks ahead, McCain will no longer be able to compete with Obama financially. McCain was using his primary funds in the summer. Starting in September, he will be limited to $84 million - and Obama will likely have at least twice has much. That means that the Democrat is sure to dominate airwaves in September and October while continuing to air ads in many more states than his rivals. In fact, the reason McCain has been spending as much as Obama for now is that he needs to burn through whatever he has raised before his convention.
  2. A significant portion of Obama’s spending is going towards building an infrastructure, opening campaign offices and organizing a ground game. Obama is budgeting tens of millions of dollars to this effort, unlike McCain’s team. A Wall Street Journal article published this morning documents this disparity: “The campaign reports it has 131 such offices in five potential battleground states, compared to 13 reported by the McCain campaign. In Florida, for example, the Obama campaign lists 32 local offices, compared to three for Sen. McCain. In Missouri, the ratio is 29 to 1, while in New Mexico it stands at 23 to 1.” This will not necessarily be registered in polls, but it will make a difference come November 4th.

McCain managed to not be swamped during the summer, but his rival’s financial dominance will soon make more of a difference. That certainly does not guarantee Obama a victory, but combined with his more aggressive tone and his increasing willingness to strike back, it should at least allow Democrats to be more in control of the message of the campaign’s final stretch.


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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 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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The positioning game: Obama and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard

Longtime readers of this blog might remember that I objected to what I viewed as Obama’s triangulating stance on Iran when the Kyl-Lieberman bill came to a vote in the Senate back in September. Now, the issue of Iran has come back to the table with McCain hitting Obama for being too soft on the issue and with informed speculation that Bush might be preparing to strike increasing. While most of the talk in the past 24 hours has been devoted to yesterday’s FISA vote which Obama supported and Clinton opposed, I would like to concentrate instead on Iran.

Hillary Clinton’s “yes” vote to the Kyl-Lieberman amendment became a key sticking point of the Democratic primaries, as John Edwards hit her repeatedly for what he said was her caving to Bush’s war-mongering plans. Obama’s stance was more complex: He said he was opposed to the bill (he did not take part of the vote) but not for the reason for which Edwards, liberal activists and other prominent Democrats (like Pelosi) were enraged against the bill.

While the provision that many Democrats were vehemently denouncing was the amendment’s labeling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group, Obama was on the wrong side of that issue: He had sponsored a bill back in April 2007 doing just the same thing. But he (1) wanted to give the impression that there was space between him and Clinton on the issue of Iran and (2) he wanted to avoid Edwards out-flanking him on the left. So he announced he opposed the amendment because it tied Iran to the Iraq War — though he spoke about his opposition in vague enough terms to not remind anyone of his stance on the labeling issue.

This maneuver allowed Obama to publicly hit Clinton (including during debates) for voting in favor of the amendment while muting his support for the text’s most controversial provision. Obama thus appeared to be in line with Edwards and substantially better than Clinton on the Iran issue when his stance (labeling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard) was as dangerous an embrace of Bush’s talking points. As I wrote back in October:

Obama’s position is that Iran engages in terrorist activities… just not in Iraq. But was not Saddam Hussein also accused of “sponsoring terrorism far beyond Iraq’s borders” in an explicit linkage with Al-Qaeda? Obama’s rhetoric on Iran dangerously parallels the connections that were drawn five years ago. His argument that tying Iran with Iraqi insurgents gives the administration a war rationale whereas linking it to non-Iraqi terrorists does not is an arbitrary fault line: Bush would have little problem arguing the need for strikes on the basis of the larger War on Terror. He has done so before, and Democrats conceding that the Revolutionary Guard is a terrorist group will allow him to do it again.

As Seymour Hersh is warning us repeatedly in the New Yorker, war in Iran is a very distinct possibility in the months ahead and the Administration is stepping up its plans to attack before Bush leaves office. I am still at a loss as to how Democrats who agree that the Iranian army is a terrorist organization will be able to oppose Bush bombing Iran.

It is in this context that Senator McCain is now hitting Obama for his opposition to the Kyl-Lieberman amendment: “”This is the same organization that I voted to condemn as a terrorist organization when an amendment was on the floor of the United States Senate. Sen. Obama refused to vote. He called it provocative, a provocative step.” (By the way, does McCain really want to have a debate about who has ben missing the most vote in 2007-2008?)

In its response, the Obama campaign suddenly emphasized Obama’s stance that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was a terrorist group, something they had made sure to not talk about too much throughout the fall. And just like that, the illusion of any space between Obama and Clinton on Iran deflated and the space with Edwards reappeared. The campaign issued a statement saying: “That’s why he cosponsored a bill that would designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization and authored a bill that would direct divestment from Iran.”

This is certainly not a shift to the center, and while the Right and the McCain campaign is accusing Obama of flip-flopping on the issue, that charge is laughable: Obama has been remarkably consistent on the issue. But it is undoubtedly a change in emphasis.

And that gets us to the broader question of Obama’s positioning in the general election, about which I have already written. A frustrating article published today by the LA Times starts with:

As Barack Obama moves to broaden his appeal beyond loyal Democrats, a chorus of anger and disappointment has arisen from the left. But those voices are a distinct minority because the party has a more pressing concern: winning in November.

This is a silly opposition between not angering the left and concerns of winning. Sure, Obama might not be able to win if he goes around campaigning against the death penalty. But I have very clearly faulted Obama for emphasizing centrist themes as a strategic mistake. The 2000 elections showed what happens when differences between the parties are muddied, and when it comes to an issue as important as bombing Iran differences are even more important to articulate. Obama likes to say that he will win by drawing stark contrasts and no longer being afraid of the GOP’s fear-mongering.

And as I have been pointing out for weeks (before this whole issue of Obama’s positioning even emerged), the election is paying itself among Democratic voters: Given the huge swing towards Democrats in the past four years, Obama securing the Democratic base and keeping them enthused would go as far towards putting the election away as anything, making Obama’s moves on issues like FISA and his acceptance of Bush’s talking points on Iran unnecessary and risky.


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The positioning game: Obama criticizes MoveOn and 60s “counterculture” in patriotism speech, opposes California marriage ban

Every four years, the Democratic candidate embarks on a more or less subtle positioning game once he has secured his party’s nomination. Over the past two weeks, we have watched Obama’s attempts to strengthen his centrist credentials by announcing he would vote in favor of the FISA bill and criticizing the Heller decision. (I am not including Obama’s opposition to the Supreme Court’s banning the death penalty for child rapists in this list, as he had clearly taken a similar position in the past).

This week, Obama embarks on an attempt to address the perception among some voters that he somehow lacks patriotism. As I have noted previously, McCain himself has implied that he is the truer American. Most Republicans do not dare hit Obama too directly on these issues, but a vigorous online campaign to spread smears and false rumors about the Democratic nominee has had some success in influencing public opinion, so much so that Obama was confronted to questions relating to this at last April’s Philadelphia debate. Obama’s first general election ad sought to address some of these concerns by focusing on the Senator’s “Kansas values” and the Democrat continued his re-introduction today with a speech on patriotism in Missouri. Tomorrow, he will deliver on speech on faith.

Complicating the picture a bit was Wesley Clark’s statement yesterday on McCain’s qualifications to be president, a statement the McCain campaign considers an opportunity to even the playing field by portraying themselves as the victims as well. “I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president,” Clark said. The McCain campaign has been all over this, assembling a panel of veterans to respond to Clark — including a man who appeared in the 2004 Swift Boat ads!

Note that Clark questioned the relevance of McCain’s POW years to his presidential experience claims and he did not question anything about the POW years. His argument was thus radically different from what the Swift Boat ads were doing four years ago. In fact, his line of attack is closer to the Obama camp’s argument during the primaries that Hillary Clinton’s 8 years as First Lady did not constitute presidential experience.

The Obama campaign issued a statement “rejecting” Clark’s comments today: “As he’s said many times before, Senator Obama honors and respects Senator McCain’s service, and of course he rejects yesterday’s statement by General Clark.” And today’s speech in Missouri, Obama sought to put all attacks on McCain’s patriotism, military service and POW years off-limit:

Beyond a loyalty to America’s ideals, beyond a willingness to dissent on behalf of those ideals, I also believe that patriotism must, if it is to mean anything, involve the willingness to sacrifice – to give up something we value on behalf of a larger cause. For those who have fought under the flag of this nation – for the young veterans I meet when I visit Walter Reed; for those like John McCain who have endured physical torment in service to our country – no further proof of such sacrifice is necessary. And let me also add that no one should ever devalue that service, especially for the sake of a political campaign, and that goes for supporters on both sides. We must always express our profound gratitude for the service of our men and women in uniform. Period. Full stop.

But Obama went further. First, in a move that Eve Fairbanks interprets as a nod to potential running-mate Jim Webb, Obama also attacked the 1960s “counterculture” types who refused to honor Vietnam veterans returning from combat. Obama added that this “remains a national shame to this day. Note that this kind of language is particularly new, nor is it unexpected coming from Obama, who has spoken negatively of the 1960s Left and long criticized the anti-Vietnam movement for its polarizing effects:

Some of those in the so-called counter-culture of the Sixties reacted not merely by criticizing particular government policies, but by attacking the symbols, and in extreme cases, the very idea, of America itself - by burning flags; by blaming America for all that was wrong with the world; and perhaps most tragically, by failing to honor those veterans coming home from Vietnam, something that remains a national shame to this day.

Ever since Bill Clinton denounced Sister Souljah in 1992, Democratic nominees have sought to recapture that moment to show they are not beholden to left-wing groups and to bolster their moerate credentials. While the campaign’s anti-Clark statement was dicatated by political necessity, Obama’s choice to denounce MoveOn.org’s “Betray Us” ad months after that controversy erupted is a classic example of Democrats trying to channel the Clinton of 1992. After lamenting that politics felt “trapped in old, threadbare arguments” and “caricatures of left and right,” Obama went on to say that this was

most evident during our recent debates about the war in Iraq, when those who opposed administration policy were tagged by some as unpatriotic, and a general providing his best counsel on how to move forward in Iraq was accused of betrayal.

This symbolic move was as transparent an attempt to grab Sister Souljah headlines as anything Obama has attempted over the past few weeks, and a wholly unnecessary one at that given how much time has passed since this controversy. And Obama had less definitive opinions on this subject back when it was hotly debated: Obama did not criticize MoveOn when pressed to do so and he did not participate in the Senate vote that condemned MoveOn.org back in September. The bill got 72 yeas and Clinton voted against it, though she did “condemn” the MoveOn ad. And how far can he go in criticizing a group that isnot an individual like Sister Souljah but a powerful political organization and a strong fundraising tools for Democrats down and up the ballot?

At the same time, progressive activists breathed a sigh of relief this week as Barack Obama announced his firm opposition to California’s Proposition 8 which attempts to ban gay marriage:

As the Democratic nominee for President, I am proud to join with and support the LGBT community in an effort to set our nation on a course that recognizes LGBT Americans with full equality under the law. That is why I support extending fully equal rights and benefits to same sex couples under both state and federal law. That is why I support repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, and the passage of laws to protect LGBT Americans from hate crimes and employment discrimination. And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states.

This might not seem like that shocking a move, but keep in mind that John Kerry’s idea of moving to the center in 2004 was to not only declare himself satisfied that Missouri had voted to ban gay marriage weeks before the general election but also declare that he himself would have voted in favor of the ban had he been a Missouri voter! The problem with Kerry’s statement and similar attempts is how weak and pandering they sound, and it’s good to see that the Obama campaign isn’t following Kerry there.


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Campaigns refine strategy: Obama expands map, McCain targets Reagan Democrats

As both presidential campaigns have started airing their first ads and hiring staffers in various battlegrounds, the time has come for more definite decisions on what states ought to be contested and what constituencies ought to be targeted. Last week, Obama started to air his first general election ad in a series of 18 states (14 of which were won by Bush in 2004) that included Indiana, North Dakota and Alaska. This week, Obama’s campaign manager confirmed to Politico that they are intending to contest all of these 14 states, but it looks like the list of states the campaign is looking at shoudl be expanded to to… Wyoming and Texas.

Steve Hildebrand suggested that, while the campaign is unlikely to air advertisement here, they are thinking about the possibility of sending paid staffers to organize in such states in order to help down-the-ballot candidates. Indeed, the difficulty of Democrats to win congressional races in Wyoming or Texas in a presidential year is that they are dragged down by the top of the ticket. But Obama has enough money to take care of his own business and afford to also ease the way for red state Democrats.

Of course, Obama can expect something in return: Red state Democrats are notoriously weary of supporting their party’s presidential nominee but for Obama to make sure he is not a drag could make them more supportive in return. Given that we are seeing a few Democratic representatives decline to endorse Obama (as they had refused to endorse Kerry) and that the special election in MS-01 last May had Travis Childers struggling to explain that he had no connection to Obama, this would be a welcome development.

Now, we are also getting a better idea of McCain’s strategy. As I have noted many times before, the Republican’s biggest challenge is the shift in partisan breakdown. With the LA Times poll, the Newsweek survey and countless SUSA state polls all showing a dramatic improvement for Democrats since 2004 and as much as a 15% partisan ID edge for Obama’s party, all Obama needs to do to win this election is secure the vote of registered Democrats and not fall too far behind independents.

In other words, if all three partisan groups vote roughly according to the 2004 patterns, the 3% Bush victory would transform itself into an Obama blowout — all thanks to the changes in partisan affiliation over the last four years.

McCain then must convince registered Democrats to vote for him — and I insist on the word “must,” as this is not simply a strategy meant to put his opponent on the defensive (as is, for instance, Obama’s appeal to moderate Republicans) but a matter of absolute survival. The Arizona Senator is perhaps the only GOPer who can even entertain any hope of succeeding at such an effort, though the latest national polls suggest that the road is getting tougher. Now, McCain’s general election ad buy gives us an idea of how McCain intends to appeal to registered Democrats.

Marc Ambinder details McCain’s latest ad buys to find that McCain is targeting former Reagan Democrats and working-class voters, groups among which Obama was very weak throughout the primary. In Pennsylvania, for instance, McCain is not spending in the Philadelphia market but in the state’s blue-collar regions. The same pattern holds in Ohio. The Appalachia region in a number of states will also be targeted heavily by McCain given that these are all are areas in which Hillary Clinton crushed Barack Obama, sometimes by gigantic margins.

By rolling out proposals like offshore drilling and by insisting that Obama is a country club elitist, Republicans are hoping to drive a wedge between the beer track and the wine track constituencies of the Democratic Party and thus offset Obama’s advantage in partisan identification. And the high stakes of the success of inspiring distrust among Democrats about their candidate guarantees that the tactics will only get more ugly as we get closer to the election.

More generally, it is striking that the list of McCain’s buys is more traditional, with no unexpected expense popping up. And also telling is McCain’s heavy spending in Minnesota, since the Obama campaign did not include that state in the list of states it is running its ad. McCain looks committed to keeping that state competitive — perhaps a reflection of the likelihood that he will select Gov. Pawlenty as his running-mate or perhaps just a reflection of McCain’s confidence that he will appeal to Midwestern independents.



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  • All good things must come to an end

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  • What remains on the table

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    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
  • 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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