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A Crucial 50 Days for the Democratic Candidates

Fifty days before Iowans are set to gather for their 2008 presidential caucuses, the Democratic field is as fluid as it's ever been. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the frontrunner all along, has stumbled in recent weeks, while Barack Obama and John Edwards are jockeying intensely to be the last man standing against her.

Iowa
The Iowa caucuses will be a defining contest in the Democratic presidential race.


The last two weeks have proven the most perilous for the senator from New York. The trouble began at the Philadelphia debate on Oct. 30, when Clinton's opponents accused her of giving inconsistent answers on a range of issues, especially on immigration. Clinton's problems continued in the days following the debate when her campaign team seemed to suggest the candidate was being picked on because she is the only woman in the field. Days later the Clinton camp took a different tack, dismissing her rivals' criticisms as the flailings of desperate candidates.

Just as Clinton appeared ready to move out from under her performance at Philadelphia, news broke that a member of her senior staff had planted a question at an Iowa town hall meeting -- reinforcing the over-packaged, too-political appearance that Clinton had spent months working to dispel. (Remember that when she formally entered the race, her campaign touted her as "the most famous woman no one really knows.")

Clinton's recent struggles create volatility in a contest that had been stable for months. Is this a predictable (and short term) downturn common to an extended primary campaign? Or is it a sign of true weakness that portends a serious Clinton decline?

Searching for answers, The Fix interviewed senior strategists for each of the three Democratic candidates, as well as a number of unaffiliated operatives. In those conversations, the dominance of Clinton was clear. Like her or hate her, every strategist frames the race by first talking about Clinton -- her strengths, her weaknesses, who (if anyone) can beat her.

The central role Clinton plays in this race carries both positives and negatives for her campaign. On the positive side, every policy pronouncement she issues and every public statement she makes is devoured by the local and national press. On the negative side, every policy pronouncement she issues and every public statement she makes is devoured by the local and national press.

For better or worse, Clinton, or something related to her campaign, is often the lead political story for media organizations nationwide. That means that when she and her campaign successfully execute a high-wire act (her health care plan rollout, for instance) she will get huge amounts of laudatory coverage. But it also means that when she slips (drivers licenses for illegal immigrants, planting question in a crowd), those mistakes are amplified far more than they would be for any other candidate.

It's a reality that Clinton's campaign is well aware of and -- they believe -- equipped to deal with. Mark Penn, Clinton's pollster and key member of her inner circle, told us the candidate's recent stumbles are a predictable low in the course of a roller-coaster campaign.

"She will come through this period," Penn insisted. "We've been through this kind of period before."

Joe Trippi, a lead strategist for Edwards, made the opposite argument -- that Clinton's flubs play into an existing narrative that the candidate is too manipulative and tends toward triangulation rather than honest answers.

Trippi said that what could normally be perceived as "bumps in the road" become a much larger problem when they "confirm some of the doubts that a lot of people have about the candidate."

Penn said he believes that Clinton has begun to respond in earnest "to correct the tremendous amount of misinformation being put out here." The campaign now has a real time rapid response Web site known as Fact Hub, and Penn said that "you will start to see us respond more." (Clinton's first chance to do just that will be Thursday when the candidates gather in Las Vegas for their first debate since the Philadelphia set-to late last month.)

The truth is that despite all of the talk of Clinton's faltering, there is sparse empirical evidence. The lone Iowa poll conducted since the debate showed Clinton with a narrow lead over Obama and a slightly wider lead over Edwards -- close to the same numbers we have seen for the last few months. In New Hampshire, two polls have been conducted this month; both show Clinton in the mid-to-high 30s (down from a mid-40s showing in surveys conducted in October) but still with double-digit leads over Obama and Edwards.

That lack of polling movement doesn't mean that the tectonic plates in the race aren't shifting. It's entirely possible that voters have shifted away from Clinton in the last two weeks and the change is still too recent to be reflected in the polls. Of course, it's also entirely possible the race hasn't changed one wit and the most recent surveys are totally accurate.

For their part, Obama and Edwards say that Clinton's mistakes will result in a serious Clinton collapse and that the "inevitability" argument is running out of juice. Iowa is the chance for them to be proven right.

"Iowa is an enormously important contest that's very close right now," said Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. "We like where Iowa stands."

Plouffe pointed to Obama's speech at last weekend's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Des Moines (and the accolades it drew from state and national media) as an important indicator of where the campaign in the Hawkeye State is headed.

"The J-J dinner won't be something that creates a tidal wave right away ... but it is something we will benefit from," said Plouffe.

For the Obama campaign, Iowa is a microcosm of a broader trend they believe is coming in the Democratic primary fight. In the state where the campaign is most competitive, Obama and Clinton are running neck and neck. The more voters know about Obama, campaign aides argue, the more comfortable they feel with the idea of him as president.

If Obama's central challenge in this race is to prove to voters he is up to the job despite a thin resume, his campaign believes Iowa shows that he is answering that question. Aides acknowledge that for the first nine months of the campaign, Iowans regularly questioned whether Obama was experienced enough to be trusted with the highest office in the country. Over the last month, according to Steve Hildebrand, a senior Obama adviser and widely admired field organizer, those questions have died down due to Obama's performance in the Philadelphia debate and a broader sense that he is "hitting his stride" on the stump.

Obama's speech at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner was emblematic of his increased ease with presenting himself as a new kind of politician while simultaneously drawing contrasts with Clinton. The slogan? "Change we can believe in." The substance? A three-pronged case: He is best equipped to bring partisans together to solve big problems, he alone can change the lobbying and special-interest culture in Washington, and he is willing to tell hard truths to the American public and ask them to believe in a cause greater than themselves. (Hat tip to Sen. John McCain circa 2000 on that one.)

But Obama's push to present himself as the electable change agent -- not to mention the anti-Clinton -- is complicated by the continued support that Edwards is garnering in Iowa.

While Edwards has fallen from the heights he once enjoyed in Iowa (he was in the high 20s and even low 30 in surveys conducted roughly a year ago), he continues to pull enough support to keep the Iowa race a three-way affair.

Trippi said his candidate is on the rise in Iowa and elsewhere, thanks to the fact that the former North Carolina senator has made perhaps the strongest counter argument to Clinton of anyone in the field. (A development that we recently wrote about on The Fix.)

"Starting with the CNN/YouTube debate we began the process of trying over time to make the case that the clearer differences in the campaign are between Hillary Clinton and John Edwards," said Trippi. He added that the campaign's effort to drive that point home has been a "slow process," especially, Trippi says, when the media seems set on writing about a Clinton versus Obama contest.

Press bashing aside, the truth of the matter is that Edwards lags far behind Clinton and Obama in fundraising -- a disparity that forced him to accept public financing for the primaries. And outside of Iowa, he does not have the organizational heft that either of his two main rivals boast. Edwards's campaign has worked hard to counter the idea that if he doesn't win Iowa his campaign is over, but the truth is that Edwards needs a springboard out of Iowa that only a win over Clinton and Obama can provide him.

The good news for his campaign is that such a scenario remains viable, especially if Clinton and Obama engage in an extended (and negative) television battle during the final weeks of the caucus campaign -- a la Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt in 2004. Edwards's sunny optimism in that campaign propelled him to a second-place showing and, eventually, a spot on the national Democratic ticket. While Edwards is far less the optimist this time around, he could still benefit from a nasty Clinton-Obama fight.

Even if that happens, said Plouffe, it will still be an Obama-Clinton fight in New Hampshire, South Carolina and on to Feb. 5 when a slew of big states are set to vote.

"I would challenge John Edwards's ability to navigate the process through February 5 in any real competitive way," said Plouffe. "Edwards's ability to go the distance is suspect."

The Fix's Conclusion: Fifty days out from Iowa, Clinton must still be considered the frontrunner in the race, but she is increasingly vulnerable to attacks from her rivals. Clinton's vulnerability (real or imagined) comes just as Obama seems to have found his voice. Dismissing Edwards is a mistake, if only for his willingness to directly attack Clinton (a move that could well accrue to Obama's benefit) and his continued base of support in Iowa.

Iowa's importance in the process cannot be overstated. In a cycle where the vote in large states like California and Florida seemed likely to dwarf the role of Iowa, the exact opposite has occurred. All three top-tier Democratic campaigns hang by a thread in the Hawkeye State. If Clinton wins Iowa, she is the heavy favorite for the nomination. But if she doesn't, the race fundamentally changes.

The first- and second-place finishers in Iowa will have their tickets punched for the next leg of the ride. Finishing third in Iowa would likely end the candidacies of Edwards and Obama and cripple the campaign of Clinton. "Third place is a real problem for any of us," said Trippi.

The race will likely come down to Clinton and an anti-Clinton -- either Obama (more likely) or Edwards.

"No matter what coming out of Iowa, there will be two candidates in the race and she will be one of them," asserted Penn.

One thing we know for sure: The next 50 days of this race are going to be some of the most intense in the history of modern campaigns. And we will be watching closely.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 14, 2007; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Wag the Blog: What Should Hillary Do?
Next: Giuliani's First TV Ad

Comments

The MSM's support of Clinton is shameless. First she stacks the debate during and post coverage and now check out the title story from CNN ticker. They call the ABC/WAPO poll tied. 30%-26% is no tie. Here is the story.

"Poll: Obama, Clinton tied in Iowa"
http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2007/11/20/poll-obama-clinton-tied-in-iowa/#comments

CNN should always run a disclaimer when they cover politics. It should say, "We blindly support Sen Clinton and we will help her win at any cost. Even if we lose what is left of our journalistic integrity and creditability".

Posted by: TennGurl | November 20, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Ah HILLARY not as smart not as articulate not as good-looking as ''IL DUCE - BENITO MUSSOLINI' in her "...asbestos pants-suits" can hide a lot of 'UGLINESS/CORRUPTION' in those pantaloons intimidated 'WOLF' BLITZED beforehand and slung mud with the rest of the lilliputians in the DEMBHOLE 'DEBATE' last night on Las Vegas where true to its sobriquet 'what happens in VEGAS stays in VEGAS' as very few viewers watched this DEMBHOLE-DIMWIT DIATRIBE according to 'Nielsen ratings'. Maybe HILLARY's 'mob' can influence/lean on dose guys just like they 'leaned-on' WOLF BLITZED??? HILLARY a FEMALE FASCIST for our time - "mud-slinging" right HILLARY like you didn't do that to all D^CKHEAD BILL's BIMBETTES and anybody who opposed you and the other co-president??? PATHETIC - INSULTING that you are the DEMBHOLES #1 choice - for now.

Posted by: ZyskandarAJaimot | November 16, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Poll:

Seven Democratic presidential hopefuls went head-to-head on the issues Thursday night, with the biggest pressure likely on front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Who do you think won the CNN News Las Vegas Democratic Debate at the University of Nevada?

----------> http://www.youpolls.com/details.asp?pid=996

.

Posted by: PollM | November 16, 2007 12:45 AM | Report abuse

for once, an entire (almost) string of comments that make sense and address the issues. The length of this campaign and its massive coverage illustrate the mostly unmentioned elephant in the room. Democrats would love to think the country is ready for either a woman or a black, but secretly believe the south would never pull the lever for either so, just as secretly, yearn for someone who can make THAT inconvenient truth to go away. By setting up the two "front-runners" they clear the way for the "surprise" candidate who pulls in third in this race--especially if it's Joe Biden.

Posted by: dhorne1 | November 15, 2007 6:23 AM | Report abuse

Chris Chillizza had a total disregard for experience, knowledge and the ability to perform the job. Joe Biden has them all. Hillary cannot win the general election, so why nominate her? Obama is too inexperienced and is also unelectable in the general election. Edwards spent 6 uneventful years in the Senate and failed to help Kerry win in 2004. Joe Biden is the only choice one can make that would guarantee a Democratic President in 2009. He knows how to exit from Iraq in a orderly, honorable way. He cares for the people and the troops, not the special interests. He has been a Senator for 35 consecutive years, he must be doing something right!

Posted by: r.woloszyn | November 15, 2007 3:54 AM | Report abuse

I'm interested to see if and with which campaigns Biden and Dodd make threshold agreements. If on caucus night Biden and Dodd supporters don't reach the mandatory threshold to get their guys a cut of the precinct, where do they send their supporters. It seems to me with Dodd's recent criticism of Clinton he might prod his supporters toward Edwards or Obama. And it's clear Richardson would be inclined to send his people toward Clinton. Where will Biden send his? I think this issue will take on much more heat as the caucus approaches.

And also on the matter of Iowa watch out for a perfect storm of endorsements for Obama in the closing weeks before Jan 3rd. Gore's endorsement is still to be had. And so is the Des Moines Register's. With David Yepsen's glowing praise of Obama of late, I think he's got to be the favorite to grab the paper's nod. Those two factors, along with whatever threshold agreements he can strike up between now and January, might push Obama over the margin of error and into what in this year's caucus will pass for a solid win.

Posted by: briantucker_2 | November 14, 2007 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Check out the latest wave of early state polls released yesterday and today (2 of Iowa, one of New Hampshire, and one of South Carolina). Clinton is strong everywhere but... Iowa. Full roundup of the numbers: http://www.campaigndiaries.com/2007/11/new-early-state-polls-clinton-strong.html

Posted by: campaigndiaries | November 14, 2007 7:40 PM | Report abuse

2008 Presidential Election Weekly Poll
http://www.votenic.com
Results Posted Every Tuesday Evening.

Posted by: votenic | November 14, 2007 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Roo says "I would implore everyone to NOT call the number listed. It would be unfathomably stupid for someone to list their own number and therefore far more likely that the information is someone else's."
Yes- it WOULD be unfathomably stupid and yet..it's true. I mean, wanting Guliani to be POTUS is pretty unfathomably stupid as well! Dr. Cohen is a real guy - older guy. I spoke with him. What can I say?

Posted by: sheridan1 | November 14, 2007 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I am just afraid that if HRC is our nominee the Republicans will destroy her in the general election. I can just imagine what the Republican researchers are turning up on her and WJC for use during the election cycle. Will she be able to stand the intense scrutiny?

Like it or not she carries a lot of baggage with her and it will all resurface during the election cycle.

How will she do in the south? How about her high negatives. We need to be realistic and think beyond the Democratic convention. Perhaps we should consider someone who is more electable such as Obama or Richardson.

Posted by: renemart | November 14, 2007 6:11 PM | Report abuse

I would implore everyone to NOT call the number listed. It would be unfathomably stupid for someone to list their own number and therefore far more likely that the information is someone else's.

I do agree with the duff man, though: saying that Clinton's question-planting is no big deal because Bush does it too is prooobably not a great idea.

Posted by: roo_P | November 14, 2007 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Chris,

I disagree with your idea that there has been a "lack of polling movement" over the past few weeks, at least not entirely. Three new polls in New Hampshire (courtesty of your friends at pollster.com) indicate otherwise. A UNH poll puts Clinton at 35% support and Obama at 21%. A Marist poll has the race at 38-26, and Rasmussen's latest puts the race at 34-24, only a ten point gap. I know that Rasmussen's auto-dial polls are not to be trusted, but given that it fits with the other two polls, it can be taken for maybe a little bigger of a grain of salt than most other Rasmussen polls out there.

On the whole, this shows a downturn in Clinton's numbers in NH of about 5-6%, with a 3-5% bump for Obama. The numbers have clearly moved a little bit in New Hampshire over the past few weeks. What remains to be seen is if there will be any measurable impact elsewhere in the nation.

Posted by: celdred | November 14, 2007 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Smart Republicans know never to underestimate a Clinton -- and for good reason.

All this talk about Hillary making or breaking it in Iowa and New Hampshire may be moot because she is a Clinton. Remember that Bill barely registered in the Iowa caucuses in 1992 (okay, he skipped it because of Tom Harkin who ran away with the votes). But he also came in 2nd place to Paul Tsongas in New Hampshire that same year.

While there are those who despise Hillary (I am an ardent supporter, btw), I contend that when primary voting day arrives and voters feel their choices are only between her, Obama, and Edwards, and what voters want is a winner, then SHE will win the nomination. Edwards has pushed himself so far to the left that he hasn't got a prayer in winning a general election. And despite Obama's charisma and smarts, Democrats, I'm sure, are leery of HIS electability in a general election -- even if the polls aren't yet reflecting it.

Posted by: femalenick | November 14, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Kabookey.

Duff_man, as a simpsons fan, let me say:

"Best Username Ever"

Posted by: JD | November 14, 2007 5:38 PM | Report abuse

I don't see the logic in saying that Bush also (along with many other people im sure) have planted questions...


The reason its confusing is because...well...does it bring her up or down to bush's level?

Both don't make any sense in trying to defend her. The people that try using Bush as an example really need a new example.

Posted by: duff_man1212 | November 14, 2007 5:27 PM | Report abuse

In regard to this post:
This article has a false premise, to wit, that it matters at all who comes out first, second, or third in Iowa. This is the most inconsequential field of candidates I've witnessed in my lifetime. Hillary Clinton has no experience at all, she is arrogant and indecisive and manipulative, and is someone nobody would want as president. John Edwards likewise has neither any executive or political experience and is a total lightweight and attorney-at-fraud; there is no raison d'etre for his campaign except blind ambition. Finally Obama. He is a flash in the pan and but for his black skin, he would be laughted off the platform. He hasn't even got the force to light a fire under a coffee pot. He'd be better off wearing a red cap and carrying suitcases in Pennsylvania station! These candidates are a joke.

J.H. Cohen, J.D., Ph.D.
200 East 66th St. -- A707
New York, NY 10065
(212) 838-2417
>>>>>
Bsimon, VWCAT, and any Obama supporter should call this man as I just did. Anyone who says something this unacceptable and posts their phone number deserves to be called. He is a Guliani supporter who only cares about killing "the terrorists" and does not care about losing his personal freedoms.
Perhaps someone who has information about Obama's policies and the time and inclination shoud give him a call. He is open to hearing from you. Personally, I found him to be open to hearing me, but closed to everythign else. VWcat - help me here! This guy should be informed!

Posted by: sheridan1 | November 14, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Geeze. Chris...you'd think the most respected candidate in foreign policy issues wasn't even running for president considering you didn't even mention him. I will be so interested to see the media's new meme when Joe Biden kicks butt in Iowa...

Posted by: soonerthought | November 14, 2007 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I don't care about Clinton's "experience," because so far I don't see what she's accomplished in a long time (and her Iraq voting record scares me), whereas Obama has accomplished quite a lot in a short time. He practices what he preaches about rejecting lobbyist money, and yet his campaign funds are still basically matching Clinton's -- without the special interests.
Obama is someone for whom BOTH Democrats and Republicans can feel good about voting, whereas Clinton arouses too much emotional opposition. We don't need extra divisiveness in our next President; it will just lead to more Washington gridlock. BE SMART - Obama can make bring all sides together, and that's what we need.

Posted by: yihe94703 | November 14, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"25% of Iowa is for Hillary. That means 75% is split among everyone else. If no one gets more than 25%, Hillary wins."

If Hillary keeps 25%, I don't think she'll win. For the sake of example, lets give Sen Clinton 25%, Obama & Edwards each 20%. That leaves 35% unaccounted for. Of the remaining candidates, how many meet the 15% threshold? I don't recall all the polls, but Richardson might be right at 15%. That leaves 20% that have to caucus somewhere. How many of them will go to Sen Clinton vs. Sen Obama or Edwards (or Richardson)? I'm guessing few of the Biden/Dodd/Kucinich supporters are going to switch to Clinton; if they split evenly, Edwards & Obama both beat Clinton, with Richardson coming in 4th.

Granted the above example oversimplifies the process by treating the whole state as one lump of caucus-goers, but the purpose is served well enough. Firstly I think Sen Clinton's support is fading, secondly I don't think she's anyone's second favorite candidate.

Posted by: bsimon | November 14, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

bermansylvia:

Better get familiar with the Iowa caucus rules. They're a lot more complicated than just pulling a lever. I don't pretend to know them in great detail, but they peculiarly lend themselves to deal-cutting amongst candidates, particularly when it comes to pulling the leader back into the field.

Furthermore, the Biden/Richardson/Dodd numbers are so low that even in the aggregate they don't materially impact Edwards and Obama.

Finally, don't bet your retirement fund on the current poll numbers. Many observers believe that the only polls that mean anything are those held no more than a week prior to the caucus.

BTW, that smug and snarky attitude from HRC supporters is precisely what most of the rest of us find so unpleasant. It's like trying to talk to Yankee fan who is convinced of their and his/her innate superiority. HRC has no inherent right to the nomination, she has to earn it, and she's a long way from having closed her deal.

Posted by: zoot1 | November 14, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

25% of Iowa is for Hillary. That means 75% is split among everyone else. If no one gets more than 25%, Hillary wins. Edwards, Obama, Richardson, Biden, Dodd - keep pushing. The better you do, the worse off you are.

Posted by: bermansylvia | November 14, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Well, there are things happening here in NH that the polls may not fully capture. There's a sense amongst people involved in all Demo campaigns that something has been going on for the last week or 10 days, almost as if you can hear the voters stretching out and opening their eyes to the fact that they have to make a decision soon. I'm an Obama supporter, but was with a bunch of friends last night who were in the HRC camp, and they're seeing the same thing.

Beyond that, many of those who have opted for a candidate are still in play. Except for hard core junkies, you get a lot of 'I'm still thinking about it', or 'I think I'll vote for X', emphasis on 'think'.

Perhaps it's my bias, but the underlying factor in this volatility is the candor and trust factor for HRC. By all rights, she should be lapping the field, esp. since WJC was and is immensely popular here. There doesn't seem to be a lot of stickiness yet in her support - if I had to guess, I'd say that 30%-35% of her support is in play, plus of course the undecideds. Some of them are almost apologetic. OTOH, based on my contact with Obama supporters, there seems to be much less uncertainty and a lot of passion for the candidate.

Iowa will be immensely influential, even with only a 5 day lag before the NH primary. That is likely because the Iowa vote will either dispel or validate concerns, either 'I was right to be concerned about her electibility, look at where she finished' or 'Boy, I spent a lot of time worrying about nothing at all.' I don't know if many of these polls drill down into that level of complexity.

Finally, NH is famously cross-grained. People here don't like to be type-cast or taken for granted. Rule 1 of NH politics is don't act like you've won an election that hasn't been held yet, because the voters will roll marbles under your feet. That may be the biggest mistake HRC has made in shifting into a general election mode.

Posted by: zoot1 | November 14, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Is Clinton in a free fall? Watch the Nevada debate. She is cracking...will she break? The odds are that she will emerge further weakened. She is boxed in: she played and lost the gender card, her character has taken brutal body blows this month, voters are seeing her as too right-of-center and Bill's prominent entrance into the campaign has pundits wondering whose side is he on.

All of this conspires to take the air out of her campaign: at the end she'll have the support of large unions, cautious politicians and women who believe that her gender alone makes her worthy of the presidency.

Posted by: kolp999 | November 14, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

The country is really ready for the peaceful revolution, and it would be so nice, if Mrs. Clinton's loses the nomination, and we would be done with this terrible joined dynasty.

Posted by: aepelbaum | November 14, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

The best summation of the race anyone has written.

Excellent.
Accurate.
Unbiased.

Posted by: bobnsri | November 14, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

This is fascinating. I was afraid the choice of Dem candidate was just going to be a deal between the backroom party insiders. But now we may get some real Democracy in action, after all. Thank you, Iowa!

Posted by: dunnhaupt | November 14, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Blarg, I have no memory either way about W's meetings, but I didn't follow politics as much then as I do now.

As for you criticizing HRC, a reasonable person would conclude that your rush to compare this behavior to W's (again, who's NOT RUNNING), is an attempt to downplay the gotcha-factor. Or, as you put it earlier when you started all this, "JD, were you equally upset the many times that Bush took planted questions at his phony town hall meetings?"

Clearly, your inference is that this is just SOP for a presidential candidate.

Or perhaps I'm wrong and your main objective is just to try to catch me in some imagined hypocritical pickle.

Whatever.

Posted by: JD | November 14, 2007 03:16 PM "

To point out even further, please point out someone who has said W or for that matter any other candidate out there has planted questions. There is a difference between weeding out people that will just cause a problem and actually planting people with questions. From what has been reported it sounded as though this was standard issue to not just plant questions but profile the right person with the right question and to say Hill was not in on it is a joke. Just look at how she played that planted question. She spoke how she gets so many questions from young people, like the questioner, about global issues.

Posted by: KABOOKEY | November 14, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Blarg's standard response is Bush did it too. when will he and hillary realize that Bush will not be on the ballot?

Posted by: kingofzouk | November 14, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Blarg, I have no memory either way about W's meetings, but I didn't follow politics as much then as I do now.

As for you criticizing HRC, a reasonable person would conclude that your rush to compare this behavior to W's (again, who's NOT RUNNING), is an attempt to downplay the gotcha-factor. Or, as you put it earlier when you started all this, "JD, were you equally upset the many times that Bush took planted questions at his phony town hall meetings?"

Clearly, your inference is that this is just SOP for a presidential candidate.

Or perhaps I'm wrong and your main objective is just to try to catch me in some imagined hypocritical pickle.

Whatever.

Posted by: JD | November 14, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Clinton is unelectable? This is bogus. Or did I dream that Hillary has already won two senate terms in NY even though she was labeled 'unelectable' even then? If you want an 'unelectable' label, then use it on Obama. Regardless of how charismatic he may appear now, the voters are not going to take a chance on him with the state of the world and our standing in it now. Talk about having a learning curve!!

Posted by: vienna12 | November 14, 2007 11:26 AM "


Now as far as New York goes, a leftist running in a leftist state would have no problem winning twice especially when the competition was more then weak. Secondly, do you recall her answering any questions while running her senate race? She may have gotten away with that for senate and in New York but that will not work nation wide and for president. Even now the press has said she is the least accessible out there right now. Competition is good on either side, hopefully that will bring out the best two for the general election and then we can have an honest debate on the choice. That is a wish but more likely not to happen. We get what vote for, so get out and vote.

Posted by: KABOOKEY | November 14, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

clintons don't admit lying until the actual blue dress with the stain gets back from the lab. they rely on their true believers to take the flak during the interim. but how gullible do you have to be to fall for this pattern again and again. the moonbats can see conspiracies in everything an R touches, but when the evidence is in on a clinton lying, they become blind as bats - moonbats that is.

Posted by: kingofzouk | November 14, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I don't remember when Bush openly admitted that his town hall meetings were fake. I remember his campaign billing them as real meetings with real Americans, not press stunts with planted supporters. Do you remember otherwise?

And no, I'm not in the bag for Hillary. That's why I'm criticizing her over this. Somehow you managed to miss that. I guess it's easier to create a strawman than respond to what people actually say.

Posted by: Blarg | November 14, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

smb57 - Of course they are on par! I've been on this forum long enouygh to know that most of the posters here are honest, decent folk. That goes for the loiberals as well as the conservatives. And, I expect that of politician's I will vote for. The can change their mind on issues. They can vote for policies that I completely disagree with. They can do a lot of things, but if they outright and purposefully lie to me, if they lie to the country, if they enrich themselves, using their elected office and power to do so, then I write them off as corrupt swine. And, other than G.W. and Cheney, I don't believe I have heard of a pair of more corrupt, amoral, self centered swine than the Clinton's. I wont be voting for Clinton no matter what. Neither will a lot of other liberals.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | November 14, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

And on Thursday, the New York Times noted: "American forces have routed al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the Iraqi militant network, from every neighborhood in Baghdad, a top American general said today, allowing American troops involved in the 'surge' to depart as planned." Investor's Business Daily assessed: Many military analysts -- including some who don't support the war -- have concluded that the U.S. and its allies are on the verge of winning.

what's a moonbat liberal to find fault with now? Hey harry - do you still think the surge is a failure - or are you?

Posted by: kingofzouk | November 14, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Well Blarg, I'm afraid you're mistaken (not news, I know). If W was seeding his audiences secretly, as HRC tried to, then he was just as guilty of being a phony. If it was common knowledge that it was all GOP-friendlies in attendance, and common knowledge that they'd be teeing up some questions so he could Happy Gilmore them down the fairway, then that's something different entirely.

Are you so in-the-bag for HRC that you cannot see that difference? She tried to do this secretly (or her staff did and she didn't know about it...and then lied about it, which is almost as bad). And then she got busted.

Posted by: JD | November 14, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

JD, that's not my argument. I never said that it's okay for Hillary to plant questioners in her audience. In fact, I specifically said that it's valid for Democrats to criticize Hillary for doing so. But it's not valid for Republicans to criticize her, unless they also criticized Bush for doing the same thing.

I'm not defending Hillary; I'm accusing you of being a hypocrite. You complain when Hillary does it, but you don't seem to mind when Bush did it. (Or if you did mind, you won't admit to it.) I, like many others, complained when Bush was asked fake questions. So we can also complain when Hillary has her staff distribute questions to the audience. You're just taking the opportunity to bash her for behavior that you were apparently fine with in the past. So, to sum up, Hillary is wrong, Bush was wrong, and you're a hypocrite. Got it?

Posted by: Blarg | November 14, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Finally, on Friday, February 28, Bill invited Lewinsky to an evening taping of his weekly radio address. Afterward he instructed Betty Currie to escort Lewinsky into his private study . . . For the first time in eleven months, they were sexually intimate, first in the hallway and then in the bathroom. When he pushed her away during oral . . . "


And while the impeachment was about important public issues -- perjury and abuse of power -- it all stemmed from, and fed into, that drama that is the Clintons.

For all the Clintons' talk about getting-back-to-the-people's-business, it was, in the end, about the Clintons. All the time "wasted" on impeachment was the result of the refusal of a president to resign, after being caught red-handed in perjury and obstruction of justice. Hillary Clinton, who stakes her claim of executive experience on her two-for-the-price-of-one days in the White House, hasn't apologized; to the contrary, she continues to rant about a vast right-wing conspiracy.

The night before Halloween, Craig Crawford of CQPolitics said, while analyzing a Democratic debate on MSNBC's Hardball: Imagine that -- it being "hard to pin down a Clinton." With those words, Crawford unintentionally reminded us what we have to fear next Halloween: Four more years . . . of the Clinton drama, with all its attendant pathologies of mendacity and evasion

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YjIwYjlkNmM5ZWY5ZGFmYmEwOTkzMzgxZDVjZGQzZWQ=

Posted by: kingofzouk | November 14, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Hello, everyone, I'm back from my grand tour and despite the mountain of work I have to plough through, I thought I would add a few comments.

Iowa is a difficult race to predict. The second choice factor will undoubtedly work against Senator Clinton. She could survive a second place finish but a third place finish would be devastating. I would expect the race to become Clinton versus the anti-Clinton. If Obama or Edwards wins Iowa and Clinton finishes second, the race will be quickly narrowed to essentially Clinton versus the Iowa winner. The sooner the race narrows to 2 main front runners, the more problematic it becomes for Senator Clinton.

Zouk, the accidental death rate in the military was quite high in the 1970's and 1980's. It was considered remarkable that USS ENTERPRISE made a Western Pacific deployment 1n 1978 with no deaths occurring. The accidental death rate per 100,000 service members in 1980 was 76.9. In 1999 that rate was 29.7. (Source US Census Bureau). I can also tell you from experience that there was a significant drug problem in the military in the late '70's and early '80's.

Speaking of the Bush versus Hillary comparisons on town hall questioners, there is a major difference. Bush's handlers screen the audiences for his events and ensure that the whole audience is friendly. I think that is substantially different than planting a few softball questions.

Posted by: jimd52 | November 14, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Blarg, not at all. I'm suggesting that you're argument "It's OK if she does it, because they all do it (or at least, W did it)" is childish and silly. Oh yeah, it's a logical fallacy too. You want to make that argument? Show us some evidence that it's standard operating procedure for Obama, Edwards, Rudy, and McCain (Mitt's practices were mentioned in the article, assuming you actually read it). That's her competition.

Jason, at least you have a sense of humor - you're right, the crazy b!tch vs Mr Police Brutality? FWIW, I would suspect that HRC (aka Bubba) would have just as many 'yes men' around her as W, or as any president has had since Nixon.

Posted by: JD | November 14, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

"So Jason, you're OK with a 'calculating and devious' president? That's really who you plan to vote for?" -JD

Probably not in the primary, no. I'm still looking at Biden, Richardson, and Obama. But if my choice is HRC or one of the Republicans I'll take that crazy b*tch any day of the week.

Besides, I'd like to reiterate my point so you can read it again. There was more to it than "I'll take the devious one, please!"

"I don't really care if she's calculating or a phony as long as I can be reasonably assured that she'll be surrounded with the type of smart people that made Bill Clinton's presidency good. GWB is a moron and has surrounded himself with yes men and other idiots. That's the real danger."

Posted by: JasonL_in_MD | November 14, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations on spectacularly missing the point, JD. You're criticizing Hillary for planting questions, something that Bush is well-known for doing. Did you criticize him for doing that also? Or do you only complain when Democrats do it?

Posted by: Blarg | November 14, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm slightly amazed at the views of politically aware web surfers regarding the "planted" question episode. But i'm shocked at the response of the media. I worked advance for 2 Presidential campaigns and the standard is that to remain on message and to get that critical 15 second sound bite it is the job of the advance team to identify a supporter (and this is where the Clinton advance person got real sloppy)and request that they propose a question regarding a policy position that the campaign is highlighting that day. The supporter is thrilled at this chance to ask "their" candidate a question in front of their friends. It was sloppy for the Clinton staffer to randomly find a college student. Sloppy yes, but evil and corrupt NO. Also, you only do this for 1 or 2 questions, just to stay on message. I don't know what other campaigns do, but I only know that every campaign that I've worked on this was standard procedure, albeit carried out woefully by that Clinton staffer.

Posted by: RANDOLPH.DUREN | November 14, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

So Jason, you're OK with a 'calculating and devious' president? That's really who you plan to vote for?

Blarg, FYI W isn't running in 08. Just sayin', you know, in case you hadn't heard.

Posted by: JD | November 14, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

mibrooks:
"Several of the plants have comes forth who testify that Clinton purposefully picked them out of a crowd. So, we have another instance of "I did not have sex with that woman", another lie by another Clinton."

Oh, come on. I'm no fan of the Clintons, but those incidents are so not on par. To insert a true dose of cynicism -- everyone lies. Every candidate misleads and obfuscates. The Lewinsky scandal and related perjury to that to an entirely different level.

Posted by: Skip_Lively | November 14, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with you GordonsGirl.

The more I look at HRC's personaity and management style, the more she reminds me of GW. She only answers questions that she deems worthy, she laughs off all other questions in a very condescending way. She refuses to acknowledge any mistakes and instead blames her faulty judgement on other people. She threatens and scares people into not printing anything that is damaging or critical of her (reference to GQ there).

Regardless of her political views (if you can figure out where she stands on things), I just dont think this country as a whole is best served by another "king/queen" as our leader. I'm looking for a candidate with humility, one who understands that they are there to serve us, not the other way around.

PG

Posted by: PeixeGato | November 14, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

More active members of the military died during two years of peacetime in the early 1980s than died during a two-year period of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a government report. The Congressional Research Service, which compiled war casualty statistics from the Revolutionary War to present day conflicts, reported that 4,699 members of the U.S. military died in 1981 and '82 -- a period when the U.S. had only limited troop deployments to conflicts in the Mideast.


this does not comport with the ongoing Lib fiction that we are losing a bloody and terrible battle. those darn facts, always ruing a good Lib story.

Posted by: kingofzouk | November 14, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Pressure Hillary to take an enforcement first approach to ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. Join

http://www.numbersusa.com/index

Posted by: sskyvickers | November 14, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

AndyR, drindl - It isn't just the planted questions, it is Clinton's outright lie that she knew nothing of it. Several of the plants have comes forth who testify that Clinton purposefully picked them out of a crowd. So, we have another instance of "I did not have sex with that woman", another lie by another Clinton. Look, I know you people have this nostalgia thing going for the CLinton years, but he/she started the outsourcing mess, they are responsible for the horde f illegals we have today, they were the single most corriupt administration in modern history, and it took someone as awful as Bush to make them "look good". No, no, no, a thousands times NO, not another Clinton-Bush presidency! We've had it with corrupt self serving dirtbags being package to look like "moral moderates" by their too clever handlers.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | November 14, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

HRC's plants DO matter. In the wake of Bush 43, for better or worse, the Democratic candidates are being held to an incredibly high standard (especially Obama).

For quite a while now - certainly before she declared her candidacy - I've felt that an HRC presidency would warmly embrace the cloak of imperial executive power. As a candidate, though, she has literally laughed off statements that she is like Bush. "Anyone that knows me..."

Well, I don't know her personally but I have watched her from afar. Just like 43, I've seen her refuse to answer hypothetical questions (while not hesitating to pose them to Gen. Petraeus). Now we discover planted questioners - just like Bush 43!

Though these issues may seem insignificant on their own, as a larger whole they most certainly DO reflect on her character and perceived governance. We're not voting for student body president - we're voting for President of the United States. If she is unable to be transparent and fully honest during her campaign, how can we expect it of her presidency? Personally, I've had more than enough of a president who implies: "Trust me."

Posted by: GordonsGirl | November 14, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

JD, were you equally upset the many times that Bush took planted questions at his phony town hall meetings?

Posted by: Blarg | November 14, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

JD, I don't know if one planted question makes her a phony. If a lot of other people come forward, that's something but this is nothing.

Is she calculating and maybe a little devious? Absolutely. Phony? Not proven, yet.

I don't really care if she's calculating or a phony as long as I can be reasonably assured that she'll be surrounded with the type of smart people that made Bill Clinton 's presidency good. GWB is a moron and has surrounded himself with yes men and other idiots. That's the real danger.

Posted by: JasonL_in_MD | November 14, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

From the Hinterlands, it's much ado about nothing. I have yet to talk to a person who saw the debate with the drivers' license question. And planted questions? You mean the questions aren't planted? Mark Gannon anyone? Where I live people are thinking about holidays, rising gas prices and football. Who is Trippi? And what does -- ". . .tends toward triangulation rather than honest answers" mean? I think we'll see some attention paid after Iowa speaks. The view from here is that HRC will be the D frontrunner. Like her or not, hold your nose and vote for her because the R's can't and won't deliver peace and prosperity.

Posted by: melody | November 14, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Clinton; what a phony.

http://www.slate.com/id/2177886/

Posted by: JD | November 14, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

As I've said before, I think Hillary peaked about a month ago on a national basis. She may win the Iowa caucuses, but I think her support is starting to erode.

I believe Joe Biden is starting to gain some traction there, and a third-place finish would re-energize his campaign. I think the Iowa caucus-goers will start paying close attention within the next month, and HRC's "inevitability" argument will disappear, except with women.

Obama's "all hat, no cattle," will be apparent as well. Edwards, I think, has worn out his welcome, even though he's spent so much time there he's probably registered to vote in IA.

Posted by: orloski | November 14, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

The next 50 days will represent the highest level of political speculation ever seen in American poltics. That is why so many othere states wanted to get in on the action earlier. Nobody has a clue what is going to happen on the night of January 3rd in Iowa. NOBODY. And that's how it should be. As for the Ralph Nader impersonator named Cohen out of the great city of New York, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry X-mas and Happy New Year's to you as well. Hang in there folks. It's going to be good.

Posted by: Gharza | November 14, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

"...Clinton's flubs play into an existing narrative that the candidate is too manipulative and tends toward triangulation rather than honest answers."

Ya just gotta love Trippi. That strategy he is demeaning is the one that gave Bill Clinton any sort of ability to even talk about a legacy for his two presidential terms and has put his wife squarly in the lead for president of the US. His angry populist strategy on the other hand has resulted in...what I don't know -- probably third place in Iowa.

Posted by: dave | November 14, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

CC has the situation well-assessed. His take is now the conventional wisdom.

While I am impressed with AndyR3's support for Joe Biden and there is no question he has the most foreign policy experience, Biden lacks the ability to inspire people to get involved and go beyond themselves to win. He would make a great VP or Secretary of State for Obama.

Moreover, he missed his big chance. His JJ speech didn't register with the press. That might have been his chance to break out.

Most importantly, the system in Iowa makes it difficult for Biden to get delegates. He has to get a minimum of 15% of the vote in any caucus room to get a delegate. As it stands, it is unlikely anyone but the top three candidates will meet that level.

The real question is, in a close race, who will the supporters of Biden, Richardson and the others shift to? Those voters could make all the difference.

Meanwhile, as to the big three, Edwards has become so strident on blowing up the system, I think alot of folks view him as too liberal to win in November. Hillary has been revealed as so cautious, she may not be able to retain the activist primary goers. Her reserve power is in her base of support from activist women who will support her no matter what. Obama splits the difference. He's for change but in a mature way. He's direct in his answers without being reckless.

One thing though, this drivers' license thing has blown up in the face of the Governor of NY and her waffling on it hurt Hillary. It will no doubt come up at Thursday's event. Barack has said he supports those licenses. I think he should recognize that if Gov. Spitzer can change course, so can he. It is not a critical issue and we wouldn't want to lose the general election because of that issue.

It would be tough for Barack to change his view but it would be better for him to do it now based upon Spitzer's change than later. After all, if Governor Spitzer can't make it work, what is the point of supporting it?

Posted by: PAFriedman | November 14, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Sort of interesting that Biden is in the position Kerry was in in '03 -- back of the main pack, letting them duke it out with each other, gathering solid local endorsements in a state where those matter.

What if Biden continues to climb and finishes second to Hillary in Iowa? At that point, I would guess, only the top three are still alive. If Biden is bouyed by the IA result into a top two finish in NH, then suddenly it's a two-person race, and the ABC crowd rallies behind Biden.

If Hillary is winning big (and she may well be), then it's all academic anyway. If she isn't winning big, if IA and NH are close (or if, heavens to betsy, she comes in second in one or the other), then the inevitability narrative collapses, ABC really coalesces, and we've got ourselves an interesting contest that might not be decided by Super Duper Califragilistic Tuesday. Just hope my yearning for a competitive race (and a candidate other than HRC) isn't clouding my thinking.

Posted by: novamatt | November 14, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Is it really 50 days? Will candidates run ads during the end of December?

At some point the campaigns are going to go negative, I have a hard time seeing "Hillary Clinton for the special interests... against Iowa," Barack Obama "inexperienced and untested," or John Edwards "on both sides of every issue" ads running during the week of Christmas.

Posted by: zmeunier | November 14, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

"Clinton is unelectable? This is bogus. Or did I dream that Hillary has already won two senate terms in NY even though she was labeled 'unelectable' even then?" -Vienna12
I've consistently argued the same thing and poll numbers back me up. Does that make her the best candidate? No. I think she's electable, I'm just not sure I want to elect her. Of course, I'll vote for whoever ends up on the ballot with a D next to their name at this point.

PeterDC, Iowa caucus voters are so notoriously hard to pin down that I'm not sure we can say that HRC will win there despite her slight lead in polling and her organizational structure. You could see a large surprise turnout in African American communities (there are almost 700,000 African Americans in Iowa so at least 450,000 of voting age) and that could throw off every bit of polling done in the state.

Posted by: JasonL_in_MD | November 14, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Well judging by the new NYT/CBS poll looks like Trippi is more on point than Plouffe. Edwards IS rising, despite the media coverage, when they bother to cover him, tries to label him as the "angry" candidate and spreads false rumors that claim the demise of his campaign.

Edwards just began running ads in Iowa the week before last and those ads combined with his great performances in the last two debates and tireless work on the campaign trail are just beginning to register in the polls. There is a well written piece about Edwards in the New Republic today that should put to rest the "angry man" label the media has cynically placed around Edwards neck. And despite the fact that Chris Cilliza casually dismisses the challenge to the media for lack of coverage for Edwards by labeling it as "press bashing", the fact is that it exists and everyone knows it. For anyone who doubts it check out The Project for Excellence in Journalism. They documented it very well and nothing has changed since they reported it.

My question to the Clinton & Obama campaigns is why haven't you pulled away from Edwards in Iowa? You've spent millions on ads that Edwards didn't spend and you've been given much more national media attention as the Excellence in Journalism report documented. Why are you not doing better in Iowa?. And now that the NYT/CBS poll has come out I'd have to ask why with all the advantages you've had are you doing so poorly in Iowa?

Posted by: pmorlan1 | November 14, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Clinton is unelectable? This is bogus. Or did I dream that Hillary has already won two senate terms in NY even though she was labeled 'unelectable' even then? If you want an 'unelectable' label, then use it on Obama. Regardless of how charismatic he may appear now, the voters are not going to take a chance on him with the state of the world and our standing in it now. Talk about having a learning curve!!

Posted by: vienna12 | November 14, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Interesting post but nothing new. Hillary Clinton is still in a tight race in Iowa but people forget that she was way behind in Iowa when this started. Edwards had been nearly living there for two years and has run there before and Obama made a splash there after his annoucement and was in 2nd place in the polls. Now Hillary is consistanly in the lead.

The issue in Iowa is still who gets their people to the caucuses and Hillary has the best chance to do that on January 3rd. She has a huge lead among women who are the majority of caucus goers along with seniors. Obama counted on young people who won't even be back in the state by January 3rd and there is nothing to say they are overwhelmingly for him anyway. Edwards has seen his poll numbers slip and now come back a little. But in the long run- the Vilsak machine-AFSCME-Emily's List-AARP- and the women of Iowa should make Hillary the winner there. Let's not forget that the team that brought Kerry his Iowa victory is now basically all with Hillary as well.

One last note about the press- yes they made Hillary inevitable and then the campaign got boring- now they will tear her down a little to generate their own excitement so people will read the crap they write- and I believe they have time to build her up again before the caucus so that they can write the end of her campaign if she doesn't then win it.- A game the press enjoys but clearly something that we should be wary of. Especially the headline writers who color your view of the article before you even read it.

I was at a Hillary fundraiser in DC last night and it was a great event with a candidate sure footed and clear in what she believes in. She showed passion and clarity on what the job of President will be and what she thinks she can do. She was totally comfortable in her own skin. If she is like that in Iowa for the next 50 days she will win and if she wins so will we all.

Posted by: peterdc | November 14, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

"Maybe everybody does it because morally flexible people like yourselves are willing to put up with it."

"...everbody does it...?" What universe did this data point come from?

Maybe it's considered trivial compared to Bush's infinitely greater offenses. Which, of course, you protested strongly against when they occurred. Please provide a link to your protests.

"...when it's their own candidate (Hillary) doing it."

Your assumption is incorrrect. She's not the candidate of many on this blog.

"Delightfully racist! Thanks, CritComm!"

Jason, you took the words right out of my mouth.

Posted by: judgeccrater | November 14, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

It's depressing that some people here are willing to turn a blind eye to planted audience questions when it's their own candidate (Hillary) doing it.

Especially pathetic is the defence that "everybody does it". Isn't that the problem?

Maybe everybody does it because morally flexible people like yourselves are willing to put up with it.

Posted by: Bud0 | November 14, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Clinton is going to pull this off. Hopefully Biden will be able to pull off a second place finish.

Obama is done. No matter what kind of spin their campaign tries to pull, this is a liberal African American who lacks the experience to be commander in chief of our military during war time, and fifty days on the campaign trail isn't going to do anything to change that.

Edwards needs to tap into the populist mood within the nation today. He made the same mistake that Clinton did with the licenses' for illegal immigrants...If he isn't going to stand up to the special interest groups representing illegal immigrants, why in the world would we believe he is going to stand up for the beleaguered American citizen?

Posted by: clawrence35 | November 14, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

[sarcasm]Wow, CritComm, that was an interesting and insightful read.[/sarcasm]

Seriously, do you have anything constructive to add? Any comments on the Republican field? Care to elaborate on why Iowa is no longer an important part of the primary season?

"He'd [Obama] be better off wearing a red cap and carrying suitcases in Pennsylvania station!" -CritComm

Delightfully racist! Thanks, CritComm!

Posted by: JasonL_in_MD | November 14, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

At some point, unless Edwards and Richardson drop out and shift their support to Obama, I don't see HRC losing. Edwards would be smart to do this since it would cement his position as VP in an Obama candidacy. Richardson (and Edwards, to a lesser extent) would simply be reading the writing on the wall: gradually dropping poll numbers.

These latest minor missteps on the part of the HRC (note that I did not call them 'gaffes' or any other hyperbolic term) are important in that we need to see what, if any, effect they have on the polling numbers. If Edwards and Richardson don't get a bounce this week then exactly what will it take? Is Edwards new found attack-dog style simple going to benefit Obama's stay-above-the-fray campaign?

Posted by: judgeccrater | November 14, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

This article has a false premise, to wit, that it matters at all who comes out first, second, or third in Iowa. This is the most inconsequential field of candidates I've witnessed in my lifetime. Hillary Clinton has no experience at all, she is arrogant and indecisive and manipulative, and is someone nobody would want as president. John Edwards likewise has neither any executive or political experience and is a total lightweight and attorney-at-fraud; there is no raison d'etre for his campaign except blind ambition. Finally Obama. He is a flash in the pan and but for his black skin, he would be laughted off the platform. He hasn't even got the force to light a fire under a coffee pot. He'd be better off wearing a red cap and carrying suitcases in Pennsylvania station! These candidates are a joke.

J.H. Cohen, J.D., Ph.D.
200 East 66th St. -- A707
New York, NY 10065
(212) 838-2417

Posted by: CritComm | November 14, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

what is not known or really reported is the Obama factor. He brings with him the independents and alot of crossover republicans into the mix. the press focuses only on the youth that is attracted to him. But, with his band of crossovers, he has the great unknown strength.
the polls are only about the democrats. Democrats are always chosing the head candidate. The one that is unexciting and unappealing. And never gets crossovers and why many in the party do not come out to vote.
the democrats have yet to learn that it is the heart candidate that wins. FDR, Kennedy, Carter, B. clinton. Yet we keep going back to the same old head candidate.
However, with the many crossovers, that are not in the polls, Obama is most likely to upset the media darling, Clinton.
I keep wondering how the press will take it if their favorite loses the nomination...

Posted by: vwcat | November 14, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

The Clinton campaign folks are misreading the dynamics in the country and reporters are spending too much time with the campaign spin doctors.

When you talk to the real folks out on the street - not the campaigns - it seems that many folks feel Senator Clinton is unelectable.

If she becomes the Democratic candidate for president I am afraid the republicans will absolutely destoy her.

High negatives, her personality, the Clinton scandals, bimbo eruptions, the pardons, etc. They will certainly have a lot of source material. I do not see how she can overcome her history no matter how much Bush is disliked.

Posted by: renemart | November 14, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I've just been sitting here, thinking of how to respond to this post for a few minutes and I have nothing.

There are so many ways this thing can go right now. I don't know how anyone can make a meaningful prediction anymore. There so many variables. Is this thing with HRC a hiccup or the beginning of a trend? Can Obama win more voters? Will Edwards sneak up all ninja-like a snag a good showing in Iowa?

This long primary is interesting but also very frustrating.

Posted by: JasonL_in_MD | November 14, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

"I still think Huckabee gaining fast on Mitt in Iowa to be more important."

I won't be surprised to see a similar post from Chris on the GOP race. Perhaps tomorrow.

Posted by: bsimon | November 14, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Good point, Andy. I just think this whole thing is overblown. Bsimon, perhaps. But I watched the press -- including the WaPo and the NYTimes go after Bill Clinton, Dean and Gore relentlessly, so excuse me if I find this disingenuous. But we'll have to wait and see how the coverage goes, won't we?

I still think Huckabee gaining fast on Mitt in Iowa to be more important.

Posted by: drindl | November 14, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

If CC were inteested in real political news, he might have reported on this:


'ABC News' Kevin Chupka Reports: Former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee continues his surge in Iowa where he has pulled within striking distance of Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner in the state, according to a poll conducted by CBS News and the New York Times.

Of those polled, 27% favor Romney while Huckabee nips at his heels with 21%.'

Posted by: drindl | November 14, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

News from NH this morning and some recent polls (CBS etc.) reveal that a majority of NH Democrats and Indepdents are still undecided and/or will be swayed by the Iowa vote.

Yes, Clinton's had a bad couple of weeks but like a cat she seems to have nine lives and lands on her feet. However, I am picking up comments on Hsu, the dishwashers, the plants, lack of public Q & A sessions and just plain too much "lawyerese" are growing issues. It's almost like millions are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Make no mistake, Clinton's here for the duration. I do agree that an Obama, Edwards, Clinton finish, in that order, in Iowa no matter how close will be a major event and will affect NH, SC, NV and beyond.

Posted by: NoMugwump | November 14, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

wow, people here with no sense of humor....

Posted by: JD | November 14, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

"CC is doing exactly as I predicted, just as every other pundit is doing: first he built Hillary up, now he's tearing her down."

Loony conspiracy theory. The alleged 'build up' phase was nothing more than reporting name-recognition polls as though they represented guaranteed votes in future primaries. Now the alleged 'tear down' phase is merely reporting on details visible to anyone with two brain cells all along, but are 'news' to the majority that hasn't started paying attention until now (though even now public attention is limited).

Posted by: bsimon | November 14, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Drindl, I don't think CC says anything negative about Clinton. He just gives a good indepth summary of the Iowa situation at this current time.

And I agree that the planted question thing is not that big of a deal, I disagree that every candidate does it. I saw a town hall meeting that Edwards did in Kentucky when the town won a chance to speak to him. He was really in his element and answered some very specific questions on things that politicans usually don't talk about like education policy with very good details, he even answered a question about the role of physical education in school and obesity in a way that renewed my opinion in his ability to lead.
That is the difference when questions are planted. It doesn't neccesarily mean that Hillary can't lead, but I have no way of knowing if she can or not. Speaches are all good and well but they are scripted, usually not by the candidate but by there speach writers, and the Debates are a farce since the candidates don't get enough time to really answer detailed questions. That is why town hall question sessions are so important, and if they are corrupted then look at what you get, Bush part deux.

Posted by: AndyR3 | November 14, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

B/c Bush does it, it's OK to avoid real questions? Well then when Hillary keeps the troops in Iraq it shouldn't be a problem either then. Or when Hillary allows more pork in the budget it should be a problem. Hey, Bush did it! Taking donations from foreign sources isn't a problem either, apparently. Bush from the Saudi's, Hillary from the Chinese. What horrible logic.

Posted by: donttreadonme | November 14, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Judith Regan, the book publisher who was fired by the News 'Corporation last year, asserts in a lawsuit filed today that a senior executive at the media conglomerate encouraged her to mislead federal investigators about her relationship with Bernard B. Kerik during his bid to become homeland security secretary in late 2004.

The lawsuit asserts that the News Corporation executive wanted to protect the presidential aspirations of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Kerik's mentor, who had appointed him New York City police commissioner and had recommended him for the federal post.'

Is this NewsCorp exec guilty of a crime? Any lawyers on this morning? It would seem like withholding info from a Homeland Security background check would be quite serious, from a national security standpoint.

Posted by: drindl | November 14, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I have to agree with the Judge--if ever there was such a tempest in a teapot. They all do this, let's not pretend, CC. I see the CW narrative is fully formed now -- Hillary's stumbling, making mistakes, omigod!

CC is doing exactly as I predicted, just as every other pundit is doing: first he built Hillary up, now he's tearing her down. Just like they did Howard Dean. From now on, you will never see Hillary get another piece of favorable press.

You know, I'm not a big fan of hers, but to see the degree to which the MSM manipulates the political process is sickening.

Posted by: drindl | November 14, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Judge, it's true that Bush also has fake town hall meetings. So it's silly for Republicans to criticize Clinton; they accepted the same behavior when Bush did it. But many Democrats have decried Bush's use of planted questions. So it's legitimate for Democrats to criticize Clinton for doing the same things that Bush did. I agree that it's not a major issue; it's just another little thing that should make people reconsider Hillary.

Posted by: Blarg | November 14, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I'm with you Andy, this is a great in-depth analysis of the situation. Attention-deficient readers should skip to the conclusion, the first paragraph of which summarizes the race nicely.

Though regarding this sentence of Chris's:
"Clinton's vulnerability (real or imagined) comes just as Obama seems to have found his voice."

Whether Clinton's vulnerability is real or imagined, it is real. That is to say, the perception of vulnerability is all it takes for a candidate to be vulnerable. Whether her opponents can capitalize on it or not is another thing entirely...

Posted by: bsimon | November 14, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

"...a member of her senior staff had planted a question at an Iowa town hall meeting..."

Gasp! Say it isn't so!

I hate to be the first to point out that with his carefully screened audiences Bush II has similar "town hall" meetings in which ALL of the questions are essentially planted. Sorry, this molehill will never equal a mountain.

Posted by: judgeccrater | November 14, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

First off JD I disagree. This is the clearest explanation of the Democratic situation in Iowa I have read, and I think CC is spot on in his analysis. If Senator Clinton wins Iowa she will win every state in the primary. If Edwards or Obama win Iowa with Clinton in second then it sets up an anti-hillary vs HRC race. Now if Obama and Edwards come in 1/2 (in either order) I think Hillary is done.

The dark horse however is Joe Biden. His poll numbers in Iowa have slowly gained steam with him running about 5-7%. Taken with Richardson's fall from grace (btw BR's Iraq pullout plan totally blew up in his face didn't it) Biden is getting a second look from some of those folks that say "I don't think Hillary can win, I don't think Obama has enough experience". Biden's biggest hurdle is John Edwards because they represent the same sort of group. I would expect Joe to take on Edwards in the next debate if the oppurtunity arises. Also Joe's endorsements in Iowa (which are significant) means that he has the dedicated caucus goers in his corners. It would be an amazing political comeback if he pulls it off but Joe Biden can definitly do it. Biden/Obama would be a pretty formidable ticket.

Posted by: AndyR3 | November 14, 2007 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Hey Chris, we love ya, but I don't know if this post was long enough. Can you lengthen by about 4 paragraphs?

(1938 words, for those keeping score at home)

Posted by: JD | November 14, 2007 8:32 AM | Report abuse

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