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Obama's Got a Memo, Too

Memos on Iowa are flying everywhere today.

The big bombshell came via the Associated Press --quickly followed by the New York Times' Adam Nagourney who had a copy of the actual memo -- with the news that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton deputy campaign manager Mike Henry had penned a strategy document advising the New York Senator to skip the Iowa caucuses next January to focus her time and money on other more winnable early states.

The Clinton campaign has confirmed its authenticity but insists the candidate has no intention of skipping the caucuses. Iowa Democratic Party communications director Carrie Giddins called skipping Iowa "a fatal mistake for any campaign to make."

In a feat of fortuitous timing, Sen. Barack Obama's (Ill.) campaign is moving a memo of its own around Iowa that makes the electability argument -- citing two recent independent polls.

"With over seven months until Caucus day, the polls will fluctuate," writes Obama Iowa communications director Josh Earnest. "While our campaign's focus will be continuing to build on our strong grassroots organization, the early polls indicate that Barack is emerging as the most 'electable' candidate in the eyes of Iowa Democrats."

The first survey, conducted by Research 2000 for KCCI, showed Clinton leading the Democratic field with 28 percent while former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) received 26 percent and Obama 22 percent.

But, in hypothetical head to head matchups with the three leading Republican contenders, Obama ran stronger than Clinton or Edwards. Paired against Sen. John McCain, Obama holds a 43 percent to 38 percent edge while Clinton trails by a single point and Edwards leads by three. Similar results are produced when Obama is matched against either former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (+7) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (+11).

The memo also cites a poll done by Selzer & Co. that showed Edwards leading the way with 29 percent to 23 percent for Obama and 21 percent for Clinton. But, when likely Republican caucus goers were asked to name the Democratic they would most likely consider supporting, Obama was the choice of 15 percent as compared to nine percent for Edwards and six percent for Clinton.

On a practical level, the poll margins being cited by Earnest are not terribly important. Polls do fluctuate constantly and the fact that 15 percent of likely Iowa Republican caucus goers prefer Obama to Clinton or Edwards isn't terribly revealing one way or another. (Iowa is likely to be a general election battleground but much will change in voters' opinions to the party nominees between now and next November.)

But, the fact that Obama's campaign has begun to paint him as the candidate best able to reach across the aisle is telling. Obama is well aware of the whispers among Democratic activists that Clinton is simply too divisive to win the White House and that Edwards' strong liberal stances (immediate withdrawal from Iraq, a healthcare plan that could result in a tax increase for wealthy Americans) could hobble him if he becomes the Democratic nominee.

By injecting the electability argument into the Iowa caucuses, Obama is hoping to force likely caucus goers to think not just with their hearts but also with their heads. He's making sure the caucuses are thinking about electing a president not just about choosing a Democratic nominee.

It's the same strategy pursued by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in Iowa in 2004.

Kerry's closing message in the final weeks before the caucuses was that he alone had the resume to compete with President George W. Bush. Implicit in that argument was that former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.) who had shot to the front of polls in Iowa and elsewhere was a risk; he was not the known commodity that Kerry represented.

Bumper stickers began to crop up that boiled down this message to a single line: "Dated Dean, Married Kerry." Kerry won Iowa and went on to win the nomination before losing narrowly to Bush in November 2004.

But, after Iowa Democrats went with their head (Kerry) over their heart (Dean) in 2004 and got nothing for it, will the electability argument still sell?

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 23, 2007; 5:45 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: The Case Against Mike Bloomberg

Comments

US President Tim Kalemkarian, US Senate Tim Kalemkarian, US House Tim Kalemkarian: best major candidate.

Posted by: anonoymous | May 28, 2007 4:39 AM | Report abuse

Actually, Mountain Man's right. According to a SurveyUSA poll, Obama is the only Democrat who is losing to Giuliani in Ohio (The other democrats are Clinton and Edwards).

Posted by: fshj | May 26, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

EXCUZE ME 'ANTI-SMOKERS'?
ITS POLITICS AS USUAL "AGAIN".
* LOTS OF MONEY BLOWN.
* LOTS OF LIE'S SPREAD.
* LOTS OF PROMISES MADE.
* LOTS OF CHEATING & BACK STABING.
* LOTS OF MUD SLINGING.
AND "WE/YOU-THE-PEOPLE" GET STUFFED.......
'AGAIN'.
WAKE UP FANS.

Posted by: GAIL CARPENTER | May 25, 2007 1:43 AM | Report abuse

Mountain Man...the times are a'changing. If the state of the war in IRAQ is any worse than it was in 2004 (I sincerely hope not), then I guarantee you that any Democrat will defeat any Republican in 2008. All algorithms and electability models will be tossed out of the door. I for one believe that Obama can win Ohio for sure.....

I respect your views but only time will tell

Posted by: 'Wale | May 24, 2007 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Mountain Man...the times are a'changing. If the state of the war in IRAQ is any worse than it was in 2004 (I sincerely hope not), then I guarantee you that any Democrat will defeat any Republican in 2008. All algorithms and electability models will be tossed out of the door. I for one believe that Obama can win Ohio for sure.....

I respect your views but only time will tell

Posted by: Anonymous | May 24, 2007 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Wale the point of the ads against Ford were racist. Just because Obama is married doesn't give him any safety blanket from republicans crafting an equally effective racist ad against Obama. Ford also had more Federal experance then Obama and had a much more moderate record. Obama is an ultra liberal and even if he was white would have a hard time winning a swing state. Please name me one state the Obama could win in a general election the Kerry lost? There are none in fact Obama would lose states Kerry won.

Posted by: mountain man | May 24, 2007 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Mountain Man, don't switch the dialogue up on me. You said H.Ford had more experience, I argued that he didn't, One can have years f experience in elected office and still be a fresh face. In fact Bill Clinton was pretty fresh when he ran in '92. All I'm saying is, you're doing Obama a disservice by comparing him to Harold Ford. Plus Obama is married and Ford was single and also Obama's wife is Black so such Add's can't be run against him

Posted by: 'Wale | May 24, 2007 11:24 PM | Report abuse

ER: Good to see someone like you supporting the candidate of your choice and not trying to dis others. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: lylepik | May 24, 2007 10:40 PM | Report abuse

How about "Stupider"??

Posted by: lylepink | May 24, 2007 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Richardson is my choice because we are going to need a president with diplomatic experience to clean up the Bush administration's monstrous mess. Also, Richardson is the only one with any executive experience. His has come in a politically divided state where he won the last governor's election with 69%.

I have heard the complaint that Richardson is too ambitious. Excuse me, but don't you have to have a truckload of ambition to run for any office, let alone President of the United States?? Reluctant candidates have another name - loser.

Posted by: anndeegh | May 24, 2007 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Richardson is my choice because we are going to need a president with diplomatic experience to clean up the Bush administration's monstrous mess. Also, Richardson is the only one with any executive experience. His has come in a poltiically divided state where he won the last governor's election with 69%.

I have heard the complaint that Richardson is too ambitious. Excuse me, but don't you have to have a truckload of ambition to run for any office, let alone President of the United States?? Reluctant candidates have another name - loser.

Posted by: anndeegh | May 24, 2007 9:55 PM | Report abuse

"the votes are counted as to who is the most stupid" - lylepink

Lyle, you do yourself no favors. The superlative degree of "stupid" is "stupidest."

This is classic!

Posted by: Merriam Webster | May 24, 2007 9:32 PM | Report abuse

I've always said my votes goes to a male democrat. A female democrat is either too late or too early for now, but that's the gospel truth. This is no time for cunning, flattering and irrationality; gone are those days.

Posted by: fun_fed | May 24, 2007 7:57 PM | Report abuse

what are you people talking about?

Posted by: joe | May 24, 2007 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Wale you are totally missing the point. The playboy bunny ad worked because it stired up racist feelings NOT womanizing. Obama will fall victim to the same if he gets the nomination.

So are you saying Obama is a career politician or is he something new and fresh which is it?

Posted by: mountain man | May 24, 2007 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Wale you are totally missing the point. The playboy bunny ad worked because it stired up racist feelings NOT womanizing. Obama will fall victim to the same if he gets the nomination.

So are you saying Obama is a career politician or is he something new and fresh which is it?

Posted by: mountain man | May 24, 2007 6:05 PM | Report abuse

"Vote D, we will get the rich to pay for everything you want." - Zouk

Isn't that what the Rich do, use Other People's Money?

With No Risk wherever possible and soaking the Government being preferable.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 24, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Zoukie - What's the obesssion with Carter?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 24, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

"Right because our country has such a strong track record of electing black candidate to the Senate or Gov. office? Harold Ford Jr was far more moderate, experanced and electable then Obama and look and what happened to him. I'm not saying its right I'm just saying its where we are at." -- mountain man

Mountain man what are you smoking? I know Harold Ford (you don't have to believe me) and he's no Barack Obama. They're not even in the same category, never mention those two names in the same sentence again. Obama's much more genuine and thoughtful, and has had a more diverse upbringing reflective of America today. Furthermore, what is experience? Experience is overated; Good Judgment is not! Obama possesses great judgment, plus he was in the Illinois State Senate for 8 years prior to becoming a federal Senator. If he becomes President he would have been a Senator for 4 years, that means 12 years of elected office experience. Thats enough experience for me..thank you

I'll tell you H.Ford ran a great campaign down in Tennessee with tons of spin, and I must tell you Harold is not as moderate or as religious as he portrays himself to be! And the controversial Advert with the White girl had an adverse effect on his campaign because they rang very true, unfortunate but true. I've known Harold and his younger brother for years and those of us in DC knew Harolds taste in women ;)

Posted by: Wale | May 24, 2007 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I bet we can do our usual math and come up with some answers that we like. We're Dems , we don't do math the way everyone else does. Watch.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 24, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

We refuse to acknowledge any progress in Iraq. that would be fatal to our desires. we are Dems and we only trade in surrender. now that we have capitulated to Bush on the war funding, we are eager to find another issue to lose. If we have to run Edwards or Gore or Carter to insure defeat, we will. We think Hillary will lose just fine for the most part.

Islamic jihad - Jimmy started it, Clinton ignored it and Hillary will allow it to fester and grow. why waste our good money on defense when there are three year olds out there in the care of their parents and not the state. this MUST be stopped before they think for themselves and vote R. There are also many profitable American companies who have the gaul to succeed. We will stop them dead in their tracks. If a single person fails:
1 - it's not their fault under any circumstance
2 - we should all fail to make it even

Vote D, we will get the rich to pay for everything you want.

Posted by: no facts please, we're Dems | May 24, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

bsimon - I'm with you. For the past couple of years everything I've seen has put foreign insurgents at less than 10% of that fighting force. Do you think that he meant 7% and was just misquoted?

Maybe if you take the native "Civil War" warriors out of the total, the foreigners makeup 70% of the remaining force.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 24, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

aha. its an AP piece. Here's the next paragraph, after the original cited by the anonymous coward, above.

""They, according to their own confessions, gather in mosques in the said (Gulf) states to travel to Syria using their passports, taking with them phone numbers of individuals waiting for them there," Brig. Gen. Rashid Fleih, the assistant undersecretary for intelligence of Iraq's Interior Ministry, told Kuwait's Al-Qabas daily in an interview."

So the Iraqi assistant undersecretary for intelligence says that 70% of insurgents come from outside Iraq. I wonder of US intelligence agencies agree with this assessment?

Posted by: bsimon | May 24, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I see one of my admirers is back using my name again. The only thing wrong is this one is so stupid to put my name to something everyone knows it is not coming from me, and I surely hope I am not attracting this calibre, but the votes are counted as to who is the most stupid judgeing from the 2004 results, so welcome and all that jazz.

Posted by: lylepink | May 24, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

"Seventy percent of insurgents fighting in Iraq come from Gulf countries via Syria"

I, too, would like to see the source of this claim. Perhaps such stats rely on a rule that anyone of Iraqi descent is, by definition, not an insurgent, but a revolutionary, or possibly freedom fighter.

Posted by: bsimon | May 24, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

JimD - I never expected the Swiftboat campaign to get traction because Kerry's crew was behind him, literally and figuratively. I figured that it would die a quick death. My guess is that the Kerry people probably thought the same way.

To me, John O'Neil has always seemed to be somebody without substance, more like a puppet for behind the scenes people like Admiral Hoffman and who knows who else -like somebody with lots of money from Pittsburgh not named Heinz.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 24, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse


'KUWAIT CITY -- Seventy percent of insurgents fighting in Iraq come from Gulf countries via Syria where they are provided with forged passports, an Iraqi intelligence officer alleged in a published report Wednesday

I heard it was a civil war. why do Dems have to lie to win, or moreover, lose as is their desire.'

hey zoukie, where'd ja get this piece of propaganda, eh? What is it, the NeoCon News? The Ahmed Chalabi Report? The Cheney Daily Lie?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 24, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

'quick, someone attack the reporter before the truth gets out. what will the Dems do if we actually win this war?'

so zouk why you never use your old name anymore?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 24, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

edwards redux - al qaida was born when reagan funded, trained, and armed the afghan rebels, including bin laden, and then lost interest when the soviets left. you can blame iran on jimmy carter - although he had inherited our cold war a$$-kissing of the shah from johnson, nixon, and ford - but the birth of al qaida happened years later under different circumstances.

Posted by: meuphys | May 24, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Radical Patriot, I too think Richardson would make a good president... but don't think it serves anyone to have him compete with Obama for the title of "Not Hillary." (Same message goes to Andrea, the Obama supporter.) We don't want to generate any bad blood so that Shrillary can "divide and conquer."
Maybe unrealistic, but I want both men in the next government - ideal ticket Obama / Richardson, but I would be satisfied with one as Pres, one at State if necessary.

Posted by: Bokonon | May 24, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Golgi: Admittedly, it is very difficult to get any inside track on the truth about such a tangled affair as the Lee one. I read both Richardson's autobiography "Between Worlds" and Lee's "My Country Versus Me" before I became a supporter of Richardson, and those two differing viewpoints put together offer some insight.

One can only feel that Lee was wronged, and Richardson is admittedly--in print--unhappy about the affair and the part that he played in it. But one also sees in this pre-911 world of government security, how every department is so secretive and so jealously independent of all other departments that no coordinated and fair investigation seems to have been possible. As I said earlier, Richardson inherited a mess that had reached the point where nothing would emerge spotless.

In any event, what candidate [or any human being] does not carry something in the way of "baggage." It is more telling to me to see how anyone admits to [or not] and tries to amend [or not] the errors of his or her past.

Posted by: Radical Patriot | May 24, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

"In any event, Richardson was not happy over the events related to Wen Ho Lee and his own involvement in the later stages of that affair. But he did NOT resign his position "because he couldn't fix their problems," as Andrea states. That misbegotten statement seems too much like a ploy just to make Obama look better."

Hm, a reasonably-worded contradiction!! Thanks, R.P. I will be interested to find out the facts on this one.

And I agree with your take on it R.P. -- Obama supporters are best off sticking to the high road. Good point.

Posted by: Golgi | May 24, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Jake D

I disagree with you when you say that Kerry could not have foreseen the harshness of the swift boat attacks. That is definitely not the case. The leader of the Swift Boat veterans was promoted as a pro-war veteran by the Nixon White House to counter Kerry's effectiveness as head of VIetnam Vets against the War. He had written a book attacking Kerry. How could Kerry and his campaign staff not thought that the swift boat attacks would be used. They should have anticipated them and been poised to squash them immediately upon their appearance.

Posted by: JimD in FL | May 24, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

"Bill Richardson would make a great Secretary of State in an Obama administration, because he strength is as a diplomat not an executive decision maker."

oooh...... Interesting to see if this idea rings true for others. It sounds genuine to me.

That's interesting about the Wen-Ho Lee thing, I didn't know that Richardson had anything to do with that.

Posted by: Golgi | May 24, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Oh Chris, it's revealing to see you downplaying polls that show Obama ahead instead of Clinton. You've already shown yourself to be a Clintonite, and this adds to that. I'm no Obamanite, but you've got to give credit where credit's do - not dismiss it because "polls fluctuate." If you took that tack with every poll you analyze down to its bare bones...

Posted by: Mark | May 24, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I am glad to see that there is some serious consideration of Bill Richardson in this discussion. He is the slow train in getting momentum, but you know the cliche about once big trains get rolling and all that. If Richardson rolled on to the Democratic nomination, the momentum would by then be so great that the Republican nominee--unless they can come up with someone a lot better than they are offering now--would be swept aside.

Andrea's comments deserve further consideration, because they are important, but not accurate! First of all, she claims that Obama's "approach to making executive decisions" is better than Richardson's. I would like to know what that approach is, since he has had no executive experience. Obama is certainly intelligent, and a much better choice for our country than Clinton will ever be, but his lack of broad experience is his great weakness. Obama would be a great vice-president to Richardson--indeed, that would be the best ticket of all!

Secondly, the problems at Los Alamos during Richardson's time as DOE secretary were, to begin with, mostly the hellaciouis mess that he inherited from Notra Trulock [DOE director of intelligence] and Frederico Pena [previous DOE secretary]--much like whoever is the next president will be inheriting the hellacious mess of Iraq. In any event, Richardson was not happy over the events related to Wen Ho Lee and his own involvement in the later stages of that affair. But he did NOT resign his position "because he couldn't fix their problems," as Andrea states. That misbegotten statement seems too much like a ploy just to make Obama look better.

Obama looks very good. So don't distort the facts or the truth to make someone else look worse. Leave that sort of crap to Team Billary.

Posted by: Radical Patriot | May 24, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

IMO this is just another example of the "CAPITALIZED CATEGORY I MADE UP," meaning of course the Hillary will win and become our next POTUS. I do not feel that I have to explain any of my reasons for supporting her, as long as I post regularly here, use acronyms, and avoid any discussion of her policy proposals. No, IMO, that would be "PLAYING ALONG" with the Hillary Haters. I will enjoy it when she becomes POTUS and all of you will have to say, "I guess Lyle was right. IMO, he must be the wisest political mind since Bubba was POTUS, and since Bubba is Hillary's husband, he will take care of the Hillary Haters."
And I will smile from my undisclosed location, because IMO, when Hillary is POTUS many problems will be fixed.

IMO, I need a drink.

Posted by: lylepink | May 24, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

State Comptroller Dan Hynes urged his former opponent, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, to run for president.

"We are a nation divided like at almost no other time in our history," Hynes said during a Chicago news conference to announce his support for Obama. "I believe Barack Obama can change this, that he, and he alone can restore the hope and optimism that has made this country great."

In the 2004 primary election, Hynes lost to Obama but said he came out with a great deal of respect for him.

"My family was heavily involved in my campaign, and emotionally invested--and crushed when I lost," Hynes said. "But we all realized that we encountered somebody great."

Posted by: ER | May 24, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Well said DCGEEK! I couldn't agree with you more.

ER did you ever stop and think the repubs are saying all those nice things about Obama because they know he will be the easist to beat in Nov?

Posted by: mountain man | May 24, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, one of the nation's leading constitutional scholars, calls Obama "one of the two most talented students I've had in 37 years in teaching. ... When I look at my kids and grandkids and ask what makes me hopeful about the future -- one thing is Barack Obama."

Posted by: ER | May 24, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Do you think Obama's got the experience and know-how to be president?
Sen. Durbin (Sr Sen IL): "We've had many serve in that capacity, some have been governors, some have been senators in the past. And they bring to it experience, which is important, but they also bring to it native ability and values. And I think he wins on all three...."
"There are some who have served in Congress longer. Some of my colleagues, I am sure have many things that they would say would qualify them for the presidency, but what I think Barack offers is the power of unifying this country."
"And if he could start to bring this country back together again - black, white and brown - I really think it would make for a better America."

Posted by: ER | May 24, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Warren Buffet: (America's second richest man, investor, Berkshire Hathoway)
Upon meeting Obama, Buffett said, "I've got a conviction about him that I don't get very often...He has as much potential as anyone I've seen to have an important impact over his lifetime on the course that America takes."

Posted by: ER | May 24, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Anyone hear of this Republican? Sen. John McCain said on Hardball: "I have worked with him (Obama) on a broad variety of reform issues. He is a serious legislator. He has a great deal of charisma. ... he is a future leader of this country. I have great respect for him."

Posted by: ER | May 24, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

More praise for Obama from Sen. Tom Coburn (Republican Oklahoma): "What Washington does is cause everybody to concentrate on where they disagree as opposed to where they agree. But leadership changes that. And Barack's got the capability, I believe--and the pizzazz and the charisma--to be a leader of America, not a leader of Democrats."

Posted by: ER | May 24, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Bill Richardson would make a great Secretary of State in an Obama administration, because he strength is as a diplomat not an executive decision maker.

Obama's approach to making executive decisions is better than Richardson. Remember, Richardson was Secretary of Energy during the time of the Los Alamos security breaches (remember the Wen Ho Lee incident?). He resigned his position because he couldn't fix their problems. If he couldn't fix serious problems in securing the nation's national laboratory, how is he going to secure America from terrorists?

Posted by: andrea | May 24, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

It's nice that the Obama camp not only thinks that Republicans have permanently moved beyond such issues as crossing party lines, but thinks they can move beyond such things as personal prejedice enough to vote for a Black man with an Arab name. Naive.

Richardson is the only Dem with a proven track record of getting large numbers of Republicans to cross party lines. So if Dems are starting to get the concept that they need some crossover voters to win the White House then they need to stop looking through rose colored glasses and see reality for what it is.

Posted by: But seriouly folks | May 24, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Chris, do alittle research: Sen. Kirk Dillard (leading IL Republican state senator): Obama is... "destined for great things"... "an extraordinary man: his intellect, his charisma. He's to the left of me on gun control, abortion. But he can really work with Republicans."

Posted by: ER | May 24, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I really have nothing to offer so I will just insult some people. If I ever get an original thought, I'll be sure to post it here.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 24, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

DCGeek, that whole line of reasoning is a pile of Cheez Whiz. The desperation of your spin effort jumps out at the reader.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 24, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

KUWAIT CITY -- Seventy percent of insurgents fighting in Iraq come from Gulf countries via Syria where they are provided with forged passports, an Iraqi intelligence officer alleged in a published report Wednesday

I heard it was a civil war. why do Dems have to lie to win, or moreover, lose as is their desire.

Posted by: no facts please, we're Dems | May 24, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I find it very interesting that Obama is promoting his campaign as the most electable, because I see him as the least electable. Here's why: he has no room to defy expectations. Obama is a superstar, loved by Democrats and admired by Republicans. He is a freshman Senator, inexperienced, and unvetted. The driving force propelling his campaign is his golden boy image. And nobody remains the golden boy long in a Presidential general.

Somone mentioned on here that Karl Rove's signature is to attack the opposition where they're strong. That's dead accurate. In Obama's case the Republican strategy will be a no-brainer- attack Obama's character since he has no record to stand on. If any kind of scandal sticks to Obama, I think his candidacy will suffer disporportionately because he's billed himself as being Kennedy-esque.

A year and a half is a long time to keep up an image of spotlessness. I don't know if Obama has the experience or policy credentials to survive a general. So in my view he is less electable that the other Democratic frontrunners. Funny that his campaign is showing signs of running on electability.

Posted by: DCGeek | May 24, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Leadership: After being told over and over by President Jimmy Carter that America's ability to influence world events was "very limited," the Soviet Union believed him and invaded Afghanistan. And al-Qaida was born.

http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=264813385781653

Posted by: edwards redux | May 24, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

The most interesting thing about all of this is the candidates now receiving the most traction here in Iowa are the ones the national media doesn't want to to discuss: Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson.

The more Iowans get to know the so-called "top tier" candidates, the more they are left wanting something with a lot more substance and sincerity.

Posted by: Lucy | May 24, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

CC, your post is the first place I've ever seen the notion "Obama is the new Kerry." Does this notion really ring true for you? It sounds like hot air to me.

Posted by: Golgi | May 24, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

craig: Your use of the word "FACTS" is the word I have been using and asking others to check. Edwards should win in Iowa if pundits are to be believed, since he has been there so many times, the people know him better than the others. Polls this early usually mean little. The folks in Iowa want a winner like the rest of us, and I think they will play a somewhat lesser role in 08 because of the primary date being moved up by so many other states. My favorite has a good chance of winning Iowa and the other states that have moved up and it could be all but over in February, but I won't go there yet.

Posted by: lylepink | May 24, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Matt in Philli says
"I have no idea who I am voting for in the Democratic primary, but anytime I check in to read your site, it is nothing but pro-Hillary, anti-everyone else.

I read yesterday that Richardson is now polling at 10% in both NH and Iowa--- a worthy story for you to comment on today--- but instead we get more of the same."

Matt- you're noting what some call an 'inside the beltway' mentality. As someone who's outside the beltway, my assessment is that Hillary, as the 'presumtive' candidate is the one that Washington & the media focus on. I, too, find it annoying, that the media impedes the democratic process by covering the smallest bits of news about front-runners but largely ignoring the messages from other candidates. While party hierarchy & tradtion are also strongly to blame, the media is not doing as well as it could by covering all candidates a bit more fairly without arbitrarily deciding who has 'a reasonable chance' of winning.

Posted by: bsimon | May 24, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

I don't think this was a 'dis' at Obama (can I use that term since he's 'not really black' according to Sharpton...? lol). The memo on the electability strategy is true, mostly - I still doubt HRC or Edwards can get elected unless the GOP puts up a whackjob. Richardson can, but cannot get nominated. Biden, Dodd and Kucinich are just in it for the free airtime and because they like to tilt at windmills.

Remember the axxiom: Republicans like to fall in line, and Democrats like to fall in love.

Posted by: JD | May 24, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

If recent history is any guide, Democrats should be feeling pretty good about their presidential nominee's chances in Pennsylvania next year. A Republican last won here in 1988, and last year, five Democratic congressional challengers knocked off GOP incumbents.

But a new poll by The Morning Call/Muhlenberg College shows -- at this early stage of the 2008 White House race -- that Republicans are in command in the state.

Posted by: without PA?? | May 24, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

There is good news from Iraq, believe it or not. It comes from the most unlikely place: Anbar province, home of the Sunni insurgency. The level of violence has plummeted in recent weeks. An alliance of U.S. troops and local tribes has been very effective in moving against the al-Qaeda foreign fighters.

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1624697,00.html

quick, someone attack the reporter before the truth gets out. what will the Dems do if we actually win this war?

Posted by: victory is unacceptable | May 24, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

In a statement on his Web site Tuesday, Coburn confirmed that he is holding up the bill. He blamed Carson for using "junk science" to turn the public against chemicals such as DDT that could prevent the spread of insect-borne diseases such as malaria.

Posted by: long history of junk science | May 24, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Whoever is doing hillary's makeover needs to finish the job.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 24, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Take a deep breath everyone: Hillary is comfortably ahead in EVERY national poll and every state poll with the exception of the recent poll in Iowa, which still shows her relatively close to Edwards and in a stastical dead heat with Obama. Another Iowa poll released last week showed her leading and with an 18% increase in support since December 2006.

Obama is still not competitive after months of glowing publicity and John Edwards is barely in double digits in every other state and national poll. Hillary is the frontrunner by far and has the highest level of support of any candidate, democrat or republican. Her performance in the first debate won raves and demonstrated how strong, smart and disciplined she will be. So lets all calm down and base our arguments on FACTS, not emotions!

Posted by: craig | May 24, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Is "Bay Buchanan" a pseudonym for Pat Buchanan (in drag, of course)?

Posted by: || | May 24, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

CNN Analyst Bay Buchanan To Outline Hillary's 'Makeover'

Conservative CNN commentator Bay Buchanan will detail what she calls Sen. Hillary Clinton's "extreme political makeover" June 1 at the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute.

http://onthehillblog.blogspot.com/2007/05/cnn-analyst-bay-buchanan-to-outline.html

Posted by: Anonymous | May 24, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Can Hillary ever recover enough after the memo to really compete in Iowa? Iowans are fickle, and they probably won't take this lightly. She might as well get out. But she'll crush everybody in NH and onward.
http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: mpp | May 24, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Chris,
I am done reading your blog. I have no idea who I am voting for in the Democratic primary, but anytime I check in to read your site, it is nothing but pro-Hillary, anti-everyone else.

I read yesterday that Richardson is now polling at 10% in both NH and Iowa--- a worthy story for you to comment on today--- but instead we get more of the same.

I'm done, there are too many other good columns out there.

Posted by: Matt in Philadelphia | May 24, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Jake D, we will have to continue to disagree about whether Kerry has been or continues to be a "weak" [my characterization] or an "excellent" [your word] Senator, because this blog does not lend itself to documented debate. But I do agree with you that he was unfairly attacked in the swiftboat ads and failed to respond, when response would have been easy. Why easy?

When I entered Navy OCS in March, 1968, the Commandant at Newport addressed us and said
volunteering for river boat duty in 'Nam was the quick route to promotion for those of us who might want to go regular. He said for those of us who entertained no career Navy ambitions we should consider the 45% casualty rate on river boat duty, and steer clear.

A lot of us in that era thought anybody who even volunteered for swift boats was either courageous or nuts, and Kerry volunteered, and while I think he remains a weak Senator I do not think he is nuts.

So, yes, I take your point on the campaign. Mine was that Gephardt was the far more qualified Dem, and he got chewed up in the mud with Dean.

Posted by: Mark In Austin | May 24, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Amazing the anyone is the Hillary campaign would even consider dumping Iowa at this stage of the game. This suggests they may be having some serious internal strategy problems.

Posted by: Bob | May 24, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

JEP, glad to hear from someone ACTUALLY IN IA... .

The latest IA Poll seems to bear out your informal results, if not to such an overwhelming degree. The DM Register reports Mr. Edwards continuing to lead, with Sen. Obama overtaking Sen. Clinton for second.

It also reports Romney having taken the lead among Rs.

I suggest all readers of this blog peek in to the DM Register website from time to time - local polling is more important fro primaries than national polling.

The IA Poll at this point would give Richardson the most upside leeway, it seems to me. Is that your take?

Posted by: Mark In Austin | May 24, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Someone's being very selective with their choice of Iowa polls here.

Edwards leads both Obama and Clinton in the Iowa polls most of us current and former Iowans have learned trust, Chris. The poll you reference (one of many) is just the most convenient one available to match your ever-more subtle (obviously, you're learning how to parse your words better)conservative political bent.(All Hail Metternich)

I've posted here before, that all you have to do to know how much Edwards has locked-in Iowa is to walk down the street and ASK people.

It isn't very scientific according to the Intl. Pundit's Union (HAH!), but it really gives the only reasonably accurate accounting of wazzup in Iowa. And all the NYTimes, Chicago Tribune, and WaPo spinful twisting just doesn't reach those "common" folks" in Gowrie, Iowa.

It is no wonder they (Iowans) seem so happy most of the time... They are the often the most literate state in the union, and as for prejudiced punditry,all they have to suffer is Dave Yepsen at the DM Register, and since he's actually "one of em" and not an import, he remains tolerable to the "common folk" who sympathize with him because he has been reduced in recent years to Patent Republicanism Punditry, like the rest of your pundit's union (HAH!)members.

But with the Dems breaking the mold, I would guess he will be able to write more of what he really believes, and not what his handlers demand of him. Hopefully, you, too will take history's hints and start assuaging your rightward leanings with some centrist perspective.

Posted by: JEP | May 24, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

There are two dimensions to this question, (in additon to the money-elephant in the closet; The momentum in the early states, generated by good primary/caucus showings, and the ultimate electability of the candidate against the opposition. Obama and Edwards could be electable but they need to generate momentum in the "early" states. Hillary can probably generate momentum in the early states, but she is not electable, once again, depending upon how conservative the opponent. The danger of Hillary, (who is really "Bill the shadow" candidate)is that if she doesn't get it or stumbles badly, the Clinton team will savage/undermine the eventual nominee, to destroy the effort, and give Hillary (Bill)another shot in '12. They can do it, they will do it, and every declared Dem should be watching his back, if he starts to gain momentum in the early states.

Posted by: L. Sterlilng. | May 24, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Mary Cheney, the vice president's lesbian daughter, had her first child this morning at Sibley Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Samuel David Cheney was born at 9:46 a.m., weighing 8 lbs., 6 oz.

His parents are Mary and her partner, Heather Poe.

Posted by: here's a story, CC | May 24, 2007 7:58 AM | Report abuse

As always, I urge people to look at Illinois, particularly outside Chicago to the suburbs and "downstate", to see how people who are very familiar with Obama view him. What you will find is that he is actually remarkably popular statewide and across demographic groups (even more so than his fellow Senator Dick Durbin, who is reasonably popular in his own right).

So, Obama's widespread appeal is very real, and those who claim America is not ready to support someone like Obama are not giving enough credit to their fellow Americans.

Posted by: DTM | May 24, 2007 7:18 AM | Report abuse

mountain man: Your comment about Harold Ford was right on target. I wanted him to win and when I saw the sleazy ad and his non-response, I knew he was toast. Obama is a media creation for the most part and the way he has been built up by this same media, I think they will enjoy tearing him down. I made this prediction quite awhile back and am waiting to see how the media goes about the process.

Posted by: lylepink | May 24, 2007 12:49 AM | Report abuse

Right because our country has such a strong track record of electing black candidate to the Senate or Gov. office? Harold Ford Jr was far more moderate, experanced and electable then Obama and look and what happened to him. I'm not saying its right I'm just saying its where we are at.

Posted by: mountain man | May 23, 2007 11:41 PM | Report abuse

It's like the clean air act name as my objections are apparently about one thing when in fact they really mean I'm a bigot. Obama is the MOST electable candidate of them all. An educated (smarter than me!) elitest (better manners than me!) black (as if that has anything to do with good governance) man with a gosh darn funny name (hyuck-hyuck, knee-slap) will never win rural rednecks but they aren't likely to vote for the New York snob Guiliani anyway and will stay home and so who the heck cares what they think? Those who love America may love him but not those of us who hate America. He's only been in the senate two years and has done far more with his time than any other candidate, he's never been tested in a tough campaign with the exception of the ones that he's been in as there's no such thing as an easy campaign.

Posted by: mountain moron | May 23, 2007 10:56 PM | Report abuse

(hic) Yoou said it, mountain man! (hic) Pass the 'shine. (burp) Ain't NO way real 'Merkin voters gon' 'lec' a Black man.

Yeeee-haw!

This is what you sound like to an unprejudiced voter when you say things like that. Sure there are racists in rural areas. Like mountains, for example. But there are also some relatively decent folks, too. Don't count Obama out yet, especially when the campaign's still relatively young.

Posted by: Uncle Jesse | May 23, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

It's like the clean air act name it one thing when it means another. Obama is the LEAST electable candidate of them all. An over educated elitest black man named huisan Obama will never win rural america and swing states. The media and upper class may love him but he's only been in the senate two years and has a glass jaw, he's never been tested in a tough campaign before.

Posted by: mountain man | May 23, 2007 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Prediction: Obama wins Iowa on "heart" as well as "head". He is the most electable because of, not in spite of, his strong concern for a united America (a united humanity) and an end to factional bickering of all kinds.

Posted by: Charles Sullivan | May 23, 2007 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Prediction: Obama wins Iowa on "heart" as well as "head". He is the most electable because of, not in spite of, his strong concern for a united America (a united humanity) and an end to factional bickering of all kinds.

Posted by: Charles Sullivan | May 23, 2007 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Prediction: Obama wins Iowa on "heart" as well as "head". He is the most electable because of, not in spite of, his strong concern for a united America (a united humanity) and an end to factional bickering of all kinds.

Posted by: Charles Sullivan | May 23, 2007 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Razorback: You're partially right. The negativity between the Dean and Gephardt campaigns caused Kerry to surge. That is known as the "3rd candidate phenomenon," and it occurs when the 3rd candidate slips between two frontrunners when the frontrunners stumble in some way. Kerry's argument was electability, however, which probably helped. Edwards did not benefit from that, however. In the Iowa Caucuses, a second round of voting occurs without non-viable candidates (BS candidates who dont get 15%, I think its 15%). When that happened, the vast majority of Kucinich voters supported Edwards, which thrust him up in 2nd place. I wonder if 4th candidate phenomenons are possible. Reguardless this may happen again this time around, and the beneficiary will most likely be Edwards, Richardson, or Dodd. I think its more likely either Obama or Edwards loses steam. Obama was just a thought, but he probably will fall below expectations. The media made Obama a star, but his star power can fade (it might be starting to, even though the polls don't yet reflect that). Edwards, as Chris has said, may underperform in fundraising due to uncertainty of his intent to go all the way (due to his wife's illness). Richardson, to me, has the best argument in electability (Western, mexican, experienced, not vulnerable on the tax issue, not vulnerable on the gun issue, charisma, etc.). If one of the top 3 stumble somehow and sink in the polls (it wont be Hillary) then it could truly become a 2 candidate race, or the 3rd candidate phenomenon could occur again.

Posted by: J Perez | May 23, 2007 9:42 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with the first comment. I had assumed that Obama and Edwards were both struggling to be the heart. I also assumed Clinton was the head, and her argument for electability is resilience(if thats how you spell it). Hillary knows how to campaign and probably has a better chance than Obama of sustaining a long general election successfully. However, likability is her weakness, but she's been way more likable than I thought possible(hell froze over!).I have been staunchly anti-Clinton my whole life but her intelligence is more and more compelling to me daily. I was happy to hear she supported keeping troops in Anbar province, where the Sunni civilians are revolting against Al-Qaeda (troops need to be there helping the Sunnis, not being human civil war bullet catchers in Baghdad). She's still not my first choice, but I'd vote for her. This Clinton-Bush dynasty scares me the most about her candidacy. I'm hoping Richardson will turn out to not just be the best candidate "on paper" and actually win. I do not know how Edwards will moderate his messae for the general election, but Obama has that flexibility. I'm getting the feeling that Obama is fading, but it may be misperception on my part. I think Chris Dodd should just drop out and Biden should hurry up and get his rivals' assurances that they'll appoint him Secretary of State, then drop out afterwards. Kucinich's fire was stolen by Gravel, and he should drop out as well, but of course he won't want to give up his power in the Iowa caucuses (had his supporters not agreed to vote Edwards in the 2nd round in 2004, nobody would know who Edwards was, for he'd never have made VP). That'd shake it up.

Posted by: J Perez | May 23, 2007 9:27 PM | Report abuse

The only candidate who can credibly use the electability arguement is Bill Richardson.

Posted by: Jazzman | May 23, 2007 9:08 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Obama would be a very strong candidate. I also think that Kerry gets a bad rap nowadays when he honestly could not have foreseen the harshness of the Republican attacks. That is the Karl Rove strategy: attack 'em where they're strongest. Kerry was not a weak candidate, he simply did not know how to react to the extremely brutal attacks on his patriotism. He is also an excellent senator who is really in his element in a deliberative setting.

Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Posted by: Jake D | May 23, 2007 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Will, Senator McCain has a very long track record of reaching across the aisle.

Bill Richardson has a deeply divided state to govern and has worked very well across the aisle.

Biden and Lugar have worked together for years - we used to call their joint appearances the Lugar-Biden Show or the Biden-Lugar Show depending on the party in power.

Sen. Clinton actually cosponsored legislation with Tom Delay!

So, Sen. Obama is not the only one with the ability to reach across the aisle, and Gov. Richardson is running the least "partisan" campaign, so far.

Aside from McCain, who may get my indy vote, I have read that former Gov. Huckabee, whom I would not vote for, worked well across the aisle in Arkansas.

However, it is true that Sen. Obama has worked well in the Senate, especially for a newbie [you will recall that was said of Sen. Clinton, too].

uva yankee, John Kerry was one seriously weak Senator and he still is. The notion that anything but Razorback's postulate that mudslinging cost Gephardt IA, is probably romance.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | May 23, 2007 8:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm an independent who has voted for Republicans and Democrats in the past. My preference among the Democrats is definitely for Obama. He's the only one who moves beyond partisan poltics and tries to unite America instead of divide us.

Posted by: Will | May 23, 2007 7:48 PM | Report abuse

I lean more to the right on the political spectrum, but I will not go as far as to call myself a Republican. However, Obama is the only one of the Democrats that I would give serious consideration to vote for. A lot of like minded individuals feel the same way, I have reason to believe. The aforementioned polls seem to give a bit of evidence to this, but of course those polls are not the most reliable or accurate. Of all the candidates Republican and Democrat, Obama presents himself the best. I can see him in the White House in a way that I just can't see Hillary. What an interesting race this is already shaping up to be.

Posted by: Zack M. | May 23, 2007 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Part of the reason Kerry and Edwards surged, while Gephardt and Dean fell, is that Dean and Gephardt went negative on each other. Negative is risking business in a multi-candidate race.

Posted by: Razorback | May 23, 2007 6:59 PM | Report abuse

If Iowa went head over heart in when they fell back on Kerry over Dean, that suggests why this strategy might be effective in moving some numbers (and affecting the caucus-goers since it ain't no straw poll and people can change their minds if their candidates don't pick up enough caucus-goers).

Obama can win both the "head" vote and the "heart" vote with his star-power and outsider stance. This time around Iowa need not choose head over heart. Iowa can get both. Obama is a hundred times the speaker John Kerry is/was.

Another note on process: In the Democratic process, preferences are public. Even in private polling, there has been an over-reporting of support for black candidates when compared to actual voting. (See NYTimes article below.) With preferences made public, this could favor Obama (though not perceptibly so since there is no "actual" vote to compare it to as there is with polling data).

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/16/us/politics/16web-elder.html

Posted by: uva yankee | May 23, 2007 6:44 PM | Report abuse

TO: Chris Cillizza
FROM: memo
RE: memos
DATE: May 23, 2007

Chris, it has come to my attention that each of the candidates and their staff members have been communicating using "memos." Maybe a good topic for discussion today, if you still haven't come up with anything?

Posted by: memo | May 23, 2007 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Chris, why do you insist on dissing Obama? He's no John Kerry, not by a long shot, and several polls both Iowa and national have shown him strongest against the GOP list for quite some time. Indeed, many recent polls have had him consistently beating each of the Bad Guys for a few months now.

Posted by: the Rev. Dr. Gould | May 23, 2007 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Watch out, a bunch of idiots regularly come to this site and post nonsense.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

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