Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Single Finest Moment in Drexel Debate Goes to Joe Biden

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 446

While the mainstream media goes on and on about the Clinton-Edwards-Obama Mutual Deprecation Society on display in Philadelphia last night, the real story, in my view, is that another candidate kept his eye on the ball and took the fight to the Republicans in a way none of the other candidates came even close to doing.

That candidate was Joe Biden, and his blast against GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani is already going into the books as a defining moment in this campaign. In last night's debate, Biden showed, as he has again and again, why it is that ideas, conviction and the courage to lead trump money, endorsements and media fixation, even when - perhaps, especially when - the better financed and better covered candidates are standing just a few feet away.

Biden's quote is being run all over the blogosphere tonight, but it bears repeating here:

“Rudy Giuliani. I mean think about it, Rudy Giuliani, there’s only three things he mentions in a sentence — a noun and a verb and 9/11; I mean, there’s nothing else. There’s nothing else.”

Crushingly brilliant stuff. Here it is on video:

AFSCME Endorses Clinton

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 446

Here's the press release issued by the Clinton Campaign a few minutes ago:

American Federation of State, County and Municipal
Employees Endorses Clinton

30,000 Iowa Members

The Clinton Campaign today announced the endorsement of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). AFSCME is the nation’s largest public sector union, representing more than 1.4 million workers.

Danny Homan, President of AFSCME Iowa Council 61, said, “Hillary Clinton has the leadership, ideas, and strength to lead America in a new direction and her commitment to working families is unparalleled. We face serious challenges at home and abroad, and she is the best candidate to restore middle class economic progress, support our soldiers and veterans, and improve the quality of life for all Americans.”

“As our President, Hillary Clinton will help rebuild America’s middle class and make sure that everyone shares in our country’s prosperity. She has a record of leadership, of bringing people together for more than 30 years. Hillary Clinton inspires our members. She sparks the flame we need to win,” said AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee.

McEntee said after 10 months of polling and interviewing members and scrutinizing candidates’ records, Clinton stood out from the pack.

“We had the most talented and diverse field of Presidential candidates we’ve seen in years. But when all was said and done, among our members Hillary Clinton clearly emerged as the best candidate to take back the White House for America’s working families,” he said

AFSCME said it would activate a 40,000-member volunteer army to mobilize its members, and launch an unprecedented GOTV effort in Iowa, where it represents 30,000 workers.

“I am honored to receive the support of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees,” Clinton said. “In my administration, America’s working families will again have a partner in the White House.”

Clinton has been endorsed by other leading national unions, including the American Federation of Teachers, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, National Association of Letter Carriers, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers and the United Transportation Union.

Drexel Debate: Virtual Spin Room

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 447

The shouting from last night is more shouting from the campaigns, via email. Here is what they want you to think the morning after.

Joe Biden

Following this evening’s MSNBC/Democratic National debate at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Biden for President Campaign Manager Luis Navarro issued the following statement:

“Tonight, Joe Biden proved once again that he is the Democrat most capable of leading the country and taking on the Republicans. While the other candidates were picking on each other, Senator Biden was laying out the case to the American people as to why we need a leader with the breadth and depth of experience to tackle the inter-related problems of a dangerous world.”

“The phrase most often heard on the stage tonight was, “Joe is right,” followed closely by the phrase, “I agree with Joe.” And only one candidate showed clearly that he is ready to take on Rudy Guiliani and the GOP. That candidate was Joe Biden and the evidence tonight was incontrovertible.”

Below is a sampling of support for Joe’s leadership:

On Iran: Clinton
: “Joe is absolutely right.” Sen. Clinton said, “I think that what we're trying to do here is put pressure on the Bush administration. Joe is absolutely right. George Bush can do all of this without anybody. You know, that is the great tragedy and that's why we've got to rein him in, and that's why we need Republican support in the Congress to help us do so.”

On Pakistan: Dodd: “I agree with Joe.” Sen. Dodd said, “I agree with Joe. I think the more immediate problem is Pakistan, the one that needs to be addressed.”

On Afghanistan: Clinton: “I agree with Joe.” Sen. Clinton said, “I agree with Joe [regarding] the Afghanistan situation. Everywhere you look in the world we've got work to do, and I think we've got to do more than just send our young men and women out. That is not an appropriate use of their power.”

On Debating Republicans: Obama: “I'm not fearful, just as Joe isn't, to have a debate about this with Rudy Giuliani because we've got the facts on our side.”

On Oil: Obama: "As Joe pointed out, out of the $90 that it's costing right now for a barrel, about 30 percent of that is just risk."

Hillary Clinton

While her rivals abandoned the politics of hope and launched one attack after another, Hillary demonstrated why she has the strength and experience to deliver the change America needs.

Barack Obama and John Edwards relentlessly attacked Hillary for two hours at tonight's debate in Philadelphia, but scored no points.

Hillary took the best they had, rose above it, and came out on top.

Hillary continued to show her deep understanding of the issues and outlined her positive vision for America.

On Iran, she emphasized that we need to prevent President Bush's rush to war but must engage in aggressive diplomacy to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Hillary was among the very first Senators to speak out and make clear that George Bush does not have the authority to go to war in Iran, and is a co-sponsor of legislation to prevent him from doing so.

On Iraq, she talked about getting our troops home in the smartest, safest way we can. She made it crystal clear that if George Bush won't end this war before he leaves office, as President, she will.

At home she detailed her plans to offer quality, affordable health care to every American, move the nation toward energy independence and protect Social Security by restoring fiscal responsibility.

Tonight, Americans were reminded why poll after poll show that voters believe Hillary has the best combination of strength and experience to be President.
Despite repeated attacks from Obama and Edwards, Hillary leaves tonight's debate in a position of strength. A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll out last week shows her leading the primary by 31 points, and beating all of the Republicans in head-to-head general election matchups. And a recent CBS News poll showed Hillary surging to a 28-point lead.

The campaign also posted their selected reviews of Hillary Clinton's performance last night.

Chris Dodd

At tonight's debate at Drexel University, Presidential candidate Chris Dodd demonstrated that he has both a long record of achieving results and an unrivaled ability to lead on the issues most pressing to our nation today. In addition to highlighting his proposals to curb the harmful effects of global warming and bring a responsible end to the Iraq war, Dodd also spoke passionately about the need for bold leadership and bringing people together, as well as the importance of electability when choosing a Democratic nominee.

"Whether it's fair or not fair, the fact of the matter is that when it comes to my colleague from New York, Senator Clinton, 50 percent of the American public say they are not going to vote for her. We, as a party, certainly have to take that into consideration," said Dodd. "For 26 years I have been involved in every landmark piece of legislation and had a Republican as my co-sponsor because no one party is going to straighten all of this out. I knew in order to move our country forward we had to have leadership in this country that understood the value of reaching out and finding common ground with people. So electability and the ability to govern and to do so immediately are important. Don't discount the importance of electability - it's a very important hurdle for us."

A senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Dodd has been involved in virtually every foreign policy debate over the past two decades. His diplomacy skills and experience in foreign affairs were on display at tonight's debate, where he distinguished himself from the field in his belief that we should not give the Administration carte-blanche to use military force in Iran.

"It was a moment (the Kyl-Lieberman vote), it was a critical moment when I think leadership is called for. If you're going to seek the leadership of our country, this is the most serious time in a generation. You have an ascending China, you have an Iran that's ambitious to develop nuclear weapons, you have obviously a four trillion dollar economy that's in trouble, a health care crisis in this country, as well as energy and other issues that are going to confront the next President. Good judgment and leadership in critical moments must be a part of this debate and discussion. That was a critical moment and the wrong decision was made in my view."

"Whether its his leadership on the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, global warming, health care, or restoring the Constitution, Chris Dodd unequivocally stands up for what is right for Americans," said Dodd Campaign Manager Sheryl Cohen. "And sure enough, the rest of the Democratic field always seems to follow Dodd's lead. That is the type of leadership and the set of values that we need in the executive office. Backed by a 26 year record of getting results for the American people in the Senate, Chris Dodd's candidacy is the strongest in the field."

The campaign also posted its ever-popular Dodd clock:

John Edwards

Today, Edwards for President communications director Chris Kofinis released the following statement in response to Senator Clinton’s argument for keeping combat troops in Iraq:

"Senator Clinton tonight articulated George Bush’s argument for staying in Iraq. Senator Clinton said we need to keep troops in Iraq for multiple missions, including training Iraqis and fighting al Qaeda. But we fight al-Qaeda in countries all over the world without occupying those countries. For over a year, John Edwards has provided a very specific plan to end the war in Iraq. The bottom line is Senator Clinton still refuses to provide a specific plan and still won’t commit to a timeline for withdrawal. And keeping troops in Iraq to fight Iran, as the resolution Senator Clinton just voted for would do, could even expand the missions in Iraq.

"This is a real difference between Senator Edwards and Senator Clinton. Senator Clinton says she wants to end the war, but she also says she will keep combat missions in Iraq. Keeping combat missions in Iraq means she will extend the war. John Edwards will end the war.

"John Edwards' plan for Iraq is very simple: No combat troops. No combat missions. No combat, period. And not by 2013, by 2009."

The campaign also posted their selected reviews of John Edwards' performance last night.

Barack Obama

At tonight’s debate, Barack Obama demonstrated the real choice in this race. On issues from Social Security to Iran to being open with the America people about her record, Senator Clinton offered more of the same Washington calculation, ducking and dodging that won’t bring the change America needs. Barack Obama demonstrated the kind of leadership that will bring change we can trust – the ability to bring this country together, stand up to the special interests, and tell the American people not just what we think they want to hear, but what they need to know about the challenges we face. That’s the kind of leadership Barack Obama has demonstrated through his two decades of service to America, and that’s what he’ll offer as President of the United States.

The campaign also posted their selected reviews of Barack Obama's performance last night.

Bill Richardson

New Mexico Governor and Democratic Presidential candidate Bill Richardson discussed his extensive experience in negotiating with foreign leaders at the DNC-sanctioned NBC/MSNBC Presidential Debate tonight.
When asked about how he would negotiate with Iran, Governor Richardson responded: "Even more of a threat than nuclear weapons is a loose nuclear weapon crossing the border. What we need is an international agreement. The key has to be diplomacy. In the fourth row, there is a man named Bill Barloon whom I rescued from an Iraqi prison in Abu Ghraib. It is going to take leadership, diplomacy, and negotiation. I went head-to-head with Saddam Hussein and brought two Americans out-- Bill is one. The greatest words I heard after I got him out were "thank you." Then I said, "I am taking you home." That is diplomacy. That means talking to Iran, Syria, and North Korea. I have done it all my life as a diplomat, as a U.S. ambassador, as a special envoy, and as a hostage negotiator. I have the most international experience. I have gone head-to-head with the North Koreans. We recently got back six remains of our soldiers. We got the North Koreans to stop their nuclear reactor. I believe it is important that we have a leader not just who can bring people together, but also can resolve some of the thorniest problems we have."

Richardson's campaign is currently running an ad, "Only One," that details a hostage situation in Iraq that then-Congressman Richardson was called upon to defuse. In the sixty-second spot, Bill Barloon, the late David Daliberti, and his wife Kathy Daliberti praise Richardson for obtaining the release of the two men from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in July 1995.

See the ad and background materials here:

During a discussion about his qualifications to be the next President, Governor Richardson discussed his differences with the other candidates on the important issues facing our country.

"We need to get all of our troops out of Iraq," Richardson said. "I would get rid of No Child Left Behind. I believe we need to focus on the future. Look, the reality on the electability issue is that the last Senator who was elected President was 40 years ago. His name was John F. Kennedy. We elect Governors as Presidents. Seven out of the last eight have been either Governors or ex-Governors. My view is that I know how to bring people together. More important than all of the issues that we are talking about is: Who can govern? Who can manage? I am the only CEO in this race. I have balanced budgets. I have provided health care to kids under twelve. I have improved education. I have foreign policy experience. I have negotiated with foreign countries as a diplomat and as a hostage negotiator."

On the topic of energy, Governor Richardson showed that he has the most comprehensive and specific plan to address the issue of energy in the United States.

"We need an energy revolution that does the following: reduces the consumption of fossil fuels and establishes fuel efficiency standards of 50 miles per gallon," Richardson said. "Of all the electricity in America, have at least 30% produced from renewable sources. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2040 and by 30% by 2020. We need a cap and trade system. We have to ask the American people to sacrifice a little bit. What does that mean? That means: When we use appliances, mass transit, or air conditioning, we all should come together to reduce this dependency on foreign oil that affects our national security. When 65% of your oil is imported, when the planet is polluted by fossil fuels and manmade pollution, we need American leadership and Presidential leadership to create an energy revolution."

As the only major Presidential candidate to make education a key issue on the campaign trail, Governor Richardson made his position clear.

"Compared to countries like China and India, there is a competitiveness gap here," Richardson said. "I would have 100,000 new science and math teachers. We have to pay our teachers what they deserve: a national average starting salary of $40,000 per year. I will get rid of No Child Left Behind. I would have science and math academies. We need to build into the high school curriculum more language and arts to provoke creativity in science and math."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New Richardson Ad: "When I Began"

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 447

Bill Richardson is running a new ad in Iowa starting today. Titled, "When I Began," the ad features Richardson speaking directly into the camera and discussing his character, experience and his goals.

Here's the script for the ad:

“I’m Bill Richardson … and when I began this campaign for president, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew I wouldn’t have every answer … but I’ll always tell you what I really believe. And I’ll never mislead you.

I knew there’d be differences between the candidates. Especially on Iraq. I’ll get
every soldier out. You can’t say you’ll end the war if you plan to leave thousands
of troops behind. The Iraqis sure won’t think the war is over.

And when I began this campaign, I knew we had to get rid of No Child Left Behind,
reverse global warming, and cover every American with health insurance.

If you’re wondering if anyone can really do all this … just look at what I’ve done
in my life and how I’ve done it. Not by dividing people. But by earning their trust. And that’s really where we need to begin in Iraq. There is a way out.

I approved this message because I’m sure not the best looking or the flashiest … but
I know who I am. And I know how hard I’ll work for you.”

And the ad itself:


Monday, October 29, 2007

New Clinton Ad: "There for You"

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 448

Hillary Clinton is putting up a new ad in Iowa and New Hampshire, talking up her record on Social Security and respite care benefits for family members caring for ailing relatives. The obvious target audience: senior citizens.

Think this is because Hillary just turned the big six-o herself? Eh, no. Seniors are by far the age group most likely to turn up on caucus night in Iowa and vote in the New Hampshire primary. 'Nuff said.

Here's the script for the ad:

Announcer: When George Bush threatened to privatize social security,
Hillary was there fighting every step of the way to stop him.

And she was there for every senior who needs round-the-clock-
Care, creating a law to ease the burden on family caregivers.

She's still there fighting to stop long term care insurance scams that prey on the elderly.
These days, it seems like every candidate on earth is coming here for

But which candidate has been there for you all along?

Hillary Clinton: I'm Hillary Clinton and I approved this message.

And the ad itself:

Philadelphia Debate Watch Parties

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 448

This morning I received a press release from Joe Biden's presidential campaign announcing a number of watch parties across Iowa for tomorrow's debate in Philadelphia. Details are below.

If anyone knows of watch parties being organized by other campaigns, email the details to, and I'll add them as updates to this post.

Des Moines:
Angelo’s Pizza
1310 Grand Avenue
West Des Moines, IA
Time: 7:00 PM
Contact: Raena Davis/515-440-2008

Monica's Piano Bar
324 East 4th Street
Waterloo, IA
Time: 7:30 PM
Contact: Josh Alcorn/319-433-6285

Home of Rosemary and Roger Thomas
17658 Domino Road
Elkader, IA
Time: 7:00 PM
Contact: Ryan Keenan /563-556-5106

Home of Pat Johnson and Cheri Canier
1800 East Deer Creek Road
Clinton, IA
Time: 7:30 PM
Contact: Andy Amsler/302-559-7310

Cedar Rapids:
Home of Sara Riley
390 Green Valley Terrace
Cedar Rapids, IA
Time: 7:30 PM
Contact: Jennifer Huson/319-366-0218

Iowa City:
Rick's Grille and Spirits
1705 South First Ave
Iowa City, IA
Time: 7:45 PM
Contact: Holly Savage/319-331-9389

Home of Linda and U.J. Booth
1011 Harken Hills Drive
Osceola, IA
Time: 7:30 PM
Contact: Katrina Arnold/720-936-7754

Teri & John Goodman
1306 Tomahawk Drive
Dubuque, IA
Time: 7:30 PM
Contact: Ellen Goodman/563-542-6421

Council Bluffs:
Home of Linda Rhatigan
502 North Sierra Drive
Council Bluffs, IA
Time: 7:30 PM
Contact: David Sabados/712-322-1880

Home of John Anderson
101 Hill Avenue
Ottumwa, IA
Contact: John Anderson/641-226-2841

"As Basic As It Gets" - Dodd Announces Opposition to Mukasey as Attorney General

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 448

In a conference call with reporters earlier today, Senator and presidential candidate Chris Dodd elaborated on his announcement that he will oppose confirmation of Michael Mukasey to be the next Attorney General of the United States.

Citing testimony by Mukasey, a former federal judge, that seems to defend the idea that a president is free to disregard federal statutes when acting in the capacity of Commander in Chief, Dodd said, "That's about as basic as it gets. [As president] you must obey the law. Everyone must." Dodd continued that the idea that presidential powers supersede those of Congress and the courts is "a continuation of the Alberto Gonzales mentality at the Justice Department...we are a nation of laws, and not [of] men."

Dodd's comments today go beyond the concerns raised by all the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month over Mukasey's vague replies regarding the legality of waterboarding and other coercive interrogation techniques (yes, as a nation we now employ an entire suite of horrific interrogation methods; how nice for us) and go to more fundamental issues about whether Mukasey, as the country's chief law enforcement officer, would uphold the rule of law over presidential fiat.

In my view, Dodd is right in opposing this nomination, or the nomination of anyone who feels that laws passed by Congress can be ignored whenever a president says he (or she) is breaking those laws in pursuit of the national security. As a nation, we have already gone so far down that rabbit hole that restoring the Constitution is actually in play as an issue in the presidential campaign. Confirming Mukasey as attorney general would only compound and reinforce this trend, and I commend Chris Dodd for getting out in front on this issue. It really is, as Dodd said today, as basic as it gets.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

29 Days Later

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 452

The Bush administration today announced a broad package of sanctions against Iran. This development, coming as it does just 29 days after Senate passage of the Kyl-Lieberman resolution designating Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, strikes me as a significant, and worrying, acceleration in the on-going confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program.

As of this writing, Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards and Barack Obama have issued statements responding to the imposition of sanctions. Of all of them, Chris Dodd's is of particular merit:

"I recognize the obvious threat a nuclear Iran poses to the region and beyond, and that we must stop Iran's continued support for international terrorism.

"Unfortunately, the action taken by the Administration today comes in the context of escalating rhetoric and drumbeat to military action against Iran.

"I am deeply concerned that once again the President is opting for military action as a first resort.

"The glaring omission of any new diplomatic measures by the President today is the reason I voted, and urged my colleagues to vote, against the Kyl -Lieberman resolution on September 26.

"The aggressive actions taken today by the Administration absent any corresponding diplomatic action is exactly what we all should have known was coming when we considered our vote on the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, and smacks, frankly, of a dangerous step toward armed confrontation with Iran."

Chris Dodd is absolutely right about this. Sanctions, and their effects, do not operate in a vacuum. Sanctions are used to reinforce diplomacy, or military preparations, and sometimes both at once. The sanctions against Iran announced today are being introduced in an atmosphere devoid of diplomatic initiatives, which strongly suggests they are intended in aid of preparation for military action. Worse still, since no other nations joined the United States in imposing sanctions today, that would mean unilateral military action.

Chris Dodd's statement shows that he knows how to keep his eye on the ball. While Dodd's references to Kyl-Lieberman are clearly aimed at Hillary Clinton, who has faced, and largely deserved, heavy criticism for her vote in favor of that resolution, he reserves his main points for the larger issue of the sanctions themselves and what they might indicate about future U.S. actions regarding Iran. John Edwards spent his statement in a direct frontal assault at Clinton for voting in favor of Kyl-Lieberman, making it seem as though he thinks these sanctions are little more than a nifty opportunity to score some political points against a rival. Barack Obama also issued a statement referring to Kyl-Lieberman, which, frankly, would carry a lot more weight but for the fact that Obama didn't even show up to vote on the resolution.

Chris Dodd is showing honest-to-goodness leadership on this issue. In doing so, he distinguishes himself as being one of the few candidates in this race who knows exactly where the line between politics and statesmanship is, and is wise and experienced enough not to cross it.

The Kyl-Lieberman resolution passed the Senate 29 days ago; 29 days from now, when the Bush administration's Iran policy may well take us who-knows-where, we may look back at what Chris Dodd said today and ask ourselves why more of us didn't listen.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Florida GOP Chair Lets Slip Plan for Bush Third Term

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 454

Whether he intended to or not, Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer yesterday issued a press statement which seemingly confirms what many people throughout the world have worried may be in the cards: a secret plan to keep George W. Bush in office for a third term.

In a statement responding to the RNC Executive Committee’s recommendation to strip the Florida GOP of half its delegates to next year’s national convention as a penalty for holding the state's primary earlier than party rules allow, Greer said, "While we disagree with the Republican National Committee's recommendation to sanction the state of Florida, at the end of the day this is a disagreement among friends and we recognize that we are all working towards a common goal: re-electing a Republican president in 2008."

Read those words again: "re-electing a Republican president in 2008." A slip of the tongue? Or an inadvertent confirmation of a secret plan for the ultimate circumvention of the Constitution?

OK, so it’s a slip of the tongue. From a GOP state chairman. In, er, Florida, no less. A slip of the tongue. Definitely. I mean, no one would be crazy enough think they could stay in office when the constitution expressly forbids it. Right? I mean, not even George W. Bush. Or…um…Dick Cheney. *starting to sweat* A slip of the tongue. Probably. That’s all. Yes, I’m pretty sure. Or a joke, maybe? *weak laughter*

Yeah, that must be it.

[Note to readers: no, I haven’t been launched on a mission to Planet Kucinich. The Greer press statement is real, and quoted verbatim. But the fuss made about it above is in jest.]

[Note to Kucinich’s people: if you run with this, I want royalties.]

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Role Call of The Heartless

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 460

Here is a complete list of members of Congress who today voted to deny health care to millions of American children. Shame on every last one of you:

Robert Aderholt, Todd Akin, Rodney Alexander, Michele Bachmann, Spencer Bachus, Richard Baker, J. Gresham Barrett, Roscoe Bartlett, Joe Barton, Judith Biggert, Brian Bilbray, Gus Bilirakis, Rob Bishop, Marsha Blackburn, Roy Blunt, John Boehner, Jo Bonner, John Boozman, Charles Boustany, Kevin Brady, Paul Broun, Henry Brown, Ginny Brown-Waite, Michael Burgess, Dan Burton, Steve Buyer, Ken Calvert, Dave Camp, John Campbell, Chris Cannon, Eric Cantor, John Carter, Steve Chabot, Howard Coble, Tom Cole, Michael Conaway, Ander Crenshaw, Barbara Cubin, John Culberson, Geoff Davis, David Davis, Nathan Deal, Mario Diaz-Balart, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, John Doolittle, Thelma Drake, David Dreier, John 'Jimmy' Duncan, Terry Everett, Mary Fallin, Tom Feeney, Jeff Flake, Randy Forbes, Jeff Fortenberry, Virginia Foxx, Trent Franks, Rodney Frelinghuysen, Elton Gallegly, Scott Garrett, Phil Gingrey, Louie Gohmert, Virgil Goode, Bob Goodlatte, Kay Granger, Sam Graves, Ralph Hall, J. Dennis Hastert, Doc Hastings, Robin Hayes, Dean Heller, Jeb Hensarling, Wally Herger, Peter Hoekstra, Kenny Hulshof, Duncan Hunter, Bob Inglis, Darrell Issa, Tim Johnson, Sam Johnson, Walter Jones, Jim Jordan, Ric Keller, Steve King, Jack Kingston, John Kline, Joe Knollenberg, Randy Kuhl, Doug Lamborn, Jerry Lewis, Ron Lewis, John Linder, Frank Lucas, Daniel Lungren, Connie Mack, Donald Manzullo, Kenny Marchant, Kevin McCarthy, Michael McCaul, Thad McCotter, Jim McCrery, Patrick McHenry, Buck McKeon, John Mica, Jeff Miller, Gary Miller, Marilyn Musgrave, Sue Myrick, Randy Neugebauer, Devin Nunes, Ron Paul, Stevan Pearce, Mike Pence, John Peterson, Chip Pickering, Joe Pitts, Ted Poe, Tom Price, Adam Putnam, George Radanovich, Thomas Reynolds, Mike Rogers, Hal Rogers, Mike Rogers, Dana Rohrabacher, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Peter Roskam, Edward Royce, Paul Ryan, Bill Sali, Jim Saxton, Jean Schmidt, Jim Sensenbrenner, Pete Sessions, John Shadegg, John Shimkus, Bill Shuster, Adrian Smith, Lamar Smith, Mark Souder, Cliff Stearns, John Sullivan, Tom Tancredo, Lee Terry, Mac Thornberry, Todd Tiahrt, Timothy Walberg, Greg Walden, Zachary Wamp, Dave Weldon, Jerry Weller, Lynn Westmoreland, Ed Whitfield, Roger Wicker, Joe Wilson, Jim Marshall, Gene Taylor

Candidate Reactions to CHIP Override Vote

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 460

Joe Biden: “I am deeply disappointed first that the President chose to veto this crucial legislation and second, that the House failed to override his veto. Every single child in this country should have health insurance. Instead of making progress toward this goal, the President and Republicans in the House are turning their backs on 9 million children.”

“Despite this blow, I am committed to continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle until our kids have the health coverage they need and deserve.”

Hillary Clinton: “It is deeply disappointing that a small minority of Republicans in Congress have put loyalty to this president ahead of healthcare for millions of children. But we will not give up until a bill becomes law. I will keep fighting to enact a bipartisan bill that provides affordable coverage to America’s children.”

Chris Dodd: “Today's vote in the House to uphold the President's shameful veto of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is yet another reminder of the consequences of disastrous priorities on the part of this White House. With the resources it takes to execute just over three months of the Iraq War, we could fully fund the expansion of health care for needy children that Bush vetoed."

John Edwards: "Today is another sad example of how broken Washington is. Instead of standing up for children and health care, House Republicans have decided to stand up for special interests and lobbyists. From this day forward, House Republicans are on notice. When I am the Democratic nominee, the days of Republican members who voted against children's health care will be numbered. We are taking names and, together, as one party, we will campaign against them."

"Sadly, there is strong message here for Democrats and Republicans. We should never have to consider selling out to lobbyists when it comes to the health of our kids. If universal health care is ever going to be more than a dream, we need to do more than change the president. We need to elect strong Democratic majorities in the House and Senate with the backbone to stand up to the big insurance and drug companies that are going to do everything they can to block universal health care. We need a strong ticket from top to bottom that will compete and win everywhere in America.

"And, when I am the Democratic nominee, we will not only win the White House, we will make every Republican who stands against children's health care pay the price."

Barack Obama: "Four million American children were denied basic health coverage today because Washington politicians failed to stand up to this President’s disgraceful veto. At a time when we’re spending billions of dollars on a war that never should’ve been authorized and giving billions in tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, Washington’s failure shows a callousness of priorities that is offensive to the ideals we hold as Americans.

When I am President, I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term that will cover every American and cut costs more dramatically than any other plan offered by a candidate in this race. And I’ll do it by bringing Republicans and Democrats together, like I did when I expanded health care for an additional 150,000 children and their parents as an Illinois state Senator."

Bill Richardson: "By siding with the President on this failed override vote, 154 Republican members of Congress chose to protect President Bush's misguided view, rather than protect the health of 10 million children nationwide. This President needs to stop playing politics with the lives and health of 20,000 New Mexico children and start supporting this bipartisan legislation, which is the highest health care priority for Governors across the country."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

UI & Brookings Institution Present Forum on Energy and National Security

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 461

Tonight, October 17, the University of Iowa is teaming up with the Brookings Institution to present a forum on energy and national security, with particular focus on the place of biofuels and other alternative energy sources in the policy debate leading into next year's presidential election.

I've had the opportunity to review some of the white papers that will be discussed at tonight's forum, and they present some of the very best thinking about these issues to be found anywhere. These papers, "Tackling Trade and Climate Change: Leadership on the Home Front of Foreign Policy," by William Antholis and Strobe Talbott, "Stemming Nuclear Proliferation: Prevent and Manage the Rise of New Nuclear Powers," by Stephen P. Cohen and Michael E. O'Hanlon, and "Ending Oil Dependence: Protecting National Security, the Environment and the Economy," by David Sandalow, address separate policy issues, but share a strong interconnection. A common theme in each of the papers is the need for the next president to restore America's international leadership by first forging domestic political consensus; that, in turn, will require a president with the will to confront complicated issues and the commitment to work through those issues with both parties in Congress, and all segments and regions of our economy and society. A tough challenge, certainly, and it highlights an important consideration for selecting whom among the candidates most deserves your support: which candidate best combines the vision, the commitment and political skill to restore America's international leadership by building domestic consensus on the key issues facing the country, and, indeed, the wider international community?

These are all vital issues, and anyone interested in soaking up some truly cutting-edge thinking about them should attend tonight's event. Details are below, courtesy of the University of Iowa Lecture Committee.

When: Wednesday, October 17, 2007 at 7:30 PM
Where: Iowa Memorial Union
University of Iowa
125 North Madison St.
Iowa City, IA 52245
What: Energy and National Security: The Role of Biofuels in America's Policy Debate
Contact: Sharon Benzoni, Chair, University Lecture Committee

This event is open to the public and registration is not required.

The Event: The forum will consist of two panels, the first of which will discuss energy security and alternative energy sources, specifically focusing on biofuels. The second will discuss the role that energy plays in America's foreign policy. Each panel will discuss questions from the moderator for about 45 minutes, followed by a 15 minute question and answer session with the audience.

We are working with student and activist groups, as well as some of the UI’s departments and institutes, to generate some of the questions that will be asked during the forum.

The Moderator: Dean Borg of IPTV

The Panelists:
David B. Sandalow, an Energy and Environment Scholar at Brookings, is an expert on energy policy and global warming. During the Clinton administration, Sandalow served as assistant secretary of state for oceans, environment and science and as a senior director on the staff of the National Security Council. Sandalow will be releasing a book entitled, "Freedom from Oil: How the Next President Can End the U.S. Oil Addiction."

William Antholis, managing director of Brookings. Antholis has worked on foreign security and economic policy at the National Security Council and the State Department, and was director of studies at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Michael E. O'Hanlon, senior fellow at Brookings. O'Hanlon specializes in Iraq, North Korea, homeland security, the use of military force and other defense issues. He advised members of Congress on military spending as a defense budget analyst. He is the director of Opportunity 08.

John Miranowski, professor of economics and director of Institute of Science and Society at Iowa State University (ISU). Miranowski has previously served as director of the Resources and Technology Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service and was executive coordinator of the Secretary of Agriculture's Policy Coordination Council.

Steven Fales, associate director of the Office of Biorenewables Programs and professor in the Department of Agronomy at ISU. Fales coordinates the College of Agriculture's Bioeconomy Initiative, which focuses on developing technologies for converting crops and plant materials into chemicals, fuels, fibers and energy.

Jerry Schnoor, co-director of the UI College of Engineering's Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research. Schnoor, who also serves as Allen S. Henry Chair in Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and research engineer at IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, has extensive environmental research experience. He recently chaired a U.S. biofuels production colloquium for the National Research Council at the National Academy of Sciences.

Mani Subramanian, director of the UI Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing (CBB) and professor in the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering. Prior to coming to the CBB, Subramanian was the global research and development director of biotechnology, bioprocessing and bioinformatics at the Dow Chemical Company.

Tonya Peeples, associate professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at the UI. Peeples' work focuses on research in the field of organisms that thrive in extreme environments. She is a member of the CBB and is director of the Ethnic Inclusion Effort for Iowa Engineering.

For more about the Brookings Institution's Opportunity '08 forums, please visit

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

How Many More Victories Can John Edwards Survive?

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 462

I sat in on a conference call hosted by the John Edwards campaign yesterday. The purpose of the call was to trumpet Edwards' winning the endorsement of the Iowa chapter of the SEIU, comprised of about 2,000 members statewide. Among the participants were national campaign manager and former congressman David Bonior, communications director Chris Kofinis, Iowa state director Jennifer O'Malley-Dillon, and other senior staff.

After detailed expository remarks about the importance of gaining the endorsement of the SEIU's Iowa chapter, and hinting at additional endorsements to follow later in the day (indeed, nine more SEIU state chapters followed the Iowa chapter's lead in endorsing Edwards before the day was out), the Edwards staff threw the call open to Q&A. The most pointed question, asked in slightly different forms by several members of the media, was how much effect the Iowa endorsement had in assuaging the campaign's disappointment at not winning the endorsement of the SEIU national council. David Bonior in particular was quick to try to deflect that question away from the Edwards campaign, and towards the Clinton and Obama campaigns, stressing how hard the others tried to first win the national SEIU endorsement, and then tried to block the Edwards campaign from gaining the Iowa endorsement. Without putting it in so many words, Bonior went so far as to assert that not winning the SEIU national endorsement was in fact a victory for the Edwards campaign, since no other campaign won it, either.

No one with even a vague understanding of the Iowa caucuses, or Democratic politics in general, would discount the importance of union support. Indeed, the endorsement of The International Association of Fire Fighters is probably the decisive factor allowing Chris Dodd to stay in the race until caucus night. And as Bonior and the other Edwards staffers pointed out during yesterday's conference call, political organizers dispatched by unions are among the best in the business, and can provide a significant boost to a candidate's ground game. And the nine other SEIU state chapters joining the Iowa chapter in endorsing John Edwards yesterday have a combined membership of some 930,000, a big number in anybody's book.

So, yes, all of those things are true. And still none of them can erase the central and overriding fact that John Edwards' not winning the SEIU national endorsement is, quite simply, not winning. It is losing. There is no victory in getting 10 state SEIU chapters to support you when you have spent more than three years working to win the combined support of all 50 state chapters in the form of a national endorsement; far from it. It is a defeat of the first magnitude.

Similarly, Edwards' announcement late last month that he is opting in to public financing of his campaign, and thereby accepting the spending limits that are a condition of receiving federal matching dollars, was not, as he told CNN, "taking a stand, a principled stand, and I believe in public financing." This belief would seem to have come to Edwards late in a year when he has been working as hard as anyone to raise campaign cash, and just happened to precede by a few days definitive confirmation that his fundraising numbers have dropped alarmingly from earlier quarters. A victory for principle, or a triumph of spin?

So it is that the Iowa SEIU "victory" extends John Edwards' summer slump into the autumn, and, as much as anything, serves to highlight the extent to which the Edwards campaign continues to fall short of achieving every single one of its major goals. One has to wonder how many more such victories his campaign can survive.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Not-So-Friendly Fire on Iraq

[Updated, with video and a verbatim transcription of the Q&A]

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 463

While peace on Iraq policy was breaking out in Des Moines Friday between presidential candidates from opposite side of the aisle, a war of words was at the same time erupting between one of those candidates and a rival from his own party.

I'm talking about Joe Biden and Bill Richardson, respectively. Before Biden even walked into the room to appear with Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas on Friday, Bill Richardson issued a statement titled "No Way Forward in Iraq Unless All Troops are Withdrawn," taking aim at the Biden-Brownback-Boxer proposal. Here's an excerpt:

"Senator Biden's plan to leave troops in Iraq means his plan has very little chance to succeed. The parties will not even sit down in a meaningful way until we get all the forces out.

"Senator Biden keeps drawing an analogy to Bosnia, but he has that one backwards: the peacekeepers could only enforce the peace after the deal was made. Using U.S. peacekeepers in Iraq would turn the guarantors into targets, thus plunging any settlement back into war."

Pretty serious stuff, if true, I thought. So in the press conference following the Biden-Brownback joint appearance in Des Moines, I asked Senator Biden about it.

"Senator Biden," I began, "earlier today Governor Richardson issued a statement that I think could be fairly characterized as a point-by-point refutation of your Plan for Iraq. One feature in that release was that you have the Bosnia analogy exactly backwards: that there was peace, and then we brought in U.S. military forces. I would like to have your response to that."

Biden's face momentarily curdled into a grimace. Then he fixed me with an eagle eye and answered, "Very quickly, I wonder what he thought General Clark was doing there."

Ouch! Give that round to Biden.

Afterwards, Biden's communications director, Larry Raske, approached me and said he had seen the Richardson statement, and that the campaign was considering releasing a response later in the day. Sure enough, a couple of hours later came a rocket from the Biden campaign, titled, "Biden Statement on Richardson's Irresponsible Position on Iraq." Here's an excerpt:

“Governor Richardson’s remarks today on my Iraq plan were surprising. First, he was in favor of my plan, now he’s attacking it. First, he said he would take all of our troops out in six months, and now he acknowledges it would take a year. First, he said he would leave residual forces in Iraq, and now he says he wouldn’t. First, he was in favor of diplomacy followed by withdrawal, now he says it’s the other way around. When it comes to the single most important issue facing our country – how to end the war in Iraq responsibly – it is important to be clear and consistent. It is especially important on this issue that there be no gap between what we say as candidates and what we would do as president.

“My plan for Iraq has overwhelming bipartisan support. More and more people acknowledge that while leaving Iraq is necessary, it is not enough. We also have to do everything we can not to leave chaos behind. The only way to do that is through the political solution that I put forward, which has been embraced by the Senate, the Iraqis and the foreign policy community. I suggest that Governor Richardson go back and review his record and statements and reconsider today’s remarks.”

Biden's statement then goes on to exhibit, at some length, what it characterizes as Bill Richardson's inconsistent statements about Iraq in general, and Biden's proposals in particular. Probably the most damning part of the Biden campaign's statement is this quote:

February 2003: Richardson Said he Would Have Voted to Authorize War In Iraq. Richardson said, “My view is that it is critically important that the United States not let Saddam Hussein get away with this. Had I have been in the Congress I would have voted for the military resolution authorizing war.” [CNN, Larry Kind [sic] Live, 2/14/03, emphasis added]

The Richardson campaign's response to this was a further press release about an hour later. Rather than taking up the gauntlet on Iraq, this release was titled, "Poll: Biden not top presidential choice in Delaware." The point seemed to be that although 54% of Delaware Democrats think Joe Biden would make a good president, they think Hillary Clinton will eventually be nominated, and that this should be interpreted as a strike against Biden.

I take all this back and forth to indicate several things. First, in starting this dust up with Biden, a candidate ranked below him in both polling and fundraising, Richardson's campaign is either a) shooting in the wrong direction, when by all accounts they should be focusing on overtaking an increasingly vulnerable John Edwards, or b) they're feeling heat from Joe Biden on the key issue of this campaign, and one Richardson has increasingly come to feel that he should own: Iraq. The "All Troops Out Now" policy Richardson has been espousing was supposed to lock up the anti-war netroots voice of the blogosphere with one simple - or perhaps, merely simplified - idea, and that would in turn resonate out to primary voters in general. But Richardson's policy has gotten little traction in recent polls, and the Senate's recent overwhelming passage of Biden's proposal highlights a vulnerability on Iraq that Richardson would plainly prefer didn't exist.

Second, this shows how Joe Biden has come to dominate the discussion on Iraq. Many observers feel that after the Dartmouth debate, Clinton, Obama and Edwards have all been neutralized on this issue, and the second-tier candidates are battling for advantage in light of that development. But Biden's policy proposals on Iraq have been a matter of public record for more than a year, and it's going to be hard to dislodge him from the driver's seat.

Lastly, I think we're going to start seeing a lot more of these types of sharpened exchanges from now until the nomination is decided. The "get to know me" phase of the race is clearly over now, and the campaigns are beginning to draw sharp distinctions between themselves and their competitors. I'd like to think that this will not, in turn, lead to a spate of negative personal attacks between the candidates, but who wants odds?

The weekend has passed without further skirmishes between Richardson and Biden, so we'll see whether the cease-fire extends into this week, or if things only heat up again. Time, and the in-box, will tell.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Biden and Brownback Make Political History

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 466

History comes at us in two forms: history in the moment when it is made, and history in the aftermath when it is written. The first is action, and the second is judgment. If we're wise, we always pay attention to the judgments of history; if we're lucky, we may get to be present on an occasion when history is made.

I had the luck to be a witness to history being made today, as two U.S. Senators and presidential candidates, from opposite parties, appeared at the same podium to campaign, not for votes for their respective candidacies, but for support of their joint plan to end the civil war in Iraq, bring stability to the Persian Gulf region and pave the way for an end to U.S. combat operations without leaving chaos behind.

Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) and Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) spoke today of their plan to implement federalism in Iraq, a system in which power is devolved from the central government in Baghdad to separate regions controlled by the three main Iraqi ethnic factions, Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites. Each region would maintain control of their own coinage, law enforcement, education, utilities, etc., with the central government in Baghdad responsible for border security, foreign policy, and the distribution of oil revenues.

The bulk of remarks by both Senators was aimed at refuting the notion that their proposals represent a foreign-imposed solution, or a partition of Iraq. Biden, who delivered his remarks without referring to notes, stated that those who characterized the proposals in that way either had not actually read the plan, or were deliberately misconstruing it for political purposes. Biden pointed out that federalism is at the heart of the Iraqi constitution, and that the Iraqi parliament voted in the summer of 2006 to devolve power away from the central government over the course of 18 months beginning next year. In answer to the question posed by critics of why it is the Iraqis themselves haven't done this yet if they're actually in favor of the idea, Biden made the obvious point that "they're at war. They need the help of the United States and the international community to do it." Further, federalism would not contribute to further sectarian cleansing, but rather, as a political solution, represents the only means of stopping it. "Five hundred thousand American troops cannot settle this issue" in the absence of the political framework of federalism, said Biden. Iraqis, Biden concluded, do not oppose federalism; they oppose partition, and the Biden-Brownback-Boxer proposal represents the former and not the latter. To critics of the plan, Biden asked, "very simply, what is your alternative?"

Senator Brownback then took the podium. Often reading from notes, his remarks largely echoed Biden's, but reflected Brownback's view that the U.S. military should remain in Iraq for a protracted period, along the lines of Korea and Bosnia. Brownback pointed to the Kurdish region in the north of Iraq as an example of federalism already successfully in place, and suggested that power might be similarly devolved to Iraq's Sunni and Shiite regions in phases, rather than all at once.

Brownback appeared poised and dynamic in his remarks, and gave ample evidence as to why he's an attractive choice to Republican constituents in his home state.

Having seen all the Democratic contenders for the White House at least three times this year, I can say frankly that Biden's presence and aspect on the podium on this occasion was by far the most presidential of any candidate in this campaign. Scholars often speak of the extent to which presidents grow in office as a measure of their greatness; Biden's growth as a presidential candidate since the first time I saw him back in March of this year has been astounding. Given a few breaks between now and caucus night, and a corresponding upswing in fundraising, it is not at all difficult today to combine two words in a way that would have been unthinkable, and to some laughable, only six months ago: President Biden.

The judgment of history about today's event and its significance in the sweep of the Iraq tragedy will be written over time. Whatever that judgment eventually turns out to be, let it stand recorded that on a brilliant autumn afternoon at the height of the campaign season in Des Moines, Iowa today, partisanship gave way to statesmanship, and for a rare and precious moment, American politics actually stopped not only at the water's edge, but far enough back from it to allow us, however briefly, to savor the view.


Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 466

The Norwegian Nobel Institute today awarded its 2007 Peace Prize jointly to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and former Vice President of the United States Al Gore in recognition of their efforts to combat global climate change.

[UPDATE] Following the announcement, Al Gore issued the following statement:

"I am deeply honored to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. This award is even more meaningful because I have the honor of sharing it with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change--the world's pre-eminent scientific body devoted to improving our understanding of the climate crisis--a group whose members have worked tirelessly and selflessly for many years. We face a true planetary emergency. The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity. It is also our greatest opportunity to lift global consciousness to a higher level.

"My wife, Tipper, and I will donate 100 percent of the proceeds of the award to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a bipartisan non-profit organization that is devoted to changing public opinion in the U.S. and around the world about the urgency of solving the climate crisis.

Thank you,
Al Gore"

Congratulations and well done!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dodd Campaign's Statement on the Michigan Primary

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 468

Chris Dodd, profile in courage, has had his communications director Hari Sevugan issue the following statement regarding the Michigan primary:

We are committed to the importance of Iowa and New Hampshire going first, and we signed the four-state pledge to hopefully prevail upon the DNC and the state parties to add clarity to that situation. However, it does not benefit any of us if we are the nominee to pull our name off the ballot and slight Michigan voters.

Compare this with the statement Dodd himself made on August 31, 2007:
“I believe that Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada offer a cross-section of America and allow for voters to probe the experience and vision of candidates in a meaningful way,” said Dodd. “In this year, where the national media focus seems to be on celebrity and bank accounts, the role of these states is more important than ever. I am committed to the DNC nominating calendar and preserving the first-in-the-nation status of Iowa and New Hampshire.”

Make of that what you will.

Parse This

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 468

Two additional bits on Michigan and the pledge. First, the obvious:

Pledge [plej]–noun
1. a solemn promise or agreement to do or refrain from doing something

And secondly, for those who might not remember - Senators Clinton and Dodd, for starters - here is the text of the Four State Pledge:

WHEREAS, Over a year ago, the Democratic National Committee established a 2008 nominating calendar;

WHEREAS, this calendar honors the racial, ethnic, economic and geographic diversity of our party and our country;

WHEREAS, the DNC also honored the traditional role of retail politics early in the nominating process, to insure that money alone will not determine our presidential nominee;

WHEREAS, it is the desire of Presidential campaigns, the DNC, the states and the American people to bring finality, predictability and common sense to the nominating calendar.

THEREFORE, I, [insert name here], Democratic Candidate for President, pledge I shall not campaign or participate in any state which schedules a presidential election primary or caucus before Feb. 5, 2008, except for the states of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina, as “campaigning” is defined by rules and regulations of the DNC.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Pledge, Schmedge

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 468

All aflutter is the Iowa blogosphere at today's developments regarding the Michigan primary on January 15. I'm not too exorcised about it either way, guys signed a pledge, didn't you? Like, in front of God - or at least the New York Times - and everybody.

And I know the Dodd and Clinton campaigns are already spinning like mad on this, but it doesn't address the question: you guys signed a pledge, didn't you? And it really doesn't cut any ice with me to have either of these candidates assure us all that although they may have decided to remain on the ballot, they won't be actively campaigning in Michigan. For Hillary Clinton, at least, this is bound to invite unflattering recollections of non-denial denials from the White House years. And for Chris Dodd: what are you thinking? Being the anti-Hillary in Michigan isn't going to help you much in Iowa...or New Hampshire...or South Carolina...or Nevada.

Pledge, schmedge. If you're staying on the ballot in Michigan, you might as well campaign there. And do the same in Florida, while you're at it. Staying on the ballot and not campaigning is a distinction without a difference.

You guys publicly signed a pledge. And violated it. Spin and wink at it all you want, but there are now a lot of reasons to wonder what your word will be worth on anything. Iraq, health care, Habeus Corpus, education - if the circumstances are right, and you sense it might be worth the gamble, what person in their right mind would rely on you to stand by a commitment after this?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Biden, Brownback Plan Joint Des Moines Appearance on Iraq Plan

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 469

Joe Biden and Sam Brownback are both United States Sentors, and are both running for president, but from different parties. Nonetheless, as co-sponsors of a recent amendment outlining a bipartisan approach to a political resolution of the civil war in Iraq, Biden and Brownback will be holding a joint appearance this Friday in Des Moines to discuss the details of their plan.

"Joe and I might be running for the nomination of two different parties, but we agree on one thing: the American people want progress in Iraq and this represents a viable way forward to stability and success," said Senator Brownback. "Decentralizing power in Iraq offers the best chance for Iraqis to live in a peaceful, united country where they can resolve their differences. It is time to begin the political surge we desperately need to help stabilize Iraq so we can get our troops out of harm's way."

"Partisan politics must not come in the way of finding a solution to the war in Iraq," said Senator Biden. "The overwhelming majority of Americans want us to get our troops out of Iraq as quickly as possible without leaving chaos behind. I look forward to joining Senator Brownback next week in Iowa to explain how the Biden-Brownback-Boxer amendment makes Iraq the world's problem while establishing a political solution that gives Iraq's warring factions breathing room to resolve their differences."

Passage of the amendment the two senators will be discussing prompted something of a firestorm of controversy in the last couple of weeks, with the US State Department, the Iraqi prime minister and a coalition of Iraqi political parties denouncing the plan as an arbitrary partition of Iraq. However, news today that many in the Iraqi government view national reconciliation as unrealistic and contrary to the very structure of the country's form of government makes the policy of Iraqi federalism advocated by Biden and Brownback look increasingly attractive, and perhaps the only realistic way forward for the United States, Iraq, and the region.

I am, frankly, amazed and impressed by Biden and Brownback conducting a joint policy discussion - not a debate, but a discussion of common policy - on the single greatest issue facing the country, and doing it in the midst of a presidential campaign in which they are both seeking their party's nomination. It is unprecedented, and shows that, in both parties, there are people of good will who are willing to put aside politics and talk publicly with each other and with voters about a way forward in Iraq. A joint appearance by Biden and Brownback in these circumstances is as risky as it is hopeful, and it is altogether admirable.

The event is open to the public (lunch provided for $25.00). For more information and reservations, contact the Greater Des Moines Committee on Foreign Relations at (515) 282-8192.

Details of the event are as follows:
WHAT: Biden, Brownback to Outline Iraq Plan
WHEN: Friday, October 12, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
WHERE: Hosted by the Greater Des Moines Committee on Foreign Relations
Wakonda Country Club
1400 Park Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50315

View Larger Map

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Richardson's South Carolina Co-Chair Quits Campaign, Endorses Biden

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 471

This week was meant to have been a good one for Bill Richardson. Following last week's introduction of a netroots-centric ad praising his position on Iraq, the New Mexico governor and presidential candidate announced a successful fundraising result for the quarter ending September 30 and delivered a major policy address on Iraq and modernizing America's military forces, making a strong push for his idea that the Iraq war will not, and cannot, be ended until every last American soldier has left the country. Richardson also announced an expansion of his campaign staff in Iowa, and a spate of new endorsements from activists, union officials and tribal leaders in various parts of the country, and started efforts to boost his presence in the South, addressing the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus and launching an Atlanta chapter of his "Mi Familia con Richardson" booster club.

Then came news today that Richardson's campaign co-chair in South Carolina, State Representative Fletcher Smith, has resigned from the campaign and switched his endorsement to Richardson's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Delaware senator Joe Biden. Bad enough for Richardson, but worse still was the reason Smith gave for the switch: doubts about Richardson's Iraq policy.

“For me, it comes down to who is best equipped to deal with the war in Iraq. And, over the last few weeks, it has become clear to me that Joe Biden is the only candidate with the ideas, leadership and experience to get us out of Iraq without leaving chaos behind,” Smith was quoted as saying in a press release issued by the Biden campaign earlier today. “I’ve had several members of my family, from my grandfather down to two of my siblings, serve proudly in our nation’s military so it’s especially important to me that we end this war in a way that keeps our troops safe and does not require us to send them back in the months or years ahead. I believe that only by adopting Biden’s comprehensive plan for a federalized Iraq will we truly be able to do this and reduce the overall threat to our country.”

“I appreciate how difficult this decision was for State Representative Smith and am honored to receive his support,” Biden was quoted as saying in the same press release. “I look forward to working with him in the coming months and to meeting South Carolinians and discussing with them my plan to make America stronger and more secure after years of President Bush’s failed policies.”

Representatives of Richardson's campaign could not be reached for comment.

State Representative Smith himself isn't an especially high profile figure in the overall scheme of things; it isn't as if, say, Tom Vilsak suddenly bolted the Clinton campaign and pledged allegiance to Mike Gravel. But it is certainly news whenever a high-ranking campaign official in an early primary state switches sides, and there is no doubt that this is as much an embarrassment for Bill Richardson as it is a coup for Joe Biden.

But beyond the "in your face" element of this, what will Fletcher Smith's decision mean for Biden's prospects in South Carolina, or Bill Richardson's, for that matter? Probably not a great deal. Both candidates already had their share of endorsements from current and former elected officials in South Carolina, and Smith's defection would seemingly do little to shake up the contest there. Polling on the South Carolina Democratic primary consistently shows Hillary Clinton far ahead of all challengers there; Richardson is in the low single digits, and Biden polls lower still. But, in the run-up to actual balloting, a smart campaign can use events like this to shape opinion, so we'll have to wait and see what the Biden campaign's actual mileage from this turns out to be.

In the meantime, this probably doesn't turn a good week for Richardson into a bad week. But it does end it on a sour note.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Clinton Launches New Ad in Iowa, New Hampshire

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 474

Losing no time after President Bush's veto of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding bill yesterday, the Clinton campaign has taken to the airwaves in Iowa and New Hampshire with a new health care-themed 30-second ad entitled, "Stand by Us."

The script is as follows:

Hillary stood up for universal health care when almost no one else would, and kept standing until six million kids had coverage.

She stood by Ground Zero workers who sacrificed their health after so many sacrificed their lives, and kept standing until this administration took action.

She stood by our National Guard and Reserve and kept standing until they received health care they deserved.

So now that almost every candidate is standing up for health care for all, which one do you think will never back down?

Hillary Clinton: “I’m Hillary Clinton and I approved this message.”

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Reactions to President Bush's CHIP Veto

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 475

Candidate Reactions

Joe Biden

With one stroke of his pen, President Bush has denied health insurance to 3.8 million kids who were due to get it under this bipartisan expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. He’s willing to spend billions and billions of dollars in Iraq, but he’s not willing to invest in our kids’ healthcare. It is unconscionable and wrong. Every child in this country should have health insurance. The President’s veto is a tragedy for the millions who don’t.

Hillary Clinton
With the stroke of a pen, President Bush has robbed 10,500 uninsured Iowa children of the chance for a healthy start in life and the health coverage they need but can't afford. These children are invisible to this president, but they aren't invisible to the American people or to the overwhelming bipartisan majority in Congress – and they aren't invisible to me. I was proud to help create the Children's Health Insurance Program during the Clinton Administration, which today provides health insurance for six million children.

Chris Dodd
This President's priorities are unconscionable. With the resources it takes to execute just over 3 months of the Iraq War, we could fully fund the expansion of health care for needy children that Bush vetoed. Indeed, today's veto is another reminder that this war is not only adversely affecting our security but also adversely affecting our other top priorities, and it's time for Congress to do what it must do to end it.

John Edwards
Today, we have witnessed a President that has turned his back on health care for children. Not surprisingly, in George Bush's administration, corporate cronies and insurance industry allies always come first, while children's health care comes last. In an America where nearly 9 million children don't have health coverage, Congress must do what is right and fight for these children and override Bush's cruel veto.

Even more shocking is that Republican Presidential candidates, including Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney are all lining up with President Bush and against health care for our children. Instead of threatening the health care of children, it's time for Bush, and Republicans like McCain, Giuliani, and Romney to start picking on someone their own size

Barack Obama
It is outrageous that the President has decided to use his fourth veto to deny health care to four million American children. At a time when we’re spending billions of dollars on a war that should never have been authorized and giving billions in tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, today’s veto of this bipartisan plan shows a callousness of priorities that is offensive to the ideals we hold as Americans. But George Bush doesn’t have the last word, and I will keep fighting for the Republican votes needed to override his veto.

As the wealthiest nation on earth, there is no reason we shouldn’t be able to cover every child. As President, I’ll sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term that will cover every American, and cut costs more dramatically than any other plan offered by a candidate in this race. And I’ll do it by bringing Republicans and Democrats together – like I did when I was in the Illinois state Senate, when I helped expand health care for an additional 150,000 children and their parents.

If there’s one thing all of us should be able to agree on, no matter what our political views, it’s that our children should get the treatment they need when they need it. And when I’m president, they will.

Bill Richardson
The Grinch came three months early this year and stole children's health care. Unfortunately, this is no fairy tale, and unless Congress overrides the President's veto, it will not have a happy ending.

President Bush's veto is irresponsible. It is outrageous. It is simply immoral. Of the many shifting rationales the President has offered for vetoing this bill, one is that it will burden private insurance companies. That sums up everything we need to know about this President. Choosing between insurance companies and children should not be hard.

This bill is morally and fiscally responsible. It pays for itself with a cigarette tax right now. It will save us money over the long run by getting poor children the treatment they need when they need it, rather than forcing them into overstrained, costly emergency rooms.

I strongly urge Congress to do the right thing and override the President's veto.

Other Reactions

Tom Harkin
Just two short days after the President declared October 1st Child Health Day and recognized the important role CHIP has played in helping poor children stay healthy, he has decided to turn his back on the health of millions of American kids. The CHIP bill has the overwhelming support of Democrats and Republicans, nurses, doctors, teachers and health insurance companies, for one reason – because it works. Once again, President Bush’s rhetoric fails to match his actions, and this time it is at the expense of children across the nation. I pledge to work with my colleagues in the Senate to continue fighting for working families by overturning this veto.

Ted Kennedy
President Bush and I have one thing in common.

When either of us wants to see a doctor, American taxpayers cover 72% of our health care premiums. And when it comes time to pick a medical facility, either of us can go to a government-run hospital like the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

President Bush just vetoed a bill extending and reforming the State Children's Health Insurance Program. So I want to know:

If government-run health care is good enough for me, and is good enough for President Bush, why isn't it good enough for America's children?

Earlier this week, I stood outside the White House with working families to ask that very question -- and we've got it on video. Watch it, and join our effort:

President Bush says that SCHIP will cost too much.

But for the price of one day in Iraq, we could cover 256,000 children. One week would cover 1.8 million children. And just over one month of the Iraq war would cover the full cost of the bill, insuring more than 10 million children for a whole year.

This is a question of priorities -- and President Bush's priorities obviously don't include the needs of America's children.

There has to be a better way. Health insurance shouldn't be a luxury for the privileged few. It should be a right for all Americans -- especially our children.

As part of Monday's rally, a group of children pulling little red wagons was at the gates of the White House to urge the President to sign the bill. Please watch my video from the rally, and show your support for SCHIP:

When my son lost his leg to cancer as a child, my family didn't have to worry about getting him the best possible care. But in the hospital waiting rooms, we saw family after family -- middle class families -- driven into poverty because of their children's medical bills.

So I ask President Bush and the Members of Congress who support his veto:

Would you deny your own family what you'll be denying millions of other families if this bill is vetoed?

If you don't believe the federal government should support children's health care, how can you in good conscience accept it for your own families?

We can be a voice for the nation's children -- a voice that every member of Congress needs to hear. If government-supported health care is good enough for Congress, it's good enough for America's children. Show your support for SCHIP today:

Finally, Moveon is organizing a protest rally against the veto tomorrow in downtown Des Moines.
Where: In front of the federal building downtown
210 Walnut Street
Des Moines, Iowa, 50309
When: Thursday, Oct 4 2007, 5:00 PM

View Larger Map
Click here to RSVP:

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

[UPDATED] Biden, Obama Back in Iowa This Week

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 476

A couple of quick schedule items (updated to include location of the Biden press conference in Des Moines):

Barack Obama will be back in Des Moines Tuesday, October 2, delivering a foreign policy address commemorating the fifth anniversary of his speech prospectively denouncing the invasion of Iraq as a "dumb war." Details as follows:
When: Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Where: Polk County Convention Complex
501 Grand Ave
Des Moines, IA 50309
Doors open at 3:30 PM; event begins at 4:00 PM
Directions and RSVP:

Joe Biden is returning to Iowa for a 3 day campaign swing through the Central and Southwestern parts of the state. As has been widely reported, last week Biden shifted most of his national campaign resources and staff to Iowa, so expect this to be the first of a series of very frequent stepped-up campaign trips here. Details as follows:

Wednesday, October 3:
7:30 PM Town Hall With Jasper County Democrats
Uncle Nancy’s Coffee House and Eatery
114 N 2nd Avenue West
Newton, IA

Thursday, October 4:
9:45 AM Press Conference in Des Moines to roll out Education Plan
East High School
815 E 13th Street
Des Moines, IA

12:30 PM Lunch Meet and Greet With Keokuk County Democrats
Pizza Ranch
416 West Jackson (Hwy 92 W)
Sigourney, IA

5:00 PM Meet and Greet With Wapello County Democrats
UAW, Local 74, Main Hall
205 S. James Street
Ottumwa, IA

7:30 PM Coffee With Des Moines County Democrats
Port of Burlington, Meeting Room
400 N. Front Street
Burlington, IA

Friday, October 5:
8:00 AM Breakfast With Lee County Democrats
Ivy Bake Shoppe, 2nd Main Dining Room
662 7th Street
Fort Madison, IA

10:00 AM Coffee With Van Buren County Democrats
Cups ‘n Cakes
202 Main Street
Keosauqua, IA

12:00 PM Town Hall With Henry County Democrats
Iowa Wesleyan College
Chadwick Library, International Room
107 W. Broad Street
Mount Pleasant, IA

Monday, October 1, 2007

In-bound Link Update

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 477

Just back from an extended weekend out of town, and have found upon my return that September was iPol's most-read month ever, shattering previous readership levels by more than 32%.

A big shout out to some new in-bound linkers that helped drive the increase:

Huffington Post

ABC News
Irregular Times

A full list of other in-bound links can be found on Technorati.

Thanks again to all who've tuned in! Happy reading!

Politics Blogs - Blog Top Sites