At a NYU Media Talk last night focusing on "Publishing and the Election," Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter called Thomas Payne “the original blogger.” We bet he didn't have to deal with unending pajama jokes!
At a moment when race is the hot topic of discussion in the Democratic primary, an endorsement by the Hispanic governor of New Mexico has to be a huge boon for Obama. Especially after pundits were on his back for a comment about "typical white people" yesterday.
It was fun for a while imagining what juicy nuggets might be buried in Hillary Clinton's just-released public schedule as First Lady. Something like, "December 20th, 1998: 9 p.m. — Hillary and Bill Have Makeup Sex, Do Not Cuddle." But what really ended up being in the documents?
Yesterday and today, Republicans John McCain and Mike Huckabee both stood up for Barack Obama concerning his relationship with controversial Reverend Jeremiah Wright. On Morning Joe today, Huckabee candidly said, "Obama handled this about as well as anybody could." He laid out his argument pretty simply:
"You can't hold the candidate responsible for everything that people around him may say or do," Huckabee says. "It's interesting to me that there are some people on the left who are having to be very uncomfortable with what ... Wright said, when they all were all over a Jerry Falwell, or anyone on the right who said things that they found very awkward and uncomfortable, years ago. Many times those were statements lifted out of the context of a larger sermon. Sermons, after all, are rarely written word for word by pastors like Rev. Wright, who are delivering them extemporaneously, and caught up in the emotion of the moment. There are things that sometimes get said, that if you put them on paper and looked at them in print, you'd say 'Well, I didn't mean to say it quite like that.'"
Yesterday we compared Barack Obama's Philadelphia address on race in America to Mitt Romney's recent last-ditch speech on faith. But as the New York Timespoints out, it's really more like JFK's 1960 speech on religion. It came at a time when Democrats, and probably even Republicans, were bored with the current political dialogue and thirsting for some honesty and something new to talk about. Indeed, yesterday and last night, hordes of people were writing and discussing. The overarching question: Will it matter? Will it change the course of Obama's candidacy? Will it change the course of America? A lot of that is up to the press, not the people. But even the editorial boards of The Wall Street Journal, the Times and the New York Post professed not to know what the effects would be.
Jesse Jackson has, up until now, been somewhat muted in his support of Barack Obama. Likewise, Obama has kept him at arm's length, even though the former Democratic presidential candidate is a pledged advocate. But today, just after Barack Obama made a speech attempting to lift the lid off and expose the simmering pot of American racial tension, Jackson suddenly emerged exuberant.
"I thought [the speech] was a culmination of tough-minded, tender-hearted and a clear vision," Jackson told the Huffington Post. "It really was warm, filling, captive, reconciling and comprehensive and it displayed real true grit. He was forthright not evasive and used it as a teaching moment in American history: America's struggle to overcome its past and become a more perfect union. And once he made the case about the past and the complexities of Reverend Wright's life or [Geraldine] Ferraro's for that matter, he made the case that we are here now, but this time we will go forward by hope and not backwards by fear."
Barack Obama just finished his big address on race and politics in Philadelphia. This was a big one for him, as he's been forced to address many racially charged issues in the past week because of his friendship and affiliation with the controversial Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Wright is Obama's pastor and officiated his wedding with Michelle Obama. He's also blamed the United States for 9/11, the AIDS virus, and "creating a racist society." In the lull before the Pennsylvania primary on April 22, this has become the main political plotline of the Democratic contest. Today, he addressed these issues and the broader scale of racial tension in America. It was strikingly reminiscent of Mitt Romney's much-touted "Faith in America" address. Beginning with a discussion of the Declaration of Independence and a nod to Obama's mixed heritage, it honestly bared the anger and confusion (and roots thereof) that black and white people still face in America today. Some highlights:
• "For as long as I live I will never forget that in no other country on earth is my story even possible," he explained, referencing the slave ancestry in his wife and daughter's heritage.
• He exclusively referred to Reverend Wright as his "former pastor." He also conceded that he had heard him sermonize controversial ideas but compared it to the many Americans who have heard similar things from their own priests, rabbis, and religious leaders. He called Wright's opinion "a profoundly distorted view of this country."
America's first female vice-presidential candidate, Geraldine Ferraro, has resigned from Hillary Clinton's campaign in disgrace after she said that Obama "would not be in this position" if he were a white man. Except, according to her, there's no disgrace at all. In fact, she's owed an apology. After a liberal blog and media feeding frenzy over her comments, she stepped down from her position on the finance committee — but she refused to apologize for the flap. "If anybody is going to apologize," she said defiantly, "They should apologize to me for calling me a racist." She said she's stepping down only so the campaign can move past this issue. Obama himself stopped short of calling her racist, but Hillary aggressively attacked her. "I rejected what she said and I certainly do repudiate it." She rejects and repudiates? She's making sure all her bases are covered. She's also putting Ferraro in the same box as Louis Farrakhan. Ouch!
Ferraro Quits But Offers No Apologies [Campaign 08/Nation]
As you probably already know, but perhaps haven't been much thinking about, Barack Obama won the Mississippi primary last night. It was a big win, something like 60 percent to 37 percent. Clinton didn't make much of an effort in the state, so she probably didn't take the loss too hard — for a woman who claims to want to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations so that every Democratic voter can feel like he's been listened to, she's certainly been ignoring a large amount of them. But the exit-poll numbers indicate a few surprises. For one thing, Hillary Clinton received the lion's share of crossover votes (Republican voters who vote in the Democratic primary), which is a first — every other time crossover voting has been included, Obama has trumped her with this group. But this time, Hillary took them 3 to 1. Obama took 90 percent of the black vote, and Hillary did better than usual with the white vote, which Politico's Ben Smith chalks up to the attitudes of southern white voters. And finally, Obama won either five or seven delegates more than Hillary did last night, depending on who is counting. This effectively erases any ground she may have gained after her big wins last Tuesday.
We will now return to our round-the-clock Eliot Spitzer hookapalooza coverage.
Mississippi Crossovers [Talking Points Memo]
Mississippi Delegates [Politico]
The Magnolia State Stats [Stumper/Newsweek]
Obama Wins In Mississippi [NYT]
Remember when there was all that hullabaloo about the Clinton campaign's making Barack Obama look blacker than he is in one of its ads? The campaign dismissed the claim, but we know enough about political advertising to be aware that not one single second of any spot isn't agonized over. (Case in point: The idea that the famous "floating cross" in Huckabee's Christmas ad was anything but planned is ridiculous.) But maybe we were too quick to judge: Last Thursday we noticed that Clinton isn't the only one with trouble nailing down Obama's exact facial characteristics. The Wall Street Journal's crack team of stipple artists (led by Noli Novak) couldn't quite get it right, either. Instead of Obama's trademark dark brow and big open eyes, we got an image of a man who looked, well, a little bit like a generic black dude. That's weird, right? But maybe we should just chalk it up to the limitations of the medium. And in that case, let us say that said limitations are kinder to Hillary. When was the last time you saw her looking that joyful and young?
Clinton, Obama Go on Attack as Superdelegates Hold Key [WSJ]
John McCain is coming to New York next Tuesday for a giant fund-raiser to power his national campaign, reports Elizabeth Benjamin at the Daily News. It sounds like it's going to be a doozy — the host committee includes Henry Kissinger, Alfonse D'Amato, Woody Johnson, Georgette Mosbacher, and Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain. Tickets are either $1,000 or $2,300 per person (get it? The most you can donate to one candidate?), and it will take place at the Plaza. So glamorous. But let's get down to business (literally). How many billionaires will be in attendance? And how many billions do they represent? From Forbes.com's most recent list, we count five: Henry Kravis (the world's 178th-richest man, worth $5.5 billion), Ray Dalio (worth $4 billion), Louis Bacon (worth $1.7 billion), Marc Rowan (worth $1.5 billion), and Robert Fisher ($1.4 billion). That's a total of over $14 billion in the room with the Republican presidential nominee. There are several dozen other multimillionaires on the list, plus Lord knows how many buying tickets — so we'll conservatively push that number over the $15 billion barrier. At first, we wondered how on earth any of the Democrats could get that much money into one room. And then we remembered that all Hillary needs to do is have Warren Buffet hold another fund-raiser, and she'd be in the company of quadruple that amount. Nobody else would even need to show up.
Barack Obama's foreign-policy adviser, Samantha Power, went negative on Hillary Clinton to the The Scotsman yesterday. Like, really negative. While traveling in the U.K. to promote her book Chasing the Flame, about U.N. representative Sergio Vieira de Mello, the Pulitzer winner lamented the Ohio primary — "We fucked up in Ohio" — and kinda let loose about Obama's rival. "She is a monster," she told the paper, before quickly trying to pull the statement off the record. (The paper was having none of it, noting that Power was promoting her book and it had been established in advance that the interview was on the record.) Regardless, Power's on-the-record statements weren't much gentler. "She is stooping to anything," she said of Clinton. "You just look at her and think: ergh … The amount of deceit she has put forward is really unattractive." All right then! Now tell us how you really feel. Power later apologized and Obama "decried" the statement (wonder whether Hillary will call him out on not "rejecting" it instead?). We also learned today that Hillary's team is trying to slap Obama with the Ken Starr name tag, but let's be honest — "monster" is much more catchy.
Inside US poll battle as fight turns dirty for Democrats [Scotsman]
Update: Power just resigned, issuing the following statement: "With deep regret, I am resigning from my role as an adviser to the Obama campaign effective today. Last Monday, I made inexcusable remarks that are at marked variance from my oft-stated admiration for Senator Clinton and from the spirit, tenor and purpose of the Obama campaign."