Today in the Daily News, Rush & Molloy attempt to make the case that News Corp. overlord Rupert Murdoch is still on Team Hillary, despite the fact that his New York Postendorsed Barack Obama last week and trashed her in the process. "When it comes to putting money down, Murdoch poured $2,300 – the maximum allowed for a primary race – into her campaign six months ago," the husband-and-wife duo point out. "He gave Obama nothing." But the key phrase in that sentence seems to be "six months ago." Public statements of editorial independence aside, the Post simply doesn't do anything that Rupert Murdoch doesn't want it to do. The official policy of loathing Senator Clinton was reiterated even today, with a masthead editorial attacking both her and her husband. David Carr, in today's Times, seems to see the issue more clearly:
[Clinton] never once appeared before [the Post's editorial board — a customary act of tribute by local politicians — and her lack of deference was duly noted by the paper’s leadership
If the Giants' upset victory isn’t enough inspiration for the (former?) underdog Barack Obama, then maybe he’ll gain some confidence from a new slew of polls showing that the once daunting gap between him and Hillary Clinton has now vanished. A CBS/New York Times poll shows a 41-41 dead heat, a USA Today/Gallup poll has Clinton leading by a negligible one point, and a CNN poll puts Obama up by three. The three most recent California polls all show Obama ahead in the delegate-rich state, where up until recently Clinton had enjoyed double-digit leads. Read on to hear the story behind the numbers.
Last night’s Democratic debate at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles couldn’t have contrasted more highly with Wednesday's Republican debate. Where the Republicans sniped at each other, the Democrats focused on the Republicans (Obama and Clinton referred to John McCain eight times). Obama never accused Clinton of harboring secret right-wing positions, and Clinton never suggested that FDR wouldn’t vote for Obama. For many Democrats, this debate reassured them that either candidate would just be swell. The punditry, however, was duty-bound to dig a little deeper.
As the election has morphed, so has New York's comprehensive Electopedia. It's now Obamafied! It's got everything you needed to know about the Illinois senator but never thought to ask, like: Who is his worst enemy? How often does he go to church? And just how rich is he? Answers to those questions are already in there for our hometown senator, Hillary Clinton. But now, as battle gets heated (okay, stays heated? Gets scorching?), don't forget to use the handy guide to figure out how they stack up on the issues they don't talk about on TV.
Karl Rove writes in a Wall Street Journal op-ed today that “The Republican race is a serious debate about serious ideas.” That obviously went to press before last night's Republican debate. And while the event happened in the Reagan Library, in the shadow of the actual Air Force One plane that Reagan once flew on, the shared claims to the Gipper's legacy that have marked the primary campaign thus far gave way to some bruising back-and-forth, particularly, of course, between front-runners John McCain and Mitt Romney. (Mike Huckabee took his place as the new Ron Paul; Ron Paul, well, he was the same old overexcited, barely coherent Ron Paul.) McCain continued to contend that Romney had supported timetables for withdrawal from Iraq. Romney accused McCain of “dirty tricks” and “Washington-style old politics.” McCain hammered Romney for his attack ads and offered him some friendly financial advice: “A lot of it's your own money, you're free to do with what you want to. You can spend it all.” It was great theater (far, far more entertaining than the last debate), but the question remains: Who won?
You know how we love Anderson Cooper? No? Well, welcome to our blog, we're so happy to have first-time readers. For the rest of you, we have some bad news. We are developing a new newscasting crush. No, it's not Shep Smith, though his eyebrows are appropriately intense. It's ABC News' David Muir. He's tall, he's gorgeous, he has one of those surreally serious Anchor Voices, and he's one of New York's rising stars of 2008's campaign coverage. We tracked him down to ask him a few burning questions:
What do you think we're going to know the day after Super Tuesday?
That we still have a long way to go until November.
What type of coverage intimidates you?
The idea of doing what Charlie Gibson did in New Hampshire … moderating two back-to-back debates with the Democrats and the Republicans. He set the bar.
John McCain, left for dead only a few months ago, has of course become the front-runner for the Republican nomination. Many Democrats are uneasy because he’s popular with independents and should pose a serious challenge in the general election. Republicans are uneasy because he’s popular with independents — that is, he hasn't always been a team player. Lately, he's been keeping the conservative bloggers and talk-radio folks up at night; when they finally get to sleep, they have nightmares of McCain making an illegal immigrant his secretary of defense and nominating Arianna Huffington to the Supreme Court.
Today's a big day for third-place candidates, it seems. After news spread last night that Giuliani will drop out of the Republican primary race as early as today, news hit this morning that John Edwards is planning the same thing. According to the Associated Press, the former Democratic senator will make the announcement today at 1 p.m. in New Orleans. No endorsement is yet planned.
Edwards to Quit Presidential Race [AP]
This past Sunday afternoon, Rudy Giuliani, his presidential bid squarely on the line, his political future hanging by a thread, rolled up in his campaign bus outside Paisano’s Gourmet Pizza in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. Hizzoner had been quoted in that morning’s USA Today saying, “The rumors of my demise are premature” — a statement that called its veracity into question by its very utterance. Now, Giuliani stood before a crowd that might have just barely broken into triple digits (if you were rounding up) and delivered what had become of his stump speech. He talked about fighting Islamic terrorism, cutting taxes, and keeping Hillary Clinton from taking control of health care. Across a stream behind the restaurant, a bunch of Ron Paul supporters began chanting, “Rudy is a cross-dresser!” Giuliani was unfazed. “We have to have goals, bold goals, big goals,” he proclaimed. He mentioned that a woman up front had named her cat after him. “It’s better-looking than me,” Rudy said. “That’s one good-looking cat.” Then Giuliani brought his talk to a merciful conclusion — eight minutes and nine seconds after it commenced.
Floridians awake today knowing that they (sort of) hold the fate of the world in their hands. With the state's electoral track record, that's kind of scary. It's neck and neck between McCain and Romney up front; much further behind, Giuliani and Huckabee are also … necking. The former pair are desperately grappling; the latter, probably praying. (Okay, not Giuliani.) Which way is the wind blowing this morning, and whom does it favor?
Rudy Giuliani has finally cracked and recognized that today's Florida results could possibly signal the end of his campaign. Asked whether he would drop out after a loss today, the former mayor told reporters yesterday: "When it's Wednesday morning, we'll make the decision." Since much of the press has already decided that Giuliani is dead in the water, speculation has turned to how he will drop out, and when. He'll definitely participate in tomorrow's Republican debate, but sources for the New York Sun argue that he won't risk a major loss in New York State next Tuesday. If it's proven that he's not even popular in his home state anymore, where he made his name, it would be a blow to his reputation, would be bad for his business, Giuliani Partners, and would undermine his candidacy for a Cabinet position in the future. It's all about the Giuliani brand name, which has made him millions as a speaker and as a consultant. As Maureen Dowd pointed out on Sunday, he's not even likely to put up a tough fight on the way out, in order to preserve the purchase power of his name. He'll likely last a few extra days, like Fred Thompson did after losing big in South Carolina, and then bow out quietly without drama. To think, it was less than eight years ago that he dropped out of the New York Senate race after battling a tidal wave of negative press after his high-profile split from Donna Hanover. And critics said Giuliani couldn't change.
RUDY HINTS FLA. HIS LAST STAND [NYP]
It's hard to be a TV political correspondent. Unlike print and radio reporters, you can't just show up to work unshowered, wearing yesterday's pants that are beginning to smell like a muffin. You have to look good, and you have to have energy. That's while keeping track of who's up, who's down, who's black, who's white, who used to be black, etc. Bless those people. In this week's New York, we picked out five of the rising stars in the 2008 presidential-election press corps that you should keep your eye on because they're fun, smart, trustworthy, and most important, cute. Just for the Web, we spoke with each about covering the campaigns this year. After the jump, check out our eight questions for CNN's Jessica Yellin. She's the hard-tested correspondent who got bitched out by Bill Clinton last week after asking a perfectly reasonable question. She's an old hat at political interviews, having sat down with Laura Bush, George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama, and many others. (We also think she's funny because, as many correspondents were searching for words to describe how blue-staters feel about Karl Rove, she just came out and said it: "For many Democrats, Karl Rove is the 'Dark Prince' of the Bush administration." He's sexy evil!)
Barack Obama came away from Saturday's shellacking of Hillary Clinton in South Carolina with more than a few delegates: Ted Kennedy, elder statesmen of liberal politics, is throwing his considerable heft (bloat?) behind Obama’s candidacy. And of course his niece Caroline Kennedy, JFK’s daughter, also endorsed Obama in the Times. What will be the impact of Camelot’s endorsement? Not much? Or, as seems to be the popular consensus, a whole lot?
Much has been made of the aggressive way Bill Clinton has been attacking his wife's rival Barack Obama. But we spend a lot of time around girls, and to us, their back-and-forth is decidedly more passive aggressive. "For a lot of young people, they buy [Obama's] argument that since the Bush people were full of experience and they messed it up, the best thing is to wipe the slate clean and start over again," Clinton said earlier this month. "That's like saying that since 100 percent of medical malpractice is committed by doctors, the next time you need surgery, you should get a non-doctor to do it."
Soon enough, Obama pinched back. “If you get the kind of looseness with the facts that Senator Clinton displayed, and you’re willing to say anything to get a political or tactical advantage, that erodes people’s trust in government," he said last week. But over the weekend came their Mean-Girl–est moment yet.
“A good, old-fashioned butt-kicking” was the phrase that Barack Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, used to describe what went down on Saturday in South Carolina’s Democratic primary. And that’s exactly what it was. I’m not talking here just about the overall margin — 55-27 — by which Obama whomped Hillary Clinton. I mean the composition of his victory (the details of which you can find here.)
Among the most noteworthy stats to be found in the South Carolina exit polls is that the collapse of Obama’s support among white voters suggested by some pre-primary polls did not occur. As Axelrod noted, the unofficial over-under number on the eve of the vote was 10 percent of this category — but Obama actually ended up with 24 percent. More stunning, he essentially tied Clinton among Caucasian men and captured more than half of the white voters under 30. Finally, the hopemonger reached beyond his customary well-off/well-schooled constituency and carried at least a plurality of voters at every economic and education level – and this is crucial to his prospects on Tsunami Tuesday, February 5.
Last night’s Republican debate at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton was about as feisty as knitting lessons at the community center. It was as if the candidates, who mostly avoided attacks, were tired from the heat. Many observers handed Romney the victory for his smooth answers on the economy; McCain also did well. But Giuliani and Huckabee, while they didn’t do poorly, didn’t do much to break out of their second-tier positions in Florida. For those who missed it, we sifted the platitudes for the stuff that really matters.
Okay, so there was a debate last night. All of the Republican presidential candidates got together to chat about whom people should choose in the voting booth (we'll have details for you later). But, see, you might not hear much about it because it didn't really matter. Why not? Because the Times bogarted all of the primary discussion this morning with their unsurprisingly self-righteous endorsements. For the Democrats, they chose Hillary Clinton because they "are hugely impressed by the depth of her knowledge, by the force of her intellect and by the breadth of, yes, her experience." (Don't worry, though, they totally heart Obama, too.) And for the Republicans, they begrudgingly chose John McCain. Except it wasn't so much an editorial supporting McCain as it was one attempting, once and for all, to obliterate Rudy Giuliani.
Hey, everybody! There's an update in New York's patented 2008 Electopedia. In our exhaustive look at New York's presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, we've already compared the two in categories ranging from "First Love" to "Relationship With Offspring." Today's matchup is "Best Debate Smackdown." Think you know when Giuliani's elbow (or Hillary's voice) was at its sharpest? Click through to read all about it.
Best Debate Smackdown [Electopedia]
The 2008 Electopedia [Main Page]
We just got an e-mail from Michelle Obama that, frankly, has left us a little disappointed. It turns out that Michelle, whom we have always perceived to be the balls portion of the whole Obama package, is turning her sights on Bill Clinton. In an e-mail to supporters with the subject "What we didn't expect," Mama Obama has this to say:
We knew getting into this race that Barack would be competing with Senator Clinton and President Clinton at the same time. We expected that Bill Clinton would tout his record from the nineties and talk about Hillary's role in his past success. That's a fair approach and a challenge we are prepared to face. What we didn't expect, at least not from our fellow Democrats, are the win-at-all-costs tactics we've seen recently. We didn't expect misleading accusations that willfully distort Barack's record.
We knew Michelle had been called into South Carolina to counter the Bubba effect. On the ground, she's been talking generally about "opponents" using "attacks and fear." But we were kind of hoping that she'd take him face-on more openly. It's partially because one of us is gay, and therefore enjoys any scenario in which a powerful black woman lays the smack down.
Tonight’s Republican debate in Florida could tip voters one way or another in what is basically a four-way race (though the latest polls show McCain and Romney, about even, putting distance between themselves and Giuliani and Huckabee, also about even). With recession looming, everyone wants to know who's going to perform a miracle on the economy once in office. The pundits, for their part, have humbly offered up their opinions on the candidates with the best fiscal credentials.