Tag Archives: John Edwards

8/8/08 Isn’t John Edwards’ Lucky Day

Remember these tees? Perhaps the new ones should read John Edwards is toast.

Remember these old tees? Perhaps the new ones should read "John Edwards is toast."

 * Looks like John Edwards, the populist Democrat once hailed as “a new RFK” is most likely off Senator Obama’s VP list.

EDWARDS ADMITS AFFAIR AFTER HEATED DENIALS

Former presidential candidate John Edwards, who won nationwide praise and sympathy as he campaigned side-by-side with his cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth, admitted in shame Friday he had had an affair with a woman who produced videos for his campaign.
 Acknowledging a sex scandal he had dismissed as “tabloid trash” only last month, Edwards said he had told his wife and family long ago, but “I had hoped that it would never become public.”

He denied fathering a daughter, born to the woman with whom he had the affair, and offered to be tested to prove it. A former Edwards campaign staff member professes to be the father.

The former North Carolina senator, who was the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004, confessed to ABC News that he had lied repeatedly about the affair with 42-year-old Rielle Hunter. Hunter’s daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, was born on Feb. 27 this year, and no father’s name is given on the birth certificate filed in California.

After the story broke Friday, Edwards released a statement that said, “In 2006, I made a serious error in judgment and conducted myself in a way that was disloyal to my family and to my core beliefs. I recognized my mistake, and I told my wife that I had a liaison with another woman, and I asked for her forgiveness. Although I was honest in every painful detail with my family, I did not tell the public.”

“I was and am ashamed of my conduct and choices,” he said. “With my family, I took responsibility for my actions in 2006, and today I take full responsibility publicly.”

OKAY, MAYBE NOT THE BRIGHTEST THING HE’S EVER DONE

Edwards declared his presidential candidacy in December 2006. His wife was at his side that day and campaigned enthusiastically with him and by herself in the months that followed. She announced in March 2007 that her cancer, formerly in remission, had returned and there apparently was no cure.

She and her husband said it was important for the campaign to continue.

Edwards dropped out midway through this year’s primaries after it became apparent he could not keep up with front-runners Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. He recently endorsed Obama and has been mentioned as a possible running mate.

He was John Kerry’s running mate in 2004 when Kerry lost to President Bush.

In his statement, he said, “It is inadequate to say to the people who believed in me that I am sorry, as it is inadequate to say to the people who love me that I am sorry.

“In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic. If you want to beat me up feel free. You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself. I have been stripped bare and will now work with everything I have to help my family and others who need my help.”

DENY, DENY, DENY…ADMIT

The National Enquirer first reported on the affair in October 2007, in the run-up to the Democratic primaries, and Edwards denied it.

“The story is false,” he told reporters then. “It’s completely untrue, ridiculous.” He professed his love for his wife, who had an incurable form of cancer, saying, “I’ve been in love with the same woman for 30-plus years and as anybody who’s been around us knows, she’s an extraordinary human being, warm, loving, beautiful, sexy and as good a person as I have ever known. So the story’s just false.”

Last month, the Enquirer carried another story - the blaring headline referred to an Edwards “love child” – stating that its reporters had accosted Edwards in a Los Angeles hotel where he had met with Hunter after her child’s birth. Edwards called it “tabloid trash,” but he generally avoided reporters’ inquiries, as did his former top aides.

He said in his statement Friday he had “used the fact that the story contained many falsities to deny it,” and he called that “being 99 percent honest.”

In an interview, scheduled to air on ABC News’ “Nightline” Friday night, Edwards said the tabloid was correct when it reported on his meeting with Hunter at the Beverly Hills Hilton last month.

A number of mainstream news organizations had looked into the adultery allegations but had not published or aired stories. But newspapers in Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C., recounted the Enquirer’s allegations in prominent articles on Thursday.

The Edwardses have three children – Cate, Jack and Emma Claire. Another son, Wade, died at 16 in a 1996 car accident.

What was I thinking?

"What was I thinking?"

David Bonior, Edwards’ campaign manager for his 2008 presidential bid, said he was disappointed and angry at Friday’s news.

“Thousands of friends of the senator’s and his supporters have put their faith and confidence in him, and he’s let them down,” said Bonior, a former congressman from Michigan. “They’ve been betrayed by his action.”

Asked whether the affair would damage Edwards’ future aspirations in public service, Bonior replied: “You can’t lie in politics and expect to have people’s confidence.”

OH, THE HYPOCRISY!

In 1999, when Edwards was a senator, he said of President Clinton and his affair with Monica Lewinsky:

“I think this president has shown a remarkable disrespect for his office, for the moral dimensions of leadership, for his friends, for his wife, for his precious daughter. It is breathtaking to me the level to which that disrespect has risen.”

In 2006, Edwards’ political action committee paid $100,000 in a four-month span to a newly formed firm run by Hunter, who directed the production of four Web videos showing Edwards in supposedly candid moments as well as in a public speech talking about morality.

The payments from Edwards’ One America Committee to Midline Groove Productions LLC started on July 5, 2006, five days after Hunter incorporated the firm in Delaware.

Midline provided “Website/Internet services,” according to reports that Edwards’ PAC filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Midline’s work product consists of four YouTube videos showing Edwards in informal settings as he prepares to make speeches in Storm Lake, Iowa, and Pittsburgh, as he prepares for an appearance on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” and travels in Uganda in 2006.

Edwards’ PAC followed the six-figure payment with two smaller payments totaling $14,461, the last on April 1, 2007.

At the time Hunter was compiling the videos in 2006, Edwards was preparing his run for president.

Episode One of the four videos shows a conversation between Edwards and an unseen woman as the two chat aboard a plane about an upcoming speech in Storm Lake, Iowa.

Cutting between clips of the speech and the conversation with the woman, Edwards touches on his standard political themes, declaring that government must do a better job of addressing the great issues of the day, from poverty and education to jobs and the war in Iraq.

“I want to see our party lead on the great moral issues – yes, me a Democrat using that word – the great moral issues that face our country,” Edwards tells the crowd. “If we want to live in a moral, honest just America and if we want to live in a moral and just world, we can’t wait for somebody else to do it. We have to do it.”

On the Net:

Edwards videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDjxDL00mvg&e

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECWwDSRF1-4&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lnr2IGCFoOU&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCFv0yuD-2M&feature=related
08/08/08 18:38

Associated Press Writers Michael R. Baker and Gary Robertson in Raleigh, N.C., and Michael Blood in Los Angeles and researcher Barbara Sambriski in New York contributed to this report.
 

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Edwards Drops Bid for the Presidency

EDWARDS BOWS OUT GRACEFULLY

At a press conference in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, still decimated from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, John Edwards announced today that he is suspending his candidacy for President of the United States.

With his family and Habitat for Humanity volunteers standing behind him, Edwards gave an eloquent speech that should live for all time. Anyone who saw it shall never forget it.

Throughout this campaign, his opponents have drawn numerous comparisons to JFK, RFK, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – but it is John Edwards who rightfully deserved the credit for keeping the populist progressive dream alive. His message echoed President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, FDR’s New Deal, Robert F. Kennedy’s Poverty Tour, and Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign.

While other candidates talked the talk, John Edwards walked the walk.

Sadly, the media has all but ignored Edwards’ campaign in recent weeks, as the pundits focused on the fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Even more distressing is the fact that the only way to get John Edwards back on the front page was for him to quit the race.

Edwards may have abandoned his campaign, but not the struggle for economic and social equality in America. No sooner had he delivered his announcement today, he picked up a hammer and got to work building a new home in Musician’s Village for those displaced by Katrina. This in itself was a powerful statement – and he wanted all the world to hear.

As a journalist, I’ve covered every presidential race since 1988, and have seen a lot of candidates come and go. But never have I seen a candidate drop out of the running with as much eloquence and grace as John Edwards did today. His words of farewell moved me deeply, and I sincerely hope they are not forgotten.

The following is a transcript of this moving and memorable speech by John Edwards. Please share it with your friends and family, and ask them to put pressure on whichever candidate they support to incorporate Edwards’ anti-poverty mission into their platform:

John Edwards in New Orleans, Jan. 30, 2008

Thank you all very much. We’re very proud to be back here.

During the spring of 2006, I had the extraordinary experience of bringing 700 college kids here to New Orleans to work. These are kids who gave up their spring break to come to New Orleans to work, to rehabilitate houses, because of their commitment as Americans, because they believed in what was possible, and because they cared about their country.

I began my presidential campaign here to remind the country that we, as citizens and as a government, have a moral responsibility to each other, and what we do together matters. We must do better, if we want to live up to the great promise of this country that we all love so much.

It is appropriate that I come here today. It’s time for me to step aside so that history can blaze its path. We do not know who will take the final steps to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but what we do know is that our Democratic Party will make history. We will be strong, we will be unified, and with our convictions and a little backbone we will take back the White House in November and we’ll create hope and opportunity for this country.

This journey of ours began right here in New Orleans. It was a December morning in the Lower Ninth Ward when people went to work, not just me, but lots of others went to work with shovels and hammers to help restore a house that had been destroyed by the storm.

We joined together in a city that had been abandoned by our government and had been forgotten, but not by us. We knew that they still mourned the dead, that they were still stunned by the destruction, and that they wondered when all those cement steps in all those vacant lots would once again lead to a door, to a home, and to a dream.

We came here to the Lower Ninth Ward to rebuild. And we’re going to rebuild today and work today, and we will continue to come back. We will never forget the heartache and we’ll always be here to bring them hope, so that someday, one day, the trumpets will sound in Musicians’ Village, where we are today, play loud across Lake Ponchartrain, so that working people can come marching in and those steps once again can lead to a family living out the dream in America.

We sat with poultry workers in Mississippi, janitors in Florida, nurses in California.

We listened as child after child told us about their worry about whether we would preserve the planet.

We listened to worker after worker say “the economy is tearing my family apart.”

We walked the streets of Cleveland, where house after house was in foreclosure.

And we said, “We’re better than this. And economic justice in America is our cause.”

And we spent a day, a summer day, in Wise, Virginia, with a man named James Lowe, who told us the story of having been born with a cleft palate. He had no health care coverage. His family couldn’t afford to fix it. And finally some good Samaritan came along and paid for his cleft palate to be fixed, which allowed him to speak for the first time. But they did it when he was 50 years old. His amazing story, though, gave this campaign voice: universal health care for every man, woman and child in America. That is our cause.

And we do this — we do this for each other in America. We don’t turn away from a neighbor in their time of need. Because every one of us knows that what — but for the grace of God, there goes us. The American people have never stopped doing this, even when their government walked away, and walked away it has from hardworking people, and, yes, from the poor, those who live in poverty in this country.

For decades, we stopped focusing on those struggles. They didn’t register in political polls, they didn’t get us votes and so we stopped talking about it. I don’t know how it started. I don’t know when our party began to turn away from the cause of working people, from the fathers who were working three jobs literally just to pay the rent, mothers sending their kids to bed wrapped up in their clothes and in coats because they couldn’t afford to pay for heat.

We know that our brothers and sisters have been bullied into believing that they can’t organize and can’t put a union in the workplace. Well, in this campaign, we didn’t turn our heads. We looked them square in the eye and we said, “We see you, we hear you, and we are with you. And we will never forget you.” And I have a feeling that if the leaders of our great Democratic Party continue to hear the voices of working people, a proud progressive will occupy the White House.

Now, I’ve spoken to both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. They have both pledged to me and more importantly through me to America, that they will make ending poverty central to their campaign for the presidency.

And more importantly, they have pledged to me that as President of the United States they will make ending poverty and economic inequality central to their Presidency. This is the cause of my life and I now have their commitment to engage in this cause.

And I want to say to everyone here, on the way here today, we passed under a bridge that carried the interstate where 100 to 200 homeless Americans sleep every night. And we stopped, we got out, we went in and spoke to them.

There was a minister there who comes every morning and feeds the homeless out of her own pocket. She said she has no money left in her bank account, she struggles to be able to do it, but she knows it’s the moral, just and right thing to do. And I spoke to some of the people who were there and as I was leaving, one woman said to me, “You won’t forget us, will you? Promise me you won’t forget us.” Well, I say to her and I say to all of those who are struggling in this country, we will never forget you. We will fight for you. We will stand up for you.

But I want to say this — I want to say this because it’s important. With all of the injustice that we’ve seen, I can say this, America’s hour of transformation is upon us. It may be hard to believe when we have bullets flying in Baghdad and it may be hard to believe when it costs $58 to fill your car up with gas. It may be hard to believe when your school doesn’t have the right books for your kids. It’s hard to speak out for change when you feel like your voice is not being heard.

But I do hear it. We hear it. This Democratic Party hears you. We hear you, once again. And we will lift you up with our dream of what’s possible.

One America, one America that works for everybody.

One America where struggling towns and factories come back to life because we finally transformed our economy by ending our dependence on oil.

One America where the men who work the late shift and the women who get up at dawn to drive a two-hour commute and the young person who closes the store to save for college. They will be honored for that work.

One America where no child will go to bed hungry because we will finally end the moral shame of 37 million people living in poverty.

One America where every single man, woman and child in this country has health care.

One America with one public school system that works for all of our children.

One America that finally brings this war in Iraq to an end. And brings our service members home with the hero’s welcome that they have earned and that they deserve.

Today, I am suspending my campaign for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency.

But I want to say this to everyone: with Elizabeth, with my family, with my friends, with all of you and all of your support, this son of a millworker’s gonna be just fine. Our job now is to make certain that America will be fine.

And I want to thank everyone who has worked so hard — all those who have volunteered, my dedicated campaign staff who have worked absolutely tirelessly in this campaign.

And I want to say a personal word to those I’ve seen literally in the last few days — those I saw in Oklahoma yesterday, in Missouri, last night in Minnesota — who came to me and said don’t forget us. Speak for us. We need your voice. I want you to know that you almost changed my mind, because I hear your voice, I feel you, and your cause it our cause. Your country needs you — every single one of you.

All of you who have been involved in this campaign and this movement for change and this cause, we need you. It is in our hour of need that your country needs you. Don’t turn away, because we have not just a city of New Orleans to rebuild. We have an American house to rebuild.

This work goes on. It goes on right here in Musicians’ Village. There are homes to build here, and in neighborhoods all along the Gulf. The work goes on for the students in crumbling schools just yearning for a chance to get ahead. It goes on for day care workers, for steel workers risking their lives in cities all across this country. And the work goes on for two hundred thousand men and women who wore the uniform of the United States of America, proud veterans, who go to sleep every night under bridges, or in shelters, or on grates, just as the people we saw on the way here today. Their cause is our cause.

Their struggle is our struggle. Their dreams are our dreams.

Do not turn away from these great struggles before us. Do not give up on the causes that we have fought for. Do not walk away from what’s possible, because it’s time for all of us, all of us together, to make the two Americas one.

Thank you. God bless you, and let’s go to work. Thank you all very much.

Copyright RFKin2008.com. Speech text courtesy of the John Edwards for President campaign.

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Has the Media Already Crowned Obama King?

THE OBAMA PHENOMENA

If the election were tomorrow (and maybe it should be), Barack Obama would be president. Thanks to a media transfixed by the candidate’s star power, Senator Obama has seemingly unstoppable momentum. He’s got the media and the masses. The delegates can’t be far behind. And that’s the ball game, folks. The race may be over before it’s even been run.

So what’s the point of having an election then, if this thing has already been decided? Just think of all the money and trouble we could save ourselves by just calling the race early and getting the damn thing over with. If it’s a foregone conclusion, can we all go home now? 

Here’s a novel idea: let’s redirect all that obscene money candidates spend on campaigns back to the people. There’s a few billion bucks we could use to feed the hungry and the homeless in this country. Might even solve the economic crisis. It would certainly make a sizeable dent in the debt. Nah…that’s far too compassionate and wise. Can’t do that.

All sarcasm aside, I am troubled by the media’s rush to crown Barack Obama the once and future king (or perhaps the next Dr. King) after only five primaries. Ever since his astonishing win in Iowa, it seems the pundits can’t contain their own bias. Nor could they disguise their disappointment when Hillary Clinton won New Hampshire and Nevada. And after South Carolina, I’m convinced they’ve lost all objectivity and possibly their minds.

No sooner had Obama been declared the winner in South Carolina, in came the news that Caroline Kennedy, the late president’s daughter, was endorsing Barack Obama. The very next day, Senator Edward Kennedy’s endorsement of Senator Obama was treated like the Second Coming of Camelot. All three cable news network took his speech live (quite rare), and proclaimed that “Obama is the next JFK.”

President Kennedy and his son, john F. Kennedy Jr.

WHAT STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS?

The endorsement drew the focus of the national media away from the runup to President Bush’s State of the Union address (as someone who has worked in newsrooms for more than 20 years, let me tell you how unheard of that is!), making the front pages of the major dailies and the lead of each of the networks last night.

ABC World News reported, “Today the audacity of hope had its rendezvous with destiny. The Kennedy clan annointed Barack Obama, a son of Camelot.” Sen. Ted Kennedy: “I know that he’s ready to be the president on day one.” For Bill Clinton, “who has always cast himself as President Kennedy’s political heir, today’s endorsement was a slap to face.”

The CBS Evening News reported, “It was a moment packed with political significance. Ted and Caroline Kennedy, the surviving brother and child of a revered Democratic president declaring that the torch has been passed.”

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams led by contending: “It’s been 45 years since a Kennedy has been in the White House, and yet because of the American fascination with the family name, and the family business of politics, the Kennedy name still has the power to grab the attention of millions of Americans.”

USA Today reports Obama also “picked up the support Monday of author Toni Morrison, who once called Bill Clinton ‘the first black president.’” The AP reports Morrison “said she has admired Clinton for years because of her knowledge and mastery of politics, but then dismissed that experience in favor of Obama’s vision.”

CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric teased, “Passing the torch: Barack Obama is tapped as the candidate to continue the Kennedy legacy.” NBC’s Lee Cowan, who earlier this month conceded “it’s almost hard to remain objective” when covering Obama, showed he also has a soft spot for the Kennedys as he radiated over how “the endorsement brought the Kennedy mystique to this campaign, not in a whisper, but a roar.”

With “New Son of Camelot” on screen over video of Obama and Ted Kennedy, Nightline anchor Terry Moran led thusly: “Ted and Caroline Kennedy pass the torch to Barack Obama to carry the legacy of JFK…

Good evening, everyone. I’m Terry Moran. And tonight, on a night when the President gave his final State of the Union address, he was overshadowed.” Moran soon hailed how “the political world was transfixed by the spectacle of the most powerful Democratic family of the 20th century christening a new torch bearer for the 21st.” 

 

HAVE WE GONE “CAMELOT CRAZY”?

I’m not saying that Obama isn’t an exciting candidate. He is. This man inspires and stirs the minds and hearts of people in ways we haven’t witnessed in 40 years. He’s one hell of a handsome fellow with charisma to burn. He opens his mouth and poetry flows from his lips. He also seems to have some pretty good ideas about how to get the country back on track. But so do his Democratic opponents – and we’re suddenly not hearing much from them. Why not? Aren’t Clinton and Edwards still in the race?

Well, last time I checked, yes. So why aren’t they getting a lot more face time on tee-vee?

The answer is clear to anyone who has been paying attention. The media even admits their pro-Obama bias, albeit sheepishly. They just can’t help it, they say: yes, we’re journalists, but we’re human beings, too – and we are simply moved by what Obama is doing. Is that so wrong?

Well, actually, yes it is. This is an election year, we’re only a few primaries into the race, and we have a stellar array of impressive Democratic candidates to cover. Our job as journalists is to provide fair coverage across the board to all. Our job is not to steer voters towards one candidate or another, nor is it to heap undue praise or criticism on any of them. We’re supposed to report the news and get the hell out of the way, remember?

In the midst of all the excitement, we seem to be forgetting ourselves. We’ve all forgotten that opinion belongs on the Editorial page. We are not serving the American people well if we are not providing accurate information and dispassionate analysis – even if it makes really good TV. We are not paid to drool all over Obama’s shoes, no matter how moved we may be by his message.

FAIR AND BALANCED, MY ASS

The 2008 election will likely be the most important in our lifetime. This race is for all the marbles — so this is hardly a time for the media to lose theirs. Americans must make a well-informed decision when they walk into the voting booth. How can they possibly do that if information about the candidates is selectively made available?

This was precisely the problem faced by dark horse candidates such as Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel (who is still running, incidentally – although CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX won’t tell you that), Bill Richardson, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd. On the Republican side, it’s a bloody miracle if Ron Paul can get five minutes on any network besides C-SPAN. And just imagine the uphill battle a Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader will have as Green or Independent challengers this year. One can’t win the presidency on netroots buzz alone.

Without mainstream media coverage, a candidate’s message is lost on the people. Unless each and every candidate is afforded the opportunity to present themselves and their platform to the public, they don’t stand a snowball’s chance.

So, I guess Lou Dobbs may as well throw his hat into the ring – at least he’s got a highly-rated nightly show on CNN – he has a strong base of followers and a media machine revved up and ready to take him to November. Dobbs may be the only hope for Independents who reject the two-party system outright, and who desperately need a candidate. But not just any candidate. This dog must hunt – otherwise the time, effort and expense of a campaign is an utter waste. Lou Dobbs is no fool, he knows this game all too well. (Which probably explains why he is emphatically not running!)

The same could be said for Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who also has his own media platform, a weekly show on Air America radio. This program is not only heard coast-to-coast, but around the world. Kennedy has already won countless thousands of converts via his books, articles, and public speaking engagements – to say nothing of having the Kennedy name.

The Independent Populists, Democrats, Liberals, Greens and Progressives who embrace him are hungry for a real candidate in 2008 – and they still haven’t found what they’re looking for in anyone but Bobby. They haven’t given up. They still want him to run. Now.

SIGN THE PETITION to Draft RFK Jr. for President!

Copyright RFKin2008.com.

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Dennis, We Hardly Knew Ye

TURN OUT THE LIGHTS, THE PARTY’S OVER

As of about an hour ago, the last progressive light went out of the presidential race with an announcement that Dennis Kucinich is throwing in the towel.

Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich

Congressman Kucinich Calls It Quits

Photograph: Manny Ceneta/AFP/Getty Images

CLEVELAND (AP) — Democrat Dennis Kucinich is abandoning his second, long-shot bid for the White House as he faces a tough fight to hold onto his other job — U.S. congressman.

In an interview with Cleveland’s Plain Dealer, the six-term House member said he was quitting the race and would make a formal announcement on Friday.

“I will be announcing that I’m transitioning out of the presidential campaign,” Kucinich said. “I’m making that announcement tomorrow about a new direction.”

Kucinich has received little support in his presidential bid; he got 1 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary and was shut out in the Iowa caucuses. He did have a devoted following.

Kucinich, 61, is facing four challengers in the Democratic congressional primary March 4, and earlier this week he made an urgent appeal on his Web site for funds for his re-election.

His decision comes a month after the death of his youngest brother, Perry Kucinich.

Kucinich said he will not endorse another Democrat in the primary.

HE FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT

This was Kucinich’s second run for the White House. As in 2004, he campaigned for an immediate exit in Iraq. But though the war was even more unpopular than four years ago, Kucinich found it harder to gain traction this time around in a Democratic field overwhelmed by celebrity and money power.

Kucinich made few campaign appearances outside New Hampshire. Aside from the occasional profile of his much younger and very glamourous British wife, Elizabeth Harper, 29, the Kucinich campaign was barely covered by the media.

His preoccupation with seeking the presidency also caused anger in Cleveland. The city’s mayor and a member of the local council last month launched primary challenges to Kucinich, arguing that he had neglected local concerns. In an email appeal to campaign donors, Kucinich said the challenges had been inspired by “corporate interests”.

Despite his apparent failure to gain support in presidential politics, commentators have given Kucinich credit for giving a greater airing to anti-war sentiment. But as he himself admitted yesterday: “There is a point at which you just realize that you, look, you accept it, that it isn’t going to happen and you move on.”

SO MUCH FOR A DEPARTMENT OF PEACE

After being ignored by the media, frozen out of debates and forced off state ballots in recent weeks, it’s no great surprise that Rep. Kucinich is dropping out of the race. But his decision comes at a time when the field of candidates has been narrowed down to three — Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards — all of whom tend to leave progressives cold.

So where will Kucinich’s supporters go now? With Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson out of the running, who will get the liberal, progressive and independent vote in the primaries? It’s difficult to imagine them flocking to Clinton, Obama, or even Edwards, who may not be in this race much longer himself if the pundits’ predictions come true.

Many of RFK Jr.’s supporters feel that this is the most opportune moment for him to jump into the race as a third party or independent candidate — and it’s easy to see why. With the Democratic party so deeply divided, the three frontrunners lack true progressive cred and are unlikely to overcome the perception of being corporate puppets. Where will all of these these disenfranchised Dems turn when their own party is sending them a clear message of “we don’t want or need you to win?”

We want to hear your thoughts on this most recent development. Has Kucinich dropping out of the race affected the way you will vote in your state’s primary or caucus? Will you throw your support to another Democratic candidate, or do you think they’re all worthless? Suffering from Electile Dysfunction? (Hint: you’re not alone.) Will you vote for a third-party, independent, or even a Republican candidate instead? Or will you vote at all?

Copyright RFKin2008.com, with reports from The Guardian and the Associated Press.

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Electile Dysfunction

Newstarget Cartoon

(Cartoon: Mike Adams, Dan Berger. Courtesy NewsTarget.com)

 

CAN’T GET IT UP WITH A CRANE

Asked what they thought of the candidates “performance” in the CNN/Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate last night, the verdict of many liberal and progressive Dems was brutal. (“God help the Democratic party if we hand her the nomination!” shrieked one of the CNN Political ticker regulars.) John Edwards, most agree, won the debate not by talking but by wisely keeping his mouth shut, letting Clinton and Obama go at it ad infinitum.

Meanwhile, those heavily-courted independent voters (whose favor the presidential hopefuls’ boastful antics were apparently designed to woo) have today added a new phrase to the political dick-tionary:

Electile Dysfunction ( el-ek-tile dys-funk-shun): (noun) the inability to become aroused by any of the candidates in the 2008 presidential race.

Unlike the more commonly known form of ED, which is specific only to males of the species, this new discovery points to a condition that affects Americans of all genders, races and political parties. (Although preliminary studies indicate that Independents seem to be the most afflicted.) 

Perhaps even more troubling to medical researchers is that while typical cases of ED are successfully treated with medication and normal function can be restored (or at the very least, simulated), there currently is no known cure for Electile Dysfunction.

Which must surely come as distressing news for those of us facing 10 more months of this preening and play-fighting amongst the candidates vying for our political hand in marriage. And most of them haven’t even made us an honorable proposal yet!

Is there a pill for this? The condition seems to be chronic and getting worse by the day.

THE LITTLE BITTER PILL

At least guys who suffer that other form of ED can take a pill to make things normal again. Sure, the pills have risky side effects and come with scary warnings about how you should rush to the hospital if you experience an erection lasting longer than four hours. (Like some folks actually have to be told that??) But there doesn’t seem to be any pharmaceutical help for the rest of us. We suffer in silence.

It’s one thing to have to hold your horses for four hours, but 10 months is quite another. How many independent voters are going to wind up in emergency rooms before this race is run? What can be done to relieve, if not completely alleviate, our pain? (I know Bill Clinton says he feels it, but can he do to help us? Besides, hasn’t he already got the World’s Largest Stockpile of Viagra on hand? And does he actually get excited anymore listening to his wife after all these years?)

It seems this could easily turn into a medical and mental health crisis if left untreated. Imagine the millions of American voters rendered impotent for lack of a candidate — and the painful, unending torment of having to watch debate after debate, attack ad after attack ad — and not even getting the satisfaction of releasing our tensions in the privacy of the voting booth when we yank the proverbial handle this November. Oh, the agony!

CLINTON AND OBAMA: MAYBE THEY SHOULD GET A ROOM

But seriously…about the debate last night in South Carolina (oh yeah, that’s what the article was supposed to be about!). All this literary foreplay and teasing has really just been a leadup to the real story, which we shall bring you from CNN, host of the debate.

Actually, it was the headline and photo from CNN’s own coverage that sent me down this rutted road to Freudland in the first place. The media painting the dustup between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as more of a lovers’ spat than the down-in-the-alley political brawl it was struck me as not just absurd, but side-splittingly funny.

Maybe those two should get a room and work out their differences privately. At least that way, we don’t have to watch.

HILLARY CLINTON: OBAMA IS `FRUSTRATED’

Hillary Clinton said Barack Obama came looking for a fight last night.

Hillary Clinton said Barack Obama came looking for a fight last night.

 From the CNN Political Ticker

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that Barack Obama came to Monday night’s CNN debate looking to spark a brawl.

“He telegraphed it, he talked about it – he clearly came last night looking for a fight, and was determined and launched right in,” she said at a Washington press conference on economic issues.

“I think what we saw last night was that he’s very frustrated – Sen. Obama is very frustrated. The events of the last 10 or so days, particularly the outcomes in New Hampshire and Nevada, have apparently convinced him to adopt a different strategy,” said the New York senator.

Obama’s comments last night, she said, “were so rehearsed that he kept on insisting that I had mentioned President Reagan in what I had said, when I didn’t mention President Reagan.”

HER BUSH-WHACK

She also repeated allegations that Obama had said in 2004 he agreed with George Bush on the way the president was waging war. Obama disputes the claim, saying that the Clinton campaign is deliberately distorting his comments from that period.

Shortly after Clinton spoke, her campaign sent reporters a memo containing half a dozen unrelated charges against Obama, including the charge, based on a recent news report, that he “represented now-indicted influence peddler Tony Rezko in his efforts to develop government-subsidized slum housing.”

The Obama campaign has denied links to any illegal activities on the part of the Chicago businessman, and has said it would reject all contributions linked to him. 

I USED TO BE DISGUSTED, NOW I JUST LAY THERE AND MOAN A LOT

So…have we had enough gender and race-baiting in this campaign so far? (Couldn’t the candidates even give it a rest on Martin Luther King day? Shameless!) Any chance we might be getting back to the real issues anytime soon? Anybody want to talk about this recession? Global markets plunging? The free fall of the dollar? The high cost of living?  Maybe we could talk about a plan to kick our foreign oil habit and combat climate change? How about immigration? Oh, and there’s a war on, too — haven’t they heard?

There may eventually be some help for Electile Dysfunction; if not an experimental treatment in the coming year, then perhaps we might have a cure by 2012. Please lend us your “frustrated” hands and SIGN THE PETITION to draft Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as a candidate for President!

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Democrats Hope to Recreate Camelot in `08

DEMOCRATS SEEKING A NEW CAMELOT

Kenbama

TORONTO STAR

The polls may have got it wrong this week in New Hampshire, but nobody is counting Barack Obama over and out.

There is something about the 46-year-old junior senator from Illinois that speaks to the always-simmering idealism of the Democratic Party. Ever since John F. Kennedy, it’s been in search of another hero, a charismatic leader whose appeal is fresh, optimistic and potentially universal. A leader who could bring back the magic, however much a myth, of JFK’s Camelot.

Even non-supporters concede that Obama ignites the kind of visceral excitement last seen when people tumbled over each other to get a glimpse of Kennedy.

In fact, the parallels between the two men are striking. Obama comes with baggage he has no control over: his race. But so did Kennedy, with his religion.

He had to persuade party chiefs it wasn’t “too soon” for a Roman Catholic to run, that Americans were ready. Then he had to convince voters his religion wouldn’t influence his thinking, all the while placating church leaders who thought he wasn’t Catholic enough.

“I am not the Catholic candidate for president,” said Kennedy. “I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president who also happens to be a Catholic.”

Substitute “African-American” for Catholic, and it could be Obama.

In May 1960, when JFK won the primary in staunchly Protestant West Virginia, the religion issue vanished overnight. It will be tougher for Obama. Being the son of a white Kansan mother and a black Kenyan father will still count against him in parts of the U.S.

He too has heard the “too soon” argument from some senior Democrats. He’s certainly heard from several black leaders that he isn’t “black enough.”

Obama is also likely to be hit by the “Bradley effect,” possibly already was in New Hampshire.

(The effect involves a black candidate and what whites say about their voting intent vs. whom they actually pick. It’s named after Tom Bradley, the black mayor of Los Angeles, who surprisingly lost a 1982 governorship bid after polls showed he’d win handily.)

The next major primary is Jan. 26 in South Carolina, where for the first time Obama faces a large black vote. It could be his West Virginia or halt his campaign in its tracks.

DEJA VU’

The comparative youth of both men now, as then, is a major drawback. JFK was just 30 when he entered politics in Massachusetts, barely 42 when he began his run for the White House. He was seen as an upstart by party honchos and, with the U.S. engaged in the Cold War, far too young to be trusted with the presidency.

Obama’s lack of experience nationally has also been criticized, not least by his main competitor, Hillary Clinton. A state legislator for seven years, he’s been a junior senator for three, the last one of which he spent running for the leadership.

Like JFK, he faces a nation in the throes of anxiety and disillusionment. Just as nuclear war between the U.S. and Soviet Union once seemed inevitable, the current war on terrorism seems unwinnable and unending.

But Kennedy believed judgment, not experience, is the key criterion for leadership: “Experience is like tail-lights on a boat which illuminate where we have been,” he once said, “when we should be focusing on where we should be going.”

He won the narrowest of victories over Republican Richard Nixon and, in his inauguration speech, played up his youth: “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger … The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.”

The hypnotizing words were actually written by speechwriter Ted Sorensen. There are few knights of the round table left, but Sorensen, now 80, is one of them and he’s actively supporting Obama. He sees him as heir to JFK’s legacy, with the same magnetic charm and “fantastically winning smile,” but more important, the same ability to motivate Americans.

People want to be inspired again, Sorensen told South Carolina’s The State newspaper last month, the way Kennedy did with his famous “Ask not what your country can do for you …” invocation.

“People are now ready for a call to service,” said Sorensen. “They want to have a hero, think great thoughts, hear bold visions again. And they want to be asked to serve. Service is good for the national character. Kennedy believed that strongly.”

Brad Warthen, The State’s editorial page director, says Obama, like JFK, has “grace and style – he is who he is. And he certainly has a Pied Piper effect on young people.” If he sweeps South Carolina, with its racially mixed voters, he could go all the way.

If not, Obama can remind himself that the “Camelot” of JFK’s presidency didn’t exist until after his death. It was Jackie Kennedy who planted the image in the public mind, telling historian Theodore White he loved listening to the record of the Broadway show: “Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot.”

White, 20 years later in his book In Search of History, wrote that “the magic Camelot of John F. Kennedy never existed.” There were no Merlins, no Sir Galahads. Kennedy was tough and unromantic. But he was a leader. “He posed for the first time the great question … What kind of people are we Americans? What do we want to become?”

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The Empire Strikes Back: Surprise Win for Clinton in NH

Clinton Repays the Faith of Her Foot Soldiers

 

Report from Martin Kettle of The Guardian

Manchester, New Hampshire

A crowd cheers as they watch election returns for Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton at the campaign headquarters in Manchester, New Hampshire.

A crowd cheers as they watch election returns for Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton at the campaign headquarters in Manchester, New Hampshire. Photograph: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

Clinton comebacks in New Hampshire primaries are the stuff of political legend. But even Hillary Clinton’s closest aides – and perhaps even the candidate herself – were stunned by the turnaround in her fortunes as the counting of votes got under way this time.

Yet as the realisation that the New York senator had not just survived the primary to fight another day but was in with a shout of a famous victory, the surprise quickly turned to confidence and a belief that the long-time frontrunner may have mounted an astonishing turnaround against the odds that could yet see off the surging challenge of Barack Obama.

 What made this truly remarkable was that, only a few hours earlier, Clinton staffers were privately admitting defeat. “We have lost this time. We must learn the lesson. We must fight on,” said one at around lunchtime.

So prepared for defeat was the Clinton camp that, when the first votes were counted and reported shortly after 8pm local time, showing the narrowest of Clinton leads over Obama, they were not believed. “Interesting. Maybe we’ve pulled in more women this time,” was the most that any campaign official would say.

But when the narrow lead continued to hold steady as the night wore on – a three-point lead for a long time, then briefly five, before dipping back to two after two hours of counting – the mood hardened and the confidence began to rise.

“WE HAVE STOPPED A FREIGHT TRAIN”

By 10pm, the earlier uncertainty had been transformed into a new exhilaration. “This is a huge victory for Hillary,” a source close to Clinton pronounced as the lead held with nearly 60% of New Hampshire precincts reporting. “We have stopped the freight train.”

If the highest echelons of the Clinton campaign were taken aback by the way the count was going, there was less surprise among the Clinton campaign foot soldiers outside campaign headquarters as close of polling approached.

Although journalists have rightly reported the almost unprecedented levels of enthusiasm that have greeted Obama in the closing days of the campaign, the Clinton campaign has had lots of support and made lots of noise too.

“Ready for change. Ready to lead” the volunteers still chanted – just as they have been doing for the last few days – as they waved their placards outside the university campus in Manchester where the Clinton campaign’s post-primary rally was being set up.

“When I say President, You say Clinton. President Clinton, President Clinton” they chanted – meaning Hillary rather than Bill.

“I’m real nervous,” admitted Lauren Hurley, a Concord music student. “I just think that Obama is not ready for it. He needs a lot more experience. His message is connecting. But so is ours.”

She turned out to know more than the pollsters and the pundits. “This bubble burst very late,” was one view from inside the Clinton campaign last night.

According to Clinton campaign private polling, Obama was at least 10 points ahead of Clinton yesterday. Yet within 24 hours, that lead had been pegged right back, reopening a Democratic race that many had assumed was on the verge of collapsing in Obama’s favour.

“How did we do it? She did it,” an aide said as the lead over Obama continued to hold. “Plus the message was redone and the women responded.”

SYMPATHY VOTE? 

Perhaps, after all, that choke in the throat at yesterday’s rally in Portsmouth was the turning point. If so, it may have been the most politically significant near-sob in American history.

Many hours earlier, Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, had poured coffee and offered doughnuts to queueing voters and a police officer at a Manchester elementary school before dawn.

“We’re going to work all day to get the vote out,” she said. And that is what they did. Two and half hours after the polls closed, with just over two-thirds of the votes counted, NBC News and then the Associated Press each called the primary for Clinton.

The Clinton campaign is back from the dead and the supporters are cheering and chanting in disbelief and delight.

Copyright 2008 The Guardian. All Rights Reserved.

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Op-Ed: The Night Dr. King’s Dream Came True

 

 

I Have a Dream Today
“I Have a Dream Today”

“NOW IS THE TIME TO MAKE REAL THE PROMISES OF DEMOCRACY”

Dr. Martin Luther King, from his immortal “I Have A Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC, August 28, 1963.

Barack Obama Victory Speech, Des moines, Iowa, January 3, 2008

“THEY SAID THIS DAY WOULD NEVER COME”

- Barack Obama, Victory Speech in Iowa, January 3, 2008

Last night, America changed forever — and for the better.

Last night, Democratic voters in Iowa shocked the world — and the political establishment.

Last night, 12 days before his birthday and in the 40th year since his assassination, the people of Iowa made Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream come true. They judged a man not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.

Last night, Iowa Democrats honored the highest ideals that President John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy stood and fought for — the ideals that Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, and so many other lesser-known but equally brave Americans gave their lives for. They handed Senator Barack Obama a clear and decisive victory in the first caucus of the 2008 presidential race.

Last night, history was made, a massive milestone reached in what JFK once called the long twilight struggle. The struggle is far from over; we cannot for one moment forget the sacrifices it took to get us where we are — right now, right here in America.

Few under the age of 30 who were fortunate enough to grow up in a largely colorblind and desegregated society can imagine a time when their black brothers and sisters could not even sit beside them at a public lunch counter. Not so long ago in this country, a black American simply seeking to attend a state-run university had to be escorted in by federal troops after riots erupted in the streets. The very act of casting a vote was enough to put one’s safety in danger. In 1961 — the year Barack Obama was born – merely asserting a citizen’s right to travel subjected the Freedom Riders to brutal beatings, assault with firehoses, and the teeth of Bull Connor’s unforgiving, bloodthirsty police dogs.

Few of us over the age of 30 could have imagined the reality of an African-American man being a serious contender for President of the United States in our lifetimes. Few could honestly believe that in the American heartland, in a state whose population is nearly 95% white, Iowans would choose a black man as the candidate best qualified to lead our country.

But they did. And it’s wonderful. Somewhere, MLK is smiling. 

“WE ARE ONE PEOPLE. AND OUR TIME FOR CHANGE HAS COME.” – OBAMA

While Barack Obama is not the first black candidate to win a presidential primary (that honor goes to the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who won five primaries in 1984 and 11 contests in 1988), he has upped the stakes considerably. Jackson’s wins made history, but his long history as a civil rights activist unfortunately caused him to be labeled as a radical. Many said Jackson was too liberal, too polarizing a figure to be the party nominee, and gave him little hope of winning a general election. By contrast, Obama appeals to mainstream American voters of both parties, giving him a far better chance to compete in November.

Jackson, a former King aide, was standing beside him on the balcony of the Hotel Lorraine in Memphis when MLK was murdered. His presidential bids in `84 and `88 revived the spirit of Dr. King and this helped propel Jackson’s candidacy to victory in several primaries. Jackson carried mostly left-leaning states with large black populations (Louisiana, the District of Columbia, South Carolina, Virginia and Mississippi in 1984, adding Alabama, Georgia, Puerto Rico, Michigan, Delaware and Vermont four years later), and was considered a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination early in 1988.

Can it happen again? Can Obama do even better? Many believe that he can. What made his surprise win in Iowa so remarkable was not just the fact that he pulled it off in a a key early primary state which is almost all white, but the David-and-Goliath aspect of this race made his victory even more interesting. His opponent was a former first lady and the projected winner in nearly every pre-caucus poll. Jesse Jackson did not have to campaign against a former president (stumping for his wife) of his own party – and an incredibly powerful, well-financed political machine.

But perhaps the most critical difference of all is that Obama seems to be bringing the right message for the times in which we live. A message of hope, of change, of unity — and that this message is clearly striking a deep chord with America’s youth, who will be our future.

In his victory speech last night, Senator Obama spoke of hope winning over fear. “We are choosing unity over division and sending a powerful message that change is coming to America.

“We are not a collection of red states and blue states. We are the United States!” 

It doesn’t matter if Barack Obama is your candidate or not. At present, he is not my candidate. He is not Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s candidate. What matters is the seismic change in American society and culture Obama’s victory last night represents. And that will reverberate forever.

See this story for more coverage of the Iowa Caucus results, and all candidates in the race.

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Looking Back on Iowa, Forward to New Hampshire

IOWA CAUCUS WRAP UP

Expect much to be written over the coming days and weeks about Barack Obama’s surprise win in the nation’s first caucus of 2008.

Because Barack Obama’s victory in Iowa was historically significant, we have devoted a separate story to Why It’s Important and What It All Means.

That being said, on to coverage of the other candidates in the race! The media has been so Obama-obsessed as of late, it seems the incredible efforts put forward by the other presidential hopefuls have been almost completely overlooked.

“THE TORCH HAS BEEN PASSED” – JOHN EDWARDS

Obama’s inspirational victory speech will perhaps eclipse the brilliant and heartfelt one delivered by John Edwards, who pulled off an impressive second-place showing last night. This is unfortunate indeed, because one need look no further than Edwards’ words to hear the populist echoes of RFK.

“35 million people in America went hungry last year in the richest country on earth!” Edwards said with indignation. “We are better than this. Enough is enough!”

He told the assembled audience that “tonight, you have created and started a tidal wave of change that will sweep across the country,” and twice invoked President Kennedy’s message of “the torch being passed” to a new generation of Americans.

WHAT HAPPENED TO HILLARY?

For many, the biggest shocker of the night was Hillary coming in behind Obama and Edwards. Every poll going into the caucus showed her leading with at least a few percentage points over the competition. Not a single overpaid pundit predicted that Hillary would place third in Iowa. And nobody could seem to figure out what went wrong.

On the postgame CNN broadcast, Larry King asked former Clinton White House adviser David Gergen, “What happened to Hillary?”

“She got rolled by Barack Obama,” Gergen replied dryly.

Sacred cow Carl Bernstein was scratching his head in befuddlement over the results. “There’s something happening here…” the old man said, clearly unable to define exactly what it was.

Describing the group assembled around Hillary during her speech at the Hotel Fort Des Moines, he quite rightly observed: “You look at the faces behind Hillary and they’re all old faces. Barack Obama brings the youth. You could clearly see the devastation on Bill Clinton’s face.” David Gergen was quick to concur.

Meanwhile, over on Fox, Rush Limbaugh was having a field day, implying that Clinton brought this on herself with “an attitude of arrogant inevitability.” Calling it “the worst night of Hillary Clinton’s life,” Rush added with apparent glee that “this is a devastating and humiliating loss for Hillary.” 

RFK Jr., Chelsea Clinton, Hillary clinton, Manchester, NH January 4, 2008

(PHOTO CAPTION: The look on Chelsea Clinton’s face pretty much says it all. After her mother’s devastating defeat in Iowa last night, Hillary brings out the big names to help her campaign in New Hampshire today. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at left. AP Photo.) 

HUCK’S LUCK?

Not only did Obama prove the pollsters and pundits wrong with a 38%-to-29% win over Hillary Clinton, but former Arkanasas Governor Mike Huckabee made jaws drop on the Republican side, shutting out the predicted victor Mitt Romney with a nearly identical margin of victory.

Perhaps even sweeter still, Huckabee was outspent by his opponent 15 to one, and yet somehow managed to whup up on the former Massachusetts Governor at the polls. Is it just beginner’s luck for Huck? Or does this upset point to a much bigger trend? Huckabee thinks it does.

“Americans are sick of political dumpster diving,” he told Larry King, attributing the surprise victory to his strategy of staying above the mudslinging. “If you gain the whole world and lose your own soul, how does that benefit you?” Huckabee asked philosophically. “How does that qualify you to be president?

“Americans are clearly saying, `we want to give new people, a new generation, a chance to lead this country.‘ Here’s what we had that was better than money: we had people who gave their heart and soul. It’s a new day in American politics.”

You can say that again, Huck. 

SO MUCH FOR CONVENTIONAL WISDOM

The 2008 Iowa Caucus will be remembered as a night of outrageous upsets for the favored frontrunners and unexpected underdog victories. It also signaled the end of at least two campaigns, with Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd dropping out of the race.

What will happen next is anybody’s guess. The dynamics in New Hampshire are far different politically, as is the voting process itself. Unlike the Iowa Caucus, where votes were counted by real human beings with hands (for the Democrats) and paper ballots (for the Republicans), New Hampshire’s will be tallied mostly by electronic voting machines.

Three of Robert Kennedy’s children traveled to New Hampshire today to help their candidate turn things around. Bobby Kennedy Jr., Kerry Kennedy and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend made several campaign stops in the Granite state, stumping for Hillary in Nashua, Salem, Manchester and Milford. Rest assured that Clinton will be pulling out all the stops to ensure a solid victory over the next four days – and the Kennedy star power certainly won’t hurt a bit.

As all the candidates man their cannons and prepare for the “second Battle of Concord,” it is perhaps well to remember that 1775 battle was the first serious engagement of the Revolution. If what happened in Iowa last night is any indication of the future, the Second American Revolution (a peaceful one this time, we hope) is already well underway.

 

 

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