Tag Archives: New Hampshire Primary

Hillary Clinton: The Comeback Kid Does It Again…and Again…and Again

Senator Hillary Clinton, RFK Jr.'s choice for President

(Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton: She takes a licking and keeps on ticking)

CLINTON: THE COMEBACK KID 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

After 11 straight primary losses in a row, there’s only one word (or an old Rolling Stones song, if you prefer) to describe how Hillary Clinton’s supporters must be feeling today: Satisfaction.

Last night, Clinton once again stunned the pundits and savants by pulling off a sweep of three key primary states in what by any standard must be deemed an impressive comeback.

Just a week ago, the press and pollsters were all but declaring her candidacy dead in the water. Again. And so in a command performance of Senator Clinton’s astounding comebacks in New Hampshire and on Super Tuesday, she proved `em all dead wrong. Again.

I DIDN’T MEAN TO SAY I TOLD YOU SO, BUT…

If there is one time-honored rule of modern politics, it is: never count the Clintons out.

No matter how many scandals may befall the Democratic golden couple, no matter how many “Hillary Haters” there are out there, no matter how many attacks Hillary takes for being too-this-or-too-that, she survives it all and somehow seems to take it in stride. Like Elton John, she’s still standing, baby. And she’s still fighting. More than that, she enjoys a good scrap. Which means she’s one hell of a good politician.

Love her or hate her, you’ve got to admit this woman is a master of the political art. With a keen sense of knowing when to pull back on her opponent and when to pounce, Hillary Clinton stayed above the fray earlier in the campaign by letting her husband do the dirty-work.

The former president took the flames for his comments about Barack Obama on the campaign trail while Hillary took the high road. Brilliant good-cop/bad-cop strategy, and unprecedented at that; who ever heard of a former president and first lady tag-teaming her opponent in a presidential race? Who could have been ready for it? Certainly not their unfortunate opponent, who was too blindsided to respond adequately. (“At this point, I’m not exactly sure which Clinton I’m running against,” quipped a baffled Senator Obama.)

Shedding a few perfectly-timed tears on the eve of the Hew Hampshire primary (when she was trailing by as much as 13% in the polls) didn’t hurt a bit, either.

Even when many within the Kennedy family (longtime Clinton allies) split off and endorsed Obama just after the South Carolina primary and all the pundits once again declared this was surely the end for Senator Clinton’s candidacy, she rebounded again on Super Tuesday, claiming the biggest prize of all, California…even with a Kennedy sitting in the Governor’s mansion. (Maria Shriver had just endorsed Obama two days earlier.)

You wanna talk about Shock and Awe? How about Clinton winning Massachusetts, the home state of Democratic darlings Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, who also endorsed Obama?

Then there were those 11 straight primary losses. Ouch. That’s gotta hurt. The mainstream media could hardly wait to write her political obituary and deem her as insignificant to this race as Mike Huckabee. But then… something happened in the week before the March 4th primaries.

Something turned this thing in Clinton’s favor last night, and now all the pundits scratch their heads in bewilderment and engage in more Wednesday-morning quarterbacking. Particularly amusing was watching the MSNBC gang, who can’t seem to bring Obama enough pillows here lately. (Although Clinton is not my candidate, I’ve got to tell you that I rather enjoyed watching these overpaid geniuses try to figure out what her secret was.) How did she do it, despite their best efforts to effectively kill her campaign?

WAS OBAMA OVERCONFIDENT OR DID CLINTON JUST TRY HARDER?

Here in Austin, Texas, I had a front row seat for the whole process and can easily lay out how Clinton’s victory happened. Simply put, Hillary and her campaign staff worked their asses off. The Clinton campaign did a lot more than just throw a zillion ads on TV. They didn’t just relax and wait for the inevitable votes to come rolling in. They took nothing for granted this time.

From my standpoint on the ground here, not just as a political reporter but as a voting citizen, here is what I personally saw: over the past three weeks, every single candidate (regardless of party affiliation) has called my home to ask for my support. EXCEPT, to my surprise, Barack Obama.

I’ve recieved numerous pieces of direct mail from every candidate running for dog-catcher, let alone the presidency…everyone, that is, except Barack Obama. Campaign volunteers have come to the door pushing their candidate’s literature under my nose so often that I nearly ran out of milk and cookies to offer them all and began to reconsider just how far this whole Southern hospitality thing should really go.

Not that they weren’t pleasant to talk to…all of them were, even the Republicans. (Ron Paul’s people were especially cool to hang out with – hell, I even invited them to stay for lunch.) As a political animal and staunch independent with no dog in this race, I quite often enjoy hearing their sales pitches and of course, engaging them in a bit of friendly debate. So I sparred with campaigners for John McCain (thoroughly enjoyable!) and the Clinton camp, too, of course. Was really looking forward to a tete a’ tete with the Obama people, but unfortunately, they never showed up.

Inexplicable as it seems, it’s true. As longtime readers of this blog know, I’m not supporting any of the current candidates in this race and therefore have no reason to lie. I’m just telling you what I saw – and most importantly, didn’t see. Never once did I get a piece of direct mail from the Obama campaign, not a single phone call, no email, no one knocked on my door. Meanwhile, every other candidate courted me like the belle of the ball.

Voters like that sort of thing, you know. When our state is in the primary spotlight, we enjoy the process of candidate courtship. Most of us do not object to a quick phone call or better yet, a personal visit. We may not wind up voting for you, but we sure like being asked to. Matter of fact, we are far more likely to vote for you if you simply ask for our vote. I know it sounds simple, but you’d be surprised just how well it really works. 

Barack Obama (Stetson and all!) in Texas

(Senator Obama may have learned a valuable lesson from his Lone Star defeat: that it takes a lot more than donning a ten-gallon hat to win the hearts, minds, and votes of Texans.)

SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED? WELL…MAYBE NOT JUST YET.

Now, I’m not exactly sure what all those fervent, youthful volunteers over at the Obama camp do all day long -eat pizza, play video games, post Hillary-hatin’ attacks on Democratic Underground, who knows? – but they’re sure as hell not out knocking on doors and ringing phones. At least not in my neighborhood, which is largely comprised of young middle-class, college-educated whites and a mix of Hispanic and African-American families, presumably the target demographic they hope to reach.

Whereas the Obama campaign was conspicuously absent from my doorstep, mailbox and answering machine – hell, I didn’t even get one of the obligatory recorded messages from the candidate himself which are so popular nowadays – Camp Clinton pursued me fervently. Their approach was surprisingly personable, even…dare I say it aloud? – humble.

For example, two Sundays ago, my phone rang all day long with campaign calls – McCain, Huckabee, Ron Paul, Governor Rick Perry endorsing McCain, even Cindy McCain called with a pre-recorded pitch for her hubby (who doesn’t sleep around with attractive lobbyists)…to the point where I just let the answering machine take all these bothersome robot calls. It was bad enough to have my Sunday afternoon constantly interrupted by candidates I wouldn’t consider voting for anyway, but something about all these damn prerecorded messages was rather off-putting. If a candidate really wants my vote, you’d think they might go to the trouble to put a live human being on the phone.

Just when I was about to rip the blasted phone jack out of the wall, it rang again. I let the call go to my answering machine, thinking, “oh shit, here comes another canned campaign message,” and lo and behold, it was the sound of a real human being on the other end of the line. She introduced herself as a volunteer for Hillary Clinton, gave her name and a callback number, encouraging me to call anytime if I had questions for the candidate or wanted to volunteer. While I certainly had no intentions of doing either, something about the personal approach appealed to me and I picked up the phone.

The Clinton campaign volunteer I spoke to was a Hispanic woman calling from New Mexico, and she was audibly relieved just to hear a friendly voice on the line. It was obvious she hadn’t had much luck calling Texans today, and had already been yelled at a few times. Sheepishly, she went into her script about how men have been running the country forever (and just look what a mess they’ve made of things! My goodness gracious!) and didn’t I think it was time to give a woman a try?

Nice approach – and since I am female, I got script B. If I had been a male voter, I’m sure I would have gotten script A, as I somehow don’t think the whole feminist slant would have proved effective with menfolk down here in Texas. Nonetheless, after talking with the volunteer for a few minutes, it was apparent that Camp Clinton was putting in the effort that no other campaign was, and I must say, I was duly impressed.

(Not that it changed the way I voted, but it did change the way I view Hillary Clinton as a candidate, and to be honest, my impression is far more favorable than before. I respect any candidate who is hungry enough to work hard to win every last vote. That’s The Way It Ought To Be, dont’cha think?)

That was even before the now-infamous-but-effective “3 A.M.” ad hit the airwaves late this week, and before Hillary Clinton made her perfectly-timed, self-effacing appearances on Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show. All of this, combined with her raising questions about Obama’s NAFTA rhetoric and some of his campaign advisers in the days leading up to the Texas primary, was again a brilliant strategy and proved decisive in swaying the vote of the last-minute undecideds.

The proof of all that hard work and strategizing was in the pudding: big victories for Clinton in Rhode Island, Ohio and Texas.

THE PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING, BUT THE DEVIL IS IN THE DELEGATES

As the old saying goes, “the proof is in the pudding, but the devil is in the details.” And in this case, the details are the delegates. On that front, Obama is still leading in Texas.

Texas, always priding itself on being different (often just for the sake of being different), has an admittedly bizarre system of having both a primary and a caucus.

“Run that by me again,” you say?

Okay, here’s how it works: the delegate count is not given on a winner-take-all basis here. Two-thirds of the delegates are awarded by the popular vote count from the primary – then the remaining third are decided through caucuses held at local polling precincts the same night. After the polls close, you simply return to your precinct and caucus for your candidate, sometimes into the wee-wee hours.

While Clinton won the popular vote in Texas by a slim margin, Obama is doing very well in the caucus, the results of which are still being tabulated at press time today. If the caucus vote turns out as expected, Obama will beat Clinton by 10 points or more, which certainly makes a considerable dent in her delegate count. So win or lose, this thing may well turn out to be a draw..but it ain’t over. Just ask Hillary.

Little more than a week ago, everyone from James Carville to her own husband, former president Bill Clinton, were saying if she didn’t win big in Texas and Ohio, she would just have to fold up her tent and go home to Westchester. Well…better rewrite that headline.

Hillary may not have scored landslide wins across the board last night, but it was enough to keep her viable and very much in this race.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

While the Republicans caved quickly, the challengers fell away, the conservative opposition melted, and a nominee was decided last night in John McCain, the Democrats may well be taking their fight to the convention floor in Denver. And that’s five months away. While I like Barack Obama and think he’s a candidate with incredible promise, allow me to just offer a bit of advice on the subject of Hillary Clinton: if you think she’s going to drop out of this race before Denver, you’re out of your mind.

This resilient woman has proven herself not only a formidable political force to be reckoned with down through the years, but she has also proven in this race that she always knows the right move to make at the right time. She’s a shrewd strategist and a brilliant politician. She’s a tough campaigner and a down-in-the-alley streetfighter when need be. Just ask Barack Obama, who spent most of this week fending off the slings and arrows.

Is this good for the country? In my humble opinion, no. Is it good for the Democratic Party? Well, I’ll probably get shot for saying this, but yes, I think it’s very healthy for the Democratic process, and even for the party itself.

If this battle winds up on the convention floor this summer, not only will it be the most exciting convention in recent memory, but will keep the process exciting – not just for Democrats, but for the country and all who are closely watching our elections around the world.

After all, who wants to pick a nominee in February, forcing all other contenders out of the race? Borrrrrrring. We might as well nap `til November. And isn’t that exactly why so many Democrats fought against the idea of Hillary as the “inevitable” nominee all this year? Did this attitude not contribute to the sudden rise of Barack Obama as the anti-Clinton?

Hillary Clinton didn’t turn out to be the inevitable candidate she first painted herself to be, that’s a fact. Senator Obama is certainly giving her a good run for her money. But, Hillary has proven over and over again that she can’t be quite so easily dismissed or defeated.

In the fight for her political life these past few weeks, Senator Clinton has shown us that she’s still got “it” (whatever ‘it” is). Call “it” blonde ambition or fanatic feminism, a refusal to be a loser, an ego-trip, a mad grab for power, or what you will, but after last night, you’d also have to call her a winner.

Again.

So hold that obituary, MSNBC. I have a sneaking suspicion that Hillary just might surprise ya’ll a few more times before it’s all said and done.

 

Copyright RFKin2008.com.

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under austin, election 2008, hillary clinton, media, politics, RFK Jr., robert kennedy jr., senator robert kennedy, texas, the kennedys, Uncategorized

Candidates Demand Vote Recount In NH

DID BARACK OBAMA ACTUALLY WIN NEW HAMPSHIRE?

That’s the question a lot of people are asking this week. Investigative reports were already being posted on Brad Blog and BlackBoxVoting.org the night of New Hampshire’s primary election which revealed a troubling disparity between the results of votes counted by hand compared to ballots tallied by machines.

Surprisingly, it is not Barack Obama who is now asking for a recount, although he is certainly the candidate who would have the most to gain if the results actually favored him over his opponent Hillary Clinton. Instead, the request comes from two lesser-known candidates: Democrat Dennis Kucinich and supporters of Republican Ron Paul.

The New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office says it will conduct a hand recount of the votes in both the Republican and Democratic primaries starting next Wednesday after receiving formal requests from two candidates this week.

On Friday, Albert Howard, an obscure candidate from Ann Arbor, Mich., who appeared on the Republican ballot and received 44 votes in the primary, hand-delivered his recount request and a down payment of $2,000 to the statehouse in Concord, N.H.

And Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio Congressman and presidential candidate, sent a letter to the New Hampshire Secretary of State asking for a recount of the Democratic ballots. Mr. Kucinich’s letter cited “unexplained disparities between hand-counted ballots and machine-counted ballots.”

Both Mr. Kucinich and Mr. Howard, whose Web site lists making “computerized voting illegal in all 50 states” as a top campaign issue, will have to come up with the money to pay for the recount.

A sample of Brad Blog’s reporting on this, which so for has been outstanding:

Kucinich says that he’s calling for a “recount”. While it may seem a quibble, the fact is that until now, 80% of New Hampshire’s ballots have been “counted” only by a hackable, prone-to-error, Diebold optical-scan machine. The systems were entirely programmed, serviced and controlled by one somewhat less-than-reputable company (LHS Associates). The machines are the very same model shown being hacked in the Emmy-nominated HBO documentary Hacking Democracy, in which the results of a live mock election were flipped via the gaming of the machine’s memory card.

Unedited footage of that live landmark hack from December of 2005, as well as rare footage of LHS Associate’s President John Silvestro, can be seen here. And more deep background on LHS and their troubling, and exclusive control over New Hampshire’s ballots is posted here.

We’ve put the words “count” and “recount” in quotes, given what we know about these machines, and given the fact that approximately 80% of the New Hampshire ballots have not actually been counted or examined by anyone. To our knowledge, only Diebold optical-scanners were used for tabulating those ballots, without any secondary cross-check or audit, to ensure accuracy. In other words, until now, 80% of New Hampshire results have been “faith-based”. The other 20% or so of the ballots were counted by hand at the polling place on Election Night.

We would also caution Kucinich and his team to closely inspect the chain of custody for the ballots in question, and what has happened to them, and the vulnerable op-scan memory cards, since the election two days ago, during the period that concern has been widely expressed about the seemingly anomalous results of Tuesday’s election. It’s important that the chain of custody be both secure, fully logged, and transparent.

Nancy Tobi of New Hampshire for Democracy, a Granite State election integrity watchdog group, previously noted her concerns in earlier discussions about the possibility of hand counting the state’s op-scan primary ballots.

“We have no control over the ballot chain of custody and we have learned the pain from the 2004 Nader recount, in which only 11 districts were counted, chosen by a highly questionable person, and then nothing showed up,” she wrote recently. “Now all we hear is how the Nader recount validated the machines. A candidate asking for a recount may well be a tool used to ‘prove” everything was okay and then that candidate will be further discredited,” she warned.

Finally, Kucinich mentions one of the reasons for the count is the “unexplained disparities between hand-counted ballots and machine-counted ballots.” Indeed, there are disparities between the hand-counted and Diebold counted ballots, as we reported last night. Hillary Clinton seems to have received a full 7 point advantage in Diebold precincts, versus hand-counted ones.

However, as mentioned last night, that disparity doesn’t necessarily indicate anything in and of itself. There could be any number of reasons to explain it. For example, it’s the smaller and more rural precincts who count by hand, where the larger towns use Diebold/LHS Associates to count. It could well be that Obama is more popular in smaller towns, and Clinton in larger.

We do note, however, the following rather remarkably anomalous result which was reported late this afternoon by analysts from the Election Defense Alliance (EDA). As noted by one of the researchers, IT Consultant Bruce O’Dell:

Analysts at the Election Defense Alliance (EDA) have confirmed that based on the official results on the New Hampshire Secretary of state web site, there is a remarkable relationship between Obama and Clinton votes, when you look at votes tabulated by op-scan v. votes tabulated by hand:

Clinton Optical scan 91,717 52.95%
Obama Optical scan 81,495 47.05%

Clinton Hand-counted 20,889 47.05%
Obama Hand-counted 23,509 52.95%

The percentages appear to be swapped. That seems highly unusual, to say the least.

O’Dell notes the group is “proceeding with intra and inter-county results and demographic analysis to better understand what this extremely unusual ‘coincidence’ may indicate.”

You can find earlier BRAD BLOG coverage of concerns regarding the New Hampshire Primary election results — and the speculation of the pundit and MSM world on why the pre-election polls must have been wrong, while entirely avoiding the question of whether the reported election results were actually validated — indexed on this Special Coverage item here.

As most election integrity advocates already know, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote an outstanding investigative article on election fraud two years ago, exposing many of the dirty tricks employed by Bushists to steal the 2004 election. The question many are now asking is: would the Democrats do the exact same thing this year?

Perhaps they would — after all, corruption knows no party lines — but the bigger question we should be asking ourselves is: if vote counts in New Hampshire are found to be skewed on both sides, who do we blame for the theft?

Who or what entity is the “hidden hand” with a vested interest in manipulating both the Republican and Democratic party votes in the nation’s first primary? A do-or-die primary, if you will, for at least two top establishment candidates – Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Or perhaps a more plausible question is: were both parties sabotaging the will of the voters to ensure victory for certain candidates who desperately needed a win?

That is what makes this New Hampshire primary recount so interesting. Unlike what happened in 2000 and 2004 where the accusation was that Republicans stole the elections, this time we can see puzzling irregularities on both sides. Neither the Republican nor Democratic results seem to add up properly. This may not be a partisan issue after all.

We are now talking about a citizen’s basic right to vote and the expectation that it will be counted correctly. Each and every citizen, regardless of party or candidate, has that right.

Your thoughts? Should the New Hampshire vote be fully investigated for the sake of election integrity? Should some, if not all, of the candidates join together and support a recount to assure the American people they believe in the integrity and transparency of the vote and that they have nothing to hide?

Copyright RFKin2008.com. Excerpt copyright 2008 Bradblog.com. All Rights Reserved.

8 Comments

Filed under election 2008, hillary clinton, impeach Bush

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.

20 Comments

Filed under election 2008, hillary clinton, media, politics, Uncategorized

You’d Be Crying, Too

Hillary Clinton got all choked up yesterday in NH after seeing the latest Gallup Poll:

USA TODAY/GALLUP POLL – JANUARY 7, 2008 (conducted Jan. 4-6)

Obama: 41%

Clinton: 28%

Edwards: 19%

Hillary clinton in new Hampshire, Jan. 7, 2008

Oddly enough, President Bush had the same reaction:

Wonder who’ll be crying tonight when the results from New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary are tallied…

Copyright RFKin2008.com. All Rights Reserved.

1 Comment

Filed under election 2008, hillary clinton, impeach Bush, media, politics, Uncategorized

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.

 

 

Copyright RFKin2008.com. All Rights Reserved.

1 Comment

Filed under election 2008, hillary clinton, media, politics, RFK Jr., robert kennedy jr., senator robert kennedy, the kennedys, Uncategorized

Op-Ed: Give Peace A Chance in `08

PEACE ON EARTH

(Unless you happen to live in Iowa or New Hampshire, that is…) 

Over the holidays, voters in Iowa and New Hampshire will no doubt be bombarded with political advertising and nonstop lobbying from candidates in last-minute efforts to convert them.

Imagine your phone ringing off the hook with campaign calls during holiday meals, or while you are trying to spend some quality time with visiting relations. 

So much for Silent Nights. Peace on earth, you say? Try living in Iowa or New Hampshire, where a moment’s peace from the political onslaught can’t seem to be bought for any price.

The people of Iowa and New Hampshire are the guinea pigs in this experimental process of moving primary elections ahead to early January for the first time in history, and they certainly have our sympathies. Over the course of the next few days, voters in these key early primary states will be making their final decisions as to which candidate they will vote for, setting the stage for what follows in the national political arena.

But after nearly a year of presidential politicking, these battleground state voters are divided among the leading candidates, and more than half are still undecided, according to recent CBS/New York Times polls in Iowa and New Hampshire.

That makes the race up for grabs in the opening weeks of 2008, and things could get really interesting. It’s all going to depend on what the “great undecided” choose to do.

For your consideration, we would like to present a recent editorial that speaks to the undecided voter and makes a mighty compelling argument that if you want change, if you truly want peace on earth, it is time to stop voting for the lesser of two evils.

PUT PEACE BEFORE PARTY

By Kevin Zeese

Peace voters have choices in 2008, but will they have the courage to support peace candidates?

In recent debates the candidates were asked whether they will support the nominee of their party. Despite increasingly harsh rhetoric between the candidates only two candidates had the courage to put peace before their party and refused to issue blanket support for their party nominee. Rep. Ron Paul and Rep. Dennis Kucinich responded they would not support the nominee unless the nominee opposed war as an instrument of foreign policy.

This deserves loud applause from the peace movement. No doubt both candidates will pay a political price for taking such a stand. They may get the “Gravel Treatment” – presidential candidate Mike Gravel was harshly critical of the top tier candidates of the Democratic Party and now is excluded from the debates because the Democratic National Committee no longer considers him a serious candidate and the corporate media, which walks lock-step with the corporate parties, has refused to invite him to any debates. His campaign has all but disappeared.

Kucinich and Paul face other potential repercussions for putting the life and death issue of war and peace before party loyalty. Both are incumbent congressmen and if they are unsuccessful in getting their party’s presidential nomination will seek re-election to Congress. Will they find themselves with a well-funded primary challenger? And, if elected, will they find their committee assignments downgraded? Will they be appointed to subcommittee or committee chairmanships or passed over in favor of party loyalists? There are many ways for a political party to punish lack of party loyalty. So, Kucinich and Paul deserve a great deal of credit for publicly standing up for peace before party.

And, Kucinich and Paul did not just come out in opposition to the current disastrous occupation of Iraq. They came out more broadly for an end to the aggressively interventionist U.S. foreign policy that is dominated by militarism. This is the type of paradigm shifting policy change that is needed in U.S. foreign policy.

The fact that the U.S. spends as much as the whole world combined on the military ensures that every other aspect of American civil life is underfunded. It is why the debt is increasing, infrastructure is failing, the U.S. remains addicted to oil, college is overpriced, health care for all unachievable, and pre-school for children widely unavailable. If the U.S. wants to build economic security at home it needs to stop spending half the federal government’s discretionary spending on the military. If we want to build security from terrorism the U.S. needs to stop creating enemies faster than we kill them. If the U.S. wants “them” to stop hating “us” we need to stop behaving like an empire.

Sadly, at least one peace group, Friends Committee on National Legislation, is turning its back on these real peace candidates. FCNL whose slogan is “War is Not the Answer,” has published a voter guide that excludes Kucinich, Paul and Gravel – the three candidates who really believe war is not the answer. FCNL readers will not learn about these peace candidates in their on-line voter guide. Why? FCNL decided on an arbitrary cut-off point in polling that excludes these candidates. All the candidates that are included keep the military option for Iran on the table and do not advocate cutting military expenditures, only one (Bill Richardson) calls for complete withdrawal from Iraq. Are these “war is not the answer” candidates?

For Kucinich and Paul this stab in the back from a peace group comes at a bad time. Kucinich recently won a straw poll by the progressive Democracy For America and in early returns Kucinich is leading in the Progressive Democrats of America straw poll. Paul has been doing extremely well in straw polls around the country as well as in fundraising and in some polls is bettering candidates like John McCain. Both seem to be getting some traction but if the peace movement is not going to even report on their positions – a movement which should be the base of their support – then what hope do they have?

Sadly, the FCNL view is not uncommon among peace voters. Too many look at which candidate is most likely to win. Peace voters need to learn that voting for peace candidates is the way to increase their power. Voting for candidates who support the occupation or waffle on whether they will remove the troops in their first term is voting against the interests of peace. It is voting for war as the primary instrument of foreign policy and empire as the goal of U.S. policy – because that is the view of the candidates covered by FCNL. Peace voters need to have the courage to vote for peace candidates.

Paul and Kucinich differ on many issues – Paul is a free-market thinker who sees the solutions to economic disparity, lack of access to health care, poor education, the environment and the housing crisis in less government and more market-based solutions. Kucinich, while agreeing with Paul on bolstering civil liberties and individual rights, sees the solution to health care as ending the for-profit dominated health insurance industry and replacing it with a non-profit single payer system provided by the government. Similarly on environmental issues Kucinich favors a major government investment in alternative energy that is clean and sustainable, Paul doesn’t. Kucinich favors abortion rights, Paul opposes federal government involvement in abortion.

Peace voters have a choice between two solid peace candidates with two very different views of government and the economy, but they have more. Mike Gravel is another long-term peace advocate who has been active against war since the Vietnam era. Some peace voters may also see a candidate in Governor Bill Richardson who favors a complete withdrawal from Iraq, but is keeping the military option on the table for Iran and does not advocate shrinking the U.S. military.

And, in the General Election, peace voters will have other options no matter what the two establishment parties decide. The Green Party recently acquired a new member in Cynthia McKinney. The former Member of Congress recently registered as a Green in California and filed with the FEC to seek the Green presidential nomination. She has been strongly anti-war for her whole career and during her last congressional term sought impeachment of President Bush for his illegal invasion of Iraq.

Ralph Nader, the long-time consumer activist and former presidential candidate who has been working against the Iraq invasion and occupation since before the war began, is also considering a run for the presidency, possibly as a Green or as an independent. He has tirelessly worked to end the Iraq occupation and throughout his career has been an advocate for less spending on the military and more spending on the necessities of the people. Nader has also been a long-term advocate for impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for their deceptions and manipulations that led to the Iraq invasion.

Another Green candidate worthy of mention is Jared Ball. He is an assistant professor at Morgan State University in Baltimore, has a radio show in Washington, DC, and is founder of FreeMix radio which puts together a monthly hip-hop compilation. He is a veteran of Desert Shield/Desert Storm and an opponent of the Iraq occupation.

The Libertarian Party also has several candidates running and they are likely to nominate a peace candidate as well. The LP’s official position on the Iraq occupation is: “It is time for U.S. forces to withdraw from Iraq as quickly as possible in a manner consistent with the safety of our troops.”

Peace voters will have choices in 2008. There are several candidates who oppose both the Iraq occupation and the use of aggressive military force as the dominant approach to foreign policy. Peace voters make up the majority of Americans, but will they have the courage to vote their convictions or will they be manipulated by the two parties and the corporate media? Will they work and financially support peace candidates? It is a test for the peace movement to see whether it as the courage to put peace first.

Kevin Zeese is executive director of Democracy Rising (DemocracyRising.US) and Voters for Peace (VotersForPeace.US).

*DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the above editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. or the owners of this web site.

12 Comments

Filed under election 2008, hillary clinton, politics, RFK Jr., robert kennedy jr., Uncategorized

Presidential Primary Election Calendar

Ready or not, the primaries are coming sooner than ever this year. Are you registered to vote? Do you know when your state’s primary election is to be held?

Here is a complete calendar of primaries, caucuses, and party conventions for 2008.

(Don’t forget, you can vote for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. even if he is not on the ballot as a write-in candidate!)

January 2008

1/3 Iowa Presidential Caucuses

1/8 District of Columbia Presidential Primary (Democratic) and Caucus (Republican)

1/8 New Hampshire Presidential Primaries

1/19 Nevada Presidential Primary (Republican) and Caucus (Democratic)

Wyoming Presidential Caucuses

1/29 South Carolina Democratic Primary

Florida Presidential Primaries

February 2008

2/2 South Carolina Republican Primary

2/5 Alabama Presidential Primaries

Alaska Presidential Caucuses

Arizona Presidential Primary (Democratic) and Caucus (Republican)

Arkansas Presidential Primaries

California Presidential Primaries

Colorado Presidential Caucuses

Connecticut Presidential Primaries

Delaware Presidential Primaries

Georgia Presidential Primaries

Illinois Presidential Primaries

Kansas Presidential Caucuses

Michigan Presidential Primaries

Missouri Presidential Primaries

New Jersey Presidential Primaries

New Mexico Presidential Caucuses

New York Presidential Primaries

North Carolina Presidential Primaries

North Dakota Presidential Primaries

Oklahoma Presidential Primaries

Oregon Presidential Primaries

Rhode Island Presidential Primaries

Tennessee Presidential Primaries

Utah Presidential Primaries

2/9 Louisiana Presidential Primaries

Washington Presidential Caucuses

2/10 Maine Democratic Caucus

2/12 Maryland Presidential Primaries

Virginia Presidential Primaries

2/19 Wisconsin Presidential Primaries

2/26 Hawaii Democratic Caucus

March 2008

3/2 Hawaii Republican Caucus

3/4 Massachusetts Presidential Primaries

Minnesota Presidential Caucuses

Ohio Presidential Primaries

Pennsylvania Presidential Primaries

Texas Presidential Primaries

Vermont Presidential Primaries

3/11 Mississippi Presidential Primaries

3/21 Maine Republican Caucus

May 2008

5/6 Indiana Presidential Primaries

5/13 Nebraska Presidential Primaries

West Virginia Presidential Caucuses (Republicans will nominate at a state convention)

5/20 Kentucky Presidential Primaries

5/27 Idaho Presidential Primary (Republican) and Caucus (Democratic)

June 2008

6/3 South Dakota Presidential Primaries

Montana Presidential Primaries

August 2008

8/25-8/28 Democratic National Convention in Denver

September 2008

9/1-9/4 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul

November 2008

11/4 Election Day

*For more information on the upcoming elections, to get registered to vote or to find your local polling place, click here.

1 Comment

Filed under election 2008, hillary clinton, politics, president kennedy, RFK Jr., robert kennedy jr., texas, Uncategorized