Obama’s New Stump Speech: Our Moment is Now

December 27, 2007

Obama unveiled his new stump speech today, with Mark Halperin calling it the “best-written speech of the campaign.” Key parts:

The real gamble in this election is playing the same Washington game with the same Washington players and expecting a different result. And that’s a risk we can’t take. Not this year. Not when the stakes are this high.

But you can’t at once argue that you’re the master of a broken system in Washington and offer yourself as the person to change it. You can’t fall in line behind the conventional thinking on issues as profound as war and offer yourself as the leader who is best prepared to chart a new and better course for America.

The truth is, you can have the right kind of experience and the wrong kind of experience. Mine is rooted in the real lives of real people and it will bring real results if we have the courage to change. I believe deeply in those words. But they are not mine. They were Bill Clinton’s in 1992, when Washington insiders questioned his readiness to lead.

Full speech after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

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Annotating “The Final Push”

December 27, 2007

Approaching the last stretch before Iowa, Edwards Deputy Campaign Manager Jonathan Prince sent out a memo entitled “The Final Push”, partially annotated below.

We enter the final week before the Iowa Caucus in a position of strength. Nearly every poll finds Edwards enjoying momentum that places us in a statistical tie with Senators Clinton and Obama for first place. CNN’s Opinion Research poll captured Edwards at 26 percent; Strategic Vision found Edwards at 27 percent.

As of now, Iowa is a tossup as Prince says. Nonetheless, Edwards does hold two important advantages. Many of his supporters are previous caucus-goers and are more likely to turn out on January 3rd. Both Clinton and Obama are relying on expanding the traditional group of caucus-goers, a strategy with a questionable track record. Edwards also is the second choice for a plurality of Iowans. Due to the nature of the Iowa caucuses, if a candidate doesn’t reach a 15% viability threshold in a given precinct, supporters are forced to disband and back another person.

But increased energy around our campaign is not limited to Iowa. In New Hampshire, we have climbed to 18 percent support in Gallup and other polls. Last Thursday in Manchester we drew over 600 people while Obama’s close by crowd was roughly 500. In Nevada, we had our best precinct recruitment week ever since we started recruiting precinct captains in the summer. In South Carolina, two recent polls have us jumping 6 percentage points while both of our opponents slide.

Left unsaid is that Edwards is still a distant third in South Carolina, a state he won handily four years ago. Among blacks, who constitute more than 50% of the vote, Edwards registers a paltry 5%. Concerning Nevada, Edwards looks to benefit from the strong union presence in the state. However, the candidates have paid little attention to the Silver State, making its role in the nominating process uncertain.

We know that Senator Clinton will spend the week touting her national security credentials in a move that echoes George Bush’s 2004 campaign. We believe Democrats will not be fooled by efforts to play on their fears.

We also expect Senator Obama to continue his attacks on Senator Edwards. As NBC News, ABC News, CNN, the New York Times, and the Des Moines Register have noted, Obama’s recent attacks on Edwards coincide with Edwards’ gaining steam on the trial. It’s no accident that Obama’s criticisms of Edwards coincide with Edwards’ uptick in recent polls. Paul Krugman observed Obama’s attack on outside labor-funded groups could actually hurt the Democratic Party.

Edwards was the first candidate to mount a major offensive against Clinton, but has now settled back into the optimistic attitude characteristic of him in ’04. Now, Clinton, and Obama to an extent, are the ones going negative, which may turn off Iowa voters. Perhaps this race will be a repeat of ’04: Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean clashed, leaving Kerry as the unintended beneficiary.

The results of the Iowa Caucus will kick-off a condensed nomination contest, and we are ready to use the momentum from a strong Iowa finish to propel us in New Hampshire and beyond. We have eight times the number of field staff in the state of New Hampshire than the Edwards campaign had in 2004; we recently added two dozen field staffers in Nevada; and we were the first candidate to run ads in South Carolina – a state Edwards won by 15 points in 2004. Given our support throughout the labor community and our advisors at work in all February 5th states, we will have the infrastructure in place to seize on momentum from strong early place finishes.

Wishful thinking. Both Clinton and Obama have significantly more resources necessary for a strong showing on February 5th. Edwards is well-positioned in Iowa but is incapable of riding the potential momentum to the nomination.


The New Hampshire Editorial Boards Pile On

December 26, 2007

On the heels of the Concord Monitor declaring anyone but Mitt, the New Hampshire Union Leader echoed a similar sentiment yesterday. The Union Leader, which has endorsed McCain, wrote “the more Mitt Romney speaks, the less believable he becomes.” Although not as influential as, say the Des Moines Register in Iowa, the New Hampshire editorial boards continue the calculation vs. conviction storyline contributing to McCain’s resurgence in the state.

What remains to be seen is whether or not Republican primary voters are prepared to vote for principles over positions. McCain still holds many views out of line with the base, most notably on illegal immigration (which sank his campaign over the summer) and campaign finance reform. While Romney has reversed his positions to more conservative stances, it is unlikely that he will change again if in the Oval Office.

However, the deciding issue for voters desperate to maintain their hold on the White House may be electability. McCain runs the strongest amongst the Republicans, beating Clinton by an average 4.7%. And, can the party that skewered John Kerry really nominate their own Massachusetts flip-flopper?

Update: Rasmussen has recent numbers measuring the core opposition for each of the major candidates.  A startling 47% of the electorate said they would definitely not vote for Romney, while 33% said the same for McCain.  What’s remarkable is the intensity of dislike toward Romney despite his brief stay on the national scene.


Anyone but Mitt

December 23, 2007

So says the Concord Monitor in a scathing editorial deeming Romney a “phony.”

If you followed only his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, you might imagine Romney as a pragmatic moderate with liberal positions on numerous social issues and an ability to work well with Democrats. If you followed only his campaign for president, you’d swear he was a red-meat conservative, pandering to the religious right, whatever the cost. Pay attention to both, and you’re left to wonder if there’s anything at all at his core.

Not only has Romney slipped into second in Iowa, but he now faces increasing pressure in New Hampshire from a resurgent John McCain. This editorial further fuels a central distinction between the two candidates. McCain, endorsed by the Boston Globe and the New Hampshire Union Leader, is perceived as the candidate of straight talk. On the other hand, Romney is portrayed as a flip-flopper.


Hillary’s Handicaps

December 15, 2007

From The Caucus:

[Hillary Clinton] said that she had always known that competing in Iowa — where she’s in a race that has increasingly tightened with her rivals Barack Obama and John Edwards — would be hard.  “I always knew it would be hard,” she said, listing the handicaps she faced by not living in a neighboring state, not having been here much in many years before this race, and that her husband hadn’t campaigned here when he was running. (emphasis added)

The last “handicap” is absolutely outrageous, admitting that she wouldn’t be a viable candidate if she weren’t married to Bill.  And even in New Hampshire, where Bill campaigned fiercely on his way to the “Comeback Kid” title, Obama has pulled even.

In the second “handicap”, Clinton singles out Edwards for the time he’s spent in Iowa since 2003.  Yet, she’s the one benefiting from the Clinton political machine, the dominant fixture in Democratic circles long before Edwards’ ’04 run.  More hypocrisy from Hillary.


Obama’s Debate Moment

December 15, 2007

A clip from Wednesday’s Democratic debate:

A great zinger in its own right, but there’s another question.  Why did all the Clintonites defect to Obama?


Romney Goes Negative

December 11, 2007

Watching Mike Huckabee catapult to the lead in Iowa, Mitt Romney decided to fire the first negative volley of the Republican contest, aimed squarely at the affable Arkansas governor.  The Romney campaign is now airing a television ad focusing on Huckabee’s liberal immigration policies while governor, entitled “Choice: The Record.”  The ad’s below:

So far, Huckabee has not undergone the intense media scrutiny usually directed at a top-tier candidate.  With only 3 weeks left before Iowa, including the holidays, there is little time for other candidates to step in and start defining him.  Giuliani, who benefits from a muddled outcome in Iowa, will surely not risk the backlash associated with such direct negative campaigning.  McCain has largely written off the state, and even if competitive, doesn’t have the financial resources necessary.  That leaves the task up to Romney, the candidate with the most to lose from an Iowa loss.  Anything short of a first-place finish is a significant blow to Romney, who has invested millions in the state paramount to his momentum strategy.