Social conservative Mike Huckabee, coming on strong in Iowa,
with action movie star Chuck Norris.
** HAPPY PRE-THANKSGIVING. I hope that everyone drives/flies/snorkels safely in this run-up to a holiday weekend. NWN will have a special Thanksgiving Edition, with commemorative videos you will enjoy, but publishing will, for the most part, be on an as-needed basis. As in … “What?! This must be written about.”
** HUCKABEE CLOSE BEHIND ROMNEY IN IOWA. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has tripled his support in Iowa since the summer and now runs only four points behind Mitt Romney in the latest ABC/Washington Post poll of the first-in-the-nation Iowa Republican presidential caucuses.
Romney leads Huckabee, 28% to 24%, with Fred Thompson at 15% and Rudy Giuliani at 13%. Huckabee’s supporters are more enthusiastic than those of any other Republican candidate and much more likely to stick with their man. But the guitar-playing former preacher, who has been vastly outspent by Romney, is drawing from a narrower spectrum of voters. Can he expand beyond it? Does he need to in a splintered field?
Huckabee certainly has a winning personality. He was on the BBC World News yesterday fielding questions from a correspondent frankly concerned, as she put it, that America might have another administration devoted to pursuing a Christian religious agenda in world affairs.
Accepting the premise of her questioning, Huckabee said that he’s not that kind of Christian, and that there would be “no crusade” by a Huckabee Administration. The correspondent seemed impressed with Huckabee’s matter-of-factness about it, and in the rest of the interview he laid out a compelling personal story.
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side …
Barack Obama, seen in this behind-the-scenes NWN video, has
built a narrow lead in Iowa. That’s San Francisco District Attorney
Kamala Harris on the right.
** THE OBAMA CHALLENGE. Barack Obama has built a small lead in Iowa, 30% to 26% over Hillary Clinton, with John Edwards still strong in third at 22%. People are still wondering over the weekend dust-up between Obama and Clinton over conservative columnist Bob Novak’s rather vague report of her camp having personally scandalous information about the Illinois senator but choosing not reveal it.
In his brand new effort, just out this morning to subscribers and not yet on the Net, Novak claims the episode is evidence of “Hillary’s Nixonian tactics.” It could be evidence of quite a few things, as discussed.
Now that he has a lead in Iowa, Obama hopes to sustain and consolidate, maintaing his new generation/new ideas appeal and reassuring about his experience level. Which is still definitely on the thin side.
Hillary Clinton, surrounded by California politicians in this NWN
video, is trying to protect her frontrunner’s mantle with an Iowa win.
** THE CLINTON CHALLENGE. If Clinton can win in Iowa, her national frontrunnership will be affirmed. But if she loses, the floodgates of doubt about her will open, and the victor will be seen as freshly charismatic and an enormous media magnet.
So to stave off that distinct possibility, Clinton has moved about a hundred staffers from elsewhere in the country into the Hawkeye State. And her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who is quite popular there — more popular than any of the candidates — will be doing substantial campaigning there.
Clinton has begun mocking Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience. She has to convince that she has the right blend of change orientation of skilled experience to defeat the Republicans and serve as an effective president.
Obama and Edwards and others will work to undermine her experience angle, which rests more on her tenure as first lady than it does on her seven years in the US Senate, pointing out that none of her papers from the era have been made available to buttress her argument.
** NO ALTERNATIVE BUDGET FROM THE RIGHT. With California’s chronic state budget woes back in full force, some conservatives in the state Senate are saying I told you so. Actually, they didn’t. For months they complained about the budget situation, but never put forth any alternatives. As a matter of “strategy,” as the hyperpartisan Flash Report web site spun it.
Yesterday, state Senate Republican leader Dick Ackerman put out a statement along those lines, but this time presented what sounded like an alternative. Some “$3 billion” in programs to be cut. The current problem looks like about $10 billion, a $2 billion shortfall in the current budget, and a projected $8 billion in the next fiscal year.
Ackerman touted something called the California Piglet Book, put out by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. But I’ve been down this particular road before, a few years ago when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger decided not to impose a temporary tax increase to actually balance the budget. I went to the group to hear their alternatives. Which were pretty much what you will see when you click on the book, which is actually a pamphlet. It’s a collection of cullings from various newspapers and other media outlets with examples of seemingly egregious government spending. It’s all mashed together, from all levels of government, not simply state government.
To say that it’s not a program is, as you’ll see, to state the obvious. And the $3 billion in it that Ackerman cites as a solution to the budget woes is a result of all that mashed together spending. Which, in any event, is only a fraction of the problem.
** QUICK HITS. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger induced four big lenders to agree to halt proposed rate increases on so-called subprime mortgages for homeowners in need, a move that appears likely to save tens of thousands of Californians from losing their homes. … California water policy negotiators still haven’t come to an actual agreement, despite the talk from all camps of progress. They’ll keep negotiating, but it looks too late to place a big water bond on the February ballot. This is why I’m weary of reporting various Capitol machinations, which usually come to nothing. … Two competing initiatives to reform the state’s eminent domain procedures look likely to make it onto the June California ballot. One has a stealthy backdoor provision to outlaw rent control. Prospects for neither initiative are good.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the new Russia Today channel.
You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti.
While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND U.S. ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Crude oil prices are trading in a record range of $97 to $100 per barrel.
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