Dropping in big Super Tuesday states, Rudy Giuliani, wearing a 9/11 breathing
mask, tries to get it started in Florida calling for a “national catastrophe fund.”
** NEW OBAMA SOUTH CAROLINA RADIO AD. Announcer: “Hillary Clinton. She’ll say anything. And change nothing.”
** MCCAIN AND CLINTON HOLD SIGNIFICANT LEADS IN CALIFORNIA PRIMARY PRIVATE POLL. John McCain holds a sizable lead over Mitt Romney in a new private poll of the California Republican presidential primary. And Hillary Clinton also holds a sizable lead over Barack Obama in the poll of the California Democratic presidential primary.
** SCHWARZENEGGER/NUNEZ UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE PLAN STILL IN LIMBO. The state Senate health committee hearing on the proposed California universal health care program — discussed this morning — is still going on this afternoon and is expected to continue into the early evening. State Senate leader Don Perata has had the committee vote put off until Monday afternoon. This means, of course, that the committee votes to send the bill to the Senate floor are still not yet there.
** AND IN ANOTHER FLORIDA TRACK, MCCAIN HAS A SLIGHT EDGE. A poll by Kellyanne Conway completed yesterday has John McCain with a slight edge over Mitt Romney, 25% to 23%, with Rudy Giuliani well back at 15%. Mike Huckabee has 15% and now withdrawn Fred Thompson, co-chairman of the 2000 McCain campaign, 4%.
** ROMNEY LEADS NARROWLY IN A FLORIDA TRACKING POLL. Contradicting another tracking poll, the new Public Policy Polling track last night on the Florida Republican primary gives Mitt Romney a slight edge over John McCain. It’s Romney 28%, McCain 25%, Rudy Giuliani 19%, and Mike Huckabee 15%. The poll attributes an immediate shift to Romney following the withdrawal yesterday of Fred Thompson. Some polling indicates it’s not that clearcut. Never let it be said this is not a topsy-turvy campaign season.
** OBAMA LAUNCHES NATIONAL TV AD CAMPAIGN. Well, I’ve not yet figured out entirely how to cover the February 5th primaries, which amount to a national contest spread across a multiplicity of separate contests with their own dynamics. Yet we muddle forward. The Barack Obama campaign is first to announce a national TV ad campaign customized to the February 5th contests. Much of the advertising of course is on cable TV.
From the Obama campaign statement: Over the past two weeks, the Obama campaign became the first to air ads in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Tennessee and New Mexico. Today, the campaign also becomes the first to air ads in Alabama, Georgia and Delaware. The campaign is expanding ads through New Mexico, and also airing ads in Utah.
The new ads will begin airing tonight in the following states: Alabama- President: http://my.barackobama.com/al_president
Connecticut – Need: http://my.barackobama.com/ct_need
Delaware – Need: http://my.barackobama.com/de_need
Georgia – President: http://my.barackobama.com/ga_president
New Mexico – President: http://my.barackobama.com/nm_president Chances: http://my.barackobama.com/nm_chances
Utah – Need: http://my.barackobama.com/ut_need
** BACKLASH BILL? Driving around doing needed errands this afternoon, I heard former President Bill Clinton attacking the press for “parroting” what the Obama campaign wants about a fight in the Democratic Party. He’s campaigning for his wife now in South Carolina, and of course, as discussed, is playing his new — and highly effective, thusfar — role of attack dog-in-chief against Obama, who is being whipsawed in fighting a two-headed opponent. I wonder if a backlash is in store for Bill Clinton. I wrote last year that he and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair were the two premier political figures/statesmen on the planet. That was before all this stuff. The muss-up-the-pretty boy strategy against Obama has worked well so far. They’ve got Obama replying to all attacks, rather than picking the most obvious and knocking them out of the park with a little humor. But a little Bill Clinton can go a long ways, just as a little Arnold Schwarzenegger, as I mentioned to the governor before he got in trouble a few years back, can go a long ways.
** GIULIANI BATTLES BACK. After his non-showing in the early contests, America’s Mayor now trails John McCain in big Super Tuesday states he had counted on, such as California, New Jersey, and even his own New York, where McCain last night raised $1 million and got the endorsement of ex-Senator Al D’Amato. But he is still in it Florida, a must-win state for him. Though McCain has a narrow lead now in the Sunshine State, Giuliani is very much still in it, as is the free-spending Mitt Romney.
Here is the new Giuliani TV ad for Florida, in which he promises the hurricane-prone state a “national catastrophe fund” and notes that “someone” — that would be McCain — does not favor it. McCain is focusing on a better Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) than we’ve had.
Romney is going Giuliani even better on the big promises front to bail out Floridians in economic disasters. In Michigan, he promised a big fund to revitalize the auto industry, some $20 billion. In Florida, he’s pushing an even bigger fund to stimulate the national economy — $233 billion, over 50% bigger than President Bush’s — in this time of fresh economic insecurity.
Now here’s a question. If your program is to cut taxes and pare back the size of government, how do you pay for these big new vote-getting programs? The answer, naturally, is by eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse. Which will be identified, well, later.
Giuliani had been focusing primarily on the threat of Islamic jihadist terrorism and other national security matters. But the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran cooled the warhawk talk with regard to the troublesome Islamic republic. With which the Bush Administration is now dealing to settle the security situation in Iraq. Look for the erstwhile uber-villain, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to accept an invitation to visit Baghdad. And the relative, time-limited success of the US military surge in Iraq — pushed for years by McCain — has given the Vietnam War hero the biggest claim to the national security issue.
** SCHWARZKOPF BACKS MCCAIN. In the midst of a big day of veteran/national security-oriented campaigning in Florida, John McCain has received the endorsement of the winning US and allied commander in the first Gulf War, General “Stormin’ Norman” Schwarzkopf. Says Schwarzkopf: “Senator John McCain has served our country with honor in war and in peace. He has demonstrated the type of courageous leadership our country sorely needs at this time. For that reason, he has my complete support.”
Schwarzkopf is a Floridian who joined McCain several years ago in publicly criticizing the US strategy in Iraq.
Hillary Clinton’s second California TV ad. Meet the enviro crusader.
** NEW CLINTON AD FOR CALIFORNIA, HILLARY GETS FAMED CESAR CHAVEZ SLOGAN WRONG. Hillary Clinton has just launched her second TV ad for the California primary. The first had been seen elsewhere, and focused on her familiar themes of being experienced and fighting for people. This one, perhaps intended to blunt a potential surge of independent voters to Obama, focused on her championing of a Strategic Energy Fund to cut oil industry subsidies in order to promote renewable energy, fight climate change, and move toward energy independence.
It’s reminiscent of a Bill Clinton TV spot — which debuted first on NWN in the fall of 2006 — to promote a tax on oil companies in order to fund the development of alternative fuels, fight climate change, and move toward energy independence.
Meanwhile, Hillary held a big economic town hall meeting with more than 2000 people yesterday afternoon in the Salinas Valley. She also received the endorsement of the United Farm Workers, an iconic endorsement for many Latinos of the union founded, of course, by Cesar Chavez.
The union lauded her long history with the farm workers movement. Which was news to me, as someone who has long followed the UFW. (Longtime readers may recall my 2002 coverage, marching halfway from Merced to Sacramento with union leaders and farm workers urging then Governor Gray Davis to sign pro-worker legislation.)
Clinton, amusingly, got the famous UFW slogan wrong. “Si se pueda!,” she cried.
Actually, it’s “puede,” as anyone who’s spent any time around the the famed union knows. (Think pway-duh vs. pway-day.) It means, “Yes, it can be done,” and may be the most famous thing that Chavez, whose birthday is a state holiday in California and elsewhere, ever said.
Barack Obama on the consistent e-mail campaign against him.
** SOUTH CAROLINA TRACKING POLL: BIG OBAMA LEAD THERE AS HE STRUGGLES WITH REZKO CONNECTION AND SECRET ATTACKS. The new Zogby tracking poll for Reuters shows a big lead for Barack Obama in the South Carolina Democratic primary. The three-night rolling track is Obama 43%, Clinton 25%, John Edwards 15%. Last night’s track shows Obama down a bit, along with Clinton, and Edwards within four points of Hillary. That was taken after Monday night’s tumultuous debate in Myrtle Beach.
Hillary once had a big lead in South Carolina. She’s not campaigning there now, and tag-team partner Bill Clinton, the former president, is taking the fight to Obama and Edwards there. As in another new poll, Obama has a huge lead among black voters, but runs third among white voters. Bill Clinton, in addition to engaging Obama, is working to shore up Hillary’s support among white voters to avert a possible slide to third in the Palmetto State.
Meanwhile, Obama is beset by several newspaper articles bringing up his connection to Chicago fixer Tony Rezko. There doesn’t seem to be any new information, and it was an unwise idea to accept the guy’s help, given his reputation, though there is no hint of illegality. The Clinton strategy, obviously, is to equate this signal lapse of judgment with a great many other problems of their own, which I don’t have time at the moment to write about and have not especially stressed. And Obama is struggling, and looking defensive, as you see in the clip above, with a concerted series of secret attacks via e-mail and push-poll phone calls claiming he is actually a Muslim.
Mitt Romney gets a prank call from “Arnold Schwarzenegger.”
** FIELD POLL: MCCAIN AND ROMNEY LEAD CALIFORNIA AS GIULIANI PLUMMETS. In the latest installation of the Field Poll — conducted January 14-20, so the data is old — John McCain has taken a narrow lead in the California Republican primary over Mitt Romney as former leader Rudy Giuliani plummets. It’s now McCain 22%, Romney 18%, Giuliani 11%, Mike Huckabee 9%, Fred Thompson 9%. Thompson, of course, has dropped out. Absent a McCain endorsement, Romney gets more of his votes than McCain, so the race would be a dead heat. If Giuliani falters some more in Florida, where he is making a last stand, more of his votes are likely to go to McCain.
** MCCAIN PASSES GIULIANI IN NEW JERSEY. John McCain has passed the faltering Rudy Giuliani in his next door stronghold of New Jersey in the new Quinnipiac poll. It’s McCain 29%, Giuliani 26%, Mitt Romney 14%, Mike Huckabee 9%, and Fred Thompson 9%.
** THE TROUBLED SCHWARZENEGGER HEALTH CARE PLAN. The so-called ArnoldCare universal health care plan is in trouble today. Not because of the purported federal pre-emption issue — which its conservative backers wasted a lot of my time with last year with endless posts — that issue has gone nowhere in the courts. No, it’s in trouble because some unions on the left have convinced enough state senators on the health committee to oppose it. And because the state’s Legislative Analyst Office late yesterday issued a report indicating it will have trouble paying for itself.
The plan, authored by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and co-authored by Senate leader Don Perata, features a very long hearing today in the state Senate’s health committee, chaired by Santa Monica’s Sheila Kuehl, who long ago co-starred in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. She’s for single-payer health care. At least one other member, as of yesterday, agreed with left-leaning unions that requiring all Californians to purchase health insurance would be too burdensome, even with subsidies, because the plan doesn’t rein in costs. We’ll see how Perata handles this.
It’s a complex, almost Rube Goldbergesque plan I’ve written about many times. You can click on the link above for all the specific scenarios.
** 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 is trading down around $87 per barrel on renewed fears of a global economic slowdown.
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