Barack Obama has a weekend rally with 7,000 people in
Cleveland, where tonight he debates Hillary Clinton.
** DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE TONIGHT. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton debate tonight in Ohio at Cleveland State University. From 6 PM to 7:30 PM Pacific live on MSNBC. This is the last debate currently scheduled in the primary season.
** PANETTA BLASTS CLINTON CAMPAIGN. Former Clinton White House chief of staff Leon Panetta today blasted Hillary Clinton’s campaign in the New York Observer. He says the Clintons had no campaign plan after failing to win three weeks ago on Super-Duper Tuesday. Panetta derided Clinton chief strategist Mark Penn as “a political pollster from the past.” He’s like Bush guru Karl Rove, he said, “It’s all about dividing people into smaller groups rather than taking the broader approach that was needed.”
Panetta, a longtime California congressman who also served in the Clinton Cabinet as federal budget director, now directs the Panetta Institute at Cal State University, Monterey.
** U.S. ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF BACKS OBAMA AFGHAN STORY. General George Casey today backed up Senator Barack Obama’s Texas debate story about an under-manned, under-equipped rifle platoon in Afghanistan. Conservative pundits and bloggers, along with a Pentagon spokesman, had called the anecdote outlandlish.
** BOXER REVEALS DAMAGING EPA CLIMATE CHANGE DOCUMENTS. US Senator Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who now runs the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, today released documentation showing that top staffers warned Environmental Protection Agency chief Stephen Johnson that he risked losing his credibility and having to resign if he rejected California’s ability under the Clean Air Act to sharply curtail tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases.
Boxer is about to hold hearings on this. The EPA, after years of foot-dragging on the issue, finally rejected California at the end of last year. All of the remaining presidential candidates in both parties — Barack Obama, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Mike Huckabee — have agreed to approve California’s ability to enact its own greenhouse gas regulations as president.
** TONIGHT’S DEBATE. I keep hearing today that Hillary Clinton will dictate the “tone” of tonight’s debate, because Barack Obama can’t be sure how she will attack him. I think that is totally wrong. He should run his game plan, and slough off any but the most potentially damaging attacks. Which, if they come, he should answer patiently and concisely.
What should be his game plan? 1. Continually articulate his theme of change, with specifics when appropriate in terms of time. 2. Be cool, calm, and collected. Americans want a charismatic figure, but also an anchorman who can explain the past, present, and future in understandable terms. 3. Use humor, subtly, when the openings present themselves.
Pretty obvious, I know.
I think the Clinton crew doesn’t really know how to attack Obama. They and their candidate are the ones who are off-balance. That should continue through the debate.
** QUICK HITS. Crude oil closed at a new record high today of $100.88 per barrel. … The dollar closed at a record low against the euro, nearly $1.50. … Another Ohio poll, this from Survey USA, has Barack Obama closing on Hillary Clinton. The margin, down to 50% to 44% as of last night, is down 17 points in two weeks. Clinton’s lead is due to a 22-point margin among those who have already voted.
** THE MISSING AND THE WORKING. As I reported yesterday afternoon, that much bandied about pro-Hillary/anti-Obama 527 advertising campaign — the American Leadership Project, dominated by California Democrats — had yet to make an appreciable media buy in the March 4th primaries.
I still don’t know of any such buy.
Meanwhile, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as of now have multi-million dollar efforts underway in Ohio and Texas on Obama’s behalf. Their efforts include not just advertising, but phone banks, canvassing, and robocalls.
** SCHWARZENEGGER/SHRIVER LIVE WEBCAST AT 1 PM PACIFIC. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver will join hundreds of service and volunteer leaders in LA at Cal State University Northridge to announce a major new volunteerism effort. Noting the importance of volunteer efforts in helping with the recent Southern California firestorm and other natural disaster efforts, Schwarzenegger will create the first Cabinet-level post in the country coordinating such efforts. The event will be webcast live at 1 PM Pacific.
** OBAMA CLOSING IN NEW OHIO TRACKING POLL. The Rasmussen robopoll taken over the past two nights shows Hillary Clinton’s lead — 14 points two weeks ago — down to five points over Barack Obama. It’s Clinton 48%, Obama 43%. A key closing issue? NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), which many blame for factory closings and job loss in Ohio. Hillary Clinton complains, with her aides saying she privately opposed NAFTA. But it was the Bill Clinton White House that pushed the trade pact through, and Hillary lauded it in the ’90s as one of the successes of their tenure in the White House.
** SURVEY USA TEXAS POLL. Barack Obama has a slight lead in a second Texas poll over Hillary Clinton, 50% to 46%. Obama has a big lead among men; Hillary a somewhat smaller lead among women (who make up 56% of the Democratic primary electorate). Obama has a 19-point lead among voters under 50; Hillary has an 18-point lead among voters 50 and over. Her only statistically signficant lead is among voters over 65, 16% of the electorate, by 68% to 28%. Obama hjas carved into Hillary’s big lead among Latino voters, because nearly a third are under 30.
** OBAMA CLOSING IN OHIO. Where there will be eight to 10 inches of snow on the ground for tonight’s Cleveland debate.
Incidentally, the debate was originally going to be in Columbus. But was preempted there by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Whose annual Arnold Classic festival of bodybuilding and physical culture is setting up for this weekend.
Anyway, to the poll. A new Public Policy Polling track has Hillary Clinton’s lead slipping precipitously. It’s Clinton 50%, Obama 46%. Anticipating a flow of independents and moderate Republicans into the Democratic primary.
** CHRIS DODD ENDORSES OBAMA THIS MORNING. Senator Chris Dodd endorses Barack Obama at 6:30 AM Pacific this morning at the Intercontinental Hotel in Cleveland, Ohio. Obama is in town for tonight’s debate at Cleveland State University with Hillary Clinton.
Dodd, a former Peace Corps volunteer and Army reservist, is the first of the Democratic presidential candidates to endorse a rival. A U.S. senator from Connecticut since 1980, who first came to prominence for his liberal foreign policy stances and now chairs the Senate Banking Committee, Dodd was selected by then President Bill Clinton as the Democratic national chairman in the mid-1990s.
Like fellow Senator Joe Biden, Dodd had trouble gaining traction in this year’s presidential field, dominated as it was from the start by superstars Clinton and Obama. He nonetheless acquitted himself well in all the debates, and brings the gravitas of his decades in the Senate and long familiarity with the Clintons to his backing of Obama.
Intriguingly, for all of Obama’s strengths as a candidate, it may actually have been Chris Dodd who started the unraveling of the Clinton machine. Towards the very end of a debate four months ago in Philadelphia, a debate in which Clinton was being treated with kid gloves by the moderators, with Obama not laying a glove on her, it was Dodd who noticed that she was straddling the issue of drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. Dodd, who opposes the idea, zeroed in on Clinton, who then appeared to change her position three or four times in the course of two minutes.
** WHERE THEY ARE TODAY.
Hillary Clinton campaigns in Lorain, Ohio, then debates tonight in Cleveland.
Bill Clinton has early vote events across Texas, in Dallas, Grapevine, and Fort Worth, before heading to New York City.
Barack Obama has an endorsement press conference in Cleveland, Ohio, then debates tonight in Cleveland.
John McCain has events in Cincinnati and West Chester, Ohio, and has a fundraiser in Tyler, Texas.
Mike Huckabee has events in Columbus and Mason, Ohio.
Former Senator John Glenn, first American to orbit Earth, backs
Hillary Clinton in this TV ad for his native Ohio.
** DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE TONIGHT: WHICH HILLARY CLINTON WILL SHOW? Will it be the kinder, gentler Hillary, who won kudos for her, as it happens, largely borrowed close last Thursday night in Austin? Will it be the partisan brawler largely on evidence since then?
It’s unclear. What is clear is that the tide is moving against her, even in her latest firewall states of Texas and Ohio.
Despite the importation of her California director Ace Smith to the Lone Star State, Clinton is being out-organized in Texas, where I have multiple reports of a campaign in organizational disarray, intellectually overwhelmed by surging Obama forces. Hillary is now in, at best, a dead heat in this state where she led by some 20 points two weeks ago. In the past week, Obama has won the endorsements of every big daily newspaper in Texas — in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, El Paso, and San Antonio.
She is also being out-organized in Ohio. Late last week, Obama won the endorsement of the mayor of Cleveland. Yesterday, at a huge rally in the city, he won the endorsement of the mayor of Cincinnati. The former mayor of Cleveland also switched from Clinton to Obama yesterday. And while Clinton still leads in Ohio, there are signs that lead is getting perilously small.
Keep in mind that, since Obama eked out a winning edge on Super-Duper Tuesday, Clinton has had to win Texas and Ohio by very big margins to get back in the race for pledged delegates.
Yesterday was a remarkable day in the campaign, with strong signs of emotional and political disarray in the Clinton camp, as communications director Howard Wolfson publicly blew up at the press and the campaign would not deny that its members were distributing a photo of Obama in “terrorist-like” Somali garb. The day ended with deeply worried Clinton campaign advisors plotting a witches’ brew of attacks to stop Obama. One described it to me as the “air burst barrage.”
He’s referring to an old doctrine of the Cold War. A Soviet doctrine, as it happens, which is why he knew the name would perversely appeal to me. If US bombers were ever to be closing in on Moscow to nuke the Russian capital into oblivion, the plan was to launch an “air burst barrage” to stop the planes, even stealth aircraft. In other words, to create a devastating cordon of conventional and nuclear explosions to prevent any aircraft from getting through to the target. You can draw your own conclusions as to the effect of that last ditch strategy on the countryside.
** 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 in the $99 to $100 per barrel range , after hitting a record $101-plus per barrel on Wednesday.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum.