Barack Obama bears down on Hillary Clinton’s support, now
denied, for NAFTA in last night’s Cleveland debate.
** ANOTHER OBAMA BACKER TAKES CALIFORNIA LEGISLATIVE LEADERSHIP POST. I’m hearing that another Barack Obama backer will take on one of the two top leadership posts in the California Legislature. Assembly Majority Leader Karen Bass of LA, according to a well-informed source, has enough votes to become the new Assembly speaker when Clinton backer Fabian Nunez steps down at the end of this year’s session.
Bass is joining Sacramentan Darrell Steinberg, already announced as the choice to replace Clinton backer Don Perata as Senate president pro tem. She will be the first black woman Assembly speaker. And only the third black Assembly speaker since Herb Wesson, now an LA city councilman who also supports Obama, followed in the footsteps of the legendary Willie Brown, who went on to two terms as San Francisco’s mayor, and Elihu Harris, who became Oakland’s mayor, then went on to become the first and only California Democrat to lose a state Assembly race to a Green.
** RUSSIAN MEDIA MOCKS HILLARY’S PRESIDENTIAL GAFFE. As I mentioned earlier, Hillary Clinton, now saying she should be nominated over Barack Obama because of her foreign policy expertise, seemed not to know much about the man who will be elected Russia’s new president on Sunday, going so far as to be unable to pronounce his name. He’s currently Russia’s first deputy prime minister, was Vladimir Putin’s chief of staff, and has been a major player for many years.
The Russian media is having a field day with this. Perhaps prompted by official memories of husband Bill Clinton’s rather anti-Russian policies as president.
Incidentally, the commentary in Moscow generally uses the official transcript of last night’s debate, which is much kinder to Clinton than what she actually said. The fellow’s name is Dmitry Medvedev, which is not all that hard to pronounce, as some of you know from the video packages on him which have run on NWN.
What she actually said was: “Meh, uhm, Me-ned-vadah — whatever.”
This is not a leader of some backwater country. This is a guy who has been a very major player in one of the most powerful countries in the world for nearly a decade.
The Clintons and their handlers, who now complain bitterly about the press, actually got a free ride from the press for more than a year on such matters. Hillary Clinton misstated the doctrine of nuclear deterrence, thought that Pervez Musharraf was running in the Pakistani parliamentary elections, claimed that she didn’t know that the Bush White House intended to invade Iraq when she voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq, and deferred to General Wes Clark on all the national security conference calls I was on.
Clark knows what he is talking about.
** SCHWARZENEGGER ON SOLAR. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger this afternoon hailed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her role in having Congress extend the federal solar energy tax credit and approved his appointees on the California Energy Commission voting to extend $462 million in funding for solar power. Said Schwarzenegger, whose commitment to accelerate the state’s renewable portfolio standard is running behind schedule: “At the same time the federal government is addressing this issue, California is continuing to lead in diversifying our renewable energy options by enabling the California Public Utilities Commission to quickly distribute $462 million in funds for renewable energy projects. This plan will invigorate investment in non-carbon-based energy sources and give us one more option as we work toward our green energy goals.”
** MCCAIN AGAIN REBUKES ANTI-OBAMA ATTACKS. For the second day in a row, after a talk radio host went off on Barack Hussein Obama — whom he had previously called a “Manchurian candidate” on his radio show — John McCain has again apologized for the intemperate language of a backer.
In this case, the backer is not a radio talker but the Tennessee Republican Party. Which went off on Obama’s middle name and called the Illinois senator an anti-semite. They also used the now notorious photo of Obama in traditional Somali garb, which the Drudge Report insists was also distributed by the Hillary Clinton campaign in its frustration and desperation.
My view? This is suicidal behavior for conservative Republicans. It works in whipping up the cloistered circles of the far right. It does not work when examined in the light.
** ONE MILLION DONORS. Barack Obama’s campaign passed one million donors today. From MSNBC: “Obama said that 90 percent of his money is raised online in small-dollar donations, an average of $109. Aides have said that the campaign barely needs to work the phones, making fundraising calls anymore. Most of the work is done online.
“Speculation on the Internet is that the campaign may have raised as much as $50 million in February alone. Staffers smile smugly when you ask about numbers, but have been tight lipped about when they will announce their February figures and how much it might be.”
** MIKE HUCKABEE WITH A REMEMBRANCE OF CONSERVATIVE ICON WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY. “Janet and I were sad to hear the news of William F. Buckley’s passing. As one of the founders of the modern conservative movement, William Buckley helped turn the intellectual and political tide, shifting America from liberalism to conservatism. Our country, and our world, are better for his 82 years on this earth.
“Bill Buckley was also one of a kind-a scholar, an activist, a wit, a harpsichord player. As a young man, he wrote God and Man at Yale, an enduring critique of secular liberalism. In 1955, his National Review burst into prominence, influencing many millions of young conservatives, including one youngster from a little town in Arkansas. To this day, his magazine stands as one of the most important voices of conservative opinion. In addition, he produced a seemingly endless quantity of books, novels, articles, columns, and TV shows.
“So all conservatives owe Bill Buckley a great debt. Today, while our thoughts and prayers are with the Buckley family, we conservatives continue to draw inspiration from his life and work. But there is more to be done. It is up to us to carry on, fulfilling his enormous legacy.”
Buckley passed away today at age 82, founder of the National Review and father of a more gentlemanly conservative movement.
** GAME ON: MCCAIN AND OBAMA BATTLE OVER IRAQ AND AL QAEDA. John McCain kicked off a tussle with Barack Obama this morning with this statement: “Last night, we also heard Senator Obama say that once he withdrew US forces from Iraq he would ‘reserve the right’ to act ‘if Al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq.’ Is Senator Obama unaware that Al Qaeda is still present in Iraq, that our forces are successfully fighting them every day, and that his Iraq policy of withdrawal would embolden Al Qaeda and weaken our security?
“Senator Obama talks about the costs of the war in Iraq — despite our increasing success — but refuses to address the catastrophic costs that would result from precipitous withdrawal and defeat in Iraq. Surrender and defeat in Iraq will ultimately cost far more in lives and treasure than will continued success and achieving victory with honor.”
Campaigning in Columbus, Ohio, Obama fired back.
“John McCain may like to say he wants to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, but so far all he’s done is follow George Bush into a misguided war in Iraq that has cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars and that I intend to bring to an end. That’s the news, John McCain.”
Now this is the fun part. With apologies to Hillary Clinton for lifting her line.
** LEWIS SWITCHES TO OBAMA. Atlanta Congressman John Lewis, a ’60s icon as a civil rights pioneer, has ended a drama of a few weeks duration by switching his endorsement from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama. Lewis kicked off the drama by seeming to tell the New York Times he had switched earlier this month, then clamming up about it. He’s only the latest superdelegate to fall to Obama.
North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan also came out for Obama today. Obama has now been endorsed by 14 of his fellow U.S. senators; Clinton has been endorsed by 12.
** SCHWARZENEGGER LIVE WEBCAST AT 11:30 AM PACIFIC. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell will tour an elementary school in Sacramento and discuss their plans to intervene in 97 troubled school districts around California. The event is webcast live at 11:30 AM.
** DEMOCRATIC DEBATE: STRATEGIC AND TACTICAL VICTORY FOR OBAMA. The last scheduled debate of the presidential primary season, last night in snowbound Cleveland, turned out to be a tactical and strategic victory for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. A strategic victory because Clinton accomplished nothing game-changing. Tactical in that for the first, or at most, second time in these 20 debates, Obama actually won the debate.
After beginning by oddly complaining about “always getting the first question,” and then referencing a Saturday Night Live skit about purported press bias in favor of Obama — she wasn’t complaining about last year’s fawning coverage of her inevitability and great professionalism, which completely overlooked gaffes like her misstatement of the doctrine of nuclear deterrence — Clinton turned in a frequently argumentative performance. Despite her much longer familiarity with health care issues, she battled only to a draw in a 16-minute sequence with Obama on that topic.
Her claim that she’d not supported NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, widely blamed for plant closures and job losses in Ohio, was shredded by Obama and debate moderator Tim Russert. Obama trounced her on the decision to invade Iraq. She looked pointlessly pedantic when Obama agreed to her insistence that he should “reject” as well as “denounce” support from Louis Farrakhan. (A word to the wise: It is actually preferable to be “rejected” than “denounced.”)
And though she complained toward the end that the debate didn’t have enough questions on foreign policy and national security, her supposed metier, she didn’t seem to know much about the next president of Russia, who will be elected this Sunday. (Dmitry Medvedev has been featured in video packages on NWN.) She couldn’t actually pronounce his name, even after prompting from Russert.
To be fair, it didn’t look like Obama knew much about him, either, but he’s obviously a quick study. Obama has improved tremendously since his poor performance at the first candidate forum he participated in last spring in Las Vegas, depicted in a frequently shown NWN video. Clinton is doing about the same as she was early on.
** ALP MIA. The American Leadership Project, that long-rumored pro-Clinton/anti-Obama 527 independent expenditure campaign dominated by California Democrats, still is not on the air in Ohio or Texas in advance of the March 4th primaries there.
I’ll be getting into this.
Here is one clue, from a top Clinton financial backer. “A lot of money people don’t want to to jump into this thing now. Barack is from Chicago. He has a long memory.”
** OBAMA CLOSING IN PENNSYLVANIA, THE NEXT CLINTON FIREWALL STATE. The Pennsylvania primary isn’t till April 22nd. The Clinton campaign, which confidently predicted big wins in Texas and Ohio — after confidently predicting wrapping up the nomination on February 5th — now looks to Pennsylvania as its next “firewall” if it survives next Tuesday’s contests.
But this firewall looks very shaky, too, though as an older state the Keystone State would seem perfect for a smashing Clinton comeback.
The new Quinnipiac poll of Pennsylvania, conducted February 21-25, prior to Obama’s strong performance in last night’s Cleveland debate, shows Clinton clinging to a 49% to 43% lead over Obama. Two weeks ago, Clinton led by nearly three times as much, 52-36. Voters under 45 then went for Clinton by 11 points; now they go for Obama by 17 points.
Obama has not yet done any appreciable campaigning in the state, where Clinton’s campaign is led by Governor and former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell. Rendell has, according to sources, warned the Clinton campaign that he may not be able to hold the state for her if she doesn’t do extremely well in the March 4th primaries.
Both Obama and Clinton hold slight, two-point leads over John McCain in this key general election battleground. McCain and Obama have the highest image scores among all Pennsylvania voters. McCain is 50-27 favorable/unfavorable. Obama is 49/26 favorable/unfavorable. Clinton is 46/44 favorable/unfavorable, indicating that her support has topped out.
** WHERE THEY ARE TODAY.
Hillary Clinton campaigns in Zanesville and St. Clairsville, Ohio.
Bill Clinton campaigns in Houston and Austin, Texas.
Barack Obama campaigns in Columbus, Ohio before heading back to Texas for events in Duncanville and San Marcos.
Michelle Obama campaigns in Warren and Akron, Ohio.
John McCain campaigns in Tyler and San Antonio, Texas.
Mike Huckabee campaigns in Centerville, Chillicothe, and Zanesville, Ohio.
A right-wing talk show host warming up the Cincinnati crowd
yesterday for John McCain goes ballistic on Obama.
** TIN-EARED TALK SHOW HOSTS. Above you see the self-immolation of a radio talk show host (I think his name is Bill Cunningham) ragging on Barack Hussein Obama not long before John McCain speaks at a Cincinnati rally yesterday. McCain apologized for the performance, and the national McCain campaign is notably displeased about the display. I’ll be getting more into this phenomenon later.
This stuff works, to a certain extent, in a hyperpartisan echo chamber. It doesn’t work outside it.
** 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.
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