John McCain launches this general election TV ad today in
the battleground state of New Mexico.
** MCCAIN’S OPPORTUNITY, AND PROBLEM. John McCain, as you can tell from the above first broadcast ad of the general election, is moving into another phase of his candidacy. Last week, he toured the Middle East and Europe.
This week, he campaigned in the West, raising big money in California and elsewhere, taking a first stab at the Latino vote, and delivering a well-regarded major foreign policy address in Los Angeles.
Next week, he does a national tour, rolling out the biographical, historical, and patriotic themes of his candidacy.
All well and good for him, especially with the Clintons tearing into frontrunner Obama, and vice versa. But there is a problem. While the surge he championed has had success in Iraq following years of clearcut failure there, that still highly troubled historic approximation of a country is increasingly convulsed in political struggles, strikes, and street fighting between Shiite factions. Ironically, the US is mostly backing the major Shiite political faction most closely aligned with Iran.
Much of this is about maneuvering in advance of Iraqi elections. Can the Iraqi government, itself riven by factionalism, quell the fighting? Or will US forces be drawn into an ever front-and-center position taking sides in Iraqi factional fighting?
The renewed turmoil in Iraq comes at a bad time for John McCain. The political success of his tour next week, which has been shaping up very well, may well hinge in what happens in Iraq over this coming weekend.
** GALLUP NATIONAL POLL: OBAMA WITH SIGNIFICANT LEAD OVER CLINTON. In the brand-new Gallup tracking poll, it’s Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton, 50% to 42%. Reports of Obama’s imminent demise in the Rev. Wright firestorm were exaggerated.
John McCain has a slim two-point edge over Obama, and four points over Hillary.
** CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATS TO KICK OFF LOW-KEY CONVENTION. The California Democratic Party convention and its associated activities kick off this afternoon in San Jose. This annual convention is the biennial affair in which a state party platform, usually of interest mainly to party activists, is adopted.
It will be much more low-key than last year’s gathering in San Diego, which featured all the Democratic presidential candidates. This time around, neither of the final candidates — frontrunner Barack Obama and former frontrunner Hillary Clinton — will be present. Although former President Bill Clinton will be on hand to woo uncommitted superdelgates (see list below) and address the convention.
As a headline speaker, the former president somewhat outranks the California Republicans’ ranking speaker last month — South Dakota Senator John Thune.
Seemingly permanent state Dem chairman Art Torres has a kick-off reception tonight featuring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The San Franciscan, incidentally, has reacted angrily to the Clinton campaign’s attempt to use 20 big fundraisers to intimidate her into backing off her view that the superdelegates should not overturn the verdict of the majority of delegates won in the primaries and caucuses. As for Bill Clinton’s lobbying of the uncommitted California superdelegates, he’s called all of them before, to no apparent effect.
Tomorrow morning a variety of speakers will address the convention, including Congressmember Mike Honda, Congressmember Zoe Lofgren, Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, Treasurer Bill Lockyer, Controller John Chiang, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, and former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown.
The legislative leaders luncheon features Democratic Congressional Delegation Chair Zoe Lofgren, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata. The afternoon session will feature former Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, congressional candidate Jackie Speier, Congressmember Jerry McNerney, state Board of Equalization Chair Judy Chu, Assembly Speaker-elect Karen Bass, California Teachers Association president David Sanchez, and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. The Saturday night dinner will feature former talk show host-turned activist Phil Donahue and United Farm Workers president Arturo Rodriguez.
And finally on Sunday, it’s Bill Clinton. The lucky speakers who get to follow him include California Secretary of State Debra Bowen.
** MCCAIN MEDIA STRATEGIST AFFIRMS HE’LL LEAVE RATHER THAN FACE OBAMA. John McCain’s chief media consultant, Mark McKinnon, a Texan who previously performed the honors for President Bush, reiterated to the National Journal that he will step away from the McCain campaign if Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee. Why? Because it will inevitably get negative. And because McKinnon is an Obama admirer.
Well, this goes back to a memo that I wrote to the campaign when I came aboard more than a year and a half ago, and I simply let them know that I had spent time with Obama and read his book and I like the guy. I think he has strong character and a fascinating life story, and I disagree with him fundamentally on issues like Iraq and trade and a number of others. But I just flashed forward to the improbable scenario, at that time seemingly improbable, that John McCain and Barack Obama might face off against one other. And I just told them at the time that I thought that I would be uncomfortable being on the front lines — being as aggressive as you need to be in a presidential campaign — and not only that I would be uncomfortable, but that it would be bad for the campaign, and that if that circumstance were to come to be, that I would just take a step to the sidelines and continue to support John McCain 100 percent and be No. 1 fan and cheerleader. But just kind of take myself out of the front lines.
** PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR ENDORSES OBAMA. U.S. Senator Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat whose socially conservative father served as governor, endorses Barack Obama today. Casey, who had previously said he would remain neutral till after the April 22nd Pennsylvania primary, will introduce Obama this morning at a Pittsburgh event, at the Soldiers & Sailors Museum, kicking off Obama’s six-day bus tour of the Keystone State. Casey will also ride along for part of the bus tour.
Why the switch from neutrality to back Obama in a primary as perfectly set up for Hillary Clinton as any in America? Casey is said to have been impressed by Obama’s handling of the Rev. Wright controversy. His four daughters are all Obama enthusiasts. And Casey, as a superdelegate, wants to start winding down an increasingly damaging nomination contest.
Clinton is backed by most of the state’s Democratic establishment, headed by Governor Ed Rendell, who beat Casey in a 2002 primary. Casey, then the state’s auditor general, went on to crush Senator Rick Santorum, a far right fave, 59% to 41% in November 2006.
Casey is the 16th of Obama’s Senate colleagues to back him. Clinton has 12 of their Senate colleagues in her corner.
** NOTE ON INTERMITTENT TECH PROBLEMS. The site underlying NWN went through a tech transition that has caused intermittent problems here since Monday afternoon. The Forum section has a chronic problem with regard to the posting of comments. A reader developed a workaround, which is near the top of the Forum.
WHERE THEY ARE TODAY.
Barack Obama begins his bus tour of Pennsylvania, starting out in Pittsburgh and continuing to Greenburg.
Hillary Clinton campaigns across Indiana with stops in Mishawaka, Hammond, Fort Wayne, and Muncie.
Bill Clinton barnstorms across North Carolina, with events in Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury, Kannapolis, Gastonia, Hickory, and Asheville.
John McCain raises money in Las Vegas, Nevada.
** CALIFORNIA CUTS ZERO EMISSION VEHICLE REQUIREMENT. The California Air Resources Board has cut its zero emissions vehicles (ZEV) program, initiated in 1990. 25,000 ZEV cars were to be online in California from 2012 to 2014. But automakers haven’t come up with the vehicles, claiming problems with hydrogen fuel cells and electric batteries. So the air board dropped the 25,000 requirement to 7,500. And added the requirement of another 58,000 low emission vehicles, such as hybrids, into the mix.
I have a feeling that a new president will spur Detroit.
** 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 $105 to $106 per barrel range.
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