Barack Obama rolled out this ad countering Hillary Clinton’s “Stand The Heat” ad launched earlier today. “Who in times of challenge will unite us, not use fear and calculation to divide us?”
** THE CHANGING FACE OF CALIFORNIA POLITICS. Here’s the change in partisan registration figures for California in the Arnold Era, from stats provided Friday by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen.
* (decline to state and miscellaneous)
The Democrats are doing a good job of treading water, increasing their share of the California electorate by 0.3%. There are more Democrats now than four years ago, of course, as the population increases.
The Republicans have lost three points during a period which has seen two landslide elections for Arnold Schwarzenegger as California’s governor.
Independents have gained three points. The minor parties, such as Greens and Libertarians, have remained under one percent each.
Clearly, the best conceptual route to the highest offices in California is to be a Democrat who can win independents.
A conservative Republican, or a Republican who can readily be portrayed as a conservative Republican, has an enormous uphill battle.
Why has Schwarzenegger enjoyed such unique success? Three reasons. First, he was never a conservative Republican. Second, he is properly positioned on a matrix of issues and themes, along dual axes of left-right and future-past. Third, he is a unique brand, a global icon, thanks to his own moves and decisions and to massive studio promotion to establish him as the world’s greatest action movie star.
** OIL PRICE CRASHES THROUGH ANOTHER RECORD TODAY. Crude oil crashed through the $117 barrier, closing today at a record $117.54 per barrel.
** SCHWARZENEGGER GOING ALL OUT TO QUALIFY REDISTRICTING REFORM INITIATIVE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has now contributed over $1.25 million from his California Dream Team committee to qualify a redistricting reform initiative for the November California ballot. This is about half the money raised by the campaign to date, and much of the rest of the funding was solicited by the former action superstar.
Outgoing Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, never quite able to pass a bill as promised — with one legislative session ending in sheer Marx Brothers fashion with a bill passed by the state Senate, which Nunez said he supported, mysteriously getting lost in the shuffle between the two legislative houses — says he will put together a competing initiative to oppose this one, which is backed by political reform groups such as Common Cause and the League of Women Voters. It’s unclear how likely that is, as Nunez leaves the speakership on May 13th, replaced by new Speaker Karen Bass.
Schwarzenegger aides won’t say how much money he raised last Thursday in Manhattan at events sponsored by two billionaires, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and financier Ronald Perelman. The proceeds were slated to go to the California Dream Team, which Schwarzenegger can use for this initiative, another, or general purpose advocacy.
** MY NEW PODCAST. The road beyond Bittergate. Does Obama have Reagan-like teflon? And more.
** COMING TUESDAY — GAME DAY: PENNSYLVANIA. On Tuesday, it’s “Game Day: Pennsylvania.” I’ll be anchoring PJ Media network’s coverage throughout the day, weaving together reports and information from correspondents and contacts inside and outside the contest state, as usual. The anchor coverage will be linked to and, to an extent, mirrored here on NWN. This is a continuation of the “Game Day: Iowa,” “Game Day: New Hampshire,” “Game Day: Michigan And Vegas,” “Game Day: Nevada And South Carolina Republicans,” “Game Day: South Carolina Democrats,” “Game Day: Florida Republicans,” “Super-Duper Tuesday Special Edition,” “Game Day: Semi-Super Saturday,” “Game Day: Chesapeake Tuesday,” “Game Day: Wisconsin And Hawaii,” “Game Day: Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont,” “Game Day:Wyoming,” and “Game Day: Mississippi” packages.
Scrambling to stay in the race, Hillary Clinton just launched this TV ad, with images of Pearl Harbor, the Cold War, and Osama bin Laden. “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Who do you think has what it takes?”
** DRUDGE REPORTS 11-POINT CLINTON PENNSYLVANIA LEAD IN INTERNAL POLLING. CLINTON CAMPAIGN DENIES IT. Controlled excitement is building inside of Clinton’s inner circle as closely guarded internal polling shows the former first lady with an 11-point lead in Pennsylvania! Clinton is polling near to nearly 2 to 1 over Obama in many regions of the state, a top insider explained to the DRUDGE REPORT.
A strong coalition of middle-class and religious voters has all but secured a Clinton victory Tuesday, with headline-making margins, the campaign believes. “It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of how much,” a senior campaign source said Monday morning.
When pressed if the dramatic internal polling numbers could somehow be flawed in a state as demographically complex as Pennsylvania, and with new voter registration surging to unseen levels, the campaign insider held firm. “Senator Obama would be wise not to unpack his bags quite yet.”
Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson and new chief strategist Geoff Garin deny the number, saying that someone is trying to set up Clinton in the expectations game. A game they played very well for much of this primary season themselves. Further, they deny that there is any Clinton poll from last night. Typically, however, campaigns do run tracking polls the Sunday night before an election, especially one so critically important to Clinton’s hopes as this one.
** QUINNIPIAC PENNSYLVANIA POLL: CLINTON WITH STEADY LEAD. The Quinnipiac poll of the Pennsylvania primary shows Hillary Clinton with a significant lead over Barack Obama, 51% to 44%. The poll was conducted over the weekend.
White voters back Sen. Clinton 57 – 38 percent, while blacks back Sen. Obama 84 – 10 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. A look at other subgroups shows:
* Women back Clinton 57 – 38 percent, while men are for Obama 53 – 42 percent;
* White Catholics are for Clinton 66 – 29 percent;
* Voters under 45 go with Obama 57 – 41, while older voters back Clinton 54 – 40 percent.
“Pennsylvania voters apparently made up their minds a couple of weeks ago and nothing has happened since to change them. An extraordinary turnout effort by Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign could snatch this victory from Sen. Hillary Clinton, but that does not appear likely,” said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Sen. Obama got off message after his ‘bitter’ remarks and never regained his momentum, giving Sen. Clinton the opening to fight another day in Indiana and North Carolina. She wins in Western Pennsylvania; he wins in the East. She gets Catholics, white women and blue-collar labor vote. He captures men, blacks and college grads – and enough delegates to keep his edge in the number that counts most.”
** WHERE THEY ARE TODAY.
Barack Obama is in McKeesport and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Hillary Clinton is in Scranton, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Bill Clinton is in Greensburg, Arnold, Pittsburgh, Ebensburg, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
John McCain is in Selma, Boykin, and Thomasville, Alabama.
** SCHWARZENEGGER LIVE WEBCAST THIS MORNING. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger attends the Saban Free Clinic dedication ceremony this morning in Los Angeles. This is the renaming of the long-standing Los Angeles Free Clinic in honor of the donation of $10 million from Haim and Cheryl Saban.
The clinic has been in operation for more than 40 years, making it the oldest continuously operating free clinic in the US, serving more than 100,000 patient visits a year. Haim Saban, creator of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, was one of the first big-name Democratic contributors to switch to the former action superstar. The event will be webcast live 10:45 AM.
John McCain, launching his week-long tour of the Forgotten
America, says he will unite the country and ignite innovation.
THE MORNING COLUMN
It’s another big week in presidential politics, with Hillary Clinton needing a very big win tomorrow in Pennsylvania over frontrunner Barack Obama to maintain relevance and John McCain trying to show he’s a “different kind of Republican” with his tour of the “Forgotten Parts of America.”
John McCain is doing quite well. He’s ahead of Obama and Clinton in many, though hardly all, polls at a time when the Republican president is near record levels of unpopularity. His party’s far right wing is acceding to the obvious and starting to come on board. Clinton and company show signs of wanting to torpedo Obama into unelectability, though it’s unlikely the Democrats would reward her four years from now with the nomination she was supposed to win so handily this time out.
But for all the ongoing battling between Barack and Hillary, McCain isn’t building much of a lead. Obama, with 1.4 million contributors, mostly on the Internet, has raised three times as much money as McCain. And while last week was dominated in our media by endless talk about such things as small town values and flag pins — driven, naturally, by people who don’t have small town values or wear flag pins — and that’s good for the Republicans, some other things happened that might have more lasting impact.
The price of crude oil shot up seven dollars a barrel last week alone, hitting an all-time of $117 per barrel. Gasoline is crashing through the $4 per gallon “barrier.” It became ever more apparent that the country is in a recession. And that there is no coherent strategy to eradicate the leadership cadre of Al Qaeda in Pakistan, with one of Israel’s staunchest supporters, new House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman of Los Angeles, a backer of the Iraq invasion, receiving a congressional investigative report.
So McCain’s tour of the Forgotten America — now called the “Time For Action” tour — comes at an important moment. McCain kicks things off today in Selma, Alabama, at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, site of the infamous 1965 incident known as “Bloody Sunday” in which peaceful civil rights marchers were attacked by police with clubs and tear gas. From Selma, says the campaign, “John McCain will travel across the country visiting regions that have been forgotten and left behind by our nation’s elected leaders.”
He’ll tour such places as Alabama’s “Black Belt,” so-called for the color of the earth there, and coincidentally heavily African-American, the old steel town of Youngstown, Ohio, Appalachia, and perhaps New Orleans. McCain wants to show that he is a Republican who can relate to blacks, Latinos, and economically distressed whites.
If Clinton somehow finds a way to overcome Obama’s lead, McCain could, at least on the margin, blunt the usual overwhelming Democratic margins among black voters. Running against Obama, McCain believes he has a shot at a big Latino vote, in part because of his work on the immigration issue that so many conservatives found upsetting. White working class and small town voters are an area of some vulnerability for Obama. Bitter, anyone? And reaching out in this way is reassuring to independent and moderate voters that McCain is not a hardline conservative.
Of course, the Democrats aren’t going to simply allow McCain to cherry pick their constituencies. The Democratic National Committee will dog him every step of the way this week. And he may struggle to show how his economic policies are different from those of the unpopular president. While he’s bashing some corporate titans for greed, the most direct boost in his package for lower and middle income voters is a summertime suspension of the federal gas tax. His middle class tax relief, aside from allowing higher deductions for children, mainly consists of a repeal of the alternative minimum tax. That would mostly benefit people making over $200,000 a year.
Still, symbolism counts for a lot in politics. It will be interesting to see how the Vietnam War hero fares in some places that would certainly not be welcoming to the current occupant of the White House.
Tomorrow night in Pennsylvania, we’ll get a better idea about how much longer the brawl for the Democratic presidential nomination will last. This is probably, due to its older demographics and closed-to-independents primary, the best big state in the country for the Clintons. Hillary needs a very big win there to make any dent in Obama’s lead in earned delegates and the popular vote. Even if she gets that, it’s hard to see her making up much ground elsewhere in the other contests remaining between now and June 3rd, when Montana and South Dakota close out the primary and caucus season.
The Clinton attacks on Obama have done more to drive up her negatives than Obama’s. And her Bosnian Adventure has been more damaging than the Wright Stuff and Bittergate. Hillary’s level of trustworthiness has plummeted, perhaps rendering her unelectable as a result even though the Republicans have not attacked her, concentrating their fire instead on Obama.
If Clinton fails to win big tomorrow in Pennsylvania, look for more big-time Dems to consolidate around Obama. Last Friday was a very telling day, with Southern Democratic icons Sam Nunn and David Boren — the former Georgia senator who ran the Senate Armed Services Committee and the former Oklahoma senator who ran the Senate Intelligence Committee — coming out for Obama. Along with liberal former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s Oxford classmate when they were Rhodes Scholars together 40 years ago. And Hillary Clinton’s Yale Law classmate after that.
More of that is in store. …
** 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 $116 to $117 per barrel range.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum.