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Friday, August 29, 2008

OH: McCain unveils surprise VP pick in Dayton

4:18 PM

From the Dayton Daily News:
The woman who would be vice president is a stranger to most Americans, but Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin introduced herself to the country on Friday, Aug. 29, as a reformer, a fighter of corruption and a partner in Sen. John McCain's demand for change in Washington.

"I've stood up to the politics-as-usual, to the special interests, to the lobbyists, to the Big Oil companies and the good old boy network," Palin, 44, said as the Ervin J. Nutter Center crowd roared its approval.

McCain stunned most people with the selection of Palin as his running mate, keeping the choice under wraps until just minutes before taking the stage. He complimented Palin on her "grit," her "fighting spirit and deep compassion."
And although Palin was a relative unknown and a surprise pick, members of the crowd backed her enthusiastically:
Shane Robinson, 33, of Union said he believes Palin, a contestant for Miss Alaska in 1984, will bring "star power" to McCain's presidential campaign.

"I think she'll steal a lot of votes," he said.

Like Palin, Jenni Jackson of Mason is a mother of five. She called "brilliant" the Republican Arizona senator's decision to woo a conservative female to run with him.

"I'm thrilled," Jackson said. "I almost wept. She's going to be a hero for all our girls."


Thursday, August 28, 2008

MN: Madia first on the air in 3rd CD

10:33 AM

In Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District, which features a three-way race between GOPer Erik Paulsen, Dem Ashwin Madia and Independence Party candidate David Dillon, Madia is the first on the air with a TV ad. The three candidates are running to replace retiring Republican Rep. Jim Ramstad.

In the ad, titled "Running," Madia uses a voice-over to give a brief biography, touching on his Minnesota background and his service in Iraq, over video of him running in a "Marines" sweatshirt.

Minnesota Public Radio said Madia took a "gamble" by visiting the Democratic National Convention this week with the election 10 weeks out, but the Denver trip gave him the chance to fill his campaign coffers.

From the story:
People all over the country can't vote for Madia. But they can give him something else he needs. California Congressman Mike Honda, who was one of Madia's earliest supporters, made the pitch for Madia at an event focused on Asian Americans in politics.

"The good news is: He's got all the money that he needs, but it's in your pocket still, and it's in your wallet. So, using the internet, talk to your friends, and send it on out," said Honda.

Then Madia got up to seal the deal, saying he's positioned to add a seat to the Democratic House majority.

"It's a 50-50 district. It's one of the top ten races in the whole country right now, mostly likely to flip from Republican to Democrat," Madia told the crowd. "We've raised about $1.5 million, so far. I haven't taken a dime of corporate PAC money this entire time. We've been doing it brick by brick, inch by inch. The poll numbers look good. We've got a great field operation. We've got great mentors. We've got the best volunteers in the entire country."

Madia wouldn't say how much he hopes to raise in Denver, but he acknowledged he is here to collect some checks.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

OH, MI: Obama-Biden bus tour to stop in swing states

6:32 PM

From an Agence France-Presse report:
New Democratic running mates Barack Obama and Joseph Biden will head on their first joint campaign swing after this week's convention, a bus tour of battleground states, aides said Wednesday.

The candidates and their wives, Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, will fly from Denver to Pennsylvania Friday to kick off their "On the Road to Change" bus tour, according to a campaign statement.

The tour by the White House hopefuls will move on to Ohio Saturday and Michigan Sunday, two other rust-belt states that could prove pivotal to success in November's presidential election against Republican John McCain.
Detroit Free-Press columnist Rochelle Riley says the ongoing scandal facing Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick may keep the tour out of Detroit:
A stop in Detroit, the city hit the hardest in the state hit the hardest by an economy that is hitting America hard, is a no-brainer.

But it's not an automatic yes. And that's a shame. ...

Democrats said the mayor would be a distraction if he came to the Denver convention, so he stayed home this week.

And now they can't say whether the candidates are coming to Detroit. Campaign officials would not say it was because of the mayor. But it has been so far.

So Detroit, once again, remains in limbo. And that's a shame.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

MN: Minnesota candidates differ on convention approaches

4:33 PM

With the Democratic National Convention underway in Denver and the Republicans gearing up for their St. Paul convention in less than a week, Minnesota pols are taking differing approaches to the conventions.

Norm Coleman plans to attend the GOP convention that's being hosted by the town where he was once mayor, but he bluntly told Minnesota Public Radio recently that "If the convention wasn't in St. Paul, I wouldn't be at the convention."

His Dem rival Al Franken tells CQ Politics he turned down a Wednesday speaking slot in Denver in order to visit the Minnesota State Fair (which runs from Aug. 21 through Sept. 1), visit with voters and eat "amazing roasted corn."

At the House level, the state's Republicans are all planning some degree of participation in St. Paul, ranging from Michele Bachmann, who's due to address the convention Sept. 1, to Dick Day, who's planning to attend some interest-group events related to the convention but not much more.

"They're not inviting me to things," said Day, who's challenging the party-endorsed Brian Davis in next month's primary for a chance to take on first-term Dem incumbent Tim Walz.

And as of Monday, GOPer Erik Paulsen, running for the seat left open by the retirement of long-time GOP incumbent Jim Ramstad, hadn't decided if he would take the convention speaking opportunity that had been offered.

"My whole attitude is that I'm really focused on the race and during the convention I just want to be campaigning in the district," Paulsen said.


MI: Delegates celebrate full voting rights, prime convo seating

10:14 AM

Michigan caused a stir when it moved its primary up this year in violation of the Democratic National Committee's approved calendar. The move meant that no Dems campaigned in Michigan and also could have caused the state's delegates to lose all their convention clout.

But the DNC's rules committee voted this weekend to restore their convention voting privileges, leaving them able to participate fully in the Denver proceedings.

The ruling left Michigan Dems celebrating:
U.S. Senator Carl Levin, a key player in the effort to move up Michigan's primary and to break the stranglehold Iowa and New Hampshire have on the presidential nominating calendar, crowed at the delegate breakfast about what he called a party victory.

"Score this one as a clear win for Michigan Democrats," Levin said, reading from a Detroit News editorial, adding that the credential committee's action will help motivate state Democrats to campaign for Obama, who will be officially nominated for president this week.
The chair of the state party also crowed about the delegation's seats, which are one section to the side of center stage and behind only the four rows taken up by convention host Colorado.
"We have got seats on the floor. Better than Iowa and New Hampshire," said state party chairman Mark Brewer.

He was referring to the fight this year over the primary schedule in which Michigan tried to challenge Iowa and New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation status by moving up its primary
But all is not perfect for Michigan's delegates: despite the chance for full convention participation and the almost-front-row seats, the state's delegates have been relegated to a hotel 17 miles away from Denver's Pepsi Center.


Monday, August 25, 2008

IA: Obama woos middle class, fence-sitters in Davenport

2:55 PM

From the Des Moines Register:
Davenport, Ia. - Barack Obama stressed here today that he is a man of middle-class roots who as president would care about the problems of everyday people.

"I know what you're going through," he said. "That's why I'm in politics. Politics didn't bring me to working people. Working people brought me to politics. That's why you can count on the fact that when I get in the White House, I'm going to be hearing your voices."

The Illinois senator, who will be nominated this week as the Democrats' presidential candidate, is pushing back against Republicans who have tried to tag him as an elitist.

He spoke today to about 250 people gathered at picnic tables at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds. Audience members, who all were invited, were supporters or undecided voters.
Read the full Des Moines Register article

The Q-C Times kept a live blog, and described it as an intimate visit:
The crowd of mostly undecided voters really listened, and when they responded, it was to thoughtfully ask more questions. It wasn't the typical political rally of dedicated boosters.
Another Q-C Times items highlights a phone call Obama made to an audience member's husband, an undecided voter, during the rally.

Outside the meeting, McCain supporters held their own rally. Among them, the Q-C Times reports, was former Davenport Mayor Ed Winborn.


ALL: Division fading, yet still apparent ahead of Democratic National Convention

11:47 AM

As the Democratic National Convention prepares to kick off with a focus on unity, the McCain campaign is on the air with an ad featuring former Hillary Clinton supporter Deb Bartoshevich, the Wisconsinite who was removed as a delegate to the Democratic Nation Convention after she refused to support to Barack Obama. In the ad, Bartoshevich says she supports McCain because of "his maverick and independent streak" and with Clinton out, "he's the one with the experience and judgment."

But Obama will get to highlight his appeal to some Republicans through former U.S. Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, who is to speak at the convention this evening.

Minnesota delegates pledged to Clinton met behind closed doors last night to express their feelings over Obama's nomination, reports. Similar meetings were held for other states' delegates. According to the report, Clinton has been sending emails highlighting her support for Obama and expectations are that she will release her delegates.

An incident Saturday night between Chicago delegates suggests some tension still may exist between Obama and Clinton supporters. A Chicago alderwoman and Clinton supporter has accused Illinois state Senate President Emil Jones (known as Obama's "political godfather") of calling her an "Uncle Tom" following an exchange witnessed by several other aldermen. Witnesses say he meant it as a joke, while Jones denies he said it.

Michigan delegates are no longer in limbo, as the credentials committee voted unanimously Sunday at Obama's request to restore their voting privileges after their votes were stripped as punishment for the state moving it's primary up to an earlier date against party wishes. Florida delegates also got their privileges restored.

In Denver, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland told the Toledo Blade that Clinton would have been his first choice for Obama's running mate, but that Biden was a good choice. Other Ohio delegates interviewed solidly praised Biden, though a few said they wold have liked an Obama-Clinton ticket.


WI: Obama focuses on economy during Eau Claire stop

9:51 AM

Eau Claire - Barack Obama ripped John McCain as out of touch with the economic realities facing many Americans during a stop in this western Wisconsin city Sunday as he began the trek toward Denver to formally accept the Democratic nomination.

Obama mocked McCain campaign ads that warned the Democrat's tax plan could lead to economic disaster.

"Economic disaster is here," he said. "I don't have to lead you to anything. It showed up over the last eight years."

He also riffed on former McCain campaign adviser Phil Gramm's assertion that America was in a "mental recession," telling the crowd at a city park that "It's not people's imagination that they're feeling more pinched and their budget doesn't balance at the end of the month."

"You just get a sense that these folks are out of touch," Obama said.
Read the rest of the item here.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

OH, MI: New TV ad seeks to tie Obama to Weather Underground figure

2:49 PM

The American Issues Project, a conservative issue group, is planning to spend $2.8 million on a new TV ad set to air in Ohio and Michigan. The ad focuses on Obama's ties to William Ayers, a figure from the Weather Underground, which was a group responsible for bombing several government buildings in the early '70s.

Read the group's press release and see the ad

The Politico's Ben Smith has details:
A new conservative group has produced a television ad attacking Barack Obama for his relationship with former Weather Underground bomber Bill Ayers.

"How much do your really know about Barack Obama? What does he really believe?" asks the ad, which then cites the failed attack on the Capitol on 9/11, and links it to the Weather Underground attack on the Capitol decades earlier.

The group says it will spend $2.8 million airing the ad in Ohio and Michigan -- which would be the largest single third-party expenditure this cycle.

The group, the American Issues Project, is a 501(c)4 -- which means it isn't required to disclose its donors.
The group's board includes Ed Failor Jr., the executive vice president of Iowans for Tax Relief and a member of the board of Iowa Right to Life.


WI, OH, MI, MN, IA: Surrogates to hit McCain over house issue as Obama plans swing state tour

2:19 PM

Barack Obama's campaign is planning widespread surrogate events today to focus on John McCain's answer to a question about how many houses he and his wife owned. McCain said he'd have his staff answer the question later.

Now, The New Republic reports that Obama's campaign has sent out a list of 16 surrogate events to focus on the issue, including several in states.

Among the events:
LA CROSSE, WI: State Rep. Jen Shilling and La Crosse Obama supporters host a news conference on McCain losing track of how many homes he owns.

MADISON, WI: Former US Senator Jean Carnahan holds event in Madison with Women For Obama where she will talk about McCain losing track of how many homes he owns.

DES MOINES, IA: Kansas Governor, Kathleen Sebelius campaigns in Des Moines this afternoon where she will discuss McCain losing track of how many homes he owns.

ST. PAUL, MN: State Senator Tarryl Clark discusses McCain losing track of how many homes he owns.

OH: Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen will talk about McCain losing track of how many homes he owns at events throughout southeast Ohio

MI: Campaign for Change offices across Michigan are launching a "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: McCain Edition" contest where volunteers will be able to win a free "Exxon-McCain" bumper-sticker if they correctly guess the number of houses John McCain owns. Prizes will be only be awarded after McCain clarifies exactly how many houses he owns. To win, the answer must be specific -- "at least four" doesn't count.
Separate from the house-related events, Obama's campaign also announced a swing state tour leading up to next week's Democratic National Convention in Denver. The tour includes stops in Eau Claire, Wis., on Sunday and the Quad Cities area of Iowa on Monday.


OH: Stephanie Tubbs Jones dies

8:30 AM

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Stephanie Tubbs Jones came to Congress nearly 10 years ago as a little-known Democrat from Cleveland who had to fill the big shoes of a near-legend, Louis Stokes.

But when news of her fatal brain aneurysm spread from Ohio to the nation's capital Wednesday, Tubbs Jones' reputation was well-established: tough, exuberant, passionate, partisan, a woman from modest means who rose to national prominence.
Read the full Plain Dealer article

More coverage:
- Washington Post
- New York Times - Columbus Dispatch
- Associated Press


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

OH: U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones in critical condition

3:28 PM

Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the first black woman to represent Ohio in Congress, is reported to be in critical condition in an Ohio hospital.

Tubbs Jones, 58, suffered a burst aneurysm Tuesday night and was found unconscious in her car by a police officer.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer was among a handful of media outlets, including CNN and the Associated Press, to report earlier this afternoon that Tubbs Jones had died. The erroneous news was posted in its Metro news blog, but the post has since been updated to say she is in critical condition.

Here's what the blog said earlier in a post titled "Stephanie Tubbs Jones has died, sources say":
U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the first African-American woman to represent Ohio in Congress, has died after suffering a brain aneurysm, said sources familiar with the situation.

She was removed from life support at 12:19 p.m. at Huron Road Hospital, the sources said.
Here's the updated version:
U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the first African-American woman to represent Ohio in Congress, is in critical condition after suffering an aneurysm last night, officials said this afternoon.
Dem-leaning blogger Lisa Renee from the Toledo-area blog Glass City Jungle commented on the mistaken reports:
I'm torn on stories like this, if it's not clearly known she's really died, doesn't it create more harm to family and friends if it's not true? ... While humor is not always appropriate at a time like this when someone is in critical condition, it was also hard not to think of the Monty Python skit where it's said, "I'm not dead yet." Let's hope Tubbs Jones recovers and is able to tease the media about that…


IA, MI: 'Real people' set to address Dem convention

11:57 AM

The Associated Press reports:
An Indiana railroader, an Iowa mother and a Michigan truck driver are getting a moment at the Democratic convention to help portray Barack Obama as the people's champion and counter GOP characterizations of him as an out-of-touch celebrity.

The idea is for these "real people," as the campaign calls them, to share personal stories about why they are supporting the Democratic presidential candidate and how they think he will help folks like them and the more than 20 million expected to be watching the convention at home.
Iowan Candi Schmieder, a member of the city council in Marengo, is due to speak Monday night to an audience of approximately 20,000 people despite the fact that, as she says in the article, "My voice shakes when I speak in front of 50 people at work at a meeting."

Also among the scheduled speakers is Roy Gross, a Michigan truck driver and single father to a college-age daughter.

Read the full AP article for more


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

IL: Obama plans Saturday return to Springfield with veep in tow

2:43 PM

From the Chicago Tribune's blog The Swamp:
It looks like presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama will feature his choice for a vice presidential candidate during a Saturday rally in Springfield -- where he kicked off his bid for the White House on a chilly February morning last year.

Sources said authorities in Illinois' capital city have been asked to prepare for a visit by Obama, the state's first-term senator, as part of a tour by the anticipated nominee and his newly minted running mate. The visit will occur just days before the Democratic National Convention begins in Denver to formalize Obama's nomination.
Read the full blog item


IA: FEC dismisses complaint about Dem blogger

11:14 AM

From the technology site Ars Technica:
The arch-conservative Heritage Foundation and a pro–Barack Obama blogger found common cause for celebration this week when the Federal Election Commission ruled that former Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Gordon Fischer, author of Iowa True Blue, is not subject to campaign finance restrictions, however partisan his posts. ...

[L]ate last year, Hillary Clinton supporter Kirk Tofte nevertheless filed a complaint against Fischer, arguing that his site was no longer a mere political blog, but a "direct arm of the Obama for President campaign." ...

The FEC rejected Tofte's argument wholesale, noting that there was no hard evidence of coordination, but that even if there had been, Fischer's speech would remain protected.
Fischer hasn't commented directly on the ruling on his blog, but he did post a link to a commentary piece from the Center for Competitive Politics under the title "Another Conservative Organization To My Defense (!!!)."

The CCP piece said the complaint seemed to reinforce the idea "that a primary purpose of campaign finance laws is to harass one's political opponents."


Monday, August 18, 2008

IA, MI, OH, WI: McCain outspending Obama on TV ads

5:20 PM

The liberal Talking Points Memo reports that John McCain's campaign is outspending Barack Obama in many battleground states, including three states covered by

Here's a round-up of the ad numbers, which come from Evan Tracey, the chief operating officer of TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group.
Iowa: McCain has spent roughly $700,000 more than Obama.

Michigan: McCain has outspent Obama by about a million dollars.

Ohio: McCain has spent approximately one million more than Obama.

Wisconsin: McCain has spent roughly a half million more than Obama.
Read the full TPM item


OH: Big McCain rally planned for day after Dem convention

1:40 PM

ABC News reports:
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is planning a major rally in Dayton, Ohio, for Friday, Aug. 29, stoking speculation on the part of the local Republican Party chairman that the Arizona senator might use that occasion to announce his running mate.

"I was told by the McCain folks that we should start building the troops," Alex M. Triantafilou, the chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party, told ABC News. ...

Triantafilou said that the timing of the event (scheduled for the day after the Democratic National Convention ends) and the location of the event (in the state that decided the 2004 election) led him and his fellow Republican Party officials to speculate whether this might be the occasion on which McCain decides to announce his running mate.
The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder notes that a post on Triantafilou's blog looking for a "BIG" venue has disappeared


Friday, August 15, 2008

WI: Ousted Dem delegate says she's going to Denver anyway

11:59 AM

Deb Bartoshevich, the Wisconsin Hillary Clinton supporter stripped of her Democratic delegate status after she opted not to back Barack Obama for president, says she'll be going to the Democratic National Convention in Denver anyway.

Just not inside the convention hall, and not with Democrats.

Bartoshevich told WisPolitics at a house party she hosted for the John McCain campaign last night that she'll be heading to Denver next Sunday to participate in activities with the Republican Party before and during the first day of the convention. Bartoshevich said she plans to stay just one night in Denver.

She said she doesn't have plans yet to attend the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, but said she would "love to" if asked.

Republican Party of Wisconsin spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski, who attended the house party, said the RPW was looking into the possibility of getting Bartoshevich an invitation.
Read the full item


OH: Early voting window seen as boost to Obama

11:56 AM

The Associated Press reports that Dem Barack Obama's campaign is eager to bank votes during a week-long early voting window that Ohio legislators accidentally created before the 2006 elections.

The window will allow first-time voters to register then immediately cast a vote between Sept. 30 and Oct. 6.
"This is one of many ways we'll be encouraging our supporters to skip the lines on Election Day and make sure their vote is cast early," said Isaac Baker, an Obama spokesman.

The move is likely to bring Obama to Ohio for nonstop campaigning that week. Also, television ads are expected to be in heavy play as both campaigns try to take advantage of the electoral oddity. And the early push could help neutralize any last-minute attacks by one campaign on the other.
Politico reporter Ben Smith points out that early voting is not confined to Ohio.
State rules vary, but Ohio isn't the only key state where this starts very early. Virginia has a 45-day window, meaning that the votes will start coming in in mid-September. Voting can start 40 days early in Iowa, 35 days early in Nebraska, 33 in Arizona, and more than three weeks early in Nevada and New Mexico.

In other words, many key votes will be case well before the period in which campaigns traditionally deliver their closing messages, and some even before key moments, like the debates, have passed.

Either party can take advantage of this, but in Ohio, Republicans seem particularly distressed by it. And Obama's success in banking early votes in the primary, in North Carolina in particular, suggest he's the one likeliest to turn this to his advantage.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

WI: Minn. Gov. Pawlenty to hold McCain fundraisers next week

1:05 PM

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will come across the border Monday to hold political events and fundraisers for presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain.

Pawlenty, who was the keynote speaker at the Republican Party of Wisconsin's state convention in May, is considered to be on the shortlist of McCain's possible vice presidential nominees.

Pawlenty will host a fundraiser luncheon in Madison and a 5 p.m. fundraiser in Milwaukee. Political events are also planned for Madison and the Milwaukee area to coincide with the fundraisers, but specifics are not yet available.
Read the full item


OH, MI: Rove says Ohio and Michigan among top 4 key '08 battlegrounds

9:08 AM

Writing in today's Wall Street Journal, former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove says Ohio, Michigan, Colorado and Virginia are the top four states to watch in this presidential election.

In the piece, he outlines his ideas for how John McCain can pick up each state:
Mr. McCain needs Reagan Democrats and independents in eastern Michigan. These working class, culturally conservative, mostly Catholic voters are how the GOP elected an attorney general, a secretary of state and a state Senate majority. ...

Mr. McCain also needs to focus on "soft" Republicans, particularly in the Detroit suburbs. His renegade reputation will help him with socially liberal independents and Republicans. But Mr. Obama's change message will help him in western Michigan where the socially conscious, historically Republican Dutch voters have antiwar tendencies. ...

How can Mr. McCain take Ohio? He can appeal to swing voters in the northeastern part of the state. Cuyahoga, Summit and Lucas counties and the Mahoning Valley are full of culturally conservative, working-class voters. In addition, Mr. Obama was wiped out in the primary among the blue-collar Reagan Democrats of southeastern Ohio. Outside of the university town of Athens, he won less than 30% of the vote in southeastern Ohio. This Appalachian region remains bad turf for him.

Mr. McCain will need to do well with suburban independents in the counties surrounding Columbus to balance heavy African-American turnout. He will also need to run strong in the Cincinnati suburbs in the southwest, and in rural and small-town counties.
Read the complete Rove article


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

IA: Leach backs Obama

5:34 PM

Former Iowa Republican Rep. Jim Leach threw his support behind Sen. Barack Obama today, drawing a rebuke from the McCain campaign that the endorsement is "ironic" given that Leach is a supporter of public financing, which Obama has opted out of.

The Des Moines Register reports:
Leach, as a member of Congress, often departed from the Republican party line, including a vote against former Rep. Newt Gingrich as speaker of the House. The announcement nonetheless represented a high-profile Iowa defection from traditional party loyalties. Whether his rejection of presumptive Republican nominee John McCain will sway other moderate Republicans or independents remains to be seen, political observers said.

Leach took part in a conference call organized by the Obama campaign, along with former Sen. Lincoln Chaffee, a Rhode Island Republican who voted in the Democratic primary in his state for Obama. They announced the formation of "Republicans for Obama." The group will have a Web site comparing positions taken by Obama and McCain and a chat room for supporters.....

[Leach] is also a longtime advocate of campaign finance reform and serves as the chairman of the national governing board of the group Common Cause, which works to advance campaign reform.

Wendy Riemann, a spokeswoman for the McCain campaign, said that "it's rather ironic that someone like Jim Leach, a person who placed such a strong focus on campaign finance issues, would be endorsing the first presidential candidate since Watergate to skirt the public financing program in the general election."
Although he may not have always towed the party line, Leach tells Radio Iowa in an interview that this is the first time he's endorsed a Democrat.

It's been a very difficult thing for me because I've never endorsed a Democrat before...but sometimes in life you come to a juncture where it's very clear the national interest trumps party discipline."
John Deeth of the Iowa Independent has rounded up reaction from Iowa Republicans and Democrats.


MN: Coleman, Franken focus of YouTube election page

9:34 AM

The U.S. Senate race between Democrat Al Franken and Republican Norm Coleman is featured today on YouTube's YouChoose'08 page.

The two each answer user-submitted questions on energy policy, keeping jobs in the industrial Midwest, increasing voter participation, the "Employee Free Choice Act" and what personality traits would help them in the Senate.


Monday, August 11, 2008

OH: Union hits McCain, campaign manager, over DHL deal in Ohio mailer

5:50 PM

The AFL-CIO has sent pamphlets to 100,000 union households in Ohio criticizing McCain and his campaign manager, Rick Davis, over a DHL deal that could ultimately cost thousands of Ohio jobs.

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder has the story.


WI: Milwaukee-focused Obama ad questions McCain's support for Harley

4:12 PM

The Obama campaign is hitting McCain on the airwaves in the home of Harley-Davidson over his opposition to "Buy American" policies and a requirement that the federal government purchase only American-made motorcycles.

The 60-second radio spot began airing today in Milwaukee, which houses the headquarters of Harley-Davidson, the largest U.S. motorcycle manufacturer.

The ad begins with an announcer referring to McCain's visit to the Sturgis, S.D. biker rally last week and plays audio of McCain addressing the crowd: "Not long ago a couple hundred thousand Berliners made a lot of noise for my opponent. I'll take the roar of 50,000 Harleys any day."

The ad then criticizes McCain for opposing the motorcycle requirement.

"But when it comes to his record, American-made motorcycles like Harleys don't matter to John McCain," the announcer says.

The ad continues, faulting McCain for being opposed to "Buy American" provisions and for supporting "billions in tax breaks for companies who ship American jobs overseas."

In response to the ad, McCain spokeswoman Leah Yoon accused Obama of wavering in his approach to free trade. In an e-mail to, Yoon wrote that Obama now claims to support free trade and has backed off his pledge to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement now that the Dem primary is over.

"Senator John McCain continues to support trade proposals that will help put our country first. Obama's wavering approach to trade will isolate American companies and workers and make the U.S. economy vulnerable in this competitive global market."


IA: High Democratic registration may give Obama edge in Iowa

10:00 AM

The dramatic resurgence of registered Democrats in Iowa means the Midwestern battleground that Republican George W. Bush carried by a whisker four years ago may be far less competitive in November, national experts in voter registration say. ...

In Iowa, the number of registered Democrats has increased 16 percent since mid-2004, according to statistics from the Iowa secretary of state.

Trailing Republicans by roughly 8,000 in the summer before the 2004 election, registered Democrats now outnumber them by more than 90,000, according to statistics reflecting changes in July.

Democrats are within reach of eclipsing the number of voters who do not claim a party affiliation on their registration, Iowa's fastest-growing voter group as recently as 2003.
Read the entire item from the Des Moines Register.


Friday, August 8, 2008

WI: Gov. Doyle, GOP duel on nuke power

5:09 PM

Republicans continued to accuse Gov. Jim Doyle of changing his stance on nuclear power today and breaking with Barack Obama on the issue, while the governor insisted his position has been consistent and said the Dems' presidential nominee shares his openness to exploring it as an option for the country's energy needs.
The two sides held dueling conference calls, sparked after Doyle said this week that his task force on global warming reached a "good conclusion" in recommending the easing of Wisconsin's moratorium on new nuclear power plants.
Listen to audio of Doyle's remarks

Republicans seized on the comments yesterday to say Doyle had changed his position and attributed it to John McCain's support of expanding nuclear power. They claimed Obama is opposed to more nuclear energy.

See a state Republican Party release on the issue

Doyle dismissed GOP claims that he'd changed his position or broken with Obama as "this sort of desperate attempt to make things up on energy." He said he supports the task force's recommendation to allow the state to move forward in considering nuclear energy and insisted Obama was open to doing the same.
"Somehow this idea that that's an abandonment of one position and the acceptance of another is just nonsense," Doyle said.

See an Obama campaign release from today


IA: McCain returns to Iowa State Fair

4:05 PM

GOP presidential nominee John McCain stopped at the Iowa State Fair this morning, focusing his remarks on energy policy and the economy.

During his approximately 9-minute address to fairgoers, McCain discussed his energy policy and criticized that of Barack Obama. Dem leaders said afterwards that McCain's energy record doesn't match his rhetoric.

Unfortunately, McCain said the lines were too long for him to sample fair favorites like the pork-chop-on-a-stick and a fried Twinkie.

After his fair visit, he stopped for a private fundraiser at the Wakonda Country Club


Thursday, August 7, 2008

OH: Obama heckler was credentialed photographer

11:21 AM

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Officials of the U.S. Secret Service say there is nothing they could have done to avoid an incident yesterday in which Barack Obama was heckled by a strangely behaving man in the press section during an appearance at an Ohio college.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee was beginning a town-hall style meeting at Baldwin-Wallace College when John Quinn, a freelance photographer on assignment for Bloomberg News, interrupted him by calling on him to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Senator Obama went along and led the crowd through the pledge. ...

Malcolm Wiley, a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service, said today that the agency took no action because "this guy was a credentialed member of the press. He has every right to his freedom of speech." If Mr. Quinn had threatened or advanced toward Mr. Obama, the situation would have been handled differently, Mr. Wiley said.
Read the full item from the Chronicle of Higher Ed


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

IA: NBC moves Iowa from "Toss-up" to "Leans Obama"

12:58 PM

From NBC's First Read:
Obama Builds On Map Lead: Obama has expanded his lead over McCain in NBC's latest electoral map. Obama now has 217 electoral votes in his column versus 189 for McCain, building on his 210-189 edge from last month. There are 132 votes in the toss-up category. Here are the changes from last month, all of them moving in Obama's direction: 1) Iowa moves from toss-up to Lean Obama, continuing this trend of the Illinois senator over-performing in the "region" of Illinois
Here's how the the states stack up in NBC's tally:
Likely Obama: IL
Lean Obama: IA, MN, WI
Toss-up: MI, OH

See the full item for a complete tally of state ratings


MI: Kilpatrick pulls off narrow win; Schauer to face Walberg

9:18 AM

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Detroit, won a close three-way primary election Tuesday, edging out her closest competitor by roughly 1,600 votes, according to an unofficial tally from the Michigan secretary of state. Observers attribute the tight finish to a scandal facing her son, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

From the Detroit Free Press:
Early results Tuesday showed the six-term congresswoman trailing both her opponents, but as the night wore on and more Detroit numbers came in, she pulled even and then slightly ahead of former state Rep. Mary Waters at around midnight. ...

The vote was seen in large part as a referendum on the mayor, who has been charged with criminal felony counts in a text message scandal.

The congresswoman's campaign produced a brochure handed out at polling places Tuesday by the Eastside Community Slate. The brochure said: "The 'alleged' sins of the son should not be visited upon the mother."
In the 7th Congressional District, state Sen. Mark Schauer nearly doubled up on Dem primary opponent Sharon Renier, getting 17,268 votes to Renier's 8,989, according to the secretary of state's Web site.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

MI: Primary day arrives

1:24 PM

Today is the day Michigan voters make their picks in congressional primaries.

The most-watched races:

-- The Democratic primary in the 13th District, where incumbent U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Detroit, is facing former state Rep. Mary Waters and state Sen. Martha Scott. Kilpatrick's son, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, has been involved in an ongoing scandal involving text messages allegedly exchanged between him and one of his aides.

Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley urged readers to vote, calling the race "a referendum on U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and how she raised her son, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who faces perjury and other charges in connection with a police whistle-blower trial."

-- The 7th District, where Democratic state Sen. Mark Schauer is facing Sharon Renier. In the most recent fundraising filings Schauer had a wide lead in fundraising over Renier and even beat out incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg.

Statewide, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land has estimated a turnout of 1.4 million out of the state's 7.2 million registered voters.

Check this page for election results after polls close at 8 p.m.


OH, IA, MI, MN, WI: McCain ad spending dropping in 4 of 5 Midwest battleground states

11:22 AM

From Hotline On Call:
John McCain's ad buys have dropped dramatically over the last few weeks, including his investment on the airwaves in critical battleground states: OH, PA, NM and IA. ...

-- In OH, McCain's campaign spent $197,018 for the week of 7/29-8/4. From 8/5-8/11, the Republican is spending $108,450. ...

-- In IA, McCain's campaign spent $45,844 for the week of 7/29-8/4. From 8/5-8/11, the Republican is spending $10,543.
A review of an ad-spending chart accompanying the blog post shows that McCain's spending is also dropping in Michigan and Wisconsin. The only state where it's rising is Minnesota; McCain isn't running any ads in Illinois.

The other state totals:
- Michigan: $92,465.27 from 7/29-8/4 -- $57,745.72 from 8/5-8/11
- Minnesota: $40,645.72 from 7/29-8/4 -- $45,874.28 from 8/5-8/11
- Wisconsin: $58,843.30 from 7/29-8/4 -- $34,023.68 from 8/5-8/11


Monday, August 4, 2008

IL: Sun-Times columnist Novak announces immediate retirement

4:10 PM

From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Robert Novak has announced his immediate retirement following the diagnosis of a brain tumor, a prognosis the Sun-Times' political columnist describes as "dire."

"The details are being worked out with the doctors this week, but the tentative plan is for radiation and chemotherapy," Novak said.


MI, OH, IA: Obama launches energy push as GOP focuses on tire gauge remark

2:51 PM

Democrat Barack Obama kicked off a week focused on his energy plan with a speech in Lansing, Mich. where he pushed for tax credits to help with the manufacture and purchase of hybrid vehicles, a $1,000 per family "energy rebate" paid for in part by taxing oil companies' record profits and $150 billion over 10 years to develop clean energy technologies.

He also took aim at Republican John McCain in his speech and in a new energy-focused TV ad that pushes Obama's energy rebate idea and ties McCain to President George W. Bush and "big oil." Here's a speech excerpt:
You won't hear me say this too often, but I couldn't agree more with the explanation that Senator McCain offered a few weeks ago. He said, "Our dangerous dependence on foreign oil has been thirty years in the making, and was caused by the failure of politicians in Washington to think long-term about the future of the country."

What Senator McCain neglected to mention was that during those thirty years, he was in Washington for twenty-six of them. And in all that time, he did little to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. ...

Now, after years of inaction, and in the face of public frustration over rising gas prices, the only energy proposal he's really promoting is more offshore drilling - a position he recently adopted that has become the centerpiece of his plan, and one that will not make a real dent in current gas prices or meet the long-term challenge of energy independence.
But Obama did say he would be open to offshore drilling "if it's necessary to actually pass a comprehensive plan."

Read the complete text of Obama's prepared remarks

Obama has two "New Energy for America" townhalls set for Tuesday in Ohio -- early tomorrow morning in Youngstown and after noon in Berea.

While Obama is pushing his plan, McCain's campaign is making a concerted effort to deride Obama's energy ideas, saying in a fundraising e-mail that Obama's "solution to high gas prices is telling Americans to make sure their tires are inflated" and offering contributors an "Obama Energy Plan" tire pressure gauge if they donate $25 or more to the campaign. Michigan GOP operatives also planned to hand out the gauges at Obama's Lansing speech today.

During a weekend appearance in Iowa to open a McCain campaign office, Minn. Gov. Tim Pawlenty used a tire gauge as a prop, saying "We want you to have good pressure in your tires. It will, you know, very mildly add to your fuel efficiency, but checking the air pressure in your tires is not an energy policy for the United States of America."


MI: Obama looks to give full vote to Mich, Fla. delegations

11:07 AM

From the CBS News Horserace blog:
Barack Obama has sent a letter to the co-chairs of the Democratic National Convention's Credentials Committee urging them to pass a resolution allowing the Democratic delegations from Florida and Michigan to be fully represented at the Democratic National Convention. ... [Obama wrote in the letter:] "As a candidate for the nomination, I supported the DNC's efforts to establish and enforce a schedule for primaries and caucuses that would broaden the opportunity for Democrats from all regions of the country and all backgrounds and walks of life to have a meaningful voice. ... As we prepare to come together in Denver, however, we must be – and will be – united in our determination to change the course of our nation. To that end, Democrats in Florida and Michigan must know that they are full partners and colleagues in our historic mission to reshape Washington and lead our country in a new direction."
Read the post for the full text of the letter from Obama

Liberal Iowa blogger John Deeth doesn't seem entirely pleased about the move, writing that "Florida and Michigan will suffer no punishment at all for their open defiance of the DNC's official nomination calendar." But he continues with what he sees as a bright spot for Iowa's first-in-the-nation status: "Iowa may still be in good shape for staying first in 2012. Republicans have a tentative calendar that keeps Iowa first, and on the Democratic side Obama clearly credits his Iowa win with setting him on the road to the nomination."


Friday, August 1, 2008

MN: Ventura to stop at Ron Paul's 'shadow convention'

11:35 AM

From ABC News' Political Radar:
In video on his website today, [Republican Ron] Paul announced that former Minneapolis Governor and professional wrestler, erstwhile Mexico surfer dude and anti-establishment independent politics rock star Jesse Ventura, even though he has ruled out a bid to shake up the US Senate race in Minnesota and is in no way a Republican, will take part in the rally.

The Rally for the Republic on Sept. 2 at the Target Center (holds 18,000 and 7,000 tickets have been sold according to a Paul staffer) in Minneapolis, is set to caps off a week of activities sponsored by Paul's new Political Action group, the Campaign for Liberty.
And while Ron Paul is securing new guests for his convention, National Republican Congressional Committee chair U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., is looking to make the St. Paul GOP convention guest list shorter.

The Hill reports:
The NRCC chief discouraged candidates from attending the national convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, saying that spending days there would be a "waste of time," and they would be better off campaigning.


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