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Obama has small lead in Texas, close in Ohio

Friday, February 29, 2008

By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent
Fri Feb 29, 2008 10:25am EST


HOUSTON (Reuters) - Barack Obama holds a slight lead on Hillary Clinton in Texas and has almost pulled even in Ohio before contests that could decide their Democratic presidential battle, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Houston Chronicle poll released on Friday.

The contests on Tuesday are crucial for Clinton, a New York senator and former first lady fighting to halt Obama's streak of 11 consecutive victories in their battle for the Democratic nomination for the November 4 presidential election.

Obama, an Illinois senator, has a 6-point edge on Clinton in Texas, 48 percent to 42 percent. He trails Clinton 44 percent to 42 percent in Ohio -- well within the poll's margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.

In the Republican race, front-runner John McCain holds commanding leads over his last major rival, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. McCain, an Arizona senator, has built an unassailable advantage in delegates who will pick the nominee at the Republican Party convention in September.

The poll, conducted by Zogby International, found McCain with big double-digit margins over Huckabee in Texas and Ohio.

Among Democrats, Obama has a big edge with voters in both states who made their decision within the last month. Clinton led comfortably in both states among voters who decided more than a month ago....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Clinton Goes Nuclear in Final Ad -- And Plays for Sympathy

By RICK KLEIN with MIKE ELMORE
Feb. 29, 2008

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton hears the phone ringing, and it's the sound of her last best shot at capturing the Democratic nomination.

"It's 3 am, and your children are safe and asleep," says her closing ad for Ohio and Texas. "Who do you want answering the phone?"

Yowsers. It's about as subtle as a blunt-instrument-of-a-message can be. And it worked for Walter Mondale and Lyndon Johnson, as George Stephanopoulos pointed out on ABC's "Good Morning America" Friday: "This is the nuclear option. It's either going to work or it's going to blow back," he said. (It's Roy Spence, trying to recreate his Mondale magic.)

The $35 million raised by Clinton this month just might buy her another four or five days of loyalty from her supporters, and it surely will get her latest message (among many others) in the necessary circulation in Ohio and Texas....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Hillary down but not out

$35 MILLION RAISED | Campaign says she has the money to keep going

February 29, 2008

HOUSTON, Texas -- White House hopeful Hillary Clinton announced Thursday that she raised $35 million in February for what her campaign chiefs say is still a vibrant campaign for president.

Sen. Barack Obama, her rival for the Democratic nomination, is expected to announce an even higher monthly total.

"We raised considerably more than the $35 million they announced today," said Bill Burton, Obama's campaign spokesman.

Clinton's team said she may be down, but she's definitely not out -- particularly when it comes to money for television commercials.

Her February take is more than double her previous highest monthly fund-raising total, aides said.

"We have the resources to play in the big states coming up," National Campaign Chairman Terry McAuliffe said in a conference call with reporters....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Dems Jump Ship from "Bi-Partisan" Group Targeting Dems

By Paul Kiel - February 27, 2008, 11:52AM

As we reported Monday, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies launched a national ad campaign lambasting House Democrats for not passing the Senate surveillance bill, which comes complete with retroactive immunity for the telecoms.

As of Friday, the group, which claims to be non-partisan, boasted a number of Democrats on their board of advisors. Those were: Donna Brazile, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Rep. Elliot Engel (D-NY), Rep. Jim Marshall, and former Georgia governor Zell Miller. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), listed as a Democrat on the site, is one of five "distinguished advisors."

Since the group launched the ads, Brazile, Schumer, Engel and Marshall have all resigned from the group. Zell Miller, well, he spoke at the 2004 Republican National Convention. Our call and email to Sen. Lieberman's spokesman were unreturned.

In her statement, Brazile said that no one from the group had consulted her about its activities "in years." And that the once "bi-partisan organization" had, "due to the influence of their funders... morphed into a radical right wing organization that is doing the dirty work for the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans."...(Click here for remainder of post).

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Kingston Slams Obama for Flag Pin w/o Wearing One Himself

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Interview with Bill Donohue: Catholic League denounces McCain

"McCain's not going to get away with this with the Catholic community.. . . We're going to get this out to the Catholic community and Catholic press around the country."

Glenn Greenwald
Feb. 28, 2008


As I wrote about earlier today [see my previous post below for Greenwald's posting], John McCain yesterday happily received an endorsement from, and then expressed lavish gratitude towards, one of the most hateful and radical evangelical ministers in the country, Pastor John Hagee. As documented in that post, Hagee has a history of making some of the most extreme and twisted statements of any religious figure in the country towards multiple groups of Americans.

Among the many groups which McCain's new associate has targeted for hateful bigotry are Catholics. As a result, The Catholic League today issued a statement -- entitled "McCain Embraces Bigot" -- which pointed out that Hagee:
has waged an unrelenting war against the Catholic Church. For example, he likes calling it "The Great Whore," an "apostate church," the "anti-Christ," and a "false cult system."
The Catholic League demanded that McCain repudiate Hagee and his endorsement, just as Barack Obama did earlier this week with Louis Farrakhan (despite the fact that Obama, unlike McCain with Hagee, never sought out or accepted Farrakhan's endorsement)....(Click here for remainder of post).

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Some hateful, radical ministers -- white evangelicals -- are acceptable

John McCain happily accepts the support of one of the most warped and hateful ministers in America. Where is Tim Russert?

Glenn Greenwald
Feb. 28, 2008


One of this week's hysterical press scandals was that Minister Louis Farrakhan praised Barack Obama's candidacy even though Obama had previously denounced numerous Farrakhan remarks and the Obama campaign did nothing to seek out the Farrakhan praise. Nonetheless, Tim Russert demanded that Obama jump through multiple hoops to prove that he has no connection to -- and, in fact, "rejects" -- the ideas espoused by Farrakhan deemed to be radical and hateful.

Yesterday, though, the equally fringe, radical and hateful (at least) Rev. John Hagee -- a white evangelical who is the pastor of a sprawling "mega-church" in Texas -- enthusiastically endorsed John McCain. Did McCain have to jump through the same hoops which Russert and others set up for Obama and "denounce" Hagee's extremism and "reject" his support? No; quite the opposite. McCain said he was "very honored" to receive this endorsement and, when asked about some of Hagee's more twisted views, responded: "all I can tell you is that I am very proud to have Pastor John Hagee's support."

McCain's sainted supporter, Joe Lieberman, last year spoke to Hagee's group and lavished him with such obsequious praise that Lieberman actually compared Hagee, favorably, to Moses. Why is Louis Farrakhan deemed by our political establishment to be so radioactive as to not be fit for good company -- black candidates are required to repudiate his support even when they haven't sought it and denounce his views even when they've never advocated anything close to those views -- but John Hagee is a perfectly acceptable figure whom mainstream GOP politicians are free to court without any consequences or media objections?

Here is just a small sampling of the belief system of this welcomed McCain supporter:

* All Muslims are programmed to kill and we can thus never negotiate with any of them....(Click here for remainder of post).

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Michelle Obama says GOP using 'fear bomb'

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Worst person in the world!

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Mayor Bloomberg hedges on veep run

BY DAVID SALTONSTALL and KATHLEEN LUCADAMO
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Friday, February 29th 2008, 2:37 AM


Mayor Bloomberg put the kibosh on two years of speculation Thursday that he’ll run for President — but did his typical shuffle when asked if he’d want to be vice president.

"Nobody is going to ask me to run for vice president," said the rarely modest mayor when asked what he would do if Sen. Barack Obama asks him. The two centrist politicians chatted over a breakfast meeting in Manhattan in November — the last time Bloomberg said he had met with any of the four presidential candidates.

Bloomberg silenced his presidential buzz by declaring in a New York Times Op-Ed piece Thursday: "I listened carefully to those who encouraged me to run, but I am not — and will not be — a candidate for president."

A source close to the mayor said he made the final decision on Tuesday but had been leaning in that direction for weeks.

He did not alert the White House hopefuls about his plans before the article appeared in the newspaper, the source said....(Click here for remainder of article).

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FBI documents contradict 9/11 Commission report

Filed by Larisa Alexandrovna
02/28/2008 @ 8:01 am

Hijacker had post-9/11 flights scheduled, files say

Newly-released records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request contradict the 9/11 Commission’s report on the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and raise fresh questions about the role of Saudi government officials in connection to the hijackers.

The nearly 300 pages of a Federal Bureau of Investigation timeline used by the 9/11 Commission as the basis for many of its findings were acquired through a FOIA request filed by Kevin Fenton, a 26 year old translator from the Czech Republic. The FBI released the 298-page “hijacker timeline” Feb. 4.

The FBI timeline reveals that alleged hijacker Hamza Al-Ghamdi, who was aboard the United Airlines flight which crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, had booked a future flight to San Francisco. He also had a ticket for a trip from Casablanca to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Why I'm Backing Obama

Susan Eisenhower is the granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.


By Susan Eisenhower
Saturday, February 2, 2008; A15

Forty-seven years ago, my grandfather Dwight D. Eisenhower bid farewell to a nation he had served for more than five decades. In his televised address, Ike famously coined the term "military-industrial complex," and he offered advice that is still relevant today. "As we peer into society's future," he said, we "must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow."

Today we are engaged in a debate about these very issues. Deep in America's heart, I believe, is the nagging fear that our best years as a nation may be over. We are disliked overseas and feel insecure at home. We watch as our federal budget hemorrhages red ink and our civil liberties are eroded. Crises in energy, health care and education threaten our way of life and our ability to compete internationally. There are also the issues of a costly, unpopular war; a long-neglected infrastructure; and an aging and increasingly needy population.

I am not alone in worrying that my generation will fail to do what my grandfather's did so well: Leave America a better, stronger place than the one it found.

Given the magnitude of these issues and the cost of addressing them, our next president must be able to bring about a sense of national unity and change. As we no longer have the financial resources to address all these problems comprehensively and simultaneously, setting priorities will be essential. With hard work, much can be done.

The biggest barrier to rolling up our sleeves and preparing for a better future is our own apathy, fear or immobility. We have been living in a zero-sum political environment where all heads have been lowered to avert being lopped off by angry, noisy extremists. I am convinced that Barack Obama is the one presidential candidate today who can encourage ordinary Americans to stand straight again; he is a man who can salve our national wounds and both inspire and pursue genuine bipartisan cooperation. Just as important, Obama can assure the world and Americans that this great nation's impulses are still free, open, fair and broad-minded....(Click here for remainder of Op-Ed).

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Texas Republicans cross over to vote for Obama

True support combines with stop-Clinton sentiment in next week’s primary
By Alex Johnson
Reporter MSNBC
updated 7:01 p.m. ET Feb. 28, 2008

One of Sen. Barack Obama’s surest applause lines comes about halfway into his standard stump speech. It goes like this:

“They whisper to me. They say, ‘Barack, I’m a Republican, but I support you.’ And I say, ‘Thank you. Why are we whispering?’”

If the latest polling data are to be believed, those Republicans aren’t whispering in Texas, where 195 of the 228 delegates the state will send to the Democratic National Convention will be chosen in a primary and caucuses Tuesday.

As many as a tenth of the Texans voting in the Democratic contests could be Republicans, and overwhelmingly they favor Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, the polls show.

“I ran for Republican precinct chair. I went to the Republican state convention,” said one of them, Donald Rau of Austin, who has already voted in early balloting. “In this election, I voted for Barack Obama.”

GOP support ‘no longer surprising’
A poll released this week by SurveyUSA of Verona, N.J., indicated that registered Republicans would make up 9 percent of Democratic primary voters next week. Michael Baselice, head of Baselice and Associates, a Texas polling firm, said that was in line with what his company was finding....(Click here for remainder of article).


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John McCain's chart-topping single "Bomb Iran"

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Iraq back in focus for campaigns

By Bill Schneider
CNN Chief Political Analyst

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As the intense bloodshed in Iraq began to let up in recent months, so did the political spotlight on the issue in the presidential primaries -- with Iraq overshadowed by the deteriorating U.S. economy.

But Iraq is back in the spotlight, and the issue has helped Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama become front-runners -- a point illustrated in Super Tuesday exit polls.

Most Republicans support the war, and on Super Tuesday, Republican primary voters whose top issue was Iraq voted for McCain -- 49 percent over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's 21 percent and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's 19 percent.

Democrats strongly oppose the war, and Democrats whose top issue was Iraq favored Obama, who has opposed the war from the beginning -- 54 percent to Sen. Hillary Clinton's 42 percent.

If it turns out to be a race between McCain and Obama, Iraq will offer a stark choice between a staunch supporter of President Bush's troop buildup and a consistent opponent of the war.

This week, McCain acknowledged he is tied to the war issue....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Bloomberg's "bully pulpit" in presidential race


A day after he ended speculation about a White House bid, Mayor Michael Bloomberg continued to stoke buzz about his role in the election Thursday, saying he will "use the bully pulpit of New York" and his billion-dollar bankroll to back the candidate who adopts a bi-partisan method of governing.

"If the candidate adopts this independent approach, somebody has got to stand up and give them some credit for it, and I will not be reticent," the mayor said at a news conference, adding, "they're all in contention" for his support.

The billionaire mayor also suggested that he might pay for ads supporting a candidate, similar to the way he has financed an ad campaign for the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition he founded. There are no federal spending limits as long as Bloomberg doesn't coordinate with a campaign....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Bloomberg Says His Endorsement Is up for Grabs

By SARA KUGLER
Associated Press
February 28, 2008 posted 5:43 pm EST

Mayor Bloomberg, no longer a potential presidential contender, said today that the candidates are starting to reflect his brand of bipartisanship and that his endorsement — which could come with a hefty financial boost — is up for grabs.

The billionaire mayor, who is friendly with Senator McCain as well as Senators Clinton and Obama, finally put to rest more than two years of speculation that he would launch his own independent bid for the White House. He said he had thought "long and hard" about whether to run.

"The candidates that are emerging, I think in all fairness, are showing some hopeful signs of understanding the need for independent leadership," Mr. Bloomberg told reporters. "And I believe that the most productive role I can play is to continue pushing them in that direction."...(Click here for remainder of article).

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Democrats Blaze Trails In February Fundraising

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 29, 2008; Page A01

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama continued to rewrite fundraising records this month, with Clinton announcing yesterday that she had rebounded from a disappointing showing in January to raise $35 million in February, by far her biggest one-month total of the campaign.

Obama (Ill.), who raised $36 million in January, has not yet announced a total for February, but aides said it will be "considerably more" than that raised by his rival for the Democratic nomination. Their combined total appeared poised to surpass the $71 million raised by President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) in March 2004, the previous record for fundraising by two candidates for the presidency in a single month....(Click here for remainder of posting).

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Nader’s No. 2

Published: February 29, 2008

The 2008 campaign has its first official vice-presidential candidate, and it is not Mike Huckabee.

The candidate, in a selection that will please fans of both his politics and his art, is Matt Gonzalez, aspiring collage artist and former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Ralph Nader, who on Sunday announced his fourth formal campaign for the presidency, as an independent, introduced Mr. Gonzalez as his running mate at a Washington news conference Thursday.

Mr. Gonzalez, a lawyer, was nearly elected mayor of San Francisco in 2003 as a member of the Green Party and remains a force in Northern California, where the party has some of its deepest support.

Mr. Nader’s most famous presidential run was in 2000, of course, when his third-party bid was blamed by many Democrats for Al Gore’s loss in Florida, an outcome that cost Mr. Gore the election. But Mr. Gonzalez said Thursday that he was running in part to rebut the notion that independent candidates could only be no-good spoilers....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Obama: Looking Ahead, but Wary

BEAUMONT, Tex. — While Senator Barack Obama said he was keeping his focus on his Democratic rival, he said he would not “leave unanswered” the criticisms from Senator John McCain, the Republican front-runner.

“John McCain seems to be talking about me a lot,” Mr. Obama told reporters as he flew through Texas on Thursday. “Obviously, I want to make very clear to voters in the Democratic primary that I am very confident about being able to make the case for why John McCain is looking backwards and we need to take this country forwards.”

“To the extent that he’s initiating this debate a little bit early – and maybe a little bit prematurely – that’s something that we don’t want to leave unanswered,” he said.

In recent days, Mr. Obama has spent less time dwelling on his Democratic foe, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Asked if he was counting her out, he declared: “I am not. I am not. Remember New Hampshire?”...(Click here for remainder of post).

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Bush takes verbal shots at Obama, Clinton

By WILLIAM DOUGLAS AND RENEE SCHOOF

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Clinton misrepresents Obama's health care views

Posted by Scott Helman, Political Reporter February 28, 2008 03:09 PM

HANGING ROCK, Ohio -- Senator Hillary Clinton, who has blasted rival Barack Obama for allegedly misleading people about her health care position to voters, presented his health care views inaccurately before an audience today in rural Ohio.

Clinton, speaking on poverty and family wellness at a community center here, told a couple hundred people that she was committed to universal health care because families can't be fully healthy unless everyone in the family is. It was part of a broader point about the interconnectedness of health care costs, gas prices, and the challenges of raising a family today.

"If you don't have health insurance for everyone, we're never going to get out of this," she said. "We're just going to keep running around in circles."

This, she said, was one of the big differences between her and Obama.

"I want ... each and every member of the family to have health insurance. My opponent only wants your children to have health insurance," she said. "I don't think that's smart."

That is hardly Obama's position.

The difference in their health care proposals is this: Clinton would require that everyone purchase insurance, a mandate that she says she would impose in tandem with bringing costs down through subsidies and other measures. Obama would only impose such a mandate on parents, requiring them to cover their children....(Click here for remainder of post).

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Jailed governor's daughter accuses judge of delaying appeal

David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Thursday February 28, 2008

At the heart of the case of imprisoned former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman are charges that he was railroaded by Karl Rove and the Republican Party. MSNBC host Dan Abrams has become a passionate advocate for Siegelman's cause, and in an extended segment on Wednesday's program, he examined various aspects of this allegation.

Dana Siegelman, the former governor's daughter, joined Abrams Wednesday to discuss attempts to get her father's sentence reviewed. She said her father was "excited" and "reencouraged" by the CBS and MSNBC coverage of his case and that she believes Judge Mark Fuller is deliberately "sitting on" the transcript of Siegelman's 2006 trial that has to be available before any appeal can go forward.

She confirmed that her father "absolutely" believes Rove is responsible for his incarceration. "He knows Karl Rove is behind this. ... My dad was the first governor to endorse Al Gore. ... He spoke at the Democratic national meeting in Boston and said some things that were very controversial and things that scared the Republican Party into thinking that my dad was also looking to run on a national scale."...(Click here for remainder of post).

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