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Richardson endorses Obama in Portland

Friday, March 21, 2008

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McCain Blows by Public Spending Cap

By Matthew Mosk

Sen. John McCain has officially broken the limits imposed by the presidential public financing system, reports filed last night show.

McCain has now spent $58.4 million on his primary effort. Those who have committed to public financing can spend no more than $54 million on their primary bid.

So has McCain broken the law? The answer is far from simple.

It depends on whether he has, in fact, withdrawn from the public matching program. McCain was certified to enter the matching program last year when he was starved for cash. But once he started to win primaries, he decided to step back from it. On Feb. 6, after his Super Tuesday victories, he wrote to the FEC to announce he would withdraw from the program.

McCain's lawyers said that gave him freedom to spend as much as he wanted -- once he announced his intent to withdraw from the system, they say, he was released from the spending caps.

But Federal Election Commission Chairman David Mason wrote McCain's campaign last month to alert him that the commission had not yet granted his Feb. 6 request to withdraw, and that the commission would first need to vote on the matter. A snag: The FEC has four vacancies and therefore lacks a quorum to consider the matter.....(Click here for remainder of article)

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Gov. Bill Richardson


During the last year, I have shared with you my vision and hopes for this nation as we look to repair the damage of the last seven years. And you have shared your support, your ideas and your encouragement to my campaign. We have been through a lot together and that is why I wanted to tell you that, after careful and thoughtful deliberation, I have made a decision to endorse Barack Obama for President.

We are blessed to have two great American leaders and great Democrats running for President. My affection and admiration for Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton will never waver. It is time, however, for Democrats to stop fighting amongst ourselves and to prepare for the tough fight we will face against John McCain in the fall. The 1990's were a decade of peace and prosperity because of the competent and enlightened leadership of the Clinton administration, but it is now time for a new generation of leadership to lead America forward. Barack Obama will be a historic and a great President, who can bring us the change we so desperately need by bringing us together as a nation here at home and with our allies abroad.

Earlier this week, Senator Barack Obama gave an historic speech. that addressed the issue of race with the eloquence, sincerity, and optimism we have come to expect of him. He inspired us by reminding us of the awesome potential residing in our own responsibility. He asked us to rise above our racially divided past, and to seize the opportunity to carry forward the work of many patriots of all races, who struggled and died to bring us together.

As a Hispanic, I was particularly touched by his words. I have been troubled by the demonization of immigrants--specifically Hispanics-- by too many in this country. Hate crimes against Hispanics are rising as a direct result and now, in tough economic times, people look for scapegoats and I fear that people will continue to exploit our racial differences--and place blame on others not like them . We all know the real culprit -- the disastrous economic policies of the Bush Administration!

Senator Obama has started a discussion in this country long overdue and rejects the politics of pitting race against race. He understands clearly that only by bringing people together, only by bridging our differences can we all succeed together as Americans.

His words are those of a courageous, thoughtful and inspiring leader, who understands that a house divided against itself cannot stand. And, after nearly eight years of George W. Bush, we desperately need such a leader.

To reverse the disastrous policies of the last seven years, rebuild our economy, address the housing and mortgage crisis, bring our troops home from Iraq and restore America's international standing, we need a President who can bring us together as a nation so we can confront our urgent challenges at home and abroad.

During the past year, I got to know Senator Obama as we campaigned against each other for the Presidency, and I felt a kinship with him because we both grew up between words, in a sense, living both abroad and here in America. In part because of these experiences, Barack and I share a deep sense of our nation's special responsibilities in the world.

So, once again, thank you for all you have done for me and my campaign. I wanted to make sure you understood my reasons for my endorsement of Senator Obama. I know that you, no matter what your choice, will do so with the best interests of this nation, in your heart.

Sincerely,

Bill Richardson

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GOP's House odds fade further

By The Washington Post and The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-N.Y., said Thursday he will not seek another term in office, becoming the latest member of the former GOP leadership team to step down in the past two years.

Reynolds is the fifth departing member of the Republican leadership team that ran the House with an iron fist for 12 years until Democrats took control in the 2006 election. His decision was another blow to Republican chances against Democrats, who appear likely to widen their majority with more than two dozen GOP seats coming open this year.

Twenty-nine House Republicans have said in the past year they will not run for re-election, have decided to seek another office or have simply quit midterm.

Only seven seats are being given up by the Democrats, who see the opportunity to fatten their majority in the House — and the Senate.

The departures pushed an almost completely new set of members into GOP leadership.

Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., 44, the chief deputy whip, said Republicans need to reclaim the "message of renewal and reform" and tie themselves to their presumptive presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., whose political brand has been to "challenge the status quo."...(Click here for remainder of article)

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Democrats seize on John McCain Iraq gaffe

By Toby Harnden
Last Updated: 2:54am GMT 20/03/2008


Democrats have seized on a slip-up by John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, in which he appeared to be confused between Sunni and Shi'ite groups in Iraq by suggesting that Iran was backing al-Qa'eda.

At a press conference in Amman, Jordan, Mr McCain said he was concerned about Iranians "taking al-Qa'eda into Iran, training them and sending them back".

When challenged, he responded: "Well, it's common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qa'eda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That's well known. And it's unfortunate."

After Senator Joe Lieberman, his colleague and fellow Iraq hawk, whispered in his ear, Mr McCain said: "I'm sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qa'eda."

American intelligence officials believe that Iran is backing Shi'ite insurgents groups in Iraq but not al-Qa'eda, which is Sunni.

The stumble could damage Mr McCain's image of being a foreign policy expert and even raise questions about his age. At 71, if elected he would be the oldest US president ever first inaugurated....(Click here for remainder of article)

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Democrats jump on McCain's Iran-Qaeda gaffe

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Republican presidential candidate John McCain touts his foreign policy expertise at every turn, but he has given Democrats ammunition against his experience by wrongly saying Iran trains Al-Qaeda members.

McCain, 71, insisted during an official visit in Amman Tuesday that members of Al-Qaeda in Iraq were slipping into neighboring Iran and receiving training there before returning to the war-torn country to wreak havoc.

But while President George W. Bush's administration has accused Shiite-majority Iran of training and arming Shiite extremists, it has never made the link with Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which is a Sunni group.

McCain made the gaffe right in the middle of an official visit in the Middle East that was supposed to highlight his knowledge in foreign affairs.

"It's common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq. That's well known," the Vietnam war veteran said.

Pressed by reporters about his allegations, McCain said: "We continue to be concerned about the Iranians taking Al-Qaeda into Iran and training them and sending them back."

It was only after fellow Senator Joe Lieberman, who was traveling with him, whispered into his ear that McCain corrected himself.

"I am sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not Al-Qaeda, not Al-Qaeda, I am sorry," McCain said....(Click here for remainder of article)

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Bomb, bomb Iran?

John McCain's gaffe about an Iran-al-Qaida connection revealed how he and his hard-line allies are itching to target the mullahs next.


By Joe Conason

March 21, 2008 | When John McCain, speaking at a press conference in Amman, Jordan, on Tuesday, accused Iran of harboring and training al-Qaida terrorists, he apologized as soon as Joe Lieberman loudly whispered in his ear that he had uttered a blooper. He withdrew that remark and noted that while the Iranian government is training other "Islamic extremists" across the border, that does not mean they are involved with al-Qaida in Iraq.

Being McCain, he did not have to worry about the cable networks playing the videotape of his mistaken comments on an endless loop. Confused as he may be, his friends in the national press corps are not about to expose him to ridicule. But now his own campaign seems to be withdrawing his self-correction and apology, at least in part -- and insisting that the Iranians indeed do maintain connections with al-Qaida in Iraq.

Given McCain's dangerous preference for force over diplomacy, especially in the Mideast, this is not a minor matter. (He wasn't really kidding when he sang "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran ...") By suggesting that the Iranians are aiding al-Qaida, the Arizona senator and his neoconservative allies are building a case for strikes against Tehran and perhaps even "regime change," just as similar allegations, since proved false, were deployed to justify the invasion of Iraq....(Click here for remainder of post)

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Boeing union rips McCain over Airbus deal

By Andrew Zajac

The furor over Boeing's lost tanker deal has followed Sen. John McCain overseas.

A union representing 25,000 Boeing workers, including some who work at the company's manufacturing plant in Wichita where final tanker assembly would have been done, issued a press release timed to McCain's visit to France, home to EADS/Airbus, the firm that beat out the Chicago-based plane builder.

The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers accuses McCain of unfairly favoring a foreign firm for the contract, one of the biggest defense contracts in history.

It wants the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting to open his office files on the Boeing/EADS face-off and it questions why McCain asked for the removal of bid language that would have penalized EADS for receiving government subsidies.

McCain has defended his actions in the controversy, saying that he wanted to ensure that there would be competition for the $35 billion contract, which Boeing had been favored to win.

Lobbyists connected to his campaign who formerly represented EADS had no influence on his actions, McCain has said.

Read the release from the IFTPE here: Download file

McCain has been on an extended foreign trip, visiting Iraq, Israel and Jordan, and stopping today in England, where among other things he met with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and was scheduled to hold a fundraiser in London....(Click here for remainder of post)

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Howard Dean's Gay Headache

By Mary Ann Akers

As if dealing with a protracted Democratic presidential primary fight and the Michigan and Florida delegate debacles weren't enough, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean had to spend two days this month getting deposed in a nasty lawsuit that has roiled the DNC and the gay community.

Two Thursdays ago, on March 6, Dean did a flurry of early morning television interviews on the political news du jour - the race for delegates and taking on Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the general election - before heading to the law offices of Bernabei & Wachtel for the start of a 6 ½ hour grilling about why he authorized the firing of the DNC's gay and lesbian outreach director, Donald Hitchcock.

Dean's detour from walking a perpetual tightrope between the presidential campaigns of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and hearing the complaints of angry delegates in Florida and Michigan was not a welcome diversion. Until now, for the most part, the lawsuit, which Dean's spokeswoman calls "absurd," had remained safely out of the mainstream press.

Hitchcock filed his suit against the DNC last spring, a year after he was fired, alleging the DNC discriminated against him because he's gay and retaliated against him because his life partner, well-known Democratic activist Paul Yandura, publicly criticized the Democratic Party for not doing more to fight anti-gay ballot initiatives. Hitchcock is asking for unspecified damages and severance pay....(Click here for remainder of post)

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Obama camp says records prove Clinton supported NAFTA

By Globe Staff | March 21, 2008

Barack Obama's campaign tried yesterday to capitalize on the release of Hillary Clinton's schedules as first lady by highlighting evidence of her early support for the North American Free Trade Agreement, even though she now criticizes it.
more stories like this

The Clinton campaign answered that she was always personally opposed to NAFTA, and accused the Obama campaign of breaking a pledge to avoid personal attacks.

Particularly before her big win in the Ohio primary earlier this month, Clinton harshly criticized the trade deal and said that, if elected president, she would seek changes to help American workers.

Union leaders and others blame the trade deal negotiated by President Bill Clinton's administration for the loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs.

But the 11,000-plus pages of White House schedules, released Wednesday, show Hillary Clinton holding at least five meetings in 1993 that were aimed at helping win congressional approval of NAFTA. The papers, however, don't show what was discussed or what Clitnon said in those meetings....(Click here for remainder of article)

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Obama Edges Clinton in Campaign Cash, Spending During February

By Kristin Jensen and Jonathan Salant

March 21 (Bloomberg) -- Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama finished February with millions of dollars more in the bank than rival Hillary Clinton after outspending her by about $11 million during the month, regulatory filings show.

Obama, an Illinois senator, had $39 million in cash, compared with $33 million for Clinton, according to reports filed with the U.S. Federal Election Commission yesterday. At least $20 million of Clinton's war chest can only be used for the general election; Obama has raised less for the post-primary season.

Obama, 46, is leading Clinton, 60, a New York senator, in the race for convention delegates who will decide the Democratic nomination. The next contest in their battle is the April 22 primary in Pennsylvania, where Clinton is favored.

"This is a horse race, and it is a close one," Julian Zelizer, a history and public affairs professor at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, said. "Every ad, every appearance, every dollar counts."

Clinton reported that she raised $34.6 million in contributions during February, bringing the total for her campaign to $156 million. She spent $31.8 million last month and had an additional $8.7 million in debt....(Click here for remainder of article)

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Clinton Campaign's Revote Blunder

By JOSH GERSTEIN
March 21, 2008


With hopes for do-over primaries in Michigan and Florida growing dimmer by the hour, Senator Clinton's campaign may have bungled one of Mrs. Clinton's last opportunities to close the gap with the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Obama.

The downfall of Mrs. Clinton's strategy may have been that her push for new elections in those states came too late.

In a little-noticed comment that may have conflated wish with reality, the former first lady's top adviser on delegate issues, Harold Ickes, told reporters on Tuesday, "She has urged for weeks now that there should be reruns of those primaries."

In fact, Mrs. Clinton and her campaign publicly endorsed revotes in both states on March 12, only six days before Mr. Ickes and the rest of the Clinton crew began taunting Mr. Obama for dragging his feet in working out a compromise....(Click here for remainder of article)

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A Thinking Man's Speech

By Peggy Noonan
March 21, 2008


I thought Barack Obama's speech was strong, thoughtful and important. Rather beautifully, it was a speech to think to, not clap to. It was clear that's what he wanted, and this is rare.

It seemed to me as honest a speech as one in his position could give within the limits imposed by politics. As such it was a contribution. We'll see if it was a success. The blowhard guild, proud member since 2000, praised it, and, in the biggest compliment, cable news shows came out of the speech not with jokes or jaded insiderism, but with thought. They started talking, pundits left and right, black and white, about what they'd experienced of race in America. It was kind of wonderful. I thought, Go, America, go, go.

You know what Mr. Obama said. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright was wrong. His sermons were "incendiary," and they "denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation." Mr. Obama admitted that if all he knew of Mr. Wright were what he saw on the "endless loop . . . of YouTube," he wouldn't like him either. But he's known him 20 years as a man who taught him Christian faith, helped the poor, served as a Marine, and leads a community helping the homeless, needy and sick. "As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me." He would not renounce their friendship....(Click here for remainder of post)

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Two Fired for Viewing Obama Passport File

State Department Investigating Whether Contractors Broke Law
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 21, 2008; Page A03


Two State Department employees were fired and a third has been disciplined for improperly accessing Sen. Barack Obama's passport file, the State Department announced last night.

Senior department officials said they learned of the incidents only when a reporter made an inquiry yesterday afternoon. They said an initial investigation indicated that the employees -- all of whom worked on contract -- were motivated by "imprudent curiosity."

Bill Burton, spokesman for Obama's presidential campaign, called the incidents "an outrageous breach of security and privacy." He said this is "a serious matter that merits a complete investigation," adding that the campaign will "demand to know who looked at Senator Obama's passport file, for what purpose, and why it took so long for them to reveal this security breach."

Undersecretary of State Patrick F. Kennedy, in a hastily arranged conference call with reporters, said he asked the State Department inspector general to open an inquiry into the matter and acknowledged that it might need to be expanded....(Click here for remainder of article)

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