McCain announces ’08 bid on Letterman

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Setting aside any doubt about his presidential aspirations, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona announced Wednesday he would seek the GOP presidential nomination.

McCain, who has had a presidential exploratory committee, made the declaration on the “Late Show with David Letterman,” taped earlier Wednesday.

And in other news, bagels give me gas.

After a week off, Jason is confirmed for Fox & Friends tomorrow morning at approx. 7:40 AM, EST. Tune in!

Billary, we have a problem. Maybe Obama is black enough after all.

Blacks Shift To Obama, Poll Finds

By Dan Balz and Jon Cohen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, February 28, 2007; Page A01

The opening stages of the campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination have produced a noticeable shift in sentiment among African American voters, who little more than a month ago heavily supported Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton but now favor the candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama.

Clinton, of New York, continues to lead Obama and other rivals in the Democratic contest, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. But her once-sizable margin over the freshman senator from Illinois was sliced in half during the past month largely because of Obama’s growing support among black voters.

Read the rest.

John McCain — who is viewed with deep suspicion by many Republicans and whose primary claim to frontrunner status was “electability” — is seeing his poll numbers tank. He’s old, his support for “the surge” in Iraq has made him less popular, and you get the feeling that a lot of people were just waiting for an excuse to dump him.

In rides “America’s Mayor” to the rescue! Rudy Giuliani might be pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, pro-gun control, and pro-immigration, but GOP primary voters appear to be willing to compromise on a few of their troublesome “principles” if it means they can toss McCain overboard. Most of all, you get the sense that the Republicans really want to WIN and if that means nominating a cross-dressing, twice-divorced adulterer who has said he would give his daughter the money for an abortion and who lived with two gay men and their chihuahua a few years ago, hey just tell them where to sign up.

Only problem is, McCain really wants to win too, and to do so it’s looking more and more like he’s going to have to knock Giuliani down a peg or two. He knows that Giuliani doesn’t just have a couple of skeletons in the closet, he’s got a whole graveyard stuffed in there, so the question becomes: How long before Team McCain decides to start dragging out some of those bones?

New numbers from Rasmussen suggest McCain is in trouble. Of course it’s early, but after essentially spending 8 years campaigning for the job, with name ID off the charts and a very well-know resume, attracting only 17 percent of GOPers is a problem. A big one. It’s a Big Apple sized problem.

2008 Republican Presidential Primary

Giuliani 33% McCain 17% Gingrich 13%

February 27, 2007

Arizona Senator John McCain’s (R) support among Likely Republican Primary Voters has slipped to the lowest level ever recorded since Rasmussen Reports began tracking the race shortly after last November’s election. McCain is now the top pick for just 17% of Republicans. That’s down two points from a week ago, five points since mid-January and is barely half the level of support enjoyed by Republican frontrunner Rudy Giuliani.

For the second straight week, the former Mayor of New York attracts support from 33% of Likely Republican Primary Voters. The man dubbed America’s Mayor in the wake of 9/11 has seen his personal favorables rise back to the 70% level once again.

Read the rest.

That’s what Dick Morris & Eileen McGann think.

McCain’s Campaign Collapses

Dick Morris & Eileen McGann
Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2007

The John McCain candidacy, launched amid much hope, fanfare, and high expectations, may be dying before our eyes.

Even worse, it may go out with a whimper instead of a bang.

It may not end in an Armageddon style primary defeat, but just dry up from lack of support, money, or interest.

Throughout all of 2006, McCain sat atop the polls right next to Rudy Giuliani. In the Fox News survey of December, 2006, he was getting 27 percent of the Republican primary vote to Rudy’s 31 percent. But, after Giuliani announced that he was running, the Arizona senator fell to 24 percent while Rudy soared into the stratosphere at 41 percent of the primary voters. But even when McCain was polling well, he wasn’t raising the money he needs for this campaign.

Read the rest.

Here’s a snippet from a very solid piece by the AP on the early importance (or not) of early 2008 polling.

Early 2008 polls unpredictable now, but provide some clues

By Will Lester, Associated Press Writer | February 25, 2007

WASHINGTON –Hillary Rodham Clinton is the clear favorite in early polls for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. So, what does that mean? Not a lot, if history is any guide.

Republican hopeful Rudy Giuliani, however, is sitting pretty.

For at least three decades, Republicans have been far better than Democrats in early polls at getting behind the candidates who end up winning the party’s presidential nomination.

Note that Edmund Muskie in 1972, George Wallace in 1976, Ted Kennedy in 1980, Gary Hart in 1988, Mario Cuomo in 1992 and Joe Lieberman in 2004 were early front-runners among Democrats. None won the nomination.

Republicans have picked the early front-runner in seven of the past 10 elections, according to Gallup polling. In the other three elections, Republican incumbents cruised to re-election.

Read the rest.

A fun quote making the rounds today via email:

“There’s no doubt history is in the making with the 2008 presidential race. We may have either the first Black president, the first Woman president, or the first Mormon president. Why not kill three birds with one stone – elect Gladys Knight president and call it a day.”

Not sure who said it, but it’s clever. And who knows clever better than PD? Darn tootin’.

Chalk these numbers up as a surprise. A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows President Bush with a 76% approval rating among Republicans or those leaning Republican. So for those who think the candidates for the nomination will run from Bush because he’s a weight around their hairy hooves, think again. While he won’t help much in the general, at least not if it were held today, he’s still a big draw in the party and the horses that pretend he’s got leprosy do so at the risk of alienating three-quarters of the base.

More here.

…and then I’ll let it go. Ellen wasn’t all that funny and, frankly, most of the funniest lines of the night were delivered by my three-year-old as he ran in and out of the room in his Spider Man jammies wondering I was wasting time when I could playing Wrestlemania with him.

But catch this quote from the director and executive producer of An Inconvenient Truth, Davis Guggenheim. He said the team was “inspired by [Gore’s] fight for 30 years to tell this truth to all of us.”

30 years? 30 years? 30 years ago Gore and his enviro pals were preaching about global cooling. Was it the truth then? And what will it be in another 30 years? Global lukewarming?

Stop the presses! It’s the shocker of the night. Al Gore has won the Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth!

Thank goodness he didn’t announce his intention to seek the ’08 democratic nomination during his acceptance speech. And for those missed it, his earlier announcement gag with Leo Dicraprio fell harder and faster than Ellen at all-girl band camp.

Now that Gore had his moment, can we finally stop speculating that he’ll throw his hat in? He’s fat, preoccupied, drunk with Chateau Hollywood, and irrelevant in the ’08 horse race.

One interesting note. An entertainment guru calculates that Gore should reimburse ABC $3 million bucks for tonight’s free advertising. Maybe he could collect it at a Buddhist temple?

David Geffen makes for an unlikely foot soldier.

He might not know it, but the entertainment mogul’s barb at the Clintons this past week was perhaps the first salvo thrown in the coming war within the Democratic Party. Geffen, a former supporter of the Clintons, perhaps vocalized a frustration that has lingered with Democrats for some time.

This battle won’t be over ideology. After all, on that point, there’s little difference between Clinton and Obama. But where the true divide rests is over the direction, and the tone, of the Democratic Party. In one corner, you have the Clintonistas, triangulation and James Carville. In the other corner, you have Obamania, the blogosphere and David Axelrod.

Democrats haven’t taken the White House since 1996. But one could argue that they haven’t elected a genuine “Liberal” since 1964. This debate was televised in the streets of Chicago in 1968, and made Ralph Nader a more attractive option for some in 2000. It’s a divide between policy and politics that has haunted Democrats, and now it plays out again before our very eyes. Emboldened by a Democratic wave in Congress, the party’s base can smell blood. To many, the time to wrest the Democratic Party from what Bill Kristol calls the “Clinton captivity” is now:

Will it set the Democrats free? It could. Hillary Clinton was cruising along, raising big money, triangulating on Iraq, rounding up supporters who felt they had little choice but to sign on. And then Geffen spoke up. Suddenly Democrats all over the country may be thinking to themselves, “Well, what about that? Why exactly do we have to be for Hillary anyway? Shouldn’t we consider some alternatives?”

Once unleashed, this series of thoughts is subversive. So much of the Hillary Clinton candidacy depends on an aura of inevitability, supported by oodles of money and a fear of retribution if you’re not on board. But what if she’s not inevitable? And what if the retribution isn’t so all-powerful?

This is a healthy debate for the Democrats. Better that it happen inside the Big Tent rather than outside of it, to paraphrase (and sanitize) a Lyndon Johnson quote. And better it plays out now, rather than a year from now. Republicans who might be taking joy in the squabbling between their rivals should be careful. If they think Obama vs. Clinton is entertaining, just wait until Rudy, Romney and McCain start playing in the mud.

To John Edwards and the rest of the Democratic hopefuls–my condolences. This party divide is bigger than all of you, and there are now only two heavyweights left in this fight. The Audacity of Hope vs. the Man from Hope is now in full effect, and only one will be left standing.

People write us from time-to-time and ask why we don’t have a 2008 preference poll like so many other political sites.

Consider Exhibit A: Pajamas Media Presidential Straw Poll

Does anyone really think Bill Richardson has so much support that he’s leading second place Obama 51-10? The GOP side of this particular poll is a bit better with Rudy leading Newt and Romney. But it jumps the track after that.

And come on, three people voted for Gilmore? I’m sorry, but that overstates his support by about 2.

When we find a way to offer a poll that accurately reports the pulse of Internet users and isn’t easily padded, cheated or otherwise manipulated, we’ll gladly join the fun. Tips on how to make a poll work more effectively? Drop us a note.

As if things weren’t bad enough, Hillary slips further behind Rudy in Rasmussen’s latest head-to-head numbers.

Election 2008: Giuliani 52% Clinton 43%
February 23, 2007
Republican Rudy Giuliani

In a match-up between the early 2008 frontrunners, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) leads New York Senator Hillary Clinton (D) 52% to 43%. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds Giuliani’s lead growing in recent months. His current nine-point advantage is up from a six point lead in January and a four-point lead in December.

Read the rest.

And because we don’t want to pile on Senator Clinton, we won’t mention that Giuliani leads her by 20 points in the favorability race, 70%-50%. (oh crud, we didn’t mean to do that — Hillary please don’t have your spokesperson come after us)

In the words of Chandler Bing, “Could he BE more right?”

Kristol’s take on the Obama v. Hillary slugfest is spot on. For Team Hill, no good comes from this. Suddenly democrats are asking, are we sure we want Clinton III?

Once Hillary loses the powerful “presumptive nominee” label she’s worn so effectively for two years, she becomes more flawed than a Britney Spears 10-step recovery plan.

Who wins from the painfully obvious decision by Tom Vilsack to get out of the race? Nationally, his support was negligible, which was why (along with a severe $$$ deficit) he had no hope beyond Iowa in this race. But his backing in Iowa (~15%) is quite valuable, especially the support he had among loyalist party leaders at the county level. Also, his staff will be in high demand from the other campaigns. So who is likely to come out ahead? Let’s take a look.

Hillary Clinton: Don’t be at all surprised to see Vilsack endorse fellow Democratic Leadership Council stalwart Clinton. He might not do so immediately, perhaps saying that he will give the matter some thought and make an announcement in a few weeks (all the better to build up the publicity, of course). I’ve thought for some time that Hillary was hoping Vilsack would take Iowa (a state where she’s not particularly strong) out of play. It’s become clear that this wasn’t going to happen, everyone’s going to have to compete in the Hawkeye state. Vilsack might have been aiming for the bottom of a Clinton ticket all along, but in any case, don’t be surprised to see his high command moving Hillary’s direction. That doesn’t necessarily mean his rank-and-file backers will be doing so, however, which leads us to…

Bill Richardson: Guess who’s the only governor left in the race? That’s right, Richardson could be in very good shape with Vilsack’s departure, as there are some voters who put a high priority on executive experience and are definitely looking for a governor (they do tend to fare better than senators, after all). If Richardson can show strength in Nevada, which as of now is scheduled to go second, and raise at least a respectable amount of money, he could win over some of Vilsack’s people. From now on, anytime there’s a reference to “the Governor” in the Democratic race, there’s no question who it is, and Richardson has shown that he knows how to play up the “I’ve actually done it” bona fides.

John Edwards: No doubt about it, Edwards has to win in Iowa (and he’s leading there in the latest poll). His position in the top tier with Clinton and Barack Obama is almost entirely thanks to his strength in the early states, Iowa in particular. Vilsack’s presence in the race was bound to soak up a significant amount of support and therefore prevent anyone else from scoring a really decisive victory. With Vilsack out, that support is up for grabs, and Edwards has shown he has appeal for Iowans. With more of them now in play, expect to see Edwards spending even more time (believe it or not) in the Hawkeye state.

Well that was fast. Several are reporting that Tom Vilsack will drop out of the race today. This means little in the short run, of course, but should set up an interesting scramble for his support.

Rumors are that besides the fund-raising hurdles, Vilsack will cite global warming (or cooling, depending on the day) as a key reason for his withdrawal.

Seriously, kudos to Vilsack for seeing the writing on the wall. When as a popular former governor you can’t hit double digits in your own state, there’s no hope. Now if only Biden and Dodd would follow suit.

Vilsack for Veep?

Here’s a short and sweet piece in the NYP on Rudy’s fund-raising game plan over the next six weeks. Which reminds me…

The date on everyone’s brain is March 31. For the uninitiated, that’s the end of the first quarter filing period and we’ll have a very good idea about which horses sprinted out of the gate, which are stumbling, and which have fallen and need to be “put down” right on the track. It’s too early for anyone to pull out now, but obviously none of the horses want to be embarrassed with low numbers. Expect the game of lowering expectations to begin very soon. It ought to sound a little something like this:

Hillary: “You know, I expect we’ll have a good showing in the upcoming financial disclosures. You know, I don’t worry about bank accounts, I worry about women, children and the Geffens, and sometimes the Geffen’s children.”

Rudy: “Look, we’ll do well. We’ll surprise some people. We’ll probably raise almost 10 million in the quarter in mostly small contributions. And only half of that will be from my former wives and girlfriends.”

Obama: “I think our dream will truly set sail on March 31. I think we’ll be awed at the inspirational outpouring of heartwarming giving from the sea of loyal supporters praying and working and striving for change. A change for better. A change for all Americans. Can I get an amen? And a light?”

McCain: “This rush to fill our bank accounts with donor cash makes me sick. The system is broken! But not my system, of course, try it out right now with any major credit card at johnmccain.com.”

Apparently when Hillary bought the endorsement of SC state Sen. Darrell Jackson it came with coattails! The Charlotte Observer continues the story:

Two more S.C. lawmakers with financial ties to a firm hired by U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign have endorsed her bid for the White House.

Reps. David Mack, D-Charleston, and Terry Alexander, D-Florence, operate Sunrise of Charleston and Sunrise of the Pee Dee, respectively.

Mack and Alexander said their decisions this week to endorse the New York Democrat are unrelated to her arrangement with Sunrise Communications, which they said is a separate entity from their firms.

Jackson echoed that but acknowledged his Sunrise has a “business relationship” with Sunrise of Charleston and Sunrise of the Pee Dee.

Hat tip to Aaron Lee for sending in this picture. It seems we have the ideal GOP candidate.

Take Romney’s charisma, charm and likability and marry it with Newt’s conservative bonafides and vision. This is what you get:

Newt and Romney

Seriously, is there any doubt that if Newt didn’t have the baggage and were just a tad more photogenic, the party would carry him on their shoulders to the nomination? He’s polling better than Romney, and he’s not even campaigning.