Republicans in California are working hard to win the 2008 election a year early. A ballot proposal is in the works that, if passed, would split the largest of the electoral vote prizes.

Republicans are pushing to put the Presidential Election Reform Act to California voters. If PERA qualifies for a ballot, and subsequently gets passed, the state’s electoral votes would be split (a la Maine and Nebraska), so rather than the familiar winner-take-all scenario, one vote would be awarded to the winner of each of the state’s 53 Congressional districts. In a very blue state, this change would, in effect, pull approximately 20 electoral college votes from the Democratic candidate, and may very well ensure that a Republican will win the 2008 presidency.

Republicans claim that such a change would force candidates to campaign in the nation’s most populous state, while Democrats feel this would rig the election before it begins. Obviously, Republicans will push hard to get it on the ballot, and Democrats will fight to keep it off. Though it may not be likely to be approved, PERA could very well cost precious Democratic resources, but Democrats are certainly willing go to des-PERA-te measures to ensure that this proposal does not pass.

The Fred Thompson joy ride as a strong-polling, unannounced candidate is about to take a jolt, as his “exploration” campaign is set to report “slightly more than $3 million” raised in the month of June, which, according to a Mike Allen story on The Politico, is “substantially less than some backers had hoped.”

More on the still unofficial Thompson campaign:

But many Republicans have turned queasy as Thompson has ousted part of his original brain trust and repeatedly delayed his official announcement, which is now planned for shortly after Labor Day, in the first two weeks of September.

Thompson’s advisers are defending the number, calling it “test-the-waters” fundraising, not “campaign” fundraising.

In other words, Fearless Fred does not seem too flummoxed by the faltering feelings that are festering in the faculties of a few flippant friends.

Say that three times fast!

Via AP today, Newt is coming close to admitting that he has no plans to run for president, but just likes the attention that comes with periodically saying he might do it.

The GOP will have three “formidable” choices in Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson, said Gingrich…

…”I think that either Mayor Giuliani or Governor Romney or Senator Thompson would be a very formidable opponent for what I expect will be a Clinton-Obama ticket…”

Like him or not, Newt is a pretty astute analyst, and he is right on when he brings up the likelihood of the Clinton-Obama ticket. The longer this Dem primary drags out, the clearer it is that the Party will probably do the same thing it usually does: nominate the best known, middle-of-the-road candidate for Prez, and back her up with the exciting yet inexperienced guy in the Veep slot.

The Clinton campaign is regaining the air of inevitability she had before Obama joined the race, but Obama has enough fervent support that once Hillary is nominated, choosing him as VP will be the only thing that makes sense.

In fact, the obviousness of this ticket is striking. It will instantly unite, and excite, the majority of Dem voters.

But first, another five or six months of pointless bickering.

Some Republican presidential candidates, in the wake of last week’s CNN/YouTube Democratic debate, have indicated that they might not attend the Republican version that is scheduled for Sept 17th. As the date falls near the end of the 3rd quarter, a heavy fundraising time, the Romney and Giuliani campaigns have given hints that they might be too busy gathering cash to show up. To meet these concerns, CNN, for its part, is working with the campaigns to try and find a more amenable time to hold the debate.

That may not help, though, as fundraising crunch time may just be an excuse, and some candidates, namely Mitt Romney, may be uncomfortable with the debate’s unique format. Perhaps scared at what may be asked of him, Romney referenced a question from the Democratic debate when he scoffed that it would be unfitting a presidential candidate to “answer questions from a snowman.” Romney apparently feels he is above answering important questions if he doesn’t like from where or whom a question originates. This might help Romney get along well with Joe Biden (who, in poor attempts at humor, insulted three debate questioners), but such lame, evasive excuses are not likely to fly with voters.

Romney’s spokesman added that “a lot of Americans would wonder whether we should be answering questions from a cartoon.” Perhaps, but many more Americans would wonder, and rightly so, why Romney wouldn’t just answer the questions.

Richardson is the fat guy, not the REALLY fat guy.Terrorists, according to Governor and Presidential candidate Bill Richardson, look at the United States and, while looking for targets on which to inflict serious damage to our nation and way of life, think Iowa is a really good place to start. After all, why not? They do grow corn and, um, well…We’re sure there is something else Iowa does too. Cows, maybe?

While pandering, er, campaigning in Iowa recently told reporters that he would place Iowa in the top 10 as far as federal funds for homeland security go because they are a serious target.

It seems terrorists hate corn and flat land, though no study could be sited to verify that made-up assumption.

The reason it’s a made-up assumption is not because Iowa is a place most terrorists couldn’t point out on a map if you offered them 72 virgins; it’s because Iowa is the first primary state and Richardson is trying to buy votes. He’ll dish Iowa federal money (read: our tax dollars) if he’s elected President.

You might be thinking: How can you say that? Bill Richardson is a man of honor, blah, blah, yadda yadda.

Well, Billy kind of admits it. The emphasis is added, but the quote is accurate:

“It’s not just because of the primary, if that’s what you’re hinting at.”

Bill…Billy, why would we think that? As long as you have other reasons over and above the primary, we’re totally cool with it.

Who says Democrats aren’t playing politics with the war on terror? Oh yeah, it’s just them.

In yet another un-shocking episode that personifies the Clintons, Hillary’s campaign tried to appear horrified and insulted that Barack Obama would dare to suggest that the president should be a “uniter” for the country. Seen as a shot at Clinton, possibly because of her ridiculously high unfavorable rating, Hillary’s campaign fired back that Obama’s pledge “to elevate our political discourse” had been broken.

Interesting analysis and paranoia on the Clinton side, as Obama was talking about the problems of President Bush, and failed to mention Hillary. Also interesting is the charge of pledge breaking, considering it comes mere days after Hillary called Obama (by name) “irresponsible” and “naive”, after he stated in the CNN/YouTube debate that he would be willing to meet with hostile foreign leaders. Obama stood by his answer, responding that Hillary’s plan seemed to advocate a continuation of the policies of George Bush.

None of this is all that unexpected. Really, it is just more of the same from the Clinton spin machine: Hillary calling for honest discussion of the issues while attacking her opponents; Hillary demanding apologies for honest statements from other candidates, which may somehow highlight some negatives about her. Then again, making any honest political statement that can not be interpreted as a negative about Hillary is, honestly, a very difficult thing to do.

In two stories published just a couple of days apart, Newt Gingrich first lambasted the current GOP candidates, calling them “a pathetic bunch of pygmies,” and hinted that he may himself run for the Oval Office.

And then, two days later comes a piece from Jonathan Martin on Politico reporting that some Gingrich advisers are seeking a meeting with the Thompson team. Here’s Newt on Fred:

“I’ve always said it was unlikely I would run,” Gingrich said in an interview last Friday with The Associated Press. And, he added, if Thompson “runs and does well, then I think that makes it easier for me not to run.”

There is even a report in the story that Gingrich and his wife had dinner with at Thompson’s home in Virginia.

A Thompson/Gingrich alliance is a potentially very strong one, and could be a serious threat to GOP candidates positioning themselves on the right. That being said, Fred has still not announced, and Romney, Giuliani and the rest of those already in the race are raising the cash and building their infrastructure as quickly as they can.

Gingrich people looking to work for Fred, a shy wink and smile from across the playground, play dates over dinner.

When do you think Fred asks Newt to the prom?

Mike Bloomberg is “not running for president.” It’s just hard to believe him, seeing as how he is campaigning for president. The mayor gave yet another national policy speech this week, after unveiling his new website, mike2008.com, which of course has nothing to do with running for president.

Peter A. Brown writes in The Politico that “A Bloomberg candidacy would help Dems.” Brown cites Quinnipiac University polls that show a hypothetical Bloomberg candidacy taking more votes away from a Dem nominee than from a GOPer, much like Ross Perot did in ’92.

Conventional wisdom is that Perot’s candidacy wound up helping Bill Clinton get elected. The early returns suggest a Bloomberg candidacy might do the same thing for Bill’s wife.

What this analysis ignores is that Bloomberg won’t be spending his billions in red states, or even in red-leaning purple states – he will be putting them into states that Dems think they have locked up, and that’s why they’re scared of him. How could any Democrat not be scared of a guy who has a 73 percent approval rating in one of the nation’s most liberal states? Bloomberg is positioning himself as a pro-environment, pro-education, anti-gun candidate. In short, Hillary is not begging him to get in.

The polls don’t say much about Bloomberg yet because most of America doesn’t know who he is. That’s where the billions of dollars come into play. If he does start running for real, it’s the Democrats who have the most to lose, because he runs in the Northeast, the West, and the Midwest. He might even be a legit contender, but I just don’t see how he takes any red states away from Republicans.

The Democrats are, after all, the party that is planning to waltz into the White House based on the neverending failures of the Bush Administration, kind of like they took over Congress without needing any pesky details like policy proposals. Right now, things look rosy for whoever the Dems nominate, and they certainly don’t want a billionaire transformational candidate thrown into their path.

In fact, if things don’t turn around for the GOP in the next year, a Bloomberg candidacy might be the only way a Republican possibly can win.

Welcome to the latest edition of PoliticalDerby.com’s 2008 Power Rankings, the original tracking service in the current race for the White House. The rankings are updated as circumstances warrant and are compiled by our Editor and contributors using wire reports, polls, campaign staffer scuttlebutt and confidential tips.

Rankings last updated: July 25, 2007

The DEM Horse Tip Sheet
Power Ranking The Horse Momentum The Tip Sheet
1 Hillary Clinton Clinton Even Hillary is a force that ostensibly cannot be stopped. She’s the Washington Redskins of the 80’s, the New York Yankees of the 90’s,  or any team that NBA ref Tim Donaghy bet on in the 2000’s. A month ago, when Obama came within the spread, Hillary brought out the big guns — Bill — and it paid off. But will the fact that her hubby is still the party’s #1 rock star remind people of all Hillary could never be? Is Bill more ladylike than Hill? Stay tuned. (previous ranking: #1)
2 Barack Obama Obama Down Obama had been riding high on his massive Q2 primary fundraising victory… right until the moment he caved to an uber-liberal special interest group and suggested sex-ed begin in kindergarten. Fortunately he succeeded in changing the subject. Now he’s alone in suggesting 18 months before potentially taking office that he’d meet with the presidents of Iran, North Korea, and Bedrock. The ensuing dogfight with Hillary has real potential to turn into something rarely seen off the Michael Vick compound. (previous ranking: #2)
3 Bill Richardson Richardson Up Richardson, the hispanic Governor of NM, is hardly lighting the track on fire, but he’s moved up to 3rd because John Edwards simply can’t get his act together. Being consistent has its benefits, even if few people are paying attention to him. He’s nicely positioned to be a solid choice for VP if either Clinton or Obama win the whole enchilada. (previous ranking: #4)
4 John Edwards Edwards Down Edwards’ mega summer poverty tour was more hyped than Evan Almighty, roughly as inspirational, and disappeared from public awareness almost as quickly. No strategy shift seems capable of keeping Edwards from stopping to eat weeds along the side of track. If Edwards were a horse, and horses were planes, he’d be nose-diving. (previous ranking: #3)
5 Joe Biden Biden Up In a field bent on appeasing the moveon.org crowd, Biden’s refreshing honesty about his votes on the war have won him admirers. While seemingly entrenched as the leader of the also-rans, he has firmly planted his flag in the ground of being at the top of the list of dems for Secretary of State. (previous ranking: #6)
6 Chris Dodd Dodd Up The good senator from Connecticut has proven to be, well, irrelevant in this race. Not quite ready to drop out, but his trainer is calling the vet. Bring the syringe, Sheryl. (previous ranking: #7)
7 Dennis Kucinich Kucinich Up Congressman Kucinich has picked up some hard-earned sympathetic press. Unfortunately for him it was due to the fact he, as a Vegan, got food poisoning. But while he might not the best poster child for vegetarianism, his wife sure is. Hubba hubba. (previous ranking: #8)
8 Mike Gravel Gravel Up Gravel’s hatred of rocks and desire to drown them in small ponds made for the oddest ad thus far in the campaign. It earned him more media attention in a day than he could afford over the life of his “campaign”, a word used very loosely in connection with the quirky senior citizen. (previous ranking: #9)
9 Al Gore Gore Down If you throw a concert for the earth and no one really cares, did you accomplish anything? Even with an Oscar and the elimination of life as we know it on his side, Live Earth couldn’t draw enough big names to create a trickle of excitement. His 4-out-of-5-dentists-surveyed approach to science appears to be wearing thin with the public. That and the fact that the Johannesburg, South Africa concert’s low attendance was blamed on the cold weather. Brrr. (previous ranking: #3)
10 Michael Moore Moore Up Even with all the hype and free press for Sicko, Moore’s attempt to insert himself into yet another election has fizzled thus far. His recent attacks on Wolf Blitzer, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN rang as hollow as the results of his stint in a $3800 per week fat farm and the multi-millionaire socialist’s attempts to connect with the “common man” have worked about as well as Lindsey Lohan’s 45-day rehab stay. (previous ranking: #10)
Others receiving votes: Wes Clark, Cindy Sheehan

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The GOP Horse Tip Sheet
Power Ranking The Horse Momentum The Tip Sheet
1 Rudy Giuliani Giuliani Even Rudy’s leads in the national polls are down to an average of just 5 points over Fred Thompson. A strong conservative speech on judges in Iowa and an attack from the nation’s largest firefighters union makes the last few weeks a momentum wash. Only time will tell which will have more sway with the public: Principled talk on how the judiciary should function, or the web-based propaganda of a union that is so liberal that they once endorsed Michael Dukakis. (previous ranking: #1)
2 Fred Thompson Fred Thompson Up Freddy T, the hardest working man in the “I’m only sort of running for President” business continues to rise by flirting with the public and creating the type of buzz that tends to go away once you officially announce that you want to be President. The longer he waits to make it official, the longer he’ll escape the spotlight of media scrutiny the other candidates are sweating under. Will his wife’s recent heavy hand in the campaign trip him up? Paging First Lady Sherry Palmer. (previous ranking: #4)
3 Mitt Romney Romney Down Romney is warm, but he has yet to catch fire. Strong showings in polls in the first two primary states are encouraging signs, but those only carry him so far. Particularly when you’re spending money faster than Congress. For someone accused of being “too polished,” his campaign could use an industrial-sized bottle of Tarex. (previous ranking: tied for #2)
4 John McCain McCain Down What’s the single greatest difference between the late, great race horse, Barbaro, and the campaign of John McCain? Barbaro knows he’s dead. (previous ranking: tied for #2)
5 Mike Huckabee Huckabee Even Huckabee continues to win fans, but not supporters. He has positioned himself better than anyone else to be the Veep choice for any one of the announced non-southerners now leading the pact. It’s time for Huck to concede, at least in the mirror, that he can’t win the nomination spending less than Romney spends on makeup consultants. (previous ranking: #5)
6 Ron Paul Paul Up Having more cash on hand than McCain could be due to the Libertarian’s unwillingness to spend money on anything, or it could be that there is still a slice of the populous that actually believes in the Constitution. Don’t expect his support to grow, but do expect it to remain solid. The Paullowers are a very dedicated bunch. (previous ranking: #10)
7 Sam Brownback Brownback Even Brownback’s remarkably sudden return to the conservative fold for his immigration vote pleased the base. But his waffling, lack of money, and any serious, new legislative proposals continue to keep him right where he is likely to finish: near the bottom. (previous ranking: #7)
8 Newt Gingrich Gingrich Down Many conservatives long for the days when Newt led the Republicans to majorities in the House and Senate, but they also fear Newt is more interested in selling books than anything else. And establishing close ties with liberals in his quest to find solutions to America’s problems have caused many conservatives to question the credentials of their once great leader. (previous ranking: #5)
9 Duncan Hunter Hunter Down Duncan Hines has more name recognition and a better shot of pulling off the nomination than Duncan Hunter. And, let’s face it, the cake would taste a lot better at the election night party. (previous ranking: #8)
10 Tom Tancredo Tancredo Down Being a one trick pony on an issue that has played out doesn’t bode well for Tancredo. While immigration is still an issue many voters care about, the fact that there is no longer a bill for people to hate currently before Congress means the media, therefore the public, simply won’t be paying attention to the issue. Unfortunately for Tancredo, the same facts apply to his candidacy. (previous ranking: #9)
Others receiving votes: Patricia Heaton, Tommy “Is he still running?” Thompson

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The rankings may not be reprinted or quoted in any form without attribution to PoliticalDerby.com.

Some of the more notable/amusing/eye-opening things observed in last night’s CNN/YouTube debate:

Dennis Kucinich‘s vampiresque appearance, and his support for reparations for poor white people.

Mike Gravel‘s outbursts, including: there’s not going to be any change if you elect any of them: Hillary, Obama, Edwards (ok, agreed), and his call for global governance (to apparently subvert the United States?)

John Edwards‘ claim that there is no working with Republicans (so much for bipartisanship), and his very clear thoughts on his lack of support for gay marriage, which he wouldn’t do anything against, though he wouldn’t allow it personally, but it’s ok, but he’s not for it.

Hillary Clinton‘s sad attempts at cheap applause: by stating that she is a woman, and by claiming that she is on the forefront of issues/change (Anderson Cooper didn’t ask for a show of hands to ask who was not on the forefront). Then, after being told that voters are sick of hearing how all the candidates “are united” and, and after being challenged to say something different, she began, naturally, by saying that they are “all united.” Last, but not least, let’s not forget her Iraq solution, an oxymoronic “comprehensive 3-point plan”, which apparently wasn’t supposed to be a joke.

Chris Dodd‘s suggestion that corporate taxes should be levied in order to combat global warming, a solution which would seem to give money to and increase the size of government, rather than to actually do anything to combat global warming.

Bill Richardson‘s general cluelessness: including his ambiguous, do-nothing plan of “diplomacy” and UN troops in Sudan, allowing for continuing genocide, as well as his unfathomable answer when addressing Social Security: to make sure people know how to rollover their 401k’s!

Joe Biden‘s hopeless efforts in trying to get the other candidates to tell the truth: That it isn’t possible troops to get troops out of Iraq in less than one year, and while everyone is preaching diplomacy and hoping for non-existent UN forces in Sudan, the genocide continues. Biden then lost that good will by proceeding to make fun of three YouTube questioners: two from Tennessee for their hillbilly appearance, and one gun owner from Michigan, that Biden helpfully described as mentally ill.

Of course, the highlight of the evening was the final question, where each candidate was to look to the left and say something he/she likes and something he/she dislikes about the candidate. Kucinich smacked that batting practice pitch by noticing that there was no one to the left of him.

Several candidates wimped out and refused to cite a negative, but luckily, some chose to answer: Gravel’s positive comment seemed a negative when he said he liked Dodd’s family (but not necessarily Dodd); Similarly, Biden told Kucinich that he really liked his wife(?); and “Gentleman” John Edwards committed the ultimate faux pas by telling Hillary that her awful coat was, in fact, awful. Ouch.

What would you have asked last night? Comment below.

While there apparently is a debate about whether Hillary’s jacket is a loser, Obama apparently is the clear winner of the first “official” Democrat debate. SurveyUSA, after conducting a poll of South Carolina debate watchers, is reporting that 31% awarded Barack Obama as the victor. Of those polled 24% thought Hillary won.

With 10,000 votes and counting, 40% of Drudge readers believe Obama won the debate. Only 14% believe Hillary won. Maybe it was the jacket.

The latest Rasmussen numbers has both races playing out like the Raconteurs’ single “Steady, As She Goes.”

On the GOP side, Fred “Unannounced” Thompson continues to hold a lead with 26% to Rudy Giuliani’s 22%. Mitt Romney, who remains strong in Iowa and New Hampshire, still lags a bit with 12%, followed by the wounded John McCain, who is hovering just above the political equivalent of the Mendoza Line, with 10%.

The Dem leading horse, Hillary Clinton has flirted with 40% all week, and sits at that number today. The rest of the Democrats are running like donkeys behind her with Obama slipping to 22% and Edwards moving up slightly with 14%.

The question of the day is if the Democratic debate tonight will have any impact on the race. Tonight’s first “official” debate will be held in South Carolina, which makes me ask what the first several “debates” were? I didn’t realize that debating had a pre-season. Why didn’t we have coverage of spring debate training? The Washington Post is even reporting that “debate fatigue” is setting in on some of the candidates.

Debate fatigue? Are you kidding me?

Our friend Barry raises an excellent point about Barack Obama’s seemingly genocide-friendly comments (even if Mr. Phillips leans a bit too far towards the part of a Bush apologist). Barry is correct in stating that the argument that the prevention of genocide is not a “good enough” reason to stay in Iraq makes little sense. Indeed, it would be quite a challenge to think of a better reason to do anything rather than to prevent genocide.

Let’s remember that Saddam wasn’t too averse to practicing genocide himself, so the concept is not new to the country, but to be fair, this genocide would be different and would certainly have the potential to take place on a far greater scale. Further, seeing as the US had a (*ahem*) hand in destabilizing Iraq, it certainly doesn’t seem right to exit while leaving an expectation of genocide in her wake. It seems then, to this humble observer, that if Senator Obama simply wanted to advocate exiting Iraq, it would make more political sense for him to argue that genocide would not be a likely result of US withdrawal. On the other hand, that argument does seem a bit out of touch with reality, and if Obama tried that, then people might start confusing him with John Edwards.

Perhaps Obama should just call a mulligan on this one, and in the future refrain from making any more comments which could be interpreted as anything other than 100% anti-genocide. It is really not that difficult a position to take.

I promise to do the things I haven’t even started to do as a Senator.First of all, it’s rather difficult to point out the flip-flops of someone who hasn’t really done anything yet…That having been said, we give you this;

Presidential candidate and Illinois Senator Barack Obama today said the US should not stay in Iraq to prevent genocide, which is actually a civil war, which is what they claim is happening now and why we should leave. So he’s consistent on leaving the Iraqi people to die at the hands of terrorists.

The conflict comes in when he is in support of sending US troops to Darfur to stop the genocide (civil war) happening there.

So which is it, Senator? Today you seemed to say you were against your former position of intervention in Darfur, is that because of the contradiction inherent in your position? Have you come to a new realization you want to share with the rest of the class? Or are you hedging your bets that there are more of your Left-wing extremist base who care about pulling out of Iraq, no matter what the consequences, than there are who give a damn about Darfur?

Senator, which is it?

Now I’m just as much a politics junkie as the rest of us on this site, or so I like to think I am. But even I have to say I can’t possibly stoop to the level of geekdom that this email from the Joe Biden campaign suggests:

We’re less than a week out from Monday’s presidential debate and we need your help. Please join the Senator in building his campaign nationwide by committing to host a debate watch party.

Every supporter who hosts a party will have the opportunity to join the Senator on a conference call on Sunday, July 22nd, the night before the debate. Hosting a debate watch party is an important tool for us in getting out the Senator’s message.

The three previous debates have added considerable momentum to our campaign. Please help us increase the impact of the Senator’s performance by hosting a debate watch party. Email us at DebateWatch@JoeBiden.com to receive updates and materials from us to help plan your event.

Thank you and we look forward to you joining the Senator this coming Sunday night for the conference call.

Now what kinds of goodies could we get out of a Joe Biden DebateWatch party planning pack?

Earmuffs? Check!

The NYT is pleased to report today that although Fred Thompson doesn’t remember it, billing records reveal he “…spent nearly 20 hours working as a lobbyist on behalf of a group seeking to ease restrictive federal rules on abortion counseling in the 1990s…”

Where to begin? Surely Fred’s opponents (and their staffs) will make hay of this, but let’s put this juicy bit of NYT reporting into perspective. Lobbyist routinely work 10, 12, even 14 hour days. It’s a nonstop lifestyle where the prize goes to he who bills the most. Are we to euthanize Fred before he even gets on the track because he spent “nearly 20″ hours lobbying for a client between 1991-1992? No wonder he doesn’t remember it, that’s the equivalent of less than two days work that took place 15 years ago.

Good grief, I worked all day yesterday and I can’t remember more than about 2 hours of it.

As if the fact that he thinks he’s already qualified to be president weren’t evidence enough of the effects of Obama’s college drug use, now he’s telling us that Sex Ed ought to begin in kindergarten. Is it time for mandatory drug testing for presidential candidates?

Sex Ed for Kindergarteners ‘Right Thing to Do,’ Says Obama

“Keep in mind: I honor and respect young people who choose to delay sexual activity,” Obama continued. “I’ve got two daughters, and I want them to understand that sex is not something casual. That’s something that we definitely want to communicate and should be part of any curriculum. But we also know that when the statistics tell us that nearly half of 15 to 19 year olds are engaging in sexual activity, that for us to leave them in ignorance is potentially consigning them to illness, pregnancy, poverty, and in some cases, death.”

I guess it’s been too long since I’ve been to Chicago, apparently they have 15 to 19 year olds in kindergarten?

The Huffington Post writes today that after getting their collective tights in a wad and refusing to appear at a FoxNews sponsored debate, Hillary and the two dwarfs cashed checks from high-level FoxNews execs totaling $55,000. And to think, we expected principles from democrats. (Oh, these guys are democrats? Strike that.)

Hillary Clinton Shuns Fox Debates, But Pockets Murdochs’ Money

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards may not want to participate in debates sponsored by FOX News, but they like taking cash from officials of the company considered an arm of the conservative movement by many liberal Democrats.

Read the rest.

Savvy strategy, desperate gasp for a final breath, or both?

Roll Call: McCain To Rally, Reassure Hill Supporters

By Erin P. Billings and Emily Pierce

As he looks to dispel questions over the long-term health of his 2008 White House bid, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will hold separate meetings Wednesday with his House and Senate backers to reassure them that he is staying in the race, several GOP sources confirm.

Sources said late Tuesday that McCain and his senior campaign staff now led by Rick Davis will hold the off-campus sessions with the GOP lawmakers. McCain plans to meet with his House Republican backers in the morning and later in the day with Senators who have endorsed his candidacy.

McCain counts some 27 House Members and Senators on his list of Congressional backers, a tally matched only on the GOP side by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Wednesday’s meetings come on the heels of several serious blows in recent days to McCain’s White House bid. The veteran Arizona Republican who was once viewed as the frontrunner in a crowded presidential field has suffered several staff resignations and another disappointing fundraising quarter.

Still, McCain has insisted he will remain in the hunt.

One knowledgeable Republican source said McCain initiated the sessions and is looking at them as an opportunity to bring Members up to speed on “what’s going on and where we are and what’s happening.” This source said giving face time to his Congressional endorsements is “a good move” in light of the recent events.