Tag Archives: 2008 campaign

VP’s ego might keep him out of race

My desire to see Vice President Joe Biden join the Democratic Party presidential primary race remains intact.

I want him to run and I want him to provide a serious challenge to presumed frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton.

However, I haven’t been around Washington, D.C., the way the writer of an attached blog — Carl Leubsdorf — has been, so I respect his notion that the vice president has some serious hurdles to clear in deciding whether to run.


Hurdle no. 3 jumps out at me. It’s Biden’s presidential campaign track record.

Does he want to be known as someone who’s tried three times to get his party’s nomination, only to fall flat on his face? I doubt it. His ego won’t allow it.

I mention his ego because of something the late Sen. George McGovern — for whom I cast my first vote for president in 1972 — once wrote. He said the first thing a successful politician needs is a massive ego. That’s where it starts, he said.

I am betting Joe Biden’s ego doesn’t take a back seat to anyone else’s.

He once sought the 1988 Democratic nomination, but got derailed before the primaries began when it was revealed that he had lifted huge portions of his stump speech from a British pol, Neil Kinnock. Americans laughed at the then-senator from Delaware as a copy-cat.

He ran again in 2008, but got swamped by Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Obama then rewarded his former foe by picking him to run for vice president — and then after the election he turned to the other rival, Clinton, and appointed her secretary of state.

Hillary Clinton has enlisted an enormous political army to assist her. Biden is facing a serious challenge in getting up to speed relatively late in the primary game.

The ego thing well might prevent him taking the leap a third time.

Unless … something happens to Clinton’s presumed invincibility. As Leubsdorf writes:

“But a more realistic path for him to become the Democratic nominee might be to avoid a divisive fight, back Clinton and, if any of several ticking time bombs sinks her candidacy, step in then to save the Democratic day.”

That, indeed, would provide plenty of balm for the vice president’s ego.

Welcome aboard, Carly Fiorina

The Republican Party’s presidential field has grown by one — or maybe it’s two — candidate.

Carly Fiorina is running for president next year. She is citing her business experience as the reason for electing her.

She knows the ins and outs of the economy, she says.


I’m your woman, Fiorina notes.

Is she? Well, she served as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the giant techno-firm. Then the company got into some financial trouble. It merged with Compaq and the HP board decided Fiorina was leading the company in the wrong direction, or something like that.

She was forced to resign.

Fiorina, though, portrays her tenure at HP as a success, although it’s a bit of a reach to come to that conclusion. The company jettisoned a lot of jobs. Still, the says the company’s stock value grew during her time in the HP driver’s seat.

Her political career? She was a key adviser to Sen. John McCain in 2008 during the GOP nominee’s losing bid for the presidency. Fiorina then ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010 … and lost that race too.

Oh, but she says she’s not a “professional politician.” Actually, she is, by virtue of her running now for elective office for the second time in five years. Hey, I’m not quibbling, just stating what I understand to be the definition of the term “politician.”

Fiorina’s personal story is gripping. She’s a cancer survivor and she has endured the tragedy of losing a stepdaughter to drug abuse. Those events surely have steeled her for the tough campaign that awaits.

I heard this morning that Ben Carson is about to join the Republican field, so he’s going to take a bit of the attention away from Fiorina, whose poll numbers are pretty low as it is.

I’m now going to wait for her Republican debate opponents to ask her to explain how her checkered business record commends her for the job of running a multitrillion-dollar enterprise called The Federal Government.


Absence same as 'no' vote? No … it isn't

I really do like having Ted Cruz in the U.S. Senate.

He offers so much grist for folks like me on which to comment.

The freshman Republican senator said this the other day about his absence on a vote that confirmed Loretta Lynch as the latest U.S. attorney general: “Absence is the equivalent of a ‘no’ vote.”


There you have it. He missed the vote because he had a prior commitment to attend a fundraiser back home in Texas. Cruz had voted earlier on a motion to end a filibuster on Lynch’s nomination; he voted to keep the filibuster going.

The filibuster was broken, the vote took place, Lynch had the votes to win confirmation. So, what was the point of Cruz being there to cast his expected “no” vote on Lynch?

Well shoot, senator. It mattered because you didn’t put it on the record. It’s not part of the Senate’s official voting record.

I’m still uncertain precisely why Cruz disapproves so strongly of Lynch’s ascending to the office of attorney general, other than her support of President Obama’s executive order granting temporary amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. I guess Cruz doesn’t much like the notion of an attorney general supporting the policies of the president who appoints her to the Cabinet, where everyone serves at the pleasure of the president of the United States.

That’s been the mantra of other senators who opposed Lynch, even those who said upon the announcement of her appointment that she is “highly qualified.” Some of those former supporters changed their mind when she declared her backing for the president’s action on immigration.

I think it’s strange. Then again, that’s just me.

What the heck. Sen. Cruz was entitled to attend the fundraiser. He’s running for president, after all. Let’s not assume, though, that this issue of non-voting on this confirmation — as well as other key votes he’s missed while campaigning for the White House — will disappear.

It’s the price a sitting member of Congress pays when he or she seeks the highest office in the land. Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton paid it when they ran in 2008. Sen. Cruz can expect the same thing in 2016.



Huck needs to cool the rhetoric

“We are moving rapidly toward the criminalization of Christianity.”

That was the Rev. Mike Huckabee in a conference call to conservative activists. The one-time Baptist preacher and former Arkansas governor is going to announce soon his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination and this is going to be a theme of his second White House campaign.

Honestly, he needs to settle down.


Huckabee and a host of other GOP candidates are roiling the party’s base by using scary rhetoric, declaring that there’s a phony war against Christians in the United States. Rick Santorum says it. So does Bobby Jindal. Same for Scott Walker. They all oppose same-sex marriage and suggest that this issue is pretext for the war against Christian belief in this country.

I once considered Huck to be a fairly reasonable man. He ran for president in 2008 and acquitted himself fairly well during much of the GOP primary. He’s gotten a bit overheated in recent years. His statement now about the threat of “criminalizing” Christianity goes beyond what’s reasonable discourse.

He knows that’s not going to happen. Ever.

In this supercharged political climate, it plays well among the party’s base, which seems to believe anything that its political leaders say out loud.


Texans will have a say in 2016 contest

It’s nice to be loved, isn’t it, Texas voters?

Bet on it. The large and likely cantankerous Republican presidential field is going to cozy up to Texans about a year from now when the state casts its primary vote for president of the United States.


It’ll be just like the old day. Hey, even the not-so-old days. Harken back to 2008, when Democratic U.S. Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton were slugging it out for their party’s presidential nomination.

By the time the Texas primary rolled around, the Democratic nomination was far from sewn up. So, what happened? Voters turned out in record numbers.

There’s more. Even in heavily Republican Texas Panhandle counties — such as Randall County — the Democratic Party polling places were far busier than the GOP stations. A lot of Republicans crossed over to vote in the Democratic primary and it likely enabled Sen. Clinton to win most of the state’s Democratic delegates.

As Ross Ramsey noted in a Texas Tribune analysis: “The mix of candidates could make a difference, too. Candidates with Texas ties, like Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Rick Perry and Rand Paul, could draw their own home crowds if their candidacies are still alive early next year. And candidates from different factions could attract different herds of support.

“This sort of turnout boom does not happen often in Texas. The parties tend to settle their presidential nomination battles in places like New Hampshire, South Carolina and Iowa. By the time they get to Texas, they’ve already all but chosen their nominees.

“Voters like a fight, and you can see the evidence of that in turnout. When there’s a big race, more people vote.”

They’re going to get one, more than likely, on the Republican side in 2016.

And what about the Democrats? Barring some huge surprise — which is entirely possible — the Dems’ nomination looks like it already belongs to Hillary Clinton.

The Republican field looks as though it’s going to be huge and it’s going to take some time to cull the losers from the field. Thus, when Texas gets its turn to vote, we’ll be in the mix.

Can you feel the love?


HRC really is going to 'hit the road'

I do not intend to comment on every little thing Hillary Rodham Clinton does as she launches her second bid for the presidency of the United States, but this development is rather intriguing.

She’s driving — actually riding — in a van to Iowa.

No fancy jet. No limo. A van.


This might be a sign of her attempt to connect with everyday Americans, folks who perhaps really and truly understand what it means to be “dead broke,” or those who struggle meet monthly financial obligations.

Clinton’s announcement Sunday that she’s running for president has been seen as wildly different from when she declared her candidacy for the 2008 Democratic nomination.

It was the absence of the letter “I,” as in the first-person pronoun that so many politicians are prone to use. Commentators noted today that she didn’t even mention herself until about halfway through her remarks. Might that, too, be a sign of newfound humility? OK, it well might be stagecraft, calculated to make observers like yours truly take note.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is fraught with some unique characteristics. Perhaps the most unique — as some have noted — is that she’ll have to put distance between herself and not just one president, but two: the current president, Barack Obama, and the man to whom she’s been married for nearly 40 years, Bill Clinton.

President Obama is now heading into the final turn of his time in office and he’s seeking to build his legacy. Former President Clinton remains arguably the nation’s most recognizable and political force of nature. It’s that relationship and its proximity to the Hillary Clinton’s campaign that presents the most potential trouble.

Hillary Clinton will have to demonstrate she’s her own woman, with her own ideas, world view and that she cannot  be overshadowed by the Democrats’ Big Dog.

But hey, first things first.

She’s going to climb into that van and ride through the Midwest to Iowa. It’s time to connect with folks out here in Flyover Country.


Is HRC 'likable enough' to get elected?

A young U.S. senator, Barack Obama, uttered arguably one of the signature lines of the 2008 Democratic Party presidential primary campaign when he told fellow Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, “You’re likable enough, Hillary.”

I’m betting that Clinton didn’t appreciate the “compliment.”

Now, eight years later, she’s launching another bid for the presidency.


And as the Wall Street Journal reports, her task is to make her “likable enough” to get elected president of the United States next year.

As the WSJ reported: “She needs to try to humanize herself, because in some ways she’s kind of become a cardboard cutout figure,” said Douglas Brinkley, a history professor at Rice University.

So, the campaign begins anew for the former first lady, senator and secretary of state.

Many in the media refer to her simply as “Hillary.” Just a mention of that name and you know to whom the reference is being made. Does the first-name familiarity make her likable? Hardly. I continue to believe she needs to translate likability into authenticity.

She remains a political powerhouse. The strength, though, doesn’t always connect with voters in a tangible manner. Clinton at times appears evasive, which hardly lends itself to likability.

I will be among millions of voters looking for signs that she’s capable of understanding the problems, worries and concerns of average American citizens. If she does, she’ll prove she’s for real, that she’s authentic.

And likable.

HRC is going to run for president

Anyone who thought that Hillary Rodham Clinton was going to decide against running for president next year — and I believed that was a possibility — well, you’d better put those notions into the trash bin.

It looks as though Clinton is in. Email controversy and all. Criticism from the right and from the far left, too.

She’s in.


Clinton gave what everyone in the know says is the last speech she’ll give for money. She spoke to the American Camp Association and collected her usual handsome speaking fee.

After that, it’s done. No more money for speaking. We’re going to hear from the former secretary of state about why she wants to run for president and why she’s the best candidate out there.

Honestly, her political stamina is utterly amazing.

She has been battered almost beyond recognition from the day her husband, Bill, took the oath of office on Jan. 20, 1993. It never let up during President Clinton’s two terms. He got impeached but was acquitted of “high crimes and misdemeanors” by the Senate. When the president left office in January 2001, Hillary took office as a senator from New York, serving with the very people who sought to get her husband kicked out of office; I “predicted” back then she wouldn’t do it … silly me.

Her 2008 presidential campaign was another exercise in political battering. The man who defeated her then named her secretary of state — and she’s been dogged even more by harsh criticism.

Now she’s going for the Big One.

An announcement is expected soon, perhaps within the next month.

This ride will be a rough one.

Palin's non-speech sours GOP base

Can it really be that the hard right wing of the Republican Party has come to its senses regarding a former half-term Alaska governor who for the past half-dozen years or so has been its darling?

Sarah Palin stood before the Iowa Freedom Summit and delivered what can only be described as a rhetorical goulash of blather.


It didn’t play well in Peoria, let alone in GOP strategists’ living rooms.

Her TelePrompter, loaded with prepared remarks, went pffftt. Left to her devices, Palin stammered her way through a bizarre litany of nonsensical sentences.

As the Washington Post described it: “Her address was a 31 1/2-minute roller coaster ride of cliches, non sequiturs and warmed-over grievances. One line that stood out: ‘GOP leaders, by the way, you know, ‘The Man,’ can only ride ya when your back is bent. So strengthen it. Then The Man can’t ride ya.’”


The Post reports that the critiques from those who heard Palin were harsh and unforgiving.

Darn! I was hoping she’d make a go of it, that her “serious” consideration of a White House campaign in 2016 would turn into the real thing.

Silly me. I guess I had forgotten — if only for a moment or two — about how miserable a campaigner she turned out to be when Sen. John McCain selected her as his vice-presidential running mate in the 2008 White House campaign. Or that she’d gotten twisted up in that goofy reality TV show. Or that she’s making a lot of money as a Fox News “contributor”; her precise contribution to Fox remains something of a mystery.

I suppose there’s some other stuff to mention, but I’ll just let it lie.

With that, I’ll bid adieu to Sarah Palin. It was nice while it lasted.


Palin now 'seriously' considering a WH run

Sarah Palin has gone from “considering” a campaign for the presidency to “seriously considering” it in 2016.

Oh, boy. This is getting fun.


Palin dinged Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly for having the temerity to refer to a possible Palin campaign as a “reality show.” She went after who she calls “quasi-conservatives,” who, I guess, aren’t like her, which I suppose is a “true conservative.”

Truth be told, I no longer recognize the modern version of conservatism as I’ve always understood its political meaning.

A part of me laughs off a possible Palin candidacy. It cannot possibly be serious. Indeed, in the book “Game Change,” a chronicle of the 2008 presidential campaign, key advisers to Republican nominee Sen. John McCain acknowledged not vetting Palin after her name emerged as a possible pick to join McCain on the Republican ticket. McCain’s senior political adviser Steve Schmidt acknowledges now that it was a huge mistake to select Palin to run with McCain.

Yet, another part of me would welcome a Palin campaign, perhaps for the same reason I’m cheering for Mitt Romney to run again. Mitt made some goofs while running for president in 2012. Palin has written the book on gaffes, blunders and foul-ups since her 2008 campaign for VP. So, maybe this is her chance at redemption.

Sounds good, yes? Sure, except that Mitt is a serious politician, while Sarah Barracuda is not.

Mitt can redeem his reputation. Palin is a lost cause.