U.S. Presidential Campaign: Issues & Strategies

Written by  //  October 20, 2008  //  Politics, U.S.  //  1 Comment

IPS Coverage of the Campaign BBC   ;  Slate  ;  Politico ; Huffington Post Politics admittedly pro-Obama, but often with well-founded stories and/or commentary ; IRPP October 2008 Special edition on the U.S. election

Powell Stands Against Smears This piece is particularly topical as we have recently received copies of Obama smear e-mails that are quite sickening. In both cases, we forwarded them to the Fight the smears team and received quite complete answers along with reference sites, including Snopes, which addresses each issue.
15 October
Poll Says McCain Hurts His Bid by Using Attacks
The McCain campaign’s recent angry tone and sharply personal attacks on Senator Barack Obama appear to have backfired and tarnished Senator John McCain more than their intended target, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll has found.
12 October
The Food issue
(NYT Magazine) … with a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close. What this means is that you, like so many other leaders through history, will find yourself confronting the fact — so easy to overlook these past few years — that the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue of national security.
11 October
Concern in G.O.P. After Rough Week for McCain
After a turbulent week that included disclosures about Gov. Sarah Palin and signs that Senator John McCain was struggling to strike the right tone for his campaign, Republican leaders said Saturday that they were worried Mr. McCain was heading for defeat unless he brought stability to his presidential candidacy and settled on a clear message to counter Senator Barack Obama.
The Terrorist Barack Hussein Obama , Frank Rich
From the start, there have always been two separate but equal questions about race in this election. Is there still enough racism in America to prevent a black man from being elected president no matter what? And, will Republicans play the race card? The jury is out on the first question until Nov. 4. But we now have the unambiguous answer to the second: Yes.
8 October
Hispanics turn cold shoulder to McCain
(Politico) Despite championing immigration reform in 2007, John McCain is poised to lose the Hispanic vote by a landslide margin that is well below President George W. Bush’s 2004 performance.
8 October
(NYT Editorial) Politics of Attack
It is a sorry fact of American political life that campaigns get ugly, often in their final weeks. But Senator John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin have been running one of the most appalling campaigns we can remember.
7 October
What can one say? Despicable and terrifying. How could anyone who call(s) themselves (herself) an American engage in such dangerous and immoral tactics? We can only pray that they are unsuccessful and that the Secret Service is more alert than ever. 

At her last rally in Florida, Sarah Palin told the audience that Barack Obama “palled around with terrorists” adding,”I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America the way you and I see America.” Upon hearing the Republican VP candidate’s concern that Sen. Obama might be a terrorist, a voice in the crowd cried out ‘Kill him!’
Unleashed, Palin Makes a Pit Bull Look Tame
(WaPost) Sen. Lindsey Graham, a McCain confidant, told The Post’s David Broder that the campaign would “go down in history as stupid if they don’t unleash” Palin. Well, the self-identified pit bull has been unleashed — if not unhinged.McCain had said that racially explosive attacks related to Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, are off limits. But Palin told New York Times columnist Bill Kristol in an interview published Monday: “I don’t know why that association isn’t discussed more.” Palin’s routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. More, if you can stand it
5 October
Seeking to Shift Attention to Judicial Nominees
At a time when job losses, home foreclosures and the war in Iraq are paramount in voters’ minds, the politics of the Supreme Court seem, at first blush, abstract and unlikely to emerge as a concern before the election. Yet both presidential campaigns are gearing up for the possibility that court-related issues will become an X factor in some swing states, in what political analysts see as intensifying unpredictability.
Dick Cheney, Role Model
(NYT Editorial) In all the talk about the vice-presidential debate, there was an issue that did not get much attention but kept nagging at us: Sarah Palin’s description of the role and the responsibilities of the office for which she is running, vice president of the United States.
In Thursday night’s debate, Ms. Palin was asked about the vice president’s role in government. She said she agreed with Dick Cheney that “we have a lot of flexibility in there” under the Constitution. And she declared that she was “thankful that the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president also, if that vice president so chose to exert it.”
4 October
Economic Unrest Shifts Electoral Battlegrounds
(NYT) The turmoil on Wall Street and the weakening economy are changing the contours of the presidential campaign map, giving new force to Senator Barack Obama’s ambitious strategy to make incursions into Republican territory, while leading Senator John McCain to scale back his efforts to capture Democratic states.
1 October
Bill Clinton Slams Palin, Shows Fire For Obama
Former President Bill Clinton revved up a crowd on behalf of Barack Obama in Florida Wednesday,
28 September
McCain’s Suspension Bridge to Nowhere
Frank Rich
For all the focus on Friday night’s deadlocked debate, it still can’t obscure what preceded it: When John McCain gratuitously parachuted into Washington on Thursday, he didn’t care if his grandstanding might precipitate an even deeper economic collapse. All he cared about was whether he might save his campaign.
26 September
Ex-Adviser: McCain “Blinked,” Campaign “Governed By Tactics, Not Ideology”
After days of saying that John McCain would not attend Friday’s presidential debate unless an agreement on a bailout package for the markets was “locked-down,” the McCain campaign has gone back on its word.
On Friday, it announced that the Senator would head down to Mississippi even though, as they readily admit, much work remained needed on the bailout agreement.
22 September
Loan Titans Paid McCain Adviser Nearly $2 Million
Senator John McCain’s campaign manager was paid more than $30,000 a month for five years as president of an advocacy group set up by the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to defend them against stricter regulations, current and former officials say.
The Day the Momentum Changed: And What Obama Needs to Do in the Debates to Keep It
Mark Sept 16, 2008 as the date Obama may have turned the election around. What he did in that speech in Colorado was something he had only done once before, in his convention address: not just to inspire voters about himself and his vision for the future, but to make the case against John McCain. The truth, he stated with the razor sharpness of a good prosecutor making his closing statement, is that what McCain was saying in response to the extraordinary financial crisis that was unfolding “fits with the same economic philosophy that he’s had for 26 years…It’s the philosophy that says even common-sense regulations are unnecessary and unwise. It’s a philosophy that lets Washington lobbyists shred consumer protections and distort our economy so it works for the special interests instead of working people..
18 September
McCain Seen as Less Likely to Bring Change, Poll Finds
… two weeks after the Republican convention, with public sentiment starting to settle into place, there are indications that Ms. Palin might not be accomplishing what Mr. McCain had hoped in choosing her.
September 13
Bill Clinton’s advice to Barack Obama
(Politico) The Clinton-Obama meeting was closed. We don’t know for sure what they said.
But it is not hard to make an educated guess. Here, based on 16 years experience watching Bill Clinton campaign — and interviews with a half-dozen veterans of his political teams — is a reasonably safe bet about his campaign advice to Barack Obama:
Obama Plans Sharper Tone as Party Frets
Beyond that [effect of the choice of Sarah Palin], Mr. Obama’s aides said they had been taken aback by the newfound aggressiveness of the McCain campaign under Steve Schmidt, who has played an increasingly powerful role since last summer. Even as the aides have denounced the tactics as unsavory, they acknowledge that Mr. McCain is running a more effective campaign than he was a month ago.
In the midst of all this, Mr. Obama had a private lunch on Thursday with someone he battled with for much of the year but who knows how to put the Republicans on the defensive: former President Bill Clinton. Discussion topics, aides said, included how Mr. Obama might handle Ms. Palin in the days ahead.
Blizzard of Lies
(Paul Krugman, NYT) I can’t think of any precedent, at least in America, for the blizzard of lies since the Republican convention. The Bush campaign’s lies in 2000 were artful — you needed some grasp of arithmetic to realize that you were being conned. This year, however, the McCain campaign keeps making assertions that anyone with an Internet connection can disprove in a minute, and repeating these assertions over and over again.
Earmarks to Nowhere

McCain also vowed, as he always does, to make the authors of earmark legislation famous by embarrassing them as a way to cut down on the practice. I wonder. Most earmarks are not ridiculous boondoggle programs. They fund things like schools and hospitals, which are not the kinds of things that their supporters feel embarrassed about. They also fund things like abstinence-education programs (in swing states like Pennsylvania), which many of McCain’s voters favor.
Is Sarah Palin, who promised to be an advocate for special-needs families when she’s in the White House, really going to slash earmarks for special-needs schools? Will McCain really “make the authors famous” when they’re Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, Republican allies who support an earmark for services aimed at families with autistic children? If they’re so evil, why not do it in this election year, when Collins is a vulnerable incumbent? Earmarks get really tricky really fast.
9 September
Record Contradicts Palin’s ‘Bridge’ Claims
The Bridge to Nowhere argument isn’t going much of anywhere.
(WSJ) Despite significant evidence to the contrary, the McCain campaign continues to assert that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told the federal government “thanks but no thanks” to the now-famous bridge to an island in her home state. (This is the Wall Street Journal speaking!)
(Foreign Policy Magazine) The Candidates’ Worst Ideas
Both John McCain and Barack Obama have many smart policy proposals, but not all of them are ready for prime time. Here are 20 terrible ideas that could leave America poorer, weaker, and less respected in the world.
8 September
Do not miss Rodrigue Tremblay‘s thought-provoking The U.S. 2008 Presidential Election: An Evaluation
6 September
Obama and McCain spar over Social Security
(Reuters) Obama told a Washington gathering of AARP, an interest group that represents the elderly, that McCain would go beyond President George W. Bush’s rejected plan to allow people to invest some of their Social Security funds.
Obama said McCain has embraced that proposal, called privatizing, and “gone even further, suggesting that the best answer to the growing pressures on Social Security might be to cut cost-of-living adjustments or raise the retirement age.”
The Real ’08 Fight: Clinton v. Palin?
(NYT) Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Palin have little in common beyond their breakout performances at the conventions and the soap opera aspects of their family lives. Mrs. Clinton always faces high expectations; Ms. Palin faced low expectations this week, and benefited from them. Mrs. Clinton can seem harsh when she goes on the attack; Ms. Palin has shown a knack for attacking without seeming nasty. Mrs. Clinton has a lot of experience; Ms. Palin, not so much. Mrs. Clinton is pantsuits; Ms. Palin is skirts.
5 September
The Vanishing Republican Voter, by David Frum
Equality in itself never can be or should be a conservative goal. But inequality taken to extremes can overwhelm conservative ideals of self-reliance, limited government and national unity. It can delegitimize commerce and business and invite destructive protectionism and overregulation. Inequality, in short, is a conservative issue too. We must develop a positive agenda that integrates the right kind of egalitarianism with our conservative principles of liberty. If we neglect this task and this opportunity, we won’t lose just the northern Virginia suburbs. We will lose America.
Obama sends supporters to blunt Palin’s impact

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Barack Obama’s campaign plans to employ high-profile female supporters in an effort to blunt GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s potential to persuade women to vote Republican.
The Culture War Option For The Palin Convention (All too plausible taken in conjunction with the items immediately below. Read and weep.)
McCain Snubs CNN Over Palin Questions (B&C)
According to CNN, Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain pulled out of a scheduled interview with the network after a segment with Campbell Brown and a top McCain spokesman Monday night in which Brown asked for examples of a foreign-policy decision made by Republican vice president pick Sarah Palin. WSJ: McCain spokesman Maria Comella said the campaign canceled the interview because of “a relentless refusal by certain on-air reporters to come to terms with John McCain’s selection of Alaska’s sitting governor as our party’s nominee for vice president.” Comella said the decision wasn’t a reflection on Larry King or his “sterling journalistic reputation.” WaPo: Top McCain aide says news organizations are “on a mission to destroy” Palin. Politico: National Enquirer editor David Perel: “We triggered Palin announcement.” HuffPo: Media, new and old, vet Palin, doing McCain’s job for him. Slate: Thanks to McCain’s miscue, everything the press touches about Palin turns into a scoop, writes Jack Shafer. LAT: Palin hubbub leads Republican delegates to target “liberal media.” B&C: Palin VP pick boosts Fox News’ ratings. Variety: TV news struggles to catch up with online in investigating Palin. Reuters: Palin to try to silence media storm in debut.
McCain camp slams ‘faux media scandal’
2 September
Bob Herbert urges the Democrats to take the High Road re Sarah Palin and focus on “the real issue of this campaign — the awful state of the nation after eight years of Republican rule.
… Hundreds of families are being forced out of their homes each month in Louisville, Ky., because of mortgage foreclosures. With record numbers of poor and homeless students, the public schools are struggling.
The crisis has only been made worse by fiscal difficulties facing the schools. Higher energy and other costs, combined with a $43 million cut in state aid, have left the school system in a sorry state.
The reason this should be high on the presidential campaign agendas is that the problems in Louisville are widespread. As Sam Dillon of The Times reported: ‘As 50 million children return to classes across the nation, crippling increases in the price of fuel and food, coupled with the economic downturn, have left schools from California to Florida to Maine cutting costs’.”
1 September
Thoughts from Johann Hari
“… There are no perfect leaders, but there are always better and worse ones.
You can see this principle in the current US election. Barack Obama is considerably better than John McCain – but he too has his dreadful drawbacks we will have to oppose. … support the great parts of his programme – like expanding healthcare in the US – and oppose the bad. Be a political adult.
Human beings are invariably flawed. Every person who is capable of moments of greatness is also capable of cruelty or stupidity. The only way to check this is for us to be constantly watching each other – even the best amongst us – and to never be blinded by admirable acts. We will never reach a point where we find the good leader and can sigh, sit back, and relax. If you care about the state of the world, you have to keep watching and pressuring and fighting, forever.”
August 31
Brilliant analysis by Frank Rich that should be read several times.
Obama Outwits the Bloviators
After a week-long orgy of inane manufactured melodrama labeled “convention coverage” on television, Barack Obama descended in classic deus ex machina fashion — yes, that’s Greek too — to set the record straight. America is in too much trouble, he said, to indulge in “a big election about small things.”
… We [members of the media], too, are made anxious and fearful by hard economic times and the prospect of wrenching change. YouTube, the medium that has transformed our culture and politics, didn’t exist four years ago. Four years from now, it’s entirely possible that some, even many, of the newspapers and magazines covering this campaign won’t exist in their current form, if they exist at all. The Big Three network evening newscasts, and network news divisions as we now know them, may also be extinct by then.
Campaigns Shift as McCain Choice Alters the Race
The parties are gauging the risks and opportunities of a young, relatively inexperienced woman being on a ticket.
Mr. Obama’s campaign does not plan to go directly after Ms. Palin in the days ahead. Instead, it is planning to increase its attacks on Mr. McCain for his opposition to pay equity legislation and abortion rights — two issues of paramount concern to many women — as it tries to head off his effort to use Ms. Palin to draw Democratic and independent women who had supported Senator Clinton.
30 August
ST. PAUL — The Republican Party platform this year will reassert the party’s opposition to abortion. And again it will not allow for exceptions in the cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother, even though Senator John McCain, the presumptive presidential nominee, has long called for such exceptions.
At the same time, the Democratic platform dropped language from the Clinton era that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare,” while Senator Barack Obama, in his speech accepting the Democratic nomination, spoke of finding common ground on the issue. “We may not agree on abortion but surely we can agree on reducing unwanted pregnancies in this country,” he said. More
April 24
The Bradley Effect

One of the concerns that many have talked about for weeks is the ‘Bradley Effect’, or the ‘Ford Effect’ named after two prominent black democratic candidates who found themselves wining in the polls only to face racism from voters in the voting booths.  Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and former Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. both had huge poll numbers as voters said they would vote for them.  They were on the way to winning as Governor of California and the Tennessee U.S. Senate seat respectively.  But once voters were in the privacy of the voting booth things changed.  America still has a very deep seated problem with racism.  We like to pretend we are above it in certain ways, but sadly we are not.  The results in the Pennsylvania Primary show us why that is true.

One Comment on "U.S. Presidential Campaign: Issues & Strategies"

  1. dennis November 3, 2008 at 11:14 pm ·

    The long two years of craziness and drama is over now. Today on 4th November we as
    a voter has only one responsibility to go
    to the polling station and utilize our voting rights in this historical election. Thanks.

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