Monday, December 31, 2007

Michael Bloomberg to enter the Presidential race ! ?

New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg's staff has been preparing for a possible presidential run on a third party ticket. This could be a very significant development given the ambivalence towards the frontrunners in both parties. Bloomberg is a Democrat but as a billionaire businessman would also have appeal to many Republicans, so his effect on the ultimate outcome is hard to predict and, unlike Ross Perot, Bloomberg arguably has a higher quotient of personal+professional appeal than Clinton, Obama, Giuliani, or Romney.

President Picker is waiting for more information on the possible Bloomberg candidacy, but at the very least this is a potentially destabilizing development for both parties. If more than two fo the current frontrunners appear to falter without a surge by the competition, look for Bloomberg to jump in to the Presidential race as a third party candidate.

Hey, I bet Donny Deutsch knows if Bloomberg will run and I'm hoping to meet him at CES Las Vegas. Deutsch's masterful advertising expertise helped bring Bill Clinton to power, and clearly marketing is a key skill for a presidential team so it wouldn't surprise me if Donny's already been contacted by the Bloomberg staff for ideas and thoughts on the possibility of a Bloomberg run.

Romney leads Republicans in latest Iowa poll

Mitt Romney now shows as the likely winner in Iowa, four points up on Huckabee according to the latest MSNBC McClatchy poll some 4 days before the caucuses. For Republicans the polls are more relevant becuase the caucus process does not involve "speaking up" for your candidate or switching support as does the Democratic caucus procedure which is more likely to shake things up.

Iowa Democrats effectively tied

Well, despite what I noted earlier about the mistaken impressions about "statistical ties" the latest MSNBC poll shows Edwards 24%, Clinton 23%, and Obama 22%. This result is *so close* that even though if this was your only source you'd want to bet on Edwards, it now appears that Iowa Democrats are pretty much tied, especially given the fact that averaging of the polls - probably a more effective measure than any single poll - now will give Edwards a boost from this top showing.

President Picker still thinks Clinton will win due to the football game advantage and Bill Clinton master strategics that we think are not properly reflected in the polls, though I have not researched the polling questions. In fact if the polls *do* reflect some apathy all bets could be off in a very close race where you may see higher-than-anticipated participation and guys skipping the game to go support their candidate.

In fact one wonders if Richardson and Biden may be negotiating behind the scenes right now for a VP slot. They will each have caucus people who will need to "switch candidates" due to the 15% caucus support threshold. Thus if they asked their supporters at the last minute to move to any of the top three it could be enough to swing the result, and the stakes in Iowa are high enough for Obama, Clinton, and Edwards that any of them might agree.

Desmoines, Iowa - Presidential tourism in action

The Desmoines Register, which I think is Iowa's main newspaper, has a neat piece showcasing tourism in Desmoines where many of the campaigns have a rather large prescence, and the election mania is reaching it's peak as the presidential caucuses loom.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Iowa Republican Race: Romney vs Huckabee

Recent surges for Mike Huckabee make him a real contender in Iowa, and president picker now thinks Huckabee could even win Iowa although Romney will certainly be close. We continue to predict a Romney win in Iowa.

Recent polls show Romney and Huckabee neck and neck, each with about 30% in Iowa. McCain's weak Iowa showing reflects the problems with a system that puts so much emphasis on Iowa, where (stupid and foolish) heavy subsidies for Ethanol are popular. McCain, much to his credit, has opposed these subsidies and lost a lot of votes for doing that. McCain is now a frontrunner in New Hampshire - a state he won against GW Bush in the 2000 race.

Unlike the democratic caucus process Iowa's Republican race uses a ballot process, thus the polls are more relevant because people will not have to "stand up and argue" for their candidate as they do in the Democratic caucuses.

President Picker predicts that Huckabee's popularity will soon fade with a poor New Hampshire showing and increasingly public scrutiny.

President Picker Predictions: Look for a small Romney victory in Iowa and a McCain win in New Hampshire, Giuliani continues to fade as will Huckabee. McCain cash problems will hurt him in South Carolina. Thompson drops out after South Carolina or even New Hampshire.

Iowa Democrats - Clinton, Obama, Edwards almost a dead heat?

Real Clear Politics has a great examination of recent Iowa polling, and averages the latest information to get these numbers:

Clinton 28.4
Obama 26.4
Edwards 25.8

Averaging has some challenges but probably paints a better picture than any individual polling effort. By this measure the race is pretty much a dead heat (though I HATE ther terms "statistical dead heat" because it misleads people into thinking there is no difference between different numbers. There is a difference. When two numbers are within the polls margin of error it still means the top person is "more likely" to win, but suggests far more uncertainty than if the numbers are outside of the margin of error.

For example Richardson with under 10% has virtually no chance of an Iowa top 3 placement, but any of the top 3 could win this race.

However, I continue to believe Clinton will win due to superior organization and strategy and the football game which will affect men more than women and thus Clinton's popularity among Iowa women will be enhanced, but the game is not likely to be fully reflected in polls.

Prediction: Clinton Wins Iowa and also New Hampshire.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Into the Iowa Home Stretch

The Iowa Caucuses are only about a week away, and it is by no means clear who will win Iowa, let alone how that will affect the longer term prospects of the winners and losers.

On the Republican side of the race McCain is showing signs of life in Iowa and New Hampshire, and in National polls. If he topples the "front runners" Romney and Giuliani it'll breath some life into a campaign that had been slowed considerably by challenges in organization and funding.

Still, President Picker predicts a Romney win in Iowa by a modest percentage and then a stronger win in New Hampshire, consolidating Romney as the Republican Front Runner and seeing more drop outs - probably Thompson first after predicted bad showings in the first two states.

Democrats are also hard to call, but we think Obama's latest surge has been mostly a product of big spending and Oprah appearances and his hard core support may fade when push comes to shove comes to the complex caucus process. In fact I think it's possible we'll see Obama support higher in number than Clinton's but still a caucus loss due to inferior organization and strategy or even some last minute bombshells that will weaken Obama support.

Clinton has one of the great political masterminds of the 20th century on her team, and it's unlikely the Clinton campaign will botch their broad based Iowa support and organization. Likewise Edwards has been through this before with good results, so his organization may outperform his actual support.

Of course even the weather can play a huge role in Iowa, as will the football game which gives Clinton a nice edge demographically as she has more female voters and they are less likely to stay home and watch the game. Stormy? Clinton wins handily due to organization and football. Perfect Weather? Obama has a shot. Edwards....second.

In Memoriam: Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto, Pakistani moderate and champion of democracy, is yet another reminder of the instability in so many parts of our challenged world. Bhutto’s assassination, and the ongoing attacks on General Musharaff, bring that possibility closer as Pakistan’s hopes for a quality democracy drift again into the shadows.

India and Pakistan have been very antagonistic towards each other since Pakistan’s fiery birth soon after Indian independence from Britain. Disputes over the Kashmir region, claimed by both countries, flare up regularly.

Instability favors the extremists and those who support them, and takes us away from the democracy that most people favor as the best way to bring justice and prosperity to all.

Bhutto stood for democracy, and died for democracy. Even in our much safer society our prominent elected officials and candidates risk their lives in the pursuit of the democratic dream. We should respect them all for taking this risk in the name of our freedoms.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

New Hampshire Concord Monitor Newspaper: Romney need not apply for President.

The Concord Monitor , in a rambling, scathing editorial written by "monitor staff", suggests that Mitt Romney is basically a "fake" and should not be President. The ranting critique of Romney seemed odd to me coming as it does from a liberal paper that one would think would be at least mildly supportive of Romney's history of mild Republicanism rather than the more right wing forms it claims (correctly) he's catering to as the campaign heats up. Almost bizarre is the Monitor's description of what they see as a litany of Romney defeciencies:

... athletic build, ramrod posture, Reaganesque hair, a charismatic speaking style and a crisp dark suit. You'd add a beautiful wife and family, a wildly successful business career and just enough executive government experience. You'd pour in some old GOP bromides - spending cuts and lower taxes ...

So let me get this straight Monitor staff: Republicans need a scrawny bald guy with bad posture in an ill-fitting light colored suit. He should speak poorly, have an ugly wife, and ugly children. He should have failed in business and have huge amounts of government experience, and favor more spending and higher taxes.


Frankly, I think the editorial is more conspicuous than Romney's newfound conservatism, it reads more like a paper trying to derail the person who is arguably most likely to win the general election than as a real statement of the paper's sensibilities. Failing to disclose their likely preference for the Democratic nominee smells wrong to me given how critical they seem to be of Romney's "past liberalism"

C'mon Concord Monitor - Romney's conservative focus is like Hilary's hawkish sensibilities or Edwards populist ones. These are simply good campaign strategy - play your weaknesses as strengths and draw in people near the middle. Most of these candidates (Obama as possible exception), have legislative records we can examine and there is little reason they will diverge significantly from past voting.

Romney may or may not be suited for the job of president, but the Monitor's weak and self-serving editorial is hardly a guide to his qualifications or lack of them.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Giuliani released from MO hospital and is OK, Tancredo drops out of race.

Rudy Giuliani was hospitalized yesterday with flu-like symptoms. He's been released from the Missouri hospital and CNN is reporting he has a "clean bill of health", but they don't seem to have much information.

Although there is no reason to believe Giuliani's problems have anything to do with his past cancer, it's clear that health issues could impact this election more than most. John Edwards wife had cancer as did Giuliani, and it is reasonable to wonder what effect a health flare-up would have on these campaigns.

Tancredo leaves Republican field

Tom Tancredo, dead last in the polls, will drop out of the race today. It's not official yet but will happen during the press conference he'll hold before Thursday afternoon.

Tancredo's strong anti-illegal immigration message did not appear to resonate with voters.

Meanwhile, Republicans continue to vigorously court New Hampshire voters. Iowa is more a Democratic battleground although both states could provide a huge boost to winners in terms of support as well as the mother's milk of politics - cash.

Donny Deutsch on Christmas Ads

Advertising expert Donny Deutsch was hard on most of the Christmas campaign advertising, suggesting much of it is a waste of time or not really "on message" for the candidates.

I agreed with some of Deutsch's analyses but disagreed with his criticism of the Obama ad, which I'd argue is simply brilliant. Giuliani ridiculously offers off camera people fruitcakes and sits beside a fake santa. Edwards simply offers a short campaign pitch. Clinton is wrapping presents like "National Pre-K" and "Health Care". Not terrible, but smells insincere which is a key Clinton challenge.

The two "stand out" ads are that of Huckabee, which somewhat spookily features a shelf filmed to look like a cross behind the candidate - almost as if they are sending a secret signal to the minions waiting in the wings for a messianic candidate. Deutsch stopped just short of calling this ad out as a dangerous sign of trends in American politics, but indicated he was alarmed by this type of symbolism.

The great ad is Obama's. His picture perfect family sits beside a tree as Michelle wishes everybody well. Obama then suggests it's time to come together rather than apart, and his family almost frames this concept in a greeting card way with the daughters wishing us all happy holidays. Schmalzy? Maybe, but this ad is a brilliant example of reaching the people you want in the way they want to be reached. Obama needs women to vote for him, not Hilary. This is a huge challenge that his campaign is meeting masterfully with Oprah and ads like this.

Republican New Hampshire - Romney v McCain

Mitt Romney has a substantial lead in New Hampshire according to the NBC Wall Street Journal poll results discussed today on Chris Mathews Hardball. As we predicted some time ago Romney is the Republican to watch and the man to beat, as Giuliani's lead dwindles in the face of closer public scrutiny.

Likewise on the Democrat side Clinton maintains a sizable lead in New Hampshire although Obama now leads in Iowa 33% to 29% for Clinton.

President Picker is skeptical of the Iowa poll results showing an Obama lead. Although he may win, we still predict a Clinton Victory, feeling that support for Obama will prove "softer" than support for Clinton. Iowa Caucusing requires a substantial committment from supporters and it's not at all clear that Obama's new campaign troops will be as enthusiastic on caucus night as they have been attending Obama pep rallies with Oprah.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Yahoo Political Dashboard

Webguild reports that the The Yahoo Political Dashboard is up and running, though Reshma notes several caveats in how you'd want to interpret this data.

The Yahoo Dashboard is very nicely done visually, and allows a lot of key comparisons quickly. The money raised column may be the most relevant in terms of the prospects of these candidates as we kick the primary season into gear in early January. Why? Campaigning in small states like Iowa and New Hampshire is not expensive, but in California and New York you need tens of millions to sway those pesky undecided voters who arguably are the key voters who determine the outcome in our market-driven elections system.

The following candidates won't have money problems if they can perform OK in the early primaries: Clinton, Obama, Romney, Giuliani, Edwards. I'd say McCain and Huckabee are at great risk regardless of performance because they'll need cash to continue, and unless they have huge showing early on I predict people will try to "bet on a winner" and donations will continue to flow to the frontrunners. Look for Romney and Edwards to fund their own campaigns heavily if their prospects look good. President Picker still predicts that Romney will win the Republican Nomination and Clinton the Democrat, but we acknowledge the Iowa and New Hampshire races have become closer than we thought they would be. Obama's strategy is almost flawless so far - he's taken a high road on the campaign which has made Clinton look petty and mean - the latter a key attribute her campaign is trying to counter even as it struggles to fine Obama's Achilles heel.

Ironically the Clinton campaign's new advertising is designed to make people feel more "warm and fuzzy" towards Clinton. I see this as a strategic error. Everybody knows she is a tough and seasoned politically and has a hard and intense personality. Suggesting otherwise appears deceptive because it is, and also because media are viewing this approach skeptically - skepticism that rubs off on viewers. These are not attributes the campaign should be diminishing, rather they should be promoting her as a potentially "tough as nails" negotiator and commander in chief. Obama's campaign has recognized correctly that their goal is almost the opposite - make him kind, gentle, and accessible to the indecisive female voters who otherwise would have gone for Clinton on the basis of gender.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Lieberman endorses McCain

John McCain got a needed campaign boost with a Joe Lieberman endorsement, another from the Boston Globe, and a third from the DeMoines register.

McCain has been lagging in the polls despite his 2000 victory over GW Bush in the New Hampshire primary.

Meanwhile Barack Obama, now the Democratic frontrunner, and Mitt Romney are talking religion and politics more than they'd probably like to. Obama is defending himself against what appear to be Clinton campaign suggestions challenging his Christian roots, while Romney was heavily blasted by NBC's Tim Russert for his long support of questionable Mormon church policies.

Although negative attacks are just political business as usual, I'm disappointed that journalists like Russert and TV news are so quickly picking up and running with these irrelevancies. Religion is relevant to the character debate, and in the case of Huckabee, a minister, it would be good to clarify some allegiances, but I think suggestions that people can't separate religion and state are questionable in the case of all these candidates. Far more relevant are questions about governance and policy. Is it too much to expect more about that?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Iowa likes Obama

FOX just announced results from today's Iowa poll by an Iowa newspaper showing Obama with aa 9 point lead over Clinton. Although clearly Obama's doing very well in Iowa and appears to be gaining ground in New Hampshire, I remain skeptical that he can overturn the Clinton machine in the broader election, though certainly it's possible.

Obama is spending more in Iowa right now on advertising - I think about 450k weekly vs Clinton's 350k and his teams appear to be working harder. I think a decision was made some time back that Iowa was *the* key Obama priority, and that strategy may lead to an Iowa victory but will leave the campaign challenged in the big states. That said, Obama is on a tear and he could ride this to victory.

On the Republican side Huckabee announced that political mastermind Ed Rollins will take over the Huckabee campaign. Rollins was behind Ronald Reagan's victories and will bring a high level of sophistication to the Huckabee effort. Look for Romney v Huckabee with Giuliani fading and the rest of the pack out within a few months.

Kindergarten Drug Dealing rock the Democratic primary?

The Clinton campaign's desparate attempts to tarnish Obama with comments he has made about drug use and Kindergarten appear to be backfiring badly in the press and probably among voters, though it remains to be seen if the drug admissions by Obama in his biography may have some negative traction, especially in light of the huge Baseball steroid stories now swirling in the press.

The Clinton adviser that brought up the drug issues has resigned in what Chris Mathews of CNBC claims is a classic act of dishing the dirt, falling on your sword, and getting rehired later.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Democratic Debate in Iowa

The Democratic Iowa debate - the last before the caucuses - wrapped up without any major gaffes, though the focus groups seemed to be much more favorable to Obama and Edwards than Hilary Clinton.

Clinton certainly did not stand out the way she had in earlier debates, and as is often the case new "frontrunner" Obama seemed more poised and confident than he had in the earlier encounters.

Compared to the Republicans the democratic crew was downright sympathetic to each other. When the moderator asked a pointed question about Biden and some comments that could have been interpreted as prejudiced, Obama chimed in with an unqualified endorsement of Biden's history as a strongly pro civil rights candidate. Although I don't think it was contrived, I think this played very well with the audience.

Edwards continued to hammer home his populist notion that the rich and powerful are now in control and need to be taken out of control.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Iowa Republican Debate

The Iowa Republican debate used a really intriguing audience meter that allowed you to guage the audience reaction in real time during the debate. I'm not at all convinced this is a "good" idea, but it sure was interesting.

The large debate fields are nice in terms of bringing in voices that might normally be stifled, but they really diminish the ability of the candidates to rise above sound bytes. That said, polls are fickle and it would be very questionable to deny any candidate with any viability the right to speak.

Alan Keyes sort of clawed his way into a few questions, accusing the moderator of ignoring him which she did appear to do at first. Keyes audience meter pretty much hit the floor when he first spoke but rose later during a passionate plea for more religion in education.

My take overall was that this debate will consolidate Romney and Huckabee as front runners in Iowa. Giuliani is becoming something of a wild card in the race as the national leader who appears to be in decline. His performace was steady but didn't seem to rise to the level of Huckabee, who is probably the most appealing public speaker in the Republican bunch.


Giuliani: "Give the death penalty to the death tax"

Huckabee: Health Care reform: "kill the snake"

Romney: "We don't have to run a deficit" "Let the programs that don't work go", he's in favor of the "no child left behind" program. Higher pay for teachers.

McCain: No good conservative can support extensive subsidies. "Climate Change is real".

Tancredo: "Follow the constitution of this country" "Today we do far too many things.." "Nafta's been a disaster for many places...."

Thompson: We need to tell [rich] people we can't afford their medicare. ".... focus on preserving the tax cuts of 01 and 03". Nafta has helped USA as much as it has helped Mexico.

Hunter: "Nafta is a bad business deal"

Republican Debate in Iowa

In a few moments the Republicans will begin the Iowa debate, which comes at a critical time as attention is far more focused on the election and the race has tightened considerably in the polls, with Giuliani and Thompson, former presumptive frontrunners, quickly losing ground to Romney and Huckabee who appear likely to do well in Iowa.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Huckabee v Obama? Who'd have thunk it?

Despite our suggestions that Clinton and Romney are the presumptive nominees for the big matchup in November of 2008, Huckabee and Obama are surging in the national and state polls, giving each a decent shot at their party's nomination.

Morton Kondrake suggests Huckabee's appeal is as a "compassionate conservative", but suggests he does not have the money or organization for a likely win. Of course people tend to flock to popularity so money and support are already flowing to him. Obama already has an excellent organization and financing machine in place, and this week's Oprah extravaganzas, combined with his improving showing in the Iowa and NH polling, give him a real shot at the nomination.

Predictions? We are still saying Hilary v Romney in general election, but his is American politics and anything - and that means pretty much anything - can change the tide of history almost overnight.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Oprah & Obama

Oprah's on the stump with Barack Obama and today drew the biggest crowd so far in the race as some 30,000 people came to see Oprah and hear Obama talk about Obama's vision for the future and reference Martin Luther King's dreams for America.

Although I remain skeptical that Oprah can actually swing more than a handful of voters it is possible she could be a key factor in the race either by swaying more votes than most expect or by tipping tight races in favor of Obama.

Although it is probable Iowa will be a close race it it not clear who will make it all the way to the key big state primaries.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Mitt Romney Religion Speech

Here is the transcript of the Mitt Romney Speech on his religious beliefs and how they affect his politics. This transcript provided by the Mitt Romney website:

"Faith In America" Remarks As Prepared For Delivery The George Bush Presidential Library College Station, Texas December 6, 2007

"Thank you, Mr. President, for your kind introduction. "It is an honor to be here today. This is an inspiring place because of you and the First Lady and because of the film exhibited across the way in the Presidential library. For those who have not seen it, it shows the President as a young pilot, shot down during the Second World War, being rescued from his life-raft by the crew of an American submarine. It is a moving reminder that when America has faced challenge and peril, Americans rise to the occasion, willing to risk their very lives to defend freedom and preserve our nation. We are in your debt. Thank you, Mr. President. "Mr. President, your generation rose to the occasion, first to defeat Fascism and then to vanquish the Soviet Union. You left us, your children, a free and strong America. It is why we call yours the greatest generation. It is now my generation's turn. How we respond to today's challenges will define our generation. And it will determine what kind of America we will leave our children, and theirs. "America faces a new generation of challenges. Radical violent Islam seeks to destroy us. An emerging China endeavors to surpass our economic leadership. And we are troubled at home by government overspending, overuse of foreign oil, and the breakdown of the family. "Over the last year, we have embarked on a national debate on how best to preserve American leadership. Today, I wish to address a topic which I believe is fundamental to America's greatness: our religious liberty. I will also offer perspectives on how my own faith would inform my Presidency, if I were elected. "There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us. If so, they are at odds with the nation's founders, for they, when our nation faced its greatest peril, sought the blessings of the Creator. And further, they discovered the essential connection between the survival of a free land and the protection of religious freedom. In John Adams' words: 'We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion... Our constitution was made for a moral and religious people.' "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone. "Given our grand tradition of religious tolerance and liberty, some wonder whether there are any questions regarding an aspiring candidate's religion that are appropriate. I believe there are. And I will answer them today. "Almost 50 years ago another candidate from Massachusetts explained that he was an American running for President, not a Catholic running for President. Like him, I am an American running for President. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith. "Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin. "As Governor, I tried to do the right as best I knew it, serving the law and answering to the Constitution. I did not confuse the particular teachings of my church with the obligations of the office and of the Constitution – and of course, I would not do so as President. I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law. "As a young man, Lincoln described what he called America's 'political religion' – the commitment to defend the rule of law and the Constitution. When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God. If I am fortunate to become your President, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest. A President must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States. "There are some for whom these commitments are not enough. They would prefer it if I would simply distance myself from my religion, say that it is more a tradition than my personal conviction, or disavow one or another of its precepts. That I will not do. I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers – I will be true to them and to my beliefs. "Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it. But I think they underestimate the American people. Americans do not respect believers of convenience. Americans tire of those who would jettison their beliefs, even to gain the world. "There is one fundamental question about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. My church's beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths. Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These are not bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree. "There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church's distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution. No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes President he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths. "I believe that every faith I have encountered draws its adherents closer to God. And in every faith I have come to know, there are features I wish were in my own: I love the profound ceremony of the Catholic Mass, the approachability of God in the prayers of the Evangelicals, the tenderness of spirit among the Pentecostals, the confident independence of the Lutherans, the ancient traditions of the Jews, unchanged through the ages, and the commitment to frequent prayer of the Muslims. As I travel across the country and see our towns and cities, I am always moved by the many houses of worship with their steeples, all pointing to heaven, reminding us of the source of life's blessings. "It is important to recognize that while differences in theology exist between the churches in America, we share a common creed of moral convictions. And where the affairs of our nation are concerned, it's usually a sound rule to focus on the latter – on the great moral principles that urge us all on a common course. Whether it was the cause of abolition, or civil rights, or the right to life itself, no movement of conscience can succeed in America that cannot speak to the convictions of religious people. "We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism. They are wrong. "The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation 'Under God' and in God, we do indeed trust. "We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders – in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests. I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from 'the God who gave us liberty.' "Nor would I separate us from our religious heritage. Perhaps the most important question to ask a person of faith who seeks a political office, is this: does he share these American values: the equality of human kind, the obligation to serve one another, and a steadfast commitment to liberty? "They are not unique to any one denomination. They belong to the great moral inheritance we hold in common. They are the firm ground on which Americans of different faiths meet and stand as a nation, united. "We believe that every single human being is a child of God – we are all part of the human family. The conviction of the inherent and inalienable worth of every life is still the most revolutionary political proposition ever advanced. John Adams put it that we are 'thrown into the world all equal and alike.' "The consequence of our common humanity is our responsibility to one another, to our fellow Americans foremost, but also to every child of God. It is an obligation which is fulfilled by Americans every day, here and across the globe, without regard to creed or race or nationality. "Americans acknowledge that liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government. No people in the history of the world have sacrificed as much for liberty. The lives of hundreds of thousands of America's sons and daughters were laid down during the last century to preserve freedom, for us and for freedom loving people throughout the world. America took nothing from that Century's terrible wars – no land from Germany or Japan or Korea; no treasure; no oath of fealty. America's resolve in the defense of liberty has been tested time and again. It has not been found wanting, nor must it ever be. America must never falter in holding high the banner of freedom. "These American values, this great moral heritage, is shared and lived in my religion as it is in yours. I was taught in my home to honor God and love my neighbor. I saw my father march with Martin Luther King. I saw my parents provide compassionate care to others, in personal ways to people nearby, and in just as consequential ways in leading national volunteer movements. I am moved by the Lord's words: 'For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me...' "My faith is grounded on these truths. You can witness them in Ann and my marriage and in our family. We are a long way from perfect and we have surely stumbled along the way, but our aspirations, our values, are the self-same as those from the other faiths that stand upon this common foundation. And these convictions will indeed inform my presidency. "Today's generations of Americans have always known religious liberty. Perhaps we forget the long and arduous path our nation's forbearers took to achieve it. They came here from England to seek freedom of religion. But upon finding it for themselves, they at first denied it to others. Because of their diverse beliefs, Ann Hutchinson was exiled from Massachusetts Bay, a banished Roger Williams founded Rhode Island, and two centuries later, Brigham Young set out for the West. Americans were unable to accommodate their commitment to their own faith with an appreciation for the convictions of others to different faiths. In this, they were very much like those of the European nations they had left. "It was in Philadelphia that our founding fathers defined a revolutionary vision of liberty, grounded on self evident truths about the equality of all, and the inalienable rights with which each is endowed by his Creator. "We cherish these sacred rights, and secure them in our Constitutional order. Foremost do we protect religious liberty, not as a matter of policy but as a matter of right. There will be no established church, and we are guaranteed the free exercise of our religion. "I'm not sure that we fully appreciate the profound implications of our tradition of religious liberty. I have visited many of the magnificent cathedrals in Europe. They are so inspired ... so grand ... so empty. Raised up over generations, long ago, so many of the cathedrals now stand as the postcard backdrop to societies just too busy or too 'enlightened' to venture inside and kneel in prayer. The establishment of state religions in Europe did no favor to Europe's churches. And though you will find many people of strong faith there, the churches themselves seem to be withering away. "Infinitely worse is the other extreme, the creed of conversion by conquest: violent Jihad, murder as martyrdom... killing Christians, Jews, and Muslims with equal indifference. These radical Islamists do their preaching not by reason or example, but in the coercion of minds and the shedding of blood. We face no greater danger today than theocratic tyranny, and the boundless suffering these states and groups could inflict if given the chance. "The diversity of our cultural expression, and the vibrancy of our religious dialogue, has kept America in the forefront of civilized nations even as others regard religious freedom as something to be destroyed. "In such a world, we can be deeply thankful that we live in a land where reason and religion are friends and allies in the cause of liberty, joined against the evils and dangers of the day. And you can be certain of this: Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me. And so it is for hundreds of millions of our countrymen: we do not insist on a single strain of religion – rather, we welcome our nation's symphony of faith. "Recall the early days of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, during the fall of 1774. With Boston occupied by British troops, there were rumors of imminent hostilities and fears of an impending war. In this time of peril, someone suggested that they pray. But there were objections. 'They were too divided in religious sentiments', what with Episcopalians and Quakers, Anabaptists and Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Catholics. "Then Sam Adams rose, and said he would hear a prayer from anyone of piety and good character, as long as they were a patriot. "And so together they prayed, and together they fought, and together, by the grace of God ... they founded this great nation. "In that spirit, let us give thanks to the divine 'author of liberty.' And together, let us pray that this land may always be blessed, 'with freedom's holy light.' "God bless the United States of America."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Chris Mathews: Clinton in trouble, attacking kindergarten comments by Obama

As much as I enjoy Chris Mathews and Hardball, he's really full of a lot of crap these days, I think in no small part because of his frustration that the Clinton campaign has so effectively managed his beloved free and reckless press sensibilities.

Yesterday on Hardball Chris foolishly suggested that Clinton's numbers were in "free fall" since her poor performance in an earlier debate regarding immigration. Also that this is why she was slinging some dirt on Obama, suggesting he said something in his foreign kindergarten. Again obviously this was not Clinton gasping for some poll air, rather floating a test balloon to see how negative stuff will gain traction against Obama. Given that it's not working well look for this type of petty attack to stop for the next few weeks, only to return in full force if Clinton is not leading in Iowa 2 weeks out.

She may have dropped a bit, but hardly a free fall Chris, and the main reason for the Iowa surge by Obama is ... obviously ... the fact this is almost make or break for his campaign! Hilary is running a national campaign already, and has done it very effectively. Obama is running an Iowa campaign and he's done that very effectively. However his numbers nationally and in New Hampshire suggest no staying power even with an Iowa win. He'll get a buzz boost if he wins Iowa, and this could lead to a NH victory or great showing which would could *concievably* make him nationally competitive, but this is unlikely.

Prediction: Clinton will come on strong in Iowa in last few weeks, and will win by 5-10%. She'll handily win N.H., and the race will largely be over as soon as it began. Obama has a shot at VP though his views are so compatible with Clinton's I'm not clear he'll be part of the strategy.

Romney on religion

Tomorrow's speech by Mitt Romney on his religious views will be a very significant event in the republican primary (I'd say speech about Romney's "Mormon religious views", but I bet Romney himself will only say the word "Mormon" a few times).

Look for Romney to do this:

Very gently outline Mormon beliefs, stressing their Christian basis and general compatibility with mainstream Protestantism.

Very powerfully suggest how important faith and religion are to his life, stressing things shared by Christians rather than the Mormon items.

Wrap up with suggestions that his views are "just like" the views of mainstream Christian Protestants and Catholics.

Mention Jesus several times and Joseph Smith no more than once.

Many are comparing this to JFK's speech abut his Catholic heritage not being a threat to America, but I think this is probably misguided because times have changed so much in the past 47 American years of elections.

Unless Romney fails miserably with his delivery or gets off point, I think he'll put the religious issues to rest until the general election. Why?

* Mormonism is not a radical religion, rather more of an offshoot of Christianity. Aside from some quirky sect views mainstream Christians won't be as threatened by this as many now suggest.

* Religion is NOT as powerful a force for Republicans as many have suggested. Although Karl Rove and other brilliant manipulations of the religious right wing helped in elections it is not at all clear they changed outcomes, because religious right wing folks are very likely to vote conservative Republican and very likely to vote. Will they vote for Romney? I think yes, because they'll see that he's the best shot against Hilary Clinton. In this sense Huckabee may post a challenge for Romney as he'll draw the votes that Romney would have won over Giuliani.

A master stroke for Romney would pull Huckabee into his campaign immediately as his prospective VP. Very unusual move, but I Huckabee simply does not have the cash to win and this combination would allay many concerns about Romney's religion and sincerity. Also, Huckabee with cash would have a good shot at winning the whole thing. Huckabee plus Romney would be unbeatable in Republican Primary and then could play the national election as a "moderate to liberal Romney" with a "true conservative Huckabee" unifying theme. This would challenge Clinton to also pick a very powerful VP - probably Obama - and we'd see one of the most ideologically contrasted elections in some time.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Giuliani in trouble. Big trouble

Rudy Giuliani's campaign is in *very big* trouble. It's not really because of the recent allegations that he abused spending in New York City to cover his mistress' (now wife's) security during his affair. It is because he's simply not the kind of candidate Republicans can back very enthusiastically.

Giuliani has a personally very checkered past, he's pro-choice, and he's kind of squirrely in the personality department. Reagan represented the "ideal" candidate for the Republican set of sensibilities. Handsome and imposing but also jovial and "old boy network", no-nonsense with his conservative policies, somewhat polished but not brilliant.

So, who gains from this? Huckabee. It's Huckabee v Romney now, and even though I earlier suggested Romney was "in" I think Huckabee has a shot at this if he can quickly assemble a *substantial* war chest. In America you can't buy elections, as Ross Perot's bottomless money potential only got him so far. But without much campaign cash you will lose. Period.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Obama-Bloomberg 2008?

There has been some speculation after a Bloomberg Obama meeting in New York City that we could see a ObamaBloomberg ticket running for the Democratic nomination.

Although I wouldn't bet on this as "likely", it's certainly a very interesting possibility. Obama has shown a lot of traction in Iowa where today's CNN poll numbers had Obama and Clinton in a virtual dead heat, but he's losing in New Hampshire and things appear to get worse for him after that as South Carolina is clearly in Clinton land. Bloomberg's popularity in the east could further diffuse the Clinton juggernaut, and Bloomberg's billion-fat wallet could fund a lot of campaign advertising.

Clinton Campaign Hostages probably safe

Network news was reporting that the hostages taken at Hilary Clinton's campaign HQ in Rochester, NH were safe, but the press conference a few moments ago suggested there may still be hostages in thebuilding.

The fate of the hostage taker is not clear, though he was reported to have something strapped to his chest and calling it a bomb, and was asking to talk to Senator Clinton.

As of 4:45m EST the police are still surrounding the building, a bomb squad is on the scence, and presumably only the hostage-taker remains inside the building thought that is not clear.

Breaking news: Possible Hostage taken at Cliton Campaign office in NH

Reports are coming in from Rochester, NH that hostages have been taken at Hilary Clinton's NH campaign office. Clinton is *not* in that office, but it appears 2 people have been taken by a man claiming to have a bomb.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Giuliani in Republican debate - I'm not just about 9/11. Thompson still languishing in delivery and in polls

Giuliani very effectively answered the YouTube question asking about whether he is running only on his 9/11 record. Giuliani cited his history of New York City service including prosecution of complex cases, reductions in welfare and crime and abortions, and working with New York's enormous global economy.

Thompson, on the other hand, showed his characteristic debate problems - a slow and somewhat rambling style of delivery combined with what always seems to be a limited grasp of the nuances that underly so many complex political issues. Thompson is no Ronald Reagan and I think he has little chance of a late surge in the polls.

Romney, Huckabee and the Republican debate

Mitt Romney was not "weak" in tonight's debate but he didn't really shine either. In fact the candidate that really seemed to stand out as a forceful and thoughtful proponent was Mike Huckabee, perhaps an indication of why he's surging in many polls.

Huckabee appeared the most poised as he addressed issues like religion and the death penalty.

As candidates often do, Romney carefully parses many answers carefully to avoid damaging sound bites. His exchange with McCain over torture and waterboarding left one wondering if Romney is willing to take a strong stand, though his abortion statements seemed to please the crowd when he said he was wrong to be pro-choice early in his career and is now emphatically pro-life.

McCain - we are winning in Iraq

John McCain has stuck to our guns in Iraq, and argued in tonight's debate that the surge is now working and America must stay the course in Iraq. "If we continue this strategy we can succeed", "There is a lot at stake" "Let us win, let us win".

For a deep and thoughtful view of John McCain see his Charlie Rose interview of last night, which offered some of the best insight into the character and policies of McCain as Presidential candidate. Charlie Rose, PBS

Republican YouTube CNN debate

Tonight the Republicans debate was hosted by CNN and YouTube. Anderson Cooper did a stand up moderating job. I'm not enamored with the YouTube format, feeling that the questions tend to be quirky or sort of "gotcha!" style rather than a thoughtful reflection on the perils and promises of our American democracy.

But who am I kidding? The American elections are more an entertainment and marketing excercise than a study in debate and democracy, and tonight was no exception to that as YouTubers did ask some good questions like "what will you do about Black on Black violence" and "What would you do to repair the image of America" in the eyes of the world?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Giuliani still leading nationally

Rudy Giuliani is still the clear Republican frontrunner. Here at President Picker we are predicting a Mitt Romney win based on what we predict will be early victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, but this is speculative. In national polls Giuliani is still clearly ahead of Romney, and it's possible the early primaries will not presage any victories in the much larger state primaries that will come later in the season.

What is remarkable is that the decision is now upon us. In only six weeks the primary season begins with the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary follows shortly thereafter.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Barack "Tech" Obama at Google

Over at Webguild there is a recap of Barack Obama's talk with Eric Schmidt over at the Googleplex in Silicon Valley. Obama has some good ideas for tech and Lasandra Brill has noted these points by Obama:

Pro Net Neutrality
Technology can bring governmental transparency
Appoint a Chief Technology Officer for the nation
Boadband internet access for all
Digital Privacy Protections
Electronic Health Records

Sounds like a good start!

Why Romney Will Win the Republican Nomination

President Picker predicts that Mitt Romney will soon be the clear front runner in the Republican primaries, and that Romney will go on to win the nomination. There are several key factors that suggest a Romney win:

First, Fred Thompson has not turned out to be the "Ronald Reagan" his supporters insist he is. Thompson generally appears tired and irritated and impatient with the process, which probably goes against much of the grain of his Limousine Hollywood Conservatism. Like Giuliani Thompson carries more than the normal personal baggage of a presidential candidate, and although conservatives are generally very forgiving of any heterosexual personal transgressions of fellow conservatives this challenge takes a toll with voters on the fence.

With McCain now pretty much out of the picture due to his Iraq war support and money problems, Giuliani is Romney's key competition, and Giuliani will prove no match for Romney. Among the many reasons are Romney's (sincere I assume) born again anti abortionist stance which makes it easy for core conservatives to overlook his Mormon religion. Also, Romney is brilliantly downplaying his religion as a factor in the race. Mormonism is controversial, especially among bible belt conservatives, but if Romney can stress his legitimate claim to solid family values and strong religious beliefs he'll be able to successfully continue to downplay the specific beliefs that might offend other conservatives. Clearly his anti abortion stance will trump Giuliani's pro choice stance and clearly this is more of a factor for conservatives than Mormonism.

Lastly and most importantly Romney is the most *presidential looking* of the candidates. Even those of us who claim to maintain impartialy with respect to looks and demeanor .. do not maintain impartiality. Reagan and Clinton were masters at looking and acting presidential, and both got more credit for this than is commonly recognized. As the election heats up and advertising hits national markets, look for Romney to get a boost simply because he looks and acts very presidential.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Democratic Las Vegas Debate

Hilary wins, game over.

The interesting race now among the Democrats is for the Vice Presidential spot. Tonight and before Bill Richardson seems to be the most enthusiastic of the "VP Candidates", but I'd now lean very strongly to guessing Hilary will pick Obama. This will energize the ticket with those who would otherwise be discouraged to see the "old Democratic guard" come back into power and also will allow Hilary to play a far more conservative role in the general election while Obama can be her clear "liberal card". Look for a Clinton Obama ticket.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Giuliani vs Romney and Clinton vs Obama

OK, I think even the probable winners are clear now (Romney and Clinton), but it's very hard to think any of the "third place" folks have much of a chance now. Some suggest we may see a repeat of the democratic primaries where John Kerry came out of early poor shows to capture the nomination, but the ballgame is very, very different now. First, Clinton is the "heir apparent" to the nomination for the Dems, and it would take simply *enormous* political risk not to back her if the campaigns heat up. You don't build up decades of political capital for nothing, and I can hardly see mayors and governors come out of meetings with Bill Clinton telling him they are not going to publicly support Hilary.

Pundits love races, so people like Chris Mathews are enthusiastically hoping for a horserace and overplaying Obama's recent poll successes in Iowa. He's not talking enough about the fact that even if Obama squeaks by with an Iowa win (unlikely), this won't leave him with enough time and money to spend in the upcoming primaries. The "must take Iowa" strategy was probably wise, but I'm guessing from the polls it's taking it's toll on the Obama campaign. If Obama loses in Iowa he's pretty much out. If Obama wins in Iowa it's an enormous uphill struggle to capture votes in even one of the next several primaries. Ergo..... Clinton wins and this will be clear soon. Dems don't want to be fighting when they can be bashing Bush and the Republican nominee.

Next: Why Romney will win the Republican nomination

Saturday, November 03, 2007


When Oprah, one of the world's most influential entertainment celebrities, announced that she'd be backing Barack Obama in the democratic presidential primary many thought this would be a huge benefit to the Obama campaign. Some seemed to think this was the boost he needed to catch up to Hilary Clinton in the polls.

However Oprah's endorsement didn't do much if anything to lift Obama out of a distant second in the democratic race.

Why? It now seems clear that Oprah's legendary influence does not extend into the political realm. I'm guessing there are two key factors here: First, viewers already have their political minds made up for the most part. They'll take Oprah's advice for books or lifestyle or personal training or (sometimes) for the virtues of dieting, but they simply won't change their mind about "important" things. Also, I'd guess the Oprah democraphic lines up strongly with support for Hilary Clinton and those viewers like Clinton for much the same reasons they like Oprah.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Iowa Caucuses to be held January 3rd, 2008

The caucus and primary sweepstakes continues as Iowa annoucnces it's caucuses will be held January 3rd. New Hampshire is expected to announce dates this week and appears likely to choose January 8th. These decisions mean the earliest primary season in history, and mean we will probably know the democratic and republican candidates very early in the year - perhaps as early as February.

President Picker is very confident that the Democratic nominee will be Hilary Clinton, who leads hugely in the polls and we predict that Mitt Romney will be the Republican primary winner.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Republican Presidential Debate

FOX News hosted a debate among the Republican contenders for the 2008 US Presidential Crown. It is interesting to see how Huckabee as an "up and coming" candidate in the polls and Romney as one of the leaders seemed to be in top form. At one point Tom Tancredo, who has been an outspoken critic of how the other candidates are not conservative enough, stopped to note that he thought all the candidates were men of quality but offered different alternatives.

As in the prior debate I saw, Thompson seems to be failing to address criticisms and seems to be falling back on canned statements rather than possessing the quick wit of a Giuliani, Huckabee, or Paul. Thompson does clearly not have the campaign presence of Ronald Reagan despite the fact he's being billed like that by Republican supporters. I predict this will condemn his campaign after what will likely be lackluster showings in southern states - probably around February or March of 2008.

Despite a standing ovation after John McCain's joke and criticism of Hilary Clinton, his performances lack the "fire" needed to win this race. He was the front runner and failed to consolidate his position early in the race. I actually think age is playing a role with McCain and he simply does not have the energy required for these massively social experiences which involve traveling millions of miles annually and meeting tens of thousands of people every month.

Man to watch here? Mitt Romney. Clearly he's got *all* the others in the stature department, most conspicuously Giuliani who always looks squirrely and shrill in a Romney v Giuliani persona lineup. Contrary to what most of us think about how we evaluate people it's based in large part on the way they look and carry themselves and not on what they say or do. This factor, in my opinion, will trump what seem to be diminishing concerns about Romney's Mormonism.

Prediction: 2008 election will be Romney vs Clinton

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Hilary Hater Factor

It is often suggested that Clinton can't win the election because her "negative" numbers are so high in many polls. Clearly Clinton is probably one of the most negatively viewed presidential candidates in some time, but I think people are mistaking current perception as future perception. George Bush, in addition to winning reelection, had positive perceptions of himself and his presidency until the Iraq war drained his reservoir of goodwill from the electorate. Conversely I think Clinton's solid campaign style, complete with her somewhat extreme personality makeover, will warm enough of her mild critics to prevent her losing on the basis of negative views about her.

Chris Mathews has been even more unstable than usual on Hardball, suggesting today - I think - that he's predicting Hilary will lose to Giuliani due to the negativity with which many perceive her, especially men.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Brownback is out

Republican candidate Sam Brownback has dropped out of the Republican primary. Poor polling numbers and relatively low fundraising has claimed him as a victim - there will be more primary casualties in both parties very soon.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hilary Clinton on "The View"

Hilary Clinton's speaking with the hosts of the popular daytime women's show "The View". One has to be impressed with how her speaking style has improved to the point of appearing very comfortable, even charming in this very informal, "goofy" format of a TV show that hardly is known for challenging people intellectually.

In fact it's usually hard not to wince at some of the dialog on "The View" that, frankly, rarely does credit to the many brave women worked so hard in the 60's and 70's to bring full rights to American women. But forget all that. They are asking some easy but good questions about torture, Iran, and China. Even veteran interviewer Barbara Walters appears uncomfortable - they all seem to feel uneasy in this unusual role of having the responsibility to ask good, tough, questions of a very smart guest.

This is a very popular show and clearly this is the pulse of how a key constituency will vote. If Clinton can manage to maintain this level of thoughfulness, composure, and strength she'll have no trouble winning the primary. She even seems to be charming the View's token conservative mainstay Elizabeth Hasslebeck, conspicuously seated to the far right of Clinton and almost out of earshot.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

New York Times Transcript Analyzer

Wow! Wanna know who spoke the most words in the Democratic debate? ( I assume the Rebublican debate will have this online soon as well). Check out the NYT transcript analysis tool which looks at each candidate, what they said, and counts the words and times. Amazing.

Hilary had the most words in the last 9.27 debate...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Al Gore's Nobel is NOT a ticket to a Presidential candidacy.

FOX news must (as usual!) have some odd conservative agenda because they keep bringing up the very unlikely prospect of Al Gore running for the democratic nomination. He won't unless Clinton's campaign melts down, and that appears very unlikely

Of course Gore would like to be president, especially after our bungled 2000 election where he was supposed to *be* the President. This is not at all a partisan statement by me. In fact contrary to what many think the outcome would have been the same (ie a Bush win) even if the Supreme Court had ordered a recount. The Miami Herald had an accounting firm conducte an unbiased complete review of all the ballots and Bush was the winner in that case using the normal 2 chad standard and most other chad based counting standards. So the Supreme court ruling did NOT swing the election. HOWEVER what did swing it was the butterfly ballot fiasco - the product of a Democratic elections official's design folly - that led to huge ballot spoilage which in turn was an overwhelming and key factor in the Bush victory. People wound up accidentally thinking they were voting for Buchanon *and* Gore when they almost certainly would have voted for Gore only if the ballots had been less confusing.

So, the most significant job in the most significant country at one of the most significant times in history went to the loser. Not because of any clever Karl Rove or GWB shenanigans, but simply because our ballot system ... stinks.

So, will Al Gore's Oscar and Peace Prize fuel a candidacy? Nope, but congratulations to him on actually getting to keep the prize.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Republican Presidential Debate - Thompson loses big by not winning.

Is it just me or do the Republicans seem to be simply assuming they have little or no shot in 2008 against Hilary Clinton? Last night's Republican debate was ably hosted by Chris Mathews and Maria Bartiromo, but even the contrived little exchanges between Romney, Giuliani, and Thompson about taxes and acting lacked the enthusiasm and "bite" you'd expect when the stakes are as high as they can be. Romney appeared presidential and that's what really counts. Pundits are looking too deeply at the answers and not enough at the simple gestures. Giuliani has a very long and conservative row to hoe to beat Romney who will gain momentum after what is looking like a big Iowa Victory.

President Picker Verdict: Romney wins Iowa big and will likely win New Hampshire as well. Romney v. Giuliani for the prize.

In fact it's clear to me already that Thompson will probably be out of this race soon - probably after what I predict will be a second to Romney result in Iowa and then a bad showing in New Hampshire and then lackluster showings in the South. Thompson had to come out like a lion and captivate the tried and true Republicans and he has failed to do that. In fact he's not really that captivating at all as a speaker, and loses soundly to Romney in the "Presidential Profile" department.

President Picker Verdict: Thompson gone in 4 months.

John McCain also seems to have lost any steam he had early on. Frankly I think he's just tired of all the BS. His candidacy in 2000 was a huge breath of fresh air and inspired many to rethink politics. But the GW juggernaut put an end to all that and McCain has been a poor mainstream player.

President Picker Verdict: McCain gone in 3 months.

It would seem that so far in the election it's the Democrats leading with livelier discussions and candidates who - at least superficially - appear to have long term visions for the country.

Ironically (or maybe inevitably) we see that discussions of both the leading Democrats and Republicans are steeped in intellectual mediocrity while many provocative and interesting ideas are coming from the fringe candidates like Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich. Like them or not, the founders would have wanted the spirited debaters to thrive in these contests, challenging our American experiment to do what it does best - change in steady and positive ways.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Republican Debate

Tonight, but not live, from that hotbed of the dead and dying part American industrial capitalism - Michigan - comes the Republican Presidential debate starring.....Fred Thompson who makes his first appearance "against" the others Republicans in the race for US President.

The debate is now over but we won't see it until later tonight on MSNBC.

Based on the early Buzz from New York Times and MSNBC (which is commenting on the darn thing and showing clips without running it until tonight!), Fred Thompson is the big loser here, having failed to show equality with the other front runners.

President Picker predicts that Giuliani and Romney will pull close in national polls after the Iowa Primaries which Romney will win.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

3rd Quarter Money Results expected soon

Money is the mother's milk of politics, and the 3rd quarter is historically a hard time to raise funds. So observers will be watching the upcoming money results carefully.

Richardson's reported about 5 million in third quarter 2007 and other Democrats and Republicans will be reporting soon.

It's now clear to President Picker that, barring an enormous scandal, Hilary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee in 2008. The Republican race is still up for grabs - President Picker sees Giuliani or Romney as the most likely winners.

CNN political ticker

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Democratic Debate - Russert wins!

Democratic Debate - Russert wins!

September 27th, 2007 by JoeDuck
Tim Russert’s questions in the Democratic debate tonight have been simply excellent, trying to get the candidates to make strong statements about various important aspects of American’s future,
The question of the night was to Gravell when Russert asked him about his business bankruptcy history and whether he could run the country better. Gravell, flustered, bragged that he’d basically only hurt the credit card companies. Gravell had no chance but I’d say this single question effectively killed his credibility.
Clinton, the clear leader, has been artfully dodging several of the complex questions. This is a good strategy for the leader to avoid creating “hit points” for other candidates to point to as the campaign heats up.
But with respect to “heating up” it looks like it ain’t gonna happen with the Dems. I think Edwards is close, and Obama is already running for Vice President with a Clinton candidacy.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Presidential Question Mashup - clever!

Yahoo's got an excellent way to compare answers from the Democratic presidential candidates (I think they'll have one for the Republicans also eventually). It's called the Presidential Mashup
and is working within the debate system. Check it out.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Thompson v Giuliani?

Fred Thompson just entered the race but is already a co-frontrunner in the national polls for the Republican nomination. President Picker still thinks that Mitt Romney will leap past both of these candidates after the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries in which Romney is doing very well thanks to a very aggressive campaign in those states.

That said, Thompson is clearly representing traditional Republican values where Giuliani sports a powerful "new Republican" message. It's going to be a fun race to watch.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Fred Thompson declares he's in the race for President

Tonight on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno Fred Thompson is declaring his candidacy for the Presidency of these United States. Newsweek's "Lazy like a Fox" byline comes to mind as Thompson talks slowly and in very general terms about his late candidacy, the other men in the Republican Race, and the Presidency.

My take is that Romney will soon be a fairly clear favorite over Thompson though Thompson's more conservative record and talk may keep him very viable as the Republican "on the right" in this race.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Presidential Polls

This site has a GREAT summary of many presidential polls for the 2008 election.

On the Democratic side it's pretty clear that Hilary Clinton will be the nominee. My take is that even with a minor scandal or major gaff Hilary would withstand anything Obama could throw her way, and he's shown himself to be inexperienced enough to scare away the core Democrats that are essential to a 2008 victory. Hilary could be derailed with a major scandal but it seems unlikely there are any big skeletons in the Clinton closet or we'd have seem them "outed" by now as the New Hampshire and Iowa primaries loom, perhaps within a few months.

The Republican field is still wide open in my opinion, though Mitt Romney would seem to be the likely winner of the Republican Primary. Giuliani is also a possibility but his record, quirky style, and personal baggage seem to me an overwhelming liability when competing against more mainstream Republican candidates. Thompson is more along the lines of the traditional Republican conservative but in this election that may actually be seen as a liability by moderate Republicans. Also, his young and beautiful wife, combined with recent sex scandals on the Republican side, could be a liability for a candidate who will have to play the "family values" card to be viable with the core Republican constituency, especially against Romney's squeaky cleanness. McCain has all but fallen victim to his combination of Iraq War support and several election gaffes. The media, once enamored with McCain's honest and freewheeling style, seems to have tired of him and this is almost a death sentence for a politician.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

President Picker not needed

I'm rethinking this blog in light of the simply overwhelming amount of information flowing about the current presidential campaign.

I think mainstream news ignorance and "news fatigue" has killed most of the quality details about the hugely significant stories of our time - for example the culture clashes of the "European/American" vs the Moslem world, the Iraq War, Israel, Poverty, Aids, Global health.

CNN and FOX on TV and some print news is replacing the important stuff with stories bout spats between candidates, the fairly inane YouTube Democratic debate, and other weak examinations of the candidates.

Hey, maybe this IS needed because at the least I can try to address how the candidates would deal with real issues rather than focusing on the imaginary, silly, spin issues?

CNN Ticker

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Online Advertising in Presidential campaigns is trivial

Here's a great summary of online ad spending by the presidential candidates except for the fact that it does not note how trivial thee levels of exposure is even for McCain who ran the most impressions.

Clinton, with under a million impressions, is spending perhaps a ten thousand total.
This low spend indicates that the online marketing people are very challenged with this new media. A spend of million dollars online would saturate the online world with the message because you don't need much targeting for a prez campaign.

Maybe they are holding back for strategic reasons but I'm guessing that they just don't get it. Big firms continue to dominate the "thinking" about how to run online campaigns, and big firms consistently have their clients waste money on foolish and stylish high CPM image based advertising rather than dramtically cheaper and more strategic pay per click and cheap image campaigns. There is a huge amount of inventory available online for massive branding campaigns like a candidate needs.

Unlike other products where you need a lot of targeting, a candidate for national office generally wants to talk to *everybody*. Even kids can have an indirect impact on election politics.

Given the jaw dropping sums about to be spent, I think we'll see the smart candidates work a lot more with online though agency ignorance of online marketing strategy may prevail in this realm.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Fact Checking from Annenberg Project is part of University of PA's Annenberg Project and is a helpful site if you want to follow up on campaign claims by candidates as well as other facts in question by the media.

Check it out and check those facts!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The best campaigns money can buy

The 2008 Presidential primaries are still far away but the money trains for the top candidates are steaming ahead full speed. Each quarter seems to bring a new campaign finance record, and quarterly totals for the candidates would have run *entire presidential campaigns* in all but about the past decade. has a great article about how online strategy could affect the election combined with some numbers reflecting support.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Clinton and Obama consolidate financial support in second quarter

The Hilary Clinton political juggernaut continues to move along powerfully, making it increasingly unlikely that a serious challenge to her candidacy will emerge. Obama's exceptional results raising money, outpacing Clinton in the second quarter of this year, have not translated into competitive poll numbers, though the race is still in very early stages.

One take is that Obama's enthusiastic early support seems to be transitioning from mainstream voters to a sort of "Obama fan club" that in some ways may even diminish his candidacy. The recent video "I've Got a Crush on Obama" is probably not the kind of online social networking that ultimately will favor Obama.

McCain Cash Flow troubles

The McCain campaign is clearly languishing, probably due to McCain's unpopular war stance but I also think because he has failed to capture the imagination of voters the way he did in past campaigns.

Given the low level of poll support (under 10% support among Republicans) it will be increasingly difficult to get donations and keep fueling the effort. I'm not even convinced he's really in this "to win" anymore.

Romney's Dog and Romney blog

An absurd story about Mitt Romney and "animal abuse" has remarkable news traction as it appears to be hopelessly misreported, especially the time frame (I thought this happened last week until I read the details!). The Romney family *over twenty years ago* had a dog that enjoyed riding in a kennel strapped to the roof of the family car. "Forcing" the dog to ride on the roof has been implied where it seems a lot more likely that the dog, Seamus, liked to ride on the roof during family trips.

This is probably an example of some sort of odd "hit job" by opponents.

Anne Romney addresses this over at the Romney blog, though probably too weakly given the attention this continues to get on TV, Time Magazine, and elsewhere. Stories like this are things people can emotionally latch onto and it's important that the campaign at least does more to point out the absurdity of the allegations of animal abuse. Even Tucker Carlson said that Romney's probably "lost his vote"!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Democratic Debate

The Democratic debate in New Hampshire is featuring:
Hilary Clinton, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, and Chris Dodd, and Mike Gravel.

Over at USA Today
they are live blogging the debate

The questions so far seem to focus on the basic American concerns of Iraq, Gas Prices, leadership, etc.

Unless I'm mistaken Hilary has been

CNN John King's highlight: Iraq disputes between Obama, Edwards, Clinton, Biden. Iraq as "the driving debate" in the left wing of the party. Larry King: "A lively 65 minutes" John Edwards with a strong presentation. Candy Crowley: Edwards is trying to "draw blood from the top candidates" Obama and Clinton. Hilary, in turn, trying to 'stay above the fray' as the front runner.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Campaign Blog? Romney Wins this race

Although (all?) the candidates have a blog presence, Romney's approach appears to be a clever combination of new media and old family values. Called "Five Brothers", this is a blog by the sons about the father. If there is anything new media loves it is "sincerity", and unless the brothers come across badly this is likely to be a much stronger social media approach than the canned sincerity of professionals managing the other blogs.

Is it too much to ask that the candidates themselves participate more actively online? We'll see more of that as the election continues, but I think all the candidates are missing an incredible opportunity to more fully immerse themselves into the online world. Edwards and Obama have profiles on Twitter but it's not clear who writes them which for me raises as many questions about the candidate as bonus points for jumping on the social media bandwagon.

Where's Ben Franklin when you need him? He would have loved the new media and probably would already have built more than a few new companies based on the efficiencies of the internet.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Republican Presidential Debate

MSNBC is hosting the first Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. Here, as in the Democratic debate, many are watching the top candidates to see if they falter or shine. Romney, McCain, and Giuliani appear to be those most likely to continue in this race until the end based on current polls and the substantial cash they have accumulated so far.

Based on the performances after about an hour of this debate it seems to me there have been no "home runs" or even any great quotable moments.

McCain has made his usual strong case for continued support for the Iraq War, adding that in his view the war before now had been "mismanaged". Giuliani cleverly weaved a complex but reasonable answer to the abortion issue. Most of the candidates state they are opposed to abortion and Roe v. Wade but Giuliani stated that the courts should decide the issue and women should have the right to choose to have an abortion despite he is personal "opposed" to abortion.

The fast and furious format is entertaining but I think it fails to capture much of the depth of the thinking of these guys, which appears remarkably similar on many issues despite the fact that they are trying to distance themselves from the competition.

Who won the debate? Off the top I'd suggest that Giuliani and McCain presented themselves much as they have for some time and their supporters, and voters somewhat new to the race, will view them favorably. Romney appeared somewhat off balance, answering more generally, as if he's spent far less time contemplating these issues. However Romney's looks and presence may play well with voters - he's arguably the most "presidential looking" of the crowd and in our very superficial society this edge can go a long way.

Conclusion? McCain by a slight edge over Giuliani, with Ron Paul as the most focused and articulate of the bunch.

First Democratic Presidential Debate

I missed blogging the Democratic Debate but will return with comments. Who would have thought that the races would begin so early?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Race is on for the President of the United States of America! started some time ago as a website devoted to information about the USA Presidential Election, but clearly a blog is the best venue for this project.

This from Wikipedia:
to be edited soon....

Senator Sam Brownback
Sam Brownback, born September 12, 1956 in Kansas, senior Senator from that state. In April 2005, the Associated Press reported that Brownback, who is little known outside his home state, "is using a network of social conservatives and Christian activists to raise his profile" in such battleground states as Iowa and New Hampshire. On December 4, 2006, Brownback announced that he would form an exploratory committee.[1] On January 20, 2007 Brownback officially announced his candidacy. [2]

Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts
Mitt Romney, born March 12, 1947 in Michigan is the former Governor of Massachusetts. Romney did not seek a second term as Governor and has made numerous trips to primary states such as South Carolina, Michigan, and New Hampshire during recent years. Romney is running on his record as co-founder of Bain Capital, the CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympics, and as Governor of Massachusetts. Romney also worked with Massachusetts Democrats to pass a healthcare plan for all citizens of Massachusetts, which to require individuals to purchase private, market-based insurance plans to have healthcare. Although he ran as a moderate for the office of Governor of Massachusetts and during his failed Senate bid in 1994, he supported more conservative positions as his term progressed. He requested the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court put a measure amending the Massachusetts Constitution to ban gay marriage on the 2008 ballot.

Romney filed paperwork forming an exploratory on January 3, 2007, the day he left the governor's office.[3]

On January 9, Romney raised $6.5 million in his first fundraiser, beating both Giuliani and McCain's fundraising efforts ($1 and $2 million respectively).

Romney has already received major endorsements, including that of former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert.

Romney officially announced his candidacy on February 13 at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan. [4] [5]

Representative Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter, born May 31, 1948 in Riverside, California, U.S. Representative from that state and former Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Hunter formally announced his presidential candidacy in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on January 25, 2007. He is known for his strong stance against illegal immigration, support for the U.S. military, and opposition to free trade agreements like North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization. [6] He introduced H.R. 552, The Right to Life Act, "to implement equal protection... for the right to life of

Official candidates

Senator Joe Biden
Joe Biden, born November 20, 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S. Senator from Delaware and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988, although he ceased active campaigning in 1987, before the first primaries. Biden first hinted that he might run in 2008 in a December 8, 2004 radio interview with host Don Imus, saying: "I'm going to proceed as if I'm going to run." Biden has repeatedly stated his intention to run, and did so as early as 21 March 2006. Biden's Federal Leadership PAC is "Unite Our States", which tracks Biden's public appearances and policy positions. On 7 January 2007 when asked by Tim Russert on Meet the Press "Are you running for President?" he responded, "I am running for President." He also said he plans to create an exploratory committee by the end of the month. [1][2][3] On January 31, 2007, he offically signed the papers with the FEC to run for president.

Senator Christopher Dodd
Christopher Dodd, was born May 27, 1944 in Connecticut and is a five-term U.S. Senator from that state. Dodd was reported to be a likely contender for the Democratic Vice President slot on John Kerry's ticket in 2004. In May 2006, Dodd said he has "decided to do all the things that are necessary to prepare to seek the presidency in 2008", including hiring staff, raising money and traveling around the country in the next few months to enlist support.[4] On Jan. 11, 2007, Dodd announced his Presidential candidacy on the "Don Imus in the Morning" radio show.[5]

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton, born October 26, 1947 in Illinois, U.S. Senator from New York and former First Lady of the United States. Clinton announced the formation of her exploratory committee on 20 January 2007 with a post on her website.[6] She has delivered several speeches which analysts say are intended to reach out to moderates. She has also been holding fundraising meetings, including meeting with women from Massachusetts, a key constituency of potential rival and 2004 nominee John Kerry. However, these activities are consistent with the lead up to a campaign for re-election to her Senate seat in 2006. Many Republicans appear to be hoping that Senator Clinton will run for President, presumably believing her to be a polarizing figure. If elected, Clinton would be the first woman president.

Clinton announced on January 20th 2007 that she will run in 2008 (the same day she announced the formation of an exploratory commitee). She has not yet filed all the official paperwork.

Senator Barack Obama
Barack Obama, born August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S. Senator from Illinois. A "draft Obama" movement began with his well-received keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Obama was the featured speaker at Iowa Senator Tom Harkin's annual steak fry, a political event favored by presidential hopefuls in the lead-up to the Iowa caucus. He was endorsed by talk show host Rachael Ray in 2006.[7] Various recent opinion polls have seen Obama's support rising, with him trailing only Hillary Clinton in several polls. If elected, he would become the first biracial and the first non-white president.

Obama announced on February 10, 2007 that he will run in 2008. He has not yet filed all the official paperwork.

Former Senator John Edwards
John Edwards, born June 10, 1953 in South Carolina, former U.S. Senator from North Carolina, candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and 2004 Democratic vice-presidential nominee. As a Presidential candidate, Edwards was famed for his populist message in his "Two Americas" Speech and also for his optimistic, positive attitude. This was evidenced by his refusal to attack his opponents. In the primaries, Sen. Edwards had strong come-from-behind showings in the crucial states of Iowa, Oklahoma, Virginia, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Georgia. He also won the North Carolina caucus and the South Carolina primary. Edwards has kept his Federal Leadership PAC, the One America Committee,[8] active to help Democrats across the nation win elections in the future. On February 5, 2005, Edwards spoke at the New Hampshire Democratic Party's fundraising dinner. On August 18, 2005, Edwards traveled to Waterloo, Iowa to deliver an address to the Iowa AFL-CIO, a potential key supporter in the Iowa caucus. On December 16, 2006, Democratic officials reported that Edwards has expressed his intention to run in 2008. [9] On December 26, 2006, Edwards announced his candidacy after a technical glitch launched his campaign website a day early.

Former Senator Mike Gravel
Mike Gravel, born May 13, 1930, in Springfield, Massachusetts. U.S. Senator from Alaska from 1969 to 1981 and an active candidate for Vice President in 1972. He was notable for advocating a guaranteed annual income, which he termed a "citizen's wage," of $5,000 per person, irrespective of whether the person worked. On April 13, 2006, Gravel announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. His policy announcements to date include support for direct democracy, FairTax and withdrawal from Iraq. His is considered a very longshot candidacy since former Sen. Gravel will be 78 years old at the time of the general election and will have been out of federal politics for almost three decades at the time of the election. Mike Gravel filed with the FEC in April according to various news sources.[10] [11] The FEC's site has listed his reports since July.[12]
  • U.S. Senator from Alaska: 1969–1981
  • Alaska State Representative: 1962-1966 (Speaker: 1965-1966)

Representative Dennis Kucinich
Dennis Kucinich, born October 8, 1946, Ohio Congressman and 2004 Democratic primary candidate. Kucinich got the second highest number of votes at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Kucinich threw his support behind John Kerry after losing the nomination, although a sizable number of Kucinich's delegates refused to follow suit. Dennis Kucinich is known for his opposition to the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act. His plan to end US involvement in the Iraq War replaces US troops with UN troops so that there is no loss of military support for the Iraqi people. He favors creating a Department of Peace. Kucinich is currently campaigning to end the war in Iraq by trying to cut off funding, and he opposes going to war in Iran. Kucinich has received many awards over his career praising his courage and his work for the peace movement. He is also a favorite among youth activists on the left. On December 12, 2006, Kucinich announced his candidacy at an event at Cleveland's City Hall.[13]

Former Governer Tom Vilsack
Tom Vilsack, born December 13, 1950, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, former Governor of Iowa, Chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council. Vilsack will be succeeded as governor by Iowa Secretary of State Chet Culver (D). Many suspected Vilsack was high on the list of potential running mates for John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential Election. He has recently been increasing his national exposure.[14][15] In 2005, Vilsack established Heartland PAC,[16]a political action committee aimed at electing Democratic Governors and other statewide candidates. Unlike the PACs of potential candidates, Heartland PAC is not a federal PAC and can not contribute to federal candidates. On November 9, 2006, Vilsack announced that he would be filing papers with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to run for President.[17]

John McCain

Rudy Giuliani

Barack Obama

Joseph Biden

Christopher Dodd

John Edwards North Carolina

Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa and

Representative Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York
Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico