Senator John McCain of Arizona, on the trail in Texas yesterday, is the subject of a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission by Democrats who seek to hold him to his pledge to accept campaign spending limits. (GERALD HERBERT/ASSOCIATED PRESS) February 2008.
"To some, McCain's financial tangle ironic"
By Charlie Savage, (Boston) Globe Staff, February 29, 2008
WASHINGTON - Former Federal Election Commission chairman Bradley Smith, columnist George Will, and a host of other conservatives have spent years criticizing Senator John McCain's push for further rules on the nation's campaign-finance system. Now, McCain's critics on the right have new ammunition: the senator's own woes with the FEC.
Yesterday, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, McCain's chief remaining opponent for the Republican presidential nomination, joined the firing line.
"He wrote these laws, and one of the reasons I think people need to continue this discussion and this debate is, I think, one of the worst things that's ever happened to American politics is the McCain-Feingold campaign finance act," Huckabee said during a conference call with reporters. "It has created more problems than it has solved, and it may very well be that the law that he pushed comes back to bite him."
In fact, McCain has been ensnared by a public-financing law that dates to the Watergate era - not the extra rules he championed in 2001 banning use of unregulated "soft money" to influence elections. His ongoing battle to free himself from his 2007 commitment to take matching funds and abide by a spending cap, critics say, exemplifies the kind of regulations that they hate and that McCain has worked with Democrats to impose.
"There are a lot of ironies to this," said Smith, who repeatedly clashed with the Arizona senator over campaign-finance regulations. "McCain has been such a stickler for years in calling out everybody who does exactly what he has done - saying that they are corrupt, they are finding loopholes, making end runs around the law, that the FEC is not aggressively enforcing the law."
And Will, another influential critic of the McCain-Feingold law, wrote yesterday that McCain's predicament - including Democrats' contention that McCain is bound by his pledge - is justified punishment "for his argument that restricting spending does not restrict speech."
Brian Rogers, McCain spokesman, declined to comment yesterday on the criticism. But Rogers said everything McCain has done "is ethical, legal, and proper in using his constitutional right to opt out of public financing."
Last year, when his campaign was floundering and nearly broke, McCain applied for public financing. Candidates who opt into the system get portions of their privately raised donations matched with taxpayer dollars, but agree to abide by an overall campaign spending limit. This year, the cap for the presidential primaries is about $54 million.
But earlier this month, after he became the GOP front-runner and donations began pouring into his campaign, McCain decided to withdraw from the public financing system, even though he had not yet received any public money and his campaign has already spent nearly $50 million. Staying in the system would be crippling. His campaign would not be able to pay for ads, mailings, polls, or travel until September, when the primary campaign officially ends with the party convention.
Critics pounced on the announcement, saying it was too late for McCain to back out. And David Mason, the Republican chairman of the FEC, told the candidate that only the commission can decide whether McCain can be released from the federal funding system. But the commission is unable to vote because an impasse in Congress has left it with too few members for a quorum.
As a result, McCain is in a bind. His campaign says that he has a right to declare himself out of the system without an FEC ruling and that he will feel free to spend more than the cap allows in coming months. But the dispute has cast a cloud over the self-styled election-finance reformer.
Federal law makes it a felony punishable by a $25,000 fine and up to five years in prison if a candidate who opts into taking part in public financing spends more than the accompanying cap.
Legal specialists say it is highly unlikely that the Justice Department would prosecute McCain for exceeding the cap. But the issue has created a public relations headache for McCain. The Democratic National Committee kept up the pressure this week, filing an FEC complaint arguing that McCain must remain in the spending-cap system.
The McCain campaign dismissed the complaint, but some legal scholars say the issues are not as clear-cut as the Arizona senator says. Although his campaign has not received any government checks, McCain last year used his qualification for matching funds to automatically get on the primary ballots in Ohio and Delaware, instead of taking the time - and expense - of gathering signatures. And in December, when his campaign took out a $1 million bank loan, it cited its eligibility to apply for public matching funds as potential collateral.
Still, some election law specialists question whether McCain should be heavily penalized for his apparent strategic blunder in opting into the financing system at an earlier point in the campaign. They noted that McCain would still have to follow the basic clean-election rules when collecting private donations, including individual-donor limits and disclosure requirements.
"You don't want a sense that the choice of president is hamstrung by . . . rules that somehow stack the deck in favor of one candidate against another," said Ned Foley, a professor of election law at Ohio State University.
And McCain has already been hurt by his FEC problems in one respect, said Rick Hasen, an election law specialist at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles: He has lost leverage over Senator Barack Obama in a dispute over whether both campaigns will abide by spending limits should they reach the general election.
Last year McCain and Obama struck a deal:If they faced each other in the general election, they would both commit to the public financing system and its spending cap of about $85 million during the general election season. Since then, it has become clear that Obama could probably raise far more money if he stays out of the system, giving him a big advantage.
In recent weeks McCain has been pressuring Obama to abide by his earlier promise, but Obama has demurred.
"Once this FEC issue with McCain arose, I think he lost the moral high ground," Hasen said.
Smith, a Republican, said McCain's status as nominee-in-waiting has given conservative skeptics of campaign-finance regulations mixed feelings about his troubles with the campaign finance system. Still, Smith acknowledged some satisfaction at the appearance that their old foe may have been caught trying to "game the system."
"This certainly runs afoul of the broader McCain project and rhetoric," Smith said. "If the average person can't sort out the details here, that is classically the petard on which John McCain has hoisted others for years. 'Oh, it's got to be corruption if there is all this money [being donated].' . . . And now he will be the victim of that a little bit."
"The path to John McCain's success"
March 5, 2008
Sept. 27, 1999: John McCain announces he will run for president.
March 9, 2000: Folds campaign, offers George W. Bush "best wishes" but no endorsement after a bitter defeat in South Carolina, where McCain was assailed in negative telephone calls.
Nov. 16, 2006: Files paperwork to form a presidential exploratory committee, calling on the GOP to return to common-sense conservatism.
April 1, 2007: Leads a Republican congressional delegation on a heavily guarded tour of a central Baghdad market and declares that a nearly seven-week-old security crackdown to pacify the Iraqi capital is working.
April 11, 2007: McCain's troubled presidential campaign eliminates some non-senior staff positions and cuts some consultants' contracts, all before he makes his bid official.
April 25, 2007: Formally launches campaign, which is already showing signs of trouble with lagging poll standings and poor fund-raising.
May 22, 2007: In Houston, McCain challenges other Republican presidential candidates to propose their own immigration legislation or stop criticizing the plan he's co-sponsoring.
June 25, 2007: McCain dismisses polls that show him slipping into single digits, arguing his campaign is going through the typical ups and downs.
July 2, 2007: McCain reorganizes campaign, cutting staff in every department, after reporting an abysmal $2 million cash on hand. McCain calls speculation that he could drop out of the race "ridiculous."
July 4, 2007: Makes sixth visit to Iraq, comes away with new resolve to press forward with presidential campaign.
July 10, 2007: Campaign manager Terry Nelson and chief strategist John Weaver resign. At least three other senior aides follow. In an e-mail to supporters, McCain vows to press on.
July 15, 2007: Campaign reports spending more than it raised from April through June, leaving McCain financially strapped with $3.2 million cash on hand and a $1.8 million debt.
Aug. 31, 2007: McCain announces plan for a September "No Surrender" tour to sell support for the war in the Iraq - and his weakened campaign.
Sept. 10, 2007: Ryan Crocker, US ambassador to Iraq, strongly suggests at a congressional hearing that the Bush administration's troop buildup in Iraq has prevented a debacle.
Oct. 4, 2007: McCain, fighting to get back with the Republican front-runners, raises $6 million in three months and reports $3.6 million cash on hand.
Jan. 8, 2008: McCain wins New Hampshire primary after losing the Iowa caucus.
Jan. 19, 2008: McCain wins in South Carolina.
Jan. 29, 2008: McCain wins Florida primary.
Jan. 30, 2008: Rudy Giuliani drops out of race, endorses McCain, a longtime friend.
Feb. 7, 2008: Mitt Romney, McCain's top rival, suspends his campaign.
Feb. 20, 2008: McCain says he "will not allow a smear campaign" to distract from his campaign as published reports question his ties to a lobbyist and imply a romantic relationship with her that he denies.
Yesterday: McCain clinches the Republican presidential nomination.
SOURCE: Associated Press
This week, Republican Presidential nominee Sen. John McCain is returning to New Hampshire for a "Thank You" rally in Exeter. New Hampshire for Health Care invites you to join us in congratulating Sen. McCain for securing the Republican nomination, while at the same time continuing to pressure him to fill in the gaps in his health care proposal.
Senator McCain's health care proposal has many gaps – gaps in ensuring access to quality, affordable health care coverage for every American, gaps in addressing disparities in insurance coverage, gaps in controlling spiraling health care costs, gaps in choices of doctors and health care plans.
In his nomination acceptance speech on March 4th, Sen. McCain said: "I will campaign to make health care more accessible to more Americans with reforms that will bring down costs in the health care industry without ruining the quality of the world's best medical care."¹
But we need a president who will ensure every American has access to quality, affordable health care.
One of the glaring omissions in Sen. McCain's health care proposal is a commitment to stop insurance companies from discriminating against individuals who have a pre-existing condition, like cancer survivors. Instead of preventing the insurance companies from picking and choosing only the healthiest people to provide coverage for, Sen. McCain has instead pushed for tax incentives.² We need our next president to stand up to the insurance companies – not give them tax giveaways for doing the right thing.
Senator McCain needs to fill in the gaps in his health care proposal immediately.
Sen. McCain needs to stand with working families – who make up 80% of the uninsured - and ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care. Join us tomorrow, Wednesday, and ask Sen. McCain to fill in the gaps on his health care proposal.
Who: Republican Presidential nominee Sen. John McCain
Where: Town Hall, 10 Front St., Exeter
When: Wednesday, March 12th at 2:00 PM
I'll Ask a Question! Call or e-mail organizer Tim McKernan, 227-0517, email@example.com
¹ http://www.johnmccain.com/, see Victory Speech.
² http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/News/Speeches/, see John McCain on Health Care, October 11, 2007.
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"Well, it's common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That's well known. And it's unfortunate."--Republican presidential candidate JOHN McCAIN, mistakenly suggesting cooperation between Iran and Al Qaeda during a trip to Jerusalem with Senator Joseph Lieberman
-The Boston Globe, Quotes of Note, March 29, 2008
"Republicans must back new GI bill"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Many of our young people who joined our military were told that their whole education bill would be paid for them when they left the services. However, many face the bleak reality that our government has turned their back on them.
Senators Jim Webb, a Virginia Democrat, and Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, have proposed a new GI Bill called "The Post -9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act, S. 22 & H. R. 2702)."
This bill would bring back "WW II-style standards" (provide full tuition, room and board). Fifty one senators have signed, including nine Republicans. John McCain, who claims to support our troops, has refused to sign the bill.
The time has arrived for McCain to show some leadership and convince other Republicans to stand behind our vets. Our government must start fighting hard for those who fought hard for us.
When Senator John McCain tells his life story to admiring crowds, he's drawing on his close collaboration with Mark Salter (left), who shaped the candidate's biography into a coherent campaign theme. (Gerald Herbert/Associated Press)
"Inventing John McCain: John McCain, maverick icon of American duty and patriotism, is as much a literary creation as a political one. Meet the author."
The Boston Globe, IDEAS, Sunday, April 13, 2008
MERIDIAN, Miss. - John McCain came all the way to a Victorian opera house at this old Southern railroad junction to ponder his ancestors.
Not far from an airfield named for his grandfather, on a stage bedecked with black-and-white family photos, McCain reflected on the notions of honor and courage and duty passed down through generations as he confessed to having "been an imperfect servant of my country for many years."
With this look backwards in search of meaning, McCain was reveling in his greatest political asset. Perhaps more than any other national candidate in recent memory, McCain has relied on the promise of a transcendent character guaranteed by personal experience, the reason he has been able to convince voters - especially those who disagree with him on key issues - of his ability to rise above partisanship and privilege, artifice and ambition.
This is a political project, but also a literary one, initiated by Mark Salter, the Arizona senator's closest aide and one frequently described as his alter ego, who for nearly two decades has made telling McCain's stories his own life's work. As coauthor of a pair of memoirs and nearly every considered word out of McCain's mouth, Salter has transformed his boss into a character worthy of literature, enlivening his inner conflicts and drawing out his motivations. Salter has given the blunt McCain a new voice as a reflective narrator of his own actions - made evident in the "imperfect servant" line, in which our protagonist earns our trust by acknowledging his flaw.
McCain was first elected to Congress as a war hero beneath the slogan "a name Arizonans are talking about"; his background as a decorated former prisoner of war made him a celebrity candidate with an instant resume for higher office. But it was Salter who found in McCain's life journey something greater: the organizing principle for a distinctive public identity.
That has become central to McCain's message as he girds to face Barack Obama, another candidate who uses an unusual biographical journey to vouch for an exceptional character capable of defying the conventional bounds of politics. Salter is preparing for a general-election battle that could be as much a clash of personal mythologies as one of ideologies.
"He has run entirely on his persona being different," Salter said after Obama's Super Tuesday victories in February. "It's important that we puncture that myth."
. . .
In 1973, shortly after his release from a Vietnamese prison, McCain wrote a long memoir of his nearly six years there for US News and World Report. It was a spare and direct account, more notable for McCain's recall of detail and chronology than any great insights gleaned from the episode. "I had a lot of time to think over there, and came to the conclusion that one of the most important things in life - along with a man's family - is to make some contribution to his country," McCain wrote.
For more than two decades, McCain offered little public reflection on the personal meaning he found in his military experience, even as he voted on issues of war and peace and became involved in policy related to Vietnam.
"People knew the POW story and that side of his life," said Torie Clarke, McCain's press secretary following his election to Congress in 1982. "We were trying to get a foundation on other issues."
But as McCain moved toward a presidential run, there was new interest in his biography. In 1997, New York-based agent Flip Brophy approached McCain with the idea of writing a multigenerational family memoir that linked McCain's story to that of his father and grandfather, both Navy admirals. McCain enlisted Salter, his chief of staff and primary speechwriter, to work with him on a proposal.
Salter, 53, who spent four years maintaining railroad tracks in his native Iowa before attending college and working for UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, had been hired by McCain in 1988 as a legislative aide. The senator, who had never previously relied on a speechwriter, bonded quickly with Salter over their common literary interests, especially Irish fiction, passing between them the short stories of William Trevor and novels of Roddy Doyle.
"I always believed that Mark is for John McCain the ideal collaborator because Mark can channel John McCain's voice," said Robert Timberg, who first met Salter while writing about McCain for "The Nightingale's Song," his 1995 book about Naval Academy graduates. "I sometimes joke that John McCain is really Mark Salter."
Salter was naturally drawn to a reexamination of McCain's "martial heritage," as the senator put it in Meridian. The son of a World War II and Korea veteran, Salter grew up playing with toy soldiers and reading Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos comic books. On his honeymoon, Salter visited French-Indian war sites.
As he wrote the proposal and then a manuscript based on interviews with McCain, Salter quickly identified an arc through the scattered plot points of McCain's life: the idea of patriotism as an inheritance that the protagonist would struggle to claim.
"It's not like it's a hidden story," Salter said in an interview. "It seemed to me a classic tale - about learning to think much larger about your place in the universe and not becoming that self-interested."
In "Faith of My Fathers," published in 1999 during his first presidential campaign, McCain's emergence from prison was elevated to a moment of revelation: only then did the aviator grasp the legacy of national service bequeathed to him by his military forebears.
"I had remembered a dying man's legacy to his son," McCain wrote, "and when I needed it most, I had found my freedom abiding in it."
That theme - of discovering individual purpose through a "cause greater than self-interest" - became central to McCain's self-description and echoed an ideological shift underway for McCain, who began identifying himself with a burgeoning "national greatness conservatism" movement.
In an agenda they unveiled in late 1997, William Kristol and David Brooks argued for a new patriotism grounded in admiration for an ambitious, idealistic federal government - holding up Theodore Roosevelt, the war hero turned domestic reformer, as a model. "At the time, McCain was swallowing whole Teddy Roosevelt biographies," said Salter.
"A lot of McCain's identity - the national greatness thing and the description of his life as a redemption tale, as an individual who realized there's an endpoint to individualism - all of that crystallized right around 1998," said Matt Welch, author of "McCain: The Myth of a Maverick," a critical biography. "He figured out a new way of thinking and a new set of policies and there's no question Salter was in the middle of that process."
. . .
As McCain claimed his party's nomination in February, Salter began sketching contrasts with Obama in a series of primary-night speeches written on borrowed laptops in the smoke-friendly hotel rooms where he regularly struggles to bestow the proper narrator's voice on McCain.
"I want a sense of great dignity and humility, which I think fits his self-image," said Salter, a senior campaign adviser who worked for much of the last year without pay, relying on royalties from his five books with McCain for income.
Salter, who serves also as McCain's spleen, had little patience for the frivolity he saw in the rallies and music videos that have marked Obama's candidacy, which he said demonstrated a "messianic complex" that stands in contrast with McCain's "much more humble conception" of identity's role in public life.
That became the basis of a new McCain critique of Obama that, in typical Salter fashion, was coded and oblique - and unfriendly to audience applause lines and broadcast sound bites - but nonetheless brutal in its caricature of Obama as jejune and vainglorious.
"When I was a young man, I thought glory was the highest ambition, and that all glory was self-glory," McCain read from a Teleprompter in Alexandria, Va., after winning that state's primary in February. "I discovered that nothing is more liberating in life than to fight for a cause that encompasses you, but is not defined by your existence alone."
Salter's prose, ornate with muscular abstractions and heavy use of irony - "a classical voice," said Jonathan Karp, the book editor responsible for all the Salter-McCain collaborations - is the opposite of McCain's vaunted "straight talk" of clipped sentences, often artless and austere.
"It is a softer, more inclusive and sophisticated voice," Philip Meyer, a professor at Vermont Law School who specializes in legal writing. "These sentences are longer. And this voice - this language - does not seem to be available to him when he not delivering prepared text."
At the end of March, McCain launched a weeklong "Service to America" tour, a Salter-curated circuit of stops through the stations of McCain's life, including his Virginia high school, the US Naval Academy, and several military bases where he served. At each, McCain dipped into the Salter autobiographical canon for tales, often at once self-deprecating and ennobling, about his search for meaning through patriotic devotion.
With the tour, Salter said, "we wanted people to understand why he is who he is," invoking the cautionary tale of Senator John F. Kerry, a decorated veteran whose biographical narrative was muddied by a long legislative career when he ran for president in 2004.
"Kerry couldn't make it work. People had trouble matching up the Swift Boat skipper with the contemporary politician - they didn't see the arc. They didn't see that he was the same guy as 30 or 40 years ago," said Salter. "With McCain, they can see it."
With Obama offering a competing autobiographical narrative to McCain's - a man who found his own purpose and inheritance through service to others as a community organizer - Salter has been forced to cast his longtime protagonist in relief against a new literary foil.
"I do not seek the presidency on the presumption that I am blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save my country in its hour of need," McCain said in the Alexandria speech.
Speaking for himself, Salter is less circumspect in his critique of Obama. "There's this campaign thematic of his: 'We're the ones we've been waiting for,' " Salter said. "It's the sense that 'You can prove yourself, America, and vote for me' - and that is antithetical to the McCain message."
Sasha Issenberg is a reporter in the Globe's Washington bureau. His book, "The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy," will be released this week in paperback.
In this February file photo, Sen. John McCain accepts the endorsement of the Rev. John Hagee, a Texas televangelist. McCain and Hagee parted ways yesterday after inflammatory remarks Hagee made about the Holocaust surfaced.
"McCain rejects Hagee’s support after preacher’s Hitler comments surface"
By Associated Press, Friday, May 23, 2008, www.bostonherald.com, 2008 Pres. Campaign
UNION CITY, Calif. - Republican John McCain on Thursday rejected endorsements from two influential but controversial televangelists, saying there is no place for their incendiary criticisms of other faiths.
McCain rejected the months-old endorsement of Texas preacher John Hagee after an audio recording surfaced in which the preacher said God sent Adolf Hitler to help Jews reach the promised land. McCain called the comment "crazy and unacceptable."
He later repudiated the support of Rod Parsley, an Ohio preacher who has sharply criticized Islam and called the religion inherently violent.
McCain issued a statement Thursday afternoon announcing his decision about Hagee.
"Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them. I did not know of them before Reverend Hagee’s endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well," he said.
Later, in Stockton, he told reporters: "I just think that the statement is crazy and unacceptable."
Then in an interview with The Associated Press, McCain said he rejected Parsley’s support, too.
"I believe there is no place for that kind of dialogue in America, and I believe that even though he endorsed me, and I didn’t endorse him, the fact is that I repudiate such talk, and I reject his endorsement," McCain told the AP.
Hagee had sparked controversy since the San Antonio pastor endorsed McCain on Feb. 27 shortly before the Texas presidential primary. Parsley’s views were aired Thursday in an ABC News report.
McCain actively courted Hagee, who leads a megachurch with a congregation in the tens of thousands and has an even wider television audience. Former GOP presidential rivals also sought Hagee’s backing.
Hagee has referred to the Roman Catholic Church as "the great whore" and called it a "false cult system." He also has linked Hitler to the Catholic church, suggesting it helped shape his anti-Semitism. And Hagee said Hurricane Katrina was God’s retribution for homosexual sin.
McCain has faced a barrage of criticism over Hagee, with some comparing the situation to the controversy Democrat Barack Obama faced over the views of his longtime and now former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
McCain tried Thursday to draw a distinction between the Obama-Wright connection and his own relationships with Parsley and Hagee, saying Hagee was not his pastor.
"My church I attend is North Phoenix Baptist Church; my pastor and spiritual guide is Pastor Dan Yeary," McCain said. "I’ve never been to Pastor Hagee’s church or Pastor Parsley’s church. I didn’t attend their church for 20 years. I’m not a member of their church."
Parsley did not return a message for comment left after business hours at World Harvest Church in suburban Columbus.
Obama, who was campaigning in Florida, said that in national politics it’s easy to find people who have said or done offensive things.
"John McCain has to deal with Hagee, who said something that is mind-boggling. I don’t attribute those statements to John McCain. Nobody thinks McCain believes that stuff," Obama said.
Until now, McCain had tried to distance himself from Hagee’s views but had not rejected the endorsement.
"I’m glad to have his endorsement," he said on ABC’s "This Week" in April. "I condemn remarks that are, in any way, viewed as anti-anything."
The Arizona senator has said he sought Hagee’s support because the pastor, like himself, is a strong supporter of Israel.
The formation of Israel was at the heart of the remarks that prompted McCain to reject Hagee’s support. The comments came in a sermon Hagee gave in the late 1990s, an audio recording of which was posted last week on the liberal blog Talk to Action and reported by The Huffington Post, another liberal blog.
In the sermon, Hagee said, "Then God sent a hunter. A hunter is someone with a gun, and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter. ... How did it happen? Because God allowed it to happen. Why did it happen? Because God said, ’My top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel.’"
Hagee tried to repair the damage by apologizing to Catholics in a letter released just last week. Saying he had emphasized the darkest chapters in the history of Catholic and Protestant relationships with Jews, Hagee wrote, "I want to express my deep regret for any comments that Catholics have found hurtful."
On Thursday, Hagee issued a new statement saying he was weary of the controversy and was withdrawing his endorsement.
Hagee said critics are "grossly misrepresenting my position on issues most near and dear to my heart."
"I am tired of these baseless attacks and fear that they have become a distraction in what should be a national debate about important issues," Hagee said. "I have therefore decided to withdraw my endorsement of Senator McCain for president effective today, and to remove myself from any active role in the 2008 campaign."
The other pastor, Parsley, has described Islam as an "anti-Christ religion" and the Muslim prophet Muhammad as "the mouthpiece of a conspiracy of spiritual evil," according to ABC News.
Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/2008/view.bg?articleid=1095829
"Cindy McCain had $6 million income in 2006"
By Jim Kuhnhenn, Associated Press Writer, May 24, 2008
WASHINGTON --Cindy McCain, who two weeks ago said she would never make her tax returns public, revealed Friday that she had a total income of more than $6 million in 2006.
The presidential campaign of her husband, Republican John McCain, released the top two summary pages of her 2006 tax return, eager to avoid making her earlier refusal an issue in the contest.
The documents show that Mrs. McCain, who files her taxes separately from her husband, paid more than $1.7 million in federal income taxes -- a tax rate of more than 28 percent. She reported nearly $570,000 in itemized deductions.
McCain's campaign said she had received an extension on her 2007 tax returns and aides said it is likely she would make those public when they are filed.
The Arizona senator released his own tax return last month, reporting a total income of $405,409 in 2007 and $84,460 in federal income taxes.
McCain's two Democratic rivals -- Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton -- released information about their taxes earlier. Both Obama and Clinton file their taxes jointly with their spouses, offering more detail of each family's wealth and income.
Obama and his wife, Michelle, reported making $4.2 million in 2007, while the Clintons reported $20.4 million in income.
Confined to only the summary pages, her released returns offer limited information. She listed $4.5 million in income from a broad category that includes rental real estate, royalties, partnerships and trusts. She also reported nearly $300,000 in salary income, more than $280,000 in dividends, and more than $740,000 in capital gains.
Heiress to a large Arizona beer distributorship, Cindy McCain's worth has been estimated at more than $100 million. Her assets, as listed in McCain's personal financial disclosure, are vast. But presidential and senatorial financial disclosures only require assets to be listed in broad ranges, and many of hers are valued at simply "over $1 million."
Last week, she sold off more than $2 million in mutual funds whose holdings include companies that do business in Sudan. John McCain has been a critic of the violence in that African nation.
Aides said that disclosing only the summary pages had precedent, pointing to tax information made public in 2003 by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.
In an interview aired on NBC's "Today" on May 8, Cindy McCain said she had no intention of making her returns public.
"You know, my husband and I have been married 28 years and we have filed separate tax returns for 28 years. This is a privacy issue. My husband is the candidate," Cindy McCain, wife of Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting John McCain, said in an interview aired on NBC's "Today" on Thursday.
Asked if she would release her tax returns if she were first lady, she said: "No."
Her response brought a prompt demand from Democrats for the McCains to be more open about their finances. Obama and Clinton have released tax information dating back to 2000. The Clintons also released their tax returns while Bill Clinton was president.
The McCain's have been much more limited in their disclosures.
"It is laughable for the campaign to release so little information and say they are being transparent," said Karen Finney, the communications director for the Democratic National Committee. "This is another indication that John McCain is not serious when he says he wants to run a transparent campaign, and a disturbing sign that a vote for John McCain is a vote for four more years of secrecy."
John S. McCain with his first wife, Carol, and son Doug, arriving in Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida in March 1973.
"First term shaped McCain's identity: Local agenda was wellspring"
By Sasha Issenberg, (Boston) Globe Staff, May 30, 2008
TEMPE, Ariz. - The first memo that John McCain received from his new consultants before running for Congress was filled with instructions that did not quite rise to the level of strategy: make sure to register to vote, obtain an Arizona driver's license, and open a bank account in the state.
"To achieve your immediate goal of establishing yourself in the community, you should join at least one veterans' organization and one service organization such as the Kiwanis or the Jaycees," Jay Smith and Mark Harroff advised their client on April 13, 1981. "The last step in this initial phase is to join a church, as well as its men's auxiliary."
McCain, a 45-year-old former Navy officer and decorated prisoner of war, moved to Arizona - home to his new wife, Cindy, a Phoenix beer heiress - with little more than a plan to run for Congress. McCain's inaugural campaign and his first, low-profile term in Congress were crucial to the formation of his political identity, according to a review of McCain's congressional papers made available to the Globe.
Many of the issues McCain first encountered then have stayed with him as a presidential candidate a generation later. He allied himself with environmentalist and immigrant causes popular among Democrats, while showing little zeal for social issues, such as abortion, dear to many Republicans. When it came to national security, McCain feared repeating the quagmire of Vietnam - and believed earning public support was crucial to military success abroad.
Far from today's rebellious, self-described maverick who rails jokingly against Washington as the "City of Satan," McCain introduced himself to voters in 1982 as a Capitol insider, based on his three years as the Navy's Senate liaison.
Calling himself "no stranger to the ways of Congress," McCain entered the House in January 1983 as a cautious establishmentarian whose dissents from Republican orthodoxy emerged from a modest and parochial sense of duty: representing his district.
"We had a cluster of ideological candidates, but I wouldn't have said he was one of them," said Nancy Sinnott Dwight, a former executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, who first met with McCain, Smith, and Harroff in early 1981 for lunch on Capitol Hill.
McCain won the 1982 primary by six points, and glided through an easy general election, already beginning to look ahead to the Senate seat that Barry Goldwater indicated he would vacate in 1986. The terms of the $775-per-month lease McCain signed for an office in Tempe after his first election made the timeline clear: Lawyers added a clause saying McCain could renew for two 2-year terms.
"He started out wanting to be elected to the House of Representatives. And once he got there he very much wanted to become a United States senator," said Smith, now a Virginia-based consultant. "I feel certain that when he entered politics he did not have an issues agenda. He just wanted to serve; he felt he was qualified to serve, and that if he was elected, good things would happen."
McCain's ran successfully for the presidency of the Republicans' freshman class, and his maiden speech on the House floor in January of 1983 suggested he expected to feel at home in the institution. McCain read an excerpt from Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff" about the feeling a young man had finding "himself all at once enclosed in a fraternity" when he joined the insular and elite world of the space program.
McCain had stumbled into a generational conflict underway in the House: led by Newt Gingrich, a cadre of young upstarts rejected the chamber's tradition of collegial deal-making and turned to aggressive methods to undermine the Democratic majority.
McCain sided with the party's old guard - exhibiting "maturity and probably a little bit of caution," according to Dwight - by declaring "a fine line between allowing yourself to be run over by the Democratic leadership and impeding the House's legislative action."
McCain had previously exhibited little interest in partisan politics. In Florida, where he had been stationed at military bases after returning from Vietnam, McCain had voted in only three elections during his seven years as a registered voter.
He skipped the 1976 general election and missed two opportunities to vote for the man he later described as his hero, Ronald Reagan, in the 1976 and 1980 primaries.
Although McCain today credits Reagan, whom he befriended after returning from Vietnam, with having drawn him into politics as "a foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution," he initially drew some distance from the first-term president.
During his campaign, McCain's advisers shared worrisome poll data about Reagan's unpopularity with voters. Speaking on behalf of the freshman Republican class, McCain declared to the Washington Times, "I don't think anyone will ever call us 'Reagan's Robots,' as was depicted of the previous class."
That September, though he later wrote it was "not easy for me to disagree with the president," McCain opposed Reagan's request for authorization to deploy Marines to Lebanon, warning of a potential quagmire.
While McCain's voting record was reliably conservative - he generally pushed for a muscular Cold War defense, tougher penalties for federal crimes, and fiscal restraint - he was not innately suspicious of government, an attitude that continues to rankle Republican peers. Shortly after taking office, McCain told representatives of the League of Women Voters that a critical element of national security would be " 'National Will' - the importance of public opinion which supports public policies," as a league official put it in her notes.
McCain, however, had never been "called upon to take stands on specific issues," according to Smith.
A draft version of a 1982 candidate questionnaire completed for the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, an influential conservative group, showed McCain to be undecided on many of the questions on which the group asked for his position - including such high-profile concerns as a balanced-budget amendment and whether women should serve in combat (McCain eventually supported both policies).
In an interview last fall, McCain acknowledged that "when I was in the military I didn't think a lot about" the controversial moral issues that were beginning to divide his party. McCain's polling demonstrated that "abortion is not considered an important issue, not linked to congressional race," according to notes from a campaign staff meeting in early 1982.
Local concerns dominated McCain's focus, and tended to draw him farthest from his party.
Once elected, McCain made the unusual move of placing his chief of staff, Grant Woods, in Tempe instead of on Capitol Hill, and McCain returned to Arizona weekly, often missing votes. "How can we be present in Washington around the clock and at the same time fulfill our commitment to remain close to our districts?" McCain wrote in a brief essay, "The Job of a Congressman Requires Redefining."
To focus on land and water issues important to Southwestern states, McCain sought a seat on the Interior Committee, then chaired by Congressman Mo Udall, a liberal Democrat from Tucson who McCain now identifies as an early mentor.
One of McCain's first legislative successes had him assuming a cause popular among local environmentalists: a bill banning helicopter flights over the Grand Canyon.
"It was kind of, 'we'll take each issue as they come along' and I'll decide what the position is. He didn't come with a preset agenda," said Smith, noting that McCain recognized the political value of such improvisation. "If you're doctrinaire on every kind of issue, you're not very interesting and you're not appealing."
McCain made gestures of outreach to two Arizona minorities whose causes were rarely taken up by Republicans. He visited each of the 15 Native American reservations in his district and undertook legislative efforts to address alcohol abuse among their residents. In addition, McCain joined the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at the invitation of Bill Richardson, a New Mexico Democrat, and voted against a controversial 1984 bill that would have cracked down on employers of illegal immigrants; McCain's literature said it would "discriminate against Hispanics."
His time in the district allowed McCain to draw a series of influential backers, including Charles Keating, a banking mogul whose patronage led years later to ethics charges (eventually dismissed) that McCain had performed favors for him. In addition to raising his own campaign funds from Keating - a total of $112,000 over McCain's career - during his first term McCain also solicited him on behalf of a colleague, Representative Jim Kolbe, and a conservative political action committee that had aided McCain, Americans for Constitutional Action.
"Of the many things we have to be grateful for in this world, the friendship of the Keating family is certainly among the most meaningful," McCain wrote Keating in late 1983.
In a safe Republican district, McCain had no serious opposition for reelection in 1984 and began to prepare for the Senate race. "A top priority for 1984 is to begin to assemble an organization statewide," Smith wrote in a memo to Woods. Smith pushed McCain to carry a notebook as he traveled outside his district, to record the names of supporters. At campaign headquarters, the information made its way onto a map eventually pockmarked with colored pushpins. Each one marked an Arizona town with "McCain people."
JOHN MCCAIN: WRONG ON HEALTH CARE
"John McCain’s Health Care Plan: Making a Bad Problem Worse"
Every American family struggling to keep up with the rising cost of health care
knows that the current system isnʼt working – itʼs time to build a new, American
health care system in which every man, woman and child in this country has
quality, affordable coverage they can count on.
We can no longer sit back and do nothing. But John McCainʼs plan is worse
than doing nothing -- his plan would actually make it harder for Americans to get
coverage, it would jeopardize quality by eroding regulations that protect
patients, and it would do little to prevent the continuing escalation of costs.
McCainʼs Plan Would Make it Harder to Get Health Insurance
Most Americans get their health care coverage through their employer. But, as
costs have steadily increased, more and more businesses are declining to offer
health coverage to their workers, or setting premiums too high for employees to
afford it. In 2006, fewer than half of all small businesses offered health care
coverage to their employees; and overall, the percentage of all employers who
offer coverage to employees dropped more than 9 percent, from 69% in 2000 to
59.7 in 2006. [http://www.kff.org/insurance/7672/upload/Summary-of-Findings-EHBS-
John McCainʼs plan would make this problem even worse by discouraging
employers from providing coverage and leaving workers to fend for
themselves on the individual market.
Under McCain’s plan “The existing tax break for employer sponsored
insurance would be eliminated, taking a step away from the work-based
model in place for the last half century and toward an individual market.” [Wall
Street Journal, 10/11/2007]
The New York Times reported that McCain “would end the long-standing tax
exemption on health benefits paid by employers.” [New York Times, 3/02/2008]
Millions of workers could be worse off under McCain’s plan to replace taxfree
employer-based coverage with tax credits. McCain’s tax credit would
be worth $2,500 to individuals and $5,000 to families, but the average cost
of an individual policy offered through employers was $4,479, and the
average cost of a family policy was $12,106 in 2007. [www.kff.org] Millions of
people with adequate coverage today would be forced into inferior
coverage, forced to pay more, or denied coverage altogether if their health
status makes them unattractive to insurers in the open market.
Health policy experts say this will make it harder for people to get coverage
– resulting in more uninsured Americans.
When President Bush proposed a similar policy in 2007, many feared the
plan would “prompt more employers to drop health coverage and offer
employees an immediate increase in wages to buy coverage on the
individual market. But those plans tend to be more expensive, less
comprehensive and harder to get for consumers who are already sick.”
[Washington Post. 1/25/2007]
A recent study showed that “nearly 9 of 10 people who explored obtaining
coverage through the individual market never bought a plan, citing
difficulties finding affordable coverage or being turned down.” [Commonwealth
M.I.T. economist Jonathan Gruber estimated that the number of uninsured
would increase because fewer people could afford to buy coverage in the
individual market than the number who would lose coverage due to
employers who stop offering it due to changes in the tax treatment of
employer-paid coverage.[Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 2/16/2006]
“…McCain’s plan has no guarantee that people could get insurance, and no
requirement for people to do so. McCain believes his plan would make
insurance more affordable, which would bring it within reach of many more
families. But many critics say that failing to require insurance companies to
provide coverage could leave millions of people without affordable medical
care.” [The Boston Globe, 4/03/2008]
Whatʼs more, those people who need coverage most – seniors and people
with pre-existing conditions – would find it even more difficult to get
In a plan like McCain’s for individual coverage, it would be “difficult for older,
sicker people to find affordable coverage or, in some cases, any coverage at
all.” [Wall Street Journal, 6/7/07]
Among the central criticisms of moving away from an employer-based
system “is the concern that insurance companies would ‘cherry pick’ by
insuring only healthier people, or by charging much higher rates to more
vulnerable people – like those with chronic diseases.” [New York Times, 8/1/07]
The Boston Globe: “When Senator John McCain unveiled his health care
proposal last fall, a journalist asked whether the Arizona senator’s battle
against skin cancer would make him sympathetic to the idea of requiring that
insurance companies provide coverage to people with preexisting
conditions. McCain flatly rejected the idea. ‘That would be mandating what
the free enterprise system does,’ McCain said.” [The Boston Globe, 4/03/2008]
Under the McCain proposal, health insurers “wouldn't have to cover preexisting
conditions like melanoma and breast cancer,” Elizabeth Edwards
said at the annual meeting of the Association of Health Care Journalists in
Arlington, Va. Edwards, who has breast cancer, said that, under the McCain
proposal, health insurers could deny coverage to both her and McCain, who
has received treatment for melanoma. [Los Angeles Times, 3/30/08]
McCainʼs plan forces older, sicker people into state high-risk pools where
they will STILL have trouble getting coverage.
On April 28, McCain proposed giving states $7 billion to encourage the creation
of high-risk insurance pools for sicker people who are turned down for
But 33 states already have high risk pools, and insurers are permitted to
impose long waiting lists and exclude pre-existing conditions in 30 of them.
Instead of spreading the cost of covering the sick and elderly across a broad
pool, high-risk pools fail to attract healthy people – so premiums are
extremely volatile and remain unaffordable for many people. [www.kff.org]
In contrast to the plans offered by Senators Obama and Clinton, McCain’s
plan would let insurance companies refuse coverage to people with
preexisting conditions. [Wall Street Journal, 6/7/07; New York Times, 8/1/07; The
Boston Globe, 4/03/2008]
McCainʼs Plan Would Jeopardize Quality Care Standards
John McCain has consistently said he wants to bypass state regulations that
make sure that patients receive the best quality care possible. McCain’s plan
would allow insurance companies to bypass patient protections passed by
other states, including emergency care, which is required by 44 states.
State protections that would be overridden include:
Emergency Room Care (currently required by 44 states)
Direct Access to OB/GYN (44 states)
Diabetes (47 States)
Colorectal Cancer Screening (23 States)
Mental Health Parity (45 States)
Post-Mastectomy Breast Reconstruction (33 States)
Off-Label Prescription Drug Use (36 States)
Chiropractors (46 states)
Clinical Trials (20 States) [US Newswire, 10/11/2007]
By allowing insurance to be sold across state lines, McCain would deregulate
state insurance consumer protection laws; insurers would be free to reduce
coverage and raise rates with little worry.
This provision to allow residents to purchase health insurance across state lines
would allow companies to shift operations to states with weaker consumer
protection laws. McCain has said that the provision would increase competition
among health insurers and reduce costs. However, as Elizabeth Edwards has
pointed out, “Hard-fought state-by-state protections would be lost” under it. She
added, “They mask this proposal as a cost-saving technique. This is giving
insurance companies a pass.” [Los Angeles Times, 3/30/08]
McCain’s Plan Does Nothing to Control Escalating Health Care Costs – and
Could Make Costs Increase
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, insurance premiums rose 78
percent between 2000 and 2006. During that same time period, wages only
rose 19 percent. But John McCain’s plan does nothing to stop the cost of health
care from continuing to rise out of control. [Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research and Educational Trust, Employer Health Benefits 2007 Annual Survey]
McCainʼs plan includes no cost-control mechanisms, and instead would
shift more costs onto families.
With regard to a similar plan that would provide tax deductions “for families
who use the money to buy insurance in the marketplace instead of getting it
through employers … health-care policy experts were skeptical … saying it
will be hard to entice people to leave employer-based programs and also
difficult to push marketplace prices down so much that the uninsured can
jump in.” [Newsday, 8/01/2007]
People with private coverage bought in the individual market are most at risk
for high financial burden—more than half spent 10% or more of their income
on health care in 2005. Nearly three in five people who sought coverage in
the individual market had difficulty finding a plan they could afford, and one
in five were denied coverage, charged a higher premium, or had a specific
health condition excluded from coverage. [Testimony of Diana Rowland of the
Kaiser Family Foundation before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health,
Leaving tens of millions of Americans uninsured perpetuates cost shifting,
contributing to higher premiums for the insured. One analysis estimated that
each family pays an extra $922 in premiums to fund uncompensated care.
This creates a vicious cycle that results in more uninsured Americans. It also
limits the potential of policies that could lower the cost trajectory, such as
widespread use of effective prevention and management of chronic disease.
According to the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund, McCain’s proposals to
deregulate insurance markets could actually drive up health insurance
administrative costs as insurers spend more on marketing and underwriting
to attract healthy risks and avoid those with pre-existing conditions.
Currently, Americans pay nearly six times as much per capita on
administrative health costs as residents of peer nations. This would likely
increase with a shift to the individual market, where administrative costs
range from 25 percent to 40 percent compared to 10 percent for group
coverage. Shifting funds from self-insured to fully-insured plans would
increase insurers’ power and most likely their profits. New administrative
costs would be generated in the banking industry to manage health savings
accounts (HSAs) opened in conjunction with high-deductible health plans:
One analysis estimated that the cost of financial fees could be over $5 billion
over the next five years.
John McCain: A Record of Apathy, Ignorance, and Health Care Cuts
It should come as no surprise that John McCain’s health care plan would make
the health care crisis worse. After all, McCain has a long record of opposing the
health care programs that have provided needed health care coverage to
seniors, children, and low-income families.
As a candidate for President, McCain has largely ignored health care for
much of his campaign.
The New York Times reported, “John McCain, running largely on Iraq and
national security, has not said anything substantial about health care, nor
has he even included it among issues listed on his campaign Web site.” [New
York Times, 9/23/2007]
McCain admitted having a poor understanding of health care policy.
In 2006, McCain said that while he has a good handle on foreign policy, he
intends to learn more on domestic issues, including economics, tax policy,
Paid for by SEIUCOPE. SEIUCOPE.ORG.
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.
and health care. “I’m going to have to be smarter on some issues than I am
now.” [New York Sun, 3/07/2006]
McCain opposed health care coverage for nearly 10 million children.
McCain voted against SCHIP legislation, which would have provided health
coverage to nearly 10 million children whose parents can’t afford insurance.
[US Senate LIS, S. Amdt. 510 to S. Con. Res. 21, Roll Call 105, 3/23/2007]
When the SCHIP bill passed Congress, McCain urged President Bush to
veto the legislation: “another one he should veto is the SCHIP program...”
“I want to keep health-care costs down until I get sick, and then I don’t give a goddamn!”
- John McCain in Vanity Fair, February 2007
The Boston Globe Online
'Willie Horton' ad creator takes on Obama
June 9, 2008
On a website he calls ExposeObama.com, Floyd G. Brown, the producer of the "Willie Horton" ad that helped defeat Michael Dukakis in 1988, is preparing an encore.
Brown is raising money for a series of ads that he says will show Barack Obama to be out of touch on an issue of fundamental concern to voters: violent crime. One spot already on the Internet attacks the presumptive Democratic nominee for opposing a bill while he was an Illinois legislator that would have extended the death penalty to gang-related murders.
"When the time came to get tough, Obama chose to be weak. . . . Can a man so weak in the war on gangs be trusted in the war on terror?" the video asks.
Though crime has taken a back seat in the presidential race to the war in Iraq and the economy, some Republicans think that Obama is vulnerable on this issue and hope to inject it into the campaign.
Obama and the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain, have some sharply different views on crime, but the job of president has little to do with day-to-day law enforcement.
Brown and GOP strategists say such ads stimulate a debate on crime and punishment and may provide a window into the morality of a candidate.
LOS ANGELES TIMES
"Democrats' focus turns to running mate choice"
Democrats yesterday began working to heal wounds from the bruising primary season and speculated about Barack Obama's vice presidential choice.
Hillary Clinton, who bowed out of the campaign Saturday and threw her support to the Illinois senator, has strong support from some in the party. "No one brings to a ticket what Hillary brings," Senator Dianne Feinstein of California said on ABC's "This Week."
Feinstein, who hosted a meeting between Obama and Clinton on Thursday night, cited Clinton's strength among women and working-class Democrats.
Clinton has asked her supporters not to mount a vice presidential effort for her.
Her communications director, Howard Wolfson, said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that Clinton "will do whatever she can and whatever she is asked."
"McCain ad asserts his hatred of war: Senator shifts tone to draw moderates"
By Sasha Issenberg, (Boston) Globe Staff, June 11, 2008
WASHINGTON - John McCain, who credits his defiant defense of the Iraq war for his comeback victory in the Republican primaries, is using his first major television ad of the general election to show his dovish side.
"Only a fool or a fraud talks tough or romantically about war," McCain says over mournful strings against a bleak backdrop, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. "I hate war, and I know how terrible its costs are."
It is a far different tone than McCain took during the primaries, when he launched a "No Surrender" tour to highlight his involvement in the Bush administration's "surge" strategy in Iraq. A high-profile ad then used McCain's credentials as a prisoner of war to vouch for him as he fierily exhorted a crowd to "Stand up. We're Americans. We're Americans and we'll never surrender; they will!"
In his latest ad, which is on the air in 10 states and is to start on national cable today, McCain does not mention Iraq or Iran, areas where he has tried to draw stark policy contrasts with Democrat Barack Obama, and says only that "I'm running for president to keep the country I love safe." McCain's background is used to introduce him not as a relentless combatant, but a reticent one.
"Because he's so well-known as a warrior, as a prisoner of war, as a hawk on foreign policy, somebody who does not know him well might think he would err on the side of using military force," said Charlie Black, a McCain adviser. "And nothing could be further from the truth."
The ad, in the view of some political analysts, is evidence of McCain's defensiveness about being portrayed by Obama as a warmonger - and also an example of the tremendous opportunities his unique biography affords him to assert distance from an unpopular administration's handling of Iraq.
"To me, the ad is much more playing off Bush than playing off Obama," said Jeremy Varon, a historian at Drew University in Madison, N.J., who has studied antiwar movements. "The point of this is for McCain to say: 'I'm very different from my predecessor even if I want to fight the same war.' "
That turn marks a move by McCain not only to distance himself from a fellow Republican as he moves into the general election, but to reach out to moderates, especially women who had backed Senator Hillary Clinton - a candidate who stood as an opponent of the Iraq war but emphasized security and her personal toughness in her losing bid for the Democratic nomination.
"This might appeal to women," said Black. "Anybody who's studying his positions about foreign policy and national security needs to know this part of his attitude and background."
McCain has already demonstrated success assembling an unlikely coalition on war issues.
Despite his unwavering prowar stance, McCain performed best in early primaries, including New Hampshire, with those voters who described themselves as strongly against the war in Iraq. Analysts at the time credited that success to McCain's ability to convey a seriousness about the subject and to separate himself from the administration's failures.
Yet since he secured the Republican nomination in March, Democrats have tried to paint McCain as reckless toward the subject of American losses in Iraq. They point most frequently to a remark McCain made during a January town hall that a 100-year presence in Iraq was "fine with me."
"I won't stand here and pretend that there are many good options left in Iraq, but what's not an option is leaving our troops in that country for the next hundred years," Obama said last week.
While McCain has taken a belligerent posture generally against Obama - particularly in suggesting that a willingness to negotiate with Iranian leaders is evidence of weakness - his new ad indicates that McCain is seeking a debate about war leadership waged over character as much as policy.
In the ad, McCain recounts, in simple but grave sentences delivered directly to the camera, the effects of war on three generations of his family. At each point, McCain speaks of war as an abstraction, not distinguishing the sacrifices made in World War II from Vietnam - and, by extension, Iraq.
"By not differentiating, he's saying all wars are morally equal," said Varon, who supports Obama.
The ad appears to be part of a consistent effort to soften McCain's aesthetic. The first website he launched was in black and white with a militaristic insignia as its unifying motif; McCain's latest is filled with bright colors.
"He can not afford to be perceived as a cowboy," said Ian Lang, a Republican consultant in Rhode Island. "To some extent, men will want somebody forceful and forthright. Women will be looking for someone strong, but they're not as impressed by the person who will throw down the gauntlet at any cost."
Sasha Issenberg can be reached at email@example.com.
"McCain pushes nuclear power: Chides Obama's energy policy"
Matt Murphy, (Berkshire) Eagle Boston Bureau
Friday, June 13, 2008
NASHUA, N.H. — With staggering gas prices climbing by the day, Sen. John McCain told rally-goers yesterday that nuclear power must be embraced as an option to end the country's dependence on foreign oil.
"Nuclear power has to be part of any resolution we have on this issue," McCain said, going out of his way on several occasions to make a pitch for nuclear energy and even crediting France.
He also renewed his call to Sen. Barack Obama to join him for 10 informal town hall debates this summer, a challenge to which he said his opponent has yet to respond.
The presumptive GOP nominee's comments came on the same day that the University of Massachusetts' board of trustees voted to create a task force to study how Massachusetts can tap into worldwide interest in nuclear research and power.
UMass Lowell owns and operates one of several small nuclear reactors in the state, generating small amounts of thermal power with low-grade enriched uranium.
"Senator Obama's energy policy has no mention of nuclear power," McCain said, calling for investments in solar, wind and other renewable sources.
McCain brought his presidential campaign back to New Hampshire yesterday afternoon, hosting a town hall meeting at Daniel Webster College with an audience of about 400 people.
It was the first town hall event in the Granite State since McCain held 102 question-and-answer-style events leading up to the January primary, in which he defeated former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
New Hampshire has become increasingly blue in recent years, electing a Democratic governor, John Lynch, and other statewide officers.
Bay State Sen. John F. Kerry carried New Hampshire in 2004 over President George W. Bush, but McCain leads in the most recent head-to-head polls against Obama by two to six points. New Hampshire could play a key role as a swing state in November, as polls show Obama leading McCain by only about 5 points nationally.
"I need you to get active, because this is going to be a tough fight," McCain told supporters, calling New Hampshire his second home.
Jim McConaha, a registered Democrat from Concord, said he planned to vote for McCain for a very simple reason.
"Competence and experience, in two short words," McConaha said. "This being the most important job in the world, I think it requires someone who has the résumé and record of being a leader."
McConaha was one of several Democrats invited by the McCain campaign to the event. He said there were only two candidates at the end of the primaries with the background he was looking for: McCain and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Asked about Obama's record compared with McCain's, McConaha said, "There's no comparison." McCain, at ease in the informal setting, displayed his sense of humor and rapport with an audience, interacting with voters as they questioned him on the war, on health care, on Social Security and on the weakening economy.
McCain reiterated his call for a summer gas-tax holiday, discounting criticism from Obama and scores of economists who have said that the tax break would do little to ease prices at the pump or put money back into the pockets of citizens.
"If you want to call it a gimmick, fine. But these economists are the same people who didn't predict the housing crisis we're now in," he said.
McCain said that most Americans would "like a little relief so maybe they could buy a few textbooks for their children this fall." On his trip to New England, he also appeared in Boston on Wednesday night for a fundraiser that netted his campaign $2 million.
The Arizona senator, who trails Obama by 23 points in Massachusetts, according to a poll this week from Suffolk University, admitted that victory is a long-shot in the liberal state. He said he still wants to compete everywhere because he wants to be a president for everyone.
Exclusive: "McCain hits Obama on taxes, Iraq"
By JOHN DISTASO, Senior Political Reporter, The NH Union Leader
June 13, 2008
After accusations by Barack Obama supporters and advisers that he is “confused” and “confusing” on Iraq, John McCain hit back hard today.
“It’s a very clear choice,” McCain told UnionLeader.com following his appearance in Nashua this afternoon.
“There is nothing confusing about (Obama’s) lack of knowledge and experience and judgment on this issue, and the fact that he was simply wrong,” McCain said.
“He even still refuses to acknowledge that the surge is winning,” McCain said. “Remarkable.”
Before McCain arrived for a town hall meeting on the campus of Daniel Webster College in Nashua, Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H., and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., cited a finding by the Tax Policy Center that 80 percent of his proposed tax cuts would go to the top 10 percent ofincome earners while Obama's tax cuts for the middle class would be three times larger than McCain’s cuts for the same group.
Hodes called it a “Bush-McCain extension of rewarding the wealthy,” and said, “It is time for people making more than $250,000 a year to pay a fair share of taxes.”
McCain told UnionLeader.com the Tax Policy Center is a “well-known left-wing think tank.
“The facts are that Senator Obama wants to raise people’s taxes,” he said. “He wants to raise the capital gains tax and he wants to raise the tax on Social Security for middle-income Americans,” McCain said.
“He wants to raise taxes and I want to keep taxes low -- on every American,” said McCain. “And his proposal to raise capital gains taxes and to raise the cap on Social Security I am convinced would be devastating to our economy.”
McCain also said he was disappointed in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling that foreign terrorist suspects being held at Guantanamo Bay have a constitutional right to challenge their detention in civilian courts on the American mainland.
McCain has called for the closing of Guantanamo Bay, but said, “These are not citizens and are enemy combatants, so I worry about the difficulties of having a situation where the military has the role that they should play. And some of these people, like Khalid Shiekh Mohammed, are very bad guys, really evil people.
“We’re going to have to try to make the proper adjustments,” McCain said, “and, hopefully, we will move forward with a process that will make sure that these people are now allowed to re-enter the world since they remain dedicated to our destruction and everything we stand for and believe in.”
"McCain courting Clinton loyalists: But abortion stand upsets some women's groups"
By Lisa Wangsness, (Boston) Globe Staff, June 14, 2008
Republican John McCain's campaign is aggressively targeting former supporters of Hillary Clinton, hoping to capitalize on their dissatisfaction with presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama and anger over how Clinton was treated during the Democratic primaries.
Today McCain will host a nationwide telephone forum aimed at Clinton loyalists with Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, who is emerging as McCain's chief messenger to women. On Thursday night, Fiorina spoke to dozens of disgruntled Clinton supporters in Columbus, Ohio, and during the next week she plans to visit a number of battleground states to speak to women voters. The campaign is betting that even women who favor abortion rights may be willing to accept a difference of opinion on that issue if they like what they hear McCain saying on broader issues such as national security, the economy, and healthcare.
But Obama is courting those same voters, and national women's organizations are trying to help him by smoothing over rifts that developed during the bitter primary battle. Prominent groups such as NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund are gearing up voter education and mobilization efforts focused on raising awareness of McCain's long record of opposing abortion rights.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which is running a $10 million grass-roots campaign to recruit 1 million voters for Obama in battleground states, today will kick off a weeklong series of more than 400 house parties across the country. Yesterday the group unveiled an Internet ad highlighting McCain's record on abortion rights and other health issues that it plans to send to 3.5 million of its supporters and the antiwar group MoveOn.org., urging each recipient to forward the ad to five people.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, said yesterday that even the most disaffected Clinton supporters are unlikely to defect to McCain, whose views on abortion and other reproductive health issues are diametrically opposed to Clinton's and Obama's. McCain favors overturning Roe v. Wade, the US Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, then working to reduce the number of abortions and eventually end them.
"The media is trying to make a lot out of this 'disaffected women,' " Richards said in a telephone interview. "I'm not saying we don't have a lot of work to do, but I think women are going to move very swiftly to support Senator Obama. For some of them, they don't know him as well as they did her . . . and quite honestly, they need to find out more about John McCain."
She pointed to a poll commissioned by her organization that found that half of women supporting McCain in battleground states don't know his position on abortion, and that more than a third of women who favor abortion rights and support McCain reconsidered after being told he opposes Roe v. Wade.
But aides to McCain, a Republican who styles himself as an independent-minded maverick who has been willing to cross party lines for the sake of principle, disputed the notion that the Arizona senator would ultimately lose the battle for women over abortion.
"Women are not single-issue voters," said Crystal Benton, a campaign spokeswoman. "The issues we're hearing from them that matter most are economic prosperity, national security, and choice and portability in healthcare, which puts Senator John McCain in position to fight for each one of their votes."
After a town hall meeting in New Jersey yesterday, McCain repeated his effusive praise for Clinton and acknowledged he had "a lot of work to do " to reach female voters.
"I believe that women all over America need to be assured that I will do everything in my power to continue the progress that has been made in equal opportunity in America, and that means an emphasis on education, that means service to country, and it means providing the same job security that all Americans deserve," he told reporters.
Polls released this week showed the candidates with mixed results among women. In a Gallup tracking poll conducted June 5-9, Obama increased his lead over McCain among women from 5 percentage points to 13 percentage points since Clinton conceded a week ago. But an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey showed that while Clinton led McCain by 14 percentage points among suburban women, Obama trailed by 6 percentage points.
Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh of the Dewey Square Group in Boston said the Obama camp should be concerned about the state of the women's vote after a primary that dismayed many Clinton supporters. McCain does not need a majority of women to win the election, she noted, he just has to chip away at Obama's share of the women's vote. Women typically make up a majority of voters in presidential elections.
"I think in this case, there are several threats - Hillary Clinton supporters who may go to support John McCain; Hillary Clinton supporters who may not vote at all, and Hillary Clinton supporters who do nothing between now and November except cast a vote," she said. "Any combination of these things is something to worry about if you are Barack Obama."
This week, several prominent female Clinton supporters issued clarion calls for unity. Ellen Malcolm, president of EMILY's List, which funds female candidates who support abortion rights, presided over a conference call in which she called McCain "out of touch" with women's lives.
At the group's annual luncheon both she and former secretary of state Madeleine Albright urged women to get behind Obama.
But some Clinton supporters are not about to fall into line.
Women for Fair Politics, a group of Clinton supporters in Ohio angry about what they saw as pervasive sexism in the primary campaign and determined to "never let it happen again," hosted Fiorina Thursday night. Two of the group's cofounders, businesswoman Cynthia Ruccia and real estate agent Marilu Sochor, said yesterday that they planned to vote for McCain this fall, even though they were both longtime Democratic activists and strongly in favor of abortion rights.
"It doesn't matter to me if we have all the great things the Democrats can offer if it's OK to go ahead and denigrate 51 percent of the country," Ruccia said in a telephone interview. "Sexism is neither Democratic nor Republican, and it needs to stop."
Sochor said she was also outraged at how Obama had, in her view, alienated key components of the Democratic base during the primary season by not campaigning much in Appalachian states such as West Virginia and Kentucky and by characterizing small-town Pennsylvanian voters as apt to "cling to guns or religion" because they were "bitter" about their circumstances.
In a video she recorded for the Clinton supporters' group and posted on its website, Fiorina, speaking directly to the camera, expressed admiration for Clinton - whom she described as "obviously incredibly intelligent, focused, tough, determined" -as well as empathy for her.
"I saw how she was scrutinized, characterized, talked about as a woman," Fiorina said.
Fiorina, chairwoman of the Republicans' Victory '08 fund, also vouched for McCain as a man who respected strong women.
"I can tell you that he treats everyone with respect," she said. "He seeks my advice and counsel on issues that are important to me - and I think issues that are important to you - and he listens to that counsel, and acts on that counsel."
Sasha Issenberg of the Globe staff contributed to this report from Pemberton, N.J.
US Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain and his wife, Cindy, were met by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe (right) upon arriving in Cartagena yesterday for a two-day visit to discuss a free trade pact among other issues. (mauricio duenas/afp/getty images) Wednesday, July 2, 2008.
In Erie, Pa., John McCain told a questioner he might "call Tom Ridge to Washington from wherever he's vacationing" for help early in a McCain administration. (Photo Credit: By Mary Altaffer -- Associated Press) August 12, 2008.
"GOP lineup released: Giuliani is keynote; Lieberman to speak"
The Associated Press, Thursday, August 21, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani will give the keynote address at the Republican National Convention next month and Democrat-turned-independent Sen. Joe Lieberman also will take center stage at the GOP gathering.
John McCain's vanquished Republican primary rivals — and a slew of potential McCain running mates — also have speaking roles at the four-day gathering in St. Paul, Minn.
President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, first lady Laura Bush, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lieberman, who was the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2000 and is said to be under consideration for the same role with McCain, will open the convention on Monday, Sept. 1, with speeches that focus on service.
The subsequent days will focus on reform, prosperity and peace.
Giuliani, the two-term mayor who led New York through the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, will deliver his spotlight speech on Tuesday night. He ran for president this year but failed to win even one delegate, much less a state. He withdrew after a crushing loss in Florida, endorsed McCain the next day and has since campaigned for McCain.
Most of McCain's other former primary rivals will speak, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, ex-Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who also is mentioned as a potential vice presidential candidates.
At least eight others whose names have been mentioned as potential running mates also are to address the convention, including governors Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Charlie Crist of Florida, Sarah Palin of Alaska, Jon Huntsman of Utah, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana; former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge; Meg Whitman, the former chief executive and president of eBay, and Carly Fiorina, the former chairwoman and chief executive of Hewlett-Packard Co.
McCain's vice presidential candidate is scheduled to speak on the third night of the convention, the same night McCain's wife, Cindy, will give her address. McCain will accept the nomination on the final night.
The announcement of speaking slots is in no way an indication of who will — or won't — make it onto the ticket; it's possible the campaign will rearrange the schedule once McCain makes his choice known. It's also possible McCain will chose someone not frequently mentioned.
The decision to schedule an address by Lieberman, the 66-year-old independent from Connecticut who caucuses with Democrats in the Senate, recalls 2004 when former Sen. Zell Miller, a Georgia Democrat, spoke to the GOP convention.
John McCain's pick: Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
"McCain picks Palin as surprise No. 2"
Friday, August 29, 2008, 2:56pm EDT, By Jeff Mason, Reuters
DAYTON, Ohio (Reuters) - Republican John McCain made a surprise choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate on Friday, adding a political unknown to the presidential ticket who could help him appeal to women voters.
Palin, 44, a self-described "hockey mom," is a conservative first-term governor of Alaska with strong anti-abortion views, a record of reform and fiscal conservatism and an outsider's perspective on Washington.
"She's exactly who I need. She's exactly who this country needs to help me fight the same old Washington politics of me first and country second," McCain told a roaring crowd of 15,000 supporters in Dayton, Ohio.
Palin was chosen over more experienced and better known contenders as the Arizona senator grabbed the spotlight away from Democratic rival Barack Obama one day after Obama accepted his party's presidential nomination before 75,000 flag-waving supporters at Denver's football stadium.
"Senator, I am honored to be chosen as your running mate. I will be honored to serve next to the next president of the United States," Palin said, joined on stage by her husband and family. She has five children ranging in age from 5 months to 18 years.
"As governor, I've stood up to the old politics as usual," she said. "This is a moment when principle and political independence matter."
McCain and Palin will face Obama and his No. 2, Joe Biden, in the November 4 presidential election.
The pick followed days of speculation about McCain's choice, with most of the better-known contenders like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty eliminated over the last 24 hours.
Palin, former mayor of the town of Wasilla, is virtually unknown nationally. That could hurt McCain's argument that Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, is too inexperienced to handle the White House.
But she could help him appeal to disaffected supporters of Democrat Hillary Clinton, who lost a bruising primary to Obama. Palin noted the achievements of Clinton and Democrat Geraldine Ferraro, who in 1984 became the first woman vice presidential nominee of a major party.
"Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America," she said, referring to the 18 million votes Clinton received in the primaries. "But it turns out the women of America aren't finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all."
The choice of Palin was a risk for McCain given her lack of national experience, but her record in Alaska will help him reinforce his reform message. Palin built a reputation as a reformer in a state that recently has been hit with corruption scandals.
Elected in 2006, she is Alaska's first woman governor. She is also an avid sportswoman who would bring youth and vitality to the ticket. McCain turns 72 on Friday and would be the oldest person to take office for a first term in the White House if elected.
"Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton, who said she would work to overturn abortion rights and continue Republican economic policies.
In a joint statement, Obama and Biden congratulated Palin on her selection.
"It is yet another encouraging sign that old barriers are falling in our politics," their statement said. "While we obviously have differences over how best to lead this country forward Governor Palin is an admirable person and will add a compelling new voice to this campaign."
If elected, Palin would be the first woman U.S. vice president, adding another historic element to a presidential race that has been filled with firsts. Obama, 47, is the first black nominee of a major U.S. political party.
The choice of a vice president rarely has a major impact on the presidential race. Palin will meet Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a debate in October.
McCain and Republicans open their national convention on Monday.
In his acceptance speech on Thursday, Obama attacked McCain and linked him to the Republican policies of President George W. Bush. He also said McCain was out of touch with the day-to-day concerns of Americans and had been "anything but independent" on key issues like the economy, health care and education.
Obama, running neck-and-neck with McCain in polls, has been urged by some Democrats to take a tougher line against his rival.
"Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush was right more than 90 percent of the time?" Obama asked, citing McCain's voting record in the U.S. Senate.
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland, writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Xavier Briand)
"Palin has much to prove"
Monday, September 1, 2008
Sen. John McCain's selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate was a stunning decision that should make Alaskans proud, even while we wonder about the actual merits of the choice.
No Alaskan politician has risen to such national prominence before. The closest was former Gov. Wally Hickel, whom President Nixon chose as Interior secretary in 1969.
Palin is truly a remarkable figure, a person carried forward to enormous fame by the times and her personal charm and principles. Alaskans and Americans must ask, though, whether she should become vice president and, more importantly, be placed first in line to become president.
When a candidate for president picks a vice presidential running mate, that partner ought to have more qualifications than this: "She's not from Washington." McCain offered that justification Friday morning for his decision. There was a lot more, of course, about the governor's "grit, integrity and devotion to the common good." But after cataloging her basic decency and compassion for the common man, what was there? "She's not from Washington."
No doubt about it. In fact, as the governor herself acknowledged in her acceptance speech, she never set out to be involved in public affairs. She has never publicly demonstrated the kind of interest, much less expertise, in federal issues and foreign affairs that should mark a candidate for the second-highest office in the land.
Republicans rightfully have criticized the Democratic nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, for his lack of experience, but Palin is a neophyte in comparison; how will Republicans reconcile the criticism of Obama with the obligatory cheering for Palin? Or will everyone just be forced to drop the subject? That's not a comforting possibility.
Although no one has the perfect resume and experience isn't everything, it is an important quality to weigh. Palin, if elected vice president, would ascend to the presidency if anything should happen to McCain, who turned 72 on Friday. Most people would acknowledge that, regardless of her charm and good intentions, Palin is not ready for the top job. McCain seems to have put his political interests ahead of the nation's when he created the possibility that she might fill it.
It's clear that McCain picked Palin for reasons of image, not substance. She 's a woman. She has fought corruption. She has fought the oil companies. She 's married to a union member. These are portrayals for campaign speeches; they are not policy positions.
There was also some pandering, right from the start. "I told Congress 'Thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere,' " Palin reported to the crowd in Dayton, Ohio. "If our state wanted a bridge, I said, we'd build it ourselves."
But the state kept the bridge money. That's because Alaskans pay federal gas taxes, and they expect a good share to come back, just like people do in every other state. We build very little by ourselves, and any governor who would turn that tax money down likely would be turned out of office.
Palin's image as a fresh reformer works on some level, for the moment. The governor, as she is quite able to do, delivered a good speech in a strong voice. The crowd cheered her enthusiastically, only occasionally fading into the "huh?" mode during the presentation. The televised punditry followed up with mostly positive comments, calling Palin's selection a clever "chess move" by McCain.
The chess analogy offers some caution. Gov. Palin, while extending her amazing adventure in politics, must prove she is more than a pawn.
-- (Alaska) Daily News-Miner (via TheTranscript.com)
Bristol Palin, holding Trig, was on stage with Governor Sarah Palin at a rally Friday in Ohio. (Matt Sullivan /Reuters)
"Palin's daughter, 17, is pregnant: Republicans close ranks around family as rumors swirl"
By Michael Kranish, (Boston) Globe Staff, September 2, 2008
ST. PAUL - Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin revealed yesterday that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is five months pregnant - a disclosure made by John McCain's campaign in an effort to stop what it called "out of control" Internet rumors that Palin's youngest child actually was conceived by her daughter and that the Alaska governor faked her pregnancy to cover that up.
Republicans quickly closed ranks around the Palin family, praising the teenager, Bristol Palin, for deciding to have the child and marry the father. At the same time, the revelation focused attention on the GOP's call, in the party platform adopted yesterday, for unwed teenagers to abstain from sex.
In announcing their daughter's pregnancy, the Palins yesterday highlighted her decision to have the baby. "Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned. We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents," Sarah Palin, 44, and her husband, Todd, said in a statement issued by the McCain campaign.
The statement identified the father only as Levi, saying that "Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family."
A campaign official said McCain found out about the pregnancy shortly before he asked Palin to become his running mate last week. Campaign officials declined to provide further information about how the matter came up in the vetting process, saying they wanted to respect the Palin family's privacy.
In another issue that emerged during the vetting, Palin has hired a private attorney to represent her in a state investigation into her firing of the state's public safety commissioner, and whether it was related to his refusal to dismiss a state trooper involved in a messy divorce with Palin's sister.
Palin's daughter became both the talk of the GOP convention and the latest episode in the national discussion about teen pregnancy. Her story follows debates over whether the movie "Juno" glamorized teenage pregnancy and whether the real-life pregnancy of 16-year-old actress Jamie Lynn Spears provided the wrong role model for teenage viewers.
One third of the nation's girls get pregnant by age 20, the highest rate among fully industrialized nations, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies. After a 15-year-long decline in the teen birth rate - attributed to more contraception and less sex - the rate rose 3 percent in 2006, according to the nonpartisan group.
Bill Albert, the group's chief program officer, said the reasons for the rise are unclear. But he said it would be "pretty naive to think that things like 'Juno' and Jamie Lynn Spears don't shape the social script. They certainly do."
Asked if he was concerned that the Bristol Palin pregnancy would have a similar impact, Albert said he hoped the matter would prompt more parents to talk with their children about the negative impact of unplanned pregnancies. While he said he was sure that the Palins would provide financial and emotional support, he said many other teens in similar situations do not do as well. Sixty percent of pregnant teens do not finish high school, and many struggle financially for the rest of their lives because of a lack of education and resources, Albert said.
Republican social conservatives balanced their reaction yesterday, expressing concern about out-of-wedlock teenage pregnancy, but applauding the Palins' support for their daughter. The issue was a sensitive one because many social conservatives simultaneously support abstinence until marriage, while voicing strong support for unmarried women to give birth in most circumstances.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement that "teenage pregnancy has become all too common in today's society regardless of a family's economic or social status" while congratulating the Palins for "choosing life in the midst of a difficult situation."
James Dobson, the antiabortion leader of Focus on the Family who exulted over the Palin pick, said in a statement yesterday that the Palins should be commended "for not just talking about their prolife and profamily values, but living them out even in the midst of trying circumstances."
Palin, a first-term governor in Alaska, criticized the overturning of a law requiring a parent's permission before a child can have an abortion and suggested a constitutional amendment in its place.
The revelation of her daughter's pregnancy comes as the Republican Party continues to be riven over the issues of abstinence, abortion, and contraception.
Yesterday, GOP convention delegates adopted a platform that urges unmarried teenagers to abstain from sex. "We renew our call for replacing 'family planning' programs for teens with increased funding for abstinence education, which teaches abstinence until marriage as the responsible and expected standard of behavior," says the platform, which also declares there is a "moral obligation" to help women who have unplanned pregnancies.
McCain voted against a 2005 proposal by Senator Hillary Clinton that would have provided $100 million to combat teenage pregnancy.
Some social conservatives, including Palin, oppose abortion even in cases of rape and incest. McCain had argued for such exceptions. His pick of Palin over two prospects who favored abortion rights - former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge and Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut - was viewed as a nod to antiabortion forces in the GOP.
Palin was introduced as McCain's running mate Friday with an emphasis on her antiabortion credentials, highlighted by her decision to give birth in April to her son Trig despite learning when she was four months pregnant that the child had Down syndrome. In March, when she announced that she was seven months pregnant, the reaction in the Alaska media was one of astonishment. Newspaper stories quoted Palin's staff as saying they did not realize she was pregnant.
Upon the announcement of Palin's vice presidential candidacy, the rumors surfaced in e-mails and on some liberal blogs suggesting Palin had not been pregnant, but was hiding her daughter's pregnancy.
Bristol Palin, a high school senior, appeared at the Friday rally in Dayton, Ohio, holding Trig, but was not on stage at events over the weekend.
Senator Barack Obama, noting that his mother had him when she was 18 years old, denied yesterday that his campaign had anything to do with the rumors. "This shouldn't be part of our politics, it has no relevance to Governor Palin's performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president, and so I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories," Obama told reporters in Michigan. "People's families are off limits, and people's children are especially off limits."
Michael Kranish can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Jeepers veepers", Posted by Dan Wasserman, September 2, 2008, 4:25 P.M.
The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, RITA NAKASHIMA BROCK & AMIR SOLTANI
"US, Iran, and the Axis of Friendship"
By Rita Nakashima Brock & Amir Soltani, September 10, 2008
A REPUBLICAN National Convention video used a series of crises, from the Iranian hostage crisis to the Sept. 11 attacks, to inspire defiant fervor against America's enemies. US leaders have used the attacks as a pretext for war and are at it again. Now, House Resolution 362, with 268 cosponsors to date, proposes a naval blockade on Iran, a provocation of war that would feed the power of the most right-wing factions of the Iranian government and potentially mire the already overburdened US military in a war with Iran, which is more than three times the size of Iraq. Politicians use Sept. 11 to stir our worst aggressions and fears and to unleash the dogs of war. It would behoove them, and the citizens of the United States to remember, instead, the day after.
On Sept. 12, 2001, America's tragedy elicited sympathy from all over the world, including places as unlikely as Tehran. Thousands of Iranians spontaneously lit candles in solidarity with the families of victims and the American people. The Bush administration squandered the goodwill that poured out to America after that devastating day, when a vast Axis of Friendship emerged from both people and governments that might have helped the United States to create an effective strategy to combat global terrorism, instead of plunging it into two long wars. Instead, President Bush later coined the term "Axis of Evil" and put Iran on the list for war.
Should the resolution pass and war ensue, the cost of gasoline in the United States would probably hit $10 a gallon, according to Robert Reich, former secretary of labor. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said a third war theater would stress an already thinly stretched military. If the Iraq war is any guide to the cost of a war and we multiply by three, the American people could lose another 10,000 soldiers and be asked to care for hundreds of thousands of wounded troops. Taxpayers would foot the bill for yet another ill-conceived, avoidable conflict.
Using propaganda against enemies is an easy substitute for thinking. However, if the United States can make peace with former enemies - Britain, Japan, Germany, Nicaragua, and Vietnam - then it must negotiate peace now. Iran made peace with Iraq, its archenemy, and if Iran can buy arms from Israel, its other arch enemy, then these pragmatic arrangements give the lie to ideologies of enmity. Continuing diplomatic negotiations between the governments of the United States and Iran are essential and must continue.
Americans have an opportunity to reignite the remaining embers of the international goodwill of Sept. 12, 2001. War between Iran and the United States is not inevitable; it would be stupid, senseless, tragic, and expensive. It is time to provoke a perceptible shift in attitudes in Washington and Tehran toward peace and defeat the resolution designed to provoke war. If we do not, the costs of political gridlock and diplomatic failure may be considerable, including a broader regional war or even a nuclear conflict.
Over the years, the American people have opened this land to hundreds of thousands of Iranians. California has become the friendliest and one of the largest homes to Iranians outside of Iran. Neither Iranians nor Americans welcome the prospect of burying our children because our leaders lack imagination and courage. On Sept. 12, many Americans and Iranians will reignite the embers of the Axis of Friendship. People in Iran and the United States will place candles in their windows after sundown to remember the global friendship that has been so arrogantly and cruelly ignored.
The question is whether or not Iranian and American leaders can seize the moment and turn from certain death toward life. With the risks so high, the case for friendship and peace has never been stronger.
Rita Nakashima Brock is coauthor of "Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire." Amir Soltani is a member of the US-Iran Alliance.
Re: Breaking News
Date: Thursday, September 11, 2008, 5:10 PM
From: "ABC News"
Breaking News from ABCNEWS.com:
GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN WARNS WAR MAY BE NECESSARY IF RUSSIA INVADES ANOTHER COUNTRY
"TRUTH SQUAD" LEADER Some observers said there is a problem with the Jane Swift/Sarah Palin comparison: [Jane] Swift was never seen as a success.
"Swift signs on to lead the defense of Palin's record: Their similar backgrounds come into play"
By Stephanie Ebbert, (Boston) Globe Staff, September 11, 2008
She played basketball for her small-town team. Her husband's career took a back seat to her political ambitions. She became the first female governor of her state and gave birth while holding office. As governor, she headed up her state's National Guard.
She's Jane Swift.
Citing the remarkable similarities in their biographies, the former acting governor of Massachusetts this week signed up as a leader of Republican efforts to defend the record of Alaska's governor, Sarah Palin. Swift, 43, was tapped by Republican presidential nominee John McCain to lead a "truth squad" defending his 44-year-old vice presidential pick.
"When issues of opportunities for women and for mothers are being discussed, I feel like I can say something that helps put these issues in the proper perspective so that my daughters aren't fighting these battles 20 years from now," Swift said in a phone interview between her various TV and radio appearances yesterday.
"It's disappointing that we're still not to the point where we can deal appropriately with gender questions in politics," she added. "We really should be able to talk about Governor Palin's accomplishments without people raising on TV whether or not she's capable of doing the job."
Political observers said yesterday that it made sense for the McCain campaign to reach out to Swift because of her personal experience as a female chief executive. But some also pointed out a problem with the analogy: Swift was never regarded as a success.
"She was one who juggled motherhood and governing and didn't prove to be such a good juggler," said Jeff Berry, a professor of political science at Tufts University. "And so what is the parallel that she can draw out in defense of Palin? That it's really difficult?"
As an accidental governor - the second lieutenant governor in a row in Massachusetts to take over when the governor left to pursue an ambassadorship - the youthful Swift had difficulty establishing her credibility with the public, the Democratic Legislature, and even leaders of her own party. She bowed out of a potential election contest with Mitt Romney, who won the office, in 2002.
Her limited support was weakened by work-life controversies - using a public helicopter to get home to her family in North Adams and using aides to baby-sit her daughter, a conflict that forced her to pay an Ethics Commission fine.
"Jane Swift showed that in the public eye, there is a red line and you'd better not cross it. That red line is having taxpayers pay for your baby sitter. Or pay for your helicopter," said Elizabeth Sherman, who founded the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and is now a lecturer at George Washington University.
Palin is already facing some similar questions. The Washington Post this week examined travel expenses she has claimed for her children and husband and expenses claimed for time in their home in Wasilla, 600 miles from the state capital, Juneau.
Swift spent much of yesterday making media appearances criticizing Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama for describing Republicans' message of change with the adage: "You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig." Swift led the Republican charge that it was an echo of Palin's joke during her convention speech, naming the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull: "Lipstick."
"It was a comment that obviously people in the audience and the press interpreted to be directed at Governor Palin," said Swift. "I interpreted it that way. I found it offensive."
What else does Swift consider over the line?
Questions about whether Palin could be effective as a vice president with five children, one of whom has special needs; speculation on blogs that her baby was not her own but her daughter's; the assertion that she attempted to ban books; and reporting about the MySpace page of her daughter's fiancé.
Swift, who has been consulting for educational businesses, with stints teaching at Williams College, declined to discuss her ambitions, but political observers said she may be angling for a post in a possible McCain administration.
Peter G. Torkildsen, chairman of the Massachusetts GOP, said Swift's support illustrates the conservative vice presidential nominee's appeal to more moderate Republicans (Swift supports abortion rights, for example).
"She's seen firsthand the challenge of balancing family and being a governor at the same time," he said. "Certainly she can empathize with Governor Palin right off the bat."
The Boston Globe's "Quotes of note" - September 13, 2008
"You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig. You can wrap up an old fish in a piece of paper and call it change. It's still going to stink after eight years. We've had enough."-- Democratic presidential hopeful Senator BARACK OBAMA
"It's clear to me - as I'm sure it will be to fair-minded Republicans, Democrats, and independents across the country - that Senator Obama owes Governor Palin an apology."-- Former Massachusetts acting governor JANE SWIFT, on Obama's remarks
BEHIND 'LIPSTICK ON A PIG': "'Swift' distortion"
The Boston Globe Online - Letters - September 13, 2008
FEW STATEMENTS made during this presidential race have been as infuriating as, no, not the "lipstick on a pig" remark, but the knowingly deceitful calls for Barack Obama to apologize for the comment. [Jane] Swift and the other "indignant" McCain supporters are well aware that the saying "You can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig" is an old one that has been used by many (including McCain himself) to mean that you cannot disguise what is evident. Their phony indignation and the blatant attempt to make people believe that Obama was calling Palin a pig is just more of the same old Republican dirty tricks. Jane Swift is quoted in the Globe as saying "This is just the same old low road." She's right. And she has taken it.
"Disgusted by Swift's folly"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters
Monday, September 15, 2008
Our very own Jane Swift, the governor who was dumped by the Republicans in favor of a more impressive Mitt Romney, is on the Sarah Palin "truth squad." She was quite provoked by Obama's "lipstick on a pig" remark.
No, Jane, Obama was not referring to the lovely Sarah Palin, but to the lying John McCain! Did you not read the entire passage? I find it appalling that we are subject to the bucketload of lies Republicans dish out on a daily basis, but they are never called on it.
Now we have a right-wing extremist who happens to be a female in a skirt and yes, lipstick, running as vice president. Our former governor defends her and her non-qualifications. It makes me want to throw up.
The Lively World
"[Jane] Swift the Swift-boater"
By Milton Bass, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Sometimes the brilliant sleaziness of the Republican propaganda machine almost has me handing out compliments.
For years we have been asking about the humongous national debt and what do they mean by "victory" in Iraq and why aren't we winning in Afghanistan and how come the rich get such big tax breaks and why has Dick Cheney been allowed to run the country his way and why and why and why. There have been no adequate or even intelligent answers.
Now we have an election coming up in which we have vitally important questions about war and peace and energy and Social Security and Medicare and taxes and deficits and an economy going bust and the politicizing of the courts and government bureaus and so on and so on and so on.
And what has the Republican propaganda machine come up with — Sarah Palin.
Instead of the candidates being required to debate all of the above issues, everything is revolving around Sarah Palin. The questions are being asked about Sarah Palin by both the public and press and all the important matters have been shoved into the background. Barack Obama's management team, which conducted such a brilliant campaign versus Hillary Clinton, seems to be scratching its head and only the surface of it at that.
And the American public is handling this like it was a television sitcom with the spunky young female candidate (who could be played perfectly by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) sticking it to the big boys in spades. Their obvious object is to keep Obama so busy denying he is insulting the little lady that he will have no time to push his proposals or tear theirs apart.
The McCain team now has so many Karl Rove-trained aides that they can put pigs in a poke in a matter of minutes. What they are attempting to do is poke Obama's eye out and although they haven't quite accomplished it, they have at least made him draw several deep breaths. Obama is keeping his eye upon the hole rather than the doughnut.
It is interesting to note that as far as Republicans are concerned Swift-boating is alive and still capable of inflicting damage on innocent parties. Which brings us to our own Swift-boater, former Acting Governor Jane Swift of Williamstown. Her resurgence into the public arena has been noted in this newspaper, the Boston Globe and Herald plus some national TV and radio coverage.
Jane Swift is one of those people who had pressing ambitions at an early age and she worked hard as the dickens for her male bosses in the political field to the point where, when they moved up or out, they supported her desire to replace them. Consequently, at the age of 25 in 1990, she became the youngest woman ever elected to the Massachusetts State Senate. By the time 1998 rolled around, the then pregnant Swift ran for lieutenant governor and made it, serving faithfully under Republican Gov. Paul Cellucci. When Cellucci was named ambassador to Canada by President George W. Bush in 2001, Swift became acting governor until the next election.
The following two years were rough because Swift had the Boston pols stacked against her and a hostile press dogging her. She also made a few political mistakes by using young aides as gofers and baby-sitters and accepting the use of the state police helicopter to bring her home quickly when her first born was sick, but that wasn't what did her in. She did not come into office aggressively with any ideas or programs that would grab the public and then the press and then maybe the Legislature. She seemed to just be putting in time until her ordeal was over.
The real test would have been the actual gubernatorial election, but then Mitt Romney popped up and Swift was ignominiously shoved out. She hustled to make a living in the private sector but once that political virus enters the blood stream you are doomed and she kept her options open.
Her attitude toward Romney was revealed when she quickly became a McCain backer this time around and now she has been named the Grand Poohbah of the so-called "truth squad" that is going around trying to keep Sarah Palin from unintentionally committing truth.
It is probable that Swift is hoping this favor for McCain will result in an appointment if he wins. If he doesn't, there is still the possibility of eventually running against the maturing John Olver when he decides to pack it in. At 43 years of age she has time on her side and now she possibly has the toughness to go with it. You have to be tough to stomach what she's doing on the "truth" squad.
Milton Bass is a regular Eagle contributor.
"Next U.S. leader must revamp Pakistan policy: study"
By Paul Eckert, Asia Correspondent, The Boston Globe Online, October 2, 2008
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The next U.S. president must revamp policy toward Pakistan, mixing deft diplomacy, security support and economic aid to help Islamabad defeat a grave threat from extremists, an experts' report said on Thursday.
Pakistan Policy Working Group, a bipartisan group of a about a dozen experts on U.S.-Pakistan relations, said the nuclear-armed Muslim country of 160 million people could pose the "single greatest challenge" for the next U.S. president.
"Washington needs to rethink its entire approach to Pakistan," said the report. "We must be much smarter about how we work with Pakistan, with whom we work, and what sort of assistance we provide," it added.
The report said last month's bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad showed that U.S. options were diminishing rapidly and there was no time to lose. It also warned that increased U.S. missile attacks on targets inside Pakistan, reflecting impatience with Islamabad, are counterproductive.
A review of policies toward Pakistan, recipient of $11 billion in mostly military aid from the United States since the September 11, 2001, attacks, should begin with updating the National Intelligence Estimate on the country to form a strategic plan for all U.S. government agencies, it said.
The 43-page report sets out recommendations for new U.S. policies in the areas of Pakistani domestic politics, counterterrorism and domestic security, regional relationships and U.S. aid to Pakistan.
In the domestic arena, the United States needs to be patient with the new elected government, help build up democratic institutions and support broad reforms, it said.
"Just as the U.S. was too slow in gauging the public disaffection with President (Pervez) Musharraf before the 2008 elections, it must not too quickly lose patience with Pakistan's elected leaders," it said.
In the security sphere, the report urges Washington to boost support for Pakistani civilian institutions that can oversee military and intelligence agencies, who often operate autonomously and have used Islamic militants as a foreign policy tool against India and Afghanistan.
"The U.S. should seek to adjust Pakistan's cost-benefit calculus of using militants in its foreign policy," it said.
Military assistance should be used to transform parts of the Pakistan Army and the Frontier Corps, which operate in border tribal areas, into effective counterinsurgency forces.
On regional relations, the report recommends naming a senior U.S. official responsible for promoting better ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan, whose animosity hampers cross-border counterterrorism efforts. Similar efforts are needed to encourage the India-Pakistan peace process, it said.
"U.S. diplomatic initiatives toward Pakistan must also demonstrate that a convergence of U.S., India, and Afghanistan interests on terrorism does not mean the three countries are colluding against Pakistan," the report said.
The group endorses a bipartisan U.S. aid plan introduced in July by Democratic Sen Joe Biden and Republican Sen Richard Lugar, which calls for $1.5 billion per year in nonmilitary spending to support economic development in Pakistan.
"Such assistance, however, must be performance-based, and must be accompanied by rigorous oversight and accountability," said the report. It also recommends favorable U.S. market access for Pakistani textiles and for products produced in tribal regions on the Afghan-Pakistan border.
(Editing by Jackie Frank)
"Parental discretionary donors: How Sarah Palin generated over $1 million in donations to Planned Parenthood", By SHUCHI SARASWAT, The Boston Phoenix (Online), October 9, 2008
Polarizin’ Palin has people everywhere opening their pocketbooks to the pro-choice movement’s benefit. A viral e-mail, of unknown origin, urged people who disliked the Alaska governor’s under-no-circumstance view on abortion to donate to Planned Parenthood, in her honor. The e-mail has been circulating for more than a month and, as of October 6, has generated 38,000 donations — at least two-thirds of them from first-time givers — to the international organization, totaling more than $1 million.
The latest high-profile boost to the “In Honor of Palin” campaign comes from singer/songwriter Gretchen Peters, who was outraged when Palin was brought on stage at a rally after Thursday’s vice-presidential debate to the strains of Martina McBride’s 1994 recording of Peters’s “Independence Day,” whose lyric centers on a victim of domestic abuse. On her Web site, gretchenpeters.com, Peters pledges to donate future “Independence Day” royalties to Planned Parenthood, on behalf of, you guessed it, the GOP veep nominee, whom Peters refers to as “a candidate who would set women’s rights back decades.”
This will be a hard one for the McCain campaign to ignore. Planned Parenthood offers to acknowledge generosity by mailing a card to the person in whose name the donation is made. The cards noting the Palin donations will be mailed to “McCain for President” headquarters, as per donors’ requests, starting this week.
Beliefnet.com blogger Rod Dreher has suggested that readers counter the Planned Parenthood donations by contributing to a pro-life center, citing specifically the abortion-alternative organization CareNet. His twist? Donate on behalf of Palin’s six-month-old son, Trig. According to CareNet, the organization has not seen a spike in donations since Dreher’s post.
Donations to Planned Parenthood, dedicated to Sarah Palin (or anyone else), can be made online at https://secure.ga0.org/02/pp10000_inhonor. CareNet does not accept in-name donations, but regular donations can be made online at care-net.org.
"A healthy debate"
The Berkshire Eagle - Editorial
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Is health care in America a privilege, a right, or a responsibility?
During Tuesday's debate, John McCain made the startling argument that health care is a responsibility. "We should have available and affordable health care to every American citizen, to every family member," he said. But he is "always a little nervous" about government mandating that everyone have access to care.
Senator Obama declared it a right: "In a country as wealthy as ours, for us to have people who are going bankrupt because they can't pay their medical bills ... there's something fundamentally wrong about that."
Senator McCain would make only a token effort to increase care, but the consequences could be dangerous. He would give a tax credit — $2,500 to individuals, $5,000 to families — to buy health insurance. He would take the states out of the business of regulating plans by allowing insurance companies to work across state lines. He would expand health savings accounts. And he would do little else.
There is little chance anyone could find a decent health plan with a $2,500 tax credit, and with companies free from state regulation, buyers would be confronted by an unfettered market and a forest of fine print that would make comparing plans a virtual impossibility. And it would roll back the advancements made by a handful of states that have confronted the health coverage crisis with innovative — if imperfect - solutions.
Five states — including Massachusetts — have guaranteed issue laws that require companies to insure people regardless of pre-existing conditions. Those not in an employer-sponsored plan are lumped in with their geographic group, allowing insurers to spread risk among a population without forcing the sickest to pay the most. It is a humane approach that forces insurers to cover those who need medicine as well as those who don't. Senator McCain's plan would mean the end of guaranteed issue.
Senator Obama's plan is far more detailed and, in many respects, mirrors the health care reform under way in Massachusetts. It would require all children to be insured (though it is silent on what the penalty would be for an uninsured child). Large employers would be required to offer "meaningful coverage" to employees or pay a percentage toward a national plan. Anyone who doesn't have access to private insurance could join that national plan through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the same place where members of Congress get their insurance.
This is the kind of comprehensive, sensible approach that is required if one believes health care is a human right. It requires employers to be part of the solution, makes it easier for people to find and pay for coverage, and it allows states like Massachusetts to continue with their efforts. It would also get the government involved in declaring what an acceptable plan must cover, a necessity if consumers are to have any trust in the products they are buying.
Health care must be considered a right. The alternative is to let people die because they can't afford treatment.
The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, DERRICK Z. JACKSON
"McCain's blatant pitch to the rich"
By Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe Columnist, October 25, 2008
JOHN MCCAIN went to New Hampshire this week at a time when voters understand the limits of their state motto "Live Free or Die." They know the economy is dying on fat cats living far too free. Barack Obama leads in state polls by 7-to-13 percentage points.
Undaunted, McCain played the greed card. "Barack Obama wants to, quote, 'spread the wealth around,' " McCain said, with fingers in quotation marks as the audience booed at St. Anselm College in a speech shown on television. "We don't need government 'spreading the wealth. . .' " he said. McCain uttered variations of spreading the wealth 12 times.
He was cheered when he said, "The redistribution of wealth is the last thing America needs right now."
In Ohio, McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, called Obama "Barack the wealth spreader" and continued to drop the S-word: socialism.
The problem for McCain, Palin, and the Republicans is that the majority of Americans beg to differ. Redistribution in some form is the first thing people want after two decades of runaway pay disparity between CEOs and workers, tax loopholes so wide that two-thirds of American corporations paid no income tax from 1998 to 2005, and the banking system now getting $700 billion from us to bail out its incompetence. All this while healthcare, gasoline, and college tuitions gobble up any raises regular folks get.
These developments are so identified with the Republicans that every tactic McCain uses to escape them ends up with him making a mockery out of the party's claims to values. McCain's Ohio mascot Joe the Plumber turns out to be Joe the Unlicensed Plumber who owes back taxes. Palin is the self-proclaimed pit bull with lipstick, but the Republican National Committee was so freaked that the shtick was that of a hick that they Barbied her up at Nieman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue for $150,000. Talk about spreading wealth around. Not many hockey moms or wives of Joe the Plumber can drop three times the national median household income to look civilized.
Meanwhile, a CNN poll this week shows Obama leading McCain on the question of who would better help the middle class, 60 percent to 36 percent. A Washington Post/ABC News poll has the same question as 59 percent to 31 percent Obama. Obama has pulled away from a virtual tie with McCain on who would better handle taxes, into double-digit leads in some national polls. On who best will handle either the economy or the current fiscal crisis, Obama is beating McCain roughly 53 percent to 39 percent.
One can guess only that McCain is hoping for a 100 percent turnout from the rich - minus, of course, Obama supporter Warren Buffett.
The more McCain rails against spreading the wealth in America, he runs right back to the man he says he is running away from, President Bush. In 2000, Bush the candidate greeted the well-connected audience at the Alfred E. Smith political roast in New York by acknowledging them as the top 1 percent. "This is an impressive crowd, the haves and the have mores," Bush said. "Some people call you the elite. I call you my base."
McCain is too late to turn that joke into serious political strategy. A recent survey by the American Affluence Research Center in Atlanta found the nation's wealthiest 10 percent to be tied at 48 percent each for McCain and Obama. What once was a campaign of a senator who reached across the aisle on campaign financing and global warming is now stoking selfishness into the silly zone.
Well, it would be silly except for the implications. If McCain is telling America's rich that their gains are utterly decoupled from the wealth disparities of fellow Americans, what does that foretell about foreign policy in his administration? The rest of the world has already told us. The Pew Global Attitudes Project found vastly more confidence in Obama than McCain.
This is, of course, no concern to a campaign whose slogan is "America First." It is rapidly sounding like "Me First." How patriotic. That is too much even for the limited-tax Live Free or Die state.
Derrick Z. Jackson's e-mail address is email@example.com.
"REFILED ANALYSIS-Why John McCain lost the White House"
By Jeff Mason, Reuters, Wednesday, November 5, 2008, 1:02 pm EST
PHOENIX (Reuters) - Republican John McCain lost Tuesday's presidential election because he could not overcome a hostile economic environment, distance himself from an unpopular president or convince voters he could lead them out of the crisis.
As the blame game began, analysts also said McCain's choice of inexperienced Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate raised doubts about his judgment. It ultimately may have alienated more voters than it attracted.
McCain's attempts to portray Barack Obama as a tax-raising socialist with friends who were terrorists drove away moderate voters, who handed the Democrat a decisive victory on Tuesday.
An extremely unpopular Republican president coupled with a sputtering economy made for a tough political climate for McCain. Even if he had run a perfect campaign, it may not have been enough this year.
After eight years of Republican White House rule, the party had turned off racial minorities, young voters and more educated voters. The final blow was the large-scale defection of working class whites devastated by the economic crisis.
But the Arizona senator's response fell flat. He did not distance himself early or forcefully enough from President George W. Bush, party strategists said, and his lack of a coherent economic message loomed large as the issue trumped the Iraq war in voters' minds.
In a gracious concession speech late on Tuesday, the former Vietnam prisoner of war reflected on his campaign and took responsibility for its failures.
"I don't know what more we could have done to try to win this election," he told supporters at a somber post-election rally in Arizona. "We fought as hard as we could. And though we fell short, the failure is mine, not yours."
Republican strategist John Feehery said McCain's association with Bush was a key stumbling block that could have been addressed more decisively.
"He did not break from Bush early on and he should have," Feehery said. "He hired a lot of Bush advisers and they were just as loyal to Bush as they were to McCain."
McCain added a line to his campaign speech in mid-October saying "I'm not George Bush" but it was too late.
The financial crisis that erupted in September was a turning point, reversing McCain's temporary lead in the polls. He never recovered.
"The economic meltdown restructured the entire race and made it difficult for McCain to compete for those undecided independent voters," said Republican strategist Scott Reed.
McCain's decision to suspend his campaign and return to Washington to broker a Wall Street bailout deal turned out to be a "strategic and tactical mistake," he said.
McCain asked for the first presidential debate to be postponed, but Obama calmly responded that the candidates could focus on more than one thing at a time -- forcing McCain to climb down. When the debate took place, Obama won.
TOUGH CLIMATE, ECONOMIC GAFFES
McCain wounded himself with other economic gaffes. He said the fundamentals of the U.S. economy were strong and then tried to paint the mistake as a defense of the American worker.
He championed himself as someone who largely opposed regulation in the financial industry but reversed course when banks started failing and the Wall Street crisis spread.
The financial crisis also put McCain's "maverick" image into a harsher light. Voters viewed Obama's response to the crisis as cool and McCain's as unsteady.
Aides said the economic and political conditions in the country severely hampered their candidate's electoral chances.
"It is highly doubtful that anyone will ever have to run in a worse political climate than the one John McCain had to run in this year," McCain's top strategist Steve Schmidt told reporters a few hours before polls closed.
Feehery faulted McCain for abiding by campaign finance laws and not making more of Obama's association with his controversial former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright
What about Palin? McCain's last-minute choice of the Alaska governor ignited conservative voters but alienated independents, who viewed her as unprepared.
High-profile Republicans such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell rejected McCain partially because of Palin.
"McCain spent the entire summer drawing a contrast with Obama over experience and the Palin decision threw that out the window," said Reed. ""(But) you can't blame Palin for the loss. She energized the party and the base ..."
McCain senior adviser Nicolle Wallace said the Arizona senator got a rough deal from the media compared to Obama, who already enjoyed a massive financial advantage. The Democrat vastly outspent McCain in all the key swing states.
"No objective analysis suggests that the Obama team and the McCain team have received an equal amount or a fair amount of positive and negative scrutiny or coverage," she said.
(Editing by Alan Elsner)
"Why the Democrats - and Obama - Forgave Lieberman"
By JAY NEWTON-SMALL, WASHINGTON, (Time Magazine via Yahoo! News), 11/18/2008
Throughout his political career - from his earliest days as a state senator and Connecticut attorney general to his roles as U.S. senator, Vice Presidential nominee, pariah to the left and prominent endorser of John McCain - Joe Lieberman has never been shy about speaking his mind. That outspokenness on the campaign trail is what got him in his recent predicament, where his fate as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and member of the Democratic caucus depended on the good graces of Senate Democrats.
Lieberman easily won the vote on Tuesday allowing him to keep his chairmanships, but he might not have been so fortunate without the implicit backing of President-elect Barack Obama, the same man Lieberman said so many nasty things about during the race for the White House. Yet Obama wasn't just acting out of bipartisan good will. In supporting Lieberman's continued inclusion in the Democratic caucus, he may have effectively defanged his toughest potential opponent in the Senate Democratic caucus. If Lieberman is anything, as he proved with John McCain, he's loyal - and now he owes Obama a big one. His job over the next few years, for the first time in his long political career, is to keep quiet.
The move is especially savvy because Obama - and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid - know that in order to achieve virtually anything on the Democrats' long list of ambitious legislation they will need every vote they can possibly get in the Senate. Obama's biggest challenge in both chambers of Congress will be keeping the varying factions of his own party together, especially more liberal members and the more conservative so-called Blue Dog Democrats. To that end Lieberman can be an asset, especially in helping to convince his fellow moderate members in the so-called Gang of 14, including some Republicans like John McCain and Lindsey Graham. "We need every person that we can in Congress working constructively to move forward with the new agenda for our country," says Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat. "Look, we're the majority party, we have the responsibility to act, and we've got to bring in the broadest possible coalition in order to get that done, and Senator Lieberman can be a very valuable member of our team."
The Gang of 14 - or what's left of it, now that Republicans John Warner, Mike DeWine and Lincoln Chafee have all either retired or lost re-election bids - came into existence in the Spring of 2005 to prevent the far left and right wings of the two parties from blowing up the Senate over several of President Bush's judicial appointments. Senate Republicans wanted to use an arcane Senate rule to effectively overcome, and therefore destroy, the fillibuster. "While Presidents come and go every four to eight years, judges could be there 20 to 30 years. More and more decisions are being made by the courts," says Norm Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "So you're going to have a number of instances - at least a few fairly soon - where you might get filibusters. And that's where calling in party loyalty matters and it makes sense to keep Lieberman in the fold."
For anybody with doubts about Lieberman's fate, Obama's meeting with McCain in Chicago on Monday was a clear sign that the President-elect is more interested in building bridges than tearing them down. Reid himself underscored that theme at a press conference following the caucus meeting where members voted 42-13 to allow Lieberman to remain in the caucus and to keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Government Reform Committee - though they stripped him of his seat on the Environment and Public Works Committee. "I would defy anyone to be more angry than I was," said Reid. "But I also believe that if you look at the problems we face as a nation, is this a time we walk out of here saying, "Boy, did we get even"?
Reid's comments will likely do little to stem the tide of liberal anger that will come from Lieberman's continued presence in the caucus. Many Democrats were already angry at Lieberman's unyielding support of the war in Iraq long before he endorsed McCain and openly questioned Obama's patriotism during the course of the campaign. Some bloggers and activists argue that the Connecticut Independent should have lost his chairmanship not because of his past behavior, but because he could use the powerful committee, which has jurisdiction - and subpoena power - over the executive branch to make trouble for Obama. To strengthen his bargaining position, Lieberman had threatened to bolt to the Republican caucus if he lost his committee chair.
When asked repeatedly if he felt reprimanded, chagrined or punished, Lieberman himself responded with unwavering support for his fellow Democrats. "This is the beginning of a new chapter, and I know that my colleagues in the Senate Democratic Caucus were moved not only by the kind words that Senator Reid said about my longtime record, but by the appeal from President-elect Obama himself that the nation now unite to confront our very serious problems," said Lieberman, while admitting that he had uttered certain statements on the trail that he now regretted.
Many members of the caucus are still furious with Lieberman - 13 voted against him in the secret ballot and many more emerged saying that while this was good for the country they personally will have a tough time forgiving him. That lingering resentment should help guarantee his cooperation. "It is the iron law of reciprocity. He will remember and help those who helped him at a critical time in the future," says James Thurber, director of American University's Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies. "It is politically smart. The President and the Democrats will need him in the future. It is part of building bipartisanship and political capital."
As potential GOP presidential candidates descend on CPAC 2009 this week, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is taking a turn away from the spotlight. (By Chris Miller -- Associated Press)
"Well Before the 2012 Season, Obama Kicks the GOP a Political Football"
By Chris Cillizza And Perry Bacon Jr., washingtonpost.com, Monday, February 23, 2009; A03
One month into the Obama presidency, the race for the 2012 GOP nomination appears very much underway.
Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, before heading to the National Governors Association annual meeting that started over the weekend in the District, spoke Friday at a GOP gathering in South Carolina, one of the key primary states in the Republican nominating calendar.
And this week, potential GOP hopefuls will appear at forums where they will woo party activists.
Govs. Charlie Crist of Florida, Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Haley Barbour of Mississippi will speak today at a dinner meeting of the Republican Governors Association, a day before Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal gives the GOP response to President Obama's speech to Congress.
Sanford, along with former governors (and 2008 presidential candidates) Mike Huckabee (Ark.) and Mitt Romney (Mass.), will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference here later this week. (One notable absence: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, who passed on a trip here -- a savvy move, given her risk of overexposure a full three years before votes in Iowa and New Hampshire.)
But the most obvious sign of the early campaigning has been in response to the economic stimulus proposal Obama signed last week. While Crist and Huntsman spoke positively of the package, nearly every other GOP presidential hopeful joined many fiscal conservatives in criticizing it -- with Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty even appearing on MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show" to blast the initiative as too expensive.
With the stimulus money now headed to the states, the 2012 hopefuls have a big decision to make: whether to accept all the stimulus money slated for their states.
Jindal, for his part, said Friday that he would not accept funds that would increase the state's unemployment insurance coverage in the short term for fear that once the federal money disappeared, the state would be forced to raise taxes to keep the same level of coverage.
"Our state is facing a serious budget situation and it would be irresponsible to enter into an expansion of benefits right now that would ultimately increase taxes on the very businesses we are working to support during these tough economic times," Jindal said in a statement. "The federal money in this bill will run out in less than three years for this benefit and our businesses would then be stuck paying the bill."
But First There's 2010
While the focus in today's meeting between Obama and the nation's governors will be on the 2012 GOP aspirants mentioned above, there are any number of compelling campaign story lines for 2010, when 38 states will hold gubernatorial elections.
Democratic-held governorships in Republican strongholds such as Oklahoma, Kansas and Tennessee are up for grabs, and several embattled governors -- Jim Gibbons (R) of Nevada and David A. Paterson (D) of New York, to name just two -- are already fighting for their political lives.
Here's The Fix's latest Line on the five most likely governorships to switch party control in 2010. For a full list, check out The Fix online at http://www.washingtonpost.com/thefix.
5. Tennessee (Democratic-controlled): Democrats saw their chances of holding the Volunteer State governorship weakened when Rep. Lincoln Davis (D) took a pass on the race. Former congressman Harold Ford Jr. (D) isn't running, either -- although he has yet to say so publicly -- and there isn't a terribly deep Democrat bench. Any Democratic candidate will start behind either Rep. Zach Wamp or Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslem -- the two leading GOP candidates.
4. Oklahoma (D): Candidates continue to circle this race. The latest is state Sen. Randy Brodgon (R), who joins U.S. Reps. Mary Fallin and Tom Cole as potential Republican candidates. The Democratic field is slightly more settled, with Lt. Gov. Jari Askins in the race and state Attorney General Drew Edmondson weighing the contest but not expected to make a decision until the fall. The strong Republican nature of Oklahoma means that the GOP nominee starts the general-election race as a favorite.
3. Kansas (D): Two things make this race a very likely pickup for Republicans. First, the popular Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) is term-limited out of office after eight years. Second, Sen. Sam Brownback (R) is running for governor. Even if Sebelius leaves office early to take a post in the Obama administration, Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson has said he will not run for governor in 2010. The Democratic base is thin, and no top-tier candidates have come forward.
2. Rhode Island (Republican-controlled): Candidate recruitment is still ongoing, but there doesn't appear to be another Don Carcieri coming down the pipe for Republicans. Carcieri, the term-limited Republican governor who is out of office in 2010, campaigned as an outsider with a pragmatic perspective on government and managed to win two terms in this decidedly Democratic state. In 2010, all of the energy appears to be on the Democratic side. State Treasurer Frank Caprio is setting the early pace for Democrats with more than $1 million in his campaign war chest.
1. Nevada (R): Republicans and Democrats agree: If GOP Gov. Jim Gibbons runs for a second term in 2010, he will lose. Gibbons's travails are too numerous to document here (if you want a full accounting, read Fix friend Jon Ralston), but the following headline says it all: "Governor Gibbons hopes to delay proceedings in civil trial." Not good. Rory Reid, the chairman of the Clark County Commission and eldest son of Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), is raising money for the race, and state Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley is also interested.
Knickerbocker SKD, a well-regarded direct-mail firm in New York, is expanding its reach into the nation's capital -- opening an office and hiring veteran political operative Chris Cooper to run it.
Cooper, a partner in MSHC, another mail operation, starts the new job March 2. He brings a wealth of campaign experience to Knickerbocker, having managed the campaigns of Rep. John M. Spratt Jr. (D-S.C.) in the mid-1990s and overseen a number of races as a mail consultant. Among the clients Cooper will bring with him are Reps. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.), Chet Edwards (D-Tex.) and Zack Space (Ohio).
Josh Isay, a former aide to Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), founded Knickerbocker. The firm has done considerable work in New York for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) and the Service Employees International Union, and it was one of a handful of mail firms that did work for the Obama presidential campaign.
1 DAY: President Obama addresses a joint session of Congress. While it's not officially a State of the Union speech, expect it to be covered like one.
22 DAYS: Former president George W. Bush gives his first speech since leaving office last month. The address will be in Calgary, Alberta.
A BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL: Short fuse
February 22, 2009
"GOP: Grandstanding Or Posturing"
Republican fiscal conservatives had little to say when their own party racked up record deficits amid a growing economy, but suddenly, amid a horrific slowdown, the GOP is all about budget restraint. So much so that, according to the Associated Press, a smattering of Republican governors may refuse some of the $787 billion federal stimulus package. Some of those governors - Alaska's Sarah Palin and Louisiana's Bobby Jindal - are thought to have presidential aspirations. Maybe future primary voters will reward them for their purity, but current constituents lose out in the meantime. Then again, the stimulus law does allow legislatures to claim the money even a governor refuses, so newfound deficit hawks can posture all they want without facing any consequences.
US Representative David G. Reichert talked with Jane Milhans at the Lincoln Day Breakfast last Saturday in Tacoma, Wash. (Jim Bryant/Associated Press)
"Stimulus 'nay' carries risk for some House Republicans"
By Sasha Issenberg, Boston Globe Staff, February 24, 2009
TACOMA, Wash. - US Representative David G. Reichert's first mention that he "voted no twice on the stimulus package" earned him a standing ovation that echoed through the Elks Club auditorium. A declaration that "we should be angry" provoked screams of, "We are!"
Not all of his Seattle-area constituents thrum with such ready outrage at the $787 billion collection of new spending and tax cuts President Obama signed into law a week ago. A day earlier, Reichert met a couple forced to close a 25-year old millwork business and lay off 170 workers. Together they went through the stimulus bill to see if it offered any aid. Often these days, Reichert has one staff member uncovering new outrages in the 1,071-page legislation as another pores over it hoping to find help for besieged constituents.
When Obama addresses a joint session of Congress in a televised speech tonight to outline his budget priorities and policy agenda, he will face 176 House Republicans who voted unanimously against his stimulus bill. Fewer than one dozen share Reichert's predicament: He represents a district carried by Obama in November, in this case by 15 percentage points.
He is the type of endangered Republican most sought by Obama's gestures of bipartisan outreach, but also the type whom the new president's successes would be most likely to dislodge from office.
Yesterday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced plans to target him and 11 other House Republicans facing reelection next year with radio ads and phone calls informing voters that they "voted against President Obama's economic recovery plan." Since first winning office in 2004, Reichert has been reelected in tough races because his sensibility - an even-tempered, pragmatic centrist - fits the prosperous Seattle suburbs he represents.
"I wish Democrats would spend a lot of money in the Eighth telling people Dave Reichert voted against the stimulus. But people also want to hear you're also not a 'no' on everything," said Luke Esser, the Washington state Republican chairman. "People would not want to see - in a district like the Eighth - Dave Reichert to be reflexively against everything just because Barack Obama is for it."
Reichert believes voters have grown more skeptical of the stimulus as they have learned more about it. On the day of the vote, as the phones in his Capitol Hill office jangled with constituent calls, Reichert started answering them himself: Not one of the dozen callers asked him to support the bill. (Aides told him the total tally ran 10-to-1 against the bill.) Last week, when he held a "tele-town hall," more than 5,000 people joined the conference call, more than 10 times the usual, and he could not find a stimulus proponent to engage.
"People are beginning to realize the impact of the amount of spending," said Reichert. "This figure is hard for people to understand."
Obama acknowledged the criticism, but told governors at the White House yesterday, "We agree on 90 percent of the stuff, and we're spending all our time on television arguing about 1, 2, 3 percent of the spending."
National polls have shown that voters retain confidence in Obama, even as their doubts have grown about whether the stimulus plan will have its intended effect. An average calculated by Pollster.com shows that just more than 60 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing, nearly identical to the number that disapprove of Congress.
"If that goes forward, it will probably be good for Republicans that Obama is not on the ballot in 2010," Esser said. "Republican and Democrat candidates will be judged on their qualities."
Reichert takes pride in being an ideological outlier. He has happily met with antiwar activists Cindy Sheehan and with MoveOn.org leaders and boasts of voting against the Republican Party line on stem-cell research, oil-drilling in the Alaska wilderness, and intervention in the Terri Schiavo right-to-die case.
"People put too much emphasis on all that junk," Reichert said of partisan allegiances. "The people that voted for me were Obama voters. They wanted change and a congressman that was independent."
Like many Republicans, Reichert offers warnings about the ruinous potential of the stimulus plan, saying that it will do little to boost the economy and leave his grandchildren - pointing them out in the breakfast crowd to make his point - with massive debt.
"I think you'll start seeing by late summer" voters souring on the stimulus plan, said Tom Campbell, a Republican state representative who has already begun a campaign to unseat Democrat Adam Smith in the congressional district next to Reichert's.
"I don't think the Obama tide is as awesome and big as it may appear."
But in the short term, Reichert acknowledges that the stimulus bill will deliver tangible good news to his constituents. By April, they are to start seeing the bill's tax cuts reflected in slightly larger paychecks. Within months, there may be job listings for construction projects, perhaps for the high-speed rail corridor - one of 10 nationwide to share in $8 billion in new funding - that runs along Reichert's district. By the end of the year, local companies in this tech-centric area may be reaching for some of the money to improve the digital infrastructure of the healthcare industry.
"I feel a responsibility at this point to make this still work," Reichert said. "It's passed, it's into law. Like a cop, there may be a law I don't like, but it's my duty to enforce it."
Sasha Issenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Banal in Baton Rouge: Bobby Jindal misses an opportunity to offer new ideas."
The Washington Post, Editorial, Thursday, February 26, 2009; A18
THE RESPONSE by the loyal opposition to a sitting president's address to the nation is a prime opportunity on two fronts. It's a chance for the party to tell the country what it stands for and present concrete and innovative ideas that constructively challenge the administration in power. It's also an occasion to showcase emerging leaders. Under normal circumstances, the task is daunting. But it proved overwhelming Tuesday night for the man tapped to respond to President Obama, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R). Rather than offering new ideas, Mr. Jindal served up well-worn Republican mistrust of government and reliance on tax cuts.
Slamming the recently signed stimulus package, Mr. Jindal said, "Instead of trusting us to make wise decisions with our own money," Democratic leaders in Congress "passed the largest government spending bill in history." He argued that a better way to create jobs would be through income and business tax cuts, home-buyer tax credits and business incentives. Missing were Mr. Jindal's prescriptions for stemming the tsunami of housing foreclosures and unfreezing the credit markets. To bolster his argument that the stimulus package was a $1 trillion (with interest) boondoggle, Mr. Jindal criticized $140 million for volcano monitoring -- as if watching volcanoes were different from, say, monitoring hurricanes or building levees.
That brings us to Mr. Jindal's frequent invocation of Hurricane Katrina, which laid waste to the Gulf Coast and New Orleans in 2005. "Some are promising that government will rescue us from the economic storms raging all around us," he said. "Those of us who lived through Hurricane Katrina, we have our doubts." It's true that when the federally built levees broke in New Orleans, Americans saw an abject failure by the federal government to come to the rescue. That doesn't mean that when disaster strikes, citizens are wrong to look to their government for help. The people of the Crescent City and the Gulf Coast have shown incredible resilience thanks to private charity -- and $140.2 billion from Washington.
That Mr. Jindal continues to eschew a role for government in extraordinary cases like Katrina (or an economic meltdown) is evidence of an acute case of ideological rigidity. Or maybe that's only when he's speaking on national television. According to House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn's office, Mr. Jindal is pressing Congress for up to $6 billion in Gulf Coast recovery funding for housing assistance, case management, debris removal and other vital projects. If Mr. Jindal firmly believes that "the strength of America is not found in our government" and that "the way to strengthen our country is to restrain spending in Washington," he should lead by example by forgoing the funds he seeks.
North Adams native Paul Babeu, sheriff of Pinal County, Ariz., is featured alongside U.S. Sen. John McCain in this screen capture of a commerical from Arizona. McCain is pushing to complete the border fence between Mexico and Arizona. (Courtesy photo)
"Ex-councilor Babeu backs border fence"
By Jennifer Huberdeau, New England Newspapers: The Berkshire Eagle & The North Adams Transcript, May 13, 2010
Yes, that is former North Adams City Councilor Paul Babeu walking alongside U.S. Sen. John McCain in a commercial calling for the completion of a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border.
"I have been heavily involved in helping to develop Sen. McCain's 10-point border security plan, which calls for the immediate deployment of 3,000 National Guard soldiers to the Arizona/Mexican border," said Babeu, now sheriff of Pinal County, Ariz., in a recent e-mail.
McCain, along with fellow U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., recently announced their border security plan, which includes the immediate deployment of 3,000 National Guard troops along the Arizona border, the permanent placement of 3,000 custom and border protection agents on the border by 2015 and increases in funding for border patrol operations.
"In my opinion, the only long-term solution to slow and eventually stop the unending flow of illegals crossing into Arizona is this 10-point plan," said Babeu, a major in the Arizona Army National Guard and a former commander of Task Force Yuma, a group that supports the U.S. Border Patrol in securing the U.S. border with Mexico.
"It is comprehensive and it will work. The national focus on border crimes couldn't have come at a better time, given the heightened level of violence by drug and human smugglers," he said.
Popular in media
Babeu, who was elected Pinal County sheriff in 2008, has quickly become a media darling -- appearing not only in McCain's television and Internet ads but also on CNN and Fox News, where he was recently interviewed by Greta Van Susteren about his support of Arizona's tough new immigration law, which allows police to demand proof of legal residency.
"We have one of the highest crime rates in all of America," Babeu said during the interview on April 27, just days before smugglers allegedly shot one of his deputies in Vekol Valley, a corridor along the Mexican border used heavily by drug and human smugglers. "The new immigration law is a welcomed action by those of us in law enforcement."
He said the law can be used effectively by law enforcement, despite critics who say it will increase police profiling. Arizona lawmakers argue the law is needed because the federal government has failed to secure its border with Mexico and has allowed some 450,000 illegal immigrants to move into the state.
"A third of my county's population is Hispanic," Babeu said during the interview. "I have 200 staff members who are Hispanic. It's another tool for us -- we pull people over not because of the color of their skin but because they commit traffic violations.
Illegals found in car
"Recently, we had a few deputies involved in a traffic stop. The operator of the vehicle immediately pulled into a residential driveway and got out of the car. Our deputies suspected that he was an illegal, not because of his skin color, but because of his actions." He said the man said he was the only person in the car and then fled on foot. A deputy, who stayed behind, found nine other illegal immigrants in the Ford Taurus sedan, including two who were in the trunk of the car.
"Smugglers, not only of drugs but of people, have reached an epidemic proportion in our state," Babeu said. "We would never ask for troops if we could handle this."
"Nervous in Arizona"
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, May 14, 2010
It's difficult to fault former North Adams mayoral candidate turned Pinal County, Arizona sheriff Paul Babeu for his support of Arizona's new immigration law. Sheriff Babeu is a law enforcement officer looking for new enforcement options and the law's invitation to ethnic profiling and its unconstitutional nature are not his concern. The man who should know better is standing next to Mr. Babeu in the commercial that has made the Berkshire native a minor TV celebrity. Senator John McCain, the former voice of moderation driven to the right if not completely over the edge by his Republican primary fight with an extremist talk show host, is an American hero who has let America down.
The senator and the sheriff are touting creation of a fence along the Mexican border along with the deployment of 3,000 National Guard troops, 3,000 more customs and border agents and increases in funding for border patrol operations. This pie-in-the sky plan offered by Mr. McCain and fellow Arizona Senator Jon Kyl is going nowhere because it would cost a fortune and Republicans aren't allowed to call for tax increases, but it is just an election year ploy anyway. Senator McCain mocked the idea of a border fence three years ago in a magazine interview but that was before he began flip-flopping like Mitt Romney and shedding all of the principles that caused Democrats and Republicans alike to admire him.
Arizona's ethnic profiling law may crumble under the lawsuits brought against it, but it is possible the state's business community will bring it down first. The Los Angeles City Council has voted 13-1 to boycott Arizona businesses. A nervous Arizona Chamber of Commerce has urged Major League Baseball not to become a "pawn in a political debate" by moving next year's All-Star game from Phoenix. In truth, MLB would be taking an admirable leadership role in this "political debate" if it took the game away from Arizona, but that is too much to expect of timid commissioner Bud Selig and wealthy owners.
Closer to home, Democratic Governor Deval Patrick harshly criticized the Arizona law last week but did not call for punitive measures, as has Green-Rainbow gubernatorial candidate Jill Stein in proposing a divesting of state funds from Arizona. Courting the tea party, independent candidate Tim Cahill has endorsed the law while Republican candidate Charles Baker is doing his best to avoid taking a stand.
Massachusetts agencies, boards, colleges and businesses played a role along with their counterparts around the world in bringing down apartheid by boycotting or divesting from South Africa. Arizona's actions invite the same response.
"McCain rips Republican candidates for "isolationism""
By Thomas Ferraro and Dave Clark, June 19, 2011
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican Senator John McCain, his party's 2008 presidential nominee, ripped into the current crop of Republican White House contenders, accusing them of breaking party tradition by preaching "isolationism."
McCain said if former President Ronald Reagan were still alive he would have been disappointed in last week's Republican presidential debate in which candidates voiced impatience with U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya.
"He would be saying: That's not the Republican Party of the 20th century, and now the 21st century. That is not the Republican Party that has been willing to stand up for freedom for people for all over the world," McCain said.
McCain made the comments in an interview with ABC's "This Week" program that was broadcast on Sunday.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who was one of McCain's top advisers in the 2008 campaign, echoed McCain's concerns.
Asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" if he's fearful "that there is an isolationist streak now running now through the Republican Party, Graham said, "Yes."
"If you think the pathway to the GOP (Republican) nomination in 2012 is to get to Barack Obama's left on Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq, you are going to meet a lot of headwinds," Graham said.
At their first major debate last Monday, Republican White House hopefuls questioned the wisdom of U.S. fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya.
Their performances marked a stark difference from just a few years ago.
In 2004, then Republican President George W. Bush successfully won a second term by embracing his war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the 2008 campaign, McCain and other Republicans also supported Bush's surge of troops in Iraq.
But at last week's debate in New Hampshire, Republican presidential candidates made it clear that times have changed.
"A WAR OF INDEPENDENCE"
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, seen as the early front-runner for the Republican nomination, reflected the sentiment of many of those hoping to unseat Democratic President Barack Obama in next year's election.
"Our troops should not go off and fight a war of independence for another country." Romney said. "Only the Afghanis can win Afghanistan's independence from the Taliban."
McCain said he was not ready to endorse any candidate for his party's 2012 presidential nomination, but is concerned about what he heard from them in the debate.
"This is isolationism. There's always been an isolation strain in the Republican Party," McCain said. "But now it seems to have moved more center stage, so to speak."
McCain said that some of the opposition from Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail to current military efforts is the result of partisan politics.
House of Representatives Republican leaders have warned they could move legislation to cut off funds for operations in Libya.
"I would say to my Republican friends: If this were a Republican president, would you be trying to impose these same conditions?" McCain said.
(Editing by Will Dunham)