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Archive for the ‘John McCain’ Category

The campaign fund-raising figures have been released, and there are a few early winners, and a few early losers.

The winners are quite obvious: Senator Hillary Clinton (D, New York) $26 million, Senator Barack Obama (D, Illinois) with $25 million, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) with $23 million.  The loser is also quite obvious as Senator John McCain (R, Arizona) raised “only” $12 million.

Senator McCain has long been known for his attempts to lessen money’s influence in politics; however, money still plays a major role, and he will need better fund-raising over the next several months if he wishes to stay in the race. His less-than-stellar fund-raising figures have been attributed to a disorganized fund-raising team, and a lackadaisical attitude among the fund-raising staff. Needless to say, the campaign announced a reorganization of their fundraising efforts would take place.

The most intriguing part of the figures lies with Senator Obama and former Governor Romney’s fund-raising totals. Romney, though trailing in most polls, took in a massive amount of money over the first phase of fund-raising. Many have attributed this to his ties in the corporate world, as well as to the Mormon church. His multi-million dollar lead on both former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (who raised around $17 million) and Senator McCain shows that Romney is to be taken very seriously.

Senator Obama’s ability to raise money, as evidenced by his $25 million, must be making those in Senator Clinton’s campaign a little worried. Not only did Obama, who does have nearly as many fund-raising connections as Senator Clinton, raise nearly as much money as Clinton, but he did so with nearly twice as many contributors (100,000 for Obama as opposed to 50,000 for Clinton), showing his widespread appeal, and the ability to go back to some of those contributors for more donations.

It’s still very early, but with the number of highly recognizable candidates (Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, John Edwards) fund-raising has been outrageous so far. The previous highs for fund-raising at this point were nearly $15 million less than Clinton and Obama’s totals. Howard Dean in 2004, who started off in January with the largest campaign war-chest, had around $40 million. It looks at those some of this year’s candidates will reach those totals by this June.

While this year’s candidates’ ability to raise money is remarkable, it also serves as more evidence that more and more money is required for a presidential campaign, and that the campaign needs to  be shortened, and the amount of money spent on it lessened.

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John McCain and a congressional delegation visited Iraq recently, and commented on the relative peacefulness and safety of Baghdad’s largest marketplace.

The Iraqis had other things to say.

Most of the Iraqis in the market pointed out that the relative safety had more to do with the increased security for the Congressmen (Sharpshooters on the rooftops, attack helicopters, Humvees, shut-off vehicle access, etc.) rather than the actual state of affairs in the marketplace. They referenced recent attacks that have killed dozens of people – mostly women and children – in the marketplace.

Senator McCain, running for President in 2008, has staunchly supported the Iraq War and has voted against attempts in Congress to call for a troop withdrawal. While a longtime fan of McCain, I’m disappointed in his apparent disregard for the opinions of the Iraqis in the marketplace, as well as his misleading statements – statements which could be construed as an attempt to justify his own position on the war.

While I agree with McCain that withdrawing is not a good plan, I also think that misrepresenting the situation is dishonest and manipulative.

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On April 15, the candidates running for President in 2008 will have to release their recent fund-raising figures to the public, but even before that date, there’s a good idea of how each candidate is doing.

The projected early leaders are John McCain and Hillary Clinton, who have well developed fund-raising options. Also, each of them has a federal account through their Senate campaigns which they can funnel into their quest for the presidency.

Giuliani and Romney are receiving money from their respective states, New York and Massachusetts. Romney also has the fund-raising from Mormons and his contacts from the corporate world. Both of these men have the disadvantage of having to start from scratch, as they cannot transfer any federal dollars into their accounts from Senate or House fund-raising.

While Edwards will again rely on his trial lawyer network, Obama has perhaps the most different approach of all of the candidates. He has still received many donations from larger groups – notably Hollywood – Obama has also taken a different tack to his large scale fund-raising, taking somewhat of a Howard Dean approach by holding events with very cheap entry fees to attract large audiences. He already has a strong “grass roots” appeal, and by hosting these events and using the Internet he’s utilizing a different approach then you typically see.

In the end most of this isn’t really new. The front runners will continue to build money and endorsements and take small jabs at each other, and the big hitting will come this fall and winter. The reality of it is, if the candidates don’t raise enough to be able to pay the $1 million a week that they’ll need during the primary, their candidacy is in trouble.

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Democrats in the House and Senate voted to keep a troop withdrawal timetable in the Iraq appropriations bill (a bill allowing an additional $122 billion in war funds) by razor thin majors.

The motion (which, to clarify, did not pass the bill, merely kept a clause in the bill calling for a timetable) passed 50-48 in the Senate, with Mike Enzi (R, Wyoming) and Tim Johnson (D, South Dakota) not voting because they were absent. A similar motion (calling for troops to be recalled by September ’08) passed in the House by a margin of 218-212.

While Senator Kennedy (D, Massachussetts) called the votes “momentous,” in reality, they showed just how divided Congress still is on the matter of Iraq, and President Bush has vowed to veto any bill that contains a timetable for withdrawal. Given that the vote was so close, it’s highly unlikely that the Democrats will be able to muster the 2/3 majority needed to overcome a Presidential veto.

Both Democrats and Republicans defected from their party lines, and even moderate Republicans were extremely worried about setting a concrete timetable for withdrawal. They had this to say:

“This bill should be named the Date Certain for Surrender Act. A second-year cadet at West Point could tell you that if you announce when the end will be, it’s a recipe for defeat. We cannot give up just as we’re starting to turn things around in Iraq.”
John McCain (R, Arizona)

“I don’t think it’s wise to have an abrupt withdrawal from Iraq. This doesn’t mean I support an unending commitment of our troops in Iraq. I don’t.”
Susan Collins (R, Maine)

“It would be the bugle of retreat. It would be echoed and repeated through every minaret in Iraq: the coalition forces have decided to take the first step backwards. We cannot send that message. Not at this time.”
John W. Warner (R, Virginia)

While I consider myself liberal-moderate, I also find myself siding more with the Republicans on this issue. Iraq is not going to solve itself. Yes, we’ve created a terrorist recruitment ground there. Yes, we’ve lost thousands of troops.

Will pulling out fix those things? Well, it will end the casualty rate, but it will not end the terrorist presence, stem their ability to recruit, or help stabilize the Middle East in any way. As I’ve stated in a previous post, leaving Iraq will, beyond being a serious moral blow to our military and our country, create the kind of chaotic situation in which terrorism thrives.

We’ve seen this kind of example throughout history, a failed democratic project that slips into chaos. What does it lead to? There are two very famous examples. Two men rose to power and changed history: Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Other governments that have arisen from a chaotic state are usually despotic in nature: European feudal governments after the Viking invasions in the 9th and 10th century, Japan after Commodore Perry forcefully opened the country to trade, China and Russia after their early 20th century revolutions, Hitler and Mussolini, Tito in Yugoslavia, the Taliban, the list goes on.

Doe we want to be responsible for creating another despotic state in the Middle East? Wasn’t the goal to create a model democracy?

I’m not saying that Iraq is going well. Or that the current course will lead to victory if given enough time. However, pulling the troops out IS NOT THE ANSWER.

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In a visit to Buckhead for a fundraiser tomorrow (2/28/07), Mitt Romney came under fire for changing his abortion views. In a clear attempt to appease the Religious Right in the Republican primaries, Romney has been supporting more restrictive abortion laws.

These kinds of moves seem to be becoming quite popular among some of the more moderate Republican candidates (McCain, Romney, Giuliani). Knowing that the more conservative wing of the party votes in the Republican primaries, each of these candidates has, in recent months, made an attempt to show that they are “more conservative.” McCain, in particular, seeing what happened in the 2000 primaries, has made very visible overtures to the conservatives in the party.

Oh well. This is the reality of the primaries. Due to much lower turnout, primaries are not highly representative of the nation as a whole. Obama, Clinton, Edwards, and Biden will all face this in the Democratic primaries – the pull of the liberal wing of the Democratic party. Hopefully, in the election (and most importantly, in governing) the candidates will move toward the center.

On another note, the fact that Romney is coming under fire for, as he puts it, “changing his mind” brings up an entire other subject. Its common knowledge that the American public loves the politician who “sticks to his guns,” but the idea that a politician, or any person for that matter, can’t change his mind when he perceives that a previous position was wrong is ludicrous. The President is renown for his “unwavering” stances. However, when those “unwavering” stances are wrong, wouldn’t you rather he change his mind? That’s less likely to happen if politicians continue to get crucified for changing any of their positions (which is actually quite common).

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