HANOVER, N.H., 10:49 a.m. — Today, Senator Barack Obama broke my heart.
Yesterday, at a rally for former Senator John Edwards in Hampton, N.H., I noticed that when the traveling press pool arrived, they quickly headed to a computer lab designated as the workspace for the media. When Edwards took the stage at the rally, only one or two reporters emerged. Most stayed in the room, rapping on their laptops as Edwards spoke to the crowd.
Peculiar, I thought. Old political reporters always talk about the torture of listening to the same stump speech over and over, but, still. If you’re covering Edwards, you’re covering Edwards.
The third in a series of spin room interviews following this weekend’s debates.
MANCHESTER, N.H. 1:40 a.m. — John Edwards may seem like the third wheel in the Democratic showdown between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton LAW ’73. But even so, that’s no reason to give up, says his wife, Elizabeth.
“John is in this race to the convention,” she told reporters this weekend, shooting down rumors that his campaign could fold in the coming weeks if he cannot break into the Obama-Clinton pantheon.
Why? Simple, Edwards said.
“His message is important enough,” she said.
But that doesn’t mean getting that message out has been easy. (more…)
HAMPTON, N.H., 11:30 p.m. — When a Yale student stays up all night, it’s usually because they are in a pickle — say, a term paper is due the next day, and they don’t have the requisite number of pages written.
When a presidential candidate, the same can be assumed. While former Senator John Edwards campaigned the night away, Senator Barack Obama slept like a baby. That’s because Obama is the frontrunner — and Edwards, to put it bluntly, is in trouble. But instead of pages, he doesn’t have enough votes.
And the former vice presidential candidate didn’t deny it.
“I am the underdog, there is no doubt about that,” he said. “Nobody expects us to do anything.”
But on Monday, Edwards surpassed expectations. He didn’t fall asleep. (more…)
WASHINGTON, 8:35 p.m. — A new CNN-WMUR poll released this evening shows Senator Barack Obama with a commanding 10-point lead over Senator Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 among likely Democratic primary voters two days before Granite State voters cast their ballots.
The poll, conducted Saturday and today, suggests Obama may be capitalizing on the momentum from his victory in Thursday’s Iowa caucus, in which he defeated the third-place Clinton by eight points. A similar CNN-WMUR tracking poll released yesterday showed Obama and Clinton knotted at 33 percent a piece, with former Senator John Edwards in third, at 20 percent. Today’s poll places Obama at 39 percent, Clinton at 29 percent and Edwards at 16 percent.
SEABROOK, N.H., 7:28 a.m. — “The troops have spoken, and Ron Paul is their choice as their next commander-in-chief,” says an advertisement for the Texas congressman that just ran on the morning show of the local ABC television affiliate here. Of course, the ad doesn’t give any evidence, or anything. But we’ll trust you, Mr. Paul.
The same commercial break also included spots for Senator Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 and former Senator John Edwards.
BOSTON, Mass., 4:05 a.m. — 1) Maybe it’s time to stop trying to make these debates hip and tech-savvy. What did Facebook’s “sponsorship” add to the debate other than some pretty lame polls? Couldn’t they have at least done something fun to add the “Facebook touch” on the dry proceedings? Maybe they could have let each candidate write in a status? (“Bill Richardson is wondering what he is doing here.”)
2) I really liked the banter between Hil and Obama throughout the night. Except when Obama said “You are likable enough” to Hilary, I was confused. Was this earnest? Was it an underhanded insult? Was it one of those things you say without really knowing what it means but just because it sort of sounds like the right thing to say in the moment? Was I thinking about the whole thing too much?
3) I don’t think I will be forgetting anytime soon how many years of experience Hillary Clinton has since she managed to mention her THIRTY-FIVE years of experience about thirty-five times.
4) My favorite question was, “What is something you said in a previous debate that you wish you hadn’t said?” Seriously?! Did he expect anyone to actually answer that?! These are politicians! It’s like asking someone on a first date, “So, how did you mess up your past relationships?”
5) There was this wonderful moment when they all started talking at once in response to one of the five thousand questions about “change” when Edwards cracked a smile and – just for a second – I felt like maybe, just maybe, he was realizing just how strange and ridiculous these debates are. Or maybe he was just smiling. It was hard to tell.
WEST CALDWELL, N.J., 2:15 a.m. – Pundits after tonight’s debate concluded, not without good reason, that John Edwards had chosen Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. Tom Schaller put it bluntly in his “R.I.P.” post: “The Clinton Era officially ended at 9:34 p.m. EST when Edwards paired with Obama to bury Hillary as a non-agent of change.”
But just minutes ago, in an e-mail flash sent to supporters and received by the News, Edwards seems to have turned against Obama, too. He begins:
“I’m the underdog in this race, running against two $100 million candidates. They’re working feverishly around the clock to try and stop us from getting out our message of change in New Hampshire.”
And here’s his post-spin spin:
“In tonight’s debate, there were two ‘change candidates’ on the stage. But we have very different approaches. I don’t believe you can sit around a table with the drug companies, the insurance companies or the oil corporations, negotiate with them – and then hope they’ll just voluntarily give their power away. You can’t nice them to death – it doesn’t work.”
So much for Edwards as VP, take two. For our young readers, meanwhile, a question: What is this so-called “change” really all about? Who, if any of the candidates, has it right?
MANCHESTER, N.H., 9:34 p.m. — The minute-by-minute speaks for itself:
9:26 p.m. | “We’re all advocating for change,” Clinton asserts. But it’s easier said than done, she says, and points to her record. Change, she says, “is a result of very hard work, bringing people together, stating very clearly what your goals are, what your principles are, and then achieving them.”
9:27 p.m. | Oh no she didn’t! Clinton just called Obama a flip-flopper, particularly on healthcare. “I think that’s relevant,” she said. “I think we’re looking for a president we can count on.” Didn’t someone — perhaps a certain Republican? — make that same argument against John Kerry in 2004?
9:32 p.m. | Oh no he didn’t! Bloodbath! Edwards just attacked Clinton for attacking Obama, lamenting that people who support change — like him and Obama — always get beaten up. “That’s not the kind of discussion we should be having,” he said, adding that whenever anyone pushes for change, “the forces of status quo are going to attack.” That’s a not-too-subtle dig at Clinton.
9:34 p.m. | It gets worse! Forget any attempt to be subtle. Edwards says what everyone in the filing center is thinking. “I didn’t see these kind of attacks from Senator Clinton when she was ahead,” he said.
Clinton can’t let that go. “Wait a minute now, I want to respond to this,” she said. “Making change is not about what you believe, it’s not about a speech you make, it’s about working hard.”
9:36 p.m. | Richardson chimes in, and sets the room afire with laughter. “I’ve been in hostage negotiations a lot more civil then this,” he quipped. “Let’s stay positive,” he implores. He notes, for the record, however: “I love change.”
NORMAN, Oklahoma, 10:45 a.m. — I didn’t think I would have a reading assignment while on winter break. Then again, I also hadn’t planned on interviewing Ted Marmor.
I wanted the School of Management and political science professor’s opinion on the presidential candidates’ positions on healthcare. Marmor, after all, has testified before Congress on healthcare reform, served on President Jimmy Carter’s Commission on the National Agenda and published reams of articles and books on the subject. If anyone is an expert, he is. But first I had to acquaint myself.
In ‘The Politics of U.S. Health System Reform,’ Marmor traces the history of the impact of politics on healthcare reform, calling it a story of “long-term aspiration and deep frustration.” The main obstacle to reform Marmor emphasizes is the limit of political feasibility: the harsh resistance of Republicans and the lack of commitment of Democrats.
Having earned my phone interview, Marmor and I spoke early on the Friday morning following the Iowa caucus elections. Are any of the three leading Democratic candidates capable of causing the necessary ideological shift in Washington to substantially reform the U.S. health system?
“All three of them — Obama and Edwards even more than Clinton,” Marmor says. “Obama and Edwards have a more powerful rhetorical voice on behalf of those people in trouble in America. [Hillary] is a more manipulative, less appealing moral leader.”
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa, 3:40 a.m. - A person’s style of dress is a mode of communication. Dress is an outlet by which a person says something about themselves. Dress makes a statement.
Presidential hopeful John Edwards made his statement in the final days of the Iowa campaign. His casual dress was in stark contrast to the formal wear donned by other Democratic frontrunners Hillary Rodham Clinton LAW ’73 and Barack Obama.
Edwards wore a black blazer and white collared shirt to a rally featuring singer-songwriter John Mellencamp in West Des Moines on January 2. He complemented the formality with the laborer’s signature article of clothing: jeans.
Edwards self-identifies himself as a champion for the middle class. He regularly emphasizes his position as an advocate for the working man. He wants to be regarded as “one of the guys,” and he is dressing the part.
WASHINGTON, 9:50 p.m. — Illinois Senator Barack Obama and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee will both leave Iowa and head to New Hampshire tomorrow with the wind at their backs but facing vastly different political terrain as the Granite State’s Jan. 8 primary approaches.
Obama, riding a wave of support among first-time and college-age caucus-goers that put him over the top Thursday, will hit the stump well positioned to grab a second victory five days from now. Recent polls in the state have shown the senator in the lead or in a statistical tie with New York Senator Hillary Clinton LAW ’73, whose aura of inevitability may erode further if she fails to come out on top.
By contrast, Huckabee has much ground to make up in New Hampshire, where former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s second-place finish tonight leaves him and Arizona Senator John McCain in a horse race. More libertarian and socially liberal than Iowa and less populated by evangelical Christians — who make up Huckabee’s base — New Hampshire may prove difficult for the former Baptist minister.
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa, 7:32 p.m. — The first round of results are in: Before the critical realignment stage of the Democratic caucus in this precinct, here’s an update from West Des Moines, Precinct 111:
Joe Biden: 7
Hillary Clinton: 75
Chris Dodd: 9
John Edwards: 49
Barack Obama: 99
Bill Richardson: 22
They tallied 264 caucus-goers in attendance, so I’m missing 3, but you can see the trend here in West Des Moines. The viability threshold of 15% means a candidate must have 40 votes to remain viable. They’re realigning now.