Saturday, February 02, 2008

High Noon in California

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Second Sunday update: Obama endorsed by Mrs. Governator--Maria Shriver, wife of the Republican governor of California--at a Los Angeles rally with Oprah, Michelle Obama and Caroline Kennedy.

Sunday update: Reuters/Zogby poll has Obama ahead in California for the first time, 45% to 41%. The two are virtually tied in former Clinton stronghold of New Jersey, and in Missouri.

Saturday update: Ethel Kennedy, widow of Robert F. Kennedy, endorsed Barack Obama today:

Barack is so like Bobby, who struggled for the rights of the poor in the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia, traveled to California to stand in solidarity with Cesar Chavez and farm workers and fought to end another war that cost so many lives.

Today, we crave a leader with vision who can help us regain our lost humanity and rekindle our inherent generosity. With courage, caring and charisma, Senator Obama is leading us toward a kinder, gentler world.

Senator Obama's candidacy sends out "ripples of hope" that can build a "current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." I am proud to support Barack Obama, and look forward to him leading this country toward a brighter, more hopeful future.

After an online vote of its membership, endorsed Barack Obama. He got more than 70% of the vote. According to the Nation magazine, "MoveOn, which has never endorsed a presidential candidate before, boasts that it has 1.7 million members in Super Tuesday states. The group has over half a million members in California alone – roughly one out of ten primary voters in Tuesday's largest state... Organizers said they would "immediately" begin mobilizing on behalf of Obama, leading turnout programs and phone-banking members of MoveOn in targeted states. The group made seven million "GOTV" calls for Democrats in the mid-term elections, and it has an extensive voter file database."

Several unions which had been backing John Edwards moved to Obama, including -the Service Workers Union which endorsed Obama on Friday. Said the San Jose Mercury News: "It's one of California's largest unions: The 650,000-member union's backing could help Obama cut into Hillary Rodham Clinton's lead in the polls among Democratic base voters, many of whom are union members. The SEIU includes city, county and state employees, as well as in-home support and health care workers."

Obama is moving up in the latest round of polls. The Obama campaign raised $32 million in January, and signed up a quarter million new donors. The more than 1 million a day "is the largest haul ever by a presidential candidate during a competitive primary." Unlike the Clinton campaign, many of whose big donors aren't allowed to give more than they have, Obama donors are largely small and first time donors.

Here in California, the LA Times and the Oakland Tribune endorsed Obama Friday, bringing the total of California newspapers who have endorsed him to 29--with the addition of the Los Angeles Spanish language newspaper, La Opinion. Said the LA Times:

The U.S. senator from Illinois distinguishes himself as an inspiring leader who cuts through typical internecine campaign bickering and appeals to Americans long weary of divisive and destructive politics. He electrifies young voters, not because he is young but because he embodies the desire to move to the next chapter of the American story. He brings with him deep knowledge of foreign relations and of this nation's particular struggles with identity and opportunity. His flair for expression, both in print and on the stump, too easily leads observers to forget that Obama is a man not just of style but of substance. He's a thoughtful student of the Constitution and an experienced lawmaker in his home state and, for the last three years, in the Senate.

In the language of metaphor, Clinton is an essay, solid and reasoned; Obama is a poem, lyric and filled with possibility. Clinton would be a valuable and competent executive, but Obama matches her in substance and adds something that the nation has been missing far too long -- a sense of aspiration."

The Obama campaign announced that a rally Sunday in Los Angeles will feature Michelle Obama, Caroline Kennedy and Oprah Winfrey. On Monday, the surviving members of the Grateful Dead will reunite for an Obama fund-raising concert in San Francisco.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Historic Debate in Hollywood

The last two contenders for the Democratic Party
nomination for President debated in Hollywood
Thursday, before 22 states hold primaries and
caucuses on Tuesday, including California.
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Some pundits called it a love-fest but differences
emerged, and many gave the debate to Obama
for his answers on Iraq and immigration, for his
humor, for taking on McCain and Romney and on
looking and sounding presidential. (For summary
and links: American Dash.)
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Courteous Barack guides Hillary to her chair, seats her before
sitting down, then after the debate helps her up,
thus claiming the grandmother vote.
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Lots of stars at the debate in Hollywood.
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More Obama Endorsements

Barack Obama at the Thursday
debate. He picked up several
new endorsements, including former
Fed chair Paul Volker, and the
Nation magazine. See below.
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From The Nation editorial endorsement

Barack Obama picked up the endorsement of The Nation magazine, which said in part:

The question of who can best build popular support for a progressive governing agenda is related to, but distinct from, the question of electability. Given a certain ceiling on Clinton's appeal (due largely to years of unhinged attacks from the "vast right-wing conspiracy"), her campaign seems well prepared to run a 50 percent + 1 campaign, a rerun of 2004 but with a state or two switching columns: Florida, maybe, or Ohio. Obama is aiming for something bigger: a landmark sea-change election, with the kind of high favorability and approval ratings that can drive an agenda forward.

Why should we think he can do it? The short answer is that Obama is simply one of the most talented and appealing politicians in recent memory. Perhaps the most. shows a series of polls taken in the Democratic campaign. The graphs plotting national polling numbers as well as those in the first four states show a remarkably consistent pattern. Hillary Clinton starts out with either a modest or, more commonly, a massive lead, owing to her superior name recognition and the popularity of the Clinton brand. As the campaign goes forward Clinton's support either climbs slowly, plateaus or dips. But as the actual contest approaches, and voters start paying attention, Obama's support suddenly begins to grow exponentially.

In addition to persuading those who already vote, Obama has also delivered on one of the hoariest promises in politics: to bring in new voters (especially the young). It's a phenomenon that, if it were to continue with him as nominee, could completely alter the electoral math. Young people are by far the most progressive voters of any age cohort, and they overwhelmingly favor Barack Obama by stunning margins. Their enthusiasm has translated into massive increases in youth turnout in the early contests.

Finally, there's the question of coattails. In many senses there's less difference between the two presidential candidates than there is between a Senate with fifty-one Democrats and one with fifty-six. No Democratic presidential candidate is going to carry, say, Mississippi or Nebraska, but many Democrats in those states fear that the ingrained Clinton hatred would rally the GOP base and/or depress turnout, hurting down-ticket candidates. Over the past few weeks a series of prominent red-state Democrats, most notably Ben Nelson, Kent Conrad and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, have endorsed Obama. When I asked a Democratic Congressional candidate in the Deep South who he preferred at the top of the ticket, he didn't hesitate: "Obama is absolutely the better candidate. Hillary brings a lot of sting; he takes some sting out of them."

For other endorsements, news and post-debate chatter: American Dash.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Obama in Arizona

Barack Obama in Phoenix, with Arizona Governor
Janet Napolitano (who has endorsed him) and
Caroline Kennedy. Obama was also endorsed by
80 volunteer attorneys representing prisoners at
Guantanamo. Campaign news at American Dash.
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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Barack Obama and Caroline Kennedy at
American University Monday. AP photo.
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From Sen. Ted Kennedy's Endorsement Speech

"He will be a president who refuses to be trapped in the patterns of the past. He is a leader who sees the world clearly without being cynical. He is a fighter who cares passionately about the causes he believes in, without demonizing those who hold a different view. He is tough-minded, but he also has an uncommon capacity to appeal to "the better angels of our nature."

I am proud to stand here today and offer my help, my voice, my energy and my commitment to make Barack Obama the next President of the United States.

We know the true record of Barack Obama. There is the courage he showed when so many others were silent or simply went along. From the beginning, he opposed the war in Iraq. And let no one deny that truth.

With Barack Obama, we will break the old gridlock and finally make health care what it should be in America--a fundamental right for all, not just an expensive privilege for the few. We will make the United States the great leader and not the great roadblock in the fateful fight against global warming.

I know that he's ready to be President on day one. And when he raises his hand on Inauguration Day, at that very moment, we will lift the spirits of our nation and begin to restore America's standing in the world.

There was another time, when another young candidate was running for President and challenging America to cross a New Frontier. He faced public criticism from the preceding Democratic President, who was widely respected in the party. Harry Truman said we needed "someone with greater experience"--and added: "May I urge you to be patient." And John Kennedy replied: "The world is changing. The old ways will not do...It is time for a new generation of leadership."

So it is with Barack Obama. He has lit a spark of hope amid the fierce urgency of now. I believe that a wave of change is moving across America. If we do not turn aside, if we dare to set our course for the shores of hope, we together will go beyond the divisions of the past and find our place to build the America of the future.

My friends, I ask you to join in this historic journey -- to have the courage to choose change.It is time again for a new generation of leadership. It is time now for Barack Obama."

at American University
for more on the Kennedys and California: American Dash.

Barack Obama, Sen. Ted Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy,
Rep. Patrick Kennedy at American U. AP photo.
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Barack Obama on the Kennedy Legacy

" Today isn't just about politics for me. It's personal. I was too young to remember John Kennedy and I was just a child when Robert Kennedy ran for President. But in the stories I heard growing up, I saw how my grandparents and mother spoke about them, and about that period in our nation's life - as a time of great hope and achievement. And I think my own sense of what's possible in this country comes in part from what they said America was like in the days of John and Robert Kennedy.

I believe that's true for millions of Americans. I've seen it in offices in this city where portraits of John and Robert hang on office walls or collections of their speeches sit on bookshelves. And I've seen it in my travels all across this country. Because no matter where I go, or who I talk to, one thing I can say for certain is that the dream has never died. "

at American University

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Dreaming Up Daily Image

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The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans."

Caroline Kennedy, endorsing Barack Obama in today's
New York Times.

The Tide

As of Sunday afternoon, multiple news organizations are reporting that Senator Edward Kennedy will formally endorse Barack Obama for President on Monday, at the American University in Washington. (That University will forever be known as place where JFK made one of the most important speeches of the 20th century, an eloquent argument that soon evenuated in the nuclear test ban treaty with the Soviet Union, the first real progress in controlling nuclear weapons.)

The Boston Globe reports that Ted Kennedy will campaign vigorously for Obama in the upcoming Super Tuesday primary states. Here in California, Kennedy's popularity with the Latino community is expected to help Obama, as is the endorsement of California Rep. Xavier Becerra, the highest ranking Latino in the House.

In addition to the endorsement of the Democratic Party's most respected elder statesmen, it's also being reported that Obama will receive the endorsement of one of its rising stars, Kathleen Sebelius, Governor of Kansas. Sebelius will give the official Democratic response to Bush's State of the Union address Monday, and it's likely she will endorse Obama on Tuesday, when he will be in Kansas at his mother's birthplace.

For more, and the possibility of another big endorsement, check American Dash, your campaign headquarters, with the best pj-clad political team in blogdom.

For the Future

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Yes, We Can

The dimensions of Barack Obama's victory in the South Carolina primary Saturday are astonishing. The numbers are mind-boggling. He got more than twice the votes as the second place finisher, Hillary Clinton. He was the first candidate in a contested primary to win over half the total votes--55%.

The sheer number of votes also reflects the number of voters he inspired to the polls. The turnout was huge, and in a state with a much higher number of registered Republicans than Democrats, Obama alone got more than the combined votes that John McCain and Mike Huckabee got in their S.C. primary last week. Obama's vote total alone was greater than the total of all votes in the 2004 Democratic SC primary.

He got 4/5 of African American voters, and he was even with the others among white men, winning about a quarter of the total white vote. He won most age groups and income groups, and he won young voters overwhelmingly, including more than half of the white voters under 30.

The exit polling was replete with revelations. Voters essentially repudiated the Billary attack strategy. They found Obama the most electable in November, and they wanted change more than anything else. But they also rated him first on how to handle the economy and foreign policy.

Obama's victory speech was masterful. It turned the Billary attack strategy against them, as examples of the kind of politics Americans no longer want, and can no longer afford. Looking to February 5 primaries, he warned his supporters that the way ahead is still going to be hard.

"So this will not be easy. Make no mistake about what we're up against. We are up against the belief that it's ok for lobbyists to dominate our government – that they are just part of the system in Washington. But we know that the undue influence of lobbyists is part of the problem, and this election is our chance to say that we're not going to let them stand in our way anymore.

We are up against the conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as President comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House. But we know that real leadership is about candor, and judgment, and the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose – a higher purpose.

We are up against decades of bitter partisanship that cause politicians to demonize their opponents instead of coming together to make college affordable or energy cleaner; it's the kind of partisanship where you're not even allowed to say that a Republican had an idea – even if it's one you never agreed with. That kind of politics is bad for our party, it's bad for our country, and this is our chance to end it once and for all."

But once again he articulated his compelling vision:

The choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. It's not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white. It's about the past versus the future. It's about whether we settle for the same divisions and distractions and drama that passes for politics today, or whether we reach for a politics of common sense, and innovation – a shared sacrifice and shared prosperity.

A President Like My Father

Caroline Kennedy today
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More from Caroline Kennedy: A President Like My Father

"OVER the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible. We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama."

An Impressive Command: from SF Chronicle Endorsement

There are those who are attracted to Barack Obama's vision, but they are unsure of his command of substance. The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board grilled Obama on the issues, and this is part of what they said in today's
endorsement of Barack Obama:

"America deserves better than these cycles of vengeance and retribution. Its possibilities are too great, its challenges too daunting, for partisan pettiness. In a Jan. 17 meeting with our editorial board, Obama demonstrated an impressive command of a wide variety of issues. He listened intently to the questions. He responded with substance. He did not control a format without a stopwatch on answers or constraints on follow-up questions, yet he flourished in it.

He radiated the sense of possibility that has attracted the votes of independents and tapped into the idealism of young people during this campaign. He exuded the aura of a 46-year-old leader who could once again persuade the best and the brightest to forestall or pause their grand professional goals to serve in his administration.Of all the candidates who talk about change, Barack Obama has made the case most forcefully and most convincingly. He gets our endorsement for the Democratic nomination."

Obama was endorsed today also by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Inquirer.