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Friday, October 31, 2003

Democratic Senator Zell Miller of Georgia has announced that he will endorse and campaign for George W. Bush. This isn't too surprising, since Miller has long been considered one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate and the most likely to switch parties. He will retire from the Senate next year, so his defection is unlikely to have any serious consequences for him.
--Posted at 11:07 AM | link

Thursday, October 30, 2003

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU)--the largest union in the AFL-CIO--has announced that it will support "Dean or no one." In other words, not Gephardt. The SEIU suggested that Gephardt is not a viable candidate, but it may have also liked Dean's health plan. The union's "litmus test" for an endorsement is a comprehensive health plan with an explanation of funding.
--Posted at 9:25 PM | link

The AP has an article explaining the concerns expressed about electronic touchscreen voting machines. There's also a shorter version that summarizes the major issues.
--Posted at 9:20 PM | link

The lastest poll from Quinnipiac University has Clark leading the Democrats with 17 percent, tied with "Don't Know." Dean and Lieberman are tied for second with 13 percent, and Gephardt is close behind with 12 percent. Kerry has 10 percent, and the rest are single digits, in about the order you'd expect.

But if Hillary Clinton is thrown into the mix, she wins easily among Democrats with 43 percent, with Clark way behind at 10 percent. That's more fuel for the theory, which has become a minor obsession on the Right, that she'll end up running. But her numbers against George W. Bush are slightly worse than those of the other Democratic candidates.

I really wonder why Hillary Clinton is still in this poll. No other undeclared candidates are included. It made sense to put Clark in the polls before he entered the race, because he had not ruled out running. But Hillary Clinton has said that she won't run, and nothing I've seen suggests that she might change her mind. Gore was in the Quinnipiac poll last month, and it looks like they stopped asking about him this month. I guess they don't consider a Gore candidacy plausible anymore, but they haven't ruled out a Clinton run.
--Posted at 9:10 PM | link

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

John Kerry is comparing Bush's optimistic statements about Iraq with the statements made by officials in the 1960's and 1970's about the Vietnam War:


"At the rate that they're going, it reminds me of the 'light at the end of the tunnel' language during Vietnam," said Kerry, a decorated war veteran who opposed the conflict upon his return from Southeast Asia.

Government and military officials in the 1960s and early 1970s often used the phrase "light at the end of the tunnel" to describe a victory in Vietnam that never came.

...

"If the president thinks that the reality is that we're being attacked and the bombings are taking place because we're putting on electricity and because it's just a dangerous place, I think he's really sidestepping the truth," Kerry said.
John McCain made some similar comments:

Though there is no love lost between Bush and McCain—the residue of the brutal nomination race—the senator has been a dutiful soldier.

Until now. In a NEWSWEEK interview, McCain for the first time compared the situation in Iraq to Vietnam, where he survived six years of wartime imprisonment, and began openly distancing himself from Bush’s war strategy. McCain, aides say, was rankled by what he saw as a useless, Panglossian classified briefing, especially after reading Donald Rumsfeld’s now infamous internal memo. In it, the secretary of Defense said that Iraq would be a “long slog,” and admitted the government had no “metric” for knowing if it was making net progress in ridding the world of terrorists.

“This is the first time that I have seen a parallel to Vietnam,” McCain declared, “in terms of information that the administration is putting out versus the actual situation on the ground. I’m not saying the situation in Iraq now is as bad as Vietnam. But we have a problem in the Sunni Triangle and we should face up to it and tell the American people about it.” Also reminiscent of Vietnam, McCain said, was the administration’s reluctance to deploy forces with the urgency required for the quickest victory. “I think we can be OK, but time is not on our side... If we don’t succeed more rapidly, the challenges grow greater.”

If the information coming out of Iraq diverges too much from what Bush is saying, his perceived credibility could plummet. Casualties are bad, but obvious evasiveness about them is even worse--at least as far as Bush's popularity is concerned. Despite McCain's past clashes with Bush, he has been a strong supporter of the war, and his decision to criticize Bush cannot be easily dismissed as mere personal bitterness.

It doesn't help Bush that the "Mission Accomplished" banner from his May 1 speech declaring the end of major combat in Iraq is coming back to haunt him. Bush claimed on Tuesday that the banner, under which he spoke in May, was put up by members of the aircraft carrier crew to indicate that their mission--not the Iraq war mission--was accomplished. On Wednesday, he said that the White House helped with the production of the banner at the crew's request. It seems, well, less than plausible to me that the White House didn't intend the banner to be a statement about the war, no matter whose idea it was originally.
--Posted at 11:01 PM | link

Monday, October 27, 2003

Joe Lieberman said that if he were elected, he would ask Senator John McCain to be Secretary of Defense. It's unclear how serious he was, although it certainly wasn't any kind of official offer:

After initially insisting it was a joke, Lieberman's spokesman Jano Cabrera conceded his boss was somewhat serious.

But, he added, "Sen. Lieberman recognizes that he's not exactly in a position to be making any Cabinet-level appointments, but if he were elected president, he would be honored to have his friend John McCain serve as secretary of Defense or elsewhere in his administration."
McCain said through a spokesman that he appreciated the offer but that he'd prefer to stay in the Senate.
--Posted at 6:40 PM | link

Sunday, October 26, 2003

The Democratic candidates held their fifth debate on Sunday. The AP has a summary of the major issues discussed and some excerpts.
--Posted at 11:37 PM | link

A recent poll indicates that strong support for Bush is slightly greater than strong opposition. Forty percent of those polled said that they would definitely vote for Bush, and 33 percent said that they definitely would not.
--Posted at 11:23 PM | link

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