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Friday, May 23, 2008

Clinton to the Convention?

When the Democratic primary calendar ends on June 3rd, Senator Obama will have more delegates than Senator Clinton.

On what grounds could a candidate who is behind at the end of a race avoid conceding that he or she has been beaten? On the grounds that the race really isn't over!

After the primary calendar has ended, Clinton's campaign can only justify or explain her staying in the race if she makes the case that the Democratic Party still has not chosen a nominee conclusively. Clinton needs an argument that the game should go into extra innings. Overtime. Bonus round. Detention. Whatever. Clinton has now found that argument -- she says she will not stop campaigning until the issue of the Florida and Michigan delegates is settled to her satisfaction.

The Florida/Michigan issue get settled, of course, by the Democrats' Rules and Bylaws Committee... unless of course that committee's decision gets appealed to the Credentials Committee... unless of course that decision, too, gets appealed... to the floor of the convention.

Do you see where this is going? If there is an open, unresolved procedural issue involving the Florida and Michigan delegations, Senator Clinton will be able to cite that as her justification for staying in the race until the convention even though she is not ahead in the nomination contest at the end of the primary calendar.

If she can ensure that the Florida and Michigan issue stays unresolved until the convention (and by appealing it every step of the way, I don't see how that can be avoided), then Clinton stays in the race until the convention. Staying in until the convention buys her three more months of campaign time, three more months to make her case to the party and the country, three more months for some potential political unfortunateness to befall Senator Obama.

And it keeps the race for the Democratic nomination open, at least theoretically, for Senator Clinton to win instead of Senator Obama.

How could Clinton win at the convention? Seems to me that three months is a long time in this race, and if it gets that far, anything could happen.

Pffft! You say. Scoff.

Listen: you don't need a vivid political imagination to recognize that if what you really want is to be President of the United States -- a slim chance of becoming President (a fight at the convention) is better than no chance of becoming President (because you dropped out).

The Clinton strategy, as best as I can tell, is to stay in the race. You can't win if you don't play -- conceding the nomination is sure defeat, not conceding means there's still a chance.

The way for her to avoid conceding is for her to avoid conceding that the race is resolved.

As long as the Florida and Michigan dispute is alive, and it is being used as the basis of Clinton's claim that the nomination is unresolved, we should expect that Senator Clinton will stay in the race.

We should also expect that if the Democratic Party's committee system takes up the Florida and Michigan dispute through its rules as they stand now, Clinton's campaign will be able to keep the Michigan and Florida dispute alive until the convention. If there's a secret Democratic-insider plan to keep that from happening, it's time for that plan to become un-secret.

The pundit corps has been counting Clinton out and saying the race is over -- but saying it doesn't make it so.

If Clinton fights to stay in until the convention -- which seems utterly plausible to me -- then I believe the Democratic Party's nominee (Obama or Clinton) will lose the general election to John McCain. This last point is of course infinitely debatable -- but my take is that in November, the party that's had a nominee since February/March, beats the party that only got a nominee the last week in August.

So, how does the Democratic Party get a nominee before the convention? Seems to me there's two things that need to happen. One small, one big.

First, Obama's campaign should stop believing what most of the press says, and start believing what Clinton says -- she isn't budging. If they don't mind the prospect of a divided convention, then fine -- if they do mind that prospect, they'll have to fight for their desired outcome. Clinton is now arguing that taking the fight to the convention is OK for the Democrats -- even noble. This argument won't be defeated if it is ignored -- Obama's camp will have to rebut.

Second, if the Democrats are to avoid a divided convention, the Florida and Michigan dispute will have to be taken off the table -- settled in a way that avoids the risk of a rules dispute that stretches the nominating contest out through the convention. I can think of only one way to do that, but there may be others.

Here's my way: based on my read of NBC's delegate math, I think if the Clinton campaign won 100% of what they wanted on the Florida and Michigan dispute, Obama could still clinch the nomination -- even according to the most pro-Clinton math -- if 90 of the remaining 210-or-so undeclared superdelegates declared for Obama.

If they so declared before May 31st, the Rules and Bylaws committee would have no reason to take up the Florida and Michigan dispute because it would be a moot point -- Obama's camp could concede every Clinton demand on the subject and still win the nomination.

Otherwise? I'll be the twitchy one on radio row at the divided Democratic convention in Denver... spooked by the ghosts of 1968, 1972, 1980...

Rachel

PS -- I should note here, briefly, that I don't have a personal preference between Senators Clinton and Obama as to who would run a better campaign against John McCain, or who would be a better President. I think both Obama and Clinton would probably be pretty good general election contenders, and probably they'd each be a good president. (50% of my hate mail tells me I'm in the tank for Obama and 50% of it tells me I'm in the tank for Clinton - although the level of vitriol on each side has risen and fallen with the tide of the campaign).

Original here

Obama to stand in for Kennedy at Wesleyan commencement

By David Abel and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff

HYANNIS PORT -- US Senator Edward M. Kennedy will not give the commencement speech Sunday at Wesleyan University, but he has found a replacement who will also make headlines -- Barack Obama.

"Considering what he's done for me and for our country, there's nothing I wouldn't do for him," Obama, an Illinois senator and Democratic presidential candidate, said in a statement. "So I'm looking forward to standing in his place on Sunday even though I know I won't be able to fill his shoes."

Before the official announcement, Kennedy was coy when he spoke to reporters on a dock as he was heading out for an afternoon sail on his 50-foot schooner.

"I think it's unlikely," Kennedy said when asked whether he would give the speech.

A few minutes later, Kennedy's office issued a statement that said Obama would be giving the speech in his place, calling it "an historic opportunity for the school and all those attending." Kennedy's stepdaughter, Caroline Raclin, will be graduating from Wesleyan on Sunday and his son, Teddy Jr., will be in attendance.

The possibility of Obama delivering the graduation speech at Wesleyan first arose when Obama and Kennedy talked by telephone last Sunday, according to those familiar with the plans. Obama offered his help in whatever way he could; Kennedy apparently had an idea.

The Kennedy side followed up today, initiating a call to Obama, and the two senators talked directly about Obama delivering the speech. Obama immediately accepted the invitation.

Kennedy has no plans to attend the graduation ceremonies, which would involve a full day of travel, according to those familiar with his plans.

Original here

Hillary Clinton Blows (Another) Hole in Her Florida Argument

Earlier today in an interview with the St. Petersburg Times, Hillary Clinton endorsed the Republican Party's decision to cut in half the voting power of the Florida delegation to the RNC.

Why should they have been cut in half? "Because it was a Republican decision" to change the primary date, she said.

The problem? Democrats also supported the decision. In fact, it passed the state senate by a 37-2 margin and it passed the state house by a 118-0 margin. Moreover, the state party leadership steadfastly stuck with the January 29 date even though they knew the DNC would not seat the Florida delegations.

Clinton herself supported the DNC's punishment when she signed a pledge to honor the DNC's rules. The key line in that pledge: "the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee will strip states of 100% of their delegates and super delegates to the DNC National Convention if they violate the nomination calendar."

And now, even though Clinton is conceding that the Republican Party was correct to penalize its delegation, she is refusing to agree to a compromise that would apply the same exact penalty to the Democratic delegation. The basis of her refusal is a demonstrably false claim.

And that of course leads us right back where we started: for Hillary Clinton, Florida has nothing to do with principle.

It's just another power play.

Update: I should also mention that the final resolution of this will have no impact on whether or not Barack Obama wins the Democratic nomination. As Al Giordano makes clear, Barack has got it locked up, even if you count Michigan and Florida at full strength. It will, however, take longer, which means more distractions from Clinton.

More importantly, it weakens the ability of the DNC to control a nomination process that we can all agree is horribly deficient. If every state can do whatever they want whenever they want, we're never going to improve the process.

Original here

Ickes: We want the Michigan uncommitted to stay uncommitted

In a conference call with reporters, Clinton Senior Adviser Harold Ickes clarified their position on Michigan -- they don't want the 55 "uncommitted" delegates to go to Obama (his name did not appear on the ballot in Michigan).

There have been reports that some of the uncommitted delegates in Michigan already selected are union supporters of Clinton. This solution, unsurprisingly, would make it much harder for Obama to clinch a pledged delegate majority.

Last week, the Clinton campaign was agnostic on the issue -- but they seem to ratcheting up the noise, or at least their negotiating position.

Ickes also mentions that the co-chairs of the Rules and Bylaws Committee -- which will rule on Florida and Michigan on May 31 -- have been holding "informal meetings" with leaders of both of the campaigns.

UPDATE: Wolfson says that most -- if not -- all of the uncommitted delegates would likely go for Obama.

Original here

Obama Steering Democrats to Massacre of Senate Republicans

The 2006 midterm elections were among the most successful for Democrats in recent history, with the five-seat shift in the Senate, the thirty-one-seat shift in the House, and the six-seat shift among governors resulting in Democratic majorities in all three categories. Ultimately, the massacre Republicans are facing in the Senate in 2008 may end up making the rout in '06 look like child's play, thanks in no small part to the likely Democratic nominee.

Of the 35 Senate seats being contested in November, 23 of them are held by Republicans, giving Democrats the opportunity to go on the offensive once more. As it stands now, Democrats are either favored or competitive in eleven states. Potentially, Barack Obama could give a significant advantage to the candidates in each of those contests. We'll get into why in a minute.

First, let's look at the places where Democrats are faring best. In New Mexico, Rep. Tom Udall is the runaway favorite to win the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Senator Pete Domenici; opinion polls have Udall's opponents trailing by anywhere from 15 to 25 points. Just to the north in Colorado, Udall's cousin, Mark Udall, is threatening to take the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Wayne Allard. He leads by margins of 5 to 10 points. Virginia is shaping up to be a blowout- former Democratic Governor Mark Warner is a 20-point favorite to succeed retiring Republican John Warner (no relation). In New Hampshire, former Democratic governor Jeanne Shaheen is looking to take out an incumbent. She leads John Sununu there by 7-15 points. The Republican incumbent in Alaska, Ted Stevens, is in world of trouble as well. The longest-serving Republican in the Senate is trailing his opponent, Anchorage Mayor Nick Begich, by about 5 points. And finally, former Democratic Governor Ronnie Musgrove is leading incumbent Roger Wicker (who was appointed to fill the seat vacated mid-term by Trent Lott) by about 8 in Mississippi.

Additionally, Democrats are within striking distance in three other states. North Carolina is a statistical dead heat- Kay Hagen has been shown in the past two weeks to either trail incumbent Elizabeth Dole by a few percentage points, or to lead her by a narrow margin, according to recent polling. Republican Gordon Smith (another cousin of the Udalls), is facing an uphill battle in Oregon, where he's leading Jeff Merkeley- who was just nominated on Tuesday- by a mere 3 points. Even in the Republican stronghold of Texas, Senator John Cornyn is only leading his Democratic challenger by 4 points.

There are a few places where Republicans still maintain double-digit leads, but are far from out of the woods. Senator Susan Collins of Maine isn't quite in trouble yet, but the Republican has seen her lead over Democratic challenger Rep. Tom Allen consistently shrink, down from 16 points a little more than a month ago to just 10 today. In Minnesota, Senator Norm Coleman had been staring down the barrel of comedian Al Franken's candidacy, but now seems to be stabilizing with a 20-point lead. Still, the top political analysts from around the country rate the race a "tossup." For lack of polling it's a little difficult to say, but Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky could be the victim of circumstance- Democrats just took the governor's mansion in 2007, and the other Kentucky Senator, Jim Bunning, is highly unpopular in the state.

Where does Obama fit into all of this? Of the eleven states mentioned, Obama won caucuses or primaries in all but three of them. Many of the voters who gave Obama enormous wins in key states will return to the polls to vote for him again in November- and likely the Democratic Senate candidates there as well. In some of the states where Democrats have a narrow lead- like Alaska, Mississippi, and Colorado, where Obama won overwhelming primary victories- that could mean enough insurance to secure the victory. Obama didn't beat Clinton in New Hampshire, but he did reasonably well there, probably enough to push the Democrat Shaheen up a few points over Senator Sununu. In closer states- North Carolina, Oregon, and Texas (remember, Obama won the Texas Caucus, and very nearly won the Texas Primary as well)- Obama's popularity could put Democrats over the top. And in Main and Minnesota, Obama's presence may tighten the race enough to force the GOP to spend more money to defend those seats. And of course, that means reallocating resources, potentially to the detriment of candidates elsewhere.

Moreover, Obama's ability to mobilize voters in new electoral markets may lead to success in areas that Democrat's don't typically perform well. Take Mississippi, which has been represented by at least one Republican in the Senate for 30 years. Obama performed exceedingly well there, largely attributable to his ability to bring in the African American vote. The same can be said in North Carolina. Had Hillary Clinton won the nomination, it's unlikely that she would have inspired the massive turnout among that demographic in the general election, potentially robbing those candidates of the success they're anticipating under Obama's ticket.

Democrats are poised to turn a 51-49 majority in the Senate into a much stronger one, potentially as high as 62-38, one of the largest majorities they've ever had. And if Obama can help the Democratic candidates realize their goals, they may be able to pay him back in an incredibly useful way: the nearly 2/3 majority will allow Obama to slide cabinet, federal court, and Supreme Court nominations through the legislature without a hitch.

Original here

The Nightmare Ticket Is Dead

By Al Giordano

Time magazine’s Karen Tumulty reports:

What will Clinton’s terms of surrender turn out to be? Her husband, for one, seems to have a pretty clear idea what he thinks she should get as a consolation prize. In Bill Clinton’s view, she has earned nothing short of an offer to be Obama’s running mate, according to some who are close to the former President. Bill “is pushing real hard for this to happen,” says a friend.

The Field can now confirm, based on multiple sources, something that both campaigns publicly deny: that Senator Clinton has directly told Senator Obama that she wants to be his vice presidential nominee, and that Senator Obama politely but straightforwardly and irrevocably said “no.” Obama is going to pick his own running mate based on his own criteria and vetting process.

And that is all that anybody needs to know to understand the childish and wounded behavior of Senator Clinton yesterday, grandstanding hypocritically to senior citizens in Florida, telling them they should consider themselves under sniper fire in Bosnia, er, Zimbabwe, aggrandizing herself as some kind of civil rights leader (MLK? or LBJ? She didn’t say this time) and attempting to corner 30 members of the DNC’s Rules & Bylaws Committee that will meet on May 31 to resolve the disputes over whether, and, if so, how, delegates from Michigan and Florida might be seated at the convention in August.

There are more good reasons why an Obama-Clinton ticket can’t, shouldn’t and won’t happen than the dozen offered by my old friend, ad-maker extraordinaire and political wise man Dan Payne so cogently via today’s Boston Globe.

Now that Time magazine has put the Clinton gambit out into the open, we are likely to witness, in the coming weeks, an extremely sad spectacle for Senator Clinton, whose spouse just can’t help himself and obviously is not helping her. Through being so indiscreet about his obsession with getting near the levers of state power again that the first major media confirmation of the Clinton vice presidential aspirations involved a report that he’s the one who wants it most, he has definitively reinforced that the “nightmare ticket” is deservedly off the table, and created a monstrous distraction that impedes Senator Clinton from consolidating all she has built for herself this year in the short term.

So now, when the Clinton surrogates continue to advocate that Obama choose Senator Clinton as veep, everybody will know: It’s Bill, and not Hill, stoking the fire. When New York political insider Mark Green’s Air America sent an email blast this morning to its entire mailing list featuring the milquetoast, boring and Arbitron-ratings neglected Thom Hartmann’s plea - “Obama: Ask Hillary First” (and this Air America subscriber summarily unsubscribed from that list this morning upon receiving that piece of corporate-paid advertising), everybody knows: the ventriloquist behind these Muppets is Bill Clinton.

And it’s not even about the vice presidency. For Bill, it is about wrestling back “the Clinton brand” from his spouse. How’s that for petty? Arianna Huffington wrote a compelling essay last week listing the triumphs of Senator Clinton’s campaign, paving the way for other women in politics, and noting that, “she has redefined and taken over the Clinton brand… she is the Clinton who will now be most relevant to the country’s future.”

Not so fast. “The Clinton problem” today is not: what will the Democratic Party or Barack Obama do about Senator Clinton? It is: what will Senator Clinton do about that loose cannon of a former president?

You shall know the politically inept among us by those that continue to advocate for The Disaster Ticket now that Bill has pushed himself so unnecessarily into the photo, confirming that he is the most compelling reason why an Obama-Clinton ticket will never happen, and you shall know them also even by those who oppose it but who worry, fret and gnash teeth aloud that somehow it could be forced to happen after this latest development.

The nightmare has died. Smile and get over it.

Update: According to Big Tent Democrat (who was in on the Clinton campaign conference call this morning and typed up his notes): “Also have there been discussion of Clinton and Obama discussions. A flat denial of Al Giordano’s reporting.” Ha ha. Were they denying that she had asked for the veep slot? Or the part of my reporting that said this is “something that both campaigns publicly deny”?

Original here

Unapologetic Hagee Says Hitler Statement Was "Mischaracterized"

Pastor John Hagee said on Thursday that his controversial sermon, in which he said Hitler was fulfilling God's will for a state of Israel, had been "intentionally mischaracterized" and constituted a "gross example of bias." In a statement to The Huffington Post, he did not apologize for or distance himself from the sermon, saying simply that he had long grappled with how God "who controls what happens here on earth" could allow the Holocaust.

"To assert that I in any way condone the Holocaust or that monster Adolf Hitler is the biggest and ugliest of lies," Hagee wrote. "I have always condemned the horrors of the Holocaust in the strongest of terms. But even more importantly, my abhorrence of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism has never stopped with mere words."

The Huffington Post, which reported the story after it was first revealed by Talk To Action's Bruce Wilson, never wrote that Hagee condoned the Holocaust. Rather, the story, highlighting a more than two-minute section from the Reverend's sermon, The Battle of Jerusalem, noted that Hagee had posited that Adolph Hitler had been a "hunter" who was tasked with expediting God's will of having the Jews re-establish a state of Israel.

In the passage in question, Hagee used biblical verse to make the argument that God's will had its influence on Nazism. His own words are below:

"'And they the hunters should hunt them,' that will be the Jews. 'From every mountain and from every hill and from out of the holes of the rocks.' If that doesn't describe what Hitler did in the holocaust, you can't see that.


"Theodore Hertzel is the father of Zionism. He was a Jew who at the turn of the 19th century said, this land is our land, God wants us to live there. So he went to the Jews of Europe and said 'I want you to come and join me in the land of Israel.' So few went that Hertzel went into depression. Those who came founded Israel; those who did not went through the hell of the holocaust.

"Then god sent a hunter. A hunter is someone with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter. And the Bible says -- Jeremiah writing -- 'They shall hunt them from every mountain and from every hill and from the holes of the rocks,' meaning there's no place to hide. And that might be offensive to some people but don't let your heart be offended. I didn't write it, Jeremiah wrote it. It was the truth and it is the truth. 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."

In his statement, which was provided by Hagee's New York-based PR firm, 5W Public Relations, the pastor cited his career devotion "to ensuring that there will never be a second Holocaust."

"I have traveled the country teaching Christians to love the Jewish people and stand with Israel," he wrote. "Our ministry has given over $30 million for humanitarian causes in Israel. I founded Christians United for Israel to bring together all pro-Israel Christians into a movement that can support Israel during these very challenging times."

But Hagee, in the past, has made equally controversial remarks regarding Hitler and the Holocaust. As Wilson noted, in Hagee's 2006 book "Jerusalem Countdown," the Reverend proposed the theory that "anti-Semitism, and thus the Holocaust, was the fault of Jews themselves -- the result of an age old divine curse incurred by the ancient Hebrews through worshiping idols and passed, down the ages, to all Jews now alive." He also wrote that "Most readers will be shocked by the clear record of history linking Adolf Hitler and the Roman Catholic Church in a conspiracy to exterminate the Jews."

Hagee's end-of-days evangelicalism, which holds that the Armageddon will come only when the Kingdom of Israel is established, has made him one of the country's most strident proponents of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. He has advocated for an aggressive war with Iran and has opposed any Israeli military withdrawal from the West Bank.

In his statement, Hagee noted that: "I have traveled the country teaching Christians to love the Jewish people and stand with Israel. Our ministry has given over $30 million for humanitarian causes in Israel. I founded Christians United for Israel to bring together all pro-Israel Christians into a movement that can support Israel during these very challenging times.

"Many people have responded to the horrors of the Holocaust by abandoning their faith in a sovereign God. I, like many other Christians and Jews, have maintained my faith while seeking answers in the Bible for why this atrocity happened."

Also on Thursday, the Interfaith Alliance, a religious group claiming nearly 200,000 members, released a statement calling on Sen. John McCain to reject Hagee's remarks. "Senator McCain needs to tell the American people that he refutes these absurd and offensive comments that breed hate and send the wrong signal about America to the international community," the statement reads. "There is no place in public discourse for religious or political leaders to espouse this narrow-minded thinking and hatred."

Original here

Petraeus Urges Diplomacy Towards Iran

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, President Bush's nominee to lead U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, supports continued U.S. engagement with international and regional partners to find the right mix of diplomatic, economic and military leverage to address the challenges posed by Iran.

In written answers to questions posed by the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he will testify today, Petraeus said the possibility of military action against Iran should be retained as a "last resort." But he said the United States "should make every effort to engage by use of the whole of government, developing further leverage rather than simply targeting discrete threats."

Original here

One Million See McCain's YouTube Problem!

We're entering record-breaking territory here. Since The Real McCain 2 launched this past Sunday, over 1 million people have seen it! It's been the #1 most viewed video on YouTube, #1 on the viral video chart, and the #2 story on the Digg Election 2008 page. We're reaching an audience that most cable news shows only dream of.

We knew the press's inexplicably blind love for McCain has led to a dearth of accurate reportage regarding his record on the issues. We knew the corporate media have been going far easier on McCain than on either Obama or Clinton. Now that we have the numbers, we know that the general public hungers for the truth about the so-called "Maverick."

We've reached a critical juncture in this presidential campaign. For the last seven years, the mainstream press has sacrificed its objectivity and courage in a pathetic attempt to appease conservatives, lest they be painted left-leaning.

We need to continue spreading videos like The Real McCain 2, passing them along to friends and coworkers, and raising the national discourse until our pleas for unbiased, hard-hitting journalism are heard by the corporate media.

And it has to happen now, especially when the presumptive GOP nominee can't get his basic facts right on Iran. Especially when the press is obsessed with Jeremiah Wright but won't go after McCain's endorsements (which he sought) from the viciously anti-Semitic Rev. John Hagee or the deeply bigoted Rev. Rod Parsley. Especially when White House lackey Ed Gillespie is going on Glenn Beck's show to call for a boycott of NBC. Especially when Bill O'Reilly and FOX News are parroting the White House once again, assailing NBC, MSNBC, and their parent company, General Electric. And especially when Karl Rove is attacking Democrats on FOX News, which refuses to identify him as an informal McCain adviser and maxed-out donor.

We'll keep the Real McCain sequels coming, as long as you continue to pass them along. And please donate to the Brave New PAC so that we can have further success with our Real McCain series.

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Stop Yelling at Hillary to Stand Down and Start Yelling at the Superdelegates to Stand Up

The dust refuses to settle on the Democratic race. Hillary Clinton wants to cloud the issue with talk of Zimbabwe, Gore 2000, slavery, the civil rights movement, and fuzzy-math-derived popular vote totals. The media steadfastly refuse to clear things up by sticking to the facts, preferring to keep the horse race going.

So let's see if we can put the focus on those with the power to bring to an end this political equivalent of a 50s horror movie (The Campaign That Just Won't Die!): the superdelegates.

There are currently 212 uncommitted superdelegates (not counting Michigan and Florida). What are they waiting for?

I understand there are still three more primaries to go. But there is nothing that is going to happen in Puerto Rico or South Dakota or Montana that is going to convince Hillary Clinton to leave the race. Her argument isn't about pledged delegates, which is what is at stake in these remaining primaries. Her argument is about Florida and Michigan and convincing the superdelegates to overturn the pledged delegate majority Obama has won.

And there is also no reason for the superdelegates to wait until the Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting on May 31st. Not even the Clinton camp is delusional enough to think it is going to walk away from the meeting with enough additional pledged delegates from Michigan and Florida to overtake Obama.

So it's time for the uncommitted superdelegates to stop their dithering, come out of hiding, hop off the fence, endorse Obama and officially bring this nominating process to an end.

The Democratic leadership -- starting with Pelosi, Reid, and Dean -- should begin working behind the scenes to get all uncommitted supers to immediately commit. Let Puerto Rico, South Dakota, and Montana have their say, but start bringing the curtain down now.

And let's not just wait for the party leaders to put pressure on the superdelegates. Let's start putting pressure ourselves. Below you will find a list of all the uncommitted superdelegates. And this link will lead you to profiles of them. Please call or email the elected officials and track down the DNC members who live in your state and let them know that you want them to stand up and be counted. Now.

Hillary Clinton has more than earned the right to stay in the race until the bitter end. So it's up to the superdelegates to accelerate the bitter end.

Representatives

Bud Cramer (AL)
Gabrielle Giffords (AZ)
Nancy Pelosi (CA)
Jerry McNerney (CA)
Mike Honda (CA)
Sam Farr (CA)
Jim Costa (CA)
Bob Filner (CA)
Susan Davis (CA)
Mark Udall (CO)
John Salazar (CO)
Jim Marshall (GA)
Rahm Emanuel (IL)
Nancy Boyda (KS)
Dennis Moore (KS)
William Jefferson (LA)
Charlie Melancon (LA)
Don Cazayoux (LA)
Rep. Michael Michaud (ME)
John Sarbanes (MD)
Steny Hoyer (MD)
Chris Van Hollen (MD)
John Olver (MA)
Niki Tsongas (MA)
John Tierney (MA)
Edward Markey (MA)
Collin Peterson (MN)
Gene Taylor (MS)
Rep. Travis Childers (MS)
Rep. Rush Holt (NJ)
Rep. Bob Etheridge (NC)
Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC)
Rep. Tom Udall (NM)
Charlie Wilson (OH)
Marcia Kaptur (OH)
Rep. Zack Space (OH)
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH)
Rep. Dan Boren (OK)
Bob Brady (PA)
Jason Altmire (PA)
Tim Holden (PA)
Rep. Mike Doyle (PA)
John Spratt (SC)
Rep. Jim Clyburn (SC)
Lincoln Davis (TN)
Bart Gordon (TN)
Nick Lampson (TX)
Jim Matheson (UT)
Alan Mollohan (WV)


Distinguished Party
Leaders

Jimmy Carter (GA)
Al Gore (TN)
Fmr. Senator and Majority Leader
George Mitchell (NY)
Fmr. DNC Chair Bob Strauss (TX)


Senators
Ken Salazar (CO)
Joe Biden (DE)
Tom Carper (DE)
Tom Harkin (IA)
Mary Landrieu (LA)
Ben Cardin (MD)
Carl Levin (MI)
Max Baucus (MT)
Jon Tester (MT)
Harry Reid (NV)
Frank Lautenberg (NJ)
Sherrod Brown (OH)
Ron Wyden (OR)
Jack Reed (RI)
Jim Webb (VA)
Herb Kohl (WI)


Governors
Bill Ritter (CO)
Steve Beshear (KY)
Brian Schweitzer (MT)
John Lynch (NH)
Phil Bredeson (TN)
Joe Manchin (WV)

Add-Ons
Terry Goddard (AZ)
Jay Nixon (MO)
Rusty McAllister (NV)
Jerry Lee (TN)
37 Unnamed Add-Ons,
including 2 from Michigan

DNC Members
Joe Turnham (AL)
Nancy Worley (AL)
Don Bivens (AZ)
Lottie Shackleford (AR)
Art Torres (CA)
Hon. Carole Migden (CA)
Bob Mulholland (CA)
Christine Pelosi (CA)
Robert Rankin (CA)
Steve Ybarra (CA)
John Perez (CA)
Pat Waak (CO)
Nancy DiNardo (CT)
Donna Brazile (DC)
Christine Warnke (DC)
John Daniello (DE)
Harriet Smith-Windsor (DE)
Richard Ray (GA)
Ben Pangelinan (GU)
Chair - Vacant (HI)
Vice-Chair - Vacant (HI)
Edward Smith (IL)
Vacant (IL)
Helen Knetzer (KS)
Jennifer Moore (KY)
Nathan Smith (KY)
Chris Whittington (LA)
Claude "Buddy" Leach (LA)
Elsie Burkhalter (LA)
Sam Spencer (ME)
Jennifer DeChant (ME)
Hon. Heather Mizeur (MD)
Susan Turnbull (MD)
John Sweeney (MD)
Belkis Leong-Hong (MD)
Debra Kozikowski (MA)
James Roosevelt Jr (MA)
Carnelia Pettis Fondren (MS)
John Temporiti (MO)
Yolanda Wheat (MO)
Leila Medley (MO)
Hon. Robin Carnahan (MO)
Hon. Maria Chappelle-Nadal (MO)
Dennis McDonald (MT)
Margarett Campbell (MT)
Sam Lieberman (NV)
Hon. Yvonne Gates (NV)
Hon. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV)
Philip D. Murphy (NJ)
Raymond Buckley (NH)
Irene Stein (NY)
Ralph Dawson (NY)
David Parker (NC)
Muriel Offerman (NC)
Carol Peterson (NC)
David Strauss (ND)
Hon. Chris Redfern (OH)
Ronald Malone (OH)
Patricia Moss (OH)
Hon. Joyce Beatty (OH)
Ivan Holmes (OK)
Jim Frasier (OK)
Jay Parmley (OK)
Meredith Woods-Smith (OR)
Frank Dixon (OR)
Jenny Greenleaf (OR)
Wayne Kinney (OR)
Gail Rasmussen (OR)
Hon. Bill Bradbury (OR)
Eliseo Roques-Arroyo (PR)
Hon. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (SC)
Cheryl Chapman (SD)
Gray Sasser (TN)
Dr. Inez Crutchfield (TN)
Boyd Richie (TX)
David Hardt (TX
Denise Johnson (TX)
Betty Richie (TX)
Linda Chavez -Thompson (TX)
Helen Langan (UT)
Jim Leaman (VA)
C Richard Cranwell (VA)
Hon. Alexis Herman (VA)
Jerome Wiley Segovia (VA)
Howard Dean (VT)
Eileen Macoll (WA)
Ed Cote (WA)
Sharon Mast (WA)
David McDonald (WA)
Nick Casey Jr. (WV)
Alice Germond (WV)
Paula Zellner (WI)
Nancy Drummond (WY)
Cynthia Nunley (WY)
Marylyn Stapleton (VI)
Vacant - 1 (At-large)
Vacant - 2 (At-large)

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Ron Paul Wins 15 Percent in Oregon

(PressMediaWire) ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA May 21, 2008 – Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul received 15 percent of yesterday's primary vote in Oregon, a state in which he inspired both strong grassroots activism and online support but did not physically visit.

"Oregonians and Americans are hungry for the leadership that will protect the traditions that made our country so great," said campaign spokesman Jesse Benton. "Dr. Paul's grassroots supporters delivered Dr. Paul's second best GOP primary showing based on percentage points. Dr. Paul and the grassroots movement he has inspired are building a bright future for the Republican Party and the United States of America."

Dr. Paul is continuing his bid for the Republican nomination in order to spread the message of constitutional government and personal freedom, return the GOP to its traditional roots, and continue the grassroots activism his candidacy inspired. To date, he has received well over one million votes in Republican presidential contests and his campaign believes it will carry 50 delegates or more to the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis.

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What's in John McCain's medical records?

He'll be releasing everything about his repeated cancer surgeries. But he won't release his psychiatric records, which hold clues to the effect of his Vietnam captivity.

By Mark Benjamin

News

Salon composite / Reuters image

May 22, 2008 | Presidential candidate John McCain has survived three plane crashes, four melanomas, and more than five years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, enduring torture and solitary confinement. There would be questions about his health and his fitness for the office he seeks even if he weren't turning 72 in August, and even if he weren't likely to be running against a man 25 years his junior.

On Friday, after repeated pledges to do so going back more than a year, the McCain campaign is set to release new information about the Arizona Republican's health history. The release, according to the campaign, will cover the year 2000 forward, a period when McCain had three of his four skin cancers removed, as well as lymph nodes and part of a salivary gland. It will not, however, include McCain's psychiatric records, which McCain allowed a select group of reporters to examine in 1999 but have never been released to the public. The new information is unlikely to quash recurring questions about McCain's age, his bouts with cancer, or how his experience in Vietnam may have affected his mind.

The most famous of McCain's physical ordeals began when a SAM missile knocked his A-4E Skyhawk out of the sky above Hanoi on Oct. 26, 1967.

By then, McCain had already survived three other harrowing incidents involving airplanes (not counting the time he snapped some power lines in Spain by flying too low). Soon after graduating from the Naval Academy in 1958, McCain's plane dove into the water near Texas. Knocked unconscious, he woke up as the aircraft settled on the bottom and he swam to the surface. McCain ejected from another plane near the Maryland coast in December 1965 when the engine died. McCain was also lucky to escape with his life on July 29, 1967. He was sitting in the cockpit of his A-4E Skyhawk on the deck of the USS Forrestal off Vietnam when a missile on another plane accidentally discharged, striking his plane. He dove out of the cockpit through flames. Fire engulfed the Forrestal, nearly sinking her, and killing 134 men. McCain was hit with shrapnel in the legs and chest, but recovered.

Less than two months later, McCain was shot down during a mission over Hanoi. He ejected from the cockpit, breaking his right knee and both arms. Dragged from a lake by an angry crowd, he was bayoneted in the ankle and groin. Today McCain suffers from arthritis in his shoulders and knee, his records show, and he may need joint replacement surgery.

During the five and a half years of captivity that followed, McCain was held in solitary confinement for two years straight, inflicting psychological strain the senator has described as worse than a beating. He memorized the names of POWs, details of guards and interrogators and reconstructed books and movies in his mind. "It's an awful thing, solitary," McCain wrote in "Faith of My Fathers," his 1999 memoir. "I had to carefully guard against my fantasies becoming so consuming that they took me to a place in my mind from which I might fail to return."

What were perhaps McCain's darkest hours came in the summer of 1968, during three days of nearly continuous beatings and torture with ropes that left him in an interrogation cell with a broken arm, cracked ribs, broken teeth and lying in a puddle of his own blood and waste. He gathered enough strength to stand on a waste bucket and try, twice, to hang himself with his shirt. Both times guards disrupted his suicide attempts.

During McCain's first White House run, his unsuccessful battle with George Bush for the Republican presidential nomination in 1999 and 2000, he faced a whispering campaign from rivals that suggested his Vietnam ordeal had permanently damaged his psyche -- specifically, that his famed outbursts of temper might be a sign of something serious, like post-traumatic stress disorder.

It is well documented that the sort of treatment McCain endured can harm the mind. A 1989 study in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, one of many studies on the subject, showed that a third of American World War II prisoners of war met diagnostic criteria for PTSD fully 40 years after their release.

In 1999, McCain responded to the questions about his mental health by allowing selected reporters to peruse 1,500 pages of his health records dating back to his release from Hanoi in 1973. Reporters were not permitted to photocopy any of the documents. The reporters who looked at the records did not describe any mention of a PTSD diagnosis. However, they failed to note that it would have been impossible for McCain to receive such a diagnosis -- since the term "post-traumatic stress disorder" was not in use until seven years after McCain's release from captivity. The term first appeared in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980.

There are behaviors associated with the candidate that would be consistent with a diagnosis of PTSD. Author Robert Timberg mentions McCain's intense explosions of anger --- a hallmark sign of lingering mental trauma from war -- in his book "John McCain: An American Odyssey." Timberg describes the episodes as "an eruption of temper out of all proportion to the provocation." Timberg, who McCain has said "knows more about me than I do," wrote that McCain's sudden fury is a result of Vietnam coming "back to haunt him." McCain has himself described having an adverse reaction to the sound of jangling keys, which reminds him of his Vietnam jailers. McCain also told doctors that during solitary confinement he had strayed pretty "far out" and had referred to himself as "mentally deteriorating."

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Popular Vote Poison

Give credit where it's due: Hillary Clinton has shown grit and determination in finishing out the race. She has proved herself a strong campaigner. And in the week since West Virginia, she has stopped the cheap shots that had marred her campaign this year.

But Clinton has continued with one claim that could have a pernicious effect on the Democrats' chances in November. While she knows that the nomination is determined by delegates, Hillary insists on saying at every opportunity that she is winning the popular vote. And she has now taken to touting the new HBO movie "Recount," which chronicles the Florida fiasco of eight years ago. Everyone can agree that the primary calendar needs reform. But popular-vote pandering is poison for Democrats. For a party scarred by the experience of 2000, when Al Gore received 500,000 more popular votes than George W. Bush but lost the presidency, this argument is sure to make it harder to unite and put bitter feelings aside.

Oh, and it's not true.

Let me go through the numbers without making your head spin.

After Kentucky and Oregon, Obama has an official popular vote lead of 449,486.

This does not include Iowa (where Obama first broke from the pack), Nevada (where Hillary won the popular vote narrowly), Maine (where Obama won easily) or Washington state (another strong Obama state). Why? Because these caucus states don't officially report their popular votes. But if we're going to truly count all the votes, official and nonofficial, as Hillary advocates, you can't very well not include caucus states.

Adding in the unofficial tally from caucus states, as estimated by realclearpolitics.com based on official caucus turnout and the number of local delegates selected at the precinct level, that gives Obama a lead of 559,708.

Now we come to Florida and Michigan, whose popular votes Hillary says should be counted. The argument for counting them is no better than for counting the caucus states (and maybe worse, considering that these states violated party rules by moving their primaries up on the calendar, and no one campaigned there). But for the sake of argument let's count 'em. That gives Hillary a lead of 63,373.

HILLARY WINS POPULAR VOTE!

Not so fast. If the Democratic National Committee completes its expected settlement on May 31, Florida and Michigan will each get half of their votes counted. Translated to popular votes, that would subtract about 325,000 votes from Hillary, putting Obama back into the lead.

Beyond not being official numbers, there's another problem with counting Michigan in these totals. Obama wasn't on the ballot there. You can say this was his own choice, but that doesn't change the fact that had he been on the Michigan ballot he would have received a lot of popular votes. How many?

Try 238,168. That's the number of Michiganders who voted for "uncommitted." Were they possibly genuinely abstaining? Maybe a few hundred of them at most. The rest were clearly Obama supporters who launched a grass-roots campaign. Everyone in Michigan knew on January 15 that a vote for "uncommitted" was a vote for Obama.

That means that by a generous definition of popular votes (and remember, Clinton wants to enfranchise as many people as possible in her count), Obama leads by about 166,000 votes.

With a big win in Puerto Rico, Clinton could possibly erase that margin (plus several thousand more that Obama is expected to net in Montana and South Dakota). She could then proclaim that with the help of Puerto Rican voters who cannot vote in a general election, she is the popular vote winner.

The shorthand many Clinton supporters are already taking into the summer is that she won the popular vote but had the nomination "taken away" (as Joy Behar said on "The View") by a man.

What a helpful message for uniting the Democratic Party.

If the Obama people have any sense, they will demand in their negotiations with the Clintonites that Hillary cease and desist in her specious claim to have won the most popular votes.

Given that more than 35 million voters took part in the Democratic primaries and caucuses, the math games on both sides look awfully silly. Everyone should agree to call it a tie.

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Senator Clinton: You lost because of Iraq, not sexism


Hillary Clinton has overcome way more sexism than anybody should ever have to, and that is part of what makes her such an inspiring candidate for so many people.

But sexism is not what cost Hillary Clinton this campaign: Iraq was, and what's more, she knows it -- or at least she should know, because her staff does. On February 17, 2007 she told people who disagreed with her vote on Iraq to choose from the other candidates:

“If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or has said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from,” Mrs. Clinton told an audience in Dover, N.H., in a veiled reference to two rivals for the nomination, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina.

Her decision not to apologize is regarded so seriously within her campaign that some advisers believe it will be remembered as a turning point in the race: either ultimately galvanizing voters against her (if she loses the nomination), or highlighting her resolve and her willingness to buck Democratic conventional wisdom (if she wins).

What she needed to do was admit making a mistake. Instead, she told her critics to buzz off. It was an arrogant decision, and it will go down as one of the worst in the history of Democratic nomination campaigns. It was the decision that sunk her campaign, and she owns it entirely.

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Officials say Obama starts search for running mate

US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) delivers a speech to supporters during a town hall meeting in Kissimmee, Florida May 21, 2008. (Scott Audette/Reuters)
Reuters Photo: US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) delivers a speech to supporters during a...

WASHINGTON - Likely Democratic nominee Barack Obama has begun a top-secret search for a running mate, fresh signs that the general election campaign is well under way and the primary race against Hillary Rodham Clinton is basically over.

Obama has asked former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson to begin vetting potential vice presidential picks, Democratic officials said Thursday. Johnson did the same job for Democratic nominees John Kerry in 2004 and Walter Mondale in 1984.

Obama refused to acknowledge Johnson's role when The Associated Press asked the Illinois senator about it in the Captiol Thursday.

"I haven't hired him. He's not on retainer. I'm not paying him any money. He is a friend of mine. I know him," Obama said. "I am not commenting on vice presidential matters because I have not won this nomination."

The Democratic officials spoke on a condition of anonymity about a process that the campaign wants to keep quiet.

Vice presidential searches are usually closely held secrets, but Obama campaign officials say the effort is being handled by a particularly tight circle of advisers.

The campaign did not want to discuss the effort because they are still engaged in a fading primary campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton, with three primaries left in Puerto Rico, South Dakota and Montana. The voting ends June 3. Obama has repeatedly declined to discuss possible running mates while the primary is ongoing.

"We're not commenting about this process," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.

But they are taking behind-the-scenes steps to move toward the general election campaign, with just 61 delegates needed to clinch the nomination according to the latest Associated Press count. Obama has 1,965 delegates to Clinton's 1,780, with 2,026 required to secure the party's nod under Democratic National Committee rules.

The Obama campaign is rapidly adding to its campaign staff, both at the headquarters and in general election swing states. Obama has been traveling to some of those battlegrounds — Missouri, Michigan, Iowa and Florida in the last nine days — while the campaign is registering voters across the country for the November vote. And top Obama organizer Paul Tewes is in discussions to take over the Democratic National Committee.

It's all part of an effort to lay the groundwork for an aggressive kickoff to a general election campaign. Republican John McCain has a head start and has been building his effort for several months since the GOP primary race wrapped up in early March.

McCain is hosting at least three Republicans mentioned as potential vice presidential running mates at his Sedona, Ariz., home this weekend — Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. A top aide said it's a social event with more than two dozen guests not meant for veep vetting.

Obama's campaign refused to talk about who was being considered, but some in the party are calling for him to pick Clinton. Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said Thursday, "There have been no discussions with the Obama campaign about Senator Clinton being the V.P."

Other possible options are governors such as Arizona's Janet Napolitano, Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and Tim Kaine of Virginia; foreign policy experts like former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd or Delaware Sen. Joe Biden; or other senators such as Missouri's Claire McCaskill and Virginia's Jim Webb.

He could look outside the party to people such as war critic and Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel or independent New York mayor Mike Bloomberg. Or he could look to one of his early prominent supporters such as former Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota or 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards. Or he could try to bring on a Clinton supporter like Indiana's Evan Bayh.

Johnson's role running the veep process was first reported on TheAtlantic.com.

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McCain's Veepstakes Survivor: 9 Couples, 3 Contenders, 1 Weekend

ABC News' Ron Claiborne and Bret Hovell Report: Three elected officials widely rumored to be under consideration for the Republican vice presidential nomination will spend part of their Memorial Day weekend at the McCain compound in Sedona, Arizona, according to a campaign official.

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Gov. Charlie Christ of Florida, and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts have all been invited to spend some leisure time with presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

McCain campaign senior advisor Charlie Black insists the gathering is purely social.

"It has nothing whatsoever to do with the vice presidential selection process," Black said, dismissing speculation that it is a running mate audition by noting that would be "pretty awkward" to have all of the contenders together at the same time.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT ABC NEWS' VEEPSTAKES RANKINGS

McCain frequently invites friends and elected officials to the property he owns with his wife Cindy two hours north of Phoenix. Black said nine couples in all were invited this weekend, including one other elected official whom he declined to identify.

One veepstakes contender did comment on what could be called McCain's edition of 'Veepstakes Survivor'.

"Governor Bobby Jindal and First Lady Supriya Jindal are going to Arizona for the Memorial Day weekend to spend time with Senator John McCain and Cindy McCain at their ranch," Jindal spokesperson Melissa Sellers said in a statement released to the press. "The Governor has met with the Senator many times before and discussed the challenges facing the Gulf Coast region as communities continue to rebuild. The Governor looks forward to joining Senator McCain and his other guests this weekend, and he values this as another opportunity to meet with a national leader, and the potential next President of the United States, to discuss issues important to the future growth of Louisiana."

As Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., continue their battle for the Democratic nomination, the Arizona Senator is taking three days off from his public campaign schedule for the holiday weekend. McCain will be back on the trail Monday in New Mexico and Colorado.

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