Wednesday, June 4, 2008

McCain Rips Off Obama's Slogan And Logo

Is John McCain trying to be the older, whiter, more conservative Barack Obama?

On Tuesday, the Senator co-opted the slogan that has come to personify Obama's candidacy, taking the Illinois Democrat's "Change You Can Believe In" and altering it into "A Leader You Can Believe In."

The line donned McCain's lime-green backdrop as he addressed supporters in Louisiana. During that speech, moreover, the Arizonan took his Obama-posing a step further, uttering the word "change" more than 30 times. Not that Obama can claim sole ownership of the word or idea, but still...

Now there is this. On Wednesday, the McCain campaign put out a new homepage, featuring his new, Obama-like slogan, and an image that seems uncannily similar to Obama's trademark campaign logo - the red and white stripped valley under what appears to be a blue sun (or in McCain's case, blue sun rays). Take a look.

McCain's seems to be positioning himself so that he is not caught, like Sen Hillary Clinton, simply ceding the mantle of change to Obama. But when the co-opting of images, logos, and slogans is this blatant, it could prove more embarrassing than advantageous.

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Clinton's Historic Bid Falls Short

Sen. Hillary Clinton's decision to end her historic bid for the White House and ceding the Democratic nomination to Sen. Barack Obama, ends a long, often bitter battle for the right to challenge Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the general election.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is the only former first lady to make a historic bid for the White House.
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Obama, D-Ill., who claimed victory after clinching the necessary delegates on Tuesday, will be the nation's first African American running with the nomination of one of the country's two major political parties.

Clinton's Bid for History Falls Short

Hillary Clinton, the former first lady and two-term senator from New York, entered the race over a year ago with the words, "I'm in it to win it."

Clinton quickly emerged as the formidable frontrunner, raising millions of dollars and leading in both state and national polls.

In an ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted in December 2006, she was supported by 39 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, well ahead of her nearest competitors -- Barack Obama with 17 percent support; former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., with 12 percent; and former Vice President Al Gore, 10 percent.

Obama had announced his intention to form a presidential exploratory committee a few days before Clinton's announcement on her Web site,

Just weeks later, standing outside Illinois' historic Old State Capitol building where Abraham Lincoln gave a famous speech condemning slavery and calling for the United States to unite, Obama, then a 45-year-old with just two years of federal legislative experience under his belt, officially announced his longshot bid.

"I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness in this, a certain audacity," Obama said to the crowd of 16,000 braving a freezing February afternoon. "I know that I haven't spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I've been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change."

Clinton dominated a crowded field of Democratic candidates including Obama, Edwards, as well as Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware and Chris Dodd of Connecticut, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and fomer Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska, for much of the summer and early fall of 2007.

In an interview with ABC News' "Nightline" in September 2007, Clinton chief strategist Mark Penn confidently predicted, "I believe she's going to be the nominee. I think every day is a good one, and I think that as every day goes on people see that she has the strength and experience to become president."

There was reason for optimism: Clinton had survived nearly the entire year as the Democratic frontrunner and none of her opponents seemed to be gaining major traction. But that trend was about to change.

The Turning Point

At a Halloween debate on Oct. 31, 2007, chinks in Clinton's armor appeared.

Sharply challenged by Obama and Edwards on Iraq, free trade and illegal immigration, Clinton said a New York State proposal supported by then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants "makes a lot of sense."

Critics and the other candidates pounced and Clinton later admitted she "wasn't at (her) best" during the debate.

Ten days later, Obama outshined Clinton at Iowa's Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Des Moines and both candidates seemed to increase the rhetoric of the race.

"If we are really serious about winning this election, Democrats, then we can't live in fear of losing," Obama said, accusing Clinton of running a "poll-driven campaign," in a speech the Obama camp would later use in several effective television ads against Clinton.

"Change is just a word if you don't have the strength and experience to make it happen. We must nominate a nominee who has been tested and elect a president who is ready to lead on Day One. I know what it's going to take to win," Clinton shot back.

National polls still put Clinton on top, but Obama was showing strength in Iowa, where the first contest in the race would be held.

A month later, Obama picked up the endorsement of Oprah Winfrey and the formidable pair hit the campaign trail in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

"Experience in the hallways of government isn't as important to me as experience on the pathway to life. I challenge you to see through those people who try to tell you that experience in politics as usual is more valuable than wisdom outside the walls of Washington, D.C.," Oprah told crowds of enthusiastic supporters, though she did not mention Clinton by name.

The tide appeared to be turning back to Clinton when she picked up the endorsement of The Des Moines Register.

"I've got my groove back," Clinton declared in December 2007, when asked by ABC News' Kate Snow about the state of her campaign during a chaotic -- and memorable -- stop for the Clintons at a Hyvee grocery in Iowa.

The Clinton campaign embarked on the "Every Vote Counts" tour of Iowa, dubbed the "Likeability Tour" by the press corps who had accompanied her for nearly a year already.

In an interview with ABC News' Cynthia McFadden for "Nightline" that same month, the candidate expressed cautious optimism that her campaign had turned the corner.

"I think the campaign is doing very well," Clinton told ABC News. "There's a rhythm to campaigns. I know that. I've been in a lot of them over the course of my life. It's really picking up steam, and that's what I feel."

Sen. Clinton traveled Iowa by bus and helicopter, joined by daughter, Chelsea, and her mother, Dorothy Rodham, at various points, making an explicit appeal to women -- her core group of consistent support throughout the campaign.

"We're going to break the highest glass ceiling, for not just me, but for all girls and women," Clinton told "Nightline." "You know that wonderful old line about women do everything? It's like Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in high heels. Well, we just have to go out and do it. There's no point in worrying about it."

Obama Takes Iowa, Clinton Takes New Hampshire

On Jan. 3, 2008, Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses. Clinton had been bested not only by Obama but also -- although narrowly -- by Edwards as well.

"They said this day would never come," Obama said in his victory speech, calling the win a "defining moment in history."

With only five days between Iowa and New Hampshire, Clinton didn't have much time to slow Obama's momentum.

At the ABC News/WMUR/Facebook debate on Jan. 5, 2008, Clinton and Edwards came out strong against Obama.

"Making change is not about what you believe or about making a speech, it's about working hard," Clinton said, then raising her voice to continue: "I want to make change, but I've already made change. I'm not running on a promise of change. But on 35 years of change. ... We don't need to raise false hopes of people in our country about what can be delivered."

The back-and-forth got so heated that fourth-place candidate Bill Richardson quipped, "I've been in hostage negotiations that are a lot more civil than this."

Two days later -- a day before the nation's first primary in New Hampshire -- Clinton found herself in the Cafe Espresso in Portsmouth with 16 undecided voters, mostly women, warmly and calmly taking questions.

"My question is very personal, how do you do it?" asked Marianne Pernold Young, a freelance photographer from the state. She mentioned Clinton's hair and appearance always looking perfect. "How do you, how do you keep upbeat and so wonderful?"

Clinton began responding, jokingly but then began getting emotional: "It's not easy, and I couldn't do it if I didn't passionately believe it was the right thing to do. You know, I have so many opportunities from this country, I just don't want to see us fall backwards."

Her voice breaking and tears in her eyes, she said: "You know, this is very personal for me. It's not just political, it's not just public. I see what's happening, and we have to reverse it."

Female voters seemed to respond to that emotion. They came out in droves for her in New Hampshire, surprising even Clinton's own staff.

On Jan. 8, 2008, Clinton won New Hampshire saying she had "found her voice" in the victory. Staffers who had been ready to resign that night suddenly found themselves toasting to victory.

The Democratic battle then turned to South Carolina, where Obama held an advantage but Clinton came in having stolen back the campaign's momentum.

The Role of Race

Following her comeback in New Hampshire, Clinton won the uncontested vote in Michigan (Obama was not on the ballot as the Democratic National Committee had stripped the state of its delegates for skipping ahead of other states on the election calendar) and the Nevada caucuses, though in that state Obama emerged with one more delegate at the time.

The next critical contest would be in South Carolina, prominently raising the subject of race in a contest pitting Obama, potentially the first African American nominee, Clinton, the first woman, and Edwards, a son of the south who was born in South Carolina itself, against one another.

Former President Bill Clinton proved more a liability than asset to his wife's campaign when in New Hampshire he declared, "Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen," in regard to Obama's portrayal of his record on Iraq.

The former president was making the case that Obama -- just like Sen. Hillary Clinton -- had voted to fund the war since he's been in office and that the two had essentially the same record on the controversial war.

Obama said the former president has taken his campaigning on his wife's behalf too far.

"I understand him wanting to promote his wife's candidacy," Obama told ABC's "Good Morning America" in January. "She's got a record that she can run on. But I think it's important that we try to maintain some -- you know, level of honesty and candor during the course of the campaign. If we don't, then we feed the cynicism that has led so many Americans to be turned off to politics."

Obama blew out Clinton 55 percent to 27 percent in South Carolina. Edwards came in a distant third at 18 percent, prompting him to leave the race before the critical Super Tuesday contests on Feb. 5.

In the wake of Obama's win, Bill Clinton made matters worse for his wife, seemingly dismissing the Obama campaign's chances for victories by comparing him to a previous unsuccessful minority candidate. Clinton told ABC News' David Wright in Columbia, S.C.: "Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in '84 and '88. Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here."

Super Tuesday Split Decision

John Edwards' departure from the race left a two-person contest for the Democratic nomination leading up to Super Tuesday, when 22 states held contests with nearly 1,700 of the more than 4,000 delegates at stake. After all the build-up, though, when all the votes were counted there still was no clear winner.

Clinton and Obama traded Super Tuesday victories as energized Democratic voters turned out in record high numbers.

Obama won the most states, picking up victories in Illinois, Idaho, Colorado, Minnesota, Connecticut, Utah, North Dakota, Kansas, Delaware, Missouri, Georgia, Alabama and Alaska.

But Clinton won the delegate-rich states of California, New York, Massachusetts (despite Obama receiving the endorsement of Sen. Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy), and New Jersey, in addition to wins in Arizona, Oklahoma, Tennessee, New Mexico, Arkansas, and American Somoa.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, Arizona Sen. John McCain, secured his status as the unstoppable GOP frontrunner, although his last opponent, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee would not leave the race for another month.

Clinton Woes Mount, Obama Goes on 11-0 Run

In the wake of Super Tuesday, Clinton faced her toughest stretch of the campaign since the period before the initial loss in Iowa.

Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton's campaign manager who had been with her since she was first lady of Arkansas, resigned from the campaign.

In a note sent to the campaign staff, Solis Doyle said: "This has already been the longest presidential campaign in the history of our nation, and one that has required enormous sacrifices from all of us and our families."

She wrote that she has been "proud to manage this campaign, and prouder still to call Hillary my friend for more than sixteen years. I know that she will make a great president."

Maggie Williams, Clinton's chief of staff when she was first lady and an African American, took over as Clinton's campaign manager.

The Clinton campaign also announced that the candidate had loaned $5 million of her own fortune to her campaign, raising considerable questions about her ability to compete financially against an opponent who continued to raise record amounts through the spring.

Obama won 11 straight primaries or caucuses in Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington State, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Maine, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island.

The streak included some of Obama's most impressive victories including a 64-35 percent win in Virginia, 75-24 percent in his native Hawaii, and a 58-41 percent margin in Wisconsin.

In Wisconsin exit polls, Democrats identified Obama, not Clinton, as most likely to win in November and it was one of the few times Clinton struggled to hold on to the support of some of her core groups -- white women, less-educated and lower-income voters.

As the losses kept coming, calls for Clinton to withdraw from the race began to grow louder, but the former first lady vowed to fight on in Texas and Ohio, which both held contests on March 4.

"If she wins Texas and Ohio I think she will be the nominee. If you don't deliver for her, I don't think she can be. It's all on you," former President Bill Clinton declared in the lead-up to the vote in those states.

And, once again, with her campaign on the line, Clinton pulled out a significant victory, winning both the Texas and Ohio primaries and vowing to fight on to the next biggest contest in Pennsylvania.

Obama Faces Controversy

Obama picked up expected wins in Wyoming and Mississippi, sending the race into its longest lull since voting began -- six weeks between the contest on March 11 in Mississippi and the next vote in Pennsylvania on April 22.

In that time, Obama faced undoubtedly the toughest test of his campaign.

Controversy erupted around the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ for more than 20 years, when ABC News' "Good Morning America" aired sermons in which Wright repeatedly denounced the United States based on what he described as his reading of the Gospels and the treatment of black Americans.

"The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people," he said in a 2003 sermon. "God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."

Wright also told his congregation on the Sunday after Sept. 11, 2001, that the United States had brought on al Qaeda's attacks because of its own terrorism and claimed the U.S. government might have created the AIDS virus to harm blacks.

Obama initially defended Wright in a widely lauded speech on race.

"He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding and baptized my children," Obama said in that speech. "I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother -- a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who, on more than one occasion, has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe."

But several weeks later, when Wright reappeared and affirmed many of the controversial statements he had previously made, Obama cut ties with the Reverend and denounced him.

"The person I saw yesterday was not the person I met 20 years ago," the Illinois senator said at a press conference in Winston-Salem, N.C. "His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but they end up giving comfort to those that prey on hate."

For her part, Clinton largely resisted commenting on the controversy, although she did call Wright's remarks "offensive and outrageous."

But, privately, many Clinton aides admitted they were hearing from superdelegates concerned about Wright's controversial remarks.

Bosnia Exaggerations & 'Bitter' Remarks

During that same time, Clinton also faced controversy surrounding an exaggerated description she gave of a 1996 trip to Bosnia.

Clinton said she and her crew landed in an "evasive maneuver under sniper fire," describing her trip to Tuzla as if it were a scene from "Saving Private Ryan."

"There was supposed to be some sort of greeting ceremony, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles," she said.

Questions surrounding whether Clinton had embellished the story were particularly embarrassing for her because a central theme to her campaign had been her "experience," arguing that she is ready to answer the 3 a.m. crisis call at the White House.

Video footage contradicted Clinton's account, revealing no visible threat in Tuzla and a brief greeting ceremony on the tarmac there.

Clinton later said she "misspoke" when describing the account.

And on the heels of the Wright controversy, Obama came under fire for remarks perceived as insulting to small town voters, like many in rural Pennsylvania.

"It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations," Obama told a crowd at a San Francisco fundraiser.

The comments, first posted on The Huffington Post, opened a line of attack against Obama that he was too elitist or out of touch to connect with the white, working class voters who had been flocking to Clinton in recent contests and would be key in battleground Pennsylvania.

Both incidents -- and reaction to the Wright controversy -- played a prominent role when the candidates met for the final time on a debate stage in Philadelphia.

Clinton Wins Pennsylvania, Splits Indiana & North Carolina

After a six-week stretch between contests, Clinton decisively won the Keystone State by nearly a 10-point margin.

"Some people counted me out and said to drop out, but the American people don't quit, and they deserve a president who doesn't quit, either," Clinton told supporters at a victory rally in Philadelphia.

The day after her win, Clinton told Diane Sawyer on "Good Morning America" that the win should send a message to unpledged superdelegates.

"The road to the White House does go through Pennsylvania," she said, adding that the Pennsylvania win proved that she can win the large and swing states considered crucial to a November victory.

The candidates split wins in Indiana and North Carolina on May 6, but in claiming victory Clinton seemed to acknowledge defeat.

Flanked by her husband and daughter, Clinton thanked Indiana voters for their support, but she was not the relentlessly upbeat Clinton of victories past. And in contrast to other primary night parties, Bill Clinton stood unsmiling behind her for much of the speech.

Clinton pledged to "never stop fighting for you," but faced with a decisive Obama victory in North Carolina and uncertain results in Indiana, she also seemed to concede the possibility that she might not become the eventual nominee.

"People are watching this race and they're wondering ... I win, he wins, I win, he wins ... it's so close. That says a lot about how passionate our supporters are ... but I can assure you that no matter what happens I will work for the nominee of the Democratic party," she said.

Clinton continued to wage a strong campaign in the close weeks, though attacks on her opponent all but disappeared from her speeches and events.

Instead, Clinton focused on pushing the Democratic National Committee to recognize the disputed votes in Florida and Michigan and racked up impressive, double digit wins in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Puerto Rico.

But even big wins could not sustain Clinton.

After her 41-point win in West Virginia, Obama pushed the bad news off the front pages by picking up the endorsement of former rival John Edwards.

Clinton did succeed in getting some delegates recognized from Michigan and Florida but not all that she wanted.

The Democratic National Committee's rules and bylaws committee voted to seat the full Michigan and Florida delegations, but with each delegate getting only half a vote. In the arrangement, Clinton picked up 94.5 total delegates to Obama's 65.5, for a net gain of 19 delegates overall.

Clinton supporters angry, some disrupting the committee proceedings, chanting, "Denver! Denver! Denver!" as a sign they want Clinton to take her fight all the way to the Democratic Convention.

"Mrs. Clinton has instructed me to reserve her right to take this to the Credentials Committee," Harold Ickes, a key Clinton strategist told the Democratic National Committee.

In a parting shot, Clinton pulled one last upset in South Dakota while Obama took Montana in the final primary contests of Democratic nomination.

Delegate Count Bogs Down Clinton

In the end, Clinton faced one insurmountable reality: math.

Obama emerged from one of the longest Democratic contests in recent history ahead in pledged delegates, though still officially short of the number necessary to clinch the nomination.

The only option left available to Clinton was to push her fight to the Democratic convention in late August.

Such a protracted fight would have undoubtedly left the Democratic nominee damaged, forced to face a Republican nominee free to campaign through the summer against a disorganized and divided Democratic party.

Instead Clinton will end her bid, allowing Democrats to join ranks around Obama and head into the next stage of the election against McCain.

Obama will officially accept the Democratic nomination on Aug. 28, 2008, in Denver, coincidentally on the 45th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech -- another memorable moment in a campaign already making history.

ABC News' Rick Klein, Jennifer Parker, and Jake Tapper contributed to this report.

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Terry McAuliffe on The Daily Show

I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty confident with my diagnosis that Terry McAuliffe has bats in his belfry. Where else would all the bat shit up there come from? As Jon Stewart said, "Your strategy right now appears to be: If we act deranged enough, maybe they'll just give us the country."

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Obama vows to stop Iran from having nuclear arms

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Wednesday Iran posed a serious threat in the Middle East and vowed to stop it from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

"The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat," Obama said in a speech to a conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobby group.

"I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon - everything," he said to a standing ovation.

Obama also vowed to vigorously support Israel's right to defend itself and pledged an active effort to pursue a Middle East peace agreement in a broad speech on the region he delivered a day after clinching the Democratic presidential nomination.

"I will always stand up for Israel's right to defend itself in the United Nations and around the world," Obama said.

Some of Obama's critics have sought to undercut his support with Jewish voters by suggesting that he would be more inclined than the Bush administration and Republican presidential candidate John McCain to put pressure on Israel to make concessions in any peace negotiations.

Obama has been seeking to dispel that notion in campaign events that include the AIPAC speech and a forum with Jewish voters in Florida last month.

McCain has criticized Obama's call for talks with Iran, a state Israeli leaders consider a threat to Israel's security.

(Reporting by Caren Bohan, editing by David Alexander)

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Why This Fifty-Five Year Old White Lifelong Republican Wants Obama To Win

This is a great day for those of us who have been fighting for Senator Obama! I'm a good example of why he'll win in November. I'm the least typical Obama supporter. And there are many more like me.

I cut my political teeth in the seventies through the early eighties as an organizer in the antiabortion religious right. I'm a fifty-five year old white man who has been a conservative most of my life. I've been a Republican activist who campaigned for McCain in 2000. I'm a big fan of the military. My son served in the Marines. If Obama can reach me he can reach anyone.

My support for Obama has cost me friends. For instance the Bush family gave one of my recent military-related books (Keeping Faith-A Father-Son Story About Love and the United States Marine Corps) a ringing endorsement. After Laura Bush read an excerpt out on Meet The Press sales skyrocketed. I probably won't get too many more of those sorts of endorsements. But the chips are down and the presidential choice this year is too important not to not fight for.

We can't afford McCain. He'd be a president with a desire to be vindicated and "win" at all costs in Iraq. Iraq never attacked us. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. The terrorists were not in Iraq while Hussein was in charge. We opened the door for them. We aren't bringing democracy to Iraq. This was a war of dumb choice launched in a part of the world that can't ever be fixed by our military.

The next president will inherit the mess George W. Bush created with a big assist from Senator McCain. Above all we need a completely fresh start. And of only Senator Obama can provide that.

McCain has taken his lack of judgment about Iraq to the next level. McCain won't do do what is good for America, or even good for our military men and women. For instance, he is against the new GI Bill that would give fair educational benefits to our men and women. McCain doesn't want to give them anything that might entice them to do anything but go to war, again and again and again. McCain serves the warrior god of his warrior ancestors, not America's best interests.

As I see it our choice is between a heroic old man whose time has long past and who will perpetuate failed policy, and a brilliant, openhearted new founding father of the new post-racial, post-divided America the likes of which we have not seen.

How do my old pro-life views square with Obama's pro-choice beliefs? Very well. Today when I listen to Obama speak (and to his remarkable wife, Michelle) what I hear is a world view that nurtures life. Obama is trying to lead this country to a place where the intrinsic worth of each individual is celebrated. He is a leader who believes in hope, the future, trying to save our planet and providing a just and good life for everyone. This makes him someone who is actually pro-life as opposed to Bush who paid lip service to right wing religion but did the opposite of nurturing life at every turn, including senselessly killing our soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis.

The society that Obama is calling us to join him in striving for is a place wherein life would be valued not just talked about. As he said in his speech delivered on February 6 in New Orleans, "Too often, we lose our sense of common destiny; that understanding that we are all tied together; that when a woman has less than nothing in this country, that makes us all poorer." Obama was talking about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but his words also apply to our overall view of ourselves.

How do my pro-military views square with Obama? Very well.

Republicans may talk about patriotism but through their stubborn support for Bush's Iraq war they have become our military's worst enemies. And many of us in the military family have had it with the Republican's bellicose nonsense -- Bush's "Bring it on!" and now McCain's version; "I'll chase bin Laden to the gates of hell!" and "We'll win!" Enough is enough.

Obama comes to us from outside the system that has produced our present multiple crises of wars of choice and a failing economy. He does what all truly great leaders do: he speaks to the soul in plain self-revealing words of hope.

I think we all vote on an emotional level, whatever we say about our "reasons." And I know that I'm not the only tired culture warrior from the right who feels relieved and uplifted and -- most importantly -- believes Obama when I hear him talk about bringing us together to shape a better future. I also believe that he is an authentic man of faith. His sincere inclusion of Christian faith in his conversation with us rings true to this preacher's kid.

Obama touches me. He has a prophetic authenticity that reminds me of W.E.B. Du Bois' prayers that Du Bois sometimes wrote for his students. Obama also brings a touch of Billy Graham with him to the podium. His is a deeply spiritual call. And his critics that have dismissed Obama's ability to inspire as "mere words" are dead wrong.

We have never needed inspiration more. And we have never needed a president to inspire the rest of the world more. Every international opinion poll shows that Obama is not only the most popular American leader, perhaps ever, but more popular than any other world leader today.

Obama offers civility. Obama speaks in complete sentences, well-turned paragraphs, offers thoughts with intellectual depth, nuance, humility and compassion. Obama does not play on our fears. Electing Obama will also tell the world--and most importantly ourselves--that we can grow, learn and move on when it comes to race. We can heal our wounds. We can set an example again.

Obama is worth fighting for. He is worth losing old friends for. History has given us an unlikely lifeline. Do we have the decency and sense to open our hearts? What a great moment this is!

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Obama's Activist Victory

Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination because of the roughly two million activists who supported his campaign. These were the donors, the volunteers, the caucus goers and the rally attendees who, in several key ways pushed him over the top. Here is how:

  1. Media: Starting early in the campaign, much of Obama's mystique was built on the huge crowds he drew at rallies. Massive groups of 3,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 people who attended his rallies back in the first half of 2007 gave him a rock start persona that no other candidate could match.
  2. Money: Obama's entire monetary advantage over Hillary Clinton came from small donors who gave $200 or less to his campaign. His $57M+ advantage over Clinton in this area of fundraising accounts for all of Obama's financial advantage during the nomination campaign. Outside of the $200 or smaller donors, Clinton's $10M transfer from her Senate campaign and $11.4M loan from personal funds draw her even with Obama in overall fundraising. As such, the extra money Obama had for paid media and staff came entirely from his small donor corps.
  3. Iowa: Obama had to win Iowa in order to have any chance at the nomination. His Iowa victory was the legitimizing force that helped push the vast majority of African-Americans into his camp. Also, his victory knocked out all other contenders, setting up a one on one campaign against Clinton. The Iowa caucuses, like all caucuses, are fundamentally an exertion of raw activist power, and Obama's victory among Democratic Iowa activists was one of the main keys to his victory.
  4. Caucuses: As I already noted, caucuses are a hothouse for activists. With odd and narrow voting windows, with a public vote, and with extremely low turnout, a candidate can only win caucuses if s/he commands the support of the most dedicated Democrats and Democratic leaners. Without his consistent, dominating victories in caucuses, Obama would not have led in pledged delegates. Without his pledged delegate lead, superdelegates would not have flocked to Obama. And without a lead in both pledged delegates and superdelegates, Barack Obama would not be the nominee tonight. Caucuses, and the dedicated activists who attend them, put him over the top.

So, because of the advantages that his activist corps gave him in terms of media, money, Iowa and caucus delegates, tonight Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. This statement is not meant to imply that other candidates lacked activist support, only that Obama had significantly more support from Democratic and progressive activists than any other candidate. He achieved this support because of his personal magnetism, excellent organizing within his campaign and, just as importantly as anything else, because of his early opposition to the war in Iraq. Because Barack Obama opposed the Iraq war before it began, he had the inside track to Democratic and progressive activist support. No other top tier candidate could stake the same claim to appropriate judgment on the defining issue of this decade.

Without his opposition to the Iraq war, Obama doesn't dominate among activists to nearly the same extent. And without his activist advantage, he doesn't win the nomination. The DFH's delivered Obama the nomination. Hopefully, he will campaign in the general election, and eventually govern, in a manner that recognizes and appreciates this fact. And, if not, hopefully those same activists will hold him accountable.

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Obama's potential running mates

(CNN) -- After emerging as victor in the long and bruising contest to seize the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidential race, Barack Obama's next move is to choose a running mate.


Barack Obama has a broad spectrum of candidates as potential running mates.

And that search for a vice president is getting some added support.

Caroline Kennedy has joined Obama's vice presidential selection team, a campaign spokesman said Wednesday.

Former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson is heading up the search team, and former Deputy U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is also serving on the committee.

Kennedy, the daughter of President Kennedy, formally endorsed Obama late January in a New York Times op-ed piece titled, "A President Like My Father."

"I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them," Kennedy wrote. "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."

Sen. Hillary Clinton, whose tenacious refusal to surrender the nomination contest turned the Democratic race into one of the most nail-biting in modern U.S. political history, has indicated that she would be willing to sign up on a joint ticket.

But while Clinton's appointment could help heal rifts in the party after weeks of divisive campaigning from both candidates, Obama has the pick of a broad field of candidates from across the political spectrum. Whom do you see as VP?

Here is a list of possible front-runners:

  • Evan Bayh: What he lacks in charisma, the telegenic Bayh makes up for in national security credentials, having served on both armed services and intelligence committees in the Senate.
  • Joseph Biden: A six-term senator who helms the Foreign Relations Committee, Biden could offer the heavyweight foreign policy experience that Obama is often accused of lacking. But at 65, and seen as part of the U.S. political furniture, he could undermine Obama's message of change.
  • Michael Bloomberg: Since ruling out his own independent bid for presidency, the mayor of New York has been seen as a potential running mate for both Obama and McCain. For Obama, the media tycoon and former Republican would help mitigate the Democrat's problem with Jewish voters brought on by rumors that he is a Muslim but do little to attract the white, working-class vote.
  • Wesley Clark: This former NATO commander, who failed in his bid for the 2004 presidential nomination, was seen as a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter, a fact that could help unite the party. But the 63-year-old's tough reputation as a no-nonsense soldier is unlikely to win much backing among party activists.
  • Hillary Clinton: Although the "dream ticket" of a Obama-Clinton campaign could help harness Clinton's power base of women and white working-class Democrats, the prospect of uniting the two rivals has won mixed support. A non-scientific poll said 60 percent of people were not in favor of the move.
  • Chris Dodd: A long-serving senator with solid foreign policy credentials who was considered as a running mate for John Kerry's failed presidential bid in 2004, Dodd presents the same problems as Biden.
  • Charles Hagel: A close friend of fellow Republican John McCain, Obama's general election rival, Hagel's strong anti-war in Iraq stance has generated cross-party appeal, and though an unlikely choice, he could be seen as the man to attract wavering Republican voters.
  • Ed Rendell: As an outspoken Clinton supporter, Rendell could rally support for Obama, and as governor of swing state Pennsylvania, he could help secure key votes, but his popularity is limited outside Philadelphia.
  • Bill Richardson: The New Mexico governor, who identifies himself as Hispanic, could help sway the burgeoning Latino vote in addition to lending heavyweight foreign policy credentials as a former United Nations ambassador.
  • Kathleen Sebelius: The two-term governor of mainly Republican Kansas, Sebelius has proven cross-party support, but the rising Democratic star lacks a national profile.
  • Jim Webb: Another rising star, straight-talking Webb has dismissed his vice presidential prospects, but his appeal as a Vietnam veteran and successful novelist are clear. Webb's bluntness, however, led one commentator to label him an "unguided missile."
  • Other names mentioned in the running include: Former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

    Original here

    US elections: Jimmy Carter tells Barack Obama not to pick Hillary Clinton as running mate

    Former US President Jimmy Carter speaking at the 2008 Hay Festival. Photograph: Barry Batchelor/PA

    Barack Obama should not pick Hillary Clinton as his vice-presidential nominee, former president Jimmy Carter has told the Guardian.

    "I think it would be the worst mistake that could be made," said Carter. "That would just accumulate the negative aspects of both candidates."

    Carter, who formally endorsed the Illinois senator last night, cited opinion polls showing 50% of US voters with a negative view of Clinton.

    In terms that might discomfort the Obama camp, he said: "If you take that 50% who just don't want to vote for Clinton and add it to whatever element there might be who don't think Obama is white enough or old enough or experienced enough or because he's got a middle name that sounds Arab, you could have the worst of both worlds."

    Carter, who insisted that he would have been equally against an Obama-Clinton pairing if the former first lady had won the nomination, made the remarks in an interview with the Guardian's Weekend magazine, to be published on Saturday. The interview was conducted before the final round of voting last night confirmed Obama as the party's presumptive nominee.

    The intervention of the former president - regarded as the senior elder of the Democratic party by some, and as a walking reminder of electoral failure by others - comes just as speculation of a joint Obama-Clinton ticket is building in the US. Lanny Davis, a close Clinton adviser and friend, has launched a petition drive and website - and written directly to Obama - urging him to appoint his defeated rival.

    Link to this audio
    Hear Jimmy Carter discuss the presidential race with Jonathan Freedland

    Meanwhile, Bob Johnson, the Clinton backer and founder of Black Entertainment Television, has announced that he hopes to persuade the Congressional Black Caucus - the umbrella group for African-American members of Congress - to lobby for an Obama-Clinton partnership.

    Carter's remarks could slow that momentum, as they come from the only living Democrat to have won more than 50% of the popular vote in a presidential election, even though the former president, who left office in 1981, insisted he was "on the outside" and no longer had any role in internal Democratic affairs.

    His comments are likely to be seized on by those Democrats who privately argue that the combination of a black man and a woman on a ticket will represent more change than the US electorate can swallow in one go. This camp believes Obama needs to pick an experienced, white and probably southern man to "balance" the ticket.

    The former president said: "What he needs more than a southerner is a person who can compensate for his obvious potential defects, his youthfulness and his lack of long experience in military and international affairs."

    For that reason, Carter says he favours Sam Nunn, the former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who hails from his own state of Georgia. "That would be my preference, but there are other senior Democrats who would have similar credentials to Sam Nunn," he said.

    Original here

    Former President Carter: I will endorse Obama

    Former President and Nobel Laureate Jimmy Carter gestures at the 21st Hay Festival May 25, 2008. (
    Reuters Photo: Former President and Nobel Laureate Jimmy Carter gestures at the 21st Hay Festival May 25,...

    ATLANTA - Former President Carter said Tuesday he will endorse Democrat Barack Obama after the last two states vote.

    "The fact is the Obama people already know they have my vote when the polls close tonight," Carter told The Associated Press after speaking at the Georgia World Congress Center Tuesday afternoon.

    His comments came as Obama clinched the nomination, according to a tally of convention delegates by The Associated Press.

    Carter, a superdelegate, has remained officially neutral in the race but has offered strong hints that he would end up in Obama's corner. He has noted that his children, grandchildren and their spouses back the Illinois senator.

    Carter also recently urged Obama's rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, to abandon her White House bid in early June at the latest.

    The former president had been one of the highest profile Democrats who had yet to make a pick in the long presidential primary.

    His spokeswoman, Deanna Congilio, said there were no plans for any additional statement.

    South Dakota and Montana were holding the last primaries.

    Original here

    McCain: I'd Spy on Americans Secretly, Too

    If elected president, Senator John McCain would reserve the right to run his own warrantless wiretapping program against Americans, based on the theory that the president's wartime powers trump federal criminal statutes and court oversight, according to a statement released by his campaign Monday.

    McCain's new tack towards the Bush administration's theory of executive power comes some 10 days after a McCain surrogate stated, incorrectly it seems, that the senator wanted hearings into telecom companies' cooperation with President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program, before he'd support giving those companies retroactive legal immunity.

    As first reported by Threat Level, Chuck Fish, a full-time lawyer for the McCain campaign, also said McCain wanted stricter rules on how the nation's telecoms work with U.S. spy agencies, and expected those companies to apologize for any lawbreaking before winning amnesty.

    But Monday, McCain adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin, speaking for the campaign, disavowed those statements, and for the first time cast McCain's views on warrantless wiretapping as identical to Bush's.

    [N]either the Administration nor the telecoms need apologize for actions that most people, except for the ACLU and the trial lawyers, understand were Constitutional and appropriate in the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2001. [...]

    We do not know what lies ahead in our nation’s fight against radical Islamic extremists, but John McCain will do everything he can to protect Americans from such threats, including asking the telecoms for appropriate assistance to collect intelligence against foreign threats to the United States as authorized by Article II of the Constitution.

    The Article II citation is key, since it refers to President Bush's longstanding arguments that the president has nearly unlimited powers during a time of war. The administration's analysis went so far as to say the Fourth Amendment did not apply inside the United States in the fight against terrorism, in one legal opinion from 2001.

    McCain's new position plainly contradicts statements he made in a December 20, 2007 interview with the Boston Globe where he implicitly criticized Bush's five-year secret end-run around the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

    "I think that presidents have the obligation to obey and enforce laws that are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, no matter what the situation is," McCain said.

    The Globe's Charlie Savage pushed further, asking , "So is that a no, in other words, federal statute trumps inherent power in that case, warrantless surveillance?" To which McCain answered, "I don't think the president has the right to disobey any law."

    McCain's embrace of extrajudicial domestic wiretapping is effectively a bounce-back from Fish's comments, made at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference in Connecticut last month. When liberal blogs picked up the story that McCain had moved to the left on wiretapping, the McCain campaign issued a letter insisting that he still supported unconditional immunity, as well as new rules that would expand the nation's spy powers.

    The campaign's response was consistent with McCain's past positions and votes. But it riled Andrew McCarthy at the conservative National Review Online, who read the campaign's position as a disavowal of Bush's warrantless wiretapping program, and a wimpy surrender of executive power to Congress.

    "What does it mean when he says Sen. McCain does not want the telecoms put into this position again?" McCarthy asked. "Is he saying that in a time of national crisis, the president should not be permitted to ask the telecoms for assistance that is arguably beyond what is prescribed in a statute?"

    That's when the campaign issued the letter explaining McCain's new views of executive power, and revealing that McCain would, in certain future circumstances, rely on the same theory of executive power in wartime.

    A spokesperson for McCain's camp did not respond to a request Monday for an explanation of the difference between the new policy and the December interview.

    Original here

    Dick Morris' Political Insider

    No Vice President Position for Hillary

    It would be an act of terminal insanity for Barack Obama to name Hillary Clinton as his vice presidential candidate. It would not help him get elected; it would drag all the Clinton controversies into the general election; and it would be a disaster to have her down the hall in the west wing creating dissension and civil war.

    Other than that, it’s a hell of an idea!

    Start with the election. There are two kinds of people who backed Hillary in the primaries: her original supporters and those who joined her later in the game. Her original backers are all solid Democrats whose arms would fall off before they would back anyone who is pro-life, like John McCain.

    They are true believers, feminists, pro-choice advocates, older party loyalists who would prefer Hillary, may have doubts about Obama, but will always fall in line and vote Democratic. The more recent converts are people who are turned off by Obama’s connection to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and who worry that he might be a closet black radical.

    Their latent racial fears were heightened by the revelations about Obama’s links with Wright, and they voted for Hillary as the lesser of two evils. Putting Hillary on the ticket will do nothing to assuage these fears.

    One wonders if these blue-collar, downscale, racially motivated voters would actually support Hillary against John McCain if she were to win the nomination. They certainly wouldn’t follow her into Obama’s camp just because she was on the ticket.

    Obama’s key need in the election is to demonstrate his experience and ability to do the job despite only minimal federal experience. Running with someone whose experience he, himself, derided will hardly solve this problem. Voters only credit Hillary with having experience when her record is compared with Obama’s almost total lack of a record.

    Against McCain, she would do nothing to close the experience gap. Better for Obama to choose a senator with long tenure — a Chris Dodd (Connecticut) or Joseph Biden (Delaware) — just as Dukakis chose Bentsen, Bush chose Cheney, and Kennedy chose Johnson.

    If Obama put Hillary on the ticket, it would re-raise all of the questions about Bill’s income sources, what he did for Dubai, what he did for Frank Guistra (the Canadian mining executive who gave millions to the Clinton library and whom Bill introduced to the president of Kazakhstan) and whether he will make public his library donors.

    Who needs those issues, especially when Obama is trying to wage an anti-Washington-influence-peddling campaign?

    Finally, having Hillary in the west wing would be a nightmare. There is no way that Obama could trust her. She would be a throwback to the old days when the president did not consult the vice president on anything, a situation which led Vice President John Nance Garner, FDR’s vice president during his first two terms, to call the office “not worth a pitcher of warm piss.”

    If Obama got into trouble, he would have to look over his shoulder at Hillary and he would always have both Bill and Hillary around to show him up, hog the limelight, generate controversy with ill-considered remarks, and make life difficult.

    Would Bill stop giving speeches and making money? Would his ties with Arab nations and questionable American and Canadian businessmen end? Or would Obama have to explain his vice president’s husband’s business dealings over and over again?

    And, the ultimate question: Can Bill Clinton be put back into the bottle? Is this recent spate of angry, finger-wagging bursts of inappropriate outrage a permanent fixture of his public persona? Does Obama want to take the risk of having him on the team and having to account for his conduct?

    Hillary would add no votes to Obama; she would dog his campaign with scandal; she would be disloyal in office; and her husband would be, at best, a huge distraction.

    Case closed.

    © 2008 Dick Morris & Eileen McGann

    Original here

    I Am Not a Bargaining Chip, I Am a Democrat

    Senator Clinton's speech last night was a justifiably proud recitation of her accomplishments over the course of this campaign, but it did not end right. She didn't do what she should have done. As hard and as painful as it might have been, she should have conceded, congratulated, endorsed and committed to Barack Obama. Therefore the next 48 hours are now as important to the future reputation of Hillary Clinton as the last year and a half have been.

    I am disappointed. As a long time Hillary Clinton supporter and more importantly, an admirer, I am sad that this historic effort has ended with such a narrow loss for her. There will be the appropriate "if onlys" for a long time to come. If only the staff shakeup happened earlier; if only the planning in caucus states had more focus; if only Hillary had let loose with the authentic human and connecting voice she found in the last three months of the campaign. If only. If only. I have written many times on this site about the talents of Hillary Clinton and why I thought she'd make a great President.

    After last night's final primary, she was only about pledged 100 delegates behind him. Ironic that after not wanting to make the decision for so long, it was in fact, the superdelegates who made the decision. But I guess they did so for another reason. It just isn't her time. It is his time. It's a new day that offers a freshness to our party that many have longed for. We felt the rush of new voices and a new energy in the Congressional sweep of 2006 and the sweep continues. It has been an organic shift. And a healthy one.

    The life's work of Bill and Hillary Clinton in partnering with so many African Americans uniting our purpose and promoting our mutual issues is as responsible for Barack Obama's success as our first African American nominee as anyone. And yet, that joy is being denied for them by themselves. It is so sad.

    So, I am also so very disappointed at how she has handled this last week. I know she is exhausted and she had pledged to finish the primaries and let every state vote before any final action. But by the time she got on that podium last night, she knew it was over and that she had lost. I am sure I was not alone in privately urging the campaign over the last two weeks to use the moment to take her due, pass the torch and cement her grace. She had an opportunity to soar and unite. She had a chance to surprise her party and the nation after the day-long denials about expecting any concession and send Obama off on the campaign trail of the general election with the best possible platform. I wrote before how she had a chance for her "Al Gore moment." And if she had done so, the whole country ALL would be talking today about how great she is and give her her due.

    Instead she left her supporters empty, Obama's angry, and party leaders trashing her. She said she was stepping back to think about her options. She is waiting to figure out how she would "use" her 18 million voters.

    But not my vote. I will enthusiastically support Barack Obama's campaign. Because I am not a bargaining chip. I am a Democrat.

    Original here

    Obama Declares Obama The Winner

    Sure, the Times has joined ABC News, NBC News, CNN and AP in declaring Barack Obama the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee based on his delegate count after a victory in Montana and sufficiently strong showing in South Dakota. But after Obama rival Hillary Clinton refused to do the same and finally, mercifully concede during a speech tonight, no one really knew what Obama would say. Well, he stuck to the script: "I will be the Democratic nominee," followed by a polite nod to Clinton and her campaign, then a pelting of John McCain, starting with this: "I honor [his military] service, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine." Video excerpt of the speech after the jump.

    Original here

    The Lime Green Monster: McCain's Speech Widely Panned

    It may be a superficial quip with Senator McCain's speech tonight, but as Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic noted, in presidential politics, "theatrics matter."

    The choice of a lime green backdrop was, to put it kindly, not wise. Beyond representing a jarring visual for even the most colorblind political viewer, the set up was clearly a distraction from the speech itself. Take a look at some of the reviews:

    Ambinder: "I wish I had a screen grab... but the green background is very weird and very jarring. On this stage, theatrics matter."

    Matt Yglesias notes: "'s interesting that he's shifted his aesthetic from his old black and white 'fascist' aesthetic to a new green and white Islamofascist aesthetic."

    Andrew Sullivan: "From the re-branded green background to the silly attempt to capitalize on Democratic divisions to the Clintonian cooptation of an Obama meme - "a leader we can believe in" - McCain's opening gambit in the general election was, in my judgment, underwhelming."

    Atrios: "It'll make you look like the cottage cheese in a lime jello salad. Always a good look for an older gentlemen... The aesthetics of McCain's speech, just mercifully completed before a slightly energized crowd of literally dozens, was awesome in how dreadful it was. No matter what Harold Ford thinks, who was somehow thoroughly moved by lime-jello McCain.

    From TPM:

    This is not to distract from McCain's address; that too was poorly reviewed. The most biting of the criticisms came from CNN's Jeffrey Toobin, who intoned, moments after its conclusion: "That was awful! That was pathetic!"

    Josh Marshall, over at TPM, noted: "Here's how bad it is. All the Fox commentators are giving competing explanation for why McCain's speech sucked."

    But if you think this was strictly a liberal prerogative, here is a sampling of the Republican response to McCain's general election launch.

    Here's Mark Levin over at National Review's The Corner: "Not to offend those who might be offended, but this speech is a mash and tough to digest. You have to get through the self-congratulatory praise of independence and commander-in-chief pose from the Senate, then you have to try to follow the inconsistency of some of his big-government ideas vs. his anti-big-government rhetoric, and his inconsistency even on his supposed strength -- the surge in Iraq vs. closing GITMO and conferring additional rights on the detainees."

    Summing up GOP sentiment was prominent Republican media consultant, Alex Castellanos, speaking on CNN: "Last I checked this was not a speech-making contest, thank God."

    Original here

    Tonights Official Money Bomb for OBAMA!!!! $10,000,000 GOAL!!!

    Tonight is the night we re-introduce Obama to America before the GOP begins their ultimate smear machine.

    Tonight is the beginning of the end to the GOP and their misleading ways!!!

    Tonight is the night we Change this country in a foward direction from it's last 7.5 years of dark ages to HOPE

    We will not be divided as a party and we will no longer tolerate the powers that wish to divide our great country in the name of Greed!!!

    Tonight we begin our dream and Obama's dream of "A More Perfect Union"

    Tonight We begin working as if our lives depended on it because it does!!!!

    Here's the link to donate!!! Any amount will help. If you don't have the money tonight, ask someone to donate for you on your honor to match it on your next pay period. It will also give the Obama camp a huge boost from the starting line and neutralize the 527 attacks which we know are comming very soon!!!

    Please rec this diary up and spread the word to the other blogs!!!

    If you can match someone who doesn't have the cash tonight, post it and match them until they get paid!!!

    This needs to be a huge night for Obama!!! Let's set a fund raising record while the GOP has to host their $2000.00/ plate dinners!!!

    If your a Clinton supporter, we need you guys more than ever and extend an olive branch as we come together for a common cause. Please let us know in the comment section if your helping out ( ;

    Power to the People!!!! Yes We Can!!!

    Update: Alright, we did it!!! Thanks. If anybody has links to My DD, Digg, blog left, or any left wing blog please post a similar diary and we'll link it!!! Keep it rolling. We may have to start another thread as the night goes on. I'll check back in an hour to link the second or even third thread!!!

    Update II: Keep it rolling guys, here's the Digg link

    Update III: Obama's server is getting overloaded, keep trying and don't give up.

    Original here

    For an 'Obamacon,' Communion Denied

    Word spread like wildfire in Catholic circles: Douglas Kmiec, a staunch Republican, firm foe of abortion and veteran of the Reagan Justice Department, had been denied Communion.

    His sin? Kmiec, a Catholic who can cite papal pronouncements with the facility of a theological scholar, shocked old friends and adversaries alike earlier this year by endorsing Barack Obama for president. For at least one priest, Kmiec's support for a pro-choice politician made him a willing participant in a grave moral evil.

    Kmiec was denied Communion in April at a Mass for a group of Catholic business people he later addressed at dinner. The episode has not received wide attention outside the Catholic world, but it is the opening shot in an argument that could have a large impact on this year's presidential campaign: Is it legitimate for bishops and priests to deny Communion to those supporting candidates who favor abortion rights?

    A version of this argument roiled the 2004 campaign when some, though not most, Catholic bishops suggested that John Kerry and other pro-choice Catholic politicians should be denied Communion because of their views on abortion.

    The Kmiec incident poses the question in an extreme form: He is not a public official but a voter expressing a preference. Moreover, Kmiec -- a law professor at Pepperdine University and once dean of Catholic University's law school -- is a long-standing critic of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision.

    Kmiec, who was head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in the late 1980s, is supporting Obama despite the candidate's position on abortion, not because of it, partly in the hope that Obama's emphasis on personal responsibility in sexual matters might change the nature of the nation's argument on life issues.

    Kmiec has drawn attention because he is one of the nation's leading "Obamacons," conservatives who find Obama's call for a new approach to politics appealing. Kmiec started life as a Democrat. His father was a soldier in the late Mayor Richard J. Daley's Chicago political machine, and Kmiec's earliest political energies were devoted to Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 campaign.

    But like many Catholic Democrats, Kmiec was profoundly attracted to Ronald Reagan. For him, five words in Reagan's 1980 acceptance speech summarized the essence of a Catholic view of politics: "family, work, neighborhood, peace and freedom."

    In an interview over the weekend, Kmiec argued that 35 years after Roe, opponents of abortion need to contemplate whether "a legal prohibition" of abortion "is the only way to promote a culture of life."

    "To think you have done a generous thing for your neighbor or that you have built up a culture of life just because you voted for a candidate who says in his brochure that he wants to overturn Roe v. Wade is far too thin an understanding of the Catholic faith," he said. Kmiec, a critic of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, added that Catholics should heed "the broad social teaching of the church," including its views on war.

    Kmiec shared with me the name of the priest who denied him Communion and a letter of apology from the organizers of the event, but he requested that I not name the priest to protect the cleric from public attack.

    The priest's actions are almost certainly out of line with the policy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In their statement"Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," issued last November, the bishops said: "A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter's intent is to support that position."

    The "if" phrase in that carefully negotiated sentence suggests that Catholics can support pro-choice candidates, provided the purpose of their vote is not to promote abortion.

    Already, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City has played an indirect role in the 2008 campaign by calling on Kathleen Sebelius, the popular Democratic governor of Kansas who has been mentioned as a possible Obama running mate, to stop taking Communion because of her "actions in support of legalized abortion."

    But because Kmiec is a private citizen and has such a long history of embracing Catholic teaching on abortion, denying him Communion for political reasons may spark an even greater outcry inside the church.

    Kmiec says he is grateful because the episode reminded him of the importance of the Eucharist in his spiritual life, and because he hopes it will alert others to the dangers of "using Communion as a weapon."

    Original here