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Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Palin Plunge: Voters Sour On McCain VP Pick

The more voters learn about Sarah Palin, the more wary they become. Once the focus of post-convention Republican euphoria, the Alaska Governor is now viewed as a serious liability to the McCain campaign.

As it stands, Palin's polling numbers are daunting: with the unfolding economic crisis, her favorable to unfavorable ratings have switched from a positive 40-30, according to a September 12-16 New York Times survey, to a negative 32-41 in an October 10-13 survey.

Palin is, additionally, costing McCain newspaper endorsements. Editor and Publisher calculated that as of Oct 18, Barack Obama led McCain 58-16 in the competition for the backing of newspapers. Many of the endorsements cited Palin as a factor in their rejection of McCain. The Salt Lake Tribune, which supported George W. Bush in 2004, commented that "out of nowhere, and without proper vetting, the impetuous McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. She quickly proved grievously under-equipped to step into the presidency should McCain, at 72 and with a history of health problems, die in office. More than any single factor, McCain's bad judgment in choosing the inarticulate, insular and ethically challenged Palin disqualifies him for the presidency." The Kansas City Star, in turn, described Palin as "unqualified."

Brookings Senior Fellow Thomas Mann told the Huffington Post that initially, Palin both built conservative enthusiasm for McCain and drew widespread interest among voters who had not been closely following the race. But those benefits soon evanesced:

"Within weeks, she became a liability, primarily as a highly visible indicator of McCain's impulsiveness and recklessness in picking someone who is patently unqualified to serve as president and commander-in-chief. McCain's only chance of making this election competitive was to contrast his readiness to serve with Obama's inexperience and naiveté. The Palin choice was the first clear sign (others followed) that McCain could not win that comparison."

Norman Ornstein, of the American Enterprise Institute, agrees about the immediate gains, noting that the "short term boost dissipated awfully quickly. Palin's clear lack of capability to serve as VP, much less as president, her lack of knowledge of even basics about most areas of policy, her ethical problems in Alaska over Troopergate, and the campaign decision to cloister her from serious scrutiny, all caused a drop in her own approval, but also reflected on McCain's decision-making style." Palin continues to "generate enthusiasm from hard-core Republicans who would not be as charged-up if the running mate were, say, a [Mitt] Romney or [Tim] Pawlenty," Ornstein says, "but the downside is definitely greater than the gain."

Palin's analysis of the current economic crisis has not won over most voters seeking a serious appraisal of the situation accompanied by well-thought out proposals. In a highly sympathetic interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, the verbatim exchange on the economy went as follows:

PALIN: "Certainly it is a mess though, the economy is a mess. And there have been abuses on Wall Street and that adversely affects Main Street.


And it's that commitment that John McCain is articulating today, getting in there, reforming the way that Wall Street has been allowed to work, stopping the abuses and that violation of the public trust that too many CEOs and top management of some of these companies, that abuse there has got to stop.


It is, somebody was saying this morning, a toxic waste there on Wall Street, affecting Main Street. And we've got to cure this."

HANNITY: "Through reform?"

PALIN: "Through reform, absolutely. Look at the oversight that has been lax, I believe, here it's a 1930s type of regulatory regime overseeing some of these corporations. And we've got to get a more coordinated and a much more stringent oversight regime. Not that government is going to be solely looked to for the answers in all of the problems in Wall Street, but government can play a very, very appropriate role in the oversight as people are trusting these companies with their life savings, with their investments, with their insurance policies and construction bonds and everything else. When we see the collapse that we're seeing today, you know that something is broke and John McCain has a great plan to get in there and fix it."

HANNITY: "Is Senator Obama then using what happened on Wall Street this week? Is he using it for political gain? Is there a danger of a presidential candidate is saying to the world that America's situation of economic crisis is the worst that we've seen in decades -- which was words that he was using yesterday -- is there a danger in terms of the world hearing that?"

PALIN: "Well, there is a danger in allowing some obsessive partisanship to get into the issue that we're talking about today. And that's something that John McCain too, his track record, proving that he can work both sides of the aisle, he can surpass the partisanship that must surpassed to deal with an issue like this. It is that profound and that important an issue that we work together on this and not just let one party try to kind of grab it all or capture it all and pretend like they have all the answers. It's going to take everybody working together on this."

***

Vice presidential picks have been considered by political scientists as irrelevant to the outcome. This year, however, there is a contribution Palin may make: If McCain loses Florida by a close margin, Palin will likely deserve responsibility because of the animosity she has generated among a key constituency the GOP was depending on to abandon its traditional support for Democrats: older Jewish voters.

In Florida, where McCain had led - sometimes by relatively strong margins - Obama took the lead during the past month. Real Clear Politics gives Obama a 3.2 percentage point advantage in the state, which has become a key battleground.

In 2004, George W. Bush beat John Kerry 52-47 in Florida, while losing the Jewish vote, which makes up five percent of the electorate, 4-1.

On May 22, 2008, well before the Palin pick, the New York Times reported widespread concerns about the prospective Democratic nominee in a story headlined "As Obama Heads to Florida, Many of Its Jews Have Doubts."

The Palin pick was from the start viewed even more negatively by Jewish voters. By a margin of 57-37, Jewish voters nationwide said they disapproved McCain's decision according to a September 8- 21 survey by the American Jewish Committee.

Among Florida Jewish voters, according to University of Florida political scientist Ken Wald, "there's a great deal of resistance to her for a couple of reasons. First, on the issues, she's simply wrong. Jews as a group are pro-choice, anti-gun, and generally associated with liberal values on social and economic issues. Even many orthodox Jews, who are somewhat more traditionalist, are hardly raging social conservatives. The fact that her church hosted a Jews for Jesus speaker--at a service she attended and applauded--adds insult to injury. (Many in the Jewish community consider Jews for Jesus as a group that seeks the continuation of the Holocaust by peaceful means.)"

In addition, Wald told the Huffington Post, "among middle-class Jewish career women in particular, there's a resentment bordering on rage that somebody so obviously unqualified was appointed on the assumption that she would appeal to women. As women of accomplishment, they deeply resent the pandering and take it quite personally."

In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News McCain acknowledged that he would be having a much easier time in Florida had he picked the state's Governor, Charlie Crist, instead of Palin. "Charlie, because he's so popular, he probably would have made a significant difference,'' McCain said, "Look, this is a tough decision that we made with Sarah Palin. But I also saw Sarah Palin come down here and energize crowds in a way that's pretty remarkable, too."

***

The crucial long-range question about Palin is whether she becomes the banner carrier for Republican conservatives, especially social conservatives, earning their support for the GOP nomination in 2012.

Conservative author and publicist Craig Shirley argues that Palin's "first job was to unify the convention and this she accomplished, even better than expected. Her second job was to rally the base and at this she has been less successful, though through little fault of her own. ... Her only weakness is that her handlers did not believe in Palin as much as she believed in herself and as a result, she has been damaged and thus has some rehabilitation work ahead of her."

Shirley holds in disdain those on the right who have criticized or turned against Palin: "The sunshine conservatives and summer Reaganites who have cut and run on Palin are the same weak-sister Republicans who chose Gerald Ford over 'that actor' Ronald Reagan in 1976, because he went to Eureka College and because he foolishly thought we could defeat Soviet Communism. Didn't he know all the sophisticates on both sides supported 'détente'?"

In the immediate aftermath of Palin's nomination over a month ago, Washingtonpost.com's Chris Cillizza noted the surge of enthusiasm for her: "While any number of candidates -- former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty -- are already being seriously mentioned, Palin has quickly eclipsed all of them when it comes to 2012 positioning. She is seen as the bright new star in the Republican universe and it seems unlikely that her fresh-faced appeal will wear off completely -- especially among the GOP rank and file voters who tend to decide the identity of their party's nominee."

That luster has, however, come off and -- despite Democrats privately cheering her on -- Palin's future as a national politician now appears likely to be damaged.

In what read more like an obituary than a commentary, Peggy Noonan wrote in the Wall Street Journal: "In the end the Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics. It's no good, not for conservatism and not for the country. And yes, it is a mark against John McCain, against his judgment and idealism."

Original here

McCain avows Crist's value

By Adam C. Smith, Times Political Editor

John McCain holds up a T-shirt that was handed to him at a rally in Melbourne.

John McCain holds up a T-shirt that was handed to him at a rally in Melbourne.

MELBOURNE — Sen. John McCain acknowledged in an exclusive interview Friday that he probably would be better positioned in must-win Florida if he had picked Gov. Charlie Crist as his running mate.

The Republican presidential nominee expressed no regrets for choosing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and said Florida was sure to be a hard-fought state with almost any vice presidential pick — besides Crist.

"Charlie, because he's so popular, he probably would have made a significant difference,'' McCain said in an interview with the St. Petersburg Times and Bay News 9.

"I think this would have been a battleground state, except for obviously (with) a popular governor as Charlie Crist is,'' McCain said. "Look, this is a tough decision that we made with Sarah Palin. But I also saw Sarah Palin come down here and energize crowds in a way that's pretty remarkable, too."

McCain has been hammering Sen. Barack Obama for his associations with the likes of 1960s radical William Ayers and the controversial community organizing group ACORN. But he declined in the interview to talk about his own relationship with Harry Sargeant, a top McCain fundraiser from Palm Beach County accused Thursday by the Democratic chairman of the U.S. House oversight committee of "war profiteering" and vastly overbilling the Defense Department for fuel deliveries in Iraq.

"I have no idea what those charges are. We had to give back, as you know, some of the contributions that he raised,'' McCain said, referring to $50,000 in campaign contributions bundled by Sargeant. Questions were raised in August about whether the money came from people in California who were later reimbursed.

"I don't know anything about those charges so I can't make a comment on any of that,'' McCain said of the latest allegations, strongly denied by Sargeant. "I don't know what they're talking about. But I'll get back to you if you like."

The full McCain interview airs Sunday on Bay News 9's Political Connections show at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Florida has emerged as among the states most critical to McCain's chances of winning the White House, and he spent Friday campaigning in Miami and in the Republican stronghold of Brevard County. He criticized Obama as a big-spending liberal wanting to redistribute wealth.

"When politicians talk about taking your money and spreading it around, you'd better hold onto your wallet," McCain told the boisterous Melbourne crowd.

Polls show McCain narrowly trailing Obama in the state that he can't afford to lose, though the Arizona senator touted one automated phone survey released Wednesday showing him leading Obama in Florida by 2 points. The average of recent polls has Obama ahead by 3 percentage points.

Highlighting the intense emphasis Obama is placing on Florida, he is scheduled to campaign in Tampa and Orlando on Monday and in Miami and Palm Beach County on Tuesday. Details for the Tampa appearance have not been set.

In the Political Connections interview and before enthusiastic crowds in Miami and Melbourne, McCain again stressed the story of "Joe the plumber," an Ohio man worried that Obama will raise his taxes as he expects to earn more than $250,000 a year. McCain first heralded Joe Wurzelbacher in Wednesday's debate, and the media subsequently reported that he owes backs taxes and lacks a plumber's license.

"People are digging through his personal life and he has TV crews camped out in front of his house. He didn't ask Sen. Obama to come to his house. He wasn't recruited or prompted by our campaign. He just asked a question,'' McCain said. "And Americans ought to be able to ask Sen. Obama tough questions without being smeared and targeted with political attacks."

In Melbourne, McCain supporters snapped up "Hello, My Name is Joe Plumber" T-shirts and cheered when McCain said he spoke with Wurzelbacher earlier in the day.

"His spirits are good, and he's a tough guy. He's what small business people all over this country are about," McCain said. "Send Joe an e-mail and tell him you're with him."

McCain said Obama would send federal spending soaring and promised he would be the candidate to cut the budget. When pressed in the interview whether his plans for a spending freeze would hurt programs like NASA and Everglades restoration, or mean Medicare and Medicaid recipients would be hit, he insisted vaguely that he would find other areas to cut.

"Anybody that doesn't believe there isn't enough money washing around up there doesn't know Washington,'' said McCain, who promised to increase funding for NASA and ensure America will be the first nation to Mars.

Adam C. Smith can be reached at asmith@sptimes.com or (727)893-8241.

Original here

Cindy McCain Tax Returns: Reports $4.2 Million In 2007 Income

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. his wife Cindy, right, speaks at a rally in Melbourne, Fla., Friday, Oct. 17, 2008.(AP Photo/John Raoux)

WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate John McCain's wife, Cindy, reported $4.2 million in income for 2007, nearly $2 million less than she reported the previous year, according to tax returns released by the McCain campaign Friday. Mrs. McCain, who files her taxes separately from her husband, paid $1.1 million in taxes, a tax rate of about 26 percent. She reported nearly $530,000 in itemized deductions.

The McCain campaign said her losses were in investment income directly related to her family business, Hensley & Co., an Arizona beer distributorship of which she is chairwoman.

"The reduction is a combination of capital investments in the business and, like many companies, Hensley has felt the impact of a weakened economy," McCain spokesman Brian Jones said.

The Arizona senator's campaign had released her 2006 return in May but said Mrs. McCain had requested an extension on her 2007 return.

McCain himself released his own tax return last April, reporting a total income of $405,409 in 2007 and $84,460 in federal income taxes.

Democratic rival Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, made their returns public earlier this year, reporting $4.2 million in 2007 income, most of it profits from his books, "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope."

The McCain campaign only released the summary pages of Mrs. McCain's returns, thus offering limited information on her finances. She listed nearly $2.9 million in income from rental real estate, royalties, partnerships and trusts _ a category that would include her investment income from Hensley & Co. She had reported $4.5 million in that category in 2006.

She also reported $297,000 in salary income, more than $118,000 in dividends and more than $746,000 in capital gains. Her dividend income dropped by about $165,000 from 2006.

Perhaps anticipating higher income, she overpaid her taxes over the year by more than $950,000. She applied that amount to her 2008 estimated tax.

As an heiress to the Hensley fortune, Cindy McCain's worth has been estimated at more than $100 million.

Original here


Bachmann Calls For McCarthyite Investigation Into Anti-American Activities Of Liberals

Appearing on MSNBC’s Hardball today, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) attacked the patriotism of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), based on his alleged relationship to former Weather Underground member William Ayers and the values of Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. “I’m very concerned that he may have anti-American views,” said Bachmann. “That’s what the American people are concerned about.”

She then went further, suggesting that all liberal views — held by people such as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, professors, and all Americans who identify themselves as “liberals” — are “anti-American.” When host Chris Matthews, stunned by her remarks, asked Bachmann how many people in Congress hold anti-American views, she responded, “You’ll have to ask them.”

Bachmann called on the media to conduct investigations into the anti-American activities of members of Congress, similar to Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s discredited House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in the 1950s. “I think people would love to see an exposé like that,” she claimed. Watch it:

Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) made similar comments at a fundraiser yesterday, saying that she loved to visit “pro-America” areas of the country — “small towns” where “hard working” people are “very patriotic.”

Original here

League Of Conservation Voters Gives McCain ‘0 Percent’ Environmental Rating

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has repeatedly boasted about his record on the environment and energy issues. His website touts McCain’s “longstanding commitment to conserving America’s natural resources and promoting environmental stewardship,” for example.

Today, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) released its 2008 National Environmental Scorecard — giving McCain a 0 percent rating. The scorecard ranks members of Congress on 11 key votes based on “the consensus of experts from about 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations.” McCain received a “0″ because he missed every one of those votes:

mccainlcv.gif

McCain’s environmental record isn’t so poor just because he’s been absent. His lifetime LCV rating is 24 percent, with his highest rating at only 56 percent in 2003-2004. McCain has voted against tax incentives for renewable energy, updating building code standards for energy efficiency, and modernization of the electricity grid. Furthermore, he does not support any increases in fuel efficiency above existing law.

McCain curiously said in August, “I have not missed any crucial vote” on energy legislation.

Original here

[Update 2] Michele Bachmann Exposed

So the Friday appearance of Michele Bachmann on MSNBC's Hardball helped to publicize her disgusting far-right views and launch a spontaneous fundraising drive for Democratic challenger Elwyn Tinklenberg.

But now seems as good a time as ever to remind everyone that Michele Bachmann actually has a pretty long history of doing and saying things that are, well, downright wingnutty.

Just in case you happened to miss her discussion with Chris Matthews on Hardball, Bachmann launched into a McCarthyist tirade in which she indicated she believed that some members of Congress are anti-American. More than just a passing reference, she said she wanted the media to do an expose on this very subject.

Here's the Hardball video, just in case you missed it:

But anyone who knows her history knows that this isn't the first time she said something so insane and abhorrent.

When FISA was being discussed in Congress, and many Democrats were appalled by the idea of giving immunity to the telecom industry, she went so far as to write an op-ed piece in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune about FISA, blaming Democrats for putting Americans at risk by not giving telecoms immunity from prosecution for illegal spying:

The No. 1 job of the American government is to protect her citizens. House Democratic leaders, in forcing the expiration of the FISA updates, have shirked that most fundamental responsibility -- the safety of the American people.

But that's just getting started on the far right-wing, and in some cases, downright insane statements she's made in her one term. Let's go back to a statement she made in January of this year:

I am so proud to be from the state of Minnesota. We're the workingest state in the country, and the reason why we are, we have more people that are working longer hours, we have people that are working two jobs.

Yes, that's definitely something to be proud of! People can't make ends meet with one job, so they have to get multiple jobs! Hooray! Perhaps, Ms. Bachmann, you should go work the night-shift at a 7-11 in addition to your Congressional duties if you think that this is something we should all strive for.

So that covers the domestic front. What about foreign policy? Well, let's look at a statement she made about Iraq.

What our service men and women have accomplished over there has been nothing short of astounding. Though you never hear about it in the media. God has not abandoned us.

But not only does she believe that we are fighting for God's will in Iraq, but that, in fact, it was God's will for her to run for office. Here, she says "God called me to run for United States Congress."

Of course, that comment could very well have gotten the church at which she spoke in trouble and for it to lose its tax-exempt status, as Keith Olbermann points out in his "Worst Persons in the World" segment.

So yes, she went with the old "mission from God" routine. You almost wonder if Michele Bachmann was on John McCain's short-list to be vice-president, considering how much she sounds like Sarah Palin. Then you remember that she's too much of a wingnut for even John McCain. Here's what she said about him:

He is not my man. Our candidate was chosen by the media.

Yes, McCain's nomination had nothing to do with the fact that he won the most votes, states, and delegates in the primaries. It's definitely all the evil liberal media's fault.

Even John McCain's views must seem not conservative enough for Bachmann, particularly the immigration reform McCain was in favor of before he was against it. Just days after an illegal immigrant killed four students in a traffic collision, she was on O'Reilly exploiting the tragedy to press for English-only DMV tests (despite the fact that there's no national language), and she seemed to agree with O'Reilly that there should be legislation that would require police to report any activity dealing with illegals to the immigration authorities. Nevermind the fact that this would lead to increased crime as many more people would fear going to the police for help. Here's a clip from that show.

Surely she has a very good grasp of science, right? Here's her obviously very well-informed view on global warming:

The big thing we are working on now is the global warming hoax. It’s all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax.

And that's not the only time she denied the existence of global warming.

Updated: Well, now we know why she's so hostile to the concept of global warming, thanks to Talking Points Memo. When discussing Nancy Pelosi's views of global warming, she had this to say:

[Pelosi] is committed to her global warming fanaticism to the point where she has said that she's just trying to save the planet. We all know that someone did that over 2,000 years ago, they saved the planet -- we didn't need Nancy Pelosi to do that.

Right. So we don't need to worry about global warming because of Jesus. Yikes.

That's not the only area that Bachmann demonstrated her scientific knowledge... or, rather, lack thereof while in Congress. Here, she's referring to Terri Schiavo as "healthy."

And she does it yet again when she disputes evolution in favor of intelligent design here:

And here, she's talking about abortion, in which she talks about fifty million women whose bodies have been "violated" when they chose to get abortions.

But it turns out she's actually even crazier when it comes to one issue in particular that matters a lot to me: gay rights. According to the blog Eleventh Avenue South, she has gone to great lengths to try and take away any rights that gays have fought so hard to obtain.

For example, as noted by the Star Tribune:

The [Minnesota] Senate on Thursday rejected an effort to force a floor vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage as thousands of ban opponents rallied outside the Capitol. Sen. Michele Bachmann, the Stillwater Republican who's led the push for the ban, said Senate Democrats have denied her repeated efforts to get the bill heard. Senate leaders countered that Bachmann, a candidate for the U.S. House, is flouting Senate rules to advance her own political career. At the same time, about 2,500 gays, lesbians and their supporters attended a rally on the Capitol grounds just a few hundred yards away, organized by OutFront Minnesota.

This is more radical than it seems, because, as noted by Minnesota Public Radio, the amendment would

[B]an gay marriage and its legal equivalents in Minnesota...

Its legal equivalents include civil unions and domestic partnerships. The fact that she tried to force a vote on this amendment during a gay rally reveals a very apparent hostility to gays altogether. This hostility actually seems somewhat of an obsession, because after her legislative move failed, she went out and very literally spied on the rally from the bushes. You can't make this stuff up. (Photos courtesy of Eleventh Avenue South.)

Yikes. Apparently she's quite obsessed about gays. But that's not all she has an obsession about.

Perhaps the best way to show just what kind of views she has is to look at her pure adoration of one of the most disliked presidents in history. Crooks and Liars listed a couple good points of reference about how she feels about the President. First is a positively gushing diary about a chance she got to ride in the presidential limo back in August of 2006 before the midterm elections. Of course, this journal is no longer posted on her Web site; maybe someone in her campaign realized that the President is not very popular these days.

But as we all know, nothing really disappears from the Internet. Here are some choice quotes from a blog that describes Bachmann's enthusiasm for George W. Bush by calling her "Harriet Miers on steroids."

I could not believe I was discussing what flavor of custard to order with the President of the United States!

President Bush was so incredibly engaging with the servers. He actually stuck half of his body through the order window and asked, "Can anybody get some custard here.

I was struck by the humility he has towards his role as President of the United States.

Always the mom, I thought, we need napkins. I asked the President if he had a napkin and he said no. So, I had to quickly grab napkins. I cannot imagine dripping custard in the Presidential limousine.

If that's not enough to convey how she really feels about the President, here's how ABC 5 Minneapolis described an encounter between the President and Bachmann after his 2007 State of the Union address:

Newly-elected Congresswoman Michele Bachmann got quite a bit of face time with President Bush after his State of the Union Speech Tuesday night.

While the President was signing autographs for members of Congress after the speech, the sixth-district Republican put her hand on Bush's shoulder. However, it wasn't just a tap. After he signed an autograph for her, Bachmann grabbed the president and did not let go for almost 30 seconds.

After signing the autograph for Bachmann, the president turns away, but Bachmann doesn't let go. In fact, the video shows her reaching out to get a better grip on him.

Bush then leans over to kiss another congresswoman, but Bachmann is still holding on. Bachmann then gets more attention, a kiss and an embrace from the president. A few seconds later, Bachmann's hand finally comes off the presidential shoulder.

Here's an interview she gave about that encounter.

And you know that famous awkward McCain-Bush hug photo? Well, that has nothing on Michele Bachmann.

Wow, so not only does she seem to share all of the far right-wing views of the current GOP administration, but it seems that she essentially has a schoolgirl crush on the President himself.

Well, we know that the President will be leaving the White House in January of 2009. We can make sure that Michele Bachman is forced to leave with him. Maybe they can both retire and enjoy long drives to the custard stand together.

We can make this happen, Kossacks. The netroots community has already done a great job raising money for her progressive challenger, Elwyn Tinklenberg. His official campaign Web site is www.tinklenberg08.com. There are several Act Blue fundraising pages for him. The one formed specifically in response to Bachmann's despicable remarks on Friday can be found here, and his general ActBlue fundraising page can be found here.

It's not often that candidates like Tinklenberg get such a tremendous opening that Michele Bachmann has created with her interview on Hardball. And the netroots has already helped to exploit that with a huge fundraising effort. We just have to keep it up and make sure that Mr. Tinklenberg has the resources to let the voters know what Michele Bachmann really stands for.

Original here

BREAKING: Obama Campaign Calls For Investigation Into DOJ/McCain Collusion On ACORN Smears


Breaking news on Friday's Countdown. Senator Barack Obama's campaign has written a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey asking for an investigation into improper leaks from DOJ officials involving their ACORN investigation and whether or not people within the DOJ, perhaps with the help of the White House, are working in concert with the McCain campaign to further the ACORN myth for his political advantage.

Keith Olbermann talked with an Obama campaign attorney about this brilliant strategy by the campaign -- they are linking the ACORN/DOJ scandal with the U.S. Attorney firing scandal. If you will recall, several of the improperly fired attorneys were let go primarily because they wouldn't play along with Rove/GOP demands that they prosecute bogus voter fraud cases.

We're working on video and will post it as soon asap.

Original here

Obama Rally Draws 100,000 in Missouri

Amy Chozick reports on the presidential race from St. Louis.

Barack Obama attracted 100,000 people at a Saturday rally here, his biggest crowd ever at a U.S. event.

The crowd assembled under the Gateway Arch on a sunny Saturday afternoon to hear Obama speak about taxes and slam the Republicans on economic issues.

Lt. Samuel Dotson of the St. Louis Police Department confirmed the number of attendees piled into the grassy lawn by the Mississippi River.

To be sure, big crowds don’t always signal a big turnout on Election Day. But Obama’s ability to draw his largest audience yet in a typically red state that just weeks ago looked out of reach, could signal a changing electoral map.

For months Missouri polls put Obama as much as ten percentage points behind Republican John McCain. It was widely believed that McCain’s pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate would have won over the state’s conservatives and boosted his chances there. So far, that hasn’t happened.

A Rasmussen poll released on Friday shows Obama leading in Missouri 52% to 46% for McCain.

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill had harsh words for Palin when she introduced Obama on Saturday. Referring to comments Palin made earlier this week in North Carolina about “pro-America” states, McCaskill said “We have reached a new low in America politics when a candidate dares to say that one part of America is pro-America and another part is anti-America.”

She also took a dig at McCain for selecting a vice presidential nominee with limited experience. “One [candidate] picked one of the strongest candidates for vice president he could’ve picked in the United States and well, the other didn’t.”

Recognizing that big rallies don’t always result in cast ballots, the Obama campaign has dispatched thousands of field organizers and volunteers to Missouri to knock on doors in a statewide get out the vote effort. (Photo: Associated Press)

Original here

Housing market and consumers on the ropes

By Burton Frierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Consumer confidence suffered its steepest monthly drop on record in October and construction starts on new homes fell to a 17-1/2 year low the previous month, as the financial crisis sent shock waves through the economy.

The fall in consumer confidence came as a sharp deterioration in credit markets punished stocks and wiped out large chunks of savings held in retirement accounts. The sentiment drop erased a recovery in previous months that was inspired by a retreat in oil prices that had been at record highs.

"Confidence is collapsing so that's not good even as you have gas prices falling," said Doug Smith, chief economist for the Americas at Standard Chartered in New York. "People are seeing what's happening to their 401ks, stocks and home prices. It's just awful."

The Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers said on Friday its index of confidence plummeted to 57.5 in October from 70.3 in September.

Earlier, the Commerce Department said overall starts on new homes fell 6.3 percent to their slowest pace since January 1991, and well below expectations of Wall Street economists.

Both releases showed the spiraling credit crisis was pounding an already weak economy.

ON THE ROLLER-COASTER

Financial markets continued their volatile ride. Stocks were down but attempting to pare their losses on bargain hunting and some reassuring earnings results from companies.

Safe-haven government bonds extended gains in the wake of the release as many investors were worried over the deepening of the U.S. economic malaise.

Friday's data was the latest reminder that the economic and financial troubles all originated in the U.S. housing market.

In a particularly stark example, the category of single-family homes saw starts fall at a rate of 12.0 percent to the slowest pace since August 1982.

With falling home prices, soaring foreclosures and financial turmoil that was curtailing the availability for of mortgages for prospective home buyers, builders in September were clearly bracing for a deeper downturn. New applications for building permits fell 8.3 percent in September.

"FEAR AND PANIC"

The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index is now at its lowest since June this year. The report said there have been only four surveys that posted monthly declines of 10 index points or more.

"Consumer confidence in early October registered its largest monthly decline in the history of the surveys," the report said.

"All of the prior double-digit declines were based on severe economic dislocations with the losses accelerated by fear and panic," the report said.

The index came out well below economists' expectations for a reading of 65.5, according to the median of their forecasts in a Reuters poll. Their 64 forecasts ranged from 55.0 to 70.0.

The University of Michigan confidence index dates back to 1952. Its record low was 51.7, which it hit in May 1980.

Consumers rated current economic conditions the worst on record, with this gauge falling to 58.9 from September's 75.0.

(Additional reporting by David Lawder in Washington and Richard Leong in New York, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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