The Democrat South Carolina primary is tomorrow, and the Florida primaries for both parties are next week (though Florida’s Democrat primary delegates were stripped like Michigan’s because Florida moved their primary up). Both are key for building and maintaining momentum. Let’s look at South Carolina first.
The heat continues between Clinton and Obama. As I mentioned in a previous post, Hillary Clinton had accused Obama of representing a ‘slum lord’ named Tony Rezko. In an interview with NBC’s Today Show, she also said that she didn’t know Rezko, but in a fun (for me) twist, Matt Lauer presented a picture of Rezko standing in between Bill and Hillary years ago.
An L.A. Times op-ed warns of the high price of another Clinton ‘twofer’ presidency. Excerpts:
She wants to be judged on her own merits and not be treated as Bill’s Mini-Me. But she also wants to reap the benefits of Bill’s popularity, and offers voters the reassuring suggestion that if there’s a crisis while she’s in the White House, there will be someone around who really does have executive branch experience — namely, Bill — to lend a hand. But the Clintons are playing a dangerous game. The more they remind us of what we liked about Act I of the Bill and Hillary Show, the more they also remind us of what we hated.
On the whole, the Clinton era was a time of culture war and scandal, “triangulation” and botched reforms (healthcare anyone?), vacillation and paralysis.
On foreign policy in particular, Clinton’s presidency was an era of missed opportunities. In Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, Rwanda and Kosovo, U.S. policy was marred by hesitation and lack of commitment. Despite impressive rhetoric on the emerging challenges posed by globalization, nuclear proliferation, WMD and the rise of transnational terrorism and nonstate actors, Clinton developed few innovative ways to address these challenges; his approach to conflict and crisis was piecemeal.
Speaking of Hillary Clinton, this interesting tidbit came to my attention recently. If you think that government is overspending on ridiculous things, you need to know this:
A group that lobbies for needle exchanges, for allowing more immigrants with HIV/AIDS to legally enter the country, and for condom distribution in prisons received a $303,000 federal earmark pushed by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).
That was one of 261 earmarks Clinton personally helped usher through Congress. That’s more earmarks than any other member of Congress seeking the presidency.
Many of the organizations she helped with earmarks have employees who are substantial contributors to her campaign. Is this really what you want in a President? These practices border on illegal, and Clinton is one of the worst offenders. How likely do you think she’s going to be to actually eliminate earmarks if she’s in the White House? By contrast, Obama had 46 earmarks.
A leading poll currently shows the following for South Carolina:
Rush Limbaugh recently put forth the theory that the Clintons actually want Obama to win SC. According to Limbaugh, their plan is to utilize racial politics as much as possible to re-engage white voters on their side. To that end, a loss in SC would trigger the idea that ‘of course, Obama won SC, there are a lot of black voters there…’, thus scaring white Democrat voters to come back to the Clinton fold. The idea won’t come from the Clintons (ahem, ahem), rather from their surrogates in the MSM and elsewhere. It will be interesting to see if Limbaugh’s legendary ability to predict his opponents’ actions comes true.
Now, on to Florida and the Republicans. McCain is the GOP flavor of the moment for the MSM, and it seems to be having at least a little bit of an effect on the voters. But, there are some serious problems with nominating McCain. As Robert Tracinski writes at RealClearPolitics:
Many voters seem to be attracted to McCain because of his strong stance on the War on Terrorism, reinforced by his war-hero biography. This is part of the reason, for example, that Rudy Giuliani’s poll numbers have declined precisely as McCain’s have risen: both candidates are competing for the support of pro-war voters. But that raises another, far more important question: if John McCain saves Republicans, who will save Republicans from John McCain? The voters who support McCain over Giuliani are making a dangerously short-sighted trade. McCain is a suicidal choice for Republicans, because on every issue other than the war, he stands for capitulation to the left.
There are three big domestic issues that will be decided by the 2008 election: socialized medicine, higher taxes, and global warming regulations. The Democrats are in favor of all three–and John McCain won’t stop them.
Mark Krikorian at NRO agrees, but for a different reason: McCain is a multiculturalist. What does that mean? Francis Fukuyama described multiculturalism “not just as tolerance of cultural diversity in de facto multicultural societies but as the demand for legal recognition of the rights of ethnic, racial, religious, or cultural groups.” McCain has supported the multicultural aspect of pretty much every issue, and none has been more apparent than immigration. From his amnesty bill in 2007 to his support of bilingual…well, everything (and opposition of the equivalent official English language everything) to opposing proof of citizenship for voting, McCain has constantly been against the rest of his party on immigration. This same philosophy applies to pretty much every other issue, too. The only issue he actually leads the party on is national security. For everything else, he’s essentially a Democrat.
Rudy Giuliani is playing a risky strategy, skipping the early (more conservative) states and going straight for Florida. It will be interesting to see if his strategy pays off. Though he’s a wreck on the social issues, two of Rudy’s biggest strengths are national security and the economy. In particular, he has proposed an extremely aggressive tax plan that includes the following:
– largest tax cut in recent history
– an option to use the current system or a new system with a simple one-page form
– three tax rates on the new system: 10%, 15%, and 30%
– incentives to save through three programs (retirement account, general purpose savings account, training/education account)
– health care exclusion ($15K for families, $7500 for individuals) to increase access to private health care
This is a terrific tax plan, and would really help alleviate the centralization of power in the federal government; Steve Forbes endorses it.
The last piece of this update is the strategy of RNC Chairman Mike Duncan on how to beat the Democrat candidates. The short version is that Clinton’s biggest weakness is trust, and Obama’s is his lack of experience. Excerpts:
The RNC’s polling on Clinton found that less than 50 percent of respondents see her as “honest and trustworthy.” Sixty-five percent say she “will say or do anything to get elected” and 68 percent “agree that Sen. Clinton will raise their taxes.”
Only 40 percent of respondents to the RNC’s survey agree that Obama “has the experience necessary to be Commander-in-Chief.” Forty-nine percent said Obama has a “record of accomplishment,” but only 19 percent say they are “very familiar” with the senator’s positions. Forty-four percent of respondents in the RNC poll view Obama as a uniter of Democrats and Republicans. “His rhetoric is very good. He’s a great speaker. But at the end of the speech, people go, ‘Where’s the beef?’ “
At the moment, a leading poll is showing the following numbers:
If Rudy doesn’t pull out Florida, his campaign could be in some serious trouble. Romney shows signs of pulling ahead of the pack in several states, possibly due to snagging much of Fred Thompson’s former support, so if he picks up Florida, he would definitely be the front-runner (despite the MSM anointing McCain) going into Super Tuesday.
Now you’re up to date going into the weekend!
There’s my two cents.