(CNN)–Democrats keep saying the same thing about their party. You hear it all the time in Washington and around the country. If they can’t win the White House this year, they say, the party should seriously think about giving the whole thing up.
To back up the point, they note the horrible job approval numbers for President Bush and his administration. They also note that some 80 percent of the American people right now believe the country is heading in the wrong direction. The economy is hurting at home and the war in Iraq remains very unpopular.
A vote for John McCain, they say, is a vote for a third Bush term. He agrees with the President on how to proceed in Iraq. He also wants to make permanent the Bush tax cuts, which he actually voted against back in 2001 and 2003.
All this explains why so many of these very same clearly frustrated Democrats are having such a hard time understanding why McCain is actually competitive with Obama in the most recent public opinion polls. Our latest CNN poll of polls, our average of the most reliable recent surveys, has Obama at 47 percent to McCain’s 45 percent. That is well within those polls' margins of error. Eight percent, by the way, say they are unsure who they would support.
Obama probably will get a nice bump in the polls in the coming days. That’s because Democrats are starting to unite around him. Hillary Clinton, they say, is likely to be effusive in her praise once she formally suspends her campaign.
But remember – polls are only snapshots. They always change over time, and there’s still five months before Election Day.
NEW YORK (CNN) – One of the most memorable lines of Barack Obama’s speech Tuesday night in St. Paul involved his opponent in the general election: John McCain, a man “who has served this country heroically.” Obama then pointedly added: “I honor that service, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine.”
It was consistent with Obama’s oft-stated praise of McCain’s military service, who was a POW during the Vietnam War. But it also included a polite dig.
McCain, for his part, pointedly noted that “the American people didn’t get to know me yesterday, as they are just getting to know Senator Obama.” It was his way of suggesting that the presumptive Democratic nominee is still a blank slate for a lot of Americans.
Just watching and listening to their respective speeches highlights their many differences including their backgrounds and age. Obama is 46 and McCain is 71.
(CNN) – It was exactly one year ago today when I moderated the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire. At that time, there were eight candidates in the race and all of them were on the stage: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich, and Mike Gravel. What a year it’s been.
Now, Obama is on the verge of winning this contest and moving on to the next chapter. The earlier rounds were the playoffs; now comes the championship.
Many political observers believe Obama is a stronger candidate today than he was a year ago. He has certainly improved his campaigning and debating skills. He’s learned a great deal. In short, he’s honed his skills and has improved his game.
But others insist he actually is weaker – having been bloodied up over these many months of a fiercely competitive fight. They point to his latest series of defeats to Clinton, including in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and, most recently, in Puerto Rico. They say he’s lost some of his mojo.
Still, he now has five months to regain it. How he reaches out to Hillary Clinton and her supporters and brings together the Democratic Party in the coming days will be critical.
(CNN) – At the end of January, I moderated a Democratic presidential debate at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles. By then, there were only two candidates left – Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. I pointed out that this was an historic primary season since by then it had become clear that the party’s nominee would either be a woman or an African-American, and that would be a first either way. When the two of them walked on to the stage, the 2,000-plus people in the audience (mostly all Democrats) responded with real passion. They were totally pumped and excited. There was a prolonged standing ovation. The theater was electric. I remember that moment.
At the end of the nearly two-hour debate, I raised the so-called “Dream Ticket” question to the two candidates. It was the first time they had been asked that question directly: Would they consider running together on the same ticket? Neither made any commitment, but neither ruled it out.
That’s where the matter has rested all these months since then. Some of their aides, clearly caught up in the excitement of a very competitive campaign, say they hate the idea. There is no shortage of Obama supporters around the country who say they dread the notion of Clinton’s running as Obama’s vice presidential nominee. They say she simply brings too much baggage and would undermine his campaign theme of Change. They also insist they don’t want Bill Clinton back in the picture. FULL POST
WASHINGTON (CNN) – There are many stunning allegations in Scott McClellan’s new book on his years in the White House. But his decision to bring up President George W. Bush’s alleged cocaine use as a young man was perhaps most surprising. Why revive an allegation that has long been dormant?
McClellan recalls a phone conversation he overheard Bush having when he was still Governor of Texas and running for president some eight years ago.
“The media won’t let go of these ridiculous cocaine rumors,” he quotes Bush as having said in that conversation with a political supporter. “You know, the truth is I honestly don’t remember whether I tried it or not. We had some pretty wild parties back in the day, and I just don’t remember.”
McClellan says the comments “struck me” and “stayed with me to this day – not for what it revealed or concealed about the young George W. Bush, but for what it said about Bush as an older man and political leader, especially as revealed through my later experiences working for him.”
McClellan adds: “I remember thinking to myself, How can that be? How can someone simply not remember whether or not they used an illegal substance like cocaine? It didn’t make a lot of sense.”
When I interview the former White House press secretary Friday in The Situation Room, I will ask him why he decided to revive this issue now.
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This Friday, Wolf Blitzer will interview the former White House press secretary, Scott McClellan. He's out with an explosive new book, alleging that President Bush engaged in "self-deception" to satisfy his political needs, and that the Iraq war was sold to the American people with propaganda. Submit your video question now!
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WASHINGTON (CNN) – I don’t remember a time when a White House press secretary has written a book and made such explosive charges about a sitting president. That is exactly what Scott McClellan has done in his new book: “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.”
Yes, there have been White House insiders who have written books critical of their respective bosses. I remember George Stephanopolous and Robert Reich writing books that came down hard on Bill Clinton and his administration.
But McClellan goes way beyond any of that. He says the war in Iraq was a blunder. He writes that war “should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.” Does that mean that the 4,000-plus American troops killed in Iraq and the hundreds of billions of dollars spent were for naught?
He says President Bush and his senior advisers “confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Democratic National Committee’s Rules Committee meets in Washington on Saturday and may decide to move the goalposts.
At issue: what to do about those Michigan and Florida pledged and super delegates. Right now, they don’t count in the presidential selection process because those two states moved up their primaries against DNC rules.
The current goalposts, as a result, stands at 2,026 – the number of delegates needed to clinch the presidential nomination. Without Michigan and Florida, there would be a total of 4,050 delegates at the Denver convention representing the other 48 states, the U.S. territories, and Americans living abroad.
The DNC Rules Committee could decide to reverse itself and seat the Michigan and Florida delegations despite their primary violations. That would move the goalposts to 2,210 – the new number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination. If the committee did that, there would be a total of 4,418 delegates at the convention.
There is a third option that is being discussed right now: the so-called Republican option. It would seat the Florida and Michigan delegates at the convention, but only at half-strength. This proposal would punish both states but still seat half of their delegates – as the Republicans did. That, in turn, would move the goalposts to 2,118 – the number needed under this scenario to clinch the nomination. Under this third option, there would be 4,234 delegates at the convention.
In other words, we could see the goalposts move this weekend. But here’s the question – would moving these goalposts really make much of a difference in the nominating process given Barack Obama’s current lead over Hillary Clinton and the party’s proportionate distribution of delegates under all the scenarios?
(CNN)–We want to hear from you! Submit your video questions for upcoming guests and your video might be used on air in The Situation Room. This week, Wolf Blitzer will interview conservative author and commentator, Pat Buchanan. He’s written a new book suggesting World War II wasn’t worth fighting. What do you think? Plus, what questions do you want him to answer about the ongoing election? Let us know at ireport.com/situationroom. Then watch The Situation Room Wednesday, May 28, to see if your video made the cut.
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(CNN) - On this Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to spend some time talking about the approximately 140,000 U.S. troops still serving in Iraq. They may not necessarily be in the news all that much right now, given the high interest in the race for the White House, but I think about them a lot. Maybe, it’s because I used to be CNN’s military affairs correspondent at the Pentagon.
I also think about their families here at home. Some of those troops are now serving their second and even third tours of duty there.
I spoke about it with Maj. Gen. Mark Hertling, the commander of U.S. and multi-national forces in the northern part of Iraq. I taped an interview with him from Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown north of Baghdad. The interview will air Sunday on Late Edition at 11 a.m. ET.
Gen. Hertling has certainly sacrificed for our country. This is his second tour of duty there. He has two sons in the military who also have served in Iraq. He also has a daughter-in-law who served in Iraq. He clearly speaks with authority on this subject.
So when he noted that he had just come from a memorial service for a soldier who had been killed in Iraq, I paid special attention to what he had to say. He told the troops at the service that many Americans back home on this Friday were thinking of ways to leave work early to start their long Memorial Day weekend. The men and women serving in Iraq have no such luxury. They are still busy fighting a war. He makes a good point.
Whether you agree or disagree with this war, this is a good time for all of us to remember what those troops are doing, to honor their service and to pray for their safe return home.