**Election 2008 Update: Run-Up to the Nevada Caucus (R & D) & South Carolina Primary (R)**
McCain leads in the South Carolina polls, holding around 27-29%, with Huckabee in second at 22-26%, so neck-and-neck right to the end. 8% are undecided. Romney is in the low teens and Fred Thompson, who has to get at least a strong second if not a tie for first, is in the teen as well. Based on polls trailing back several weeks, it seems apparent that Thompson has not reverberated with the voters as he had hoped, and will bow out after a 3rd or 4th place finish. There is a chance he and Huckabee will get a boost from the ads about the Confederate battle flag being run, praising them while decrying McCain and Romney. The Yankees see the flag as a holdover symbol of racism and sectional divide, while the Good Ole Boys think it's just about Southern pride. If enough hear or see those ads in time, it could give them the bounce to make this a three-way race for the top until the last polling station closes.
Mitt Romney made the news yesterday during a small appearance at a Staples in Columbia, South Carolina. While speaking about how he doesn't "have lobbyists running my campaign," AP reporter Glen Johnson piped in to ask contest that point, claiming he does in the guise of Ron Kaufman, an "adviser" to the former Governor and also prominent lobbyist. Romney fired back that he was simply that, an adviser, not involved in policy meetings, senior strategy sessions and the like. The video is over three minutes and shows an obviously perturbed Romney, one of the few times his polished veneer has cracked. After closing his remarks, he went back, off-microphone, and continued to talk with Johnson who argued back. Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney's traveling press secretary, pulled his candidate out of Johnson's face and upbraided Johnson for being "out of line" in interrupting, putting opinion before news and being "argumentative with the candidate."
Romney has already ceded South Carolina to McCain and is campaigning in Nevada to lock in their delegates at Saturday's caucus. No other Republicans are campaigning hard in slot-jockey land, as South Carolina—though possessing fewer delegates than NV—is more important psychologically as a gateway to the South, which McCain for one desperately needs to win.
In another close race, the Democratic Nevada caucus, Clinton (42%) and Obama (37%) are racing to garner support and make sure they can all get to the caucus sites. The state tossed out the casino caucus site lawsuit, though this has enraged Bill Clinton (there's a video of him berating a reporter, the angriest he's ever been on film). The casino sites can be used by anyone working within 2 ½ miles that can prove they work on Las Vegas Blvd, "the Strip." Edwards (12%) insists he is still in this race, that the media only follow the celebrity candidates, his message is just as valid, etc. The reality is in the numbers: he is lucky to break 20% in any state at this early stage in the primary season. His poll numbers are low, single-digits in many cases, as Democrats see Hillary and Obama as the two feasible candidates to get elected in November. While people agree with his opinions, admire his stances (really?) and love the idea of change, he's not their man.
I still think he's one of the leaders in the slow-boiling VP struggle. The biggest slap in the face would be if he was left out of a Democratic cabinet overall. At least give him Agriculture!
President Bush unveiled a proposal to give rich people 10% of all poverty-level families' children, in a bid to make their lives better. The other 90% would be forced to work in Mexico to make up for a labor shortfall.
Anyway, President Bush's proposal called for relief in the form of 1% of the GDP (~$140 billion) in tax breaks, incentives and credits. $800/person was bandied about as a refund, cutting the corporate tax rate (tossed around by McCain, so products can have their prices lowered, as there isn't a need to cover as much tax, saving the consumer money. Bush likes this, too) and providing immediate assistance whatever the fix may be. Prominent Democratic lawmakers, among them Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, have shown surprising solidarity with the President and agreed that if a plan can be crafted that receives simply majority support – while agreeing to the broad stipulations Bush laid out – it could be passes as soon as March 1st. How about that!
All the candidates are chiming in on this, and really their comments are less than interesting. Some Republicans say we're in a recession; all the Democrats do. Controversy over the economy will drive the actual election throughout the late summer and fall, and everyone wants to get in crushing blows early to give the appearance of foresight into the crisis or rough patch, depending on candidate and the level of pandering to the owners of the 6.8% of mortgages (those with sub-prime ARMs). That's cynical of me, let me rephrase: "level of sympathy with the downtrodden middle class who've been abused and mislead down a shaky economic slope."
I should really cut the commentary out at some point. I only have about three figures to back up my opinions, and two of them I borrowed from Ross Perot.
Look for more Monday, or maybe Sunday if I can get my act together. We could see the Republican race tighten up going into Florida (and Maine) or another wild ride. If Obama sneaks a victory in Nevada, expect the media to report the Clinton campaign in a tailspin. There to follow will be poorly disguised racial comments ("brown people stick together, and there are a lot in Nevada!") by Clinton-affiliated personnel.
"The policies of failure have failed…or succeeded. However that works out."