The two big-time Democratic '08er forums taking place over the next couple of days come amid three key developments:
John Edwards, who can point to the support of Stephanie Herseth (D-Red State) but who has a position on the war on terror that leaves former adviser Bob Shrum scratching his head, is (obliquely) stepping up the argument that he is more electable than the candidates who would be the nation's first female or African-American president. LINK
2. Barack Obama is blaming his staff -- again. The latest finger pointing comes for the D-Punjab dig at Hillary Clinton. (Quick: Can you name the other two high-profile occasions when Obama blamed his staff? If not, ABC News' Jake Tapper can help you out on his Political Punch blog). LINK
3. The left's anger with Hillary Clinton on the war is beginning to recede. One year after Hillary Clinton was booed by liberal activists at the Take Back America conference, Bob Borosage, the organizer of the conference, says Clinton now finds herself in a "very different posture" thanks to her reversal on a date certain for the withdrawal of (most) U.S. troops and her recent vote against a war funding bill which did not contain a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal. To watch the 2006 comments which were booed along with Clinton's 2007 explanation to ABC News of her change of heart, click HERE. And see the story by clicking HERE.
At Washington's Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, the Democratic '08ers make their pitches and answer questions in front of the nation's public employees union -- the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees.
Richardson: 8:15 - 8:40
Kucinich: 8:40 - 9:05
Clinton: 9:05 - 9:30
Edwards: 9:30 - 9:55
Obama: 9:55 - 10:20
Biden: 10:20 to 10:45
The big issues for AFSCME are health care, Iraq, pensions, and economic fairness. Following the open press forum which will be moderated by MSNBC's Chris Matthews, AFSCME's members will hold a closed press "freedom hall" discussion to share their thoughts on which of the '08ers made a positive impression and which ones didn't really answer the questions.
It's all part of AFSCME President Gerry McEntee's 2008 strategy of "drilling deeper" into the views of his members than he did in the last presidential cycle when he came out early for Howard Dean's presidential bid and later came to regret it.
In order to enter the primaries on behalf of a single candidate, McEntee told ABC News that he wants "all the arrows" pointing in "one direction, meaning all the polls, the money, the excitement." Everything you would need to "give you the sense that they can take you to win." (Before AFSCME gets a chance to make a calculation separate from the AFL-CIO, the AFL-CIO has to conclude this fall that it does not have the requisite two-thirds support of the unions which make up its board behind a single candidate).
The second group which will hear from (most) of the Democratic '08ers is the liberal "Take Back America" conference which is organized by the Campaign for America's Future. Their conference is taking place at the Washington Hilton Hotel. (It was announced on Monday that Clinton won't speak to the group until Wednesday at 8:00 am ET).
Gravel: 8:30 am ET
Richardson: 9:00 am ET
Obama: 12:00 pm ET
Edwards: 12:30 pm ET