On this first Tuesday after the first Monday in November (and you know what the next one of these will bring), who would have guessed that we'd be talking about yet another Ron Paul haul? And who would have guessed that a Mormon just three years removed from supporting abortion rights would stand a real chance of being the consensus choice of the religious right?
Rep. Paul, R-Texas, reached $4.3 million in a 24-hour-period, all of it online, with his own campaign providing only minimal help to his supporters. (They were commemorating the heretofore obscure Guy Fawkes Day -- anyone see "V for Vendetta"?). That's a figure that the other Republicans who would be president can't afford (on several levels) to ignore.
With 21,000 new donors in a single day, he raised more in a 24-hour period than any of his Republican rivals, shattering former governor Mitt Romney's record of $3.14 million, which was set on his heralded "national call day" Jan. 8, per The New York Times' David Kirkpatrick.
It's almost certainly a new one-day online record, and it proves (again) that the Paulites are Web trawlers with wallets. "Dr. No" is officially better financed than Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and he'll be around for as long as he wants to be.
Nobody's trying to blow up anything this time (we hope), but the latest Paul haul drops a bomb on the GOP race. It is the latest indication that a large segment of Republican-leaning voters is angry -- at President Bush, at the Republican Party, at the entire political system. "The entire notion of Bush saying he is the decider when 70 or 80 percent of the country wants out of the war is ridiculous. He acts like a dictator," Trevor Lyman, the man behind the online explosion, tells ABC's Z. Byron Wolf.
Sixty-seven percent of self-identified Republicans still approve of the job the president is doing, according the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. Read another way, a full third of people who consider themselves Republicans are not at the president's side (to say nothing of independents who have traditionally voted Republican).
Other than Paul, no Republican candidate is making a concerted effort to reach those disaffected GOPers. Other than Paul, each remains a full-throated supporter of the war in Iraq, even as an AP bulletin out this morning pegs 2007 as the deadliest year yet for US troops in this war.
As far as reaching the GOP base goes, Romney, R-Mass., nabbed another big endorsement yesterday: Paul M. Weyrich, "considered by many to be the father of the modern religious conservative movement," per The Boston Globe's Michael Levenson. Says Grover Norquist: "This could be the beginning of all the guys who would have been with [Fred] Thompson and [Mike] Huckabee shifting over."
"It gives the Romney campaign a big leap forward to be able to say that Romney is serious about moving a pro-family, traditional value agenda as President," writes the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody, who broke the Weyrich news. "That three legged stool Mitt Romney keeps talking about just got sturdier."
Don't look now, but we could be seeing a consensus choice emerging among social-conservative leaders (though whether their flocks follow is another story entirely). Slowly yet surely, Romney has added big social-conservative names to his campaign: Bob Jones III, Jay Sekulow, James Bopp Jr., Mark DeMoss, John Willke. "It's official: Romney is the social conservative alternative," Matt Lewis writes at TownHall.com.
The Weyrich endorsement is in part an extension of his efforts to defeat former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, R-N.Y. (and if Romney's the sole beneficiary of anti-Rudy, he may yet get the one-on-one he craves). Writes Michael Luo of The New York Times, "Now it appears that Mr. Weyrich is backing up that criticism with action, lining up behind Mr. Romney, despite questions many Christian conservatives continue to harbor about the candidate's relatively recent conversion to opponent of abortion from supporter of abortion rights, as well as concerns about Mr. Romney's being a Mormon."
Those concerns have not disappeared, as Salon.com's Michael Scherer reminds us. He quotes a blunt televangelist Bill Keller: "A vote for Romney is a vote for Satan." This from the Romney camp (in a metaphor that works except for its caffeinated implications): "Sometimes Pepsi and Coke have to team up to stop Starbucks from taking over the market."
All these conservative names going to Romney are folks that Thompson, R-Tenn., isn't getting. And Thompson bid farewell to one of his most prominent supporters yesterday, with Phil Martin resigning from the campaign after his criminal record emerged in press reports over the weekend, per ABC's Christine Byun.
Dealing with his own friend facing troubles, Giuliani is showing that he's nothing if not loyal (and we'll see if he fires the tech folks who couldn't get his Web ad out when promised yesterday).
Bernard Kerik is facing the likelihood of multiple felony charges (on fun things like bribery, tax evasion, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to eavesdrop) but Giuliani tells the AP's Philip Elliott that the good outweighed the bad for the people of New York City. "Sure, there were issues, but if I have the same degree of success and failure as president of the United States, this country will be in great shape," Giuliani said. (Attention oppo-researchers: Copy, paste, and save.)
A rare Judith Giuliani speech this morning: She's speaking at 10 am ET in New Hampshire, at the "Leadership Summit on Breast Cancer," hosted by the Vermont-New Hampshire Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Don't count McCain out yet -- and therein lies a telling sign of the GOP's many challenges, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. writes. "That McCain is still standing is a credit to his persistence. But it is also a symptom of the anxieties and misgivings among Republican voters over the choices they confront in this dark time for their party."
For further signs evidence of the divided GOP, look no further than the Bush family. While the Big Three -- George H.W., George W., and Jeb -- are staying neutral, "other family members have spread their endorsements around," Michael Shear reports in The Washington Post. George P. is raising money for Thompson, Jeb Jr. is with Giuliani, and two of the president's siblings have been raising money for Romney, who is also getting support from key Jeb and George H.W. folks. (Ron Paul's name does not appear in this article.)
As for the Democratic candidates, another front has opened up in the Great Clinton Document Wars. The conservative Judicial Watch, the group behind some of the enormous Freedom of Information Act requests pending at the Clinton library, is suing the National Archives for records relating to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's healthcare task force. "The lawsuit comes as Hillary Clinton is facing increased criticism from her Democratic presidential rivals over the number of White House documents from her husband's administration that have not been made public," per the AP's write-up.
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., arrives in Iowa tonight for a five-day campaign swing that should put his more aggressive side on display. (That's no quick hit for the man "Nightline" has dubbed "King of the Cameo." Per ABC's David Wright, "Obama has shown plenty of times that he can be funny and self-deprecating. [On 'Saturday Night Live'] he showed he was edgy.")
"His rhetoric has become more emotionally charged and pointed at New York Sen. Clinton -- although he is more measured in his approach than the other Democratic front-runner, John Edwards," Jennifer Hunter writes in the Chicago Sun-Times. "He has definitely put more oomph in his delivery since the Democratic debate in Philadelphia a week ago."
The Obama camp appears to be in its version of full-on attack mode. With Clinton unveiling her energy plan yesterday -- a pure policy announcement, complete with CAFE standards, biofuels, and a cap-and-trade system -- Obama had his Iowa press shop respond with a blistering statement: "You can't bring about change on our energy policy if you change your position to suit the politics of a presidential campaign."
Former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., has already been in attack mode for some time. "I'm with you, brother," he declared when an audience member called for "a revolution tomorrow morning," Jeff Zeleny reports in The New York Times. "With Mrs. Clinton taking heavy fire from Democratic and Republican candidates alike, Mr. Edwards is trying to recast the race, brushing aside questions about his fund-raising (trailing Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama on that front, he is accepting public financing) and poll numbers (his early strength in Iowa has eroded as those two rivals have lavished time and money here) to assert that only he can assure a Democratic victory next November," Zeleny writes.
But if Edwards doesn't get his clear shot at Clinton, he may wind up helping Obama, Peter Canellos writes in The Boston Globe. "Edwards might be making some headway if this were a two-person race, Edwards against Clinton. But it's not, and Obama, who has maintained a [John} Kerry-like posture, is ready to reap any of the votes that Edwards succeeds in peeling away from Clinton."
Just don't ask Edwards about those foreclosures tied to Fortress Investments: He told a Nevada Public Radio interviewer that such questions amount to a "personal attack." "This, by the way, is not on the issues. This is a personal attack," Edwards said. "These questions are all being planted by somebody. I'm through -- I've said enough about that. What's your next question?"
Speaking of what's out of bounds, former President Bill Clinton thinks the scrutiny his wife is getting over the issue of driver's license for illegal immigrants is unwarranted. In Las Vegas yesterday, Clinton compared the criticism she's drawing "to the ads that helped sink John Kerry's White House hopes in 2004," per the AP's Ryan Nakashima. Said the former president: "I had the feeling that at the end of that last debate we were about to get into cutesy land again." (Anyone remember another instance of a former president using the phrase, "cutesy land"?)
With Sen. Clinton facing all this heat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told ABC News yesterday that she doesn't think Clinton is being picked on because of her gender -- but that her campaign looks like they want people to think that's the case. "I think the campaign is trying to take advantage of another -- probably people who didn't even watch the debate, to say, 'Oh, they were really rude,' or something like that, and that has some salience," said Pelosi, D-Calif., who has said she does not plan to endorse a candidate in the Democratic primary. "You know, every vote counts."
And the laughter has officially ended for Stephen Colbert. A week after being kept off the ballot by a 13-3 vote by the South Carolina Democratic Executive Council, Colbert brought a formal close to the comedic mileage derived from his presidential run (could this be related to the writers' strike?). "Although I lost by the slimmest margin in presidential election history -- only 10 votes -- I have chosen not to put the country through another agonizing Supreme Court battle," Colbert said in a statement, ABC's Jake Tapper reports. "It is time for the nation to heal."
Also in the news:
Recent encouraging news out of Iraq hasn't moved the polling needle, per the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. "Reports of fewer casualties in Iraq haven't altered most Americans' perceptions of the war: Fifty-nine percent still don't think the United States is making significant progress restoring civil order there, and a record six in 10 want the level of U.S. forces reduced," ABC's Peyton M. Craighill writes.
It's Election Day 2007, and voters will choose governors in Kentucky and Mississippi (in races that will be overanalyzed for 2008 implications, but what do we have that's better to do a year out?).
In one of the most closely watched mayoral contests, Pittsburgh's Democratic mayor Luke Ravenstahl, is facing a fierce challenge from Republican Mark DeSantis, ABC's Nitya Venkataraman reports. "Political pundits say DeSantis, the entreprenuer-cum-write-in-Republican candidate, poses the most serious threat to the Democratic throne in decades, collecting endorsements usually reserved for Democrats and making in-roads in Pittsburgh's staunchly politically blue landscape," she writes.
Former Hartford Courant reporter David Lightman (now in McClatchy's Washington bureau) profiles Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., on the trail. "Why is a 63-year-old man, a Washington power broker with a healthy and vigorous family crisscrossing Iowa, hoping to topple Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and others with far shallower résumés and much deeper support," Lightman writes in the Chicago Tribune. "Because he's the 2007 version of the happy warrior, the politician who won't accept defeat or frustration, a man who, as wife Jackie puts it, can make cleaning out the closet fun."
Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., is talking about his new book -- and finding ways beyond mock "job interviews" to talk about his diplomatic work. Yesterday, he awarded a Purple Heart to the family of an Iowa soldier killed in the Korean War, per the Des Moines Register's William Petroski.
The Bush administration has teed up another campaign issue: "The US Commission on Civil Rights, the nation's 50-year-old watchdog for racism and discrimination, has become a critic of school desegregation efforts and affirmative action ever since the Bush administration used a controversial maneuver to put the agency under conservative control," The Boston Globe's Charlie Savage reports.
"The unusual circumstances surrounding the appointments attracted little attention at the time," Savage writes. "But they have had a sweeping effect, shifting the commission's emphasis from investigating claims of civil rights violations to questioning programs designed to offset the historic effects of discrimination."
The AP's Chuck Babington looks ahead to the spending fights the White House is picking with Congress. "President Bush enters a new phase of government-by-minority this month, issuing a veto certain to draw the first override of his presidency, and testing even his most loyal allies' limits on spending issues that will dominate the fall agenda," Babington writes. "The strategy allows Bush to employ every ounce of his presidential powers, imposing his will so long as he is backed by one-third of either house in Congress the minimum to sustain a presidential veto. But it could strain his relations with GOP lawmakers as he pushes his tax-and-spending dogma beyond points that even a third of the House or Senate can accept."
ABC's Jennifer Parker looks at the "hot political commodities in the 2008 race for the White House": unmarried women, or the "Sex and the City" vote.
If Mayor Michael Bloomberg, I-N.Y., doesn't seek the White House, he could be running for governor in 2010. "A top aide to Mayor Bloomberg has secretly contacted one of the state's best-known Republican strategists about helping Bloomberg run for governor - against Gov. Spitzer or anyone else," Fredric U. Dicker and David Seifman write in the New York Post.
"By the way, I'm at Denny's outside LAX. Here for a fight later tonight. I'm wearing a Ron Paul T-shirt. It's a great day for Ron Paul, you know." -- Sean Morley, aka Val Venis, "the popular WWE pro wrestler who pretends to be an adult film star," per The Washington Post.
"The most common thing I hear from people who meet me is, 'Say, you're really nice.' It's a back-handed compliment, I know, but I'll take it." -- Sen. Clinton, in an interview with the (Iowa) Globe Gazette.
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