Monday, July 21, 2008

Help Clinton Retire, Again

Help Clinton Retire, Again

On a conf call with his finance team 6/24, Barack Obama asked his top contributors to help Hillary Clinton retire her more than $10M in debt. Two days ahead of his DC meeting with HRC's donors, Obama "jumped in on a scheduled weekly national finance call with his fundraisers, and spoke about Clinton having 'acquired some debt to vendors' in her long, hard-fought campaign." He "said he would be relying on his major donors to help her out, and specifically named" longtime Dem fundraiser Alan Solomont, said one source (Earle, New York Post, 6/25).

CNN's Crowley, on the 6/24 call: "This is the first time that the campaign has confirmed that they were doing anything to try and help retire this debt, which is a pretty normal thing for campaigns to do when one wins over the other. So, it certainly is a step forward in this ongoing process to kind of find some equilibrium in their relationship" ("AC 360," 6/24).

Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), on why it's in Obama's interest: "I think they want to make sure Senator Clinton is financially in a strong enough position to be able to get out there and travel the country for him and be the strongest advocate she can possibly be. Obviously, with the need to retire her debt, and his ability to help her do that, they're going to work together to help raise money for Barack Obama's campaign for president and also retire Senator Clinton's debt" ("Hardball," MSNBC, 6/24).

Bill Richardson: "It's a magnanimous gesture of party unity on the part of Senator Obama. I'd be prepared to help here in New Mexico. She ran a good, strong race, and I think Democrats around the country should help retire that debt. A good part of that is personal. ... It's not just for party unity, but to be fair and good to others. There are a lot of people out there that respect the race that she ran, and I'm sure she's going to get a very good response" ("Fox & Friends," FNC, 6/25).

Clinton sr. adviser Lisa Caputo, on Obama asking his donors to help pay Clinton's debt: "I think that was a brilliant move on Senator Obama's part. I think it will go a long way to helping bridge people to bring
them over to Senator Obama's side. ... I think there's a lot of hurt with her supporters, particularly women. I think the fact that Senator Obama was so proactive with his biggest donors to ask that they help retire Senator Clinton's debt, that's very meaningful to her supporters" ("Today," NBC, 6/25).

NBC's Mitchell: "Barack Obama finally got on the phone yesterday and a lot of Clinton people felt, frankly, that it was long in coming. ... [Clinton] has said she does not expect to be paid back the $12.2 million that she put into the campaign herself, but she does want to pay off the vendors. Of course nearly half of that would go to Mark Penn. Nobody is talking about that too much outside the people that say, hey, I don't want to pay money to pay Mark Penn for a campaign that didn't succeed, but that's a whole other story" ("Morning Joe," MSNBC, 6/25).

Traveling 'Til November?

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton "extended his support" to Obama for the first time 6/24 in a "one-sentence statement" from his spokesperson Matt McKenna: "President Clinton is obviously committed to doing whatever he can and is asked to do, to ensure Senator Obama is the next president of the United States."

While the two men haven't talked since the campaign ended, Obama said 6/24 "the only reason... is because Clinton is traveling overseas." Obama praised B. Clinton and said he's "looking forward to setting up a long conversation." Obama: "He's as smart as they come. He's a great strategist. We're going to want him campaigning for me."

B. Clinton "will not be attending" the Obama-HRC rally in Unity, NH, as he "is in Europe this week to celebrate Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday" (Pickler, AP, 6/25).

Bitter Bill

The media was quick to weight in on Bill Clinton's statement of support:

• Independent Women's Forum pres. Michelle Bernard: "Bill Clinton barely stuck his toe in the pool with this endorsement of Senator Obama today. I think it is a lose for Obama. ... If Bill Clinton does for Obama what he did for his wife, particularly in South Carolina, Obama doesn't want his endorsement, especially when it's this tepid. It's not even lukewarm" ("Verdict," MSNBC, 6/24).

• CNN's Crowley: "An uneasy truce may be near. A source says Hillary Clinton and Obama have talked about getting her husband and Obama together. A close friend predicts, in the long run, Bill Clinton will return to his foundation, refurbishing his legacy with the kind of good works that shaped his post-presidency" ("AC 360," 6/24).

•'s Cillizza: "It is in Bill Clinton's self-interest and Hillary Clinton's self-interests to be as supportive and active for Barack Obama as possible. That's the way they can get back to being the sort of 'first family' of Democratic politics that they clearly want to be" ("Countdown," MSNBC, 6/24).

• Air America's Maddow: "If we're supposed to be reading between the lines to suss out Bill Clinton's level of enthusiasm for Barack Obama's candidacy, that message is as clear as it could possibly be and it is not a positive message. ... Apparently, the Clinton campaign is willing to give the impression that they are not 100 percent there. Not the Clinton campaign, the Bill Clinton juggernaut, I guess. I saw this as sort of a damning-with-faint-praise slap" ("Race for the WH," MSNBC, 6/24).

• Huffington Post's Huffington, asked if she's suprised B. Clinton voiced his support through a spokesperson: "Not actually, because it's very hard for him. It's clear that he expected this primary to be a way to ratify his legacy, to ratify his presidency, and it wasn't that at all. So, he in a way, from what I hear, has taken it harder than even Hillary Clinton has taken it" ("AC 360," CNN, 6/24).

• GOP strategist Brad Blakeman: "If he helps Obama as much as he helped his wife, good luck to him. This is a lose for Obama" ("Verdict," MSNBC, 6/24).

• Dem strategist Hilary Rosen: "President Clinton knows that this is Hillary's week, that the big plan is for Senator Clinton and Barack Obama to come together, to do their event on Friday. They're meeting with their donors Thursday night and where she is handing over a significant amount of her donors to him and relinquishing all control. ... And I think that President Clinton knows that he needs to step back a little bit" ("LKL," CNN, 6/24).

Newsweek's Alter: "It really just didn't get it done. You do sort of wonder, you know, what the point of it was. If he wasn't going to go in front of the cameras himself, why deal with it?" ("Verdict," MSNBC, 6/24).

• GOP strategist Andrea Tantaros: "Bill Clinton's enthusiasm for Barack Obama comes through his spokesman by saying that he is committed to Barack Obama? Come on. I mean, if he really was committed ... he would have come out more forcefully than going through his spokesperson 17 days later" ("LKL," CNN, 6/24).

• Clinton sr. adviser Lisa Caputo, asked if B. Clinton is bitter: "He's not bitter. I will say, though, that this was a very personal thing for him. ... There's a lot of parsing of his statement yesterday. Obviously, he's going to do whatever he can to get Obama elected. I think it's important to know that. Now is he out on the campaign trail right now? No. The Obama campaign needs to figure out how they want to deploy Clinton. ... I think he is waiting to be asked to do something on this campaign trail" ("Today," NBC, 6/25).

• Dem strategist Maria Cardona: "Bill Clinton is still a huge rockstar among the Democratic base. So, if he's out there, talking about how he supports Obama, it's going to be a win for Obama" ("Verdict," MSNBC, 6/24).

• Syndicated columnist Tony Blankley: "As long as they keep Hillary off the ticket, then I don't think there's any downside to using the Clintons. I think they're a big plus, Hillary with the women and Bill with rural America. It's a good advantage for Obama" ("Race for the WH," MSNBC, 6/24).

John Kerry Seen At Caucus Lunch Rolling Eyes

Also 6/24, Clinton "enjoyed a triumphant return to the Senate, where she was greeted by a large group of female interns and exchanged hugs" with Dems. She pledged to "work hard" to elect Obama (New York Post, 6/25). HRC walked into the Dems' weekly caucus lunch 6/24 "to a forks-on-glasses serenade and standing ovation from 40 Senate colleagues."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on HRC's homecoming: "Did our hearts palpitate? I can't comment -- I don't know. Did mine? Somewhat" (Thrush, Newsday, 6/25).

Senate Maj. Leader Harry Reid called it "one of the most emotional caucuses that I've attended."

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY): "I think we're all glad she came back. I think we're all very, very glad"
(McAuliffe/Bazinet, New York Daily News, 6/25).

Obama himself spoke to CNN about HRC's return to the Senate, saying: "Senator Clinton has been a larger-than-life figure in Democratic politics and American politics even before she ran for president. Her candidacy only enhanced her stature. She ran an extraordinary campaign. She garnered not just votes, but the passion and support of so many millions of people. She's going to be a force to be reckoned with, not only in the Senate, but, hopefully, if I'm successful, in the White House. She's going to be one of my key partners in making sure that we're moving forward on issues like health care, that she cares so deeply about ("Situation Room," 6/24).

Karl Rove, Here's Your Tasting Menu

Obama raised nearly $5M yesterday "at a celebrity-packed fundraiser," where actor Dennis Quaid pronounced Obama as "the Superman for everyone." The guest list for the "exclusive event," where top tickets cost more than $30K, also included actor Jennifer Beals and boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard. Also seen was Black Eyed Peas frontman, who created two music videos for Obama during the primary (AP, 6/24), and Seal who sang for the 900 people gathered at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles.

"Donors sipped wine and bottled water. Waiters wearing black vests, white shirts and black ties served hors d'oeuvres: endive spears of brie, toasted almonds and truffle oil; tuna tartare with passion fruit ponzu and macadamia nut on wonton crisp; beef short rib skewers with Asian flavors."

For his part, "Obama recognized that the gathering included many Clinton supporters. The months" of primaries and caucuses, he said, "I know caused some heartburn and some frustration." Obama added that he and Clinton "were allies then and we're allies now." Obama: "Because of her campaign, my daughters take for granted that a woman can be president" (Daunt/Finnegan, Los Angeles Times, 6/25).

Diddy Or Die

Obama didn't attend the BET Awards last night, "but that didn't stop attendees from talking about him:"

Sean "Diddy" Combs led the crowd in chanting "Obama or Die" - - "a declarative remix" of his '04 original, "Vote or Die."

Quincy Jones said he wanted Obama to be elected and create a Secretary of Culture position.

Alicia Keys was shouting: "Obama y'all!"

• Actress-comedian Kym Whitley "donned a tight purple shirt that read 'Barack Obama 08' in glittery black letters." Whitley: "I don't know him, and he doesn't know me. But we're gonna make eye contact one day" (AP, 6/25).

Introducing Ms. Hope

The Obama Camp announced 6/24 Michelle Obama will return to NH for a campaign stop on 6/26. "Continuing the series of roundtable discussions Michelle kicked off" in NH and hosted around the country throughout the primary, M. Obama and SEN hopeful Jeanne Shaheen (D) "will speak with working women about the challenges they face at a roundtable discussion in Manchester" (release).

Meanwhile, M. Obama is set to keynote her first fundraiser for the DNC, which is set for 7/3 at the Waldorf Astoria in NY. The event is a sign that M. Obama "is emerging as a key fundraising draw and a key promoter of party unity in the wake of the primary" (Sargent, "TPM," 6/24).

Long-Expected Endorsement Arrives Via Fax

The AFL-CIO "is expected to announce" 6/26 that it is endorsing Obama. AFL leaders officially started voting 6/24 on whether to endorse Obama, whose name is the only Dem on the ballot. The election, "which is being done by fax," is scheduled to end 6/26 (AP, 6/25).

The AFL-CIO's endorsement will enable the federation to begin spending the $53.4M "it has budgeted for the election on voter-mobilization efforts for Obama, "targeting union members through phone calls, mailings and visits to workplaces and homes. The federation's member unions plan to spend" an additional $150M through the fall on their own efforts.

"Unions are expected to focus on shoring up support" for Obama among white working-class voters. East Carolina prof Peter Francia: "Organized labor can play an important role to bring those voters over to Barack Obama, and that could be decisive" (Maher, Wall Street Journal, 6/25).

Symptoms Include Sensitivity To Light; Dry Mouth

In Las Vegas, NV, on 6/24 Obama said "that he would not take nuclear power 'off the table' as a possible energy option, but blasted John McCain's proposal to build dozens of new reactors in the U.S."

Obama "said he supports increased research into nuclear waste storage and recycling, but could not endorse construction of new reactors until those concerns are resolved." Obama: "If we can figure that out effectively, then nuclear has some big advantages -- the fact that it doesn't release greenhouse gases being the most important" (Hennessey, AP, 6/25).

Under the hot "Las Vegas summer sun," Obama "checked out the solar panels that shade cars in the parking lot of the Springs Preserve while powering the facility." Obama: "What we are seeing here ... is that the green, renewable energy economy is not some far-off, pie-in-the-sky future. It is now. It's creating jobs now. It is providing cheap alternatives to $140-a-barrel oil now. And it can create millions of additional jobs, entire industries, if we act now."

Noting that McCain "has been a longtime supporter of the Yucca Mountain project," Obama criticized McCain's plan to open up oil drilling, saying: "It makes about as much sense as his proposal to build 45 new nuclear reactors without a plan to store waste someplace other than right here at Yucca Mountain."

He criticize McCain's proposals "as politically oriented ploys that wouldn't really address the problem," saying his proposal to provide a $300M prize for the "design of a next-generation car battery was no more than a 'gimmick.'" Obama: "When John F. Kennedy decided that we were going to put a man on the moon, he didn't put a bounty up for some rocket scientist to win. He put the full resources of the United States government behind the project and called on the ingenuity of the American people" (Ball, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 6/25).

Referring to McCain's proposals, Obama said: "The American people don't need psychological relief or meaningless gimmicks. They need real relief that will help them fill up their tanks and put food on their table." In response, McCain energy adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin said the comments revealed Obama "doesn't understand the fundamentals of a modern financial market and how it's a usual way to convey information to participants in our economy" (Mishak, Las Vegas Sun, 6/25). Also on 6/24, McCain camp spokesperson Brian Rogers accused Obama of "being the 'Dr. No' of energy security" (Falcone, "The Caucus," 6/24).

Focus On "Stuff"

Obama said 6/24 that evangelical leader James Dobson "was 'making stuff up'" when he accused him of distorting the Bible. Obama "said the speech made the argument that people of faith, like himself, 'try to translate some of our concerns in a universal language so that we can have an open and vigorous debate rather than having religion divide us.'" He said, "somebody would be pretty hard-pressed" to defend Dobson's argument. Obama: "I think you'll see that he was just making stuff up, maybe for his own purposes."

Methodist Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, a "longtime supporter of President Bush who has endorsed Obama," said 6/24 that he and "a group of religious leaders" have launched a website -- "independently of Obama's campaign" -- called "The site highlights statements from Obama and Dobson and asks visitors to compare them." Caldwell "said the criticism of Obama was 'a bit over the top' and 'crossed the line'" (Kugler, AP, 6/25).

Christian Broadcasting Network senior nat'l. correspondent David Brody: "Young conservative evangelicals seem more open to Obama's 'Christian' message of caring for the poor, fighting genocide, health care for all and climate change. They also like the fact that he is reaching out to try and find common ground with conservative faith voters" (Rohter, New York Times, 6/25).

Cross Your Heart And Hope To...

The debate on TV focused on whether this was a fight Obama should engage in or not:

• GOP strategist Bay Buchanan: "I think Barack Obama has made an enormous mistake here moving into this area. The last thing he wants is a debate with Jim Dobson. We have this huge sleeping giant out there of social conservatives, Evangelicals, born again, the traditional Catholics. We kind of feel we don't have a place in this election. He will never get our votes. The best thing he can do is keep us sleeping" ("Hannity & Colmes," FNC, 6/24).

• Independent Women's Forum pres. Michelle Bernard, on whether the far right is worried Obama is making inroads with Evangelicals: "I think that's absolutely what we're seeing tonight. To go back this far in time to look for a speech that you disagree with, and also quite frankly, to use the analysis that James Dobson has used, really doesn't pass the sniff test. Most people who read the Bible or read anything for that matter, tend to ... see things through their own lens. And so, I think this is a definite lose for Dobson on this issue. We know from everything that we've seen over the last week that Senator Obama is aggressively going after the evangelical vote" ("Verdict," MSNBC, 6/24).

Mike Huckabee, asked if he agrees with Dobson that Obama as POTUS is terrifying: "There are many things about Barack Obama that make me very uncomfortable for the country. ... I think he's a great communicator. ... But there are potholes and there are sinkholes. And what Barack Obama has done is to drive his campaign into a sink hole by saying some things regarding religion that I think will make people who are religious very uncomfortable. ... I think my terror is limited to people in the Middle East who point bombs at us. Am I concerned as a citizen? Yes. And what I've been saying is that we don't need to make up stuff about Barack Obama because I think that the record is going to be the best weapon to defeat him" ("Hannity & Colmes," FNC, 6/24).

• Family Research Council pres. Tony Perkins: "There's something novel here, in that the Democrats, who traditionally have kind of picketed churches, are now preaching in the pulpit in this election cycle, and it's something new" ("AC 360," CNN, 6/24).

• More Perkins: "Increasingly, there is a very overt effort by Barack Obama and his campaign to reach evangelicals. ... And what Dr. Dobson was saying in his program is that Christians, who are the target of Barack Obama's efforts to bring them into his campaign, have every right to determine whether or not he's another sheep in the church yard or if he's, you know, a wolf just wearing a wool suit. They have every right to know that. And that's what they are saying. Let's dissect his theology. ... There's a disconnect. Either it's a disconnect in his theology or it's the application of that faith. And Christians, again, who are being wooed by his campaign, have every right to look at that" ("Election Center," CNN, 6/24).

Newsweek's Alter, on whether this is a win for Obama: "I actually think it's a mild loss for Obama because Obama has a real shot at getting a certain percentage of these evangelical voters. Because he is a person of faith, as they say, and there's not really a lot of evidence that John McCain is. ... So, Obama has a chance with these voters. And when Dobson, even if he does so in a very unchristian way, comes out and starts playing politics, that sends a signal to some of those voters to maybe stay away from Obama" ("Verdict," MSNBC, 6/24).

• CNN contributor Roland Martin: "Dobson wants to be angry over this whole issue in terms of some the points he made about as a politician. Obama recognizes, there's a reality when the Bible and the Constitution are going to collide. And so, look, you can be a person of faith. You can certainly from a public policy standpoint advocate positions. But when you are in a position of authority as a political official, you're going to have a situation where constitutional issues are going to collide with your particular faith. And that's what he talked about consistently in that speech" ("Election Center," CNN, 6/24).

• PA-based radio talk show host Michael Smerconish: "I'm not sure it's a bad thing for Obama to be duking it out with James Dobson. This campaign is going to be won in the middle. Barack Obama recognizes that. Hopefully, John McCain, for his sake, also understands that" ("Race for the WH," MSNBC, 6/24).

• Radio talk show host Ed Schultz: "I think the timing of the attack is very interesting. Barack Obama is breaking out in the polls. He's starting to get younger Evangelical Christians on his side, because they're concerned about the environment. And so I think even though [Dobson] is not supporting McCain, this is what he can contribute to the rabid right" ("LKL," CNN, 6/24).

Could HE Be The Political Distraction?

The Hill's Dick Morris writes, "Instead of avoiding controversies over values, religion and race, [Obama] seems to welcome them and wade into the debates with an increasing enthusiasm. ... Obama and the conservative right are mutually trying to keep the debate about his candidacy on the existential level -- is he the hope for America's future or a Manchurian Candidate, a kind of sleeper agent sent to destory our democracy? That debate, which pits Obama's rhetoric against the Rev. [Jeremiah] Wright's rantings, is a contest that could go on all day, and Obama would win it. It is simply a bridge too far to believe that Obama is that evil and that invidious. But the more the debate covers such fundamental questions, the more it ignores the details -- details which could bring Obama down. Quite simply, Obama would rather address his relgious views and his optimism about America and his embrace of diversity than talk about his plans to raise raxes, let gasoline prices soar and socialize healthcare" (6/24).

Playing Because He Can

In an interview with Politico, Obama dep. mgr. Steve Hildebrand "said Obama would focus laregly on 14 states George W. Bush won" in '04, "plus one state [John] Kerry won": NH. Hildebrand: "We're going to have to play hard in New Hampshire -- we completely recognize that." The closest Bush states (IA, NM, OH, and NV) will "see 'a ton of attention," while the remainder (CO, FL, MO, VA, NC, MT, ND, IN, GA, and AL) will see "the candidate and his top surrogates spending time on the ground and his campaign spending money in the air."

"In an unusual move," the camp "will also devote some resources to states it's unlikely to win, with the goal of influencing specific local contests." TX Dems "are five seats away" from a majority in each chamber of the state legislature, "which will redraw congressional districts" after the '10 census. Hildebrand: "It's one of the most important redistricting opportunities in the country." Obama chief strategist David Axelrod "reportedly told donors in Houston that he would send 15 staffers" to TX. In WY, higher Dem registration and turnout could help '06 nominee Gary Trauner (D) win the state's sole congressional seat.

"Some have suggested the broader playing field" is simply "designed to force [John] McCain to spend money and time on states Obama doesn't really think he can win." McCain spokesperson Brian Rogers: "It's revealing that Barack Obama has now been forced to expand the states on his map because he's so weak in traditional Demcoratic targets such as West Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and Florida, not to mention his ongoing problems in Pennsylvania and Ohio" (Smith, Politico, 6/25).

A Permanent Majority?

A Chicago Tribune survey finds that Obama "could make major gains in at least" nine '04 GOP states "if he can achieve a relatively modest increase in turnout among young and African-American voters." If 10% more Dems under 30 turn out, "that alone could be enough to switch" IA and NM "from red to blue." A 10% increase in "turnout among blacks" would "make up more than" 40% of Bush's '04 margin in OH and 20% of his margin in FL. Increases of 10% of both "young voters and African Americans" could "virtually eliminate" the GOP '04 victory margin and "go a long way toward closing the gap" in CO, NV, MO, VA, and "possibly" NC. The math "helps explain" why the Obama camp "chose to forgo federal funding and also why it is engaged in a massive voter registration drive." Hildebrand: "Honestly, it's the first chance the Democrats have had in a generation or two to expand a part of the electorate that could help the Democratic Party for years to come" (Dorning, Chicago Tribune, 6/25).

It's The Circle Of (Political) Life And It Moves Us All

New York Times' Hart writes, At the time of a "new cycle of American history" Obama "would have a rare opportunity to define a new" Dem Party. He "could preside over the beginning of a new political cycle that...would dominate American politics for three or four decades to come." Obama has "two choices": "focus on winning the election" and then ask "'What do we do now?' like Robert Redford in "The Candidate" or "use his campaign as a platform for desinging a new political cycle and achieve a mandate for starting it." His "attempt to introduce the next American cycle should include...three elements." First, a "new, expanded post-cold-war definition" for nat'l security. Second, the U.S. "must transition" from a consumer to producing economy. And last, "moral obligations of our stewardship" of Earth "must become paramount" (6/25).

Oldie But Goodie

Politico's Smith reports, a "subtle" new 527 has popped up called "Swift Boat Obama," registered to a Gilbert, AZM man named Eric Hurley (

Swift-Boaters: Land Ho!

New York Observer's Conason writes, "Precisely on schedule, the usual assortment of right-wing operatives is preparing its expected assault on the Democratic presidential nominee." The only "notable difference" this year is that neither "the money nor the message has crystallized" yet behind any "independent" effort to "destroy" Obama, but "not for lack of trying."

This Aug. will "mark" the publication of the first book-length "screed" against Obama, "courtesy" of Regnery Publishing -- the house responsible for the "scurrilous smearing" of John Kerry in '04 -- as they put out National Review/Human Events's David Freddoso's work The Case Against Barack Obama. Freddoso was "reportedly trained" by the "conservative prince of darkness" Robert Novak.

"Competing" with Freddoso's book for "talk radio promotion and cable airtime" will be Simon and Schuster/ex-Regnery author Jerome Corsi's The Obama Nation -- Corsi is one of the authors of Unfit for Command of the '04 election -- a novel "likely to posit, among other implausible claims," that Obama is "under the influence" of the "defunct" Communist Party USA (6/24).

Because Ralph Nader Knows Voter Vernacular

In a wide-ranging interview with the Rocky Mountain News 6/23, Ralph Nader accused Obama of trying to "talk white" and appealing to "white guilt." Nader "has taken various shots at Obama in recent days while ramping up his latest independent run for president."

Nadar: "There's only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He's half African-American. Whether that will make any difference, I don't know. I haven't heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What's keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn't want to appear like Jesse Jackson? We'll see all that play out in the next few months and if he gets elected afterwards."

Asked to clarify whether he thought Obama does try to "talk white," Nader said: "Of course. I mean, first of all, the number one thing that a black American politician aspiring to the presidency should be is to candidly describe the plight of the poor, especially in the inner cities and the rural areas, and have a very detailed platform about how the poor is going to be defended by the law, is going to be protected by the law, and is going to be liberated by the law. Haven't heard a thing."

Nader "said he is not impressed with Obama and that he does not see him campaigning often enough in low-income, predominantly minority communities where there is a "shocking" amount of economic exploitation."

Still More Nadar: "He wants to show that he is not a threatening... He wants to appeal to white guilt. You appeal to white guilt not by coming on as black is beautiful, black is powerful. Basically he's coming on as someone who is not going to threaten the white power structure, whether it's corporate or whether it's simply oligarchic. And they love it. Whites just eat it up."

Obama spokesperson Shannon Gilson:"We are obviously disappointed with these very backward-looking remarks" (Sprengelmeyer, Rocky Mountain News, 6/25).

Too Bad We Don't All Speak Dowd

Karl Rove was on "O'Reilly Factor" last night, and he was asked about his country club comments.

Rove: "Look, I'm not going to get into what I said in an off-the-record event. But I will say, yes, I do think Barack Obama is arrogant" (FNC, 6/24).

Newsweek's Fineman, on whether Rove intended to help McCain with his comments: "I think it's a measure of their confusion to some extent that Rove didn't know quite how to nail him with this one. It was way too confusing. And frankly, the picture of Obama he painted sounded way too cool, you know? It's the wrong image all the way around -- martini, cigarette, he seemed pretty cool" ("Countdown," MSNBC, 6/24).

New York Times' Dowd writes, isn't it "better" that Obama does not carry the "aura of the country clubs that tried to keep out blacks?" Obama "can be aloof and dismissive at times" but it is an "absurd spectacle" that "rich white conservatives" try to "paint Obama as a watercress sandwich with the crust cut off." Obama is "not Richie Rich, saved time and again by Daddy's influence and Daddy's friends." He grew up without a father and in "modest circumstances" to become "the kid who had to work hard to charm whites and build a life with blacks and step up to the smarty-pants set." The GOPers "love playing this little game" where they act that Dem candidates are "elite" and out of touch with "people like themselves" even though they are actually all "wealthy and cosseted." Every man who "ever became president was elite one way or another" (6/25).

Planning A Vaca?

Obama was scheduled to have a military briefing from officials with the JCoS office last week, but canceled to attend Tim Russert's funeral. Pentagon press sec Geoff Morrell "confirmed the original plan for the meeting was seeking a so-called 'ops-intel' briefing." Members "typically request such information on military intelligence and operations in advance of foreign trips. Following a conversation last week with Iraq's foreign minister, Obama told reporters that he intended to visit both Iraq and Afghanistan before the election" (Politico, 6/25).

Warren Buffet Where Art Thou?

Obama is scheduled to discuss "economic competitiveness" today at Carnegie Mellon Univ. in Pittsburgh, PA. Obama "will appear at CMU with an all-star list of figures from academia, business and labor," including GM chair Richard Wagoner, Brookings VP Lael Brainard, and AOL founder Steve Case (O'Toole, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/25).

Dear Young Voters,

Wall Street Journal editorializes, last week, Obama "revealed his plan to shore up Social Security's shaky finances by raising the income level on which the payrolll tax is applied." Obama "has no idea" whether or not it would help Social Security's financing problems, and "one of his senior economic advisers admitted" that "no one" on the camp has run any detailed models or "performed any vigorous analysis" (6/25).

Time Is Money, Day 6:

Obama continues to take heat from editorial boards for his decision to opt out of public financing:

Orlando Sentinel editorializes, "Candidates who accept public funds have more time to court voters instead of contributors, and should enter the White House with a shorter list of IOUs to special interests. These are just the kind of goals that Mr. Obama has preached in his presidential bid. ... Public-finance advocates are hoping Mr. Obama would take the lead in improving the system as president. But if he wins after snubbing the system, his vicotry will argue against keeping it" (6/25).

Washington Post's Marcus writes, "What's galling is Obama's effort to portray himself through this entire episode as somehow different from, and purer than, the ordinary politician. Different might have been coupling the announcement with a self-imposed limit on the size of donations. Different might have been -- it could still be -- taking the big checks but acknowledging that, since bundlers will be bringing in even bigger hauls, disclosure should be adjusted accordingly, to reveal not only who raised $200,000 but also who brought in $500,000, who $1 million" (6/25).

True Life: I Am Obsessed With Michelle Obama

Palm Beach Post's Minor writes, "This woman may or may not be headed for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave"; regardless, M. Obama's "smart. She's funny. She's got great upper arms. She's outspoken. She looks adorable with her kids. She looked great in that great purple dress with the weird black belt. She's married to him." There is "something raw and honest and wonderful" about M.Obama, "the way she walks onstage, the way she hugs him, the way she speaks her mind. She's just so damn cute." M.Obama "probably appreciates the importance of Girls Night Out...and you know she'd wear something cute" (6/25).

If Heaven Exists, What Would You Like To Hear God Say When You Arrive At The Pearly Gates?

In an interview with Rolling Stone, to be published today, Obama reveals that his iPod is "full of dozens of selections from, top to bottom, Bob Dylan, Sheryl Crow, Jay-Z and Yo-Yo Ma."

When asked what books have most inspired him, Obama named "the tragedies of William Shakespeare" and Hemingway's novel of the Spanish Civil War "For Whom the Bell Tolls" -- incidentally, a favorite of John McCain, "who is known to quote from it at random" (Bosman, "The Caucus," 6/25).

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