Watch for it

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Wanna guess what card the Obama campaign may be playing with this one?

Barack Obama’s campaign immediately highlighted a singular moment in Tuesday’s presidential debate when John McCain sought to criticize Barack Obama for supporting the 2007 Bush-Cheney energy bill:

“It was an energy bill on the floor of the Senate, loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies, and it was sponsored by Bush and Cheney,” McCain said. “You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one. You know who voted against it? Me.”

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton immediately emailed reporters noting McCain’s seemingly peculiar reference to the Illinois senator.

“Did John McCain just refer to Obama as ‘that one?’ Burton asked.

Is that a leading question or what? It’s practically begging the media to make accusations of racism (as they are already doing), or at the very least, encouraging them via implication to ask McCain what he meant by it in order to make it an “issue.” Otherwise, why bring it up? They wouldn’t bring it up if they thought it “that one” was a slam on Obama’s few years in the Senate (they’ve heard it all before, I’m sure). So what else does that leave?

I tell you, the higher-ups in the Obama campaign are slicker than Bill Clinton, and more despicable – if that’s humanly possible.

Did McCain pull out of Michigan too soon?

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Conventional wisdom has it that McCain did the “right thing” in pulling out of Michigan and moving his resources elsewhere (even though he shouldn’t have broadcast it), but new numbers out tonight suggest that may have been premature.

First, check out the last several polls that RCP has on Michigan:

The first poll you see there is from PPP, which is a Democrat-based group showing BO up by 10. The poll before that, taken over a 9/22-24 is from Detroit Free Press and shows Mc down by 13. Strategic Vison, a Republican-based group, had Mc down by 3 on that same date. But new polling numbers out today, taken 10/1-4, show that Mc may still have a shot in MI:

LANSING, Mich. — With political insiders still reeling from last week’s announcement that Republican presidential candidate John McCain has withdrawn his campaign from Michigan, new polling data suggest the race is still too close to call. The latest poll from Denno-Noor, The Rossman Group and MIRS shows Barack Obama within statistical striking distance with only a 5 percent lead in Michigan over his Republican contender. McCain trails Obama with 39 percent support of Michigan’s likely voters compared to Obama’s 44 percent. Another 13 percent of voters remain undecided, while the rest plan on voting for one of the third party candidates on the ballot. “Michigan is still widely considered a battle ground state” said Kelly Rossman-McKinney, CEO of The Rossman Group. “For a major presidential contender to pull out when the numbers are this tight, it really begs the question – what are you thinking – or are you?”

Trying to pick up the slack left by the McCain campaign when they left Michigan is the conservative “Our Country Deserves Better” PAC, which is raising money so they can run ads like crazy in MI between now and election time to help defeat Barack Obama. If you’d like to donate a little to help them out, click here. They’ve done a good job so far, raising $250K of the $500K they’d like to have to run those ads in MI.

If the polling continues to be within five points, I suspect the RNC may run a few ads in MI as well.

One thing is getting more clear by the day: If poll trends continue, McCain is going to have to turn a blue state in order to win this election. Looks like Obama may flip CO and NM, and keep PA, and he’s doing much better in FL now than he had been. McCain needs to be able to hold on to what states Bush won. If he can’t hold on to NM and CO, he’ll need to pick up MI and another blue state, which is going to be tough.

One other thing: It’s easy to get discouraged right now with Obama having the edge in the national polling, and making significant gains in state polling, but please keep your chin up and don’t lose the will to continue fighting this. The way the media is reporting the news you’d think this race is already over – which is probably exactly what they want people to think, because if people think it’s already over they may not bother to show up.

Remember, this year it was going to be an uphill battle, no matter the Republican – especially considering the fact that if the economy became the focal point issue (which it has) it was going to favor the Democrat because McCain happens to be a Republican in the Bush administration, which has low approval ratings right now. “Guilt” by association and all that. In any event, please stay focused, stay strong, and never ever ever concede the battle until you know for sure one way or the other who the winner is next month.

Debate Liveblogging Round Two: John McCain versus Barack Obama

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McCain vs. Obama*This post will be updated frequently throughout the evening, with the most recent updates appearing a the top of the post.*

Update 22 – 10:41 PM: Here’s the full video of the debate. The Fox panel is panning the debate because both candidates, to them, sounded like they were using talking points and that it didn’t appear must like a townhall debate because Brokaw asked most of the questions.

Luntz’s focus group gives edge to Obama on the debate ‘winner.’

Update 21 – 10:35 PM: The debate is over. It didn’t feel like a townhall at times with Brokaw asking most of the questions. I think Mc held his own and Obama didn’t make any major slip ups so this debate will probably be billed by the pundits as a ‘draw.’ Sigh …

Update 20 – 10:30 PM: Q: What don’t you know and how will you change it if president?

O: It’s the unexpected challenges as president that consume your time. I know I wouldn’t be standing here if this country hadn’t given me the opportunity. We can’t expect that if we do the same things we’ve been doing for the last eight years that the result will be different. He never answered the question.

Mc: We don’t know what will happen here at home and abroad. Americans are hurting tonight in a way that they haven’t in a generation. My mother raised our family. I know what it’s like to have to keep hope during difficult times. I know what it’s like to have your comrades reach out to you and pick you up and put you back in the fight. I believe in this country and its greatness. I put country first.

Update 19 – 10:25 PM: Q: Would you be willing to use US troops to support Israel in the event of an Iran attack on them without UN approval?

Mc: Yes. The realities are that Russia and China in the UN would probably pose significant obstacles. Our challenge right now is that Iran continues to try and acquire nukes. It’s a threat to Israel and a threat to the entire mid east. Push sanctions against Iran, join our allies in putting on pressure in hopes that they would abandon their hopes. Obama wants to meet with Ahmeanie w/o preconditions.

O: We can’t allow Iran to get a nuke. It would be a game changer. I will do everything I can to prevent it. We will never take military action off the table. However we must use all tools at our disposal to avoid having to make that choice. Energy independence is again key here. I do believe we should send a direct tough message to Iran to abandon their behavior and if they stop, they can “join league of nations”?!

Update 18 – 10:23 PM: Brokaw: Is Russia an evil empire. O: They’ve done evil things.

Mc: Maybe. Energy will be a big factor.

Update 17 – 10:19 PM: Mc: Russia’s behavior is not good. (Didn’t catch the question). We must show moral support for Georgia, Ukraine, must advocate that they be part of NATO and warn Russia that their aggression towards these democracies is unacceptable.

O: The resurgance is a big issue we will have to deal with in the next admin. I pretty much agree with Mc. We must provide them with financial assistance to rebuild their economies. (Huh? We can help rebuild their economies but not Iraq?!) Back in April I put out a statement that the situation in GA was unsustainable. We must be reactive not proactive in the next admin. Energy independence will help the issue as well.

Update 16 – 10:17 PM: Q: How do we make things work in Afghanistan?

O: We need more troops. Need to work with the Afghan gov’t. Afghan gov’t must be responsive.

Mc: Gen. Petraeus has taken over the command of Afghanistan – it is the same overall strategy that worked in Iraq. Obama still won’t admit he’s wrong.

Update 15 – 10:08 PM: Q: Should the US respect Pakistan sovereignty?

O: We have a bad policy on Pakistan due to going to war in Iraq. Need more troops in Afghanistan. Eliminate drug trafficking. Can’t coddle dictator (Pakistan). Encourage democracy – expand our non-military aid to Pakistan so they have more of a stake in working with us, and assist us in capturing terrorists. I will take out OBL in Pakistan if they fail to act.

Mc: My hero is Teddy Roosevelt. Walk softly and carry a big stick. Obama likes to talk loudly and announce you are going to launch an attack in another country. Our relations with Pakistan are critical. We have to get their support. Gen. Petraeus says the same fundamental strategy of surge in Iraq will work in Afghanistan.

O: Says Senator McCain does not speak softly. Sang “bomb Iran” and wants to destroy NK.

Mc: Explains Iran joke – says he has the experience to deal with issue.

Update 14 – 10:00 PM: Q – finally on foreign policy. How will our economic woes affect our ability to be peacemakers in this world? (Plant?)

Mc: Says Obama does not have the judgement and experience to lead, has been wrong on national security issues.

O: Going back to his opposition to Iraq war. Says Iraq war has put an enormous strain on our troops and our budget. We have spent close to $700B and if we continue on the path it will go over a trillion dollars. Iraqi’s have a surplus that they aren’t spending. We need the $700B here in the US. We agree this nation is a good nation. The strains that have been put on our alliances have hurt our ability to help out elsewhere.

Brokaw: What will be the Obama doctrine in the event there is something happening overseas that is not in the interests of our national security.

Obama: We must confront genocide where possible but understand there’s a lot of cruelty around the world – we can’t be everywhere at all times.

Mc: Obama was wrong on Iraq and surge. Re: The McCain doctrine – we must do what we can to prevent genocide. He has to be tempered with our ability to have a cool hand on the situation.

Update 13 – 9:55 PM: Q: Is healthcare a right or responsibility. Mc: A responsiblity.

O: It’s a right. Brings up his mother dying of cancer, she spent a lot of time in hospitals arguing insurance.

If you have a healthcare plan you like, you can keep it. No mandate involved. We’ll give you a 50% tax credit. Yes, it’s true to make sure your child has healthcare. Children are cheap to insure. Huh? Says gov’t should crack down on insurers.

Update 12 – 9:50 PM: Q: Do you believe healthcare should be treated as a commodity.

O: It is breaking family budgets. Your premiums have doubled over the last 8 years. Will work with your employer to lower cost of your premiums. Utilize info technology to reduce errors and cost. You should enjoy the same kind of health insurance Congress does. Mccain is going to tax your employer based healthcare benefits even though he will give you a $5k tax credit. Says states will not be allowed to regulate some aspects of this. Says US Chamber of Commerce does not endorse his plan.

Mc: Government is the problem – that’s Obama’s solution to everything, including healthcare. I want to give every American a $5k tax credit so they can get healthcare insurance of their choice, not mandate like Obama’s plan.

Update 11 – 9:43 PM: Q: How fast will you work to fix the energy problem, create green jobs.

Mc: I have worked with Lieberman, have opposed some of the Bush admin’s priority’s on gw. Nuclear power is safe, can help clean up our climate – Senator Obama opposes nuke power.

O: This is a big challenge of our time – it’s critical that we tackle this issue. We must create a new energy economy, can create 5 mil jobs – it will be like the creation of the computer and the jobs it created. We must make an investment. I do favor nuke power. Mc and I agree on something: For 30 years DC hasn’t done anything on energy – Mc has been in Congress 26 of those years. Senator McCain talks about drilling – we can’t drill our way out of the problem. We can’t deal with the climate crisis if all we use is more fossil fuels that fuel gw.

Mc: Offshore drilling now is vital . We need to bridge the gap with imported oil. It’s a national security issue. Cost will go down. Re: Nuke power – Obama is not being truthful.

Update 10 – 9:37 PM: Q: Would you give Congress a date certain to reform SS and Medicare within two years of taking time in office?

O: We need to take on entitlements and must do it quickly. I can’t guarantee we could do it in two years. We’re not going to solve SS and medicaire overnight. Obama says a wheel fell off of Mc’s straight talk express. Tries to “clarify” his tax policy. We must get our tax policies right for the middle class. The tax policy McCain has supported got us into this mess.

Mc: SS is not that tough to fix. We know what the problems are and we can fix them if we work together. I’ve worked across the aisle, unlike Senator Obama. Medicare is a bit tougher because it’s a complex issue but bringing people together will solve the problem. Senator Obama voted in favor of taxes 94 times, promised as a Senate candidate to propose a middle class tax cut and never did.

Update 9 – 9:33 PM: Brokaw: How would you eliminate bad habits on Washington and encourage ending them among the American people?

O: It starts in Washington – Senator McCain talks about earmarks and that’s good but it’s not a lot of our budget. Mentions tax cuts to the “wealthy”- Americans don’t feel like they are sharing the burden with other folks.

Mc: Nailing down Obama’s tax proposals is like nailing down jello to the wall. You can’t raise taxes during a crisis like this. His tax proposals will raise taxes for 50% of small business owners. Says Obama said earlier this year he would freeze his tax increases if the economy was bad. Looks at Senator Obama and says: Well, the economy is bad, Senator.

Update 8 – 9:28 PM: Internet Q: What sacrifices do we have to make.

Mc: We have to eliminate wasteful spending and earmarks, cut programs that are not working. Recommend a spending freeze that except for defense, veterans benefits, and a few other essentials would help economy recover.

O: Brings up 9-11. Country was willing to come together. Bush did some smart things at the outset, but he spoke to the American people and told them to go out and shop. That’s not the call to service American people are looking for. American people are looking for the type of leadership that will solve these problems inside and outside of gov’t. I believe in the need for increased oil production. We have to explore new ways to get more oil. (wha?!) This is something new. We need clean coal, safe way to store nuke energy. Each one of us can save energy in our own homes, fuel efficient cars here in America, making sure you can weatherize your home, it requires effort from each one of us. Young people are interested in how people can serve. Need to double the peace corps, volunteer corps.

Update 7 – 9:25 PM: Brokaw to Mc: What are your priorities in what order – healthcare, enegy (and one other thing – I didn’t catch what he said). Mc said we can work on all at the same time.

O: Energy first, then healthcare. Says Mc is going to cut taxes for the rich.

Update 6 – 9:18 PM: Q: How can we trust either of you when both parties got us into this global economic crisis?

O: I understand your frustration. It’s important to remember history. We had surpluses when Bush came into office, but we have a trillion dollar deficit. It’s true no one is innocent. We’ve had the biggest increases in spending. McCain voted for 4 of 5 of Bush’s budgets. We’ve got to reform healthcare, do more with energy. Invest in college affordability. I plan more cuts in spending than spending.

Mc: I have been a consistent reformer. I have advocated taking on special interests, I have a clear record on bipartisanship. Senator Obama does not. Let’s take a look at our records as well as our rhetroic. Go to the watchdog sites to see what we do, like Citizens Against Gov’t Waste. I have fought to reduce earmarks. Obama voted for nearly a billion dollars in pork, including a million for a planetarium in Chicago, IL. We need to reject this kind of spending, including Obama’s new proposals for spending.

Update 5 – 9:11 PM: Next Q: What’s in the bailout package to help the people out.

Mc: I believe it’s a rescue pkg. Greed and excess on Wall Street has hurt Main Street. (ARGH!) Takes a hit on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – takes Obama to task for his FM/FM pals. I stood up to this 2 years ago when Obama and other Dems were getting money from FM/FM and saying nothing was wrong.

O: Explains the bailout pkg a bit, blames Mc on deregulation. I wrote to Paulson and Bernake and said we must do something about this. yawn. You’re a member of Congress, Obama, you can do more than write a letter. We must help ordinary families stay in their home, can pay their bills, afford healthcare.

Update 4 – 9:04 PM: To McCain: Who would you appoint as treasury sec. McCain: Not you, Tom. (Awkward laughter.) McCain suggests possibly Meg Whitman. Says it must be someone who inspires trust in the American people.

O: Warren Buffet has helped me a lot. Next treasury secretary needs to not just help people at the top. Takes a shot at McCain’s “fundementals” comment.

Update 3 – 9:03 PM: 2 minutes to respond to questions. 1 minute for follow-up. Here come the candidates. Tight smiles and handshakes.

– Brokaw: World has changed a lot since the last pres. debate. Obama gets first question.

First Q: With the economy on the downturn, what’s the fastest solution to bail citizens out who are suffering the most?

BO: I believe this is a final verdict of the Bush admin, and supported by McCain. McCain supports stripping regulations. Actions to take: Step one was the rescue pkg, it needs to work properly, strong oversight, crack down on CEOs, no golden parachutes. AIG just went on a $400,000 junket a week after asking for help. Middle class tax pkg: tax cuts for middle class, set up road projects, you need someone working for you, not the lobbyists.

Mc: I have a plan to fix problem – it has to do with energy independence. Keep America’s taxes low – let’s not raise taxes on anyone today. Stop the spending spree. We need pkg of reforms. This problem has become so severe that we’re going to have to do something about home values – home values for retirees continue to decline. I will order Sec or Treasury to buy up bad home mortgages in America and renegotiate for people to stay in those homes (sorry – I lost track of his answer).

Update 2 – 9:00 PM: Showtime. Here come the tummy butterflies.

Update 1 – 8:45 PM: Here’s some interesting early voting news out of Ohio: Seems the turnout for the “same day registration/vote” was actually lower than expected, which has to be a minor disappoinment for the Obama campaign considering the same day registration/vote was supposed to greatly benefit him. Yesterday was the last day new voters in Ohio could do that before the election.

—–
Tonight’s the second debate of a three debate schedule between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama. It’s being held at Belmont University in Nashville, TN and is being moderated by NBC’s Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw (cough). Game time, er, debate time is 9 PM ET. I’ll be watching it on Fox News channel, but if you can’t get to a TV, remember you can always catch the action live at C-SPAN. And don’t forget to check out C-SPAN’S Debate Hub for across-the-sphere debate commentary/reax.

Tonight’s debate will be a townhall-style affair, which tends to favor McCain – but don’t count Obama out for a second. He’s had weeks to prepare for this debate, and you can rest assured that he’s going to come prepared. Their first debate proved that he’s no lightweight, at least not in the rhetorical department. Some strict-sounding “formal rules” have been set for the debate. Both campaigns agreed to them, but interestingly enough, rumor has it that Tom Brokaw has not so the “no follow-up questions” rule likely will not be followed.

I’ll be interested to see how the candidates interact. The debate rules don’t allow for much of it, but it’s such a small setting that there will be no way they can avoid looking at each other during the debate – nor should they, IMO. Another thing: Even after Sen. Biden’s and Gov. Palin’s debate last week, when both families got on stage with each other, they looked pretty friendly and at ease. Considering the bruising that has been done over the last week or so, I have to wonder how strained – if at all – the McCain and Obama families respectively will look on stage together at the end.

Many debate “analysts” are saying that tonight McCain needs to deliver a “knock-out punch” in order to have a chance of winning in November, considering that Obama is making gains in several key battleground states. I’m taking a deep breath and trying not to let the pundits’ breathlessness sway me one way or the other. Never say never, and all that. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin have both proven that they are toughies who will fight battle for the prize all the way to the finish line. Sometimes being the underdog is just what is needed to get the adrenaline really flowing.

Words of wisdom in advance of tonight’s townhall debate

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Still busy, but wanted to link up to this Malkin piece on what to watch out for at tonight’s townhall debate: plants, and not of the potted variety. Read related thoughs on townhall debates via John Dickerson at Slate.

Other interesting tidbits of info: CNN’s latest polling numbers on the key states of Indiana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin. They polled “likely voters,” which is a much better polling gauge than just “registered voters.” The results show a mixed bag for Mc, but some good news in Indiana, which shows him at 51-46. Mc and BO are tied in NC (sigh!), and Mc is behind BO by 3 in OH, 5 in WI, and 8 in NH.

For more on the latest polling info, click here.

Jennifer Rubin on Obama

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Regarding Obama’s relationship with far left radicals in Chicago, Rubin hits the nail on the head:

But more than hypocrisy is at work here. It is not just far Left, American-hating radicals he now disowns. You get the sense that he believes everyone can be played. Rashid Khalidi can believe that Obama finds no one suffers more than the Palestinians. Jews can buy that he was moved by the Holocaust from a summer camp experience. Voters in his Congressional race in 1990 can be told that there is no difference ideologically between him and 100% ADA-rated Bobby Rush, but the rest of the state in 2004 (and eventually the country) can buy that he’s a post-partisan reformer. Terrorists come to believe he shares their scorn for America, but Iowa voters hear him talk about his appreciation that only in America could his story have happened. Primary voters in Ohio are coddled with protectionist promises – and then privately scorned while he is talking to San Fransciso liberal donors.

There is no end to it — everyone gets the version of Obama that perfectly fits his own world view. It is not hypocrisy. It’s fraud. Whatever he told or shared with Ayers, Dohrn, Wright, or Pfleger counts for no more that what he told or shared with other now inconvenient groups and individuals. He’s sold the same piece of political real estate to multiple buyers for multiple, conflicting uses.

But one thing has been consistent. He has never, ever attacked political corruption, whether in Chicago or Washington. To the contrary, at the Woods Fund, the Annenberg Challenge and the U.S. Senate he’s laddled out earmarks and goodies to a long list of friends and associates — Wright, Pfleger, Will County ( home of FBI target Larry Walsh), Allison S. Davis, ACORN, etc. The one consistency has been his fidelity to political supporters. Everyone else and every political position were disposable.

Now is precisely the time for firm convictions, strict ethical propriety and the firmness to turn away those who put private interests above the public good. We may be on the verge of electing a candidate who lacks all of these traits.

Amen.

Brace yourselves

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A major news outlet yesterday took on Barack Obama’s claims about his relationship with unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers and has discovered that he has been, shall we say, less than honest about it.

That network?

Nope, not Fox.

It was CNN.

Watch the video here.

One quote from the Anderson Cooper piece: “”But the relationship between Obama and Ayers went much deeper, ran much longer, and was much more political than Obama said.” The full transcript is here.

Obama can run from it but he cannot hide … not even from, of all places, a network that has been super-friendly to Democrats for well over a decade.

Hat tip: Stop The ACLU