FROM Tom Schaller
A Grim Backdrop Ahead of the State of the Union With all that's happened during the past year, it's hard to believe that Barack Obama has yet to deliver his first address on the State of the Union . One day before that address, Obama faces a grim outlook on the economy and the mid-term elections. Wall Street's not lending, and unemployment threatens the middle class. The benefits from the stimulus package get less attention than the deficit. The Republican upset in Massachusetts has healthcare reform on life support, and Democrats from other states are declining to stand for re-election. With his own approval ratings on the decline, can one of America's most gifted orators turn things around?
The Rescue Plan and Its Possible Consequences After a weekend of political drama and late-night negotiations, Congress took up the latest version of the Wall Street rescue plan . With a price tag of $700 billion, nobody said they liked it, but supporters insisted the American people would be worse off without it. Opponents said it would never work. We hear the latest about what's in the plan and why is has just filed to pass a vote in the House. After their first debate , with no knockouts and no big mistakes, John McCain and Barack Obama are both claiming they made the bailout better. We hear from them.
Come for the Clintons, Stay for Obama…Please In the closest primary race in history, Hillary Clinton almost became the first woman presidential nominee of a major American party. She and her supporters have since made it clear they're not going away, and there were signs of possible trouble if her name was not placed in nomination at the Democratic convention . The Obama campaign said today, it will . She already was scheduled to speak on Tuesday—with Bill Clinton on Wednesday—the same night as the vice presidential nominee. Is this evidence that Hillary is the choice for the second spot or is it proof that she's not? In either case, will the Clintons still dominate the show? This comes amid revelations about Clinton's primary strategy against Obama, which appears to have been adopted by John McCain . What are the prospects for party unity?
Election Post Mortem – Local and National Barack Obama made history last night after the final two primaries of the season, becoming the first African American to be a major party’s nominee for president . He now has more than the 2,118 delegates needed to win the democratic nomination. But his opponent Hillary Clinton showed no signs of backing down last night, prompting all kinds of speculation among pundits about whether she is pushing too hard for the VP slot on the Obama ticket. What is at stake for Democrats as Obama reaches out to Clinton and her eighteen million supporters? What kind of general election campaign is ahead for a young visionary senator versus a more experienced war hero?
Obama Claims Historic Victory, Clinton Holds On, McCain Takes Aim Barack Obama made history last night after the final two primaries of the season, becoming the first African American to be a major party's nominee for president. He now has more than the 2,118 delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination. But his opponent Hillary Clinton showed no signs of backing down last night, prompting speculation among pundits about whether she is pushing too hard for the vice presidential slot. What is at stake for Democrats as Obama reaches out to Clinton and her eighteen million supporters? What kind of general election campaign is ahead for a young visionary senator versus more experienced war hero John McCain ?
Clinton Soldiers On as Options Dwindle It was barely a split decision, with Barack Obama winning by 14 points in North Carolina and Hillary Clinton by less than two points in Indiana . Today, her campaign conceded that even Florida and Michigan might not provide the delegates she needs. Both Bill and Hillary Clinton started their political careers in the presidential campaign of former Senator George McGovern in 1972. Today McGovern switched his support to Obama and urged Clinton to drop out of this year's contest. McGovern said Obama has won "by any practical test." Clinton cancelled morning appearances on network television, but she's been loaning her campaign more money, and today she made an appearance in West Virginia. Is race the remaining argument for Clinton's "electability?" Would Obama need a new kind of coalition to win in November?
Updating the Presidential Campaigns after Nevada, South Carolina After South Carolina , the New York Times says John McCain is the Republican front-runner, whether he likes it or not. On the Democratic side, after Nevada , Barack Obama is running against two Clintons, rather than just one. Is former "maverick" John McCain now the Republican front-runner? Can Rudy Giuliani finally get underway in Florida ? After Nevada, is Bill doing Hillary more harm than good? Is Obama right to challenge both Clintons at the same time? Will John Edwards turn out to be the king—or queen—maker at the Democratic National Convention ? Last weekend's results produced new challenges for the candidates of both political parties. We hear what's next on the campaign trails.
Progress Report on the Presidential Campaigns With six months left until primary voters go to the polls, Democrats are raising more money than Republicans and seem to like their available options. For Republicans, it's " none of the above ." Clinton continues to lead Obama and Edwards , but among Giuliani , McCain , Romney and Thompson , there's no clear front-runner. What's happened to John McCain? Who is Fred Thompson ? Is the Iraq war still the defining issue? What about immigration? Will the political center finally make the difference or has the electorate evolved into warring extremes? We look at the candidates in both parties.
Al Gore Goes Back to the Capitol Former Vice President Al Gore is back on Capitol Hill today for the first time since he certified his own defeat in the presidential election of 2002. As a Tennessee Senator and Vice President he had trouble getting a hearing on global warming. Today, testifying before a House committee , he spoke of the growing demand for action on climate change by politicians across the board as well as religious leaders and industry. Tom Schaller is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Maryland.
Can the Turtles Catch Up with the Hares? Former Senator John Edwards says he’s not worried that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are getting all the attention, but New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson 's frustrated about it. So are Senators Chris Dodd and Joseph Biden , who, like Richardson, have lengthy experience. With the first primaries 10 months away, polls show five also-rans way behind the top three. How did that happen? Why don't the so-called "second tier" candidates just drop out like Tom Vilsack , Evan Bayh and Mark Warner ? We speak with political scientists, strategists and speechwriters about polls, pundits, party activists and money.
The Democrats Reclaim Congress Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel helped make history this morning by nominating Nancy Pelosi to be the first woman House Speaker as the Democrats took charge today on Capitol Hill. Pelosi leads a 31-vote Democratic majority, while the new Senate Majority leader, Harry Reid , has just one vote to work with. What's the Democratic agenda, and can the new leaders hold their party together? Will new legislation be met with vetoes from the Republican in the White House? What about the war in Iraq?
Midterm Elections Bring Big Changes On the day after Democrats won control of the Congress, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld steps down ; Former CIA Director Robert Gates is named to replace him. Nancy Pelosi will be the new House Speaker , but the Senate majority may not be known before Christmas. President Bush and Speaker-elect Pelosi pledge bi-partisanship, but what about their differences on the war in Iraq? Just who is Nancy Pelosi and what are the prospects for divided government? Will there be re-counts for Senate seats in Virginia -- where Republican Senator George Allen is trailing Democrat James Webb -- and Montana -- where Republican Senator Conrad Burns appears to have lost his seat to Democrat John Tester ? Whatever happened to “the permanent Republican majority?” Can Democrats maintain power without the South?
In Janesville, WI, Middle America meets the new American dream Janesville, Wisconsin is the hometown of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. But he couldn't prevent the closing of the General Motors factory after 100 years. We hear what's happened to what once was a model of American middle-class unity.
GOP 'Nukes' the Senate filibuster on SCOTUS nominees Senate Democrats today blocked Judge Neil Gorsuch's appointment to the US Supreme Court… but just for the moment. The Republican majority has changed the rules to force a likely confirmation as soon as tomorrow.
"Tough on crime" rhetoric sees a revival at Sessions' DOJ The pendulum swings between treatment-focused approaches to drug abuse and tough law enforcement. Now, after years of Obama-era "reforms," President Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions wants local police freed from federal restrictions to fight another "war on drugs."
Why Don't Facts Matter? "Fake News" may have a long history, but social media and 21st Century politics have brought it front and center. One reason for its appeal and its power is the tendency of so many people to cling to their beliefs — even when confronted with contradictory evidence. Today, another look at the Emotional States of America.