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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Hint to Hillary: Try To Avoid “Illegal Eavesdropping” and “Campaign Strategist” in the Same Headline



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Do you think Hillary Clinton was happy this story came out on July 4?

 Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s chief strategist is being accused of illegal eavesdropping in a lawsuit that alleges he and his polling firm monitored the personal e-mails of a former associate who started a rival company.

Mitchell E. Markel, a former vice president at Penn, Schoen & Berland, claims in the lawsuit that the firm began monitoring all messages sent from his personal BlackBerry device nearly a month after he had resigned and become president of his new business. The suit claims that Mark Penn, who is Clinton’s chief strategist and pollster, knew about and approved of the monitoring, which the suit says violates federal wiretapping laws.

Too bad we’re calling attention to it on July 5. And any time Sen. Clinton starts going on about the Bush administration and the NSA wiretapping program. What, she prefers privatization of wiretapping?

UPDATE: I suddenly flashed back to this Kaus item:

Hillary, Eavesdropper? Big Mama is Listening! Kf has obtained a copy of page 93 of the unreleased Gerth-Van Natta Hillary Clinton book, which describes how, during the ‘92 campaign, Hillary herself

“listened to a secretly recorded audiotape of a phone conversation of Clinton critics plotting their next attack. The tape contained discussions of another woman who might surface with allegations about an affair with Bill. Bill’s supporters monitored frequencies used by cell phones, and the tape was made during one of those monitoring sessions.”

And therein lies a brutally effective Obama attack, if he’s got the guts to use it… “Hillary Clinton is always so certain that what she’s doing is right… just like the president. She has repeatedly demonstrated that she believes the ends justifies the means… just like the president. She will run roughshod over anyone who stands in her way… just like the president. (This is an argument to a Democratic primary audience, remember.) If we want real change from this president, our party cannot nominate someone who uses the same tactics and methods as this president.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Rudy Raises $17 Million, Romney $14 million



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Hm. Romney raised $14 million? That puts him only $3 million ahead of McCain.

He also separately donated $6.5 million to his own campaign.

And just in from Rudy: “The Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee reported today it has outraised every other Republican campaign and has over $18 million cash on hand.  The campaign raised over $17 million in the second quarter, for both the primary and general election, and ended the quarter with zero debt.”

(I am told to point out that Rudy raised $15 in primary funds, $2 million in general election funds.)

Gut instinct – I didn’t expect any GOP candidate to perform at Obama’s level, but these numbers seem kinda “eh.” Sure, a certain amount of business money was destined to go to the Democrats. (Fortune magazine’s cover screams, “Business Loves Hillary!” The missing subhed: “And they’re giving to her desperately hoping she won’t regulate them to death!”) But this suggests the GOP donor base is either exhausted, disinterested, cranky, or feeling cheap these days.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

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Your Guide to the Anonymous Fred Attack Sites



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Hm.

On June 2, some anonymous critic of Fred Thompson sets up “Fred Thompson’s Private Journal,” writing faux journal entries that portray the former senator as a vile manipulator bragging of his ability to “sell a comb to a bald man” and consistent references to “my hot wife.”

On June 8, Kansans for Life set up “Conservatives Against Fred Thompson.” (In 2002, Kansans for Life’s Political Action Committee gave $5000 to Sam Brownback’s Restore America PAC. This does not indicate that Brownback or his campaign is behind the site, but it might give us a sense of the preferred candidate of Kansans for Life.)

June 16, some anonymous critic of Fred Thompson sets up “The Anti-Fred” at knoxpooley.blogspot.com. (Knox Pooley was the name of the white supremacist villain who FDT played on Wiseguy a long while back; I thought only Los Angeles Times writers were dumb enough to mix up fiction and non-fiction.)

On June 22, some critic of Fred Thompson named “Mike” creates http://i-am-with-fred.blogspot.com. This site oddly simultaneously argues, “John McCain is a better candidate than Fred Thompson” and “The only thing that distinguishes Fred from Mccain is his drawl.”

Boy, funny how all these anonymous sites crop up within a few weeks, huh?

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Best Part of a Hillary Clinton Presidency? You Mean Besides January 20, 2013?



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Gallup didn’t phrase it this way, but I will. When asked the open-ended question, “suppose Hillary Clinton is elected president in 2008.  In your view, what would be the best or most positive thing about a Hillary Clinton presidency?” The single most popular answer was, “nothing,” with 28 percent.

Next up was “Clinton would be the first woman president,” with 22 percent; “healthcare issue/would reform healthcare” 10 percent; “would get the U.S. out of Iraq/end war” with 9 percent; “Clinton’s experience” with 7 percent, “capable/competent” with 7 percent, and “Bill Clinton would be back in the White House/would help and advise her” with 6 percent.

When asked, “what would be the worst or most negative thing about a Hillary Clinton presidency?”, only 12 percent said “nothing.” The answers “Too liberal/socialist” and “Bill Clinton would be back in the White House” tied at 10 percent each, with ”Not qualified/would not succeed” at 9 percent. The next four reasons were all bunched together – “just don’t like her” and “Clinton scandals/baggage” at 7 percent each, and “Country not ready for a woman president” and “Clinton’s views on Iraq” at 6 percent each.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Kucinich and Cartoonists: Like New Jersey and You, “Perfect Together”



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They’ve done so much for each other: Dennis Kucinich is the keynote speaker at the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists convention in Washington at the end of the week.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

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As We Head Into The Fourth of July Weekend...



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Much like the guys at NBC, I’m expecting a Thompson announcement in the coming weeks. Call it the not-too-distant, but not immediate future.

By the way… remember who wrote

Fred Dalton Thompson is planning to enter the presidential race over the Fourth of July holiday, announcing this week that he has already raised several million dollars and is being backed by insiders from the past three Republican administrations, Thompson advisers told The Politico.

To be gracious to those guys, FDT did check out the national campaign headquarters last week, and some work at the headquarters is continuing this week. So the groundwork is being laid, although the announcement and official entrance is still yet to come…

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Romney Still Sitting Pretty in New Hampshire



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Boy, for the mildly good news for McCain in South Carolina below, New Hampshire is just grim granite. Romney’s nine points ahead, according to Rasmussen, and six points ahead according to ARG. The latter has a nine point drop for McCain since last month.

ARG has had Fred Thompson a bit sluggish, pulling in only 10 percent, but Rasmussen has him at a respectable 17 percent.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Hillary Clinton’s Longstanding Love of the “Rule of Law”



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Hillary, yesterday:

“And what we saw today was further evidence that this administration has no regard whatsoever for what needs to be held sacred. And when I’m president we’re going to get back to cherishing the Constitution, upholding the rule of law and putting forth the best values of America for the entire world to see again.”

Yes. Because the Clinton Presidency was just one long celebration of the rule of law, with no perjury, no suborning perjury, no pardons for sketchy millionaires, no Chinese money finding its way into DNC coffers, no disappearing and reappearing law firm records, no Chinese businessmen comparing the White House to a subway that you have to pay to enter, no fundraisers at Buddhist temples… no, none of that.

That’s right. The Clinton administration respected the “rule of law” by ensuring a high wall stood between the FBI and CIA on combatting terrorism, and determined that authorizing the Northern Alliance to hit Osama bin Laden’s caravan would be unlawful because women and children were present. Yes, we all know how beneficial that dedication to the rule of law was…

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

It’s Not Quite All Gloom for McCain



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ARG still has McCain leading in South Carolina. Not a huge lead – 23 percent to Rudy’s 22 percent, with Fred Thompson at 19 percent – but it doesn’t suggest his campaign is in freefall the way recent coverage would suggest.

After 2000, who would have thought that McCain’s bulwark would turn out to be South Carolina?

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Today’s Random ‘24’ Trivia on the Campaign Trail



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If I were running McCain’s campaign, I’d start over by emphasizing his experience working at CTU.

On a related note, I learned today that Kim Bauer met Hillary Clinton in 1997.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

So It Means a Week With No ‘Rudy McRomney’ Cracks



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Rudy on Libby



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If brevity is the soul of wit, last night Rudy offered a great comment on the President’s commutation of Rudy’s sentence: “After evaluating the facts, the President came to a reasonable decision and I believe the decision was correct.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Fred on Libby



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Former Senator Fred Thompson today issued the following statement regarding President Bush’s commutation of the sentence of Lewis “Scooter” Libby:

“I am very happy for Scooter Libby. I know that this is a great relief to him, his wife and children. “While for a long time I have urged a pardon for Scooter, I respect the president’s decision.”This will allow a good American, who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

McCain 2008 Comparing Its Troubles to Reagan 1980



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The McCain campaign is quick to point out at least one successful predecessor went through comparable rough times:

1980 REAGAN CAMPAIGN SHAKE-UP

During 1980 Campaign, Reagan “Had To Overcome Doubts About His Age And Ability, An Ill-Advised Iowa Strategy, A Major Staff Shake-Up In The Middle Of The Campaign And Serious Money Problems.” “It is true that Reagan entered the campaign with enormous assets. … But Reagan had to overcome doubts about his age and ability, an ill-advised Iowa strategy, a major staff shake-up in the middle of the campaign and serious money problems.” (Lou Cannon, “Reagan: Iowa Loss Allowed Him To Campaign His Way,” The Washington Post, 6/1/80) 

“The Shake-Up Of His Campaign Staff” Seen As Contributing Factor To Reagan’s Primary Victory. “The shake-up of his campaign staff and his more personal style of campaigning have contributed to Reagan’s commanding lead for the Republican nomination. To William J. Casey, Ronald Reagan’s reconstructed campaign proves that even in election politics, one can ‘make a virtue out of necessity.’ … Casey … was referring to the recent radical changes in the former California governor’s campaign strategy and staff operations.” (Dom Bonafede, “The ‘Liberation’ Of Ronald Reagan – A New Staff And A New Strategy,” National Journal, 3/22/80)

Reagan Struggled With Early Fundraising

In July 1979, Fundraising Reports Placed Reagan Fourth Among Republican Presidential Candidates, While First In Spending. “Ronald Reagan, regarded as a leading candidate for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination, is trailing other GOP candidates in financial contributions this year, according to federal reports. The Federal Election Commission said Wednesday that Reagan’s campaign committee has reported $1.4 million in contributions so far this year. That compares with these other GOP presidential contenders and the funds they have reported raising: Rep. Philip M. Crane of Illinois , $2.5 million. Former Texas Gov. John Connally, $2.2 million. Former CIA Director George Bush, $1.5 million. … And although Reagan wasn’t the leading fund-raiser, he was the biggest spender, using nearly $1.3 million of the $1.4 million he raised.” (“Washington Dateline,” The Associated Press, 7/19/79)

Yup, sometimes troubles are a sign you’re the next Reagan 1980… and sometimes it means you’re the next Dean 2004, or Lieberman 2004, or Steve Forbes 2000, or Phil Gramm 1996, or Bob Dole 1996, or Bob Kerrey 1992, or Gary Hart 1988, or Bob Dole 1988…

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Why, Exactly, Is President Bush All Smiles With Putin in K-Port?



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Totally unrelated to campaign news, but I ask you this: Right after getting his immigration proposal stomped to pieces by a fired-up base, does it really do President Bush any good to be seen hanging around Kennebunkport with Vladimir Putin? I thought we were a little irked with this guy, seeing as he’s suspect numero uno for irradiating half of London in the process of whacking a dissident. Unless we’re taking him out on the boat like Fredo, is this really the time to be all smiles with the guy?

How does that thinking go? “Hm. Just got my butt handed to me by the base… time to take Pootie-Poot out for a spin!”

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Romney: More Local TV Ads Than All Other Candidates Combined



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The good news for Mitt Romney: Unlike, say, six months ago, no one is doubting or debating whether the former Massachusetts governor is a top-tier candidate in the GOP primary. I’ve heard from a McCain rival asserting today that there is now a Big Three on the right, and McCain isn’t one of them.

The bad news for Romney is that his recent climb in the polls has coincided with him having the airwaves pretty much to himself: Romney placed more local TV advertisements than all other candidates combined, with 4,549 ads, mostly on local broadcast television, through June 10 according to The Nielsen Company.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

I Doubt McCain Is Leaving the Race Anytime Soon.



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So the McCain campaign is having a very bad day. His rivals are eagerly pointing to the reports of 50 staffers being let go. David Freddoso lays out the gloom.

Let me offer a mildly contrarian take to the obituaries being written right now (and between campaign finance reform and the immigration deal, I’ve got more bones to pick with McCain than an overcaffeinated archeologist).

Four years ago at this time, people were writing off John Kerry’s campaign. (Not necessarily the ideal role model to emulate in presidential campaigns, but you catch my drift.) Two of McCain’s biggest remaining rivals have had cancer (as has McCain, obviously) and the third has his own hurdles to overcome (only a one term governor, Mormon thing, flip-flopping charge, etc). As we saw with Howard Dean, a candidate can go from frontrunner to punchline in one speech.

Also note that the Brits seem to be arresting one suspect an hour in this car bombing plot, and this cell sounds like the jihadist equivalent of Grey’s Anatomy. God knows what will happen in the war on terror between now and when the first votes are cast. A crusty war veteran who’s seen hell in a Vietnamese prison may not be selling right now, but if the you-know-what is hitting the fan in January 2008, who knows what the GOP electorate will want?

So why should McCain leave the race now? Cut staff, cut expenses, do as much free media as possible, and hope for some lucky break and good performances in the early primary states. It’s not the best of shots, but it’s not no shot. 

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

The Globe Smacks FDT For Lobbying for Bill Supported by Democratic Contenders



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From the Boston Globe’s article on Fred Thompson’s lobbying career:

One of his clients at the time was the Tennessee Savings and Loan League, on whose behalf Thompson lobbied for a bill to deregulate the industry. Experts say the final version of that bill played a large role in the savings-and-loan crisis of the late 1980s, opening the door to widespread fraud and mismanagement.

I went back and checked. The amendments to the law in question passed both the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democratic-controlled House by voice vote. No objections, no requests for a recorded vote. Interesting that the Globe – not naming these “experts” – lays the S&L crisis at Thompson’s feet, but ignores the fact that every member of the legislative branch at that time might be considered a bit more culpable, as they actually, you know, changed the law. Thompson just represented his client, urging passage of law changes designed to “grant small savers greater access to loans and a higher return on their savings,” as President Reagan described it at the bill signing.

Among those in Congress at the time, and not objecting, were guys like Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Chris Dodd. (Bill Richardson and John McCain just missed the cut, taking office in January of the following year.)

I am also told by a reliable source that Thompson’s entire compensation for the Tennessee Savings and Loan League was $1600. No, I didn’t misplace a decimal point; one thousand, six hundred dollars.

But then again, you don’t really need the highest-priced lobbyist when no one in Congress objects to your bill.

And while we’re poking fun at lame lines of attack on FDT, doesn’t anyone else find it bizarre that the DNC is attacking Thompson for representing people who faced criminal charges as a defense attorney? I mean, isn’t that what they do? (Scary headline: “Controversial Legal Clients May Cause Problems“; actual statement: “According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal a private attorney, Thompson represented defendants on drug and other criminal charges.” )

Let me get this straight: ambulance-chasing trial lawyers like John Edwards are okay, but there’s something wrong with a candidate who has worked as a defense attorney?

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Hillary Clinton’s Appalling Comment on AIDS in the Last Debate



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One of the more galling comments from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the last debate was her claim that if HIV/AIDS were the leading cause of death among white women between the ages of 25 and 34, “there would be an outraged outcry in this country”, and thus, we are to presume, either a cure would have been found by now, or greater resources would be devoted to it.

Patrick Ruffini spotlights an anonymous YouTube ad that points out that in 2006, Hillary held up renewal of an AIDS funding bill, because her home state wasn’t getting enough funds.

It’s good to know inconvenient truths like this, even though few of her critics will be surprised.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Does Any Democrat Wish They Had Mentioned Terrorism in the Last Debate?



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I mentioned that there was no mention of the war on terror during Thursday night’s Democratic debate.

Maybe this latest round of arrests will shut down whatever terror cells are operating in the U.K., and within two weeks, we’re all talking about some other issue. Maybe American news audiences have terrorism burnout; I noted this weekend that while Fox News Channel was using a lot of coverage from their UK-based sister channel, Sky News, CNN and MSNBC were less wall-to-wall with their coverage of the would-be-car-bomber at Glasgow Airport, etc.

But just as one high-profile lunatic shooting spree usually triggers two or three copycats in the following days, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if there were additional incidents in the coming weeks. And it seems likely that every unattended suitcase, backpack, etc. will cause false alarms on this side of the Atlantic.

Does terrorism overseas have a significant political impact at home? I know one political consultant who thinks the Beslan school shootings had a huge impact on the 2004 election, as did the bin Laden tape (lots more on this here)… on the other hand, the arrests relating to the effort to bomb planes at Heathrow last August didn’t seem to much of an impact on the news environment before last year’s election.

One car bomb in an American city, however, and the political scene would look dramatically different overnight…

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

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