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Spin Control

Archive for February 2008

Is Obama getting off easy?

Sen. Hillary Clinton alluded to it in Tuesday’s debate.
Saturday Night Live spoofed it in their opening skit last week.
The question, as asked in this video clip from Reuters (via YouTube) is a good one, however. Is Obama getting favorable treatment from a media that’s usually portrayed as a pack of voracious wolves?
That’s today’s discussion topic. Click on Comments to chime in.

How old is too old? How young too young?

The AP and Gallup are polling almost constantly on the presidential election. Here’s a look a what they call the age factor, which could work both ways in the campaign in coming months.

For more poll videos, click on Read Full Entry.

To offer an opinion or join in the discussion, click Questions & Comments.

Cunningham on Obama; McCain on Cunningham

For those who read about the controversy in this morning’s paper or elsewhere on the Web:

Here’s a clip of what radio talk jock Bill Cunningham said about Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama at a rally for GOP candidate John McCain, and McCain’s reaction/repudiation.

Watch it, read it, and join in on today’s discussion question: Did McCain do too much, not enough or just about right in his response to what Cunningham said?

And for more:

Turban warfare?

A picture may have been worth a thousand words in the pre-Internet days. This one might be worth about a thousand times that, in terms of charges, counter-charges, rumors, innuendo and blog posts.

This is the photo of Sen. Barack Obama in local garb during a trip to Kenya in 2006. It was taken by the Associated Press at the time, and was thought pretty unremarkable.

But it was recirculated this week in a completely different context, the Democratic presidential campaign. For those not keeping score at home, here’s the Cliff Notes version of what happened.

Read about it, and offer a comment on the blog.

Obama widens gap slightly

Sen. Barack Obama continued to pull ahead of Hillary Clinton in tallies of the Democratic votes cast statewide and in Spokane County for the Feb. 19 presidential primary.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee took firm control of second place in the Republican primary, but still has less than half the votes cast for Sen. John McCain.

Obama was slightly ahead statewide but trailed Clinton in Spokane County on election night. The Illinois senator moved ahead on Friday, and in Monday’s ballot count had a lead of 460 votes in Spokane; statewide, he leads by more than 35,000 votes.
McCain has nearly half the votes statewide, and about 46 percent in Spokane County. Huckabee is second with about 23 percent statewide and 22 percent in Spokane. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has slipped to third in both counts, and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is fourth, with about 7.5 percent statewide and about 11.5 percent in Spokane County.

Obama inches ahead in Spokane County

Sen. Barack Obama inched ahead of Sen. Hillary Clinton for the first time Friday in the counting of presidential primary ballots in Spokane County.

With more than 56,000 Democratic ballots tallied countywide, Obama has 27,349 ballots, or a lead of 335. Clinton had a lead of about 1,500 ballots in the first reports on Tuesday night, but Obama has gained ground in later counts, which tend to be ballots that were marked and mailed closer to election day.

Neither side went after primary voters very hard, so this might just measure a general shift among voters as they weighed whether or not they were going to cast a ballot.

On the Republican side, where more than 53,000 ballots were cast, Sen. John McCain remains in first place with more than twice the votes of his nearest rivals. But former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has moved past former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney into second place.

One possible reason: Romney was still in the race when the ballots were mailed at the end of January. He likely was doing well up until he dropped out, which was about a week after ballots arrived in voters’ homes.

Statewide, McCain has about 49 percent of the vote and is expected to get most of the GOP delegates determined by in the primary.

Obama has 51 percent of the vote, or a lead of about 32,000 votes. But no delegates are at stake in the Democratic primary, so would only count for bragging rights if the campaigns were paying any attention.

Which they aren’t. But we are, so you can check out the updated maps by clicking here.

Visualize Spokane County voting

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are practically tied in the current count of Spokane County ballots. But that doesn’t mean it’s an even split around the county.

Here’s a look at how the votes broke down in the primary, based on the latest numbers. Darkest blue is where Clinton is over 60 percent; lightest blue is where Obama is over 60 percent.
Medium blues are where each is between 50 and 60 percent. There are a few precincts where they tied, in white.

Note to Republicans: The GOP primary map shows a near sweep for Sen. John McCain. Take this map, and just color it a shade of red of your choice, and label it “McCain.”

For a larger version of the Democratic map, click here

Into the congressional race

Mark Mays, a Spokane psychologist and attorney, is running as a Democrat for Congress in Eastern Washington’s 5th District.

Mays informally announced his candidacy Thursday, in an e-mail and at a lunch with about a dozen potential supporters, including current and former Democratic Party officials and a previous candidate for the office.

After the luncheon, Mays described his candidacy as a chance “to bring new energy and new perspective to Eastern Washington” but declined to answer questions about any issues that may come up in the campaign. He plans to make a formal announcement of his candidacy in the coming weeks, he added.

Ask not, what a politician might do to language

Reader Mary Bronson called a bit fed up with the complaints about Sen. Barack Obama allegedly plagiarizing parts of another politician’s speech as he defended himself against charges from Hillary Clinton’s campaign that he was — to borrow a phrase — all talk.

In his defense of “just words,” Obama cited some famous words uttered by past politicians. The essence of that defense: some words, like “ask what you can do for your country” and “nothing to fear but fear itself” aren’t just words, they have the power to inspire.

The Clinton campaign said he was borrowing without proper attribution a similar defense made by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick in a previous campaign.

Bronson said she’s about had it with the suggestion that what Obama did is something unusual. Politicians borrow each other’s ideas all the time, the 88-year-old Spokane resident said.

When she first heard John Kennedy’s “ask not” line, she had a feeling that it wasn’t original. She did some research at the urging of a Whitworth College professor she knew, and found out JFK wasn’t the first to push the concept.

Check it out, she said. Spin Control did, and Bronson is right. Kennedy was at least the fourth to use a version of that admonition. And one of his predecessor was — ohmygawd — a Republican president. And we don’t mean Lincoln.

What about some other results? wrote:

“The presidential primary coverage is all well and good, but the reason I am on the site this morning is to find out how the Tekoa School District and Newport School District levies did. Any news to report?”
Here’s what we know at this point:
Both districts are combined from two counties, so we need to check Spokane and Whitman results for Tekoa, and Spokane and Pend Oreille for Newport.

The count for Tekoa School District currently stands at 70% yes, 30% no, and my math, which is unofficial, says it already has enough votes to validate.

The Newport School District is currently at about 53 % yes and 47% no, with a margin of 120 votes to the positive. So the ballots still to be counted still could make a difference.

Clinton, McCain ahead in Spokane County

Sen. Hillary Clinton took a slim lead among Democratic voters casting ballots in Spokane County.

With about 32,000 Democratic ballots counted, Clinton has 50.5 percent, Sen. Barack Obama has 46 percent.

In the Republican primary, which actually counts for delegates, Sen. John McCain his a commanding lead in Spokane County with about 45 percent of the 41,000 ballots counted; Mitt Romney, who dropped out of the race nearly two weeks ago, is second with 22 percent, Mike Huckabee has 19 percent and Ron Paul has 11 percent.

Clinton, Obama about even, McCain ahead

Latest results from Washington State.
With about 50,000 Democratic ballots counted,
Hillary Clinton has 49 percent; Barack Obama has 48 percent
With about 32,000 Republican votes counted,
John McCain has 49 percent, Mike Huckabee has 25 percent, Mitt Romney, 17 percent and Ron Paul 7 percent.

Wisconsin update

Wisconsin is reporting 48 percent of the precincts counting:

McCain 54 percent, Huckabee 38 percent, Paul 5 percent

Obama 56 percent, Clinton 43 percent

All the national news organizations have called both races for McCain and Obama.

McCain takes Wisconsin

Sen. John McCain is expected to win the Republican primary in Wisconsin, CNN is reporting.

They’re basing it mainly on exit polling. The poll sites just closed at 8 p.m. Central, which is 6 p.m. Pacific.

With 7 percent of the precincts reporting, it’s McCain with 56 percent, Mike Huckabee with 36 percent, Ron Paul with 5 percent

Primary ballot update

Although technically they count for a lot less, Democratic ballots are running slightly ahead of Republican ballots in Spokane County.

As of today, the County Elections Office has logged in 51,552 Democratic ballots and 47,370 Republican ballots. That’s a split of 50.4 percent to 46.3 percent.

Wait a minute, you math whizzes out there must be saying. That doesn’t add up to 100 percent.

In case you missed it.

Republican John McCain’s campaign seems to be trying to get as much mileage as possible out of the endorsement from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Eastern Washington.

The McCain campaign announced the endorsement on Friday, and the McMorris Rodgers campaign followed suit with a parallel announcement.

On Monday, the McCain campaign again announced McMorris Rodgers’ announcement, along with that of Rep. Doc Hastings of Central Washington. The McMorris Rodgers sent out another press release, just for good measure.

Just wondering: Is the McCain campaign trying to head off a repeat of the Feb. 9 caucuses and keep Rep. Ron Paul from winning Tuesday’s primary — and some delegates — on the east side of the state?

What’s in a name?

It’s easier to play the name game with Obama than the other candidates, or so it would seem.

The more things change

…at least in politics, the more they stay the same. Or so this video from Slate suggests.

McCain likely not coming

If you heard the rumor that GOP presidential candidate John McCain was coming to Spokane — and it has been circulating since Tuesday — it’s probably time to stop spreading it.

McCain’s Washington state campaign was trying to bring their guy in, and had some tentative plans that included a Monday event at the Davenport Hotel. But state director Chris Fidler said Wednesday afternoon that it doesn’t look like the trip is going to happen.

McCain has decided to spend his time campaigning in Wisconsin, which also has a primary on Feb. 19. And they apparently award all of their delegates on the basis of that vote…unlike Washington Republicans who’ll be awarding about half of theirs on the primary and half on the caucuses.

Where our super delegates stand

Washington state’s super delegates to the Democratic National Convention
Endorsing Hillary Clinton
Sen. Patty Murray
Sen. Maria Cantwell
Rep. Norm Dicks
Rep. Jay Inslee
King County Executive Ron Simms
Endorsing Barack Obama
Gov. Chris Gregoire
Rep. Adam Smith
National Committeewoman Pat Notter
Former House Speaker Tom Foley *
Rep. Brian Baird
Rep. Rick Larsen
Rep. Jim McDermott
State Chairman Dwight Pelz
State Vice Chairwoman Eileen Macoll
National Committeeman David MacDonaldNational Committeeman Ed CoteNational Committeewoman Sharon Mast
Idaho’s super delegates to the Democratic National Convention
State Chairwoman Jeanne Buell
National Committeeman Grant Burgoyne
National Committeewoman Gail Bray
State Chairman R. Keith Roark
Super delegate to be chosen at the state convention
* Some lists have Foley, who served as ambassador to Japan during the Clinton Administration, as a Clinton super delegate, but he hasn’t made a public endorsement.

About those GOP caucus results…

Facing the prospect of a legal fight with the Huckabee campaign over precinct caucus results, State GOP Chairman Luke Esser issued a statement Tuesday morning insisting he did nothing wrong in declaring John McCain the winner Saturday night.

He even managed to work in a little bit of religion in explaining why he thought it was a good idea to call the close race about 10:15 p.m., with only about 2 percent separating McCain and Huckabee.

Part of the concern, he said, was “that our volunteers do need to get some sleep, and most of them want to be fresh and alert for Sunday church services.”

And how can Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, argue with that, the cynical among you might be saying.

Political gladiator

This is a spoof. It’s not an example of what kind of programming we could expect if the writer’s strike continued for another month.

But, on another note, would we have even more participation in the caucuses in primaries if this were real…

And now for notes from the GOP side

Mitt Romney might be out, but Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s campaign wanted supporters to remember that he’s still in it.

Friday night, his campaign staff sent out a pump up the troops memo saying buck up, we’ve got 27 states left to go.

“Gov. Huckabee is not a quitter,” it proclaimed.

Michelle Obama: He’s ready

The question isn’t if Barack Obama is ready, Michelle Obama said.

“The question is if we’re ready,” she said.

Change happens from the bottom up, she said.

“It is not just about getting someone new sitting in the Oval Office,” she said. “We’ve had that.”

Michelle Obama said supporters must stay active even after Saturday’s caucus.

“Barack is going to need you every step of the way,” she said.

Today’s kids are looking for signs of hope.

“It took a whole lot of dreaming for me to be standing here,” she said.

The world is watching this election, Obama said.

“They want to believe that we are that great nation of freedom and possibility.”

Obama ended her speech with a little back-and-forth with the audience:

Michelle Obama: “Can we do this?”

Audience: “Yes we can.”

“We are going to change the world,” she said. “Thank you.”

Michelle Obama: Husband is an Experience candidate, too

Michelle Obama said her husband always chooses principle over power.

“Barack could have been a CEO, but he wanted to be a community organizer,” she said.

She noted that he was the first African American president of the Havard Law Review.

“To whom much is given much is expected,” she said.

She noted that Obama was in the Illinois legislature for eight years.

“His opponent cannot boast that kind of experience.”

He’s also tough enough to win a general election, she said, pointing out that his political experience was built in Chicago.

“Barrack got a lot done most of the time working in the minority,” he said. Even so, he helped make major changes on healthcare, death penalty laws and ethics, she said.

“Imagine a president of the United States who has the power to unite people around issues,” she said.

It was so-called experienced politicians who led the United States into the Iraq War, she said.

“All of them marched us into a war that should never have been authorized and never waged,” she said.

When he took a stand against the war, Obama was in a “tough” seven-way bid for his Illinois Senate seat, she said.

“They said he was too young. They said he was too inexperienced,” Obama said. “They said he was too black. They said he was not black enough.”

They also used a “fear bomb” by saying that Illinois residents would never vote for him because of his name, she said.

The Obama family tree

Michelle Obama noted that her husband’s mom was an 18-year white woman when Barack Obama was born.

“Now you know she was a dreamer,” she said.

She noted that her husband’s family history, including his Kansan grandparents and the other side of his family, who are from Kenya.

“He’s got a grandmother living in a small mud hut,” she said. “Imagine a president of the United States who brings that kind of sensativity to the office.”

Applause line

Big applause line:
“I will remember coming to spokane, driving down the streets and seeing there’s a lot of work to be done here.”

She might have meant infrastructure, the crowd probably was thinking of snow removal

Things have gotten worse, Obama says

Here’s Michelle Obama’s first hint of criticism of Clinton (or, really, the Clintons):

“It has gotten progressively worse for regular folks through Republican and Democratic administrations,” she said.

Cheney trust fund

Michelle Obama said the cost of college has become too high.

“We just paid off our educational debt three years ago,” Obama said. “I’m still waiting for Barack’s trust fund.”

She joked that she thought that maybe he had one since it was recently revealed that he is a distant cousin to Vice President Dick Cheney.

No Child Left Behind

Michelle Obama talked about her parents, who sent two kids to Princeton.

Most folks are like her parents: “They don’t want much,” she said.

But they want to be able to make a decent living and they want they’re kids to have access to quality schools, she said.

“They want to know that they can help the next generation to do things that they could only dream of,” she said.

But solid jobs are disappearing.

“That life has become virtually out of reach,” she said.

She said the No Child Left Behind Act has been a failure.

“There is more to education than a score on a test and we all know that,” she said.

‘I’m going to make it happen’

Hillary Clinton explains her health care plan:

Open up the Congressional Health plan to let people who don’t have insurance or don’t like their insurance get coverage.

“If it’s good enough for Congress, it’s good enough for the American people.”

Regulate insurance companies differently, get rid of exclusions for pre-existing conditions. Get universal coverage, which would eventually lower costs.”

Notes from the stump speech

Clips from the stump speech that get a hand:

“This election’s going to be between more of the same and a new path.”

Blasts McCain for saying the nation could have troops in Iraq for 100 years.

Calls for creating new jobs with “clean energy,” and a “Strategic Energy Fund” to boost new energy production and research. She’d pay for it by taking away subsidies from the oil companies.

“Green energy can ignite an economic boon here in Eastern Washington,” she said.

Marr warms up Fox

State Sen. Chris Marr pointed to his election in 2006 to a seat that had been dominated by Republicans that change already is happening in Spokane.

He said he endorsed Obama more than a year ago because “he emodied the politics of possiblity, not the politics of negativity,” Marr said.

Marr led a chant of “Yes we can!”

“This is a dead heat right now that we face,” Marr said. “That means that each of us here will, not could, make a difference.”

He is about to introduce state Sen. Lisa Brown, who will speak just before Michelle Obama.

Hillary Clinton arrives

To the strains of “Takin’ Care of Business” accompanied by Rep. Jay Inslee and Sen. Maria Cantwell.

Inslee points out he used to represent part of Eastern Washington, and wants to get something off his chest.

Not ready to elect a woman president? he asks. It already elected “the single most incompetent man.”

So it’s going to be reallll friendly to the incumbent. But then, one could hardly expect anything else.

Did somebody say change?

In case no one’s been paying attention to the 2008 presidential race, Michelle Obama will be standing in front of a banner that says “Change we can believe in.” The word change is bigger than the Fox theater lettering in front.

And the word “change” is bigger than the word “press” on the Obama press credential I’m wearing.

Clinton on the ground

The crowd at the West Central Community Center was just told Hillary Clinton’s plane has landed in Spokane and she’ll arrive in about 15 minutes.

Marr will warm up Obama supporters

Gov. Chris Gregoire, the most recent high-profile Obama endorser, warmed up today’s Seattle crowd for Barrack Obama.

In Spokane, state Sen. Chris Marr will get the honors for the Michelle Obama rally.

AFTER THE FACT UPDATE: Marr actually introduced state Sen. Lisa Brown, who welcomed Obama to the stage.

Clinton running late

Clinton is now set to arrive about 3:30 or 3:45 p.m. Organizers at the center are encouraging people to move around and relax. They are playing music, including “I’m a Believer” by The Monkees, “Takin’ Care of Business” and “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and “The Rising” by Bruce Springsteen.

Also, they are sending the sound outside where a crowd remains across the street.

City won’t dis Clinton

City Council President Joe Shogan will attend the Clinton event, said city spokeswoman Marlene Feist.

Feist earlier said Mayor Mary Verner would attend the Michelle Obama rally.

Last person enters community center

Organizers stopped letting people in the community center at 2:15 p.m. The last person in was Joanne Bailey, a part-time nurse and retired teacher. “I just feel very fortunate,” she said.
Bailey waited outside for one hour and 45 minutes. “I thought that would be plenty of time, and so did a lot of other people.” She said she is going to her caucus tomorrow and hasn’t made up her mind yet, “Which is another reason I’m here.” “I wish I could have gone to both of them,” Bailey said in reference to the Obama and Clinton events.

Hundreds remain outside the community center, but organizers are directing people to the overflow site, the Girl Scouts office at 1404 N. Ash St.

Overflow location is Girl Scout office

The overflow location is the Girl Scouts office at 1404 N. Ash St., about three blocks from the West Central Community Center.
Spokane Fire Chief Bobby Williams says the community center has a capacity of 675 people. “There’s more out there than that,” Williams said.
With the center filled, the line outside snakes completely around the building.

Verner won’t endorse (at least not yet)

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner plans to attend today’s rally with Michelle Obama, but that shouldn’t be seen as an endorsement, said city spokeswoman Marlene Feist.

Verner received invitations from the Clinton and Obama campaigns to attend their Friday afternoon events, Feist said. Michelle Obama’s event fit better into her schedule, Feist said.

In an interview after giving her State of the City address Friday morning, Verner said that she’s “completely undecided” in the race for president.

The mayor, who has many ties to the Democratic Party, wouldn’t even rule out Republican John McCain because, she said, she hasn’t thoroughly studied all the candidate’s positions.

Gregoire backs Obama

Gov. Chris Gregoire held her endorsement cards close to the vest as long as possible, but this morning was time to show ‘em.

She’s endorsing Barack Obama for president while both Democratic presidential candidates are in the state campaigning.

More than just a boost before Saturday’s caucuses, Gregoire’s endorsement counts for something extra. She’s a super delegate to the national convention, so that’s one more in the delegate count for Obama.

Here’s her statement.

Hillary Clinton coming

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will make a campaign stop in Spokane sometime Friday, probably in the morning, her campaign announced Wednesday evening.

Details of the event haven’t been set yet, a campaign spokeswoman said, and probably won’t be final until midday Thursday.

But Hillary Clinton is expected to make several campaign appearances in Washington state in advance of Saturday’s caucuses, and one of those will be in Spokane.

Michelle Obama coming to Spokane

With Super Tuesday over, the Democratic presidential campaign is shifting gears toward Washington state. Michelle Obama is coming to Spokane on Friday.

Her husband, Democratic candidate and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, will be in Seattle Friday. .

Time and place for both events haven’t yet be scheduled. The Michelle Obama visit was just announced at 10:30 a.m Wednesday

Please, please, please come see us

Washington state has yet to generate the kind of attention from the presidential candidates that some of the early states got. Not surprising, because 24 other states and Super Duper Tuesday, comes between them and us.

But because Washington officials did roll the dice and pick two other dates — Saturday for the precinct caucuses and Feb. 19 for the primaries — there seems to be some concern on the party of some of those schedulers.

Today Secretary of State Sam Reed’s office released a letter that he and Gov. Chris Gregoire sent to the presidential campaigns late last week. The general drift of it:

Yo. What about us?

Brown leading Obama push

Spokane’s Lisa Brown, the Senate majority leader, will lead a group of legislators endorsing Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama today.

Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton have been in an endorsement scramble in the last week as Super Duper Tuesday, and the follow-on Washington precinct caucuses, approach.

Clinton picked up a nod from U.S. Sen. Patty Murray last week, and had other endorsees traipsing around the state over the weekend.

Question to ponder is whether today’s announcement’s represent the next tier, or the new generation, of support.

The logical progression of political commercials, Part 2

The response ad to Part 1, from the folks at showwhat, who post on YouTube.

Got questions about the WA primary?

We got answers.
Click here.

The logical progression of political commercials, Part 1

How the “arms race” in attack ads will play itself out, courtesy of showwhat folks, who post on YouTube. Check back this evening for the counter attack.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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