Blogs > HNN > June 30-July 14, 2008: Floundering on the Campaign Trail

Jul 17, 2008 7:15 pm


June 30-July 14, 2008: Floundering on the Campaign Trail



PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH:

THE WEEK THAT WAS....

The week that was....

  • July 13, 2008: Obama claims"little doubt we've moved into recession." McCain experienced a bumpy week after unveiling a new campaign hierarchy; McCain made a a concritized joke about U.S. cigarettes killing Iranians, he criticized the Social Security program, and one of his top ecomnic advisors called the country"a nation of whiners" suffering a"mental recession."
  • July 12, 2008: Obama's statement that the United States should be a multilngual nation has spawned criticism from Republicans.
  • July 11, 2008: McCain devotes a day to Women voters he spoke with female business owners in Minnesota and in Wisconsin held a women-oriented town-hall meeting, where he told the audience that his tax cuts will help women in small business. McCain also released a new ad titled"God's Children aimed at drumming up support from Hispanic and Latino voters with its pro-immigrant message.
  • July 10, 2008: McCain distanced himself from Phil Gramm, one of his top ecomnic advisors's comments where he called the country"a nation of whiners" suffering a"mental recession." McCain told reporters"I strongly disagree" with Phil Gramm's remarks. Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me."
    Obama hosted with Hilary Clinton a"Women for Obama" breakfast fundraiser, where they criticized McCain on Women's issues and Obama claimed"I will never back down in defending a woman's right to choose."
    While campaigning in Michigan McCain stated that Fannie and Freddie"have been responsible for millions of Americans to be able to own their own homes, and they will not fail, we will not allow them to fail."
  • July 9, 2008: Both Obama and McCain agreed there is a need to renew pressure on Iran after they tested missiles. Obama stressed diplomacy, while McCain emphasized tougher economic sanctions and the need to create a new missile defense system.
    Obama is planning a trip to Germany, however, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is uneasy about the prospects that Obama will speak at the historic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
  • July 8, 2008: Both McCain and Obama pitched different economic plans to Hispanic voters in attempts to woo voters.
THE STATS

The Stats

  • July 11, 2008: Gallup Poll Daily tracking claims Obama has a 6 point lead over McCain (48 percent to 42 percent).
HISTORIANS COMMENTS

Historians Comment

  • Julian Zelizer on"Is John McCain too old to be President?" Does age matter? There may be no starker test of that question than the U.S. election, which features the widest age gap between the two parties’ presidential nominees in U.S. history:
    "This is a moment when a lot of voters are talking about change and reform, and youth is often part of what we equate with that." - National Post, 7-12-08
  • Devin Fergus, a history professor at Vanderbilt College and the author of Black Power, Soft Power on"Jewish leader looks to Obama
    Rabbi hopes strong ties to black leaders will be rekindled":"One thing that works in Obama's favor is his mantra that the '60s are so yesterday. He's not a descendent of slaves. He's not trying to refight the cultural wars. That gives him space to distance himself from the divisive politics of Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan." - Winston-Salem Journal, 7-12-08
  • Jonathan Sarna on"Jewish leader looks to Obama Rabbi hopes strong ties to black leaders will be rekindled":
    Either way, Jews, blacks and other minorities have started moving away from voting as a block -- a trend that American Jewish historian Jonathan Sarna sees as healthy, both for Jews and the political process."Nothing could be better for the Jewish community than to have both parties vying for the Jewish vote," said Sarna, who teaches at Brandeis University."What makes America a great country, in my view, is that both parties have learned that it's dangerous to write a group off. We have very close elections and every vote counts." Winston-Salem Journal, 7-12-08
  • Rick Perlstein on"Vietnam remains politically potent"
    "It was such a profound trauma to the American psyche that has never been fully reckoned with or worked through," said Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland, a book examining the debates of the 1960s and their effect on contemporary politics."We're just as divided over the meaning of that event (today) as the Democrats were at their 1968 convention." - The Kansas City Star, 7-6-08
  • Mary Ann Wynkoop on"Vietnam remains politically potent"
    "There are still so many unresolved questions over our involvement in Vietnam," said Mary Ann Wynkoop, history professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City,"and the shadow it casts over almost every conflict that we get in." ..."It was the first war where patriotism was really questioned," Wynkoop said."There is still no closure to the issues that were raised." - The Kansas City Star, 7-6-08
  • Julian Zelizer: Why Do We Care About Flag Pins?
    - NPR, 7-4-08
  • Andrew J. Bacevich: What Bush hath wrought
    Now only two candidates remain standing. Senators John McCain and Barack Obama both insist that the presidential contest will mark a historic turning point. Yet, absent a willingness to assess in full all that Bush has wrought, the general election won't signify a real break from the past.

    The burden of identifying and confronting the Bush legacy necessarily falls on Obama. Although for tactical reasons McCain will distance himself from the president's record, he largely subscribes to the principles informing Bush's post-9/11 policies. McCain's determination to stay the course in Iraq expresses his commitment not simply to the ongoing conflict there, but to the ideas that gave rise to that war in the first place. While McCain may differ with the president on certain particulars, his election will affirm the main thrust of Bush's approach to national security.

    The challenge facing Obama is clear: he must go beyond merely pointing out the folly of the Iraq war; he must demonstrate that Iraq represents the truest manifestation of an approach to national security that is fundamentally flawed, thereby helping Americans discern the correct lessons of that misbegotten conflict....

    This is a stiff test, not the work of a speech or two, but of an entire campaign. Whether or not Obama passes the test will determine his fitness for the presidency. - Boston Globe, 7-1-08
  • Robert Dallek on"Obama Hits Back at Questions About His Patriotism"
    "I give him credit. He is taking this very seriously," said presidential historian Robert Dallek, who compared Obama's travails to those of John F. Kennedy, which was plagued by whisper campaigns about the divided loyalties of the would-be first Catholic president. Those anti-Catholic whispers were a real threat to Kennedy, Dallek said, but they were not abetted by the stubborn, unruly Internet, nor were they stoked by the undercurrent of racial suspicion that Obama faces. - WaPo, 6-30-08
  • Allan Lichtman: Why Obama Is Colorblind and McCain Is Ageless
    Obama has shut down the dialogue by largely ignoring the most troubling and vexing issues of race relations in America... Obama has followed the lead of Bill Cosby in extolling the virtues of responsible fatherhood — staking a safe, responsible political position that meets the approval of blacks as well as whites. According to a survey conducted by the Suffolk University Political Research Center in 2007, 80% of black respondents agreed with Cosby’s" comments regarding personal responsibility within the black community.".... This is just smart politics; it raises no risks for the candidate, and opens no fresh wounds. Obama has shied away from controversial racial issues at a time when 46% of whites and 63% of blacks say race relations are"not so good" or"poor," according to a Washington Post/ABC poll conducted in June. About a third of both white and black respondents admitted to feelings of personal race prejudice.

    A similar silence has emerged from John McCain's campaign on the most sensitive issue of his campaign: age. If McCain, who turns 72 in August, prevails in the general election, he will become the oldest non-incumbent candidate to be elected president. Ronald Reagan was 69 when first elected in 1980, and 73 when reelected in 1984. In dealing with the age issue, McCain has borrowed from both Reagan and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Like Reagan, the presumptive Republican nominee he has used humor to diffuse the issue. In an appearance on"Saturday Night Live," McCain quipped,"I ask you, what should America be looking for in a president? Certainly someone who is very, very, very old."... Like Obama on race, McCain has shrewdly sought to preempt any criticism that suggests he is too old for the presidency....
    In 2008, as in 1932 and 1980, most Americans are unhappy with both their incumbent president and the condition of their country. The challenge for Obama and McCain is to demonstrate that, like Roosevelt and Reagan, they have the rare mix of lofty vision and practical skill that is needed to achieve lasting, positive change. - The Forward, 6-26-08
  • Julian E. Zelizer, Meg Jacobs: Energy Talk Democrats Need to Learn to Sell Their Priorities
    ...The United States is a country defined by suburbanization, cars, big houses and the extravagant use of fuel. With all its progress, the environmental movement did not halt this trend. Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, has, over the years, been more complex in his actual policy positions but he just recently embraced the traditional GOP response of calling for off-shore drilling. Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, will have to work on this challenge. As in the 1970s, Americans are again frustrated with the rising price of oil. But Democrats need to work on how they frame and sell their policies -- or they could end up like Carter in 1979. - Washington Independent, 6-24-08
  • Michael Kazin and Julian E. Zelizer: A New Social Contract
    For the first time since 1964, Democrats have a good chance not just to win the White House and a majority in Congress but to enact a sweeping new liberal agenda. Conservative ideas are widely discredited, as is the Republican Party that the right has controlled since Ronald Reagan was elected. The war in Iraq has undermined the conservative case for unilateral military intervention and U.S. omnipotence. Economic insecurity has led Americans to question the rhetoric about"big" government, while President Bush's embrace of new federal programs has undermined GOP promises to cut spending.... - WaPo, 6-22-08
  • Allida Black on"Arming Obama Sen. Jim Webb -- Vietnam Vet, 'Redneck' -- Is Emerging As the Democrats' Military Point Man; The 'VP!' Chant"
    "Jim Webb is an enigma, and his silence on women's issues makes us nervous," says Allida Black, history professor and editor of the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers. Wall Street Journal, 6-21-08
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL...

On the Campaign Trail....

  • Barack Obama speaking at a High School in repose to his remarks from July 8, 2008 in Powder Springs, Ga.:

    Response:"The Republicans jumped on this. I said, absolutely immigrants need to learn English, but we also need to learn foreign languages. This is an example of some of the problems we get into when somebody attacks you for saying the truth, which is: We should want our children with more knowledge. We should want our children to have more skills. There's nothing wrong with that. That's a good thing. I know, because I don't speak a foreign language. It's embarrassing."

    Previous comments:"I agree that immigrants should learn English. But instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English — they'll learn English — you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about how can your child become bilingual. We should have every child speaking more than one language."
  • Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: Joint Event with Senator Hillary Clinton, July 10, 2008

    ...It's something I hear all the time from working parents, especially working women – many of whom are working more than one job to make ends meet. And then there are the jobs you have once the workday ends: whether it's cleaning the house or paying the bills or buying the groceries, helping with that science project or enforcing those bedtimes. The jobs you don't get paid for, but that hold our families together. Jobs that still, even in the year 2008, far too often fall to women.

    But let's be clear: these issues – equal pay, work/family balance, childcare – these are by no means just women's issues. When a job doesn't offer family leave, that also hurts men who want to help care for a new baby or an ailing parent. When there's no affordable childcare or afterschool programs, that hurts children who wind up in second rate care, or spending afternoons alone in front of the TV. When women still make just 77 cents for every dollar men make – black and Latina women even less – that doesn't just hurt women, it hurts families who find themselves with less income, and have to work even harder just to get by....

    And let's be clear, the Supreme Court's ruling on equal pay is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what's at stake in this election. Usually, when we talk about the Court, it's in the context of reproductive rights and Roe v. Wade. And make no mistake about it, that's a critical issue in this election. Senator McCain has made it abundantly clear that he wants to appoint justices like Roberts and Alito – and that he hopes to see Roe overturned. Well, I stand by my votes against confirming Justices Roberts and Alito. And I've made it equally clear that I will never back down in defending a woman's right to choose.
  • Remarks By John McCain On His Jobs For America Economic Plan, July 7, 2008:
    "...I have a plan to grow this economy, create more and better jobs, and get America moving again. I have a plan to reform government, achieve energy security, and ensure that healthcare and a quality education are affordable and available for all. I believe the role of government is to unleash the creativity, ingenuity and hard work of the American people, and make it easier to create jobs.
    At its core, the economy isn't the sum of an array of bewildering statistics. It's about where Americans work, how they live, how they pay their bills today and save for tomorrow. It's about small businesses opening their doors, hiring employees and growing. It's about giving workers the education and training to find a good job and prosper in it. It's about the aspirations of the American people to build a better life for their families; dreams that begin with a job....
    Americans are having a tough time. But we've been through worse, and beaten longer odds. Even in these difficult days, we must believe in ourselves. Nothing is inevitable in America. We've always been the captains of our fate. All you've ever asked of government is that it stand on your side, not in your way. I intend to do just that: to stand on your side; to help business and not government create jobs; to fight for your future and not the personal ambitions of politicians and bureaucrats."
  • Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: League of United Latin American Citizens, July 08, 2008:

    ...That's something I want to talk about because I'm told that today's theme is"diversity in government." So I've been thinking about why that's important and about what it means to have a government that represents all Americans. It's not just about making sure that men and women of every race, religion, and background are represented at every level of government – though that's a critical part of it. It's not just about sending a message to our children that everyone can lead and everyone can serve – although that too is important. It's about making sure that we have a government that knows that a problem facing any American is a problem facing all Americans.

    A government that works for all Americans – that's the kind of government I'm talking about. And that's the kind of government I've been fighting to build throughout my over 20 years in public service.

    It's why I reached across the aisle in the Senate to fight for comprehensive immigration reform. It's why I brought Democrats and Republicans together in Illinois to put $100 million in tax cuts into the pockets of hardworking families, to expand health care to 150,000 children and parents, and to help end the outrage of Latinas making 57 cents for every dollar that many of their male coworkers make. It's why I worked with LULAC and MALDEF as a civil rights lawyer to register Latino voters and ensure that Hispanics had an equal voice in City Hall....

    That's the commitment I'm making to you. I marched with you in the streets of Chicago to meet our immigration challenge. I fought with you in the Senate for comprehensive immigration reform. And I will make it a top priority in my first year as President – not only because we have an obligation to secure our borders and get control of who comes in and out of our country. And not only because we have to crack down on employers who are abusing undocumented immigrants instead of hiring citizens. But because we have to finally bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows. Yes, they broke the law. And they should have to pay a fine, and learn English, and go to the back of the line. That's how we'll put them on a pathway to citizenship. That's how we'll finally fix our broken immigration system and avoid creating a servant class in our midst. It's time to reconcile our values and principles as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. That's what this election is all about.
  • Remarks by John McCain at the NALEO Conference, June 28, 2008:

    ...Let me close by talking briefly about my respect and gratitude for the contributions of Hispanic-Americans to the culture, economy and security of the country I have served all my adult life. I represent Arizona where Spanish was spoken before English was, and where the character and prosperity of our state owes a great deal to the many Arizonans of Hispanic descent who live there. And I know this country, which I love more than almost anything, would be the poorer were we deprived of the patriotism, industry and decency of those millions of Americans whose families came here from Mexico, Central and South America. I will honor their contributions to America for as long as I live.

    I and many other colleagues twice attempted to pass comprehensive immigration legislation to fix our broken borders; ensure respect for the laws of this country; recognize the important economic necessity of immigrant laborers; apprehend those who came here illegally to commit crimes; and deal practically and humanely with those who came here, as my distant ancestors did, to build a better, safer life for their families, without excusing the fact they came here illegally or granting them privileges before those who did. Many Americans, with good cause, did not believe us when we said we would secure our borders, and so we failed in our efforts. We must prove to them that we can and will secure our borders first, while respecting the dignity and rights of citizens and legal residents of the United States. But we must not make the mistake of thinking that our responsibility to meet this challenge will end with that accomplish ment. We have economic and humanitarian responsibilities as well, and they require no less dedication from us in meeting them.
  • Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: A Serious Energy Policy for Our Future, June 24, 2008:

    ...After all those years in Washington, John McCain still doesn't get it. I commend him for his desire to accelerate the search for a battery that can power the cars of the future. I've been talking about this myself for the last few years. But I don't think a $300 million prize is enough. When John F. Kennedy decided that we were going to put a man on the moon, he didn't put a bounty out for some rocket scientist to win – he put the full resources of the United States government behind the project and called on the ingenuity and innovation of the American people. That's the kind of effort we need to achieve energy independence in this country, and nothing less will do. But in this campaign, John McCain offering the same old gimmicks that will provide almost no short-term relief to folks who are struggling with high gas prices; gimmicks that will only increase our oil addiction for another four years....

    I realize that gimmicks like the gas tax holiday and offshore drilling might poll well these days. But I'm not running for President to do what polls well, I'm running to do what's right for America. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make gas prices go down, but I can't. What I can do – and what I will do – is push for a second stimulus package that will send out another round of rebate checks to the American people. What I will do as President is tax the record profits of oil companies and use the money to help struggling families pay their energy bills. I will provide a $1,000 tax cut that will go to 95% of all workers and their families in this country. And I will close the loophole that allows corporations like Enron to engage in unregulated speculation that ends up artificially driving up the price of oil. That's how we'll provide real relief to the American people. That's the change we need....

    When all is said and done, my plan to increase our fuel standards will save American consumers from purchasing half a trillion gallons of gas over the next eighteen years. My entire energy plan will produce three times the oil savings that John McCain's ever could – and what's more, it will actually decrease our dependence on oil while his will only grow our addiction further.
  • Remarks by John McCain on Energy Security and Safeguarding Our Environment, June 24, 2008:

    We're in the middle of a great debate in this presidential campaign about the energy security of the United States. For my part, in recent days I've been laying out a clear agenda to protect our economy from runaway energy costs, and to break America's dependence on foreign oil. This is going to require the best efforts and ideas of our country, and I am confident we are up to the task. At a time when a gallon of gas is running at more than four dollars, our government needs to shake off years of partisan paralysis that have prevented America from achieving energy security. Nothing is more urgent right now than regaining our energy security -- we need to get it done and get it right.

    The immediate problems of high gasoline prices and of our strategic dependence on foreign oil are upon us. And on recent days I've been setting forth a plan of action. When people are hurting, and struggling to afford gasoline, food, and other necessities, common sense requires that we draw upon America's own vast reserves of oil and natural gas. When nations across Europe and Asia are building nuclear power plants to meet their electricity needs, America, too, must make more use of this clean, efficient, and proven source of power. And we must turn all the brilliance and ingenuity of America loose in the search for alternative energy sources -- from cleaner coal and wind power to biofuels and solar....

    This is why I further propose we inspire the ingenuity and resolve of the American people by offering a $300 million prize for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars. This is one dollar for every man, woman and child in the U.S. -- a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency -- and should deliver a power source at 30 percent of the current costs....

    In these and other ways, we can meet the challenge of global warming with all the resources of human ingenuity at our disposal. Like other environmental challenges -- only more so -- climate change presents a test of foresight, of political courage, and of the unselfish concern that one generation owes to the next. We Americans like to say that there is no problem we can't solve, however complicated, and no obstacle we cannot overcome if we meet it together.



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