David Corn

David Corn

Washington Bureau Chief

Corn has broken stories on presidents, politicians, and other Washington players. He's written for numerous publications and is a talk show regular. His best-selling books include Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.

Get my RSS |

McCain Is Walking on Sunshine, Wins Florida; Giuliani's a Goner

| Tue Jan. 29, 2008 7:21 PM PST

John McCain edged out Mitt Romney in Florida's GOP presidential primary on Tuesday, with Rudy Giuliani placing a distant third in what was an up-or-out race for him. The bottom-line: McCain and Romney are now essentially in a head-to-head, find-those-delegates face-off. It could be decided next week on Supersaturated Tuesday; it could go to the Republican convention at summer's end. Questions to consider: will the GOP establishment sue for peace with McCain? Will social cons be pushed by anti-McCain conservatives (paging, Rush Limbaugh!) to drop Mike Huckabee, who placed fourth in Florida, and swing behind Romney to stop McCain?

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama in a primary not recognized by the Democratic National Committee, which has declared it will not award any delegates to the victor in Florida. We'll just see about that, the Clinton campaign has said. Nevertheless, the Florida primary, as of now, is mostly about the GOPers--especially Giuliani. The deli vote just wasn't enough for him.

We'll have more on the Florida primary in a while....

Advertise on MotherJones.com

First Kennedy, Now Kerry Blasts the Clinton Campaign

| Tue Jan. 29, 2008 12:24 PM PST

First it was Teddy Kennedy; then came John Kerry.

On Monday, Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama and wagged a finger at the Clintons. On Tuesday, Kerry accused the Clintonites of engaging in a "spin war" and practicing "the type of politics...a lot of us are trying to reject."

Kerry was talking to reporters on a conference call arranged by the Obama campaign. Minutes earlier, Clinton's top campaign aides had been on their own conference call with the media and had argued that the Democratic presidential delegates being selected in Florida during Tuesday's election ought to be counted by the Democratic Party. The problem: after Florida defied the Democratic National Committee and moved its primary to an early position, the party stripped the state of its delegates. All the major candidates, out of respect to the party and fearful of offending voters in the traditional early states, pledged not to campaign in Florida. But now that it seems that Hillary Clinton might do well in the Florida election (and now that Iowa and New Hampshire are done), her campaign is proclaiming, Honor the Florida voter.

Reporters on the Clinton call asked if the Clinton crew was trying to have it both ways: not campaigning in Florida (when doing so could have hurt her elsewhere) but now claiming its delegates should be recognized. Not at all, said Mark Penn, her chief strategist, and Howard Wolfson, her communications director. Should you be "seen as desperate"? one reporter asked. "Something unexpected happened," Penn explained, referring to the reported large turn-out in Florida.

In Endorsing Obama, Kennedy Anoints a Prince and Tells Clintons To Cool It

| Mon Jan. 28, 2008 3:15 PM PST

Democrats don't come much more traditional than Teddy Kennedy, the grand man of the Democratic Party. So his endorsement of Barack Obama--implicitly an anti-endorsement of Hillary Clinton--has punch. Endorsements routinely don't matter much in presidential campaigns--with a few exceptions. A politician who controls a machine--say, a governor--can come in quite handy on Election Day. In this case, Kennedy brings two piping hot dishes to the Obama potluck.

By awarding him the Kennedy Seal of Approval--with Caroline Kennedy (daughter of John) and Representative Patrick Kennedy (son of Ted) chiming in--Kennedy makes it official: Obama is the Next Generation leader of the Democratic Party and, in that role, has a lock on the vision thing. And by pledging to campaign arduously for Obama in the coming days, Kennedy will be assisting Obama's efforts to reach out to traditional Democratic voters: working-class Dems. Clinton has been faring better among that core demographic chunk of the Democratic electorate. Kennedy is no white knight who will rescue Obama on this front. But if Kennedy pulls a few votes here and there, it could be significant--only if Obama on his own can close the gap between him and Clinton on blue-collar Democrats and Latinos. It is too late for any candidate--or any set of endorsements--to change the fundamentals of the presidential race in time for Supersaturated Tuesday on February 5. And Ted Kennedy on the campaign trail is no match for Hillary Clinton's hit man: her husband. Yet any bit of Kennedy magic dust the Massachusetts senator sprinkles for Obama can only help.

Kennedy's endorsement speech--held before an enthusiastic crowd at an auditorium at American University--was a roar. He noted that Clinton and John Edwards were fine people and his friends. "But I believe," he said, "there is one candidate who has extraordinary gifts of leadership and character, matched to the extraordinary demands of this moment in history." He completely adopted Obama's own arguments: "He is a leader who sees the world clearly without being cynical. He is a fighter who cares passionately about the causes he believes in, without demonizing those who hold a different view." That last line, an echo of a remark Obama made on Saturday night after winning the South Carolina primary, was a dig at the Clinton camp.

Just as Ted Kennedy Endorses Obama, RNC Discovers - Omigod! - EMK Is a Liberal

| Mon Jan. 28, 2008 7:58 AM PST

ted-kennedy250x200.jpg Yes, the Republican National Committee has shocking news. Teddy Kennedy is a—yikes!—liberal. The vaunted opposition research department of the RNC somehow unearthed this information, and on Monday morning, hours before Kennedy was to appear at a rally to endorse Barack Obama, the Republican Party sent out an email to reporters reminding them of this sinister nexus: Kennedy = liberalism. Its point: Kennedy's endorsement "highlights" Obama's "true liberal credentials."

It's hardly a given that Obama will win the Democratic nomination, but it's clear that if he does, the RNC is ready with its traditional playbook: brand the Dem a liberal. No doubt, the same stratagem is set for Hillary Clinton. This traditional attack has often paid off for the Republicans. (Ask Michael Dukakis and the first George Bush.) But it could wear thin this time around. Obama, though obviously a progressive, has shown an ability to attract independents and even a few Republicans. Remember, voters are not nearly as ideological as the partisan activists of both sides. And in the case of HRC, after eight years of triangulating White House Clintonism and eight years of intermittent centrism in the Senate, the old Hillary-is-a-radical-socialist routine doesn't resonate much these days, except among die-hard, living-in-the-past, Hillary-hating conservatives.

Nevertheless, the Republican Party will bang the he's-a-liberal! (or she's-a-liberal!) drum. Though it remains the GOP's favorite beat, voters may not dance to it as they once did.

What's Next for (Bill) Clinton and the Anti-Obama Attack Machine?

| Sat Jan. 26, 2008 7:28 PM PST

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is an interesting race." So said former President Bill at a campaign rally in Independence, Missouri, on Saturday night, while Barack Obama was cleaning his wife's clock in South Carolina. Well, Bill Clinton has done his best to make the contest more interesting—and more down-and-dirty. Campaigning in South Carolina, he drew Barack Obama into a mudwrestle and sucked up plenty of oxygen. Though Clinton failed to stop a much-anticipated Obama win in the Palmetto State—and might have even pushed voters toward Obama—he certainly helped shaped the race to his wife's benefit. Obama has been campaigning as an unconventional and inspirational leader against a conventional and divisive politician. Yet the ex-president managed to turn the contest into a face-off between two acrimonious camps, which undermines Obama's preferred narrative: a transformational candidate versus a Washington rerun. And today—before the vote-counting began—Clinton compared Obama to Jesse Jackson. It was tough not to read Clinton's remark as an attempt to dismiss Obama as the black candidate who cannot win.

Clinton's hit-man role has peeved some Democrats. Two days ago, Robert Reich, who was Clinton's labor secretary, blogged that "Bill Clinton's ill-tempered and ill-founded attacks on Barack Obama are doing no credit to the former President, his legacy, or his wife's campaign." But should the Clintons care if they lose Reich but gain the nomination?

Short answer: no. But there will be recriminations. Clinton's South Carolina rampage will not be forgotten by Democrats and liberals. And it remains to be seen if B. Clinton will continue his anti-Obama crusade in the coming days, as Supersaturated Tuesday approaches. The day before South Carolina Democrats voted for Obama over Clinton by a two-to-one margin, I asked a senior Clinton campaign aide if the campaign had any reservations about Bill Clinton's actions in South Carolina. This aide looked pained. "He cannot be controlled," s/he said. I remarked that it looked as if Clinton had been deployed in a strategic manner. "Not for some of us," the aide said. But the campaign could have decided not to send him to South Carolina, I noted. "Yeah, Mr. President, we have some important campaign rallies for you to attend in Alaska," the aide replied—sarcastically.

Thu Mar. 27, 2014 12:49 PM PDT
Fri Mar. 14, 2014 4:59 AM PDT
Tue Jan. 28, 2014 8:40 AM PST
Tue Jan. 28, 2014 7:40 AM PST
Mon Nov. 25, 2013 10:09 AM PST
Fri Oct. 11, 2013 9:20 AM PDT
Tue Sep. 10, 2013 7:10 PM PDT
Tue Sep. 10, 2013 10:02 AM PDT
Mon Sep. 9, 2013 7:13 AM PDT
Tue Apr. 30, 2013 1:32 PM PDT
Mon Apr. 8, 2013 10:00 AM PDT
Fri Mar. 29, 2013 7:22 AM PDT
Thu Jan. 24, 2013 9:20 AM PST