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.

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Arizona Republic Forgets About McCain's "Volcanic Temper"

| Fri Feb. 1, 2008 5:49 PM EST

This is what Arizona Republic's editorial board had to say about John McCain:

Arizona Sen. John McCain has staked much of his claim to the presidency on his character: his status as war hero; his service to his country; his commitment to a cause, his country, bigger than himself.
These are legitimate claims to support by McCain, and worthy of voter attention and consideration.
But there are other aspects of McCain's character, less flattering, also worthy of voter attention and consideration....Many Arizonans active in policymaking have been the victim of McCain's volcanic temper and his practice of surrounding himself with aides and allies who regard politics, in the words of his paid Arizona chairman, state House Speaker Jeff Groscost, as a "bloodsport."

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At GOP Debate, McCain and Romney Bicker Over Whom Reagan Would Love More

| Wed Jan. 30, 2008 11:19 PM EST

At the end of the final Republican presidential primary before Super-Duper Tuesday, CNN's Anderson Cooper, the lead moderator, noted it had been "a remarkable evening of politics." Not so.

The debate, held at the Ronald Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California, on Wednesday night, was all-too predictably a contest in Reagan-hugging, with John McCain, the apparent frontrunner, and Mitt Romney, the apparent No. 2, trying to out-Reagan the other. Neither said much new. After all, they agree on keeping in place George W. Bush's war in Iraq and his tax cuts. But the two men needed something to argue about, so they tussled over McCain's charge that Romney last spring supported setting a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. This was the exchange that would be sliced and diced by the pundits and the analysts. In a way, both McCain and Romney were wrong.

This dust-up began last week when McCain said "Romney wanted to set a date for withdrawal similar to what the Democrats are seeking." McCain pointed to an ABC News interview, during which Romney was asked, "Do you believe that there should be a timetable in withdrawing the troops?" His reply:

Well, there's no question--but that the President and Prime Minister al-Maliki have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about. But those shouldn't be for public pronouncement. You don't want the enemy to understand how long they have to wait in the weeds until you're gonna be gone. You wanna have a series of things you wanna see accomplished in terms of the strength of the Iraqi military and the Iraqi police and the leadership of the, of the Iraqi government.

Was Romney talking about a timetable for a withdrawal or a timetable for other steps? He wasn't clear. So the interviewer pressed him: "You wouldn't do it publicly because - the President has said flat out that he will veto anything the Congress passes about a timetable for - troop withdrawals. As president, would you do the same?" And Romney said,

Previewing the Final Debate, Obama and Clinton Attack and Counter-Attack

| Wed Jan. 30, 2008 5:47 PM EST

Will the last Democratic debate before Supersaturated Tuesday, scheduled for Thursday night in Los Angeles, be a mano-a-mano slamfest? During the previous gathering of Democratic candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton got rather nasty, as John Edwards attempted to play the grown-up. With Edwards departed from the race, finally there will be a direct Clinton-against-Obama face-off. And the tensions--and stakes--are obviously higher. Yeah, it's easy to depict this as a sporting event. The Super Bowl debate, etc. (CNN calls it campaign coverage "Ballot Bowl '08.") But at this point in the contest, the not-so-great policy differences between the two are not what counts. What matters are the persons--and that includes how they punch, whether they punch, and how they take a punch. Many--if not most--voters will make a final determination based on their impressions of the character, values, judgment, experience, and talents of the two remaining contenders. And here's the last chance Clinton and Obama each have to compare him- or herself to the other--up close and personal.

On Wednesday, the campaigns provided a preview of what could come. During a speech in Denver--where over 10,000 people turned out to see him--Obama presented a sharp critique of Clinton. "Democrats will win in November and build a majority in Congress not by nominating a candidate who will unite the other party against us," he proclaimed, "but by choosing one who can unite this country around a movement for change." He went on:

It is time for new leadership that understands the way to win a debate with John McCain or any Republican who is nominated is not by nominating someone who agreed with him on voting for the war in Iraq or who agreed with him in voting to give George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran, who agrees with him in embracing the Bush-Cheney policy of not talking to leaders we don't like, who actually differed with him by arguing for exceptions for torture before changing positions when the politics of the moment changed.

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

| Tue Jan. 29, 2008 10:21 PM EST

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....

First Kennedy, Now Kerry Blasts the Clinton Campaign

| Tue Jan. 29, 2008 3:24 PM EST

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.

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