2008 - %3, January

Networks Face Candidate Rebellion in NH

| Wed Jan. 2, 2008 8:28 AM PST

Ron Paul supporters are up in arms over the expulsion of their candidate from a Fox Republican candidate forum two days before the New Hampshire vote.

"If we permit Fox News Channel executives the power 'to limit a Sunday forum the state GOP party is co-sponsoring to five presidential candidates' based on polls, then this country really is in trouble," said Michael Kelly in a comment to the Nashua Telegraph this morning.

Meanwhile, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are asking ABC and the local WMUR — sponsors of the last big debate this Saturday — to let in candidates who have been included in past debates.

Under criteria set by the sponsors, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden, two sitting Democratic senators, and Dennis Kucinich, a sitting congressman, are likely to be excluded. Clinton said yesterday: "I believe in the true spirit of the New Hampshire process; the candidates who have participated in past debates should not be excluded from this one."

"The voters of New Hampshire deserve to hear all the Democratic candidates' views on who can best lead America in a fundamentally new direction, and that's why I urge these networks to allow full participation in this week's debate," Obama said.

John Edwards and John McCain said they didn't want to interfere with the network decision.

"Fox News is scared of Ron Paul," wrote Eric Martin in response to a Nashua Telegraph article. "I'm not sure why, but they are. There is an opportunity for the New World Order to be overturned and for sovereignty to be given back into the hands of the people. I think that much of what Ron Paul stands for is the truth. Fox News should be scared not to allow Ron Paul in the debates. For some reason, the truth always stands in the end. It may be a thousand years from now, but at the end the truth will be standing on top of all the lies that tried to usurp it. If Fox News tries to hide the truth, it will fall, especially as a news organization, and one whose slogan is 'fair and balanced.' Fox News should include Ron Paul in there debates."

His detractors could care less "Just face it, Ron Paul is a weenie spouting crack pot ideas," said Robert Chapman in another comment. "The reason people think he has more than 5 percent support is because every crack pot is drawn to him like a full moon."

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South Carolina Politics - So Damn Dirty

| Tue Jan. 1, 2008 6:41 PM PST

A holiday card claiming to be from "the Romney family" ended up in the mailboxes of South Carolina Republicans recently, bearing this inscription:

"We have now clearly shown that God the father had a plurality of wives, one or more being eternity by whom he begat our spirits as well as the spirit of Jesus, his first born, and another being upon the earth by whom he begat the tabernacle of Jesus, as his only begotten in this world."

Minus 10 points for being dirty as hell. Plus 10 points for being pretty clever. The Romney campaign has condemned the card, saying, "It is sad and unfortunate that this kind of deception and trickery has been employed. There is absolutely no place for it in American politics."

Kucinich and Obama Secure Second-Choice Agreement

| Tue Jan. 1, 2008 5:10 PM PST

In 2004, Dennis Kucinich told his supporters to caucus for John Edwards if Kucinich was not viable in their precincts. (Here's an explanation of viability and the caucus system.) That recommendation helped propel Edwards to a second place finish in Iowa.

This year, Edwards won't receive the same boost. Barack Obama has secured Kucinich's second-place recommendation. Not every second- and third-tier candidate will identify a leading candidate for their supporters to caucus for should he or she fail to meet the 15 percent threshold for viability. But for some, it's not hard to see where there supporters will go.

According to Pollster.com, Obama, Edwards, and Clinton are the only candidates polling over 15 percent. Here are the numbers:

Clinton — 29.4 percent
Obama — 27.0 percent
Edwards — 25.1 percent

Richardson has 5.5 percent; he has not indicated who he wants his supporters to caucus for should he be unviable, which makes sense because Richardson has the strongest chance of being viable of the second-tier candidates. If a Richardson supporter were trying to make up his or her own mind, he or she might see Richardson's strong anti-war stance and look to Edwards or Obama. But he or she might look at Richardson's lengthy resume and decide to support Clinton. We'll call that a wash.

Biden is at 4.4 percent. His supporters like his experience and foreign policy credentials. If forced to choose one of the top three to support, they will likely support Clinton. (Though perhaps Edwards.)

Dodd and Kucinich poll at 2 percent or below in most polls. Gravel polls at zero. Their supporters will likely be spread across the top three, with a heavier proportion going to Obama and Edwards. The Kucinich-Obama agreement is obviously in play there.

There are a couple other factors to keep in mind. Edwards has been in Iowa forever, and he did well there in 2004. Iowans seem very comfortable with him. From some second-place polling I've seen online, he will likely benefit the most from second-choicers. Many voters are ABCs, anybody-but-Clintons. It is widely assumed Clinton will gain the least from second-choicers.

What does this mean? Clinton, Edwards, and Obama may all get just about 30 percent. Don't trust anyone who tells you they know who's going to win this thing.

ABC, Fox Limit NH Debate

| Tue Jan. 1, 2008 9:07 AM PST

ABC and Fox are limiting the New Hampshire primary vote by denying candidates they deem non-competitive the right to participate in the last big debate here after the Iowa caucuses.

The way things stand now, Democrats Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel won't be allowed to participate in the Saturday, January 5 debate sponsored by ABC News, Facebook and WMUR. On the Republican side, Duncan Hunter has been kicked out.

Republicans Ron Paul and Duncan Hunter are to be excluded from a Sunday, January 6 Fox News GOP forum as well.

But Fred Thompson, who is nowhere in the New Hampshire race, is to be included by Fox.

ABC and WMUR have set the following criteria for getting into their Saturday, January 5 debate to be held in Manchester, according to this morning's Manchester Union Leader:

- Place in the top four in the January 3 Iowa caucuses

- Poll 5 percent or higher in one of the last four reputable random sample New Hampshire telephone surveys sponsored by an established news organization and conducted and released by 9 a.m. on Friday, January 4.

- Poll 5 percent or higher in one of the last four reputable random sample national telephone surveys sponsored by an established news organization and conducted and released on or before 9 a.m. Friday, January 4.

WMUR News Director Andrew Vrees told the Union Leader, "Right now, Dodd has a half of a percent in our most recent poll. That's two in 512 telling us they'd vote for Chris Dodd. Gravel has zero and Dennis Kucinich has 2 percent, and we're rounding up."

"Historically," said Vrees, "candidates with these types of numbers a week before the primary don't fare much better on Election Day."

Republican state chairman Fergus Cullen said Fox News has invited John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee to the Sunday forum. "No one else was invited," Cullen said.

In a statement, Cullen was critical of all sponsors of the debates and the forum. "Limiting the number of candidates who are invited to participate in debates is not consistent with the tradition of the first-in-the-nation primary," he said. "The level playing field requires that all serious candidates be given an equal opportunity to participate — not just a selected few determined by the media prior to any votes being cast."

Paul spokesman Kate Rick said the Paul campaign "has called Fox a half-dozen times" and received no response. In the past Paul has said Fox is "scared of me," and that they were propagandists for the Iraq war, and not real conservatives. "We have been here in New Hampshire a fair amount. We have raised $19 million this quarter, and we're polling at 8 percent here, which is ahead of Mr. Thompson," Rick said. "We are at a loss as to what criteria we are not meeting."

Over the weekend, the Kucinich camp was scrambling, madly trying to get the candidate's polling figures up to 5 percent. Chris Collier, Kucinich spokesman, said an August poll had his candidate at 7 percent.