Friday, March 30, 2007

Bill Richardson: "I'm not a Rock Star"

Bill Richardson was on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart Wednesday night. Watch:

Thursday, March 29, 2007

March 31st Deadline

The candidates are spewing out e-mails this week like their life depended on it - well, their candidacies might. It's contributions week. Nothing else counts. Everyone's playing the expectations game everywhere. It can drive you crazy.

So, Nevada Caucus 2008 makes it really easy for you. On the sidebar you'll find the list of all eight candidates. You can simply enter the amount you wish to contribute to your favourite candidate, then click on the "Contribute" button and fill in the rest. Alternatively, you can go directly to the Nevada Caucus 2008 ActBlue page. The money goes to the candidates, I get zilch.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Health Care Forum Video and Transcript Now Available

The Center for American Progress Action Fund, one of the co-sponsors of Saturday's health care forum in Las Vegas, has now posted the entire video and transcript of the forum. You can view the video here.

Video of Kucinich at Health Care Forum

I've gone to all the presidential candidates websites and looked for videos of the health care forum. The only video I found so far was of Dennis Kucinich. Watch it below:

Why Vilsack Endorses Hillary

Today, Tom Vilsack endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. From a campaign e-mail:

I'm not someone to play coy about my intentions. When I make a decision, I go all in and follow through. Hillary Clinton has the same determination, and it is something I have always admired.

When I first ran for governor of Iowa in 1998, many people didn't give me much of a chance. But not Hillary. She told me she'd do everything she could do to help, and she followed through. She stood by my side, and Iowa is better for it. She helped ignite the spark that changed Iowa from a red state to a blue state.

By standing with Hillary now we'll help show that we are strong enough to win back the White House -- and America will be stronger and better for it.


Christie and I plan on spending the next 10 months helping Hillary win the Iowa caucuses and the other states necessary to win the Democratic nomination -- and after that, the White House in 2008.

I am proud to do it because of all the candidates running, she has the best ideas, the most energy, and the values and vision to lead our country in the right direction after eight long years of George W. Bush.

She's going to put an end to the war in Iraq. She's going to make sure every American has access to affordable health care. She's going to make us energy secure. And I know she'll put children and families first -- she has fought for them for decades.

Overall this email seems almost more like a pure fundraising letter than an endorsement. I figured there was no need to quote all the money request lines. Nevertheless, if you want to contribute to Hillary or any other campaign, you can do so via the Nevada Caucus 2008 ActBlue page.

Reactions on the Health Care Forum

It turned out that I have a life away from blogging after all, so I was not able to watch the health care forum on Saturday and therefore could not liveblog it. Unfortunately, neither the organizers of the forum nor Think Progress (which offered a live webcast) have so far put up any video from the forum.

However, a couple of people did some live-blogging of the forum or compiled a writeup. Jonathan Singer's take on each candidate's position is over at MyDD, another extensive roundup can be found at Blog for our Future. Taylor Marsh was also at the forum and comes away from it very oppiniated and very much in favor of Hillary Clinton while Hugh Jackson writes both at the Las Vegas Gleaner and on Nevada Today that he thought John Edwards was the big winner as he actually had a plan and is more likely to win than Dennis Kucinich who not only has a plan but a bill that is "intellectually, morally and economically sensible and reasonable."

Karen Tumulty, moderator of the forum, wrote up her thoughts here and here.

Finally, the take from the traditional media:

New York Times, Washinton Post, Los Angeles Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Las Vegas Sun

The only thing pretty much everyone seemed to agree on was that Obama's plan was sketchy at best, some saying that he was not prepared at all.

I'll put the videos (or the link to them) of the candidates at the forum up once they're available.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The SEIU Health Care Forum in Las Vegas: Polls, Webcast and More

In preparation for the health care forum in Las Vegas today, hosted by the SEIU and the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a conference call for reporters and bloggers was held earlier this week. During this call Andy Stern of the SEIU and John Podesta, former Chief of Staff of President Bill Clinton and now head of the Center for American Progress, outlined their thoughts on the upcoming forum and on how best to achieve universal health care.

Andy Stern stressed that a solution to the health care crisis is in everybody's interest as "American business will pay more for health care they make in profit" this year. Therfore, this presidential campaign should be about the issues, not about "glitz and glamour."

John Podesta noted his "battle scars" from 1994 when he worked in the White House during the Clinton's effort to achieve universal health care. He noted that the ranks of the uninsured are rising and that there are now 7 million more uninsured than in 2000. He sees today's forum as "a critical next step" saying that he has "high hopes that what happens in Las Vegas will leave Las Vegas and set the tone for the presidential campaign."

Also on the call was Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners who conducted a poll in the four early primary and caucus states regarding health care. The poll asked 400 voters in each state about their attitude towards health care. While the overall picture did look pretty good for universal health care, I was a little disturbed by the sample. 400 voters in one state is not the best sample and when you break it down into half Democrats and half Republicans, the margin of error is just insane.

Nonetheless, here are some numbers from Nevada:

Thinking specifically about the economy, what are you personally worried about the most?

Rising health care costs 39%
Higher taxes 23%
Secure Retirement 19%

The 225 million dollars a day being spent in Iraq would be better spent investing in affordable health care for every American here at home.

Strongly agree 48%
Not strongly agree 19%
Not strongly disagree 12%
Strongly disagree 18%

Who do you think would be the BEST president on the issue of health care?

Hillary Clinton 34%
John Edwards 16%
Barack Obama 9%
Bill Richardson 4%
Dennis Kucinich 0%
Chris Dodd 2%
Joe Biden 0%
Mike Gravel 0%

Now, please note that they're just asking who would be best on health care. Clearly, Hillary has an edge here both because of name recognition and because of her work on health care during the Clinton presidency.

What I found really disturbing about these numbers though, was that 50% of the respondents were 65 or older. How representative are numbers when you have a sample of only 5% below 40 years of age? And it really made me wonder how representative other poll numbers are that do not publish the age range of respondents.

Anyhow, I'm very much looking forward to this forum, as it will hopefully force the candidates to take a stand beyond "I'm for health coverage for all" and maybe they'll even tell us how they plan to achieve it.

You can view the live webcast of the health care forum over at Think Progress starting at 9am PT/noon ET.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Biden Apparently Not for Universal Health Care

Well, I think I've finally figured out why Biden, officially citing family obligations, will not take part in the SEIU health care forum in Las Vegas on Saturday. From a Q&A with the Las Vegas Sun:

How would you deal with the nation's health care crisis?

I would move immediately to insure all children under age 18, modernize medical records and provide catastrophic health insurance to lift the burden on the 46 million people who can't afford coverage.

I would also encourage states to move toward total health care coverage, and I'd have the federal government give them much more leeway in underwriting the cost. The way to get a national consensus for a major health care policy is to cherry pick the best ideas from the dozens of states doing their own.

What happened to "universal health care?" It's what everybody in the Democratic field of candidates is talking about. Mysteriously, Biden chooses not to use this term. Does that mean he would not want to insure every American while he is in office? While providing insurance for all children and providing "catastrophic health insurance" (whatever that is supposed to mean) might sound like a good start and surely is better than the status quo it just sounds so safe, one has to wonder why Biden is even running for President. When you are not willing to lead on an issue and be bold about it you might want to reconsider your candidacy.

Therefore, I'm just not at all surprised he's skipping the health care forum this Saturday. I doubt the SEIU audience would have cheered him with this overtly safe, completely undaring position not worthy of a Democratic presidential candidate.

PS: After ranting my head off, I thought I'd better verify that he's not for universal heath care. So, I've just looked up his official position on health care on his website. It's pretty apparent he's really just not for universal health care. He wants to make sure that people have "access" but that's pretty much it. Here's his entire position:

Health Care

Joe Biden believes that to protect jobs, compete in a global economy and strengthen families we have to have to address out-dated health care system. The next president will have to deal with two challenges: containing the growing costs of health care and providing access to the 47 million Americans who don't have health insurance.

Joe Biden believes we need to take three steps to contain the cost of health care: modernize the system, simplify the system and reduce errors. He supports the transition to secure electronic records so that people can provide their doctors and nurses with vital medical information in real time. He believes there should be a uniform, efficient system to submit claims.

Joe Biden believes the path toward a 21st century health care system starts with the most vulnerable in our society. He would expand health insurance for children and relieve families and businesses of the burden of expensive catastrophic cases. He supports states that are pursuing innovative alternatives to make sure that everyone has access to health care and believes we should use data from these states to evaluate what works best in providing affordable access to health care for all.

What a disappointment.

Vilsack to Endorse Hillary

No big surprise here:

Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, in a major political coup, captured the endorsement of former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who recently abandoned his own presidential bid, officials told The Associated Press on Friday.

Vilsack and his wife, Christie, planned to make the endorsement on Monday when the New York senator will be in the state, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the planned formal statement next week.

Clinton spokesman Mark Daley would not confirm Vilsack's endorsement, but did say the campaign had a major announcement planned for Monday in Des Moines.

And, no, this is not "a major political coup." It would have been one if he had chosen to endorse anyone but Hillary. When he decided to end his campaign, pretty much everyone expected him to endorse Hillary. They are both DLC'ers and he went with the safe establishment candidate (John Kerry) last time around. Remembering the poll numbers Vilsack had in his own state (somewhere in the teens) I don't think he wields enough influence to decide the winner. This race is far from over, in Iowa or anywhere else, as we were all reminded just yesterday: anything can happen.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Presidential Candidates' Statements on Elizabeth Edwards

As everyone else I was saddened to hear that Elizabeth Edwards' cancer has returned and is, while treatable, apparently not curable. My thoughts and prayers are with one of the most wonderful and inspiring women in public life and her family.

So far, four Democratic presidential campaigns have published statements on the frontpages of their campaign website.

Hillary Clinton:

Elizabeth is a wonderful, strong individual and my thoughts and prayers are with her, John, and their children during this difficult time. I admire her optimism and strength in the face of adversity, and I look forward to seeing them both on the campaign trail.

Barack Obama:

Today, Michelle and I join every American in sending our thoughts and prayers to Elizabeth and John and the entire Edwards family. We all admire Elizabeth's strength and determination and the deep love they so obviously share.

Elizabeth Kucinich:

Dennis and I wish Elizabeth and John Edwards and their family the very best as Mrs. Edwards continues her courageous battle with cancer.

She has shown true strength and dignity in addressing this disease. We admire her courage and her spirit.

We are confident that Mrs. Edwards will continue to play a vigorous role in this campaign.

I look forward to seeing her on the campaign trail as she and I and our husbands all work towards our visions for building a better America.

Bill Richardson:

Barbara and I send our thoughts and prayers to Elizabeth and John as they deal with this latest challenge. Elizabeth has been an inspiration and role model to all of us with her courageous and very public fight against breast cancer.

I am hopeful and optimistic that Elizabeth will continue to win her fight. In the meantime, we should all redouble our commitment to supporting efforts to find a cure for breast cancer.

Chris Dodd:

Jackie and I wish Elizabeth, John and the entire Edwards family the best during this difficult time and throughout Elizabeth's treatment process. Our prayers are with all of them.

Joe Biden:

I am truly sorry to learn that Elizabeth Edwards has had a recurrence of her cancer. However, I am pleased to hear that Elizabeth and John are optimistic and moving forward. Elizabeth, John and their children are in our thoughts and prayers.

On Biden Cancelling his Carson City Apperances Yesterday

So, Senator Biden's gamble didn't quite work. He figured, he could skip the SEIU forum in Las Vegas on Saturday (official reason: family obligations) and yet get press attention by coming to Carson City on Wednesday. Yesterday, he cancelled on short notice due to "important votes in the Senate."

While that is all valid and fine, here's the problem:

Biden has a day job (as do five other candidates). He's a Senator and therefore, when the Senate is in session, he should be in DC, and not toodling around on the campaign trail. As we're still more than nine months away from the primaries and caucuses, Biden (and Dodd, Hillary, Obama, Kucinich and Richardson) should show the voters how serious they are about wanting to be President, by actually doing their day job and only campaigning when their work schedules permit, meaning mostly weekends.

Now, I was a little curious and counted the numbers of votes missed by the four current Democratic Senators running out of 88 votes since January:

Biden: 22
Dodd: 22
Obama: 3
Hillary: 2

(comparison: McCain: 25, with Brownback and Hagel also frequently absent)

Biden and Dodd (as long as they haven't been sick or didn't have some serious family business to attend to) should either resign, so they can run full-time, or should resume their day job. Being absent 25% of the time from your day job while running for President is simply inexcusable.

So, it actually did bode well for Sen. Biden that he chose to stay in Washington last night. Otherwise his absenteeism rate would have jumped by another couple of votes.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Biden in Carson City on Wednesday

While Sen. Joe Biden is not attending the SEIU forum on health care in Las Vegas this weekend. However, he seems to have liked visiting Carson City for the AFSCME forum last month so much that he's returning to Nevada's capital city tomorrow:

U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, a Democrat seeking the presidential nomination, will speak in Carson City this week, his campaign announced Monday.

Biden is the only Democratic presidential candidate not scheduled to attend Saturday's forum on health care in Las Vegas. But he will make two speeches in the state capital on Wednesday, according to the campaign.

The five-term Delaware senator is scheduled to speak at 6 p.m. at the legislative conference of the Nevada AFL-CIO at the Carson Nugget. Then at 7:45 p.m., he will speak to the Carson City Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Presidential Series, at the Silver Oak Golf Club.

Saturday's forum at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas will feature Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sen. Chris Dodd, former Sen. John Edwards, former Sen. Mike Gravel, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Sen. Barack Obama and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

The forum is sponsored by the Service Employees International Union and the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

My Interview With Elizabeth Kucinich in Heidelberg, Germany

When I learned that Elizabeth Kucinich would be in Heidelberg (a 20 minute drive from Mannheim) for the International DPCA meeting of Democrats Abroad, I contacted the Kucinich campaign and asked if I could interview her. I expected 20 minutes tops. What I got was to accompany and talk to Elizabeth and Christina Kraich-Rogers, a German native who now works as the New Hampshire coordinator for the Kucinich for President campaign, for about four hours.

I met Elizabeth and Christina at a peace vigil in Heidelberg organized by German anti-war groups. While Germany is participating in the Iraq war, it is still home to several U.S. bases including Ramstein Air Base and the Landstuhl hospital, where injured soldiers are brought before they're ready for transport to Walter Reed. Elizabeth and Christina told me about their trip to Landstuhl the night before and about their conversations with injured soldiers. I could see how deeply moved and shaken they were from this encounter (you can read more on this here).

Elizabeth (left) talks to a protester

Elizabeth addressed the crowd at the peace vigil and talked to many individually. Most seemed to be quite surprised by the presence of the wife of an American Congressman.

Elizabeth addresses the crowd. The banner reads: War is always terror.

Afterwards we headed to the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Institut (German-American Institute - DAI) where Democrats Abroad had their meeting. In the DAI library Elizabeth talked with me about the main issues of this campaign.

Elizabeth Kucinich, who is still a British citizen (she hasn't been in the States long enough to obtain American citizenship), came to the United States in 2005. Though her lifepath crossed that of the American people in a strange way four years before. On September 11, 2001, Elizabeth had her final exam in her M.A. course in International Conflict Analysis. The exam title: "Conflict Resolution in International Politics." Later that day, as she watched the attack on the Twin Towers in New York, she felt that "a lightswitch came on."

As many Europeans, she saw how the U.S. media "spun the grief and shock into something different." While people across the world held prayer vigils for the victims of 9/11, even in places like Iran, the administration and the media "were shutting out the world in a way that was not necessary."

After having lived in India working with Mother Teresa's organization in Agra she later went for 16 months to Tanzania and worked in a small village as an advocate for regional development.

In 2005 she took a job with the American Monetary Institute in Chicago. On her second week on the job she went to Capitol Hill. She hadn't known or even heard of Dennis Kucinich previously but to her it seemed that their "life paths merged together." Elizabeth and Dennis tied the knot in the same year.

When you meet Elizabeth Kucinich and hear her talk about the issues she cares about and her husband's campaign, you sooner or later come to the conclusion that she may just be Dennis Kucinich's strongest assett. She's passionate and knowledgeable and doesn't depend on a campaign staffer on any subject like you so often here about many candidates.

Quickly she steers the conversation towards the subject of the war in Iraq. She stresses that Dennis led 125 of his colleagues to vote against the Iraq War Resolution in the House and that "he's the only candidate who's stand against the war is consistent" as he also voted against all funding bills for the war.

In Dennis Kucinich, Elizabeth sees "a man who speaks with integrity and truth." She says that in 2008 the people of the United States should "elect a President who is honest, who is willing to stand up when it's not popular."

Privacy Rights

I mention the recent comments by Gen. Pace who sees homosexuality as 'immoral'. I ask her what her husband's response to this is, especially in light of the squirmishness on this subject by the two front-runners, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Elizabeth makes it quite clear that both she and Dennis don't share this view: "When there are people who are devoted to each other, who want to have a family together, who is the government to say they cannot do that? The government should stay out of people's bedrooms, as they should stay out of their phone calls and their libraries. This is actually an area where goverment needs to be reduced."

Department of Peace

There have been some comments stating the idea of a Department of Peace is ridiculous as there already is the Department of State. I ask Elizabeth what her reaction to this criticism is. "Anyone who says this clearly has not read the legislation," is her first response. The idea of a Department of Peace is not about shutting down other departments. It would be completely separate from the Departments of State and Defense. She explains that a Department of Peace would not solely be an international endeavour. Quite to the contrary, "it is about building structures domestically. We need to build up peace structures within our society. America has a problem with violence. Peace is more than the absence of war." Elizabeth is quite adamant about this, she says that this is about teaching children to resolve conflicts peacefully, so that later on they won't be involved in domestic violence and in hate crimes: "Anyone who does not support the Department of Peace, isn't supporting putting a stop to domestic violence."


On the subject of war and peace, Elizabeth also has a few words to say on Iran: "I can see the condition of a Third World War developing. It is about destruction or creation. We can come together. What do the American people want?"


The recent AFSCME forum in Carson City was Elizabeth's first time in Nevada. She came away impressed by the "fantastic people" she met and "loved the landscape. Her next trip to Nevada is only a few days away as Dennis will speak to the Culinary Workers Union on Friday and before the SEIU health care forum on Saturday.

Yucca Mountain

Elizabeth says that Dennis has tried to lead on this issue and has been consistent on his stance against storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, though ultimately, this is not just a Nevada issue but also a national one as "we've spun a line on nuclear energy that it is clean and economically viable" while people and politicians ignore that nuclear waste has to be stored forever and eventually the American people have to pay for it "not in utility bills but through taxes." Therefore, Dennis Kucinich is "not in support of nuclear power. Period."


On another hot-button issue in Nevada, water, Elizabeth says that it is also a global issue: "Water is the next oil." She says that everyone is responsible and can take action by preserving water as everyone has a choice - for how long we take showers, how much water our dishwashers and washing machines consume.

Climate Change

Elizabeth has been passionate about climate change since she was a child and she sees a chance for the world in fighting climate change: "Never in world history has there been an issue that brought the world together. We have the intelligence and money to bring the world together in fighting climate change. We have the chance to stop global warming now or we can fund the war and put more money into the war.

Health Care

Coming from Europe, where most countries have health care systems that cover the entire population, she is "astounded" when she travels around America "that there is a country with all these resources that it cannot provide health care for its people." She says that it's not a money problem as the United States pay more money per capita for health care than many industrial countries with universal health care: "We're paying for health care. We're just not getting it. Across the United States 46 million people are without coverage." Dennis Kucinich proposes universal single payer not for profit medicine for all.

According to Elizabeth this is also a business issue as it will reduce their costs and increase the vitality of their workforce.

First Lady

I find the "what would you do if you were to become First Lady" questions usually quite nauseating, mostly because the answers are as well. I asked Elizabeth anyway. To my question what issue she would focus on she replied: "I've never been a one-issue candidate."

"My main passions are the environment, animal welfare - welfare in general, really -, peace and international relations." Dennis and Elizabeth would be working together: "We're a joint ticket, a team. We share the same perspective of America and the world."

Elizabeth would like to start a '9/10 forum'. "The American people never got an opportunity to grieve after 9/11. What was their world like on 9/10. What were their highest aspirations. There is a narrative I'd like to start: When did you feel most secure? When were you proud of your nation? It's a discussion I would like to take across the country."

According to Elizabeth the people should focus on the good of both 9/10 and 9/12: "The heart of the world was open to the American people after 9/11. How do we recreate the sentiment of togetherness and solidarity of 9/12?"

How does Elizabeth feel living in America? "It's a great honor to live in America. I love Cleveland and made it my home." And on politics in America: "Coming from a different country one sees the politics in a different light."

Elizabeth and I in the DAI library

After my interview with Elizabeth we went downstairs to the Democrats Abroad meeting as Dennis Kucinich was to call in shortly. He talked about why he was running and took a couple of questions. Both his general remarks and his answers received at times strong applause. Especially his anti-war stance and his promise to join an American voters abroad caucus in Congress were enthusiastically received.

More information on Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich can be found at the Kucinich for President website.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

More Presidential Candidates Going to Culinary Workers Union Rally

It appears that Dennis Kucinich isn't the only one planning to speak to the Culinary Workers Union, though he is the only one actually having the date up on its website.

The AP reports that several others have also confirmed:

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson will attend the March 23 rally, on the eve of a candidates forum in Las Vegas. Former vice presidential nominee John Edwards, the Democrat most openly pushing to be the labor candidate, is not confirmed to attend, the union said Thursday.
Edwards campaign spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield said the former North Carolina senator “is making every effort” to address union members that day.
The Culinary Workers Union, Local 226, organizes cooks, waiters, housekeepers and other service workers in Nevada casinos. Its endorsement may be key to a strong showing in Nevada’s Democratic caucus Jan. 19, the second in the nation.

While this may be the case, the union clearly has to get its act together. Their website is an absolute mess with a "News" page that has last been updated in 2005. Of course there is no mention on their website about their rally, let alone a press release about the candidates attending.

Richardson to Keynote Stonewall Dem Leadership Luncheon in Vegas

Gov. Bill Richardson will be the keynote speaker at the Stonewall Democrats Western National Training Leadership Luncheon in Las Vegas on March 24th, the same day as the SEIU health care forum. It is not yet clear if any other presidential candidates will address this meeting.

For more info click here.

Hillary and Obama: Homosexuality is Not Immoral

Apparently, this little blog wasn't the only one ranting about Hillary and Obama yesterday. Many other blogs (like Americablog) did so as well and the Southern Nevada Stonewall Democrats Chair posted two comments to my post. Significantly, the Human Rights Campaign was irked as well. From Americablog:

I hear that the gay civil rights group the Human Rights Campaign had a come-to-Jesus (come-to-Mary?) chat with the Clinton and Obama campaigns this morning over the candidates' seeming inability to give a straight answer yesterday to the question of whether they think homosexuality is immoral. (Lots of background on the issue here.)

HRC reportedly told both campaigns that they were not happy, and that the campaigns' various and ever-changing answers to the question were evasive and unacceptable, and that both needed to issue forceful and unequivocal statements saying that they don't think homosexuality is immoral.

Will Hillary and Obama respond? Stay tuned.

That must have done the trick, as both Hillary and Obama came out with statements today, saying that homosexuality is not immoral. Hillary:

"Well I've heard from a number of my friends and I've certainly clarified with them any misunderstanding that anyone had, because I disagree with General Pace completely. I do not think homosexuality is immoral. But the point I was trying to make is that this policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not working. I have been against it for many years because I think it does a grave injustice to patriotic Americans who want to serve their country. And so I have called for its repeal and I'd like to follow the lead of our allies like, Great Britain and Israel and let people who wish to serve their country be able to join and do so. And then let the uniform code of military justice determine if conduct is inappropriate or unbecoming. That's fine. That's what we do with everybody. But let's not be eliminating people because of who they are or who they love."

And here's Obama's statement via a spokesperson:

"As the New York Times reported today, I do not agree with General Pace that homosexuality is immoral. Attempts to divide people like this have consumed too much of our politics over the past six years."

I still wish they would have done this right away. Ducking this issue like they both did just did not look good.

PS: Interesting in this regard is an article by the New York Observer how presidential candidates are courting "pink cash".

Kucinich to Speak to Culinary Workers Union in Vegas

Dennis Kucinich plans to speak to the Culinary Workers Union in Las Vegas the night before the SEIU health care forum. Details:

23 Mar 2007 - 19:00

Pending his congressional duties, Dennis will speak at the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada

Edwards to Raise Money in Reno

Who would have known that there are enough rich Democrats in Reno who can afford $1,000 to meet a presidential candidate? Color me surprised. Seems like Washoe County is slowly turning blue. From the RGJ:

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is headed to Reno for a fundraiser.

The 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee will appear from 2 to 4 p.m. March 24 at the home of Juanita and Bill Jeanney off Juniper Hill Road, according to an e-mail invitation.

The "suggested contribution" is $1,000.

RSVPs can be made to Jillian Waldman at or by calling 310-966-6020.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hillary and Obama Forgo Gay Vote

It's really unfortunate to see the two main Democratic contenders for the Presidency triangulate and refuse to lead. Hillary was very quick to call for Attorney General Gonzales' resignation - once everyone else did so and it was a win win situation.

Clearly, condemning calling the gay and lesbian citizens of this country immoral is not a "win-win" situation. It is ironic that Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Human Rights Campaign, the biggest GLBT lobbying group, share the same initials. But then again, HRC 1 one used to be a Goldwater Republican and HRC 2 endorsed Republican candidates in last year's congressional elections. So, there.

Today, Hillary was asked about General Pace's statement that homosexuality was "immoral":

I also asked her about the comments by General Peter Pace that homosexulity is "immoral." Clinton has opposed the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, so I asked her if that law -- signed by her husband in 1993 -- was a mistake, and if homosexuality is "immoral."

"General Pace has clarified his remarks, but let's not lose sight of the fact that 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' is not working," she said. "We are being deprived of thousands of patriotic men and women who want to serve their country who are bringing skills into the armed services that we desparately need, like translation skills. And one can argue whether it was a good idea when it was first implemented, but we know have evidence as to the fact that we are in a time of war -- when we really need as many people as we can to recruit and retain in an all-volunteer army -- we are turning people away or discharging them not because of what they've done but because of who they are."

But is it immoral?

"Well I'm going to leave that to others to conclude," she said. "I'm very proud of the gays and lesbians I know who perform work that is essential to our country, who want to serve their country and I want make sure they can."

When I read the last past, it felt like someone was asking a mother whether her children were stupid. Every decent, loving mother would instantly proclaim: NO! Not Hillary, she'd leave that to someone else to conclude but she is very proud of her children. Even if they are stupid.

Well, I thought. You can always count on Obama. Can't you?

Barack Obama joined Hillary in courting gays and lesbians by calling for the rollback of "don't ask, don't tell" -- without wanting to directly refute General Pace's comment that homosexuality is "immoral."

Newsday caught Obama as he was leaving the firefighters convention and asked him three times if he thought homsexuality is immoral.

Answer 1: "I think traditionally the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman has restricted his public comments to military matters. That's probably a good tradition to follow."

Answer 2: "I think the question here is whether somebody is willing to sacrifice for their country, should they be able to if they're doing all the things that should be done."

Answer 3: Signed autograph, posed for snapshot, jumped athletically into town car.

Why the dance? Maybe it has something to do with not wanting to alienate moderates -- or social conservatives, the churchfolk who view homosexuality as a sin.

At least Obama wasn't as bad as Hillary. But let's not kid ourselves. He wasn't better than her either. This is a clear and unfortunate lack in leadership. Another thing that is striking is that gays and lesbians should go to Iraq and Afghanistan and die for their country. That's basically what repeeling "don't ask, don't tell" is all about. If it were about equality for all, both Hillary and Obama could have unequivocally rebutted Gen. Pace's comments. However, they chose not to.

You wanna know who did?

The ranking Republican of the Senate Armed Services Committee sharply rebuked the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Tuesday, taking issue with General Peter Pace’s view that homosexual acts are immoral.

Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), a former Secretary of the Navy, said, “I respectfully but strongly disagree with the chairman’s view that homosexuality is immoral. In keeping with my longstanding respect for the Armed Services committee hearing process, I will decline to comment on the current policy until after such hearings are held.”

Yeah, you heard that right. An 80 year old Republican Senator from a southern red state "respectfully but strongly disagrees".

So, what can we make of this? Apparently, Hillary and Obama are willing to forgo the gay vote.

One can only hope that Stonewall Democrats (the GLBT group within the Democratic Party) will issue will stand up against any Democratic candidate for President who refuses to rebut Gen. Pace's statement that homosexuality is immoral. I wonder if Stonewall Democrats of Northern Nevada and Stonewall Democrats of Southern Nevada have to say about this. They'll be able to ask them when the candidates are in Las Vegas on March 24th for a forum on health care.

Blogger Outreach? What Blogger Outreach?

The following is a pretty interesting read. From The Hotline's Blogometer:

3/14: How Blog Outreach Is Done

WH '08ers can't seem to agree on how to title their official blog advisers (eCampaign Adviser, Blog Outreach Dir., and Dir. of Online Communications are a few choices), and most campaigns also have trouble defining how exactly their blog experts fit into their campaign. Each candidate's strengths in other areas ought to inform how they handle blogs, but Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) aide (he doesn't even have an official title) Patrick Hynes' push-back efforts 3/13 are a textbook example of how the job should be done. After a flurry of posts hit McCain for skipping the Club for Growth's winter conf., Hynes went to work emailing bloggers to let them know CFG only offered McCain dates to speak that coincided with a previously planned trip to Iraq. The retractions and updates Hynes netted his candidate both tampered down implications that he was dissing conservatives and reinforced McCain's strength on just about the only issue conservative bloggers back McCain on. This one episode is not going to magically swing bloggers to McCain's column, but it is an example of the vigilant defense WH '08ers must be prepared to play online.

Now, I have to say this is a very little blog and I would be surprised if there were a lot of "outreach" in this direction from presidential campaigns. That said, Nevada is now an early Caucus state and I haven't heard of much outreach to any Nevada blog. There was the case of Obama skipping the AFSCME forum in Carson City - no explanations, no outreach whatsoever. Then the Fox News debate controversy. The only outreach at all was by Edwards and Richardson to Kos, but only after he contacted them. None of the candidates did any outreach during this time to any Nevada blogs - as far as I know, at least there was none reporting in this respect on the two biggies, Reno and its Discontent and the Las Vegas Gleaner.

So, maybe, just maybe, Democrats could actually learn something from a Republican for a change!

End of rant.

Monday, March 12, 2007

For all the Dodd Fans out There - Backstage at the Daily Show

For all the Dodd fans and people who like the Daily Show. You can get a behind the scenes look while Dodd prepares for the Daily Show right now and also afterwards - live:

Your Backstage Pass to Senator Dodd on the Daily Show

Last Words on the Fox News Debate (Hopefully)

Barack Obama says he's "been called worse" in reaction to the joke by Fox News chef Ailes which was used as the official reason for cancelling the debate.

Dennis Kucinich attacks Edwards and Richardson (without directly naming them) for bowing out of the debate saying that it smacks of "manipulation by some candidates who would rather run and hide than defend their records and their positions on the war".

Ryan Grim at The Politico takes a behind the scenes look at the cancellation of the debate headlined "How Bloggers Killed The Fox Debate".

March Straw Poll at MyDD

Right now, you can vote in a straw poll over at MyDD by ranking candidates. When I voted Barack Obama was ahead of John Edwards in the final round by two votes.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

New Nevada Poll Worthless

Seems like I was right in wondering how soft the numbers of the new Nevada poll published yesterday were. As it turns out the sample was 600 regular voters with 240 Democrats. So, Hillary's lead in the poll is among 240 regular Democratic voters who weren't asked if they have attended a caucus before, if they will attend this caucus, or if they even know what a caucus is.
It's pretty incredible that a poll with 600 respondents should have a margin of error of 4 percent as they claim. That should be at least five in my opinion. Then take the 240 sample and you have a huge margin of error which makes the poll absolutely worthless.

This poll was commissioned by KRNV and the Reno Gazette-Journal. It's sad to see that they were not able to commission a poll worth talking about, one with a decent sample and without Gore and Clark who are clearly not running at this point (or ever).

For this reason Chris Bowers over at MyDD is actually considering fielding their own polls at four seperate times before the Nevada Caucus in January:

I am led to wonder if MyDD itself would be able to make up some of the gap. For a little under $10K (Update [2007-3-10 20:54:27 by Jonathan Singer]: The cost would be in the range of $9,500 TOTAL for the four polls), MyDD could commission Survey USA to conduct four polls in Nevada: one in March, one in June, one in September, and one in December. Compared to other polls that will come out on Nevada, we could make sure that only announced candidates were in the questioning, that undecideds were not pushed too hard, that second choices were given, that there was a decently sized sample, that there were lots of good demographic crosstabs, and still probably have a better likely voter screen than anyone else around. With four polls like this, we could build trend lines, and basically be the organization for Nevada polling during the 2007-8 nomination process.

So, much question to you is this: would you be interested in contributing money for a project such as this? We would not have to collect it all right away, and could instead hold fundraisers when it is time for the next poll. MyDD has also been saving some of our ad money for special projects like these, so we could cover some of the costs ourselves. My question to you is: would you contribute money in order for this project to get off the ground?

Fielding a decent poll costs money of course, money which the KRNV and RGJ apparently don't have. So, if you think this is a worthy endeavour, go over to MyDD let them know what you think and help them out.

LVRJ = Fox News! Says the LVRJ Editorial Board

So, the Las Vegas Review Journal editorial board went into ultra ranting mode over the cancelled Fox News debate. A rant which was conveniently linked to by both the Drudge Report and Any questions?

Well, yeah, actually. When you're in ranting mode over at your damn fine journalistic institution do you actually proof read your rant? What's that? No, you don't? Well, I didn't think so:

Hard-core liberals can't stand the Fox News Channel. Passing a television that's tuned to the conservative favorite forces many of them to close their eyes, cover their ears and scream, "La la la la la la la la la!" Then they dash to their computers and fire off 2,500 e-mails condemning the outlet, none of which are ever read. (Emphasis added)

Where did they come up with the "2,500 emails" part? Funny thing is, if you actually read Saturday's edition of the LVRJ you can easily figure out that the editorial board is not talking about the Fox News debate here, it is talking about itself. Here is their account of the Fox News cancellation:

The Democratic Party since had been hit with phone calls, e-mails, media attention and an online petition signed by more than 260,000 people, according to (Emphais added)

Ain't that just a little discrepancy. And here is their statement on their own little controversy - why they are sticking with dumbpundit Ann Coulter:

Several newspapers have dropped conservative syndicated columnist Ann Coulter from their pages after she used a homosexual slur last week, but two Nevada newspapers won't be joining the list.

The Review-Journal inbox has been flooded with more than 2,000 e-mails calling for the column's demise, but editorial page editor John Kerr said he would continue treating Coulter's columns as he always has -- by reading and running them on a case-by-case basis. (Emphasis added)

Essentially, the LVRJ was royally pissed about getting hit with a barrage of e-mails asking them to drop Coulter. What better way to let off steam about that than using the Fox News debate cancellation!

Thank God for Freudian slips! And good to know that letters to the editor of the Las Vegas Review Journal are never read if they contain an opinion contrary to LVRJ editorial board believes.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Edwards Sticks it to Fox

You gotta give it to Edwards. He's gutsy. From a campaign e-mail:

You may have heard by now that John Edwards was the first candidate to officially say no to the Fox News debate in Nevada—and because of the hard work of so many grassroots and netroots Democrats, news is breaking tonight that Fox is out.

Fox has already started striking back at John for saying no. (There's a surprise—Fox attacking a Democrat.) Last night, Roger Ailes—the life-long Republican operative who is now Chairman of Fox News Channel—said that any candidate "who believes he can blacklist any news organization is making a terrible mistake" and "runs a real risk of losing the voters."

And John's not their only target. Tonight Fox News Vice President David Rhodes is telling news organizations not to get involved in the Nevada Democratic Caucus because of "radical fringe" groups—meaning grassroots Democrats (that would be you)—who objected to Fox's long history of spreading Republican propaganda at the expense of Democratic leaders.

The whole right wing is getting in on the attack; the Drudge Report is blaring the headline: "War! Dems Pull Out of Fox News Debate."

Enough is enough. It's time to send a clear message to Fox News and their allies that their right-wing talking points and temper tantrums won't go unchallenged anymore—when it comes to what Democrats should do in the Democratic primary, we'll decide—no matter what they report:

Fox News has already proven they have no intention of providing "fair and balanced" coverage of any Democrat in this election.

In recent weeks they have run blatant lies about Senator Obama's background. And Fox was only too happy to give Ann Coulter a platform to spew more hate a few days after her bigoted attack on Senator Edwards and the gay community.

Now it's time for Democrats to stand together and send a clear message to Roger Ailes, Fox News and all the rest of them: bias isn't balance, but turning tables is fair:

The truth is, Fox News can "report" whatever they want. And when it works for us, we'll deal with them on our terms. But this campaign is about responsibility and accountability, and we need to send the message to Fox that if they want to be the corporate mouthpiece of the Republican Party more than they want to be an impartial news outlet, they shouldn't expect Democrats to play along.

You can send that message by contributing today, and remind Fox News that in this election, Democrats won't take their spin lying down:

Thank you for standing up for what we believe in.

Jonathan Prince
Deputy Campaign Manager
John Edwards for President

P.S. -- If the folks at Fox wonder why nobody thinks they play it straight, they should take a look at what Roger Ailes said about debates in 1988 when he was a top Republican spinmaster for then Vice President Bush: He told the Washington Post, "I don't know that we need to do more than one [debate]. There's no reason to think we'd need more than one." And he told the New York Times, "I don't think you learn anything about the issues" from debates. So please send Roger Ailes a message: Hypocrisy isn't fair and it isn't balanced; it's just hypocrisy—and we've had enough of it from you.

Hillary Leads in Nevada Poll

A Research 2000 poll shows Hillary with a lead in Nevada. From the Political Wire:

In Nevada, a new Research 2000 poll released today finds that Sen. Hillary Clinton leads among likely Democratic caucus voters with 32% support, followed by Sen. Barack Obama at 20%. John Edwards and Al Gore were tied for third place at 11%.

On the Republican side, Rudy Giuliani leads with 38% support, followed by Sen. John McCain at 18% and Newt Gingrich at 11%.

Some observations:

  • I don't know who commissioned the poll and no more details are currently available.
  • There must be somewhere between 10 to 20% undecideds as the combined tally for the top four is 74%.
  • Gore is in the poll even though he's not running (yet? ever?).
  • No mention of Richardson.
  • It's still very early
  • And finally: this is a caucus! Not a primary. So, I wonder how soft these numbers are. Only people who are really interested in a candidate will go to the caucus. Organization on the ground is everything.
  • As for the Republicans: McCain's numbers suck. He's below 20% and Arizona borders on Nevada. Ouch.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Tom Collins Denies Dropping Fox Debate

NV Dem Party Chair Tom Collins this afternoon denied dropping the Fox News Debate, even though Bill Richardson announced this afternoon that he would not participate in the debate after initially saying he would.

Tom Collins to the AP's Kathleen Hennessey:

Discussions continued Friday afternoon, even as and other Web sites declared the debate dead. Collins said the reports were untrue.

"No, we're not canceling, I am not canceling. We're not dropping Fox," he told The Associated Press.

Fox News spokeswoman Irena Briganti said Friday Fox had not received word from the party about the debate.

Thank goodness, the state party will get to elect a new chair by the end of the month.


This is the text of the letter to Fox News:

March 9, 2007
Marty Ryan
Executive Producer
Fox News Political Programs
202-824-6425 (fax)
400 N Capitol Street NW, Suite 550
Washington DC 20001

Dear Marty,

A month ago, the Nevada Democratic Party entered into a good faith
agreement with FOX News to co-sponsor a presidential debate in

This was done because the Nevada Democratic Party is reaching out to
new voters and we strongly believe that a Democrat will not win
Nevada unless we find new ways to talk to new people.

To say the least, this was not a popular decision. But it is one
that the Democratic Party stood by. However, comments made last
night by FOX News President Roger Ailes in reference to one of our
presidential candidates went too far. We cannot, as good Democrats,
put our party in a position to defend such comments.

In light of his comments, we have concluded that it is not possible
to hold a Presidential debate that will focus on our candidates and
are therefore canceling our August debate. We take no pleasure in
this, but it is the only course of action.


Tom Collins Harry Reid

Chairman, Nevada State Democratic Party U.S. Senator (D-NV)

NV Dems Pull Fox Debate!

Wow, this comes rather unexpected. But sometimes these things always happen on a Friday afternoon in the hope it'll be buried with the weekend papers and not resurface on Monday. However, I just cannot believe that will happen with this story:

"Nevada Dems Nix Fox Debate" writes The Politico. They had no comment yet from either the State Party or Fox News. One can assume though that after all the protests, the distancing done by Harry Reid, and Edwards pulling out this might have sealed the deal:

FOX News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes gave the progressive activists more ammunition on Thursday when he jokingly compared Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, to Osama bin Laden.

This might be hurtful to the State Party in the short run. However with Tom Collins leaving at the end of the month and Jill Derby most likely to take over, the party will get over this.

What do I believe, though, is that Fox News will be deeply hurt by this. "Fair and Balanced" is definitely done with.


From Kos:

So it's official, though I'm still waiting for an official statement from the Nevada Democratic Party and maybe even Harry Reid.

The Big Winner: the Progressive movement, which came together at all levels -- netroots, grassroots, and even some institutional players.

The other Big Winner: John Edwards, whose early leadership dropping out of the debate spurred intense media coverage (hence pressure) and fueled its demise.

Snatched victory from the jaws of defeat: Richardson, who announced he was pulling out just an hour or so before the official demise of the debate. He would've been left isolated, the only candidate to agree to a now-dead debate. Spared by the hair on his chinny chin chin.

Mild loser: The other campaigns, especially Obama, who could've shown some leadership and hit back at the network that has been tormenting them with non-stop smear attacks. Instead, they played it safe.

The Big Loser: Fox News, which will now face a whole new round of stories discussing their "conservative bias" and propaganda function. For a network that wanted this debate to obscure their partisan purpose, this is the worst of all worlds.

Next up: Will the Congressional Black Caucus team up with Fox for its own debate?


Apparently Fox News is such a good news organization that it doesn't respond to journalists, like The Politico's Ryan Grim, but is very quick to give something to the right wing Drudge Report (and, yes, I hate to quote him):

“We have not received official word from the Nevada State Democratic Party disclosing a change in debate plans. Rumors are being circulated and if true, news organizations will want to think twice before getting involved in the Nevada Democratic Caucus which appears to be controlled by radical fringe out-of-state interest groups, not the Nevada Democratic Party. In the past, has said they ‘own’ the Democratic party—while most Democrats don’t agree with that, we’re waiting to see if that’s the case in Nevada.” -- David Rhodes, Vice President, Fox News...

That Fox News is lashing out like this and is doing so this quickly just proves how much this hurts them.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

NV County Chairs and Executive Board Members Support Fox News Debate

A bunch of Democratic County Chairs and State Party Executive Board members have released a statement in support of the planned Fox News Debate:

Executive Board Members and County Chairs Support August Debate

CONTACT: Liz Foley Chairwoman Clark County Democratic Party

March 8,

We, the undersigned, appreciate the efforts State Democratic Party Chairman Tom Collins has made to address concerns regarding the August presidential debate in Reno, NV. We believe the latest proposal is reasonable and addresses most of the concerns raised by MOVEON and others.

Not all of us originally supported the idea of working with FOX, but many of us did because we know that a significant number of Nevadans - including Democrats - watch the network, and we want to use the opportunity of our early caucus to reach out to those viewers.

We all want to work together to unify our party, move forward and address the pressing issues that all Nevadans and Americans grapple with each and every day. Ultimately, that's the reason why we are all Democrats and why we care so passionately about the Nevada caucus.

We look forward to the August debate, when the Democratic presidential candidates will have the opportunity to reach out to voters in Northern Nevada and throughout the West as we focus on Western issues.

We pledge to do everything we can to ensure this debate is a success.


Chris Wicker, Washoe County Democratic Chairman

Liz Foley, Clark County Democratic Chairwoman|

Cindy Trigg, Douglas County Democratic Co-Chairwoman

Lance Whitney, chair, Elko Democratic Party

Kristian Forland, vice chair, Elko Democratic Party

Ron Hibble, Lincoln County Democratic Chairman

Teresa Williams, Chair, Lyon County Democratic Central Committee

Loyal Watkins, Nye County Democratic Chairman

Teresa Benitez Thompson, First Vice Chair

Bud Orange, 2nd Vice Chairman and Douglas County Democratic Chairman

A’shanti Fayshel Gholar, Secretary

Tom Carns, Clark At-large Executive Board member

Greg Esposito, Clark At-large Executive Board member

Bonnie Jacobs, Clark At-large Executive Board member

Steve Fernlund, Clark At-large Executive Board member

Jack Mallory, Clark At-large Executive Board member

Anita Hara, Washoe County At-large Executive Board member

Mathew J. Dickson, Washoe County At-Large Executive Board Member/Treasurer Washoe County Democratic Party

Jo Ann Orange, Rural At-large Executive Board member

Ed Goodrich, Washoe County At-large Executive Board member

While several rural county chairs and those of the two largest counties (Clark and Washoe) have signed this statement, it's interesting who hasn't signed it and is therefore not supporting the debate. Two people I notice absent from this list would be Executive Board member Michael Zahara and the chair of the Carson City Democratic Party which has of course passed a resolution against the debate.

As to the substance of their argument:

Not all of us originally supported the idea of working with FOX, but many of us did because we know that a significant number of Nevadans - including Democrats - watch the network, and we want to use the opportunity of our early caucus to reach out to those viewers.

This reasoning doesn't make any sense. Does anyone honestly believe that those watching Fox News are only getting their "news" from Fox? That these voters are not interested in local news and are therefore not watching local stations? I don't presume anyone would. So this reasoning doesn't stand it's ground. If you want to reach voters in Nevada, why not air the debate on a local station?

Differing Thoughts on the Fox News Debate

Contrary to Nevada Dem Party Chair Tom Collins believe that his proposed changes to the Fox News Debate would quiet things down, tensions seem to be rising.

Carson City Democrats passed a resolution against the debate last night:

Carson City Democratic Central Committee
March 7, 2007

WHEREAS, Fox News is not a neutral source of news – it’s a right-wing mouthpiece like Rush Limbaugh that smears Democrats and spreads blatantly false information; and

WHEREAS, Democrats granting Fox News the illusion of credibility would allow Fox to more easily “swiftboat” our 2008 candidates by pushing false Republican attacks into the mainstream media; and

WHEREAS, everyone supports reaching out to new people, but 1 day of Fox coverage is not worth legitimizing Fox’s misinformation the other 364 days a year; and

WHEREAS, plenty of better alternatives exist to Fox News – in Nevada, MSNBC plus its NBC affiliates, for example, get approximately double the viewers of Fox cable plus its local affiliates; and

WHEREAS, we believe that Democrats need to fight back against Fox News and the right-wing smear machine in the 2008 election cycle—not enable it.

BE IT RESOLVED, the Carson City Democratic Central Committee opposes the proposal to let Fox News host a Democratic presidential debate and strongly urges the Nevada Democratic Party to drop that proposal.

Of course, this got the attention of Kos.

Meanwhile, some are not so happy with the actions of national blogs and Cls at Blue Lyon is not too happy with what's been happening. His conclusion: "I'm done with"

An excerpt:

And now, they are at it again. Yeah, yeah, they hate Fox. So do I.

But they are attacking the Nevada Democratic Party and right now have an email out calling on its members to phone the state Dem office to object to the Fox debate. So, the phones are jammed down south, and any work that should be getting done with regards to our upcoming caucus is on hold. All hands are on deck fielding calls and the circular firing squad is in full swing.

And while MoveOn is great about publishing everyone else's phone numbers, if anyone can find a phone number to contact them anywhere on their site, please leave it in the comments, because I can't find it.

I'm done. MoveOn, Kiss Off.

No doubt, the decision to let Fox News host a Democratic presidential debate has surely caused some bad blood. All around. Well done, Mr. Collins. In the end I can only agree with Michael Zahara:

Mike Zahara, an at-large delegate to the state party's executive board who has been critical of the Fox debate, said he appreciated the party's efforts, but that the candidates themselves would ultimately determine the event's fate.

They sure will. Currently Richardson is in, Edwards is out and everybody else is non-committal.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Tom Collins Offers Fox News Debate "Compromise" Including Air America

After Edwards jumped ship, Nevada State Party Chairman Tom Collins is forced to backpaddle:

March 7, 2007

Dear Nevada Democrats:

As you know, the Nevada State Democratic Party has agreed to host a debate with FOX News that has caused some concern among some of our activist allies. Because FOX has such an editorial bias against Democrats, some of our allies believe that we should have chosen another media partner. Senator Reid shares some of these concerns and has asked us to take another look at the parameters of this debate in order to ensure that all Democrats are comfortable as we move forward.

Our objective in hosting the August debate with FOX has not been to endorse the FOX News Channel. Our objective with this debate is the same as our objective in hosting an early Nevada Caucus in general -- to have as many opportunities for Nevada voters and voters throughout the West to hear directly from the candidates for president as possible. That is why our first forum was hosted with ABC News as the broadcaster, our November debate will be hosted by CNN and the final debate in January 2008 will be hosted with another outlet.

In planning the debate, the Nevada Democratic Party has been aware of the intricacies of dealing with FOX and so we secured assurances from them that the details of the debate were mutually agreed upon such as format, panelists, set design, and the assurance of an uninterrupted broadcast without commentary. FOX has also agreed to carry the debate live on KVVU, the affiliate in Las Vegas where most Nevada voters live. Other affiliates may follow. We believe that these details will assure that voters have the opportunity to focus on the candidates and the issues and not the panelists or commentators for an uninterrupted 90 minutes.

Since reaching that agreement with FOX we were heartened to hear from so many people who supported our decision to reach out to voters wherever they may be, including those watching FOX News. The state parties of Arizona, Montana, Colorado and New Mexico joined in support of our decision along with DNC Chairman Howard Dean, many members of the Nevada media and the leaders of the Nevada AFL-CIO, Culinary Union and Professional Firefighters Association. While one of our state party’s Executive Board members has been vocally opposed to the debate, several party leaders have expressed support, including:

* Chris Wicker, Washoe County Chair:

* Tom Gallagher, 2004 candidate for Congress from NV-03

However we decided to take a step back and make our best effort to address the concerns that have been raised including:

* Many Democrats will want to watch or listen to the debate without supporting the FOX News Channel.

* There was a desire to include a panelist from a more progressive outlet, such as Air America, to ensure balance at the questioners table.

* There was also a desire to bolster a progressive media outlet, such as Air America or Politics TV that could use the opportunity to grow its constituency.

In answer to these concerns, we have secured an agreement to invite KJFK radio, the local Air America affiliate, to air the event live and C-Span will be able to carry the debate twice in its entirety after the conclusion of FOX’s broadcast. Additionally, the Nevada Democratic Party has an agreement to invite a local progressive voice onto the debate panel.

We will also offer the ability to carry the live FOX News web cast feed on its site for one-time viewing. If PoliticsTV agrees, this will give national viewers who do not wish to watch FOX the ability to watch the debate live while bolstering a progressive leaning organization.

With these additions, we feel that we have addressed the concerns of our activists and our own objectives:

* To keep the debate focused on the candidates and allow unfiltered access for our viewers.

* To keep the debate focused on the issues important to Nevada voters.

* To ensure that the most people possible have access to the debate and the candidates.

With these changes, we believe we have made a good-faith effort to address the concerns laid out to us and look forward to working with the candidates and our local supporters to ensuring the best debate possible.


Tom Collins
Nevada Democratic Party

This all looks quite preliminary, and in its preliminary state feels like some people are starting to panick. Supposedly, at 11.45 PST a conference call of the Executive Board was supposed to take place. If the time of that call was not changed this, again, was a unilateral decision by Tom Collins. Let's hope it's not.

Asking a local Air America affiliate along at this stage is simply not enough. In this point I can only agree with both Kos and Matt Stoller that it's too little, too late. Before Edwards' announced decision not to take part in the debate this might have done. Now, it just won't.

It also speaks volumes that they want to "invite a local progressive voice onto the debate panel", but are not ready to name names and have probably not contacted anyone yet. And "a local progressive voice". Who is that supposed to be? Myrna the Minx?

And than reread this:

We will also offer the ability to carry the live FOX News web cast feed on its site for one-time viewing. If PoliticsTV agrees, this will give national viewers who do not wish to watch FOX the ability to watch the debate live while bolstering a progressive leaning organization.

Tom Collins dares to mention PoliticsTV in his mail, yet has not received an agreement with PoliticsTV and you have to wonder whether they even asked. This whole statement reeks of pandering and panic. Geez!

Hillary, Edwards Hire Campaign Staff in Nevada

It's interesting to see how the presidential candidates assemble their Nevada staff, especially who they pick. Obama picked Alyson Schwartz and David Cohen, both with Nevada experience, Richardson's campaign team also has Nevada experience:

Richardson was the first to hire staff in Nevada. His Nevada campaign chairman is Reynaldo Martinez, a former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Richardson also has a Nevada communications director, Josh McNeil, and has field organizers for Northern Nevada, Southern Nevada and rural Nevada - Teresa Navarro, Javier Trujillo and Michael Tassone, respectively.

While Hillary's Nevada campaign manager Robby Mook is from outside the state her recent hirings are all from inside the state:

The Northern Nevada political director, Pam DuPre, is a former executive director of the Washoe County Democratic Party.

Alisa Naze, the Southern Nevada political director, previously was the finance coordinator for the failed gubernatorial campaign of Democratic nominee Dina Titus.

The communications director is another former Titus staffer, Hilarie Grey, who was head of communications for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, before joining Titus' campaign last year.

Deputy Field Director Brian DiMarzio worked as the Nevada Democratic Party's canvass director during last year's election and previously worked for the AFL-CIO union in Nevada.

So, it seems somewhat peculiar that Edwards' team is completely from out-of-state:

The Edwards campaign said Bill Hyers will lead operations in Nevada as state director. Hyers worked on the former North Carolina senator's 2004 presidential campaign in Iowa. He recently was a campaign manager for Kristen Gillibrand's successful congressional campaign in New York.

Edwards' Nevada political director, Roberto Rodriguez, was the state director for the California Voter Registration Project in 2004 and the managing director for LLAMAME, an organization that tailors communications in Spanish and English, the campaign said.

Preston Elliot, a former field staffer on Rep. Dick Gephardt's 2004 campaign in Iowa, will be Edwards' Nevada field director. Oscar Lopez, a regional field director for Patricia Madrid's 2006 congressional race in New Mexico, will act as Nevada trip director. Kelly Harlow, who worked on Edwards' 2004 bid in Iowa, will act as Nevada regional field director.

I guess, we'll have to wait and see whether or not that was a smart move.

On an editorial note: Molly Ball contradicts herself in her article on the Hillary hirings when stating that she has "the largest campaign staff in the state so far". At my count Hillary's has now a paid staff of five (Molly surely wasn't counting Rory Reid and Frankie Sue Del Papa?) and Richardson also has a paid staff of five. I'm not counting Edwards' staff as that news must have come after Molly wrote her article. One would hope that reporters would still be able to count to five...