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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


We’ve reached the final stage of the pre-voting segment of the 2008 presidential campaign, and the ancient rituals of late candidate endorsements are playing out.
The big news yesterday was that the Des Moines Register, the rare newspaper that can actually affect votes, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, giving her campaign a much-needed psychological boost going into the home stretch in Iowa (The Register‘s endorsement of John McCain on the other side is less influential, but could help him create some buzz towards a possible third- or fourth-place finish in Iowa).
Though the Register summarily dismissed John Edwards (who received their endorsement four years ago) as the purveyor of “harsh anti-corporate rhetoric,” he received the endorsement of Mari Culver, Iowa’s First Lady. This was hardly a surprise. Culver, a trial lawyer, caucused for Edwards four years ago, and while her husband, Governor Chet Culver, is officially neutral, his own political operation is full of Edwards supporters. The move will remind a lot of Iowans of the influential endorsement of John Kerry in 2004 by then-First Lady Christie Vilsack.
Meanwhile, back on the Republican side, McCain got another endorsement from a source who will raise a lot more eyebrows than the Des Moines Register: Joe Lieberman. Given their longstanding alliance on issues ranging from Iraq to cap-and-trade, and Lieberman’s near-total estrangement from the Democratic Party, the endorsement is hardly a surprise (I’m sure the happiest man in politics today is my former colleague Marshall Wittmann, the McCainiac who is now Lieberman’s communications director). But it does illustrate how rapidly some elements of what used to be thought of as the “center” have moved hard right in the crucible of contemporary poltics. Lest we forget, had the U.S. Supreme Court not intervened eight years ago, it’s likely that Joe Lieberman would be wrapping up his second term as Al Gore’s Vice President (and perhaps as his designated successor), and under another near-miss scenario, John McCain could be stumping the nation right now for a second term for John Kerry, as his Vice President. Instead, McCain is desperately struggling to become the conservative movement’s savior amidst the wreakage of a weak presidential field, and now Lieberman’s joined him. You have to figure that the odds of Lieberman again voting for Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader in 2009 have gone down to zero, which will be fine with Democrats assuming they pick up the additional seat necessary to finally bid Lieberman adieu.
UPCATEGORY: Democratic Strategist

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