Politics

A chink in McCain’s inevitability?

Sen. John McCain stumbled in the first elections since becoming the apparent Republican nominee for president, losing the Kansas caucuses as another round of states voted Saturday.

Despite losing to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in Kansas, McCain is all but assured his party nod. The Arizona senator has rolled up huge numbers of delegates to the national convention: Before Saturday, he had 719 delegates to Huckabee’s 234. Mitt Romney, who suspended his campaign last week, had 298.

Obama sweeps, Huckabee scores two wins

Sen. Barack Obama swept the Louisiana primary and caucuses in Nebraska and Washington state Saturday night, slicing into Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s slender delegate lead in their historic race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Illinois senator also won caucuses in the Virgin Islands, completing his best night of the campaign.

“Today, voters from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast to the heart of America stood up to say ‘yes we can’” Obama told a cheering audience of Democrats at a party dinner in Richmond, Va.

Obama leads Clinton by two delegates

Three days after the voting ended, the race for Democratic delegates in Super Tuesday’s contests was still too close to call. With nearly 1,600 delegates from Tuesday contests awarded, Sen. Barack Obama led by two delegates Friday night, with 91 delegates still to be awarded. Obama won 796 delegates in Tuesday’s contests, to 794 for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to an analysis of voting results by The Associated Press.

In the Republican contest, Sen. John McCain had a commanding lead in the race for delegates.

McCain works to keep things in perspective

John McCain got here by keeping it real. A bus to drive him. A microphone when he arrived. Coffee and doughnuts to keep him going.

They fueled a mind and a mouth that never stopped running, delivering the kind of straight talk people liked so much when he ran for president eight years ago. It helped rescue his campaign from near-collapse last summer. It revived his chances of becoming the Republican nominee.

Now, on the verge of doing just that, McCain is trying to figure out how to keep being John McCain.

Following the money: a new campaign issue

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign is offering a daily peek into their presidential fundraising, reassuring donors and supporters and prodding them into maintaining a healthy rate of income.

Sen. Barack Obama’s camp on Friday demanded more than a peek, calling on Clinton to release her tax returns considering the $5 million loan she recently made to her campaign. The Clinton camp said she would make her returns public only if she is the Democratic Party’s eventual nominee.

“There’s an awful lot of information public about Senator Clinton’s finances,” spokesman Howard Wolfson said.

McCain’s reversal of fortune

Super Tuesday was carefully engineered to decisively settle who would be the party’s nominee. And it did. But it was the wrong nominee.

It’s Republican John McCain who has the clear path to the nomination after Mitt Romney bowed to the inevitable and called it quits Thursday.

It wasn’t supposed to happen that way. Hillary Clinton cultivated the role of the “inevitable” nominee and her operatives in the Democratic Party amassed a bloc of primaries and caucuses where her superior organization, name recognition and funding would deliver a knockout to whatever rivals were still standing.

The joke is on the pundits

It’s great when the voters turn their backs on conventional wisdom!

We pundits said that almost certainly we’d all know the Republican and Democratic nominees on Feb. 5. Ha!

We said John McCain was political dead meat. Ha!

We said Barack Obama would quickly fall to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s big money, big momentum and big organization. Ha!

A few said Rudolph Giuliani was unstoppable. Ha!

Some thought Mitt Romney would catch fire because of his money, good looks and business acumen, despite his changing views. Ha!

McCain is what Republicans need

Before my more conservative friends start leaping from buildings over Sen. John McCain’s presidential primary victories, let me try to coax them back in from the ledge. Despite his myriad apostasies (e.g. McCain-Feingold’s free-speech limits, anti-ANWR-oil-drilling votes, a mixed tax-cut record, creeping Kyotoism and cold feet on waterboarding), the Arizona Republican could do for fiscal responsibility what Ronald Reagan did for tax relief.

Obama and his lobbyists

It was the night of Super Tuesday, and there was Barack Obama in full-throated splendor, saying that teachers, cooks and kitchen workers were with him in his effort to keep a particularly threatening group from running Washington anymore.

And who are these baddies he was referring to? Why, they are lobbyists, which is to say, they are people working on behalf of these teachers, cooks and kitchen workers, of citizens concerned about all sorts of issues from civil liberties to gun control, of businesses, unions and advocacy groups.

Choosing the lesser of two evils

Ann Coulter says she’d rather vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton than John McCain. Rush Limbaugh has suggested he’d rather see the Democrats take the White House than a McCain win. James Dobson said he’d stay home rather than cast a vote in a contest between McCain and any opponent.

Such threats aren’t confined to the GOP. Michelle Obama — Barack’s wife — said she would “have to think” about supporting the Democratic ticket if Clinton wins the party’s nomination.

What’s happening to party unity? Should voters stay home rather than support the lesser of two evils?