Hillary, Barack try civility

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama struck a rare note of civility in their White House battle, uniting to observe that history was in the air as the Democrats vie to seize back the presidency.

A star-studded audience at the Kodak Theatre — home of the Oscars — was on hand late Thursday for their first one-on-one debate, but the drama and backbiting seen in previous encounters was replaced by a polite exchange of policy priorities.

Super Tuesday: A not-so-super idea

The race among the states to have earlier contests in order to share in the attention the press and politicians lavish on Iowa and New Hampshire has given us Super Tuesday, or, as the more breathless are calling Feb. 5, Tsunami Tuesday.

In a campaign scheduler’s nightmare, 22 states will hold Democratic primaries; 21, Republican.

Experience is more important than charisma

Voting for any candidate at any level requires a leap of faith and that is particularly the case in a presidential election, even when one has a strong party affiliation. Quite often, the most appropriate guide is the old adage that the devil you know is better than the one you don’t.

Romney’s free ride on abortion

One of campaign 2008′s mysteries is Mitt Romney’s free ride from anti-abortion advocates. His anti-abortion declarations are eloquent, as is everything else the silver-tongued former Massachusetts governor utters. But, once again, his rhetoric is at war with his record.

Negative campaigns: Yes and no

As is the case with beauty, wit and cuisine, negative politics occurs in the eye of the beholder, or in this case, the voter.

The 2008 presidential campaign has turned rough, which is no surprise in an election where so much is at stake. This week’s Exhibit A was Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy’s endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama for president over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Kennedy’s move was motivated, at least in part, because he was upset with negative shots at Obama taken by former President Bill Clinton on behalf of his wife’s campaign.

Not much sympathy for Rudy

In what used to be the shadow of the World Trade Center, it was hard to find much sympathy for former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as he exited the presidential race.

“People liked him back in the day. But it’s over,” sidewalk salesman Irving Puryear declared, standing on the same patch of Broadway where he was forced to run from a cloud of debris and dust following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Voters want a champion

Americans have a decidedly dour view of how things are going in the country and an outsized view of what one person — the president — can do about it.

In a year when talk of change is all the rage in the presidential campaign, people have great expectations for the next president’s ability to get things done, according to an extensive Associated Press-Yahoo News survey released Thursday.

Sparks fly as GOP Presidential race heats up

Republican Mitt Romney accused John McCain of using dirty tricks by suggesting the former Massachusetts governor wanted a deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, in a spirited debate Wednesday night that underscored the intensity of their presidential rivalry.

Coming 24 hours after McCain defeated him in Florida, Romney vented his frustrations over the Arizona senator’s claims from last weekend.

“I have never, ever supported a specific timetable” for withdrawing troops, Romney said. McCain’s accusation on the eve of Tuesday’s primary, he said, “sort of falls into the dirty tricks that I think Ronald Reagan would have found reprehensible.”

There has to be a better way

Politics is an honorable and, in a democracy, essential calling and at the pinnacle of that field is the American presidency. What we require our candidates to go through to get there verges on the sadistic.

Once again, Florida becomes a benchmark

Florida is the last sizable state to vote for presidential candidates in advance of “Super Tuesday” on Feb. 5, which will involve more than 20 states. While the Sunshine State holds both Democratic and Republican primaries, this year the latter is far more significant. John McCain’s narrow victory, giving him 57 Republican delegates from the state, reinforces his already strong comeback campaign.