Obama, Huckabee take Iowa

Illinois Senator Barack Obama and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won the Iowa caucuses Thursday night, establishing themselves as the early frontrunners for the Democratic and Republican Presidential nominations and handing two earlier favorites crushing losses.

Mitt Romney, who outspent other Republicans 10-1, will finish a distant second while former Democratic frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton in third place, close behind former Senator John Edwards.

Fred Thompson will bow out after Iowa

Fred Dalton Thompson, the sometimes politician, sometimes actor and last to enter the Republican race for President, will be the first one to drop out after tonight’s Iowa caucus if he finishes poorly and all indications show that he will come in near the bottom.

Republican insiders tell Capitol Hill Blue Thompson will withdraw before the New Hampshire primary and endorse John McCain.

“He’s finished,” said a longtime GOP consultant working in Iowa. “His campaign was finished before it even began.”

Immigration: The hot button issue

Pat Ricutti is a diehard Republican voter, but he laments what he’s hearing from GOP presidential contenders about illegal immigration.

The Fresno fruit and grape farmer gave money to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani last February at a fundraiser. He said he won’t be giving him or any other candidate a dime more at this point, though, until he starts hearing alternatives to calling for millions of illegal immigrants to be shipped off or pressured to leave voluntarily.

Mitt Romney is a dangerous man

Some 25 years ago, when I was young and stupid, I was swept off my feet by Jonathan Schell’s book “The Fate of the Earth.” Schell’s argument consisted of three propositions.

First, he set out to prove that a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union would be a very bad thing. It’s fair to say he succeeded.

One-word debates

Almost four decades ago, when the environmentalist movement was just being birthed, The Washington Post’s editorial page icon Meg Greenfield put it into perspective by observing that in her formative years, the only time anyone ever mentioned the word “environment” was after someone else had uttered the word “heredity.”

The bizarre ritual called Iowa

The Iowa presidential caucuses have become such an accepted part of the political calendar it’s easy to forget what bizarre rituals they are.

But on 6:30 Thursday, if turnout is as expected, 150,000 Iowa Democrats and 80,000 Republicans will gather in public libraries and church basements in 1,784 precincts to propel one or more of a dozen possible candidates to their party’s nomination. Or not. Some years, like 2004 and 2000, it works. Other times it doesn’t.

Trouble in Hillary’s paradise

Democratic Presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton plans a “campaign-wide house cleaning” if she loses the opening primary season races in Iowa and New Hampshire,” sources within here beleaguered organization tell Capitol Hill Blue.

“Heads will roll,” says one campaign operative. “The word is out.”

Campaign sources say the one-time Democratic Presidential front runner is “clearly agitated and pissed off” at a seemingly unending string of screwups and gaffes by her once smooth-running organization and has expressed her “obvious displeasure” at what she sees as sloppiness within the election effort.

Obama leads latest Iowa poll

Presidential contenders rang in the 2008 election year with near-constant campaigning on Monday as a poll showed Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mike Huckabee leading their rivals with three days remaining before the Iowa caucuses.

Anonymous phone calls and a negative campaign commercial that vanished into thin air also spiced the race, and not even New Year’s Eve was off-limits to campaign oratory.

One political stunt too many?

Mike Huckabee may have finally gone too far.

After running an unconventional, surprisingly strong and sometimes strange race to the top tier of the Republican presidential campaign, the former Arkansas governor topped himself Monday with an eyebrow-raising campaign stunt.

He called a news conference to unveil a negative ad that he had just withdrawn from Iowa television stations because, he told a room full of journalists recording the ad, he had a sudden aversion to negative politics. Quite a convenient epiphany.

Stepping up the pace

New polls Sunday showed Democrats waging a desperate single-digit struggle four days before Iowa’s leadoff US presidential nominating contest, and Republican Mitt Romney on the rebound.

Former Democratic vice-presidential nominee John Edwards put on a spurt in one new survey, and Hillary Clinton led another, with Barack Obama closing out a nervy dead heat heading into Iowa’s critical caucuses on Thursday.