Politics

Huckabee cuts back on expenses

Battling to stay competitive after his weekend loss in South Carolina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is taking new steps to save money, including no longer scheduling planes and buses for journalists trying to cover his presidential campaign.

Huckabee said he will continue to campaign in Florida on a shoestring budget, but added that he may pull out of the state before its Jan. 29 Republican primary if his prospects look dim.

Democrats get down & dirty

Democratic presidential rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama accused each other of repeatedly and deliberately distorting the truth for political gain Monday night in a highly personal, finger-wagging debate that ranged from the war in Iraq to Bill Clinton’s role in the campaign.

Obama told the former first lady he was helping unemployed workers on the streets of Chicago when “you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart.”

Moments later, Clinton said that she was fighting against misguided Republican policies “when you were practicing law and representing your contributor … in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.”

Obama seemed particularly irritated at the former president, whom he accused in absentia of uttering a series of distortions to aid his wife’s presidential effort.

“I’m here. He’s not,” she snapped.

Americans abroad can vote on-line

This year, for the first time, expatriate Democrats can cast their ballots on the Internet in a presidential primary for people living outside the United States.

Democrats Abroad, an official branch of the party representing overseas voters, will hold its first global presidential preference primary from Feb. 5 to 12, with ex-pats selecting the candidate of their choice by Internet as well as fax, mail and in-person at polling places in more than 100 countries.

Luck vs. experience

Much has been made in the Democratic presidential campaign of “experience” — Hillary Rodham Clinton’s versus Barack Obama’s.

From the biographer’s and historian’s perspectives this is an interesting point. Clinton’s first political experience was as a Young Republican, then as a student activist alongside her boyfriend at Yale Law School, Democrat Bill Clinton. Following him to Fayetteville, she taught law at the University of Arkansas and then became a corporate lawyer, once he stood for Arkansas attorney general and governor.

Time for a meaningful election?

Each GOP primary produces a new winner, none of them the longtime national frontrunner. Meanwhile, the Democrats feature a tight race between an African-American and a woman — pure history in the making. It can’t get any better than that, the upshot being I might actually cast a ballot that matters for the first time in my life!

Hillary has momentum now

Political momentum now shifted her way, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton flew to Missouri, a key Feb. 5 battleground state, while rival Barack Obama hoped to rejuvenate his candidacy with the help of black voters in the South.

“Now we’re back here in the Midwest, where I’m from. I’m so happy to see all of you,” Clinton, a Chicago native, said to cheers at a campaign rally late Saturday in this St. Louis suburb.

A reshuffled political landscape

Republican John McCain and Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton were victors in contentious nominating contests, but neither party can claim front-runners as early presidential contests give way to big-state battles.

McCain, an Arizona senator, bested Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, in a South Carolina fight that focused on the economy. McCain was defeated here in 2000 by George W. Bush.

“Thank you, my friends, and thank you, South Carolina, for bringing us across the finish line first in the first-in-the-South primary. It took us a while. But what’s eight years among friends,” McCain told a boisterous crowd of supporters at a victory rally.

Attention turns to Florida, which votes on Jan. 29, followed by contests in 22 states on February 5.

The Republican rollercoaster

The Republican presidential race, it appears, has taken on the qualities of a kaleidoscope.

Every primary or caucus, the winner looks inside and sees something else, underscoring the volatile nature of a 2008 nominating contest that is still moving toward clarity.

Leading contenders are emerging, hangers-on are dropping away and in less than 10 days, the viability of Rudy Giuliani’s unconventional political strategy will be judged in plain view.

McCain wins South Carolina

Sen. John McCain won a hard-fought South Carolina primary Saturday night, avenging a bitter personal defeat in a bastion of conservatism and gaining ground in an unpredictable race for the Republican presidential nomination. Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama split the spoils in Nevada caucuses marred by late charges of dirty politics.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” McCain told The Associated Press in an interview. He quickly predicted that his victory in the first southern primary would help him next week when Florida votes, and again on Feb. 5 when more than two dozen states hold primaries and caucuses.

Clinton, Romney capture Nevada

Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won the Nevada caucuses Saturday, powering past Sen. Barack Obama in a hard-fought race marred by late charges of dirty politics. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney coasted to an easy win in the Republican contest.

The victory marked a second-straight campaign triumph for the former first lady, who scored a New Hampshire primary upset last week and is locked in a historic, increasingly tense struggle with Obama.