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.

The coming fight over Florida’s delegates

Contravening conventional wisdom once again, I take issue with this Associated Press report coming out of the Florida primary:

“Hillary Rodham Clinton finished Tuesday’s Florida Democratic primary with more votes than any other Democrat, but the event drew no campaigning by any of her presidential rivals and awarded no delegates to the winner.”

Some day, race will disappear as an issue

Comedian Bill Maher had it right –did no one notice Barack Obama was black before South Carolina?

Up to that primary, the contenders handled race rather responsibly. But in the heat of competition, the race factor came up in a nuanced, inexplicit way. Defensive sensitivities then surged forward.

Hillary Rodham Clinton simply over-credited Lyndon Johnson by saying Martin Luther King’s dream didn’t get realized until Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act. Of course, it took a movement to get him and Congress to that point.

McCain is on a roll

John McCain has taken pole position in the Republican White House race, having secured Rudolph Giuliani’s endorsement and with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger poised to follow suit.

Fresh from a crucial victory in Tuesday’s Florida primary, the Arizona senator won the key backing of Giuliani Wednesday as the former New York mayor and hero of 9/11 announced his exit from the race.

Edwards suspends campaign

Democrat John Edwards bowed out of the race for the White House on Wednesday, saying it was time to step aside “so that history can blaze its path” in a campaign now left to Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

“With our convictions and a little backbone we will take back the White House in November,” said Edwards, ending his second campaign in a hurricane-ravaged section of New Orleans where he began it more than a year ago.

Edwards said Clinton and Obama had both pledged that “they will make ending poverty central to their campaign for the presidency.”

Edwards drops Presidential run

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who focused his bid for the Democratic nomination on helping the middle class, will withdraw from the presidential race in a speech later on Wednesday.

A campaign official said Edwards would announce his decision to pull out during a speech in New Orleans at 1 p.m. EST.

Edwards has not won a single contest in the Democratic race for president, and lags behind front-runners Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in public opinion polls.

McCain becomes a frontrunner

Sen. John McCain won a breakthrough triumph in the Florida primary Tuesday night, seizing the upper hand in the Republican presidential race ahead of next week’s coast-to-coast contests and lining up a quick endorsement from soon-to-be dropout Rudy Giuliani.

“It shows one thing: I’m the conservative leader who can unite the party,” McCain told The Associated Press after easing past former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for his first-ever triumph in a primary open only to Republicans.

“We have a ways to go, but we’re getting close” to the nomination, he said later in an appearance before cheering supporters.