Politics

Huckabee’s glossed-over record

Mike Huckabee’s presidential rivals are pointing to chinks in his record as Arkansas’ governor — from ethics complaints to tax increases to illegal immigration and his support for releasing a rapist who was later convicted of killing a Missouri woman.

The Republican presidential candidate has plenty to champion from his 10 1/2 years as governor — including school improvements and health insurance for the children of the working poor. But his record has rough edges, and Huckabee has a habit of playing fast and loose with it.

Immigration: A defining issue?

One of the trickiest tightropes being walked by the 2008 US presidential candidates, all of them descended from immigrants, is how to tackle illegal immigration as they bid for the White House.

Democrats are forced into a delicate dance around the thorny issue, scrambling to court the booming Hispanic-American population without irking party moderates, analysts said.

Political ad wars take over airways

In Iowa, ’tis the season for TV pitches, political and commercial. By the time Iowans ring in the New Year, they may be sick of both.

An earlier date for Iowa’s caucuses probably means presidential candidates will run more television ads from mid-November through December, the height of the Christmas shopping season when retailers want to promote sales.

Mitt & Rudy continue their war

The back-and-forth backbiting between Republican presidential rivals Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney spilled over into Sunday as Giuliani contended that the former Massachusetts governor has fumbled on health care and economic matters.

Asked by a diner patron about Romney’s health care program while governor, Giuliani said Romney “made a mistake” by mandating coverage for all Massachusetts residents. “When you mandate it, it ends up costing you much more money,” said Giuliani, a former New York mayor.

Hillary: ‘I can beat the GOP’

Hillary Rodham Clinton maintained Sunday that she’s the best candidate to win against Republicans, saying she has more experience battling the GOP than any other candidate in the Democratic field.

“I believe that I have a very good argument that I know more about beating Republicans than anybody else running. They’ve been after me for 15 years, and much to their dismay, I’m still standing,” she said in answer to a woman’s question about her electability. “I’m leading in all the polls, I’m beating them in state after state after state.”

Huckabee: America addicted to oil

Consumers are financing both sides in the war on terror because of the actions of U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee said Sunday.

The former Arkansas governor made the comments following what he suggested was a muted response by the Bush administration to a Saudi court’s sentence of six months in jail and 200 lashes for a woman who was gang raped.

“The United States has been far too involved in sort of looking the other way, not only at the atrocities of human rights and violation of women,” Huckabee said on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

Is Iraq fading as an issue?

Now that violence in Iraq is abating and other issues are consuming more of the presidential debates, political activists are wondering if the war will prove to be the defining issue that Democrats have long assumed.

Some Democrats say frustrated voters have given up on altering President Bush’s handling of the war, and will make Republicans pay in 2008. Others say Democratic candidates are stubbornly and dangerously out of step with an improving situation, and their most promising campaign issue may prove far less potent by next November.

In politics, the muck starts here

Smears and slurs are flying in the 2008 White House race, and with polls narrowing and first nominating contests just six weeks away, experts predict the rough stuff has only just begun.

Candidates are upbraiding party rivals, savaging foes in the opposite party, and reports are emerging of malevolent telephone-borne personal attacks on several candidates in the key leadoff state of Iowa.

Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, fresh from a brace of debate showdowns, are increasingly turning their guns on one another.

Obama admits drinking, drug use

Presidential hopeful Barack Obama on Tuesday told high school students that when he was their age he was hardly a model student, experimenting with illegal drugs and drinking alcohol.

Obama stopped by a study hall at Manchester Central High School and answered students’ questions about the war in Iraq and his education plan. But when an adult asked about his time as a student, Obama spoke bluntly.

“I will confess to you that I was kind of a goof-off in high school as my mom reminded me,” said Obama, an Illinois Democrat who grew up in Hawaii

Some debate advice

To celebrate the official start of the holiday season, here’s a gift for all Americans who will be participating in the presidential debates of Campaign 2008, either as designated askers or answerers.

It is a gift that needs to be opened early, before it is too late: “The Official Handbook for Smarties on How to Avoid Messing Up in Presidential Campaign Debates.”