Politics

Economy, war top campaign issues

The faltering economy has caught the Iraq war as people's top worry, a national poll suggests, with the rapid turnabout already showing up on the presidential campaign trail and in maneuvering between President Bush and Congress.

Twenty percent named the economy as the foremost problem in an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Friday, virtually tying the 21 percent who cited the war. In October, the last time the survey posed the open-ended question about the country's top issue, the war came out on top by a 2-1 majority.

Fred & Mike get down and dirty

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee went from Mr. Nice to Mr. Nasty when rival Fred Thompson started calling him what he considered a bad name — a liberal.

The Southerners are fighting on warmer, more familiar turf in South Carolina, which holds a Republican primary four days after Michigan votes on Tuesday. Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, wants to build on his victory in the Iowa caucuses, while Thompson, once a Tennessee senator, needs a victory to keep his campaign afloat.

Is Rudy Giuliani broke?

About a dozen senior campaign staffers for Rudy Giuliani are forgoing their January paychecks, a sign of possible money trouble for the Republican presidential candidate and last year’s national front-runner.

“We didn’t ask anybody to do it,” Giuliani told reporters Friday after a town hall meeting at a charter school in Coral Springs, Fla.

When in doubt, turn to tax breaks

Republican presidential rivals backed a blend of tax and spending cuts Thursday night to head off an election-year recession they generally agreed is avoidable. “We should reduce taxes on middle-income Americans immediately,” former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said in a debate in the run-up to presidential primaries in Michigan and South Carolina, two states where unemployment exceeds the national average.

Are Republicans ready to rumble?

White House contenders fanned out Thursday as the gripping US presidential race headed into a series of make-or-break contests and rival Republicans limbered up for a debate “brawl.”

The Democratic field, thrown wide open by Hillary Clinton’s surprise win in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, thinned out with the withdrawal of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

Clinton’s vanquished opponent on Tuesday, Barack Obama, won the backing of 2004 Democratic standard-bearer John Kerry, as Obama wowed supporters in sunny South Carolina with his call that “our time for change has come.”

Will the real Hillary please stand up?

Ah, Hillary. We still don’t know who you are.

After 16 years of high Clinton drama, after dozens of books examining the former first lady from every angle and ideological viewpoint, after hundreds of speeches and campaign rallies, the percentage of Americans who feel they really understand the woman who could be the first female president of the United States remains astonishingly small.

Tax hikes killed Romney’s chances

As political strategists decamped for Michigan and points south, many here wondered how Mitt Romney could lose 2008’s first primary to Sen. John McCain of Arizona, 32 percent to 37 percent, respectively, despite Romney’s four years as governor of contiguous Massachusetts and some $15.5 million in reported campaign expenditures. Granite State Republicans, previously keen on Romney, likely soured on his legacy as a tax hiker who increased levies in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Boston newspapers informed their New Hampshire readers of Romney’s rising-tax tide.

Now we can have a say in things

The real winner in the New Hampshire primary may be a nominating process that was in danger of falling into disrepute as an unfair exercise in small-state politics that excluded the urban electorate. A win in rural Iowa and tiny New Hampshire seemed on the verge of having such outsized impact in choosing a president that grumbling about finding some new way of doing business had reached a crescendo.

The great poll crash of 2008

“America in Search of Itself” is what the late Theodore White called a book of his about the presidential elections between 1956 and 1980. The title’s not a bad description of what happens every four years, of how we look at ourselves and candidates and try to figure out where we are, where we want to go and who might lead the way.

John Kerry endorses Obama

John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, gave Barack Obama a timely endorsement Thursday, snubbing Hillary Rodham Clinton as well as his own vice presidential running mate.

Kerry came to South Carolina to embrace Obama, two weeks before the state’s primary and with Obama needing a boost after Clinton’s emotional victory over him in New Hampshire.