Politics

Hillary Clinton’s sisterhood

The big question in next year’s presidential election is whether women will stream to the polls to elect Hillary Rodham Clinton to be the first female U.S. president.

Eight out of 10 Americans recently told Gallup pollsters that they expect women voters will be the major factor that elects Clinton president a year from now.

But actual polling data shows more uncertainty. Seventy-seven percent of women have not yet made up their minds. Thirty-five million women eligible to vote did not go to the polls in 2004.

Hillary hits a rough patch

Buffeted by attacks from her rivals and accused of political double-talk, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has hit a rough patch on the road to her party’s nomination.

She remains firmly in the lead and there is no indication that her advantage nationally is in serious jeopardy, but a less-than-sharp debate performance last week has given hope to her Democratic opponents and energized Republicans.

In Iowa, polls show Clinton is basically in a dead heat, holding a narrow lead over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. A big lead in New Hampshire has weakened a bit.

Obama ticked over Internet photo

Barack Obama complained on Wednesday about an Internet photo that claims the Democratic presidential candidate didn’t hold his hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance.

“This is so irritating,” Obama said when asked about the photo in Muscatine, Iowa.

The photo, which has circulated widely on the Internet, was taken in September during Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual Democratic fundraiser. A message accompanying the photo claims Obama didn’t observe the pledge.

Obama said the photo was taken during the singing of the national anthem, not the pledge.

Rudy, Hillary locked in a dead heat

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton still holds a 20-point lead over her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination but she and Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani are in a dead heat, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Wednesday.

Among Democrats, Clinton leads with 47 percent, followed by Illinois Sen. Barack Obama at 25 percent and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards with 11 percent, NBC reported.

Clinton’s 22-point advantage over Obama in the poll is virtually unchanged since this summer.

Suddenly, Ron Paul is a contender

Pumped up by a record day of online fundraising, Republican presidential contender Ron Paul said Wednesday he hopes to do well in a New Hampshire campaign in which he’s emerging as a potential spoiler — or more.

In an Associated Press interview, he said people startled by the $4.3 million take from his volunteer-led fundraising blitz Monday might be surprised on Election Day as well.

“They said if the candidate doesn’t call and pander to special interests you can’t raise enough money. But here, we found out the campaign is very spontaneous and volunteers are coming,” he said.

A fly in the GOP’s ointment

New Hampshire is known for turning Republican presidential primaries upside down.

It could happen again this year.

“We’re a little tiny state, but we get to go out and rub shoulders with all of the candidates, and be a big part of the big decision,” says Cindy Horvath, 46, an undecided Republican voter from Somersworth.

And, she added, have a big impact.

Polls show a tight race for the GOP nomination in the state. Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain are in strong contention. Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul could complicate an already muddled contest.

Christian right comes apart

The splintering of prominent Christian conservatives over the Republican presidential contenders reflects a schism — between the dogma of God, guns and gays and the desire to beat Hillary Clinton.

Months of disagreement within this important GOP voting bloc culminated this week in a flurry of endorsements:

Televangelist Pat Robertson is backing Rudy Giuliani. Conservative Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas is supporting fellow Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Moral Majority co-founder Paul Weyrich is going for Mitt Romney.

So much for female ethics

Any smidgen of hope I managed to harbor that women politicians have a keener sense of ethics or honesty than their male counterparts was smashed to scintillas after listening to a radio interview with Acting Consumer Product Safety Commission Nancy Nord.

Brownback endorses McCain

Sam Brownback, a Kansas conservative and favorite of evangelical Christians, on Wednesday endorsed former Republican presidential rival John McCain, calling the Arizona senator “the best pro-life candidate to beat Hillary Clinton.”

The nod could provide a much-needed boost, particularly in Iowa, for the Arizona senator and one-time presumed GOP front-runner whose bid faltered and who now is looking for a comeback.

Pat Robertson endorses Rudy

Pat Robertson, a prominent Christian leader and social conservative, endorsed Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday.

“It is my pleasure to announce my support for America’s Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, a proven leader who is not afraid of what lies ahead and who will cast a hopeful vision for all Americans,” Robertson said in a statement issued by the Giuliani campaign.