A tough guy named Rudy

A jet passenger remembers seeing Rudolph W. Giuliani on a Dallas-to-New York flight. Heading home after a March 2005 speech, Giuliani perused a volume of Elizabethan literature.

Miles above Pennsylvania, a door-seal suddenly cracked. As the cabin depressurized, the pilot nose-dived from 38,000 feet to a safer 9,000. Oxygen masks swung above the heads of horrified travelers.

What did Giuliani do? As another, visibly rattled traveler recalled: “He put his mask over his face, picked the book back up, and kept reading Shakespeare.”

Turmoil, unease rock GOP

Dig beneath the surface of the raucous Republican presidential race and you will find even deeper turmoil: Four in 10 GOP voters have switched candidates in the past month alone, and nearly two-thirds say they may change their minds again.

None of the GOP candidates has reason to feel secure, according to an ongoing national survey conducted for The Associated Press and Yahoo! News.

Another dumb mistake by Hillary

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton may have shot herself in the foot trying to get Iowa voters to pledge support to her — she is encouraging them to caucus on January 14, 11 days too late.

At a rally featuring her husband, former President Bill Clinton on Saturday, campaign workers asked supporters to sign and mail cards that said “Yes! I’m an Iowan for Hillary” with their contact information as well as other supportive friends.

Campaigns ratch up the rhetoric

The most wide-open presidential race in a half century pushed unpredictably into a decisive new phase Wednesday, the rhetoric a bit more pointed and the appeals a tad more urgent in the final run-up to the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.

“This is crunch time,” said former Democratic Sen. John Edwards, and he spoke for all.

In a race without front-runners, a brief Christmas lull yielded quickly in both early-voting states to a new round of subtle digs, outright criticism, fresh TV ads and stepped-up efforts by independent organizations.

Damn dumb Democrats

Last week we explored the weird and wacky sayings of some of our Republican leaders during the past year. This week, we prove that Democrats are just as capable of raising eyebrows by committing the quixotic quip.

When Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., found out that Vice President Dick Cheney is a distant cousin, Obama’s spokesman said, “Every family has a black sheep.”

In September, Hillary Clinton went on the David Letterman show to prove she has a sense of humor, which some Americans do not believe.


Michael Huckabee, who has impressively come up from behind among the Republican presidential candidates, now leads in Iowa. The former Arkansas governor and Baptist preacher reaches new highs on likability when the other candidates don’t wear well.

Huckabee is credited with galvanizing the evangelical vote. He can draw Republicans to him. Yet, where the party goes on amnesty will define what kind of party the Republicans will become.

Christmas is over, back to politics

After a day off for Christmas celebrations, US presidential contenders hit the campaign trail full tilt Wednesday, just days before voters in key states begin to narrow the field of White House hopefuls.

Top contenders could afford no more than a two-day holiday before resuming their fervent courtship of voters in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, whose early nominating contests give them an outsized role in choosing each party’s candidate for the national vote in November.

First time voters may hold key to 2008

Hattie Irving, an 81-year old Iowan, has never participated in her state’s presidential caucuses, but she plans to this time — to support Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“I was very impressed with her as first lady. I think it’s important to take part,” Irving said at a Clinton campaign event at a senior center here.

Brad Smith, a 27-year old engineer who moved to the state in 2005, plans to attend his first precinct caucus, too — and stand up for Barack Obama.

Iowa conservatives still undecided

Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee would seem to be the answer to their prayers, yet for many Christian conservatives in Iowa, he has not closed the deal for the Republican caucuses.

Do they still like Mitt Romney? Are they intrigued by Fred Thompson? As always, voter uncertainty comes with the Jan. 3 caucuses, now just a week away.

Huckabee, the former Baptist minister, is leading in the Republican polls here, though his advantage has narrowed. Perhaps, that’s due in part to the negative TV commercials Romney is airing.

Skeletons in Hillary’s closet

Hillary Clinton, instead of running as a Democrat for president, ought to be a full-time investor, because, you see, she once put $1,000 in cattle futures and, nine months later, had made $l00,000. It’s not precisely comparable to making a hole-in-one on every hole in an 18-hole golf course, but her feat brings that feat to mind. The lady’s a whiz.