McCain, Clinton win key endorsements

Republican John McCain and Democrat Hillary Clinton got a boost to their campaigns for presidential nominations from an influential newspaper on Sunday despite setbacks in opinion polls.

The Des Moines Register, Iowa’s largest newspaper, endorsed the two candidates for the fast-approaching Iowa caucuses, calling them the best prepared and most tested of the White House contenders.

The paper is an agenda setter in a state where on January 3 voters kick off the state-by-state battle to choose Republican and Democratic candidates in the November 2008 election.

GOP hopefuls haunted by Bush record

Republican White House contender Mike Huckabee refused to apologize Sunday after a rival accused him of insulting President George W. Bush by describing his foreign policy as “arrogant.”

Huckabee butted heads with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney after publishing a foreign policy paper calling for American foreign policy to change its “tone and attitude, open up, and reach out.”

“The Bush administration’s arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad,” the former Arkansas governor wrote in the journal Foreign Affairs.

Obama, Clinton in dead heat for Iowa

Barack Obama is hitting his stride, just as Hillary Clinton’s Democratic campaign stutters, setting up a closely fought sprint to January’s first White House nominating contest.

With the race a statistical dead heat in Iowa, before the crucial nominating caucuses on January 3, and a dogfight in New Hampshire, which votes five days later, both candidates launched one last push to win over undecided voters in Iowa amid freezing winter weather.

Most surveys show Obama rising, and the longtime frontrunner sliding, suggesting that the young senator’s timing may be spot on.

Just who is Hillary Rodham Clinton?

Hillary Rodham Clinton likes to say she was born in the middle of the country at the middle of the century, in a Chicago suburb that defined a childhood out of “Father Knows Best” or “Ozzie and Harriet.”

Years later, a group of her old teachers and classmates got together with her to reminisce, with a historian to moderate. During the round of introductions, Clinton’s second-grade teacher turned to her and deadpanned: “And who are you?”

“Oh yes,” said the first lady of the United States. “This is the question we’re all trying to answer.”

When in Iowa, be nice

Two old sayings are colliding in the presidential campaign, and there’s some truth to both of them. Politics is dirty. Midwesterners are nice.

That’s why the presidential candidates avoided attacking each other in crucial Iowa debates this week, even though they are in a no-holds-barred fight behind the scenes. They feared they would only hurt themselves if they were too harsh in public just three weeks before the state’s Jan. 3 caucuses.

Stuffing the ballot box?

Will they be checking for out-of-state IDs at the caucuses?

The major presidential campaigns are flooding the state with hundreds of field staffers, and there’s at least some concern that those operatives could show up for the Jan. 3 precinct caucuses and distort the outcome of the opening test of the presidential nominating season.

When in doubt, tax the rich

Democratic presidential hopefuls called for higher taxes on the highest-paid Americans and on big corporations Thursday and agreed in an unusually cordial debate that any thought of balancing the federal budget would have to wait.

“We’re not going to be able to dig ourselves out” of Bush-era deficits in the next year or two, said Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, one of six Democratic rivals sharing a stage for the final time before Iowa’s leadoff Jan. 3 caucuses.

Hillary cans advisor for Obama slur

A top campaign adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton resigned, a day after suggesting Democrats should be wary of nominating Barack Obama because his teenage drug use could make it hard for him to win the presidency.

Clinton herself apologized to Obama as they waited to fly to Iowa for a debate.

Obama’s campaign sent out a fundraising letter contending that “this kind of attack is becoming a pattern as Clinton’s support declines.”

A neanderthal named Huckabee

If you happen to be walking behind presidential aspirant Mike Huckabee, you might see a small trail of blood and hear a scraping sound. That’s because his knuckles are dragging.

Republicans out of touch with Latinos

An opportunity arose at Univision’s Republican Presidential Forum on Dec. 9 for one of the Republican candidates to break out from the pack.

The Spanish-language television network’s anchor Maria Elena Salinas asked the final question of the night. On reflection, it should have been the leadoff question.