Warning signs for Rudy

Rudolph Giuliani should look over his shoulder.

He might be leading the Republican presidential contest nationally, but in Iowa he’s only in third place — trailing two former governors, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas — in the latest New York Times/CBS poll.

But that’s not why the former New York City mayor should look over his shoulder. Here’s why.

On Wednesday, he went out of his way to get to the B&L Vintage Brew & Sugar Shack in Rock Rapids. There, he went out of his way to get to the middle of the crowd so he could tell folks what he knows.

The political view of Hispanics

Amid presidential primary races that have seen several candidates profess interest in the Hispanic community, a picture of each candidate’s commitment to reach out to Hispanic voters is emerging.

Over the past few weeks, Hispanic Link News Service submitted a series of questions to the 17 campaigns to measure their outreach efforts.

Four candidates — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican — offered full responses.

Hillary ups the whine factor

Poor Hillary Clinton. She’s says her fellow Democrats are picking on her. She calls it mudslinging but the complaint during Thursday night’s debate in Las Vegas has all the elements of a classic whine: Everyone is being mean to her.

Looks like the lady can dish it out but she can’t take it.

Throughout her political career and her partnership with Bill Clinton, Hillary has been a master of the politics of personal destruction. She and her husband sought to destroy anyone who dared defy them.

Another man from Hope?

Is another former governor of Arkansas in our future? Could we possibly have a President Mike? A Vice President Mike?

As scandal swirls around Rudolph Giuliani and his friendship with his indicted former police commissioner, Bernard Kerik, and as support for Mitt Romney seems to be stagnating, the compassionate conservative from Arkansas is moving up the track on the inside.

Too smart to be President

Although it has sometimes looked like Mitt Romney might have much going against him and little going for him in the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, it turns out he does have one very, very serious, perhaps ultimately decisive advantage. His brains.

Hillary: Unqualified to be President

The yellow-billed oxpecker stands atop the mighty rhinoceros, gobbling ticks and chirping loudly when danger looms. This tiny bird would make a perfect mascot for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential bid. Akin to that creature, the New York Democrat leaves tiny footprints and has spent more than three decades riding aboard her outsized, accomplished husband, William Jefferson Clinton.

Records? What records?

Barack Obama, who’s been scolding Hillary Rodham Clinton for not hastening the release of records from her time as first lady, says he can’t step up and produce his own records from his days in the Illinois state Senate. He says he hasn’t got any.

Who’s laughing now?

Those who dismissed Rep. Ron Paul as a joke in the Republican presidential primary campaign aren’t laughing so hard these days.

The Texas libertarian’s rise in the polls and in fundraising proves that a small but passionate number of Americans can be drawn to an advocate of unorthodox proposals such as returning to the gold standard and abolishing the income tax, CIA and Federal Reserve.

Paul, 72, recently set a one-day, online GOP presidential fundraising record, and pulled slightly ahead of Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee in a New Hampshire poll, where he had 8 percent of the Republicans’ support. In Iowa, he tied John McCain for fifth place, with 4 percent each.

When in doubt, bash Hillary

Increasingly you get the impression that if the Republican presidential candidates didn’t have Hillary Clinton, they wouldn’t have a campaign. “Obsession” might be too strong a word but the Republicans just can’t let go of the former first lady.

Pitfalls of planted questions

Did someone from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s team plant a question during an event in Iowa last week — and if so, who did it and why? That’s the mystery keeping all of political Washington agog and dogging what has until now been an almost flawless execution of a presidential primary campaign.

Was the senator herself involved? Highly dubious. Did a dumb, inexperienced staffer ask a college kid to pitch a predictable sop of a question? Likely. Or worse, could it have been planted by a seasoned political operative? Dumber than dumb. And unnecessary.