Some debate advice

To celebrate the official start of the holiday season, here’s a gift for all Americans who will be participating in the presidential debates of Campaign 2008, either as designated askers or answerers.

It is a gift that needs to be opened early, before it is too late: “The Official Handbook for Smarties on How to Avoid Messing Up in Presidential Campaign Debates.”

Not touching the bases

One of the most curious aspects of the race for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations is that the respective front-runners hold views on the most crucial political and moral questions that one would think would make them unacceptable to the base of their parties.

Rudolph Giuliani does not merely support legalized abortion, he has taken the view that poor women have a constitutional right to have abortions paid for by the government. This is a far more radical position than even the most liberal members of the Supreme Court have ever advocated.

9/11 panel boss backs McCain

The chairman of the panel that examined the nation’s security before Sept. 11, 2001 and the aftermath of the terrorist attacks announced Monday he was endorsing John McCain — and not former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani — for president.

Former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, a Republican like Giuliani and McCain, said the Arizona senator’s blend of congressional, military and foreign affairs experience left him the best equipped of the GOP candidates to serve in the White House.

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.