Politics

Are Fred’s new friends just fair weather?

They worked the buffet line like newlyweds greeting guests at their wedding.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson and his bride, Jeri, made all the new friends they could at the Iowa Christian Alliance dinner in the Des Moines suburb of Clive on Saturday night.

They slowed down people on their way to the broasted chicken and mashed potatoes, shook hands and made mostly small talk — all while their young daughter, wearing pigtails and a pink party dress, looked on.

Obama: Hillary is more of the same

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Sunday that the front-runner for his party’s nomination, Hillary Rodham Clinton, does not offer the break from politics as usual that voters need.

Both Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and her husband, former President Clinton, have criticized Obama for his lack of political experience.

Obama said he understands their argument.

Fundraising oneupmanship begins

Presidential campaigns aggressively competed for dollars up to the last minute of the third quarter, eager to build their bank accounts for an expensive stretch of media advertising and voter outreach.

Candidates were poised to begin revealing their fundraising numbers Monday, leaving the details for later, when they must file financial reports with the Federal Election Commission. The first votes of the presidential contest are scheduled to be cast in January.

Too much of the same old pols?

Forty percent of Americans have never lived when there wasn’t a Bush or a Clinton in the White House. Anyone got a problem with that?

With Hillary Rodham Clinton hoping to tack another four or eight “Clinton” years on to the Bush-Clinton-Bush presidential pattern that already has held sway for two decades, talk of Bush-Clinton fatigue is increasingly cropping up in the national political debate.

Outsiders frame political debate

They raise millions of dollars, conduct provocative ad campaigns, work with a vast network of like-minded allies and have the power to frame the presidential election going forward as much as the candidates themselves.

That used to define only the liberal MoveOn.org, an organization of 3.3 million members that has raised $25 million in the past 18 months and is helping spearhead an anti-war coalition.

Cashing in on political stardom

Barack Obama has two best-selling books, a nice salary as a senator and a wife with a handsome income. Earlier this year he reported assets of up to $1.14 million in addition to his Chicago home.

That’s small change to some of his presidential rivals, but more than enough to create entanglements and controversies for Obama, a Democrat who has been positioning himself as a friend of the little guy on financial matters.

Recently, he scolded Wall Street executives for focusing too much on their own success and not enough on what’s good for the whole nation. And he called for tax cuts for the working poor.

Death penalty? What death penalty?

Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson said Thursday he was unaware that a federal judge had ruled last week that lethal injection procedures in his home state were unconstitutional.

Thompson also told reporters he was unaware that the U.S. Supreme Court agreed this week to consider a Kentucky case about whether lethal injection violates the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The debate that wasn’t

Republican presidential candidates discussed the importance of reaching out to people of color during a minority issues debate Thursday night and criticized the leading four GOP contenders for skipping it.

“I think this is a disgrace that they are not here,” said Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback. “I think it’s a disgrace to our country. I think it’s bad for our party, and I don’t think it’s good for our future.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said he was “embarrassed for our party, and I’m embarrassed for those who didn’t come.”

Candidates plan spending spree

As they stuff millions of dollars more into campaign coffers ahead of a key fundraising deadline, 2008 White House hopefuls are plotting a campaign spending binge of unprecedented proportions.

National front-runners Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Rudolph Giuliani and their rivals are making a frenetic dash for cash, before the latest quarterly campaign fundraising period ends Sunday.

Bill Clinton still haunts Democrats

Halfway through an otherwise cordial debate, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden raised an issue generally left unspoken by the other Democratic candidates: Bill Clinton’s complicated legacy as president and how it might affect Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning her own election to the White House.

“There’s a lot of very good things that come with all the great things that President Clinton did, but there’s also a lot of the old stuff that comes back,” Biden said. “When I say old stuff, I’m referring to policy — policy.”