Spending within their means

If Americans really cared about the annual deficit or the $9 trillion national debt, they would choose Hillary Rodham Clinton or Ron Paul to be the next president. They’re among few candidates for the White House whose campaign spending is well within their means.

GOP hopes voter anger is non-partisan

Republican strategists hope a volatile electorate will save the party from congressional losses in 2008 that appear possible due to a string of setbacks.

Democrats hold clear edges in raising money, limiting retirements and deflecting public anger.

In the latest sign, the party’s House campaign committee said Wednesday it has about $25 million to spend on targeted races next year; its Republican counterpart is in debt.

Facing such news, the GOP’s top House strategist summoned reporters to his campaign headquarters to put the best possible light on matters.

Say what? Cheney, Obama are cousins?

Lynne Cheney said Tuesday that her husband, Vice President Dick Cheney, is a distant cousin of his political polar opposite: Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

Cheney said she made the surprising discovery that her 66-year-old Republican husband and Obama, 46, are eighth cousins while she was doing family research for a book about her experiences growing up in Wyoming.

The vice president’s wife said she traced a common ancestor of the two men to a 17th century immigrant from France.

The politics of faith

The sociologist Peter Berger once observed that, if India is the world’s most religious country and Sweden the least, the United States is a country of Indians ruled by Swedes.

He made this comment at a time when there was something of a consensus among our elites that religion was a basically private matter — one which ought to play little or no role in public policy debates.

The life of a political surrogate

The audience stood in unison as former Denver Mayor Federico Pena made his triumphant entrance at the local public library.

Both people, that is.

Pena shook a couple of hands, made some small talk and then got down to business telling the “crowd” why Sen. Barack Obama is his choice for president.

“I asked myself, who has the best skill set, the natural ability to bring people together,” Pena said. “You don’t teach somebody to be a unifier. ”

Hillary leads the money chase

Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton has pulled ahead of rival Barack Obama at the bank as well as in the polls and both continue to crush Republicans in the money race.

Clinton holds nearly $35 million three months before the voting starts, to Obama’s $32 million.

The Republican money leader, Rudy Giuliani, reported $11.6 million in the bank for the primaries.

Clinton, who had trailed Obama in fundraising and in money in the bank at the end of June, edged past him with an aggressive third quarter of fundraising.

Clinton tops others on the ‘Net too

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has largely steered clear of traditional radio and television advertising, instead nurturing the Internet audience and drawing the largest number of online visitors.

Clinton, a senator from New York and former first lady, had the most visitors to her Web sites in August, almost 760,000, compared to her rivals, but she ran only about 2,200 radio and television spots so far this year, according to Nielsen data released on Monday.

Fred: ‘I’m the real conservative’

Presidential hopeful Fred Thompson cast himself Monday as the consistent Republican conservative in the race and suggested during a speech on Rudy Giuliani’s home turf that the former New York mayor was a liberal.

“Some think the way to beat the Democrats next year is to be more like them. I could not disagree more,” Thompson told the Conservative Party of New York.

“My friends, I suggest it’s not time for psychological flexibilities in terms of our principles. That’s the surefire way of making sure we don’t win,” he added.

Republicans ramp up the rhetoric

Forget the pleasantries. The criticism grows sharper by the day in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

The reason: Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Fred Thompson are bunched at the top and trying to emerge with voting to begin in just a matter of weeks.

“We’re now into a 90-day sprint and each of the campaigns is struggling for a strategy,” said Scott Reed, Republican Bob Dole’s 1996 campaign manager. “Who do they take out, who do they go after and who do they risk alienating by being the aggressor? They’re all trying to figure that out.”

Where’s Fred?

Mitt Romney was in Michigan, Colorado, Arizona and Nevada and then went back to Michigan. Rudy Giuliani visited Florida, Michigan, South Carolina, Alabama, Washington and New Hampshire. John McCain went from Michigan to Iowa to New Hampshire.

But where was Fred, as in Fred Thompson?

Besides participating in his first presidential debate in Michigan last Tuesday, Thompson was missing from the campaign trail. The former Tennessee senator and star of NBC’s “Law & Order” was scheduled to be in New Hampshire this weekend, but canceled.

New Hampshire voters noticed.