Another black eye for Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney may claim to be a strait-laced Mormon who doesn’t get down and dirty in politics but that doesn’t stop him from surrounding himself with political tricksters.

First it was the longtime aide who posed a cop and pulled over a reporter following the candidate’s caravan. Then it was Larry Craig and his “wide stance” problem in the airport bathroom.

Now it’s a top adviser putting together an anti-Fred Thompson web site.

Dems agree on Irag & immigration

Democratic White House candidates embraced Hispanic concerns in the first ever Spanish-language presidential debate, unanimously promising to bring troops home from Iraq and to begin working on immigration in their first year in office.

On the eve of a war assessment by U.S. commanding Gen. David Petraeus, the presidential hopefuls said troops should begin coming home no matter what the report says. With the moderator of the debate noting that two-thirds of Hispanics want a withdrawal from Iraq, the candidates had an ideal audience to criticize the war.

Fred bashing and other political follies

Former Sen. Fred Thompson didn’t join the other eight Republican presidential contenders at a debate on Fox News this week.

But some people watched the commercials just as closely.

“Like the Super Bowl?” one campaign operative asked.

Not quite. But in the pre-game show, Thompson dropped his first, 30-second ad on the eve of his campaign kickoff.

Can we really trust Hillary Clinton?

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who both fascinates and infuriates, has a new message in her determined quest to return to the White House, this time as president.

The new TV ad campaign, running in New Hampshire, the latest state she has adopted, trumpets the New York Democrat as the true agent of political change, although she has spent more time in the White House than any other U.S. presidential candidate except for Franklin Roosevelt.

Bagging the suckers

In the words of the patron saint of political consultants, there’s a sucker born every minute. In California it’ll cost you a couple of million to reach the suckers. But the consultants aren’t complaining.

For evidence, consider the likely initiative menu for next year’s three — count ‘em, three — elections. There’s the initiative, almost certain to make the February presidential primary ballot, that would replace the existing legislative term limits — six years in the Assembly, eight in the Senate — with a system limiting any legislator to a total of 12 years.

Among GOP, only Ron Paul opposes war

Republican presidential contenders voiced support for the Iraq war Wednesday night despite a warning from anti-war candidate Ron Paul that they risk dragging the party down to defeat in 2008.

“Even if we lose elections, we should not lose our honor,” shot back former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, “and that is more important than the Republican Party.”

Huckabee was in the majority, Paul very much in the minority on a University of New Hampshire debate stage when it came to the war. The politically unpopular conflict has emerged as the dominant issue of the 2008 race for the White House.

Union endorses Edwards

The New York City-based Transport Workers Union of America endorsed John Edwards on Thursday, saying the former North Carolina senator was the most electable of the Democratic presidential candidates.

Edwards was to be in New York City to accept the endorsement.

In a statement, he said the Transport Workers “keep the city moving and help keep New Yorkers safe.”

“As president I’ll fight for them every day, so we can honor their hard work and make our infrastructure safe and secure,” Edwards said.

Thompson joins the GOP race

Fred Thompson officially entered a wide-open Republican presidential race Thursday, vowing to invigorate a dispirited GOP and promising to thwart another Clinton from capturing the presidency.

The former Tennessee senator harkened to the GOP glory days of 1994 when he and other Republicans seized control of Congress and established an equal counterpoint to Democrat Bill Clinton in the White House. Now an official candidate for the Republican nomination, Thompson promised to return the party to better times.

Republicans debate; Fred announces

Eight Republicans argued over the Iraq war and immigration before a crowd of 3,600 New Hampshire voters. Missing in action: actor-politician Fred Thompson, who skipped the debate in favor of announcing his candidacy in the more comfortable setting of late-night TV.

With delight, they zinged him for ducking the debate, their fifth.

“Maybe Senator Thompson will be known as the no-show for the presidential debates,” former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said.

“Maybe we’re up past his bedtime,” joked Arizona Sen. John McCain. (At 65, Thompson is actually six years younger).

It’s showtime on the campaign trail

After months of grand rhetoric, endless fundraising and heavy campaigning, the 2008 presidential race kicks into even higher gear this week at the start of a four-month sprint to the first votes.

A crowded pack of Republican candidates gains a new contender, former senator and Hollywood actor Fred Thompson, as a hard-charging Democratic field hunts for ways to bring down the front-runner, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York.