Politics

Obama sets off a firestorm

Barack Obama’s offer to meet without precondition with leaders of renegade nations such as Cuba, North Korea and Iran touched off a war of words, with rival Hillary Rodham Clinton calling him naive and Obama linking her to President Bush’s diplomacy.

Older politicians in both parties questioned the wisdom of such a course, while Obama’s supporters characterized it as a repudiation of Bush policies of refusing to engage with certain adversaries.

This medium is the message

Democratic White House hopefuls made history Monday, parrying Internet video questions from voters soured on modern politics, in a sign of the Web’s booming role in elections.

“Wassup? asked the first questioner Zach Kempf from Provo, Utah, in a greeting heralding an unconventional two-hour 2008 campaign debate hosted by video-sharing website YouTube and broadcast by CNN from South Carolina.

Mr. Giuliani goes to Iowa

SLOAN, Iowa — He squeezed into the diner flanked by burly fellows in pinstriped suits.

When the country’s most famous city slicker came to this small farm town last week, a good portion of Sloan’s roughly 1,000 residents jammed into the corner cafe to catch a glimpse or touch his hands.

Some call Republican Rudolph Giuliani “America’s Mayor” because of that day in New York City that he always reminds folks about: Sept. 11, 2001.

All nice and polite…for now

The 2008 White House race has groundbreaking candidates, record-shattering spending and crowded debates, but so far it lacks a more common feature of recent campaigns — negative and sometimes personal attacks.

It’s still early, though.

The sprawling fields of contenders in both parties have kept a largely civil tone through the early stages of a fast-starting White House race, mostly avoiding direct confrontations and leaving the rare attacks to surrogates.

McCain has more cash than predicted

Second-quarter campaign reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show former GOP frontrunner John McCain with $3.2 million cash on hand – about $1.2 million above the $2 million that the campaign predicted would be reflected in the official report.

The final figures erase a significant talking point promoted by the campaign of long-shot candidate Ron Paul which, for the last three weeks, has argued that their candidate would have more money in the bank than McCain.

McCain, however, is not out of the financial woods. His campaign filings show $1.8 million in debt through the end of June while the Paul campaign reports zero debt. Paul has more “net worth” than McCain at this point although McCain has outraised Paul 8-1 and outspent the Texas Congressman by 10-1.

Iraq war will dominate 2008 election

Divisions over Iraq extended to the presidential campaign during the Senate’s all-night debate, with Republican John McCain steadfastly backing President Bush’s war strategy as Democratic rivals demanded troop withdrawals.

“Our defeat there would be catastrophic, not just for Iraq, but for us,” the Arizona senator said Wednesday. “As long as we have a chance to succeed we must try to succeed.”

In a speech just after 4 a.m., Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York argued: “It is time for us to move our troops out of harm’s way in the middle of the Iraqi civil war.”

Can McCain survive?

The plight of Republican Sen. John McCain’s campaign for U.S. president conjures up all sorts of mixed metaphors: On a wing and a prayer, teetering on the brink, one foot in the grave, down to his last bullet.

Can he come back from the dead, rise from the ashes, turn the tide, survive to fight another day? Or has the train already left the station?

GOP voters: We don’t want any of ‘em

And the leading Republican presidential candidate is … none of the above.

The latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that nearly a quarter of Republicans are unwilling to back top-tier hopefuls Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, John McCain or Mitt Romney, and no one candidate has emerged as the clear front-runner among Christian evangelicals. Such dissatisfaction underscores the volatility of the 2008 GOP nomination fight.

Democrats outpace Republicans in funds

It didn’t matter whether they raised more money or not, most presidential candidates certainly boosted their spending in the second quarter of the year.

More on staff. More on travel. More on consultants.

Democrats outraised Republicans about $80 million to $50 million from April through June. But Republicans kept pace with Democrats on spending — nearly $50 million spent on both sides.

Ron Paul’s funds tops other long shots

Ron Paul, the Texas congressman running a long-shot campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, raised $2.4 million from April through June and ended the quarter with a similar amount in the bank, according to financial reports filed Sunday.