Can we buy what Hillary’s selling?

Hillary Clinton is humble. She also works well with others, deplores big government and is no liberal ideologue.

At least that’s what Clinton hopes voters will conclude from the rollout of her health care plan, a smart bit of political branding that put her chief Democratic presidential rivals on the defensive and exposed a lack of leadership from the GOP field.

Voters will need to decide whether they buy what she’s selling.

Many voters undecided about 2008

Just off the quaint town square, a pizza shop owner and an employee took a break to banter about politics one recent late-summer day. They did not always agree, but like many others, found common ground on their preference for president — no one yet.

“I am turned off,” Chad Ver Steeg, a 42-year-old Republican who runs the Pizza Ranch restaurant. He lamented the mudslinging by both parties and said, “I don’t look forward to this election.”

Added fellow conservative Joel Ruisch, 36: “I haven’t followed it enough to even come close to picking who to support.”

Is Barack Obama too white?

Jesse Jackson was quoted as saying Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was “acting like he’s white” for not speaking out more forcefully about a racially charged schoolyard beating in Louisiana.

Wednesday’s (Columbia) State newspaper said Jackson made the comment about Obama and the Jena, La., case after speaking Tuesday at Benedict College, a historically black school. “If I were a candidate, I’d be all over Jena,” Jackson said in his remarks after the speech, according to the published account.

In search of…the Republican Latino

A national Republican group contacted me for information about a prominent Latino public official who served during the Nixon administration in the 1970s. He was nominated for a lifetime achievement award, but the awarding group wasn’t exactly sure what he had done.

Fortunately, I did. It was in the pages of my book.

It seemed curious that staffers around that GOP group didn’t have histories and narratives around to guide them.

Will the real John Edwards stand up?

John Edwards’ presidential campaign is not so much about the “two Americas” as it is about the two John Edwardses.

One image of Edwards is that he’s a champion of the embattled middle class and poor, an up-from-his-bootstraps populist waging war against special interests who favor the rich and established.

The other take: He’s a phony.

Which is it? Is the Democratic presidential candidate a man of the people, as he says, or the fake his rivals call him?

Hillary trots out socialized medicine

Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton called for universal health care on Monday, plunging back into the bruising political battle she famously waged and lost as first lady on an issue that looms large in the 2008 presidential race.

“This is not government-run,” the party’s front-runner said of her plan to extend coverage to an estimated 47 million Americans who now go without.

Democrats court activists

Six Democratic presidential candidates took aim at President Bush as they made their case Sunday to thousands of activists scattered across an Iowa field.

“Everybody is sick and tired of being sick and tired of George Bush,” said Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. “All you have to do is take a look at the president pretending that going around in circles was making progress. If that doesn’t get you ready to get rid of George Bush I don’t know what will.”

Hillary pushes civil rights agenda

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, unveiling her agenda to promote civil rights, told an NAACP banquet Saturday that the “scales of justice are seriously out of balance” for black Americans.

“We have had an attorney general who doesn’t respect the rule of law or enforce the civil rights laws on the books,” she told about 900 people at the annual Freedom Fund Banquet of the Charleston National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

GOP Presidential race a toss-up

White men, conservatives, evangelicals and other pivotal blocs are divided among the Republican Party’s leading contenders for president, leaving the race for the 2008 GOP nomination highly fluid, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll.

Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson are each attracting significant support from core GOP groups, based on the poll conducted this week. Even Sen. John McCain of Arizona, whose campaign has been staggered by money problems and staff shake-ups, is backed by solid shares of suburban, college-educated and Midwestern Republican voters.

Rudy goes on the attack

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani criticized Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton in a full-page ad in Friday’s New York Times, accusing her of assailing Iraq war commander Gen. David Petraeus’ character.

In response, a liberal anti-war group is running a $50,000 ad campaign against Giuliani in Iowa, which begins the presidential nominating process. The television ad from MoveOn.org Political Action, which will start airing next week, accuses Giuliani of a “betrayal of trust” for abandoning the Iraq Study Group.