Politics

Fred Thompson: Independent & lazy

Fred Thompson, a Hollywood actor turned White House contender, had a reputation while a U.S. senator of being frustrated with the slow-moving legislative process and preferring dining with friends to late-night congressional sessions.

But the 64-year-old Republican, who retired from the Senate in 2003 after serving eight years, was also seen as a charismatic speaker who exuded confidence, battled government waste and abuse and backed campaign finance reform.

Obama’s star appeal

In Nevada, a state of mostly desert, Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama is quickly nurturing a grass-roots campaign, with a rally on Thursday showing such efforts are generating enthusiasm.

More than 3,500 people filled a Reno park to hear the 45-year-old senator from Illinois. At a press conference after the rally, he talked about the importance of attracting ordinary voters back into the political process.

"My campaign is bringing in new people. It is galvanizing people," Obama said.

Edwards wants probe of oil companies

Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards on Thursday called for a federal investigation into possible antitrust violations by the oil industry and criticized oil companies for raising gas prices.

"There's absolutely no justification for the gas companies to be as profitable as they are and have the taxpayers subsidizing the industry," Edwards said.

Candidates reach for political extremes

Republican and Democratic presidential candidates are abandoning the middle ground for positions on Iraq and immigration that cater to their parties' fringes — the latest example of polarization trumping moderation in Washington.

Democrats are lurching to the left on Iraq. Republicans are moving right on immigration. Neither shift is a surprise; the two-party system encourages presidential candidates to appeal to each side's most fervent voters during the nomination fights.

You’d think God was a voter

Lately it seems all the leading presidential candidates are discussing their religious and moral beliefs — even when they'd rather not. Indeed, seven years after George W. Bush won the presidency in part with a direct appeal to conservative religious voters — even saying during a debate that Jesus Christ was his favorite philosopher — the personal faith of candidates has become a very public part of the presidential campaign.

Thompson takes first step for Presidential run

Fred Thompson, the former Tennessee senator and "Law & Order" actor, is taking significant steps toward an expected summer entry into the crowded but extraordinarily unsettled Republican presidential race.

His likely candidacy could give restless conservatives somewhere to turn.

A crucial bloc of the GOP, those voters have not fully embraced the leading contenders, giving Thompson what his backers argue is an opening for a "true conservative" who can triumph in November 2008.

Romney to donate salary to charity

Republican Mitt Romney said Tuesday he would likely donate his salary to charity if elected president, a financial freedom he described as a byproduct of a successful business career.

"I never anticipated that I'd be as financially successful as I was, and then my business went far better than I expected it would," Romney told a woman at a Liberty Mutual office in Dover, N.H., when she asked if millionaire candidates could resolve government problems in Washington.

"I wouldn't disqualify somebody by virtue of their financial wealth or their financial poverty," Romney added. "I would instead look at their record, what they've done with their life and whether they can make a difference, whether the things they have learned will enable them to be an effective leader."

A double standard for politicians

How would have voters of the day reacted to the disclosure that Franklin Roosevelt's marriage had been in name only for many years and that he had intimate relationships with at least two women including Lucy Mercer with whom he carried on a decades long love affair?

What would have been the public's view of Gen. Dwight Eisenhower had it known that Gen. George C. Marshall, his boss as Army chief of staff, had summoned him to Washington during World War II to order him to break off any relationship with Kay Summersby, Eisenhower's British chauffer and nearly constant companion overseas. Whether rumors of an affair were true or not, Marshall reasoned that even a hint of infidelity would severely damage home front morale among women left behind.

Obama calls for universal health care

Seeking to add heft to his presidential bid, Democrat Barack Obama is offering a sweeping plan that would require every American to have health coverage and calls on government, businesses and consumers to share the costs of the program.

Obama said putting in place universal health coverage has been debated for decades, but the time has finally come to act. He said his plan could save the average consumer $2,500 a year and bring health care to all.

"The time has come for universal, affordable health care in America," Obama said in remarks prepared for delivery at the unveiling of his plan Tuesday in Iowa City.

So what do you want in ’08?

Barack Obama (AP)Voters are torn between competing cravings: Change or experience in 2008? They are demanding something new, but there is comfort in the tried and true.

The public's low opinion of Washington and growing concern about the direction of the country point to 2008 being a "change" election, one like the campaigns of 1976 and 1992 when people looked for a marked departure from the status quo.

But the war in Iraq and the rise of global terrorism make for an anxious electorate and could turn this into a "war" election, one like the campaigns of 1944 and 2004 when voters found comfort in the most experienced candidates.

Change versus experience? The White House will likely go to the man or woman who speaks best to both.