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Des Moines Register Endorses Clinton and McCain

I did not see this coming, but the Des Moines Register has endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton of New York for the Democratic nomination and Senator John McCain of Arizona for the Republican nomination.

You can read the editorial for the Democratic endorsement here and the Republican endorsement here.

The theme of the endorsement is competence and preparedness to lead America through these difficult times.

This is certainly good news for Clinton who has not had a particularly good six weeks. Obama has gained momentum in the state and this endorsement gives her the opportunity for some good news and a chance to at least slow Obama’s momentum. While I still don’t expect Clinton to win Iowa (it is just not her state), I believe Edwards will win it, this endorsement may decide who comes in second and who will win NH (not Edwards state), SC and ultimately the nomination.

As for McCain, he is far from winning Iowa or even placing third place in Iowa. His campaign has written off the state and is now focused on New Hampshire where Independents can give him much need momentum going into South Carolina, which I believe he can win. This endorsement gives him some good media attention and will at least allow Iowans to give McCain a second look. Basically, this puts him on the map again. Still, don’t expect him to win Iowa. If Huckabee is able to hold onto his leads and win the state, he may give McCain a second chance at victory.

You can watch the Democratic endorsement here, and the Republican endorsement here.

Who is hurting? Of course Obama, Edwards, Huckabee and Romney who have all lead in Iowa at some point or currently have momentum on their side. The DMR was unsure of Obama’s readiness to be President and unhappy with Edwards change in tone from optimistic to harsh.

SEIU Compares Healthcare Plans

There has been tremendous debate in the Democratic primary on which candidate’s Healthcare proposal will provide universal Healthcare. The SEIU released a comparison, which shows only four presidential candidates who have a plan to provide universal Healthcare.

Here are the summaries provided by the SEIU. Check out the full comparison here.

Democrats

Joe Biden
Plan to expand Medicaid and SCHIP to cover
young people up to 21 years of age as well as low-income and childless adults.
Plan would allow people to keep their existing coverage or buy coverage
through SCHIP, Medicare, or a new Federal Employees Health Benefit Program.

Hillary Clinton
Plan requires everyone to purchase insurance
and provides subsidies to make coverage affordable. Plan would allow people
to keep their existing coverage or buy coverage through Federal Employees
Health Benefit Program. Plan also requires large employers to provide coverage
or help pay for it.

Chris Dodd
Plan requires individuals and employers to
share the cost of coverage based on their ability to pay. Plan allows people
to retain existing coverage or to automatically enroll in a new plan similar to
the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program. Plan would phase in universal
coverage by age group over four years.

John Edwards
Plan requires employers to cover employees or
to help finance a public insurance plan and that requires all individuals to have
coverage by 2012. Expands Medicaid and SCHIP, reforms insurance laws to
contain costs and creates regional non-profit purchasing pools with competing
public and private plans to choose from. Plan also allows individuals to keep
their existing coverage.

Mike Gravel
Plan would end the employer-based system of
health coverage and replace it with a single-payer voucher program that could
not deny eligibility based on health, wealth, or for any other reason.

Dennis Kucinich
Plan expands Medicare to cover everyone,
replacing private and public insurance as described in HR 676. Plan would be
single-payer, allowing only public or not-for-profit providers to participate.

Barack Obama
Plan requires that all children be insured and
that all employers either cover their workers or pay into a public insurance
plan. The plan also allows people to keep their existing coverage or purchase
coverage through a new purchasing pool called the National Health Insurance
Exchange that offers competing private and public options.

Bill Richardson
Plan requires all individuals to have coverage
and provides subsidies to make coverage affordable. Requires employers to
contribute to the cost of coverage for employees based on a sliding scale.
Allows people to retain existing coverage or to buy coverage through the
Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan; expands Medicaid and SCHIP and
allows people over 55 to buy into Medicare.

Republicans

Rudy Giuliani
Plan will shift incentives from the current employer-based system of insurance
to the individual market without guaranteeing universal coverage or affordability.
Plan offers tax credits to help low-income families pay for insurance. Plan
offers the expansion of Health Savings Accounts with high deductible health
insurance plans, creates large insurance pools for small businesses, and
deregulates the insurance industry.

Mike Huckabee
Plan would use tax credits and other tax
incentives to encourage people to buy private insurance. The plan would
expand Health Savings Accounts with high deductible health insurance plans to
everyone, but does not address affordability or universal coverage.

Duncan Hunter
Has not yet released a detailed plan. Generally
supports private, market-based health insurance system including Health
Savings Accounts with high deductible health insurance plans, supports
expanding purchasing options across state lines and supports making
information more readily available to health care consumers.

John McCain
Plan will end tax preference currently benefiting
employees with health insurance through their workplace. Plan would expand
tax credits to help all individuals and families buy private insurance coverage.
Proposes to control health care costs by changing provider payments and
through tort reform.

Ron Paul
Has not yet released a detailed plan. Generally
supports current market-based insurance system, expanding Health Savings
Accounts and tax credits for individual coverage.

Mitt Romney
Signed a comprehensive health care reform
law while Governor of Massachusetts. Has not yet released a detailed plan
on the federal level. Encourages coverage that vary state by state through
market-based reforms. Supports the expansion of private insurance, but does
not address affordability; supports tax credits for health coverage.

Tom Tancredo
Has not yet released a detailed plan.
Generally supports market reforms and Associated Health Plans that limit
coverage and can exclude people based on previous health conditions.

Fred Thompson
Has not yet released a detailed plan.
Generally supports increased focus on preventive care, tax credits, and
market based reforms.

Here is a summary.

Provides universal Healthcare
Hillary Clinton
John Edwards
Dennis Kucinich
Bill Richardson

Near universal Healthcare
Barack Obama

Expands coverage
Joe Biden
Mike Gravel
Chris Dodd

Opposes legally mandated Healthcare
Mike Huckabee
Duncan Hunter
John McCain
Ron Paul
Tom Tancredo

Does not address Healthcare
Rudy Giuliani
Mitt Romney
Fred Thompson

(cross posted at MyDD)

Huckabee Whacks Bush’s Foreign Policy

It was going to occur in one shape or form. When it was going to occur was a matter of question. The most likely timeline was after the nominee was decided. However, Mike Huckabee took a drastic turn and distanced himself from the President’s foreign policy.

“American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out,” Huckabee writes in the journal’s Jan/Feb issue. “The Bush administration’s arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad. My administration will recognize that the United States’ main fight today does not pit us against the world but pits the world against the terrorists.”

In one specific criticism, Huckabee said Bush did not send enough troops to invade Iraq. And he accused the president of marginalizing Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, who said at the outset of the war that it might take several hundred thousand U.S. troops to control Iraq after the invasion. “I would have met with Shinseki privately and carefully weighed his advice,” Huckabee said.

Of course, leave it to Mitt Romney, who is now a distant second in Iowa, to hit Huckabee where it hurts.

“I can’t believe he’d say that. I’m afraid he’s running from the wrong party,” Romney said to a gathering of about 100 supporters in a restaurant here. “I had to look again — did this come from Barack Obama or from Hillary Clinton? Did it come from John Edwards? No, it was Governor Huckabee.”

Battle for the conservative vote. Still, some polls show as much as half of Iowa Republican voters favor a pull out of Iraq.

Recently, Huckabee named Ed Rollins his National Campaign Chairman, who won Ronald Regan 49 states in the 1984 election.

Bill Clinton on Charlie Rose

Bill Clinton made an appearance on Charlie Rose last night. Among the issues discussed was the 2008 election, in which the former President gives a rather frank view of the 2008 race, particularly on Obama’s experience.

Word has it, Clinton staffers were scrambling in the background to end the interview.

Obama responded quoting Bill Clinton that a candidate can “have the right kind of experience or the wrong kind of experience.”

Of course this little exchange brings us back to the argument of experience. The Edwards campaign is now questioning Obama’s experience as well.

“There’s a deep concern about his readiness to be president,” Joe Trippi, an advisor to Edwards, said Thursday.

Citing polling data on Obama — a poll data apparently from the Edwards campaign — Trippi said, “A quarter of his own supporters think he’s not qualified to be president.”

Edwards should have gone after Obama weeks ago in my opinion.

Then there is question on if it is wise to to go after the most popular Democrat in the country. Thread lightly.

Strategic Vision: Huckabee and Obama in the Lead

New numbers from Strategic Vision.

Democrats

Barack Obama 32%
Hillary Clinton 25%
John Edwards 25%
Joseph Biden 5%
Bill Richardson 3%
Chris Dodd 1%
Dennis Kucinich 1%

When making your selection for a presidential candidate, what are you looking for most in the candidate, charisma, experience, or ideology? (Democrats Only)
Ideology 32%
Charisma 28%
Experience 25%
Undecided 15%

The numbers don’t lie, Obama has taken the lead in Iowa, but will he win. I’m never good at predictions, but I have a hunch John Edwards will take the state.

Republicans

Mike Huckabee 27%
Mitt Romney 24%
Rudy Giuliani 13%
Fred Thompson 11%
John McCain 6%
Ron Paul 5%
Tom Tancredo 2%
Duncan Hunter 1%

How important is it for the Republican presidential candidate to be a conservative Republican in the mode of Ronald Reagan, very important, somewhat important, not very important, not important, or undecided? (Republicans Only)
Very Important 52%
Somewhat Important 15%
Not Very Important 5%
Not Important 17%
Undecided 11%

Huckabee moves into the lead with this poll. Huckabee is in the unfortunate position of getting recognized too late in a year-long race. Where Giuliani and Romney has succeeded, fundraising, Huckabee has yet to break a $1 million in one quarter. Can he capitalize on an Iowa win?

New Hampshire Primary Poll Roundup

Some new numbers for the New Hampshire Primary from Marist and ABC/Washington Post for Democrats and Republicans.

Democrats

ABC/Washington Post

Hillary Clinton: 35%
Barack Obama: 29%
John Edwards: 17%
Bill Richardson: 10%
Dennis Kucinich: 3%
Joe Biden: 2%
Chris Dodd: 1%

In this poll, 54% of voters see Clinton as the most electable, 48% see Clinton as the most experienced, 47% see Clinton as the strongest leader, while 47% view Obama as most inspiring and 29% view Obama as the most trustworthy. 21% think the same of Clinton and 17% think the same of Edwards. On the issues, Clinton leads across the board, holding double digit leads on Health Care, the economy, terrorism, the federal deficit, and social security, while she also has single digit leads on Iraq and Immigration. About half of the voters view Healthcare as the top issue, followed closely by Iraq.

Marist

Hillary Clinton: 37%
Barack Obama: 23%
John Edwards: 18%
Bill Richardson: 8%
Dennis Kucinich: 3%
Joe Biden: 1%

Clinton has the strongest intensity of support with 61% who support her are strongly committed. 54% say the same for Obama and 53% say the same for Edwards.

Republicans

ABC/Washington Post

Mitt Romney: 37%
John McCain: 20%
Rudy Giuliani: 16%
Mike Huckabee: 9%
Ron Paul: 8%
Fred Thompson: 4%
Duncan hunter: 1%

In the internals, 35% view Romney as the strongest leader, 27% view him as the most trustworthy, 31% view him as the most experienced while 29% have the same view of McCain. 45% view Romney as the most electable, while 30% think the same of Giuliani. On the issues, Romney has double digitleads on the economy, the federal deficit, immigration, social issues, Healthcare and taxes. 31% view both McCain and Giuliani as the best fit to handle terrorism while 36% view McCain as the best fit to handle Iraq.

Marist

Mitt Romney: 29%
Rudy Giuliani: 17%
John McCain: 17%
Mike Huckabee: 11%
Ron Paul: 6%
Fred Thompson: 4%
Duncan Hunter: 2%
Tom Tancredo: 1%

50% of Mitt Romney’s supporters are firmly committed to him compared with 60% of Rudy Giuliani’s voters and 58% of John McCain’s backers.

Clinton Proposes Foreclosure Plan and Tax Cuts

Amid the growing foreclosure crisis, Hillary Clinton today proposed a plan to address problem threatening Wall Street with more regulation if swift action is not taken to ease the crisis on the American people.

She proposed a three-step plan, which included a freeze on the subprime rate for owner-occupiers and a tax cut for the middle class to help afford Healthcare, Child care and college.

The Three-Point Plan

1. Observe a foreclosure moratorium of at least 90 days on subprime, owner-occupied homes. The moratorium will stop foreclosures until lenders and servicers have an opportunity to implement the freeze in mortgage rates. The moratorium will also give state and city organizations as well as community groups the necessary time to provide financial counseling to at-risk homeowners.

2. Freeze the monthly rate on subprime adjustable rate mortgages, with the freeze lasting at least 5 years or until the mortgages have been converted into affordable, fixed-rate loans. After the moratorium, there should be a long freeze in rates on adjustable rate mortgages. The overwhelming majority of subprime mortgages have adjustable rates. The long rate freeze will give the housing market time to stabilize. It will give families an opportunity to rebuild equity in their homes. It also gives the mortgage industry time, and incentive, to convert mortgages that were designed to fail into loans that are actually affordable. The rate freeze and loan modification must be extended not only to borrowers who are current but to some who have fallen behind. After all, it is indisputable that brokers and mortgage companies lured families into mortgages that were designed to end in foreclosure. This was only possible because regulators were asleep at the switch. A rate freeze is critical. An average of $30 billion in loans will reset monthly next year. One study indicates that the average reset increases monthly payments by 40%. It is no surprise that rate-resets are the major driver of the foreclosure crisis.

3. Provide status reports on the number of mortgages being modified. Resolution of the foreclosure crisis will require that large numbers of unworkable mortgages be converted to stable loans. To date, however, despite pressure from Congress and the press, lenders and servicers have modified only about 1% of subprime mortgages. This obviously has to change. We cannot take the industry at its words that it will follow through on an agreement to convert loans expeditiously. Accordingly, the agreement must impose on lenders and servicers an obligation to regularly report their loan modifications.

First word is the industry will not support a foreclosure moratorium, according to Kurt Pfotenhauer, senior vice president for government affairs with the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Hillary Clinton was the first candidate to put out a specific proposal leaving other candidates to scramble to put together a plan of their own.

On the tax cuts:

To help families cope with growing economic challenges, Clinton would provide a package of middle class tax cuts, including generous new support to make college, health care and retirement more affordable. She would also implement fast-acting, short-term stimulus measures, including a Community Support Fund of up to $5 billion to help hard-hit communities and distressed homeowners endure the foreclosure crisis, and a $2 billion emergency investment in energy assistance for families in cold weather states.

Clinton’s announcement comes ahead of Bush’s foreclosure plan, which he will headline on Thursday. Kurt Pfotenhauer says Clinton will likely get most of what she asks for with Bush’s plan.

Primary Schedule Updated

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a calendar. At least the Democratic calendar is finalized. The new calendar includes the sanctioned states by both the DNC and RNC plus updated delegate allocations for a host of other states and minor changes in the dates.

This calendar is without a doubt crazy. I’m officially on record supporting a National Primary day in May/June of 2012 for the 2012 General election with a convention for formally nominate the Vice President. Enough of this madness and unfair organization of the calendar, which grants relatively few people too much attention by the candidates and the media.

Daily Rasmussen: Huckabee Leads; Clinton Down

New numbers from Rasmussen on the nomination and Arkansas general election.

Republicans

Mike Huckabee: 20%
Rudy Giuliani: 17%
John McCain: 13%
Mitt Romney: 13%
Fred Thompson: 10%
Ron Paul: 7%

What used to be an orderly succession has turned into a confused and crazed nomination where anything goes and anyone could win.

Democrats

Hillary Clinton: 34%
Barack Obama: 24%
John Edwards: 16%
Bill Richardson: 7%

Clinton’s lead has fallen dramatically from her highs. She once polled at 49% in October, but has shaved off 15 points. What is interesting, since that point, neither Obama or Edwards have increased their lead, which means most of those that once supported Clinton are now undecided.

Arkansas General Election

Hillary Clinton: 49%
Rudy Giuliani: 35%

Hillary Clinton: 48%
Mitt Romney: 34%

Hillary Clinton: 42%
Mike Huckabee: 48%

Barack Obama: 42%
Rudy Giuliani: 39%

Barack Obama: 35%
Mike Huckabee: 54%

Hillary has a clear advantage lead both Giuliani and Romney by large margins while losing to Huckabee by six points. Obama also loses to Huckabee by a larger margin but wins Arkansas against Giuliani by three points. Still within the margin of error. Clinton is viewed favorably by 50% of Arkansas voters and unfavorably by 49%. Huckabee is viewed favorably by 66% of voters and unfavorably by 31%. Giuliani is viewed favorably by 42% and unfavorably by 53%. Obama is viewed favorably by 45% of voters and unfavorably by 52%. Romney is viewed favorably by 31% of voters and unfavorably by 61%.

Romney Fires Landscapers Over Immigration

It was not long ago Rudy Giuliani questioned Mitt Romney on Immigration, accusing the former Governor of hiring illegal immigrants. Romney said he was not the employer and it was not ethical to fire someone based on a funny accent. Turns out, Mitt Romney recently fired his landscaper after he learned again illegal immigrants worked on his property.

From the Romney campaign:

“After this same issue arose last year, I gave the company a second chance with very specific conditions. They were instructed to make sure people working for the company were of legal status.”

“We personally met with the company in order to inform them about the importance of this matter,” he said. “The owner of the company guaranteed us, in very certain terms, that the company would be in total compliance with the law going forward.”

In addition:

Last year, workers said that Romney sometimes waved as they tended to the grounds, occasionally calling out, “Buenos dias,” or “Good day.” They also said Romney’s wife, Ann, brought the workers water one especially hot day.

This once again plays against Romney. Flip-Flop. Can Romney be trusted on the issues? It is a choice voters will have to make shortly and right now, an attractive alternative is surging in the polls.