Monday, December 31, 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007

John McCain: Honesty and Integrity

John McCain: Honesty and integrity

SIOUX CITY -- Iowans have an opportunity/responsibility to hand the country and the world our educated decision on who best defines honesty and integrity. It’s clear where our own legendary Col Bud Day stands. He spent more than five years in a POW camp with fellow-pilot John McCain and proudly says, “Without reservation, I know Johnny is the best candidate and most prepared to be our next president and commander in chief.”

The entire world looks to the United States for leadership based on honesty and integrity. To gain and secure the support of other countries on the war on terrorism, they need to know we have a leader who does not flip-flop on issues based on surveys or polls. They also must be confident in the honesty and integrity our president and his administration possess. Our next president of the United States must have all of these characteristics and more.

Those of us who are old enough to vote, we will be handing the future of this country and our children with the decision we make on Jan. 3, 2008. No other candidate running for president this time around has ever been tested as has Sen. John McCain. Not only can he lead, but he can generate support from other countries in making this a safer world. Please join me in supporting Col. Bud’s POW friend, John McCain. -- R. Doc Zortman

McCain hoping for last minute surprise in Iowa

McCain hoping for last-minute surprise in Iowa
Dan Nowicki
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 29, 2007 12:00 AM

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - Sen. John McCain suddenly seems to have found political footing in Iowa, long viewed as an unreachable prize for the presidential candidate from Arizona.

For months, McCain has barely been a factor in the Republican nomination race here, the state he wrote off in 2000 and nearly did again this year.

But with Iowa's influential caucuses less than one week away, McCain in recent days has begun generating a positive buzz that has lifted him in some polls and could translate into a higher finish than anyone expected only weeks ago. The question is whether the clock will run out too soon for McCain to hit any stride. advertisement

Expectations still remain low, and McCain wants to keep them that way. The reason is because any surprisingly strong showing in Iowa next Thursday - and not necessarily a win - could give McCain a much-needed national media bounce going into the crucial New Hampshire primary just five days later.

"So please predict that I will finish 12th, and anything above that, I'll be the Comeback Kid," McCain jokingly told reporters Thursday after an evening appearance before the Iowa Christian Alliance.

In a more sober moment, McCain added, "I'm hopeful, but, realistically, we have a very tough job here."

McCain's dance with Iowa voters is tricky because he has a history of battling with social conservatives, ethanol promoters and opponents of illegal immigration. McCain also declined to participate in the Aug. 11 GOP straw poll in Ames, which some Iowa Republicans viewed as a snub. The battle between the two Iowa front- runners, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, is overshadowing the Republican race.

Still, McCain has several reasons to feel good:

• Once stalled in single digits, McCain has risen to third or fourth place in recent polls, often neck and neck with former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn. A whirlwind, three-day statewide tour this week found McCain addressing enthusiastic crowds.

• The assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto presented McCain with an opportunity to speak authoritatively on foreign policy, one of his strengths. McCain interrupted his Iowa stumping several times to grant television interviews on the crisis.

• The endorsement of Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., a social conservative who dropped out of the presidential race, has given McCain entree into Iowa's religious GOP community. McCain on Thursday announced an "Iowans of Faith for McCain Coalition" that prominently features several former Brownback supporters. McCain also has made a modest Christian-radio media buy, said Jon Seaton, his Iowa director.

• McCain has captured the editorial endorsements of the Des Moines Register and the Davenport-based Quad-City Times, two of Iowa's largest newspapers, as well a few others.

"I'm sure that if McCain came in third, he would be ecstatic," said Arthur Sanders, a professor of politics and international relations at Drake University in Des Moines. "He would get a lot of good press out of that. A McCain third-place finish would probably be one of the big stories on the Republican side."

Even a lower-place finish could benefit McCain under certain circumstances, such as if it is an extremely close race, Sanders said.

After a Thursday morning rally near Des Moines, a journalist asked McCain if a fourth- or fifth-place Iowa finish was good enough.

"That's up to you," McCain answered. "The expectations level is set by the media, not by me."

Few political experts are willing to forecast a winner in this year's hotly contested caucuses. Turnout is key, and candidate organizations are vital. Inclement weather, which blanketed Des Moines and other parts of the state in snow this week, or other factors could keep voters home.

"Caucuses are just very hard to predict because you don't know who's going to be able show up at 7 o'clock on a given night in order to do it," said Dave Roederer, McCain's Iowa chairman. "I feel good. I don't feel great, but I feel good. In fairness, we're going into this with low expectations."

The warm reception McCain received Thursday from the Iowa Christian Alliance, formerly known as the Christian Coalition of Iowa, is another sign that things have changed for him in the state.

Steve Scheffler, the alliance's president, told the crowd that he would trust McCain with the security of the United States "even more than (former New York City Mayor) Rudy Giuliani" and added that he admired McCain's stand against federal subsidies for ethanol, the corn-based fuel additive that is a priority of Iowa farmers.

"That's kind of a gutsy position to take here in Iowa," Scheffler said in introducing McCain. "But I think a lot of people, whether you agree with a person totally or not, you come to respect somebody when you know what you see is what you get."

When McCain took the microphone, he sounded familiar themes about his opposition to wasteful pork-barrel spending and abortion rights and support for victory in Iraq and against al-Qaida terrorists, although he sometimes tailored his message to his religious audience.

McCain praised evangelicals who share his interest in doing something about climate change.

"My friends, we do have a biblical obligation to care for our planet," McCain said.

From late Wednesday until Friday, McCain made stops in Council Bluffs, Urbandale, Clear Lake, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls and West Burlington. With no television commercials on the air, McCain campaigned the old-fashioned Iowa way: meeting with groups and taking questions, shaking hands and posing for photos.

He then returned to New Hampshire, considered his make-or-break state, but he plans to revisit Iowa on Wednesday and Thursday for eleventh-hour campaigning.

Concord Monitor endorses McCain

Concord Monitor endorses Clinton, McCain
By James Pindell December 29, 2007 06:01 PM
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. -- A small, but influential liberal New Hampshire newspaper announced its endorsement of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign tonight.

In an editorial to be published tomorrow, the Concord Monitor had plenty of nice things to say about many of the Democrats running in the state's Jan. 8 primary, but chose Clinton because of her "ambitious to-do list".

"Hillary Clinton's unique combination of smarts, experience and toughness makes her the best choice to win the November election and truly get things done," the paper wrote.

In Saturday's paper the Monitor endorsed John McCain for the Republican race.

Bhutto's assassination brings foreign policy back in focus

Bhutto's assassination brings foreign policy back into focus

By Shmuel Rosner

If Mike Huckabee wins in Iowa, he'll need a good score in New Hampshire. If Hillary Clinton loses in Iowa, she'll have to win in New Hampshire. If Barack Obama wins in Iowa, he might be able to take out Clinton in New Hampshire.

But it all depends on John Edwards not winning in Iowa, thereby upping the ante in New Hampshire. If Mitt Romney survives in Iowa and wins in New Hampshire, he could once again claim to be the leading candidate. Advertisement

If John McCain wins in New Hampshire, that would make him this year's comeback kid. If Rudy Giuliani is right, Iowa and New Hampshire won't be that important this year. The only thing that will matter will be Tsunami Tuesday: the big February 5 primary day. And if the tsunami is good for Giuliani, why can't it be good for Clinton?

So many scenarios, and all of them are still hypothetical possibilities. As we enter the first week of voting in Iowa, the number of experts who are bold enough to predict the results decreases as the number of candidates increases.

The analysts don't know who will win. Their ability to name the crucial issues that will help someone win is even worse. It's time to say it outright: In many cases, the reason for victory - or the election campaign's main theme - becomes apparent only after the elections are won. What we have here is a retrospective theme, hindsight wisdom.

For example, why did Bill Clinton win in 1992? Was it because of his "It's the economy stupid" slogan, or was it because Ross Perot, the independent candidate, divided the right-wing vote, preventing the incumbent George H.W. Bush from obtaining his otherwise attainable second term?

One could say that Clinton never persuaded half the voters to vote for his agenda. In his favor, one could say that Clinton was very observant in constructing his agenda, because Perot, too, contended for the job on the "economy, stupid" platform.

Last week's events in Pakistan have put the question of theme back on the agenda for the 2008 presidential elections. Matters that pertained to American foreign policy - matters that stood in the campaign's center for many months - have all but disappeared in recent weeks. They were barely mentioned in the candidate's battle for Iowa. But now, Pakistan has shoved these issues back down the candidates' throats.

As foreign policy becomes more dominant in the election campaign, Israel will draw closer to its center. Giuliani mentioned Israel vicariously on Thursday morning in relation to terrorism. He said it made no difference whether it was New York, London or Tel Aviv that was targeted.

But any discussion on the Middle East - be it about Iran, Islamic fundamentalism, nuclear proliferation or American interests in the region - is a discussion that directly concerns Israel.

In 2004, two days before the elections, a new tape by Osama Bin Laden assisted George W. Bush's reelection. Or, at least, that's what John Kerry, who ran against Bush, believes.

Similarly, if Clinton and McCain prevail during the next two weeks, their adversaries will be able to claim that the Pakistani assassin who killed Benazir Bhutto dropped the nail that had slowed Obama and Huckabee's galloping racehorse.

It is generally accepted that the more seasoned candidates - Clinton and former U.N. ambassador Bill Richardson on the Democrats' side and McCain and Giuliani on the Republican side - are more experienced in foreign policy than the newcomers.

Clinton was quick to remind her listeners that she personally knew Bhutto. She was able to tell the public that she had visited Bhutto more than 10 years ago with her daughter Chelsea. Rookie candidates like Obama and Huckabee would have trouble flaunting such personal connections. They hadn't been around long enough for Bhutto to take the trouble to know them.

Huckabee already demonstrated bewildering ignorance when it became clear he didn't know about the release of the National Intelligence Assessment on the Iranian nuclear program. He faltered again on Thursday, when he showed he didn't know that Pakistan's state of emergency had been lifted two years ago.

During an appearance in Iowa on Friday, Huckabee tried an interesting stunt. He told his supporters that Pakistani illegal aliens were entering the United States in large numbers - second only to the immigrants pouring in from the Mexican border.

Huckabee seems to believe that he sounds more credible when speaking about immigration, and that the people of Iowa need no more than a superficial explanation on how Pakistan is affecting the United States.

Polls from earlier this year have shown that Americans still place Iraq at the top of their national list of priorities. Maybe that is indeed how they stand, but there is reason to suspect that this is evidence of the force of habit.

In a year's time, when they are called on to vote, a new issue like the economy could position itself on top of that list. Unexpected developments on the international front (Iran, Russia and global terrorism come to mind) might require a complete reassessment.

And of course, there is the possibility that the election will reflect a fleeting mood or sudden show of affection for the personality of one of the candidates. Weather might bring more voters from certain states to the ballots.

Or the taller candidate could win, as is usually the case.

John McCain busts a move

John McCain busts a move

By Salena Zito
Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hands down, John McCain is the buzz in New Hampshire. After a political freefall in the summer, the man who swept Granite State Republicans and independents in 2000 has gone and done a Lazarus, resurrecting his presidential candidacy.
He did it the old-fashioned way: He earned it.

"Townhall meeting by townhall meeting, bus ride by bus ride, and endless phone calls to local talk show hosts, are what have put McCain back on the map in New Hampshire," says David Carney, a GOP political strategist not affiliated with any campaign.

One of those local radio talk show hosts, former Democrat candidate for governor Arnie Arnesen, agrees. "(D)espite many voters' disappointment with his dismal campaign ... the charisma, smarts and straight talk of McCain did not evaporate with voters over the last eight years."

More important, Arnesen says, no negative news has come out about McCain: "No illegals cutting his lawn, no clemency cases in Arkansas, no trophy wife, no Bernie Kerik or curious housemates who happen to be gay ... we know who he is, and with the war in Iraq taking second place to the new gorilla in the room, the economy, suddenly McCain becomes attractive again."
"Death spiral" and "death-watch" were all the talk of McCain in July. Fresh off an ugly and losing illegal-immigration battle, McCain's campaign imploded. Longtime adviser John Weaver exited, causing a domino effect that left McCain's campaign bare-boned and broke.

Most political soothsayers predicted he would never make the next filing deadline. Yet Weaver, who gave his first post-McCain interview in September, bucked conventional wisdom by predicting McCain would re-emerge in late December.

And he has, according to New Hampshire's polling average as of Friday. He's climbed to within 5.6 percentage points and is in second place behind Mitt Romney, who's been taking it on the chin in the Granite State's leading editorial pages.

Weaver's prediction was considered foolish. Today, he is a political Nostradamus.

"John has done a phenomenal job on his own," says Weaver. "You have to give him credit for it. He has run his campaign in New Hampshire on his back.

"John's re-emergence also has a lot to do with the times that we live in. Remember, we are a nation at war against an enemy that does not wear a uniform. You have to ask yourself, who has been prepared to lead us in this global struggle that we are in?"

"Experience in foreign policy and (the) military matters," says Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Graham, who chairs McCain's campaign in the critical first-in-Dixie South Carolina primary, says people tend to forget how volatile the world is -- until an event such as the assassination of former Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto reminds them. "Calm can be replaced by a monumental event in seconds. John McCain is the one candidate that will rise to the occasion."

McCain, now running fourth in South Carolina, lost to Bush there in 2000, in part, because he was not prepared. "That is not the case this time," Graham says. "We have the majority of the political network and a phenomenal veterans coalition. This time, we are ready."

"But," he cautioned, "you cannot look at John winning South Carolina if he does not win in New Hampshire and Michigan. Momentum probably matters in South Carolina more than anything."

"McCain's re-emergence proves just how unsettled the Republican race is," says professor Bert A. Rockman, the head of the political science department at Purdue University. "His rise is mainly a function of skepticism toward the others and his relative popularity among independents."

"Of all the Republican candidates, most Republicans probably know McCain the best," adds Matt Lebo, political science professor at New York's Stony Brook University.

"Over the long run-up to the first primaries, the faults of the other candidates have become more visible. Everyone now realizes there is no perfect candidate. Given more information about all the candidates, McCain compares more favorably."

As for Sen. Graham, he says he never considered dropping his support of McCain or encouraging McCain to drop out. "Are you kidding? There is no fun in running if you don't go down in flames at least two or three times. Our mishap happened early, and that is a good thing. It is better to be strong in December than it is in July."

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Christmas Story 2007

John McCain's Christmas Story

By John McCain
December 2007

As a POW, my captors would tie my arms behind my back and then loop the rope around my neck and ankles so that my head was pulled down between my knees. I was often left like that throughout the night.

One night a guard came into my cell. He put his finger to his lips signaling for me to be quiet, and then loosened my ropes to relieve my pain. The next morning, when his shift ended, the guard returned and retightened the ropes, never saying a word to me.

A month or so later, on Christmas Day, I was standing in the dirt courtyard when I saw that same guard approach me. He walked up and stood silently next to me, not looking or smiling at me.

After a few moments had passed, he rather nonchalantly used his sandaled foot to draw a cross in the dirt. We stood wordlessly looking at the cross, remembering the true light of Christmas, even in the darkness of a Vietnamese prison camp. After a minute or two, he rubbed it out and walked away.

That guard was my Good Samaritan. I will never forget that man and I will never forget that moment. And I will never forget that, no matter where you are, no matter how difficult the circumstances, there will always be someone who will pick you up and carry you.

May you and your family have a blessed Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Merry Christmas 2007

Merry Christmas 2007.