July 10th, 2008
12:09 PM ET

Strategy Session: Playing with matches

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“Unity.” Easier said than done. Barack Obama wants Hillary Clinton’s supporters to open up their wallets, but first he needs his donors to pay off Clinton’s debts. A New York Times article says some Obama supporters are refusing to pony up and say they won’t give a penny to help Clinton. AC360° talked with Democratic Strategist James Carville and National Talk Radio Host William Bennett in our Strategy Session:

James Carville
Clinton-Gore Pres. Campaign Manager
CNN Political Contributor

On how the New York Times got the story:

“First of all, two questions that people always ask is 'Who leaked the story and why?' We know who leaked the story. People from the Obama campaign leaked it. Why? I'm completely perplexed and vexed as to why they think this story would help them. My guess is that Senator Obama, David Axelrod, had nothing to do with this. These are some children that are playing with matches over there. I would warn people that sometimes you play with matches – you might ignite something. They're sticking bobby pins in electrical outlets here! And this story was not helpful. I have no idea why or how the Obama campaign thought that leaking this story would be helpful to them, because it's not. And I'm mystified right now."

On the reporter:

“The fact that they call Pat Healy-who’s a fine reporter, good guy- and went out of their way to leak the story and bundle the responses I think is amateurish. And I think that it's dangerous. And in addition to that, I think it's stupid. And like I say, I think senator Obama and Senator Clinton have been working hard on their relationship. I completely understand that there would be some friction after a campaign this long. That is to be expected. I'm still perplexed. I wish someone would ask the Obama campaign as to why did they think this story was smart? I certainly do not know.”

On coming together:

"I think that Senator Obama and Senator Clinton have done a very good job of coming together since. Clinton has campaigned harder for Obama than any second place finisher I’ve ever seen – maybe Edwards in 2004. Much harder than Reagan campaigned for Ford. Much harder than Senator Kennedy campaigned for Jimmy Carter or anyone else. “

William Bennett
Fmr. Reagan Education Secretary
AC360° Contributor

"There's a kind of pattern here, though, and I’d refer back to what James said. She's campaigning a lot. You know, Howard Dean campaigned for Kerry. You know, Kennedy Campaigned for Carter. Maybe not as hard – but did. I'm confident the Clintons will continue to. These rifts will heal. It's the middle of the summer. People are looking for stories. Flanry O’Connor said sometimes we... I strain the soup a little too thin here. There may not be much here. I expect them to be full-fledged behind him."

Filed under: 360° Radar
July 10th, 2008
11:48 AM ET

McCain's economic hangover

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Dana Bash | BIO
CNN Political Correspondent

The McCain campaign is dealing with an economic hangover this morning.

Former Senator Phil Gramm, a top McCain economic adviser and campaign co-chairman, called Americans who have named the economy as a top concern this campaign cycle were “a nation of whiners.”

Here's more of what he said:

"You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession," he said, noting that growth has held up at about one percent despite all the publicity over losing jobs to India, China, illegal immigration, housing and credit problems and record oil prices. "We may have a recession; we haven't had one yet."

I'm told McCain will address Gramm's comments on the plane later today.

As you may expect, they are trying to move as far as fast from what Gramm said as possible.

On background, a senior aide sighed heavily and said "that's the problem with surrogates. They can get a lot of attention, but they're not always saying what you're saying."

On the record from another spokesman, Brian Rogers:

"Phil Gramm's comments are not representative of John McCain's views. John McCain travels the country every day talking to Americans who are hurting, feeling pain at the pump and worrying about how they'll pay their mortgage. That's why he has a realistic plan to deliver immediate relief at the gas pump, grow our economy and put Americans back to work."

Filed under: John McCain • Raw Politics
July 10th, 2008
10:23 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Does diss do damage?

Morning folks...

Almost lost in the uproar over a somewhat obscene whisper – did the Rev. Jesse Jackson tap into a feeling among African-Americans that Sen. Barack Obama is talking down to them with his emphasis on faith-based initiatives, and his calling on the black community to pick itself up?

By the way, do Obama's inspirational urgings to African Americans bear more diplomatic traces of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's self-help message to parishioners?

In any case, Obama's efforts to inspire African-Americans are different from the message of civil rights leaders like Jackson. And that's why there's tension here. Jessica Yellin will report on that for us tonight. What's your take?

Filed under: Rev. Jesse Jackson • The Buzz
July 10th, 2008
10:22 AM ET

Jesse Jackson explains himself...

The Rev. Jesse Jackson apologized Wednesday for "crude and hurtful" remarks he made about Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama after an interview with a Fox News correspondent.

The remarks came Sunday as Jackson was talking to a fellow interviewee, UnitedHealth Group executive Dr. Reed V. Tuckson. An open microphone picked up Jackson whispering, "See, Barack's been talking down to black people ... I want to cut his nuts off."

This morning Rev. Jackson explained his comments:

AC360° talked with David Gergen, The Reverend Al Sharpton, and Amy Holmes to dig deeper on the story:

July 10th, 2008
10:01 AM ET

Obama distances himself from blacks: Is there a cost?

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Dr. Ronald Walters
NNPA Columnist
Originally posted 7/9/2008

Just back from the Rainbow Push convention in Chicago sponsored by Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., I was struck by the fact that neither Barack nor Michelle Obama showed up and they live virtually right down the street.

The symbol of Obama's absence was made even more vivid to me because he was out making nice with Hillary Clinton to knit together a unified campaign in the fall.

I understand that, but I also understand that he could have showed up, when Governor Bill Richardson, who lives in New Mexico not only showed up, but gave a rousing speech crediting the civil rights movement for much of the political success of the Hispanic community and his own.

I know, I know, it is common knowledge now that Barack Obama has to distance himself from Black radicals, from his church, and much of his community in order to make White voters comfortable enough with him to trust him and then give him their votes. FULL POST

Filed under: Barack Obama • Raw Politics • Rev. Jesse Jackson
July 10th, 2008
09:50 AM ET

Strategy Session: Iran's testing of missiles

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Iran is making headlines after test-firing missiles... Last night on AC360° we sat down with CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen and Middle East Analyst Reza Aslan to explore the larger implications, and give context to what's happening in the region. Here are their observations and insight:

On attacking Iran:

David Gergen
Former Presidential Adviser
CNN Senior Political Analyst
AC360° Contributor

"The big question tonight is whether, in fact, the United States and/or Israel will attack Iran while George W. Bush is still president in the next six months, before a new president comes in? That's what's rattling the oil markets and why, whenever the saber-rattling comes up, whether it's testing by the Israelis, military maneuvers by the Israelis, military maneuvers by the united states, or now today by Iran, whatever that happens, oil prices shoot upward. And it has put pressure on the candidates. What would you do?... there is a sharp difference here between Barack Obama, who would put much more emphasis on diplomacy, on more carrots, if you would, as well as sticks, versus john McCain, who would have fewer carrots and more sticks."


Filed under: 360° Radar • David Gergen • Reza Aslan
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