October 7th, 2008
12:10 PM ET

Stop Re-Litigating the 1960s

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John P. Avlon
Author, Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics

The McCain campaign's latest round of attacks on Senator Obama's association with Weather Underground founder Bill Ayers represents an unwelcome return to a constant distraction in American politics over the last 40 years – reigniting the culture debates of the 1960s.

The baby-boom generation's coming of age was tumultuous and at times violent. The counterculture chaos and at times outright anti-Americanism of the far left led directly to the election of Richard Nixon in 1968 and the ascendance of the conservative movement that has won seven out of ten presidential elections over the past 40 years.

It's no surprise then when things get desperate the Republican Party tries to re-litigate the 1960s, sticking a knife in the cultural divide to reopen the wounds and air old grievances.


Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • John P. Avlon • Raw Politics
October 7th, 2008
10:03 AM ET

Candidates should come clean on coal

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Editor's Note: Jeff Biggers, author of "The United States of Appalachia," is at work on a cultural history of coal. Biggers has been a commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition and contributes to the Huffington Post.

Jeff Biggers

The Wall Street crisis notwithstanding, coal continues to embroil the presidential campaign into knots unlike any other issue in the swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

Take a look at the backflips by both campaigns in the last several weeks:

Jumping on a not-in-my-backyard "clean coal" gaffe by Sen. Joe Biden, the McCain campaign released a wildly misleading ad accusing Sen. Barack Obama of not supporting coal. (And this just days after United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts turned red in the face with a stirring endorsement of Obama in the southwest Virginia coalfields.)

When Sen. John McCain casually told a voter in Florida that he didn't support mountaintop removal in Appalachia - the controversial process of blowing mountains to bits to strip the coal seams - his own campaign advisers hurriedly launched a Coalition to Protect Coal Jobs.

While not taking a clear-cut stand on the same mountaintop removal issue, the Obama campaign countered with a Clean Coal Jobs Task Force, as if upping the ante on coal.

As an old coal balladeer might ask: Which side are these candidates on?

The answer: Both candidates are on the wrong side. In one of the sorriest panders for votes, invoking a 20th century pound-on-the-chest lie that coal means jobs, neither candidate is brave enough to come clean and offer himself as the messenger for a 21st century vision for the coalfields of central Appalachia.

Funny thing is: Voters in these swing states already know the truth. Coal is on its way out, not its way in. Sure, new coal plants are being built, but scores of coal-fired plants have been canceled across the country.


Filed under: Raw Politics
October 7th, 2008
09:07 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Showdown in Nashville

Penny Manis
AC360 Senior Producer

It is Debate Night in Nashville, the 2nd time John McCain and Barack Obama face-off. It will be a 90 minute ‘town hall’ style event, moderated by Tom Brokaw. The candidates will take questions from Brokaw, but they’ll also answer q's from uncommitted voters in the audience and Internet participants. We are 28 days from the Elections, and there is pressure tonight on the candidates, particularly within all this dire financial news.

Yesterday the markets had a rough ride, they did not get a lift from the passage of the bailout bill. And it’s not just limited to the U.S., far from it, as most of the world’s stock markets are hurting. Barack Obama made a point of underlining his economic messages yesterday, and McCain/Palin questioned Obama’s ties w/William Ayers and continued to try to paint Obama as a ‘risky’ choice. Obama more or less accused the GOP of trying to ‘change the subject’ from the economy because this subject works to his advantage with voters. (and he released a 13 minute documentary on Keating 5).

Our polls show more voters trust the Dem candidate w/economic issues, and this has given Obama the lead recently. Our national poll stands at Obama 49%, McCain 43% and 8% undecided. We also have poll results from Indiana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin coming out today-all show Obama gaining. Tune in today and you’ll see how these results change the Magic Map (that’s what we like to call our snazzy Electoral Map internally).

McCain has to shine tonight if he is going to break this momentum. Town halls cater to his strengths. That said, the debate will be divided between domestic and foreign policy issues, but most likely voters will want to talk about the economy so McCain will have to show that he has concrete and inspiring plans on the issue against Obama.

Anderson, Wolf Blitzer, and Campbell Brown will moderate from our NYC Election Center at 8pET till 9pET when the debate kicks off, and then they will pick things up again at 10:30pET w/post-debate analysis.

What are you looking for in the debate tonight? Is your mind made up yet? And what do you think of all the back and forth on William Ayers, Keating 5 etc from Obama and McCain. Do you think this is appropriate or they should just be speaking to the issues at hand rather than digging up skeletons from the past?

And what do you think of Palin’s ‘pit bull’ strategy? Our new poll shows her favorability rating is at 52%. Is she winning you over vs. Biden? (Biden is out of the mix till tomorrow, fyi, his mother-in-law died and he has no public events till Wed).

Let me know! And see you tonight.

Filed under: The Buzz
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