October 30th, 2008
04:10 PM ET

McCain can't catch a break

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/10/29/navarrette.immigration/art.navarrette.jpg caption="Ruben Navarrette says John McCain has been a positive force on the immigration issue."]
Ruben Navarrette
Nationally syndicated columnist

Thanks to the immigration issue, many Latinos think of Democrats as the good guys and Republicans as the bad guys. It's an attitude that spells trouble for John McCain.

But it isn't that simple, and this election proves it. McCain - a Republican - risked his political career to pursue comprehensive immigration reform, while Barack Obama - a Democrat - was late to the issue and made some bad choices once he stepped into the debate.

I understand the larger argument. As I have written on many occasions, when Republicans ran Congress, they bungled immigration reform by clinging to an enforcement-only strategy, declaring English the national language, and ignoring anti-Latino racism.

Then, after claiming they were only against "illegal" immigration, Republicans tried to limit the number of Latino immigrants who come legally by abandoning family reunification as a principle of U.S. immigration policy.


Filed under: 2008 Election • Barack Obama • Immigration • John McCain • Raw Politics • Ruben Navarrette
October 30th, 2008
03:36 PM ET

Call him John the careless

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George F. Will
Op-Ed Columnist, The Washington Post

From the invasion of Iraq to the selection of Sarah Palin, carelessness has characterized recent episodes of faux conservatism. Tuesday's probable repudiation of the Republican Party will punish characteristics displayed in the campaign's closing days.

Some polls show that Palin has become an even heavier weight in John McCain's saddle than his association with George W. Bush. Did McCain, who seems to think that Palin's never having attended a "Georgetown cocktail party" is sufficient qualification for the vice presidency, lift an eyebrow when she said that vice presidents "are in charge of the United States Senate"?

She may have been tailoring her narrative to her audience of third-graders, who do not know that vice presidents have no constitutional function in the Senate other than to cast tie-breaking votes. But does she know that when Lyndon Johnson, transformed by the 1960 election from Senate majority leader into vice president, ventured to the Capitol to attend the Democratic senators' weekly policy luncheon, the new majority leader, Montana's Mike Mansfield, supported by his caucus, barred him because his presence would be a derogation of the Senate's autonomy?

Perhaps Palin's confusion about the office for which she is auditioning comes from listening to its current occupant. Dick Cheney, the foremost practitioner of this administration's constitutional carelessness in aggrandizing executive power, regularly attends the Senate Republicans' Tuesday luncheons. He has said jocularly that he is "a product" of the Senate, which pays his salary, and that he has no "official duties" in the executive branch. His situational constitutionalism has, however, led him to assert, when claiming exemption from a particular executive order, that he is a member of the legislative branch and, when seeking to shield certain of his deliberations from legislative inquiry, to say that he is a member of the executive branch.


Filed under: 2008 Election • John McCain • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
October 30th, 2008
02:04 PM ET

Here's whats new in Obama's infomercial

CNN's Candy Crowley reports the Obama campaign is pulling out the stops, including an infomercial, in the final days.
CNN's Candy Crowley reports the Obama campaign is pulling out the stops, including an infomercial, in the final days.

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

Yes, Barack Obama broke his promise to take tax-payer matching funds. And he raised almost three times more in the month of September than McCain did in the entire primary campaign. The only thing that stops the disparity from being democracy-disturbing is that his average donation is less than $100 – at least that's a grass-roots funding movement.

Last night, he put that money into a half-hour closing argument that was unprecedented not only in scope and cost, but in the way it straddled biography, detailed policy, and spoke to real people's lives – culminating with a live campaign shot in Florida.

Opening with video of Kansas wheat fields and music that echoed the "John Adams" miniseries, the film weaved together all the key themes of his campaign. Most important was the return to the post-partisan, problem-solver tone by which he introduced himself to the American people. The testimonies were from centrist leaders of the Democratic Party – Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, Kansas Governor Katherine Sebelius and Virginia Governor Tim Kaine. These are the leaders of the party he is going to need to depend on to stop Congressional democrats from defining his administration, if he should win on Tuesday.


Filed under: Barack Obama • John P. Avlon • Raw Politics
October 30th, 2008
02:02 PM ET

The gay mafia that's redefining politics

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John Cloud

A few weeks before Virginia's legislative elections in 2005, a researcher working on behalf of a clandestine group of wealthy, gay political donors telephoned a Virginia legislator named Adam Ebbin. Then, as now, Ebbin was the only openly gay member of the state's general assembly. The researcher wanted Ebbin's advice on how the men he represented could spend their considerable funds to help defeat anti-gay Virginia politicians.

Ebbin, a Democrat who is now 44, was happy to oblige. (Full disclosure: in the mid-'90s, Ebbin and I knew each other briefly as colleagues; he sold ads for Washington City Paper, a weekly where I was a reporter.) Using Ebbin's expertise, the gay donors — none of whom live in Virginia — began contributing to certain candidates in the state. There were five benefactors: David Bohnett of Beverly Hills, Calif., who in 1999 sold the company he had co-founded, Geo-Cities, to Yahoo! in a deal worth $5 billion on the day it was announced; Timothy Gill of Denver, another tech multimillionaire; James Hormel of San Francisco, grandson of George, who founded the famous meat company; Jon Stryker of Kalamazoo, Mich., the billionaire grandson of the founder of medical-technology giant Stryker Corp.; and Henry van Ameringen, whose father Arnold Louis van Ameringen started a Manhattan-based import company that later became the mammoth International Flavors & Fragrances.

The five men spent $138,000 in Virginia that autumn, according to state records compiled by the nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project. Of that, $48,000 went directly to the candidates Ebbin recommended. Ebbin got $45,000 for his PAC, the Virginia Progress Fund, so he could give to the candidates himself. Another $45,000 went to Equality Virginia, a gay-rights group that was putting money into many of the same races.


Filed under: Raw Politics
October 30th, 2008
10:25 AM ET

You never forget your first time... Voting

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Editor's Note: What would you like to ask Noah? Post your questions here or at iReport.com. Watch my interview with Noah on Friday at 3:30 p.m. ET on CNN.com Live.

You know what they say: You never forget your first time. Voting, that is.

Noah Gray can’t vote because he¹s only 16, but he founded Virgin Voting to encourage other young people to take their first-time voting seriously.

In this historic election year, Noah doesn’t care who 18-year-olds vote for — just that they vote.

So, he’s giving them an incentive: a video contest. Young people compete for a prize by producing films that call on other young people to take to the polls.


Filed under: Raw Politics
October 30th, 2008
10:23 AM ET

An Acorn whistleblower testifies in court

John Fund
Political journalist and columnist for The Wall Street Journal website

Acorn, the liberal "community organizing" group that claims it will deploy 15,000 get-out-the-vote workers on Election Day, can't stay out of the news.

The FBI is investigating its voter registration efforts in several states, amid allegations that almost a third of the 1.3 million cards it turned in are invalid. And yesterday, a former employee of Acorn testified in a Pennsylvania state court that the group's quality-control efforts were "minimal or nonexistent" and largely window dressing. Anita MonCrief also says that Acorn was given lists of potential donors by several Democratic presidential campaigns, including that of Barack Obama, to troll for contributions.

The Obama campaign denies it "has any ties" to Acorn, but Mr. Obama's ties are extensive. In 1992 he headed a registration effort for Project Vote, an Acorn partner at the time. He did so well that he was made a top trainer for Acorn's Chicago conferences. In 1995, he represented Acorn in a key case upholding the constitutionality of the new Motor Voter Act - the first law passed by the Clinton administration - which created the mandated, nationwide postcard voter registration system that Acorn workers are using to flood election offices with bogus registrations.


Filed under: Acorn • Barack Obama • Raw Politics
October 30th, 2008
10:15 AM ET

Saudi Hunger Strike?

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Octavia Nasr
Arab Affairs Editor

Some brave Saudis are going on a hunger strike and they want you to join them.

These are no ordinary Saudis; they're the intellectuals of the ultraconservative kingdom. The human rights activists, the bloggers, and professional journalists and lawyers. They have established a group on the social networking site FaceBook to raise awareness and recruit supporters. Their call is adding new members by the day and there is no telling yet how the Saudi government will respond. .

The "movement" is lead by Saudis themselves after lawyers for 11 men detained by the government called for a 48-hour hunger strike in support of their clients. They attorneys claim that their clients have been detained with no clear charges and without the possibility of a trial anytime soon. .

What does the Saudi government say about all this? Nothing. We have been reporting this story for five months, and all attempts to confirm the detention of some of these men, the charges they face and an update on their status were met with silence. So, in light of this latest development - the call for a hunger strike - we made another call to the Saudi Interior Ministry. They said what they've said before. "Call back in 30 minutes." When we called back at the agreed time, the answer was a resounding "No Comment."


Filed under: Global 360° • Octavia Nasr
October 30th, 2008
09:59 AM ET

Priorities for the New President

Joe Klein

In the days before the great election of 2008, your nation's capital was consumed by a single question: If Barack Obama wins, what's in it for me? A week before the balloting, I sat in the dining room of one of Washington's finest hotels and, eavesdropping madly, realized that my neighbors at every one of the adjoining tables were consumed by the vagaries of appointive politics — as I was, after my guest arrived.

The game of turbocharged, Cabinet-level musical chairs is the autumnal version of the summer speculation about vice-presidential picks: lots of fun, but not very nourishing, and I'm not going to indulge in it here (O.K., maybe a little). There are bigger fish to fry, like what's the new President — Obama is universally, prematurely, assumed the victor — actually going to do?

It was possible, in this rotisserie of naked self-promotion, to discern some larger themes. For the first time since Franklin Roosevelt, the next President will face the prospect of neither peace nor prosperity — and there seems a consensus that, as much as Obama (or John McCain, for that matter) wants to play in the world, the financial crisis will demand most of his time and political capital. From that assumption flows another.

For the sake of continuity and the absence of drama, it might not be a bad idea for Obama — if elected — to stick with the current national-security players in the battle against Islamic extremism.


Filed under: Joe Klein • Raw Politics
October 30th, 2008
09:45 AM ET

Obama and Rashid Khalidi

The McCain campaign is questioning Barack Obama's ties with a former university professor.
CNN's Tom Foreman reports.

Filed under: Raw Politics • Tom Foreman
October 30th, 2008
08:22 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Counting On One Hand

Penny Manis
AC360 Senior Producer

Hey peeps, good morning!

If you are still an undecided voter, maybe you better start flipping a coin because we can now count on one hand how many days are left till Election Day, and that would be Five.

John McCain and Barack Obama are desperately trying to close the deal in battleground states. Today we find McCain in Ohio, a state which tipped the 2004 election for President bush. A new poll shows him trailing Obama in this must-win state. Ed Henry will have the latest headlines from there tonight, and Gary Tuchman is ducking into the crowds at the rallies to see what folks who are turning up are thinking and feeling about their GOP candidate with only a handful of days left in this campaign season.

Obama starts the day in crucial Florida then heads up to Virginia for the second time in two days, and finally ending the day in Missouri. Candy Crowley will have the latest on his moves today, as he tries to remain in cruise control and keep his lead.

Inquiry minds want to know: what did you think of the Bill/Obama shared stage event last night? Are they BFF’s for real these days? Bill Clinton told folks last night that Obama represents the future. Obama pointed to Clinton and told the crowd that was what it was like to have a great Prez. This event followed Obama’s $4 million dollar, 30 minute ad that ran last night trying to lock up the undecided voters.

McCain also got his air time on Larry King… he maintains that he can surprise election predictors with a win and that he has enough time to make up the gap.

His running mate Sarah Palin is in Missouri and Pennsylvania, same states that Joe Biden hits today. Both Veep prospects have back to back rallies in PA, and despite huge effort by the McCain ticket, Obama still holds a double digit lead here. Pennsylvania is really a key state for a McCain win, can he and Palin woo crowds there in this final stretch?

Today we release new polls of Arizona, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Nevada changes, moving to the ‘lean Obama’ category therefore shifting our Electoral Map. John King will have more on this tonight from NYC.

That’s where we start the day, see you tonight!

Filed under: The Buzz
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