November 12th, 2009
10:52 AM ET

The Rogue Returns: On the Road with Sarah Palin

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/09/09/palin.health.care/art.palin.gi.jpg]

Mark Halperin

The title of Sarah Palin's memoir, Going Rogue, is a little misleading. The gerund suggests that the woman who went from obscurity to the GOP ticket to the exit door of the Alaska governor's mansion in less than a year is still on a journey toward rogue-dom.

In fact, when Palin emerged from a self-imposed semi-exile on Nov. 6 to speak before 4,000 fans just outside Milwaukee at what organizers called the largest pro-life gathering in Wisconsin history, two things were abundantly clear: Palin is now a thoroughly professional rogue — and she is going to sell a ton of books. She has become her own reality show.

The line began forming at the state fairgrounds more than three hours before the main event and stretched longer than half a mile. The crowd wore buttons bearing her image and passed the time making jokes about the media while eagerly snatching up T-shirts a local talk-radio station was giving away that labeled Palin "America's Conservative Conscience." Once inside the cavernous exhibition hall, they chanted, "Sarah!" with growing fervor until their heroine appeared, flexing her distinctive charisma in a killer red dress, high heels and her trademark glasses. The event was closed to the press, and cameras were barred from the hall, not only to preserve the mystery and anticipation before her formal debut but also to protect against unflattering YouTube postings. I bought a public ticket for admittance, as did several other journalists.


Filed under: Mark Halperin • Sarah Palin
November 3rd, 2008
09:03 AM ET

For McCain, the numbers aren't adding up

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/03/mccain.numbers.jpg caption="John McCain holds a town hall meeting in Peterborough, New Hampshire on Sunday. "]

Mark Halperin
Editor-at-large & Senior analyst, TIME Magazine
The Page, TIME.com

Barring an extraordinary shock, Barack Obama will win more than 270 electoral votes on Tuesday, giving him the White House. Hours before voting starts, John McCain has no clear path to reaching that same goal.

In fact, based on interviews with political strategists in both parties, election analysts and advisers to both presidential campaigns — including a detailed look at public and private polling data — an Obama victory with well over 300 electoral votes is a more likely outcome than a McCain victory.

Under the Electoral College system, a candidate wins all of a state's electoral votes as long as he or she achieves a popular vote victory of any margin. Obama's commanding position results from the fact that he holds seemingly impregnable popular vote leads in twenty-four states, plus the District of Columbia, with 291 electoral votes, more than he needs to win. Obama's geographic anchors are the northeast, the mid-Atlantic, the upper industrial Midwest and the west coast, all areas that Democratic presidential candidates have dominated for several election cycles. But he is encroaching on other states as well that have recently gone dependably Republican, including Nevada, Virginia and Colorado.

With his superior spending, better organization on the ground, and poll standing, in fact, Obama actually seems poised to win the majority of the remaining toss-up states. If there is a pro-Democratic/anti-Bush wave cresting, as some top strategists in both parties believe, Obama could take all of the still contested battlegrounds, giving him nearly 400 electoral votes, and a significant multi-regional mandate. The remaining toss-up states are all large ones — Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri — with a total of 84 electoral votes, and were all won by Bush in 2000 and 2004. And some additional western and southern states that are currently leaning towards McCain (such as North Dakota and Georgia) could end up in the Democratic column, lifting Obama over 400.

McCain's challenge — and only hope — is to find a way to get just over 270 votes, starting with pulling back into the Republican column some states that appear to be titling clearly towards Obama. Then he needs to sweep the toss-ups, where in almost every case polling shows him behind. Right now, McCain leads solidly or more narrowly in 21 states with 163 electoral votes.


Filed under: 2008 Election • Barack Obama • John McCain • Mark Halperin • Raw Politics
October 8th, 2008
11:11 AM ET

Grading the Second Presidential Debate

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/08/art.vert.debate2.both.jpg caption="Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama and Republican candidate Sen. John McCain shake hands at the start of a townhall-style presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, Tuesday." width=292 height=320]Mark Halperin
Editor-at-large & Senior analyst, TIME Magazine
The Page, TIME.com


Substance: Crisply specific on his economic platform, and personal and expository on the importance to regular Americans of the financial bailout. The Democratic nominee was manifestly familiar with the intricacies of the Federal Government, including the budget. But he still is not touting any signature policies in a manner that would burn them into the national consciousness or clarify his game plan once in office.

Grade: B+

Style: Neither nervous nor tentative in speech or manner. He was comfortable walking the stage and interacting with the questioners, although, as always, led with his head and not his heart. Less grim than in the first debate, he was still perhaps too antiseptic for some tastes, without generating passion or big moments.

Grade: B+

Offense: For most of the evening, he firmly jabbed at McCain on some of his recent statements, but without much impact. He hit harder by citing some of McCain's foreign policy miscues, including his famous singing of "Bomb, Bomb Iran"—drawing a strained, rattled reply from his rival. Rigorously familiar with McCain's policy proposals and past statements, particularly on health care, he used that arsenal in his arguments. Seeded answers with mentions of "George Bush" whenever he could, which his campaign considers an automatic, all-purpose trump card.

Grade: B+

Defense: Unruffled when McCain went after him, smiling softly while he waited to respond. And respond he did...


John McCain's report card

Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Mark Halperin • Raw Politics
October 3rd, 2008
05:17 PM ET

The Vice-Presidential-Debate Report Cards

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/03/viceprez.scorecard.jpg caption="Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Joe Biden greet each other before the start of their vice presidential debate Thursday. "]

Mark Halperin
Editor-at-large & Senior analyst, TIME Magazine
The Page, TIME.com

Sarah Palin


In a debate of mostly general questions, she chose never to be any more specific than necessary. Had some planned policy points she was keen to make, but such moments were few and fleeting. Benefited from the format, which invited simplicity and avoided confrontation.

Grade: B-


Chose to look directly at the camera most of the time rather than at Joe Biden, moderator Gwen Ifill or the live audience. Her days of intense rehearsal were apparent, but she was much smoother than in recent media interviews when unspooling canned lines and opinions. Was crisp and calm and kept her folksiness to a few short bursts but effectively unleashed her earthy, relatable charm at choice moments in a winning way.

Grade: B+


Kept up a drumbeat of criticism against Barack Obama and, to a lesser extent, Biden — but produced no sound-bite moment and was unable to rattle her opponent. Most dramatically, she charged that the Democratic ticket wants to wave a "white flag of surrender" in Iraq. Firmly hit her campaign's main themes (Obama equals higher taxes and Washington business as usual). Ably brandished the opposition research on Obama's record and promises.

Grade: B

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Joe Biden • Mark Halperin • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
October 1st, 2008
04:09 PM ET

The five most important people in American politics not running for president

Mark Halperin
Editor-at-large & Senior analyst, TIME Magazine
The Page, TIME.com

  1. McCain pollster Bill McInturff
  2. Roy Blunt
  3. John Boehner
  4. Todd Palin
  5. Harry Reid

Read original article on The Page at TIME.com

Filed under: Mark Halperin • Raw Politics