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Beating the Odds

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Posted on Oct 2, 2007
Edwards and McCain
AP photo / Kathy Willens and Brett Flashnick

By Bill Boyarsky

Maybe I’m crazy, but I’d bet on John McCain to win the Republican presidential nomination.  And the Democrat with the best chance to beat him is John Edwards.

In a way, contemplating the lineup of front-running candidates is a depressing exercise.  From what they’ve said, no matter who wins, U.S. troops will remain in Iraq for a long time after the election.  A fine mess you’ve gotten us into, President Bush.

Both McCain and Edwards have been pretty well written off by mainstream pundits.  Edwards gets lost amid the stories about the powerful fundraisers, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  Recently, however, some of the Clinton fans in the media appear to be suffering from buyer’s remorse and are taking a more critical look at her.

McCain was dismissed after the summer collapse of his fundraising operation.  His strong support of the unpopular war has hurt him with independent voters.  But he has plugged along, holding a solid second place to Rudy Giuliani in the national polls and remaining competitive with him in polling for the Jan. 22 New Hampshire primary.

The polls aren’t pushing me toward a long-shot bet on McCain.  Like a horseplayer at the races, I’m always looking for information from someone who sounds smart and has the inside dope, whether it be a trainer or the guy in front of me in the betting window line.

In this case, the person who sounds smart is actually pretty smart.  He’s Bill Clinton, and here is how he handicapped the Republican race on “Meet the Press” Sept. 30: Giuliani, Clinton said, is “quite durable,” while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is “quite appealing.”  He noted that Giuliani is slightly ahead in national polls, while Romney leads in Iowa and New Hampshire surveys.  The question, Clinton said, is whether Giuliani’s national lead will help him in the first contests or whether Romney, still trailing nationally, can advance in the early states.

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“There are only two potential surprises,” he said.  One is the former governor of Clinton’s home state, Arkansas—and a fellow native of Hope, Ark.—Mike Huckabee, who has turned out to be the best speaker of all the Republican candidates, a talent not reflected by his low standing in the polls.  And then there is McCain.

“John McCain is getting his second breath, and if the independents in New Hampshire decide to vote in the Republican primary instead of the Democratic primary, he can surprise.  He’s a very fine man.  He’s done a lot for the country.  I disagree with him strongly about Iraq.  But I admire him.  Any person would.”

Just how Republicans and independents feel about the war will determine the success or failure of McCain’s race for his party’s nomination.  This is especially true in New Hampshire, where independents can vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary.  Independents helped McCain to a big victory in the state in 2000.

It will be tough.  Adam Nagourney reported in The New York Times that he found that independents, comprising 45 percent of the New Hampshire electorate, “have sharply veered Democratic, reflecting growing antiwar sentiment. ...”

But there are also real Republicans voting in the primary, die-hards who haven’t switched to independent.  They tend to be conservative, given to visible displays of patriotism and more inclined to support the war than oppose it.  For example, the latest Washington Post/ABC poll showed that 80 percent of conservative Republicans feel the Democratic Congress has been too aggressive in opposing the war.

The conservative Republican world is foreign to progressive Democrats and many journalists.  They don’t understand the automatic jaw tightening that comes when a real Republican hears too much criticism of the war.  These Republicans really sing when it is National Anthem time at ballgames.  They admire war heroes.  And John McCain is a war hero.

I think, in the end, he can reach out to the Republican heartland better than that quirky New Yorker, Giuliani, or that overly slick Romney, whose Mormon faith may give these very traditional voters cause to pause and reflect before they cast their ballots.

Like McCain, Edwards is slogging along, usually beneath the notice of the high-powered media.  He must win the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 14 or come exceedingly close to a victory if he is to remain afloat.  The polls show he has a way to go.

Sen. Clinton continues to roll on.  She has plenty of money.  Her husband is a great help.  Up against Obama and the rest of the crowd in the last debate, she looked strong and he seemed weak.

But she’s also a polarizing figure.  She’s the one candidate who can be counted on to mobilize the voters—Republican voters, that is.

In June, MSNBC reported that 52 percent of the voters in a Mason-Dixon survey indicated they wouldn’t consider voting for her.  Her campaign now seems to be directed at changing that dynamic, just as Obama’s is at transcending race and showing that white and Latino voters will support an African-American.

Edwards comes to the contest without this baggage.

His heritage is a help.  Three of the Democrats’ post-World War II presidents were Southerners—Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.  Edwards is a progressive Southerner who could at least splinter the Republican hold on the South.

He was the first of the Democratic candidates to come out with a health insurance plan, and the proposals of the others are pretty much like his.  He’s a populist in a country worried about healthcare, job security and economic stagnation.  The decision of John and Elizabeth Edwards to keep campaigning after her cancer recurred probably resonates with the millions of Americans afflicted with terrible illness or injury.

Some may have thought John Edwards should have retreated with his wife to a life of care and convalescence.  I don’t think so.  Edwards showed guts, and that’s a pretty good quality in a candidate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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By Douglas Chalmers, October 6, 2007 at 7:07 am Link to this comment

Bill Boyarsky, you’d actually vote for a twisted, wheeler-dealin’ crooked lawyer (how else did he make his $$millions?) like whats-his-name??? Maybe you’re just bullsh!tting us like all those fancy politicians from the GOP, eh?

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By Outraged, October 3, 2007 at 8:12 pm Link to this comment

A vote for either one of these candidates is a vote to stay in Iraq.  As is a vote for any republican candidate except Ron Paul.  All three top democratic candidates are in it for the “long haul”.  Gravel, Kucinich, Dodd and Richardson are the democratic candidates supporting redeployment from Iraq.  While Kucinich, Paul and Gravel are the only candidates against santions and military action in Iran.  At least so they say.  The best we can do is ignore the hoopla and get accurate information out there. Past voting record is the single best indication of what they will do in the future, no matter what comes out of their mouth.

http://www.vote-smart.org/election_president.php

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By DennisD, October 3, 2007 at 6:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bill - everyone in Ameri$a knows by now that the candidate with the biggest pile of corporate money wins. Voting is irrelevant, it’s perception of choice keeps the sham of democracy alive for the few true believers that are left.

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By driving bear, October 3, 2007 at 3:07 pm Link to this comment

to #104422 by Non Credo on 10/03 at 12:06 pm

If your looking for the foreign government that wants the USA to attack Iran I would look to Saudi Arabia and the Sunni gulf state. As for influence the Saudi ambassador to the US it referred to as Bandar Bush. The Gulf states hates the Persians more than any other group in the world.  The thought of Iran having a A-bomb scares the s**t of of the Sunni states.

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By Frank, October 3, 2007 at 2:28 pm Link to this comment

You are not crazy for thinking McCain will get the Republican nomination. You are just out of touch with the Republican voters.

Barring some unforeseen epic scandal or catastrophic candidate blunder, the race will be Clinton vs. Giuliani or Thompson.

As the more moderate Republican, Giuliani at least has a chance at winning enough of the swing vote beat Clinton. Fred Thompson does not.

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By Howard, October 3, 2007 at 1:52 pm Link to this comment

Aw, baloney;  its Switzerland who is pushing us into the war ! What a lobby they have !!  No, its Australia !!

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By rage, October 3, 2007 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

McCain versus Edwards has been my bet in the local office pool too. I’d like to see Kucinich versus Paul, but could acquiesce to vote for John Edwards in fight against John McCain. Just no Shillary EVER! And, let Obama get some real-time political and governance experience on the national and international scene under his belt. Gravel and Richardson should be included in the Edwards cabinet, so that sage wisdom can counterbalance eager exuberance. Even pitch Biden into the cabinet frey. JUST NO SHILLARY. No repug lite or Demo-wannabees!

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By Jeffrey Hamilton, October 3, 2007 at 11:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve always belived that in the end the GOP would go with McCain as their safe choice, much like the dems did with Kerry in 2004.

Edwards has always been my choice, I don’t see this so-called ovrwhelming support for Hillary in real life, only from the media.

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By BobZ, October 3, 2007 at 11:23 am Link to this comment

Edward’s is my second choice behind Al Gore. Clinton is too mainstream Democratic-lite. Obama is too cerebral. Gore has the experience and maturity to make an excellent prez. Gore-Obama would be a good dream team for the Demos. Edwards has a lot of class and his wife would make an excellent first lady. Edwards has good positions on the issues although he should not have played follow the leader on the dumb 2013 comments by Clinton and Obama. The Democratic base is pretty angry about that at the moment.

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By Brian Toro, October 3, 2007 at 11:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Edwards is bad idea, a dangerous nomination for the dems. He’s too trail lawyer and could be a poorman’s version of the worst of Carter.  I don’t trust the guy.  I think Biden or Clinton can hold there own against MCain.

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By Matt, October 3, 2007 at 10:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Vote for Ron Paul and vote for common sense.  I’m surprised and excited that he’s doing as well as he is with all the bullshit that’s out there.

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By driving bear, October 3, 2007 at 10:16 am Link to this comment

to #104296 by Non Credo on 10/03 at 3:16 am

I thought GWB went to war with Iraq for the OIL.
What does Israel gain by the war?

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By eyehavenoi, October 3, 2007 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

Ron Paul makes sense.
http://www.ronpaul2008.com

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By Howard, October 3, 2007 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

Here is a pretty good article about a couple of candidates.  And yet can you believe irrational comments again placed here, of all places,  about various countries pushing us into the war in Iraq. Imagine. This article, as with all of them,  brings out people fixated and obsessed with the imagined power that a little mid-east country has. 
  Don’t they know its all the fault of Zeus?  And Imperial Rome? er, no…I mean New Zealand. No, Atlantis.

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By Sharon Ash, October 3, 2007 at 6:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Okay, you’re crazy!

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By JEP, October 3, 2007 at 6:19 am Link to this comment

“The polls aren’t pushing me toward a long-shot bet on McCain.”

yet you obviously recognize this is a mud track, and they are barely out of the first turn.  Any one of the frontrunners could take a nasty fall, Giuliani in particular, Clinton quite possibly.

With the NYC based MSM pandering for Hillary’s millions, we aren’t about to see any accurate polling or balanced debate, in this age of microtargeting, ther’s no reliable poll left but the vote itself and the exit polls that should match.  The MSM isn’t about to give up their stranglehold on the political process and it’s lucrative seasons.

So we will have to depend on the blogs and the internet for the 4th Estate duties.

Like this one.

Viva la Blogs!

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By Thomas Billis, October 3, 2007 at 5:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bill I do not you are crazy nor do I think anybody is crazy no matter who they pick until votes are cast.I am sure the covers of the major magazines who had Howard Dean all but coronated as the democratic nominee before any votes were cast are sittng on their laurels and regurgitating the poll data this time around.This time because of the unhappiness that is rife with the populace it should be even more difficult to pick which candidate in either party will be standing at the end.

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By driving bear, October 3, 2007 at 12:15 am Link to this comment

I have a few more things to say about this piece.
Bill B ( the author) thinks the independents will favor the dems because they are the anti war party.
Bill B pull your head out of your A** , or are you watching a different congress than the rest of America. Because the democratic congress has failed to end the war in Iraq and I say their is a good chance they will give bush permission to go to war with Iran ,I don’t think the democratic party will be able to claim the anti war title in 08.
In fact I think there will be a backlash against the dems by the anti war people

Also about the Mason Dixon poll he refers to if any one has a link to please send it to me. Was it a national poll or a poll of Dixie ?

Let me diverge into a little history lesson : with the exception of the civil war and reconstruction no one has ever won the white house without winning part of Dixie. I think the dems know this and that’s why they are afraid that HRC will be their candidate and she will lose the south and therefore the election

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By driving bear, October 2, 2007 at 11:25 pm Link to this comment

reply to #104186 by Non Credo on 10/02 at 5:12 pm

Just because Edwards lacks guts does not mean he lacks brains .

Let me explain
60 % of Americans are pro Israel
15 % are anti Israel
25 % are neutral to Israel

So look at it from Edwards point of view , you don’t piss off 60 % of americans had hope to win the white house.
the old yiddish expression ” god never told anybody to be stupid” applies here.

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By driving bear, October 2, 2007 at 11:25 pm Link to this comment

reply to #104186 by Non Credo on 10/02 at 5:12 pm

Just because Edwards lacks guts does not mean he lacks brains .

Let me explain
60 % of Americans are pro Israel
15 % are anti Israel
25 % are neutral to Israel

So look at it from Edwards point of view , you don’t piss off 60 % of americans had hope to win the white house.
the old yiddish expression ” god never told anybody to be stupid” applies here.

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By driving bear, October 2, 2007 at 11:09 pm Link to this comment

in reference to #104242 by Marshall K on 10/02 at 9:36 pm

The problem with Huckabee is that until a few months ago nobody outside of AK had heard of Him including the Republicans. I am a loyal repub. and hadn’t heard of him until the debate. Also his positions are similar to Ducan Hinter and Brownback. So in essence he has not set him self apart.

Also the GOP knows the secret to presidential elections. The winner is decided by 19 % of the voters.
let me explain.
43 % of voters will vote for the democrat no matter who it is.
on the flip side 38 % will vote for the GOP candidate no matter who he is.

It the other 19 % of voters who truly decide the election.

This 19 % has several names , Regan democrats , Perot voters independents etc..

This 19 % does not follow politics as closely as party loyalist and frankly name recognition will be a key factor in which way they vote

Also many in the GOP think that in the 08 election the goal is not to get a solid repub candidate in the white house but instead to stop the “satanic bitch” HRC from winning.
Many in the GOP feel rudi has the best chance of winning the 19 # and therefore stopping HRC

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By BlueEagle, October 2, 2007 at 10:42 pm Link to this comment

Maybe I’m crazy, but I’d bet on Ron Paul to win the Republican presidential nomination.  And the Democrat with the best chance to beat him is Barack Obama.

In a way, contemplating the lineup of front-running candidates is an exciting exercise, because those in the lead will not take it home. I don’t listen to “they” anymore and know that only Ron Paul will bring ALL the troops home. That means no permanent bases in Iraq and troops from Saudia Arabia, North Korea, Germany, Japan etc. will come home. Yes, Bush has messed things up, but there is hope, and that hope come in the form of Ron Paul.

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By Marshall K, October 2, 2007 at 10:36 pm Link to this comment

I don’t get Republicans.  In my mind Mike Huckabee reflects what I always thought were their values.  He is a true fiscal conservative, he has been married to the same woman forever, he was a Baptist minister!  His positions on issues are the same today as last year.
Democrats are just as bad.  Ignore the true anti war candidates and go for the glitz.
All the front runners from both parties scare me!

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By driving bear, October 2, 2007 at 8:44 pm Link to this comment

I think everyone is overlooking the fact that the first primaries are 4-5 months away, and the general election is 13 months away. I personally think when the dust settles it will HRC v/s Rudi
however I admit that a lot can happen in 4 months.

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By Liza, October 2, 2007 at 7:19 pm Link to this comment

This is not how it’s going to go down.

McCain is a geezer, first of all.  He will be 72 by the time of the election and he looks every day of it.  Also, he has a bad temper, he’s a neocon, and his voting record in the Senate would kill him. 

Edwards is a re-run.  He just hasn’t got enough support to get past either Hillary or Obama.

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By Mike Baum, October 2, 2007 at 5:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t see how Edwards or McCain can emerge from their third place positions.  None of the polls I’ve seen have suggested that either candidate is making any significant progress at pushing ahead of the admittedly lackluster frontrunners.  Personally I find Edwards more appealing than Obama or Clinton, but he has yet to assert himself in a way that differentiates himself from the pack.  And McCain has lost much of the fiercely principled patina that once made him seem like more of an independent than a Republican.  Now, he merely comes accross as an apologist for Bush and his failed war in Iraq.

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By TC, October 2, 2007 at 5:14 pm Link to this comment

I still think candidate John Doe Dimslow is the best bet in ‘08 - even if he decides against choosing as his running mate Hulagu Khan, the grandson of Genghis and the last outsider before Captain America to conquer Iraq: http://apragmaticpolicy.wordpress.com/2007/04/11/dimslow-08/

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