McCain on the Daily Show

Jon Stewart interviewed John McCain last night.

Tangential editorial comment: Stewart's questions were fair but tough, and the audience was hostile. Isn't it far more admirable for McCain to face this than for the Democrats to refuse to debate on Fox News?

Law & Order vs. Law & Order?

It's Sam Waterston vs. Fred Thompson. Or it could be, if Thompson is the GOP nominee and Unity08 actually gets off the ground. Then again, Arthur Branch is Jack McCoy's boss. Will they end up on the same team in November 2008 as well? That scenario isn't directly addressed in the Unity08 FAQ.

McCain, abortion and (free) speech

How did it come to pass that someone with the pro-life and pro-strict-constructionist-judge voting record of John McCain (think Robert Bork) could be so detested by the pro-life lobby? It's all about campaign finance reform, as explained here.

By coincidence, the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law was receiving its latest Supreme Court test today as McCain was making his presidential campaign official with this Portsmouth speech.

The speech built nicely on the big-themed speeches McCain gave in recent weeks (see, for instance, here). It didn't play so well on TV, however.

Later today the oral argument transcript from the court will be posted here. The Monitor's editorial on the case is here. Much more here, here and here.

Capital Beat extra: fear and loathing

Barack Obama says Rudy Giuliani has "taken the politics of fear to a new low."

In a Manchester speech last night, Giuliani invoked the specter of another terrorist attack and said the nation would be "waving the white flag on Iraq" and "going on defense" on national security if a Democrat wins the White House. More about the speech here.

Obama responded in a statement today: "America's mayor should know that when it comes to 9/11 and fighting terrorists, America is united. We know we can win this war based on shared purpose, not the same divisive politics that question your patriotism if you dare to question failed policies that have made us less secure."

- Lauren R. Dorgan

The Monitor's coverage of Giuliani's earlier appearances yesterday, including a town hall meeting at New England College, is here. More Obama v. Giuliani jousting here.

UPDATE: Drew Cline says Rudy didn't say what The Politico reported he said.

And Kevin Drum can't believe the Democrats responded to whatever Rudy said without saying why, actually, they believe the country would be safer with a Democratic president.

The two Tennessee waltzers

One former senator from Tennessee is telegraphing a run for president. Another former senator from Tennessee is not. Which is which?

Here is a blurb about a reunion of former supporters of Al Gore. It follows this report of secret planning for a campaign. And, don't forget, Bill Clinton's speculation that Gore might run.

Meanwhile, a pointed yet ultimately mild rebuke of Fred Thompson's voting record on tort reform prompted this lengthy response from the candidate -- er, potential candidate -- himself.

Bottom line: People named, or friendly to people named, Clinton are behind the Gore talk. Thompson is taking a detailed interest in himself. He's the one who plans to run.

Show biz

Does this Bill Richardson TV ad (from his 2006 landslide re-election as governor of New Mexico) work for or against him? These new ads for his presidential campaign show his serious side.

Capital Beat extra: Applause for Lynch

Hillary Clinton was the first presidential candidate to weigh in on Gov. John Lynch's announcement today that he would sign legislation establishing civil unions for same-sex couples.

"New Hampshire has a long history of protecting its citizens from discrimination," Clinton said in a prepared statement. "I would like to commend Governor Lynch and the New Hampshire Legislature for their commitment and support for the civil rights of gays and lesbians."

- Sarah Liebowitz

A Ron Paul boomlet?

According to OpenSecrets, Ron Paul raised more money in New Hampshire than John McCain or Rudy Giuliani during the first three months of the year. Neighbor Mitt Romney was far and away the biggest beneficiary of Granite State dollars: In fact, more than one-third of all the money raised in this state by the candidates of either party went to Romney. Among Democrats, Barack Obama narrowly edged Hillary Clinton. (And, of course, all this New Hampshire dough is but a rounding error on the national totals. Well, maybe not in Paul's case.)

McCain: no more punting

The dominant theme of John McCain's economic policy speech today in Memphis is that he's running for president to solve problems, not to put them off.

From his discussion of entitlement spending (as prepared for delivery):

"If I'm president, I'll submit a plan to save Social Security and Medicare, and I'll ask Democrats in Congress to do the same. We'll listen to what people outside government suggest as well. I'll work on a bipartisan basis to make the hard choices; to protect the retirement security of the American worker, and the growth of the American economy. And if Congress is afraid to make those choices, then they can just let me do it. I'll take the heat. I'll ask Congress to let me submit a comprehensive proposal. I'll prepare it carefully, fairly and honestly. And they can vote yes or no on that proposal: no amendments; no filibuster; no tricks: no band-aid solutions; no more lies; no more kicking the can down the road as the problem becomes harder and more expensive to solve; no more hoping that a future generation of leaders will have the courage we lack. If some of their constituents complain, and they will, they can put the blame on me. I can take it. What I can't take is the shame of leaving office knowing that America's future was less promising than its past. I've spent my life fighting to make sure that sad day never comes."

And the speech's conclusion:

"I'm not running for president to be somebody, but to do something; to do the hard but necessary things -- not the easy and needless things. I'm running for president to protect this country from harm and defeat our enemies. I'm running for president to make the government do its job, not your job; to do it with less, and to do it better. I'm running for president to defend our freedom and expand our opportunities. I'm running for president not to leave our biggest national problems to some unluckier generation of leaders, but to fix them now, and leave our grandchildren a safer, freer and more prosperous country than the one we were blessed to inherit. I'm running for president to make sure America maintains its place as the political and economic leader of the world; the country that doesn't fear change but makes change work for us; the country that doesn't long for the good old days, but aspires to even better days. I'm running for president of the United States, not a defeated country, not a bankrupt country; not a timid and frightened country; not a country fragmented into bickering interest groups with no sense of or dedication to the national interest; not a country with a bloated, irresponsible and incompetent government. I'm not running for town manager or school board member or corporate treasurer or surgeon general or head of the trial lawyers association or secretary of the local charity. I'm running for president of the United States, the most powerful, prosperous nation and greatest force for good on Earth. And if I am elected president I intend to keep it so."

UPDATE: The full speech is here.

Money snapshot

OpenSecrets has an easy-to-read summary of what the campaigns raised and how much cash on hand they reported as of the end of March.

Pro-life? Fuhgetaboutit

From the Des Moines Register:

"Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani warned GOP activists in Des Moines on Saturday that if they insist on a nominee who always agrees with them, it will spell defeat in 2008. 'Our party is going to grow, and we are going to win in 2008 if we are a party characterized by what we’re for, not if we’re a party that’s known for what we’re against,' the former New York mayor said at a midday campaign stop. Republicans can win, he said, if they nominate a candidate committed to the fight against terrorism and high taxes, rather than a pure social conservative. 'Our party has to get beyond issues like that,' Giuliani said, a reference to abortion rights, which he supports.

Line-item litmus test

Fans of the line-item veto have a reason to worry about Rudy Giuliani, according to a column in today's Wall Street Journal. When a Republican Congress gave President Clinton the line-item veto and he used it to cut $200 million in New York-bound pork, it was Mayor Giuliani who went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won a ruling that the line-item veto is unconstitutional.

Of course, you can be for less federal spending and still believe that a line-item veto is unconstitutional.

The Democrats on Iraq

You can read a transcript of Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson discussing Iraq here. The forum was a virtual town hall meeting set up by Here you can find easy links to YouTube (audio) clips of the event.

Big week for speeches

Mitt Romney yesterday. John McCain today.

Tough love

One of Rudy Giuliani's biggest fans says the vision thing ain't enough. It's about competence.

UPDATE: Cal Thomas shows little love for Rudy: "Giuliani says people who don't like his position do not have to vote for him. Many social conservatives who view abortion as a make or break issue are likely to follow his advice."

Somewhere in between, Jonah Goldberg describes himself as a Rudy fan but makes the points that 1) Giuliani is clearly more liberal than McCain on abortion and 2) if victory in Iraq trumps all, then McCain is second to none.

"McCain plans to make his candidacy a referendum on victory in Iraq. It is a truly bold and courageous gambit. At a time when the polls advise running away from the war, McCain will embrace it. . . . There are many reasons to have reservations about McCain: his love of regulation, his animosity toward free-marketers or simply his age and temper. But conservatives who claim that the war trumps everything but won't even consider pulling the lever for McCain have some growing up to do."

UPDATE II: Today's Monitor carried McCain's account of his latest trip to Iraq. You can read it here. E.J. Dionne describes what he calls the McCain tragedy here.

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