Small favors

These quotes from Hillary Clinton seem like a smart way to respond to the '1984' video:

“I thank heavens for small favors and the attention has shifted and now maybe people won’t have to tune in and hear me screeching about The Star Spangled Banner,” she told the New York Times.

And she told a New York TV station: "I think anything that drives interest in these campaigns and gets people who otherwise are not at all interested in politics, I think that’s pretty good. I might quibble a little bit about the content, but if we get more people, especially young people, thinking about politics, I’m happy about that."

Despite Stuart Rothenberg's pooh-poohing of YouTube, there's no escaping the power of the idea in this video. If it didn't strike a chord with something people already think, it wouldn't work. It did, and it does. Meaning the worst thing Clinton could do would be to respond contemptuously. By showing some self-deprecating humor and an embrace of one aspect of the YouTube culture, she manages to take a little bit of the sting off.

Capital Beat extra: Bill (Shaheen) and Hillary

Democratic powerbroker Bill Shaheen will be co-chairman of Hillary Clinton’s New Hampshire campaign. Shaheen will also be a co-chairman of Clinton’s national campaign.

Shaheen, husband of former governor Jeanne Shaheen, served as chairman of John Kerry’s 2004 primary campaign. Numerous Democratic presidential candidates had been courting him. A formal announcement is scheduled tomorrow.

“I chose her for a lot of reasons,” said Shaheen. “The main one is that she’s strong and she’s intelligent and she’s honest and she’s experienced.

“When I supported (U.S. Rep.) Carol Shea-Porter and the odds were against us . . . I said, ‘I don’t care. I like her, and I’m going to work for her.’ And that’s the same feeling I have for Hillary Clinton.”

New Hampshire voters, Shaheen said, “are going to realize she’s the real deal.”

Jeanne Shaheen is holding off on endorsements. She’s director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, a position that requires her to stay neutral.

- Sarah Liebowitz

Rudy's pitch

The same e-mail distribution network that sends out the Evans-Novak report and Newt Gingrich's weekly newsletter today invites readers to join Team Rudy. Here is Giuliani's pitch:

"I am running for president because when I look to the future, I see a country where Americans are confident our nation is in control of its destiny. I believe in solving problems through strength, not weakness -- from optimism, not pessimism. I am passionate about seizing our opportunity and sharing a vision of how America can be better. . . .

"From the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, to Ronald Reagan and to George W. Bush, our party's greatest contribution is to expand freedom in our own land and around the world. . . .

"When I say we should reduce taxes to stimulate the economy, I say it because I did it and saw it work. As mayor, I stood up to the politics-as-usual agenda, held fast to my principles of reform, and proved that:

  • Tax relief creates jobs and helps families.
  • Respect for the rule of law matters.
  • Giving people more control over their own lives brings the dignity of self-sufficiency.

"I've seen the everyday courage and character of Americans across our country. I've seen people build something from nothing, and stand up to corruption and fear. I've witnessed resilience and strength. I have good reason to believe in the American Dream and the remarkable things we can achieve together.

"We will see an end to global terrorism and renew America's optimism about the future. I can see it. I believe it."

It's not 1984, but . . .

Dueling (?) ripoffs of the classic 1984 Apple commercial at YouTube have fun at the expense of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The first one has been watched more than 400,000 times. The second one, which incorporates Obama's MNF plug, is new.

Spread Fred

No, not Fred Tuttle. Fred Thompson. According to his biggest fans, he's "a true American statesman" with "vast experience, conservative values and (a) common sense approach." He's also, evidently, "the only actor to be a regular on two different Law & Order series at the same time." You can read an interview with him here.

One and done?

Ramesh Ponnuru, author of The Party of Death, recently made the conservative case for John McCain in a National Review cover story. In the newest digital issue (no public link), Ponnuru argues McCain, 70, can help his cause by pledging to serve only one term. An excerpt:

"McCain was for a while the most popular politician in America, in large part because he wasn’t seen as a typical politician. An admiring press corps helped put him in that flattering light. But he has lost both that reputation and the support of the press since 2004. . . . To limit himself to one term as president would separate McCain from the rest of the pack — and particularly from Sen. Hillary Clinton, whose transparently calculating ambition is one of her major liabilities. McCain would implicitly be placing himself on the right side of the divide between those politicians who run to be someone and those who run to do something. In his case, presumably, that 'something' would be to see America through an especially dangerous phase of the war on terrorism and, secondly, to address the nation’s looming fiscal wreck. These tasks would be the veteran’s last mission. The pledge would fit the persona. Moreover, it would fit the narrative arc of McCain’s career. He has been telling us for years that we should subordinate ourselves to a cause greater than self-interest. Giving up the possibility of a second term would be a way to show that he still means it. And if he runs on this twofold mission and wins, he’ll have a clear mandate."

With him or against him

One tidbit in this week's batch of New Hampshire polling from Franklin Pierce College:

The Republican preference results are broken down among those who approve of President Bush's handling of Iraq and those who don't. Mitt Romney does better among the approving crowd (24 percent of them vs. 18 percent of the disapproving). So does Newt Gingrich (8 vs. 2). Rudy Giuliani does better among those who disapprove (34 percent vs. 25 percent among the approving). John McCain was the choice of 31 percent of the disapproving and 28 percent of the approving.

This is still-too-early, horse-race polling, etc., and the margins are small. But the concept is an interesting one to survey and watch over time. It certainly could be expanded, say, to look at how support varies based on approval of the president's immigration policy. Or his commitment (or not) to limited government.

For what it's worth, the poll found a few more Republicans approve of Bush's handling of Iraq than disapprove (50-44). With that split, it will be important to do well with both groups. Among the numbers above, the most interesting might be McCain's. If he's drawing substantial support from both groups, it suggests he's gotten traction with both his pointed criticism and his strong support of the war.

Drew Cline has some further discussion of the poll here.

Capital Beat extra: Here's looking at you

Former senator John Edwards talked about ending global poverty at the Saint Anselm College Institute of Politics today. Asked at a press conference afterward what he thought about Sen. Barack Obama calling him "kind of good-looking" during a speech in Iowa last weekend, Edwards paused.

"I think he's kind of good-looking, too," he said. "Don't you?"

"No," he went on. "I think it's a bunch of silliness."

- Chelsea Conaboy

UPDATE: The (ahem) substance of the event is described in today's Monitor here.

Clinton on the record

The New York Times has started a series of interviews with presidential candidates. Here is the transcript of this week's Q&A with Hillary Clinton.

An excerpt regarding the surge:

"What I’m hoping is that with the slight change in policy that I am detecting in the Bush administration, that perhaps some progress could be made over the next nearly two years. Certainly, the willingness to engage Iran and Syria could possibly lead to some changes that would be beneficial to the overall structure of the situation we confront.

"The surge, which is ongoing, and obviously if we’re going to do it we hope it is more successful than perhaps I think it could be.

"I’m going to root for it if it has any chance of success, but I think it’s more likely that the anti-American violence and sectarian violence just moves from place to place to place like the old Whac a Mole."

America's most libertarian senator

Writing at the New York Sun's politics site, the editor of, Liz Mair, describes John Sununu as "probably the best embodiment of fiscally conservative, socially moderate, 'leave me alone,' libertarian thinking to be found in the Senate." Mair is worried about Sununu, however, because of last fall's win by Carol Shea-Porter, whom Mair describes as "one of the most liberal -- as opposed to libertarian -- members of Congress."

Mair, who lives in Virginia, asks: "Do New Hampshire voters' political beliefs no longer match their state motto? Or have Republican missteps been so disastrous that New Hampshire voters would rather vote for a statist Democrat than anyone, no matter how libertarian, with an R listed after his or her name?"

She says that "northward migration from liberal Massachusetts seems to be playing a role in the misfortunes of Granite State Republicans." Andy Smith's polling suggests it's the people who come here from farther south -- not those who cross the border to escape Massachusetts -- who are the bane of the NH GOP.

UPDATE: Sununu just became the first Republican senator to call for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign.

UPDATE II: Kathy Sullivan, ignoring that the NH Democratic Party is also "dedicated to purging moderate Republicans from Congress" (and finally succeeded last fall), has called on Sununu to renounce his 100% rating from the Club for Growth:

"He must either renounce this right-wing group," Sullivan said in a quote coming soon to a pro-Sununu GOP fundraising letter, "or live with the fact that voters will know he prefers rigid ideological purity to moderate bipartisanship."

She cites with approval the criticism the Club for Growth has received from a group that Charlie Bass now leads. You remember Charlie. He's that flexible, non-ideological, impure Republican Sullivan worked so hard to help Paul Hodes defeat.

Who's pro-growth?

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal carried a column from the Club for Growth's Pat Toomey largely critical of John McCain's record on issues of importance to the group. The organization is in the process of releasing a series of assessments on the presidential candidates. So far, McCain, Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback have gotten the full treatment.

Capital Beat extra: a private affair

Between events in Claremont and Keene, Barack Obama will stop for a house party hosted by state Sen. Molly Kelly. The invitation-only party at the home of Jim and Judy Putnam of Keene will be closed to the public and press, according to Obama press secretary Reid Cherlin.

Obama's other stops on Friday include a 2:30 meeting with residents of an elderly housing complex in Claremont, the Earl M. Bourdon Centre, and a 6:30 forum at Keene High School that is open to the public.

UPDATE: Obama will address Southern New Hampshire University's commencement May 19. The speech, at Manchester's Verizon Center, will take place on the same day a Clinton and a Bush share the stage at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. UNH announced in January that Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush would be its commencement speakers.

- Lauren R. Dorgan

The real deal?

In our e-mail today:

"Question: When did Republicans begin embracing flip-floppers who support abortion, gun control, gay marriage, illegal immigrants and amnesty?

"Answer: When candidates Giuliani, McCain and Romney announced that they were running as Republicans for president of the United States.

"Solution: Republican presidential candidate John Cox is pro-life; he supports pro-life causes. John believes in protecting our Second Amendment rights. John Cox is against same-sex marriage/legal unions and against illegal immigration/amnesty."

- Tricia Erickson (McLean, Va.)

More on Cox here.

Capital Beat extra: Friends of the Primary

The New Hampshire Primary Awards Dinner, the annual fundraiser for the New Hampshire Political Library, will be held March 26 at the Radisson in Manchester. The library will honor four people for commitment to and support of the primary: politician and pundit Pat Buchanan, who won the 1996 Republican primary; former senator Gary Hart, who won the 1984 Democratic primary; Andrew Card, former chief of staff to President Bush; and Jill Zuckman, national correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. The event will start with a 5 p.m. reception, with the dinner and program to follow from 6 to 8:30. Individual tickets are $150. More information here.

- Eric Moskowitz and Sarah Liebowitz

Where have you gone, Estes Kefauver?

Here's a pretty good summary of the madness that is the scramble by California and other big states to hold their primaries on the first Tuesday in February 2008:

"One coast-to-coast whopper of a primary would probably be a boon for the candidates with the most money and the highest name recognition. Fresher faces, and those without big bankrolls and well-oiled machines, would have to struggle to compete in so many delegate-rich early primaries at once. The biggest losers, though, would be the voters, who would be deprived of the chance to evaluate the candidates over the course of a primary season."

Indeed, the biggest losers will be the voters.

Only one problem: This analysis comes from the New York Times editorial board, which ever since the Saturday before the 2004 New Hampshire primary (if not before) has fully embraced the effort to bury our quaint little exercise in democracy. You know, the one where voters really do get the chance to evaluate the candidates over the course of a primary season.

Back in January 2004, the Times editorialized that the New Hampshire primary had outlived its usefulness. "It is time for the parties to stop pretending there is a way to funnel the modern presidential nominating process into the mold of intimate one-on-one campaigning," the Times said. Funny, today the Times opines: "What is needed here is a little order from the leaders of the Democratic and Republican Parties. Their job should be to maintain the primaries as a way for voters to take the real live measure of their candidates." The New Hampshire primary is dead. Long live the New Hampshire primary.

Memo to the presidential candidates who are not rolling in dough: We're still here, our houses and diners and VFW halls are still open, and we're still interested in meeting you, asking you questions and listening to your answers. Come on by. Stay awhile. And don't tell the "frontrunners," but we really love sticking it to the would-be coronated.

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