Friday, January 04, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama, bidding to be the first Black president in American history, won the Iowa caucuses Thursday night, 3 December, pushing Sen. Hillary Clinton back to third place in the opening test of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Obama, 46, told a raucous victory rally his triumph showed that in "big cities and small towns, you came together to say, 'We are one nation, we are one people and our time for change has come.'"
Final Democratic returns showed the first-term lawmaker gaining 38 percent support. Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina gained second, barely edging out Clinton, the former first lady.

Barack Obama's victory in the overwhelmingly white state of Iowa could answer the question of whether America is ready to elect a Black president. Voters also seemed to reject the criticism that the first-term senator from Illinois lacked experience, wooed instead by his message of change.

He said: "Hope is the bedrock of this nation, the belief that our destiny will not be written for us but by us; by all these men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is; who have the courage to remake the world as it should be. That is what we started in Iowa and that is the message we can now carry to New Hampshire and beyond."
Together ordinary people can do extraordinary things because we are not a collection of red states or blue states. We are the United States of America and in this moment and this election we are ready to believe again. Thank you Iowa," said Senator Barack Obama, (D) Illinois.

Polls of people entering the caucuses showed his words also resonated with many independent voters.

Obama's win gives us all hope. It signifies the kind of country we imagine ourselves being: optimistic, forward-looking and unafraid to take risks.

Obama's stirring victory in Iowa -- down home, folksy, farm-fed, Midwestern, and 92 percent white Iowa -- says a lot about America, and also about the current mindset of the American voter.
This is the kind of country we've always imagined ourselves being -- even if in the last seven years we fell horribly short: a young country, an optimistic country, a forward-looking country, a country not afraid to take risks or to dream big.
All of which added up to a bad night for Hillary Clinton, who has seen her position as Democratic front-runner falter.
Bill Clinton has privately told friends that if Hillary didn't win, it would be because of the two weeks that followed her shaky performance in the Philadelphia debate.
But it wasn't those two weeks. Indeed, if we were to pinpoint one decisive moment, it would be Bill Clinton on Charlie Rose, arrogant and entitled, dismissive and fear-mongering. And then Bill Clinton giving us a refresher course in '90s-style truth-twisting and obfuscation -- making stuff about always having been against the war, and about Hillary having always been for every good decision during his presidency and against every bad one, from Ireland to Sarajevo to Rwanda.
So voters in Iowa remembered the past and decided that they didn't want to go back. They wanted to move ahead. Even if that meant rolling the dice.
"I think this is great, this is wonderful historic milestone. We are going to be electing an African-American in this country and it's also what's important is that keep in mind that this is a state that is 95-percent white, three-percent Black," said Obama supporter Paul Hogarth.
"I think the Bushes and the Clintons the day and the era is over. It's a time to move on and to move with a different movement and stop fighting the old fights, and move over to a new generation and just a different way of doing things," said Obama supporter Sam Suleman.
"I expect us to win New Hampshire. We are going to work very hard as if we are behind. That's the idea," said Obama supporter Zennie Abraham.
Across town it was quite a different scenario for supporters of Hillary Clinton. Clinton finished third, a huge setback for the senator who just weeks ago, was considered the favorite in the Democratic nomination.
For Clinton and her supporters, it's now time to re-group and focus in New Hampshire.

In Milford, N.H., Barack Obama drew thunderous applause from raucous New Hampshire Democratic Party activists Friday night:, 4 January 2008, when he said that he was prepared to build a new majority that will put Democrats in power.
Delivered a day after the Iowa caucuses that gave him a victory and Hillary Clinton a stunning third-place finish, he received a boisterous receptions at the state party's annual fundraising dinner.
Obama issued a call for a broader political base founded on progressive values.
"If you know who you are, if you know what you believe in, if you know what you are fighting for, then you can afford to listen to folks who don't agree with you, you can afford to reach across the aisle every once in a while," Obama said. "It won't hurt you. You won't be compromised and you will be able to form the majorities that will defeat the special interests and ... win elections."
Clinton, Obama, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Rep. Dennis Kucinich all made their presidential pitches to the 3,000 hardy partisans assembled Friday night for the New Hampshire Democratic Party's fundraising dinner, the largest in its history.
After a day of making his case to New Hampshire voters, including the state's unpredictable independents, he offered some sharper partisan rhetoric for the appreciative crowd.
Former Sen. John Edwards, who edged Clinton for second place in Iowa, skipped the dinner in favor of campaigning at a town hall meeting in Portsmouth. But his wife, Elizabeth, attended and made herself available to reporters during the event's preliminary speeches.
President Bush was a popular target for the Democrats.
"There are many reasons history will judge George W. Bush harshly," Clinton said at one point. "But among the top two is how he has used fear to divide us. The other is because we have been infected by a sense of fatalism."
Clinton received a rousing cheer at the end of her 18-minute address, but Obama, the last speaker of the night, had the audience on its feet, waving placards during an earsplitting ovation.
Clinton conceded Obama's call for bipartisanship but stressed her allegiance to the party.
"We've got to bring people together across the divide that too often separates us," she said. "But we also have to stand for Democratic principles. I am proud to be a Democrat."
Obama, without mentioning her name, rejected Clinton's argument that she is better prepared for the presidency than he is and signaled that he is prepared for the critique.
"Lately people have been saying, 'Well, Obama, he may talk good, he may have good ideas,'" he said. "But they will say, 'Obama hasn't been in Washington long enough, he needs to be seasoned and stewed and we need to boil all the hope out of him. You know, that argument did not work in Iowa and it's not going to work in New Hampshire."
On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee, a preacher turned politician, handily defeated Romney despite being outspent by millions of dollars and deciding in the campaign's final days to scrap television commercials that would have assailed the former Massachusetts governor.
He stressed his religion to the extent of airing a commercial that described himself as a "Christian leader" in his race against a man seeking to become the first Mormon president.
Nearly complete returns showed Huckabee with 34 percent support, compared with 25 percent for Romney. Former Sen. Fred Thompson and Sen. John McCain battled for third place, while Texas Rep. Ron Paul wound up fifth and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani sixth.
In his victory speech, Huckabee said the result proved that "people are more important than the purse."
"A new day is needed in American politics, just like a new day is needed in American government," the former Arkansas governor told cheering supporters. "It starts here, but it doesn't end here."
Romney sought to frame his defeat as something less than that, saying he had trailed Huckabee by more than 20 points in the polls a few weeks ago. "I've been pleased that I've been able to make up ground, and I intend to keep making up ground, not just here but across the country," he said.
The words were brave, but already his strategy of bankrolling a methodical campaign in hopes of winning the first two states was in tatters — and a rejuvenated McCain was tied with him in the polls in next-up New Hampshire.
Late Thursday, McCain congratulated Huckabee on his victory.
"I look forward to seeing him on the campaign trail, and I know that he'll continue his positive campaign," McCain said at a campaign event in Manchester, N.H.
With his victory tonight, Barack Obama is now the strong favorite to be the Democratic nominee for president. The only one who can stop Obama from making history is Obama.
It's hard to believe a few thousand votes in Iowa can have so shaken the political landscape, but the front-loading of the primary process—originally meant to be a way to settle on Hillary Clinton early so she could concentrate on defeating the GOP in November—has backfired badly for the Democratic Party establishment.
Unless he makes a terrible mistake in this weekend's WMUR debate in New Hampshire, Obama will be the strong favorite to win in the Granite State. That leaves 18 days until the South Carolina primary, but even that time will probably not be enough for Clinton to fight her way back. With half of South Carolina's Democrats being African-American, her chances won't be good.
Many Blacks have been waiting to see if Obama was for real. Now that white Iowa has voted for him, they will likely move strongly toward him. That was the pattern among Black voters when Obama ran for the Senate in Illinois.
Sources within John Edwards's campaign tell me that if Edwards drops out (unlikely before New Hampshire), he will throw his support to Obama. Should the Illinois senator win New Hampshire and South Carolina, it will be next to impossible to prevent him from becoming the nominee on Feb. 5, Super Tuesday.
The only way he gives Edwards or Clinton a second wind is to mess up. The press will get more intense, increasing the likelihood of a crippling mistake. But so far, Obama has suffered no more than the normal number of relatively minor gaffes. One or two flat debate performances won't be enough to sink him. It will take the kind of big gaffe that only rarely transforms campaigns.

Barack Obama, 44th president of the United States. Get used to it. That’s what tonight’s result probably means. People will point to national polls and say that Hillary Clinton is still the front runner but they’ll be wrong. The Democratic race is now Obama’s to lose. And would anyone bet on a Republican – even John McCain or Fred Thompson or even Ron Paul - beating him next November? I think not. Change is in the air. Change is coming. America is alive again. GOD BLESS AMERICA!



Blogger ichbinalj said...

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine said Barack Obama's win in the Iowa caucus shows broad support for the Illinois senator.
Obama swept to victory in the Iowa caucuses Thursday night, taking a major stride in a historic bid to become the nation's first black president. Final Democratic returns showed the first-term lawmaker gaining 37 percent support.
Former Sen. John Edwards, of North Carolina, gained second, barely edging out former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

9:05 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

For the first time, Black Americans awoke Friday with a plausible sign that one of our own could be president. Prominent Black leaders, many of them now backing Hillary, may be pressed to reconsider.

"They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned," a broadly smiling Obama said Thursday in Iowa. "But on this January night, at this defining moment in history, you have done what the cynics said we couldn't do."

11:33 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The Democratic establishment and its presidential candidate, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, was brought low in Iowa, shaken seriously by a national newcomer who won decisively on a message of change.

The victor in Iowa, Senator Barack Obama for the Democrats, is as far from the status quo as possible. The son of a Kenyan father and a white Kansan mother who entered the United States Senate just three years ago.
Obama has burst the aura of strength and confidence that Clinton had tried to cultivate for months and left the Democrats suddenly without a clear path to their nominating convention, let alone November.

Hillary's loss was especially glaring: her central strategy for much of 2007 was to appear as the inevitable nominee, but Iowans shredded that notion. She tried in recent weeks to convince voters that another Clinton administration could be an agent of change, but Iowans clearly did not buy it.

11:41 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Polls have indicated the vast majority of Americans say they would support a Black candidate seeking the White House. A Gallup survey conducted in early 2007 found only 6 percent of men and 5 percent of women said they would not vote for a Black presidential candidate _ a seismic political shift from 50 years ago when more than half those surveyed felt that way.

10:32 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

"Obama is running in a way that a lot of white voters feel very sympathetic," said Merle Black, an Emory University political scientist. "He doesn't make them feel guilty. He's not running a Jesse Jackson campaign or an Al Sharpton campaign. He's positioned himself to be a candidate who happens to be Black, rather than a Black candidate."

10:34 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

"America's becoming more open-minded," said Mark Jambretz, a 36-year-old sales director at an Internet company in San Francisco. "I as a Republican can say that, and we need to open our eyes to people representing all ethnicities."

10:37 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

"I think that America wants a lot of change. I don't necessarily know if it matters that he's Black or not _ just that they want something different," said John Beckner, while waiting for a table with his daughters outside Matt's Big Breakfast, a diner in the shadow of downtown Phoenix.

Beckner, a 34-year-old systems engineer who is white and married to a Black woman, said he knows not all Americans will be able to look beyond Obama's race. "I'm sure he's going to alienate some people that just aren't ready for that, or think he has special interests or a minority agenda," he said. "... But the thirst for change is so strong ... that would probably be enough to get him elected."

10:38 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Obama's candidacy is groundbreaking and a sign that America is changing _ even in the Deep South.
"We can all go back to our history books and a couple of years ago something like this would never have happened," said JaQuinda Harkness, a 20-year-old College of Charleston student strolling during lunch hour in the South Carolina city's historic district. "For this to be happening this year, this century and for me to living in it is amazing."

Sivi Bobbitt, a 35-year-old graduate student at Clark Atlanta University, is enthused too and believes Obama "wants the country to be the melting pot it's supposed to be."

She also thinks Obama's biracial background may make him more palatable to white voters _ especially younger ones who tend to be more open-minded.

"How our society is now, the younger generation doesn't see color anymore," she said. "It's not a white thing. It's not a black thing. We don't think like that anymore."

10:42 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

With New Hampshire voting on Tuesday, 8 January, Hillary Clinton needed to change the dynamic in the 5 January ABC debate in Manchester. She didn’t manage it. Instead, she was caught by a tag team against her in which John Edwards was the attack dog – branding her as representing the “forces of status quo” – and Barack Obama was able to sound reasonable and rise above the fray.

10:53 AM  

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