Monday, September 28, 2009

How Republicans Lost in 2008

Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson. The Battle fpr America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election. New York: Viking. A James H, Silverman Book. Penguin Group, 2009.

“I think the whole election was a novel” declared Barack Obama. This book is that nonfiction novel of the 2008 Presidential race.

The Obama campaign began its campaign against the experienced Clinton campaign. Obama Campaign manager David Plouffe recalls they didn’t have a bank account, credit card, or web site when the campaign began.

McCain’s campaign ran out of money just before the New Hampshire Primary, where McCain was expecting to do well. The McCain campaign feared ending before having the change to get underway.

Obama claims during his book tour, when he stated he was not running for President, that he truthfully was not planning to run. The public reaction to his appearances were mostly positive and the crowds were large. The press dubbed it Obamamania. As the book sold well and the idea of running for President persisted, Obama consulted fellow Illinois Seantor Dick Durbin, Ted Kennedy, and Tom Daschle. All three urge Obama to run. Kennedy in fact believed Obama would have to take controversial stances on issues while serving as Senator and that his chances at being elected President would decrease over time. Obama announced for President in January 2007.

Hillary Clinton received advice from Sen. Robert Byrd on becoming an effective Senator. She worked with Republicans on legislation. She traveled throughout her state of New York and worked on their needs.

The nation’s voters were in a mood for change. There was also a rising influence of young voters. This would be the backdrop setting the stage for Obama’s election.

The Obama campaign began with just four staffers. The office bought a phone with an Iowa area code without having an office in Iowa. In the early campaign appearances, Hillary Clinton connected with audiences while Obama left them disappointed. Obama found an advantage in being the only candidate to have voted against the war in Iraq. This made his anti-war sentiments come across as more sincere than when expressed by other Democratic candidates.

Clinton led Obama in the early polls. Obama surprisingly raised more money through contributions. Clinton had an early funding advantage due to leftover funds from previous contributors. At a debate, Hillary Clinton’s position on immigration received much negative scrutiny. Clinton thus appeared vulnerable.

John Edwards devoted much of his energies towards winning the Iowa Caucus. In debates, Clinton and John Edwards sparred with each other, which helped Obama. Clinton was stunned when she came in third and Obama on in Iowa. The Clinton campaign staff bickered and some were dismissed. Those dismissed thought they were made scapegoats.

The Clinton campaign was counting on a big victory in the multistate Super Tuesday primaries. Obama received the endorsement of Ted Kennedy, something a Kennedy aide claims Obama says was the emotionally happiest day of Obama’s life. Obama’s early wins in Iowa and South Carolina along with a strong financial base and Kennedy’s endorsement made him a major contender on Super Tuesday. Obama did will, winning almost as many Delegates as Clinton won.

Obama’s fund raising grew even stronger. Racial issues emerges over comments made by Obama’s controversial minister. Some of the fallout was minimized when Obama secured another important endorsement, this time from Gov. Bill Richardson, the Hispanic Governor of New Mexico and former Clinton Cabinet member.

Clinton had a string of primary victories. The race for the nomination tightened.

On the Republican side, Rudy Guiliani was the initial front runner in the polls. Mitt Romney began running TV ads early in the race. Giuliani’s stance on abortion, stating he favored choice but felt it would be fine to overturn Roe v. Wade made social conservatives feel Guiliani was too liberal while others were upset over his inconsistency with his previous pro-choice position. Romney moved into the lead in polls. McCain began campaigning strongly for more troops in Iraq, which helped improve his standings. Mike Huckabee won the Iowa Caucus, which slowed the Romney campaign. McCain won in New Hampshire, which revived his campaign. McCain went on to win the nomination.

McCain was going to pledge to serve just one term. He then decided that might constrain his effectiveness as President and he removed that statement from his nomination acceptance speech less than a day before he gave it.

The nation moved into a financial panic, which hurt the image of Republicans. Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin gave interviews where she did not appear well informed. Obama slipped past McCain in the polls and went on to win the election.


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