McCain and Obama exchange words

Senators John McCain and Barack Obama are facing off again. During his speech on Iraq today at Virginia Military Institute, Senator McCain used Obama in an attempt to shame Democrats to support funding for the war:

“When the President vetoes, as he should, the bill that refuses to support General Petraeus’ new plan, I hope Democrats in Congress will heed the advice of one of their leading candidates for President, Senator Obama, and immediately pass a new bill to provide support to our troops in Iraq without substituting their partisan interests for those of our troops and our country.”

Senator Obama responded sternly:

“Progress in Iraq cannot be measured by the same ideological fantasies that got us into this war, it must be measured by the reality of the facts on the ground, and today those sobering facts tell us to change our strategy and bring a responsible end to this war."

"No matter how much this Administration wishes it to be true, the idea that the situation in Iraq is improving because it only takes a security detail of 100 soldiers, three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships to walk through a market in the middle of Baghdad is simply not credible or reflective of the facts on the ground."

"What we need today is a surge in honesty. The truth is, the Iraqis have made little progress toward the political solution between Shiia and Sunni which is the last, best hope to end this war. I believe that letting the Iraqi government know America will not be there forever is the best way to pressure the warring factions toward this political settlement, which is why my plan begins a phased withdrawal from Iraq on May 1st, 2007, with the goal of removing all combat troops by March 31st, 2008."

(via Greg from TPMCafe)

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

Gov. Richardson Reports Progress in North Korea

New Mexico Governor, statesman and Presidential candidate Bill Richardson reported significant progress at the end of his four day trip to North Korea.  From the BBC:

[Richardson] was leading a delegation to retrieve the bodies of US soldiers killed during the Korean War.

He said officials in Pyongyang had assured him that once the funds were made accessible, the North would act swiftly to enact its pledge to shut down Yongbyon.

"The North Korean government told us that with that issue resolved, [it] would move promptly, within a day after receiving the funds," he said.

"And therefore, within that day, [it would] invite the [UN nuclear inspectors] to Pyongyang to draft the terms for shutting down the Yongbyon reactor," he added.

Mr Richardson said he was "optimistic" about the North's willingness to shut the reactor, which was part of a deal agreed in February.

Under that landmark agreement, North Korea said it would "shut down and seal" Yongbyon in return for energy aid and other incentives from its dialogue partners - the US, China, Russia, South Korea and Japan.

But the deal has been delayed because of the financial dispute involving $25m (£12.7m) of North Korean funds, which was frozen in Macau-based Banco Delta Asia (BDA).

The deadlock looked to have been resolved on Tuesday when the US Treasury Department said the Macau authorities would lift the freeze, allowing North Korea to obtain the money.

John McCain Reaffirms Support for Bush Iraq Plan

Senator McCain just gave a major speech on Iraq at the Virginia Military Institute.  He bashed Democrats and praised the stay the course route.  Is he going to be the Mondale of the Republican primary season?  Read more here.

MoveOn.org members talk to Presidential candidates about Iraq

Yesterday, in the first of a series of Virtual Town Halls, MoveOn.org members had a chance to ask questions of sevent leading Democratic candidates for the Presidency - Republicans were invited too, but none elected to participate.  This Virtual Town Hall series is another example of the success progressives are having in using new tools to break down traditional barriers and allow for more and better communication between candidates and voters.  You can watch all the video here, and below is one clip that illustriates both the quality of the questions submitted by members and the candor candidates are capable of in this environment.

Rudy's "Four Pillars of Prosperity"

Rudy Giuliani describes his "four pillars of prosperity" in today's Financial Times (note: the article is limited to subscribers only). Just what are his pillars of American prosperity?

1 - Reduced spending growth
2 - Lower tax rates
3 - Regulatory reform
4 - Sound monetary policy

Giuliani writes:

"When economic policies are built on the four pillars of prosperity, economic growth, upward mobility and more efficient government are the result ... Fiscally conservative leadership will help restore the confidence of our shareholders: the American people." 

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

The Emerging Political Agenda from the Bottom Up

The bar just keeps getting higher when it comes to all the innovative ways new tools are being used in politics, and now, government. I’m referring to two very recent developments where average people are given opportunities to contribute their own ideas on what to  do about issues for a candidate, and for a sitting governor.

The first is Obama’s new feature on his campaign website where he gives people the opportunity to submit their ideas about what to do about the national health care problem. The ideas, and the supportive contributions, can take many forms: a written idea blurb, a written personal story, a video that sheds light on the issue, or a recorded audio message that people can  make with any computer with a microphone, which is most decent ones. The audio contribution was something I had not seen done before. But taken all together, the package opportunity is different too.

This appears to be just the beginning of many other tool rollouts for Obama. Healthcare is just the first issues of many that will soon appear but also the website indicates that there will be opportunities to collaborate in other ways too. Collaboration, after all, is the essence of the new power of what is called Web 2.0.

Then there’s Deval Patrick’s morphed campaign site. The new governor of Massachusetts, who rode the new tools and much bottom-up energy to his election victory, is now trying to harness them in governing. His nascent attempt gives residents a chance to propose and support issues that the governor should take up and try to enact.

It’s very early days in both these efforts, but they are telegraphing a trend that is bound to pick up steam in the months ahead. If this country is truly going to take on the new challenges of the 21st century in effective ways, then people in politics will need to tap into the creativity and brainpower of millions of Americans who have been shut out of politics and governing – until now.

Peter Leyden  

MySpace Primary: Social Networking Gone Wild

Social networking is going to play a big role in the politics of this cycle, but I think having a primary on MySpace might be going a bit far. We’ll see.

The MySpace primary seems to me to be gimmicky at this point, and I hope that does not turn off political people from the idea that social networking tools can be a powerful way to do what politics has always been about – connecting up people and their “social networks” of family and friends behind a campaign or candidate.

I made that point in an interview I did today around the breaking news. Separate the importance of social networking from the potential relevance of the MySpace primary. They should be evaluated on their own terms as two separate things.

There is no question that social networking will be big in politics – not the least because it is a critical medium to reach the Millennial Generation, that increasingly important young constituency.

There are a lot of questions about how a MySpace primary will fare in a real-world primary world. But you never know. I could be wrong….

Peter Leyden   

Responding to Tancredo

Today, Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO) entered the race to become the next President of the United States. His participation in this campaign guarantees that we will hear more about his policies, which include deporting 12 million people, and we will hear more rhetoric proposing an America whose definition omits a key element of the past that we at NDN hold dear: the value of immigrants.

Today, Congressman Tancredo has given the Hispanic community a reason to stand up and be heard: to silence the xenophobic nature of conservatives like Tom Tancredo and their allies in the Republican Party. Tom Tancredo and others want to take this country towards a future that denies its past and its foundation.

Now we must challenge all presidential candidates to come to the table (or return to the table as in the case of Senator John McCain) and repudiate such positions so we can work towards a responsible, comprehensive solution.

Tancredo is in.

Congressman Tom Tancredo (click here for his campaign website) officially announced his candidacy for President today. From his statement:

While we fight around the world to defend our nation, we are entrenched now in a struggle here at home to define it. The crisis of illegal immigration threatens not only our economy and our security, but our very identity...The great tradition of American assimilation has broken down. The melting pot has cracked, and our Founding ideals are leaking through....For too long Americans have been force-fed candidates who ignore or mock their valid concerns about the security of our borders, the enforcement of our immigration laws, and the survival of our national heritage. That ends today.

Reminder: Tancredo drew fire from Governor Jeb Bush (and many others) after saying that Miami resembled a Third World Country.

"La Audacia de la Esperanza"

I wanted to acknowledge the Spanish release of Sen. Barack Obama's best-selling book "The Audacity of Hope." From the AP article:

Vintage Espanol, a paperback imprint of Random House Inc., will publish "La Audacia de la Esperanza" in June with a first printing of 50,000, a high number for a Spanish release.

"It will be our biggest book of the year in Spanish," Vintage spokesman Russell Perreault said Thursday.

The work of our New Politics Institute - which encourages the use of new tools like speaking in Spanish - suggests that this could bode well for Senator Obama.

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