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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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February 28, 2008 8:11 PM

Clinton hears of tough life in Ohio hill country

Posted by David Postman

HANGING ROCK, Ohio - Hillary Clinton came to the Appalachian foothills to hear from people Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said “sometimes feel like life doesn’t give them a fair shake.”

There was a young, single mom going to college and working and a mother who struggles to find a way to pay for medical tests to figure out why her youngest child is developmentally delayed. Those two were invited to participate in Clinton’s event here. But the audience shared more tough tales of life in Appalachia.

A woman began to cry as she told Clinton of losing a job when the company she worked for shut its doors. She has no health insurance and has two children, one with disabilities. She has $16,000 of medical debt and, she told Clinton, “now we are living on $20,000 or less a year, which very much scares me.”

She’s a full-time student, who lost almost half her severance to taxes and still could lose unemployment benefits because she’s going to college and not a vocational or technical school.

“It’s like you’re stuck in that same rut and the government is trying to penalize you for bettering yourself,” she said.

Clinton at town hall today.

The Clinton campaign organized the town hall meeting as a chance for the candidate to talk about her plans for universal health care, expanded federal aid for child care and other anti-poverty programs.

Continue reading this post ...

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February 27, 2008 5:57 PM

A political walking tour down Gallia Street

Posted by David Postman

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio - Harold Adkins hasn’t voted since 1972 after returning from Vietnam as a freshly minted 21-year-old. He voted for Republican Richard Nixon’s re-election. It wasn’t meant as any comment on the war he had been fighting.

“It seemed like everybody was voting for him so I figured I would, too,” he told me this afternoon. And after Nixon resigned rather than face impeachment, Adkins gave up on politics.

Harold Adkins

He believes all politicians are crooks and the only reason anyone would want to be president is to get rich, or richer.

You’ve got to understand Bush. He’s an oil man. That’s why gas is so darn expensive. He wouldn’t ever cut his own throat.

He’s the first Ohioan I’ve talked to who not only didn’t feel at least a little excited about the March 4 presidential primary, but said he hasn’t heard anyone talking about it much. Adkins, 55, is a retired heavy equipment operator who owns two computer repair shops in Portsmouth. He was born here and lived nearly all his life here, except for the years he had to go elsewhere to find work.

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February 27, 2008 10:12 AM

Liberty seeks truth

Posted by David Postman

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Somehow it seems fitting that Lady Liberty is not rushing to any decision about Tuesday’s presidential primary.

“I’m not sure who to believe,” said Gloria Wilburn from inside her large, foam costume. She says she’s trying to decide between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. They seem close on the issues, but she’s withholding judgment until she gets a better sense about which one would really follow through with their promises.

Wilburn is 40. She has lived all her life here, she says, “in all four corners of
Columbus.” I found her on the southern outskirts of town. For the third season she is reprising her role as the Statue of Liberty as part of a promotion for a tax prep service.

The foam head she wears is so big it won’t fit through the door of the office. I saw her come out after a break with a colleague carrying the head and helping her to put it all together for another shift on the snow-covered sidewalk. It’s cold today and she does a little dance to keep warm and to help attract attention as she waves to passing drivers.

I found myself making eye contact with the foam head rather than the screened portal Wilburn sees through while in costume.

Playing a dancing national monument is one of several jobs she does during the year. Outside of tax service she does warehouse work and house cleaning. She’s divorced and the mother of two grown children.

Wilburn says she was glad to hear Obama and Clinton talking about the economy in Ohio. And she’s convinced she’ll vote Democratic this year, though she doesn’t always.

I look for whoever I think would be the best for the country.

She had to say that twice because the costume head tends to muffle talk, even important political speech.

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February 27, 2008 5:04 AM

Heading south

Posted by David Postman

COLUMBUS, Ohio - I took a day off from the road yesterday to talk to people here for a story I’m writing later in the week. Today, though, I plan to head south into Appalachian country.

There’s been a light snow falling since last night and it is cold out. It is 17 degrees now, and there’s a strong wind, too. Schools are starting late. But I have coffee, bad bagels, a small box of Cheerios lifted from the hotel continental breakfast and satellite radio that at least provides a steady stream of classic soul even if it can’t tell me what time it is where I am.

I was going to go to Chillicothe. It’s the next good-sized town due south of here and many people have suggested it as a great place to talk politics with people. It was named last year one of “Ohio’s Best Hometowns” by Ohio Magazine.

But it’s such a good political bellwether that the Columbus Dispatch is doing a series from Chillicothe. Every Nov. 4 the paper is coming to town to talk to voters about the presidential election. You can check out the paper’s series here. Folks there don't need another reporter bugging them.

As for me, there’s plenty of Ohio out there that hasn’t gotten as much attention. I’ll hit the road soon and stop in the first interesting looking place I find.

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February 26, 2008 5:49 PM

Live-blogging the Ohio debate

Posted by David Postman

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February 26, 2008 12:56 PM

Live-blogging tonight's debate

Posted by David Postman

The debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is tonight in Cleveland. I won't be there because I'd just have to watch it on a TV in any case, so I'll do that from the comfort of my hotel room. But I hope you'll be watching and willing to share your comments, criticiques, etc.

I will start blogging at 6 p.m. and will plan to stay on throughout the debate if there seems to be enough of you participating to make it interesting.

See you here at 6 p.m.

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February 26, 2008 10:41 AM

A little substance on the campaign trail

Posted by David Postman

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Covering a campaign can be a bit like binging on junk food. (I have experience in both.) A snarky press release or the latest candidate’s mishap is as alluring as a glazed, old-fashioned doughnut. But just as man cannot live on sugar alone, reporters cannot thrive for long riding the waves of charges and counter-charges of who did the latest flip or flop. So maybe it was a bit of penance that brought me to Ohio State University yesterday.

Four of Barack Obama’s foreign policy advisors appeared at the Michael E. Mortiz College of Law. It was the same day that Hillary Clinton delivered a major foreign policy address in Washington, D.C.

This really was about as far as you could get from the screaming crowds Obama and Clinton have been drawing in Ohio. The auditorium was maybe a quarter-full with about 60 people at most. They were there to hear from Susan Rice, a former Clinton White House advisor and assistant secretary of state for African affairs; former Navy Sec. Richard Danzig, Ret. Air Force Gen. Scott Gration and Denis McDonough, a top foreign policy advisor to former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle.

The four began by making fairly standard campaign pitches for Obama, although with a foreign policy slant. Gration, for example, talked about accompanying Obama on a tour of Africa that included a visit to the site where South African leader Nelson Mandela had been imprisoned. Gration said:

What Nelson Mandela could do in his country, Barack Obama could do in ours.

But they then took two hours of questions from the audience. A young woman said she was asking her question on behalf of her brother who was serving in the Israeli Defense Force. She wanted to know how Obama could envision a Palestinian state adjacent to Israel at the same time he says he has a “zero tolerance policy for terrorism.”

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February 25, 2008 1:46 PM

What Clinton wants supporters to say about Drudge photo

Posted by David Postman

These are the talking points the Clinton campaign sent surrogates today to respond to questions about the Barack Obama photos that appeared on the Drudge Report this morning. The campaign says that circulating the photos was not sanctioned by the campaign.

Q: In the campaign’s official statement today Maggie Williams does not directly respond to whether the Clinton campaign circulated this picture. Do you know whether anyone in your camp circulated this picture?

A: No. I was not aware of it, the campaign didn’t sanction it and did not know anything about it.

Q: Have you asked all of the campaign staff about this?

A: We have over 700 people on this campaign and I’m not in a position to know what each one of them may or may not have done.

Have you actually seen the e-mail the campaign is supposedly circulating? If you do see it, let me know.

For now, all we know is that the Drudge Report mentions an e-mail, but you haven’t seen it and to date, it’s not clear whether this e-mail even exists.

Q: Are you going to make any effort to question the staff about whether anybody actually sent out an e-mail like that?

A: I’m not in the position to ask 700 people to come in and answer questions about it. To put this as clearly and simply as I can: I was not aware of it, the campaign didn’t sanction it and did not know anything about it.

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February 25, 2008 8:42 AM

Clinton gets help from some strange fellows

Posted by David Postman

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Just two days after Hillary Clinton scolded Barack Obama for running a campaign “right out of Karl Rove’s playbook,” her campaign is getting a boost from the Republican National Committee itself as well as Republicans’ favorite writer of huge headlines, Matt Drudge.

The lead item and photo on the Drudge Report at this hour is Obama dressed in traditional Somali clothing. Drudge says the photo is being circulated by “stressed Clinton staffers.”

The photo, taken in 2006, shows the Democrat frontrunner fitted as a Somali Elder, during his visit to Wajir, a rural area in northeastern Kenya.

The senator was on a five-country tour of Africa.

Drudge doesn’t say why the Clinton campaign was e-mailing the photo. But it’s safe to say that they thought it would help their candidate to have their rival show up dressed as an African elder. Obama has had to refute baseless claims that he was raised as a Muslim.

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February 24, 2008 4:54 PM

The Clintons and Obama trade NAFTA charges

Posted by David Postman

(A version of this will appear in the paper tomorrow.)

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - The North American Free Trade Agreement has gone from a proud achievement of Bill Clinton’s to the source of much of what ails Ohio - a state that will play a central, and perhaps deciding, role in the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

So it was likely no coincidence that the day that ended Sunday with Bill Clinton stumping for his wife, began with Obama trying to paint NAFTA as the product of Team Clinton, Bill and Hillary together.

“NAFTA has destroyed us,” said Michael Van Wagner, a union electrician and
chairman of the Fulton County Democratic Party. He’s neutral in the primary race, but says NAFTA has meant the loss of factory jobs to overseas as well as “the trickle down.”

“I’m a construction worker and I build factories, so we all feel it,” he said.

Bill Clinton spoke in Bowling Green today.

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February 24, 2008 1:37 PM

Waiting for Bill

Posted by David Postman

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - I’m at a community center in the midst of a large undeveloped tract just outside of town. Bill Clinton is scheduled to speak within the hour.

There are hundreds of people in the gymnasium, all standing at one end around the stage.

I will be particularly interested to see if Clinton responds to comments this morning in Lorain, Ohio, by Barack Obama. Obama told workers at a plant there:

“Let’s be clear: It was her husband who got NAFTA passed. In her own book, Senator Clinton called NAFTA one of ‘Bill’s successes’ and ‘legislative victories,’” Obama said, referring to her memoir, Living History.

Hillary Clinton has since been a strong critic of NAFTA, though. The issue is paramount in Ohio. Gov. Ted Strickland, a Clinton backer, told reporters yesterday that Ohio and Michigan are the two states hurt the most by free trade deals that sent jobs overseas.

In the long line of people waiting to see Bill Clinton today, though, the former president’s championing of free trade was of little concern. Hillary backers were more than willing to consider the Clinton administration history in that regard.

“NAFTA was Bill Clinton’s,” said Irene Sapp. “But I think when it comes to that, they’ll separate Bill from Hillary.”

Oletha Zaborniak and Irene Sapp.

Sapp, 72, was in line early today. She’s been a backer of Hillary Clinton’s all along, but is clearly still a major fan of the former president.

I think he’s one of the more intelligent presidents we’ve ever had. He may not have the best common sense in some areas, but he’s intelligent.

Sapp also thinks Bill’s standing would be a plus to Hillary in the White House.

Her daughter was going to see Obama speak today. “You know, the younger generation,” she said. “I just don’t think Obama can get the job done like Hillary can.”

Sapp may have lost the younger generation of her family to the freshmen senator from Illinois. But in line she met a newcomer to the Clinton fan club.

Oletha Zaborniak is 73. She came with a homemade Hillary sign and a homemade Hillary T-shirt.

I’m a registered Republican and I’m crossing over in the primary because she needs me now.

What’s the appeal of Clinton to a 50-year veteran of the Republican Party?

I think she’d be a wonderful president and she has a wonderful ex-president as her husband, too, who will be there. And it’s time for a woman president.

Further back in line, Joanie and Gary Manning nodded when I asked if NAFTA is a big issue for Ohio Democrats.

“It doesn’t get talked about as much as it should,” Joanie, 45, said. There’s a factory in a small town near here shutting down soon and she worries about the economic fallout of that will be.

As Ohio voters they’ve been inundated recently with campaign commercials.

“So far they’ve been pretty nice,” Joanie said of the campaign commercials. “That probably ends today or tomorrow, though when the gloves come off.”

Gary works in an office furniture factory. His union of textile workers has endorsed Obama for president. But he’s a strong Clinton backer and says, “It’s kind of divided in the union now.”

There are unions backing both Democratic candidates and they will be a key in seeing which side will turnout more voters March 4.

Michael Van Wagner, an IBEW member, said he knows that most people have taken sides in the Clinton/Obama campaign. But he’s chairman of the Fulton County Democratic Party and he’s officially neutral.

He says NAFTA has destroyed many Ohio businesses. Does he worry that Bill Clinton’s history with the trade deal could hurt Hillary next week? He said it’s obvious that President Clinton was a champion of NAFTA, but he said Democrats should look at whether “it’s being enforced the way it was written. “

Between Akron and Findlay.

Fulton County is rural farm country in the northwest corner of the state. Van Wagner was here today to help local Democrats organize the Bill Clinton event. In his county there are 18,000 independents, 7,000 Republicans and 4,000 Democrats.

But two years ago, Strickland won the county. That was only the third time in 156 years the county voted Democratic, Van Wagner said. And he hopes that will convince Democratic party officials to campaign strenuously in places like Fulton County, where Republicans have traditionally done well.

While Democrats remain angry about NAFTA, he said that a lot of family farmers who register as independents are now equally upset with CAFTA, the Central America Free Trade Agreement.

“They’re saying, ‘Oh, this effects me now,’” he said. Even his own union officials have been skeptical of getting Fulton County to vote Democratic this year, but Van Wagner promises to continue to do whatever he can to make that happen.

In researching his county, I see its motto is “Aut Viam Inveniam Aut Facium,” I will find a way or I will make one.

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February 24, 2008 10:14 AM

A young Ohio Democrat undecided, but starting to lean

Posted by David Postman

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - Bill Clinton will be here later this afternoon to headline a campaign rally for his wife. If the former president wants to win a vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton he might want to stop by Finders Records, a terrific music store on Main Street.

Tim Friedman, 23, is working today. He’s an undecided Democratic voter. He’s leaning toward Barack Obama in the March 4 primary. But he’s a big Bill Clinton fan and wishes he hadn’t agreed to take a colleague’s shift today meaning he’ll miss the rally at Bowling Green Community Center.

Tim Friedman.

“I’m mad as hell I can’t go,” Friedman told me. He wasn’t old enough to vote for Clinton in either of his presidential elections. His first vote was for Democrat John Kerry in 2004. But he remembers the Clinton years.

Continue reading this post ...

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February 23, 2008 12:49 PM

"Real" Clinton emerges in Ohio and Texas

Posted by David Postman

AKRON, Ohio - Voters in Ohio started to see a new TV commercial from Hillary Clinton today that her supporters say shows the real Clinton.

That’d be the emotional, religious and humble Clinton from the final moments of her debate this week with Barack Obama, not the Clinton full of facts, figures and policies she recites with a dose of braggadocio.

The 60 seconds of political verite - the commercial uses an edited clip from the debate - presents voters with the third real candidate Clinton just since the New Year. It was last month after her win in New Hampshire that Clinton said she had “found my own voice” after losing to Obama in Iowa and was now speaking from the heart.

I said then that Clinton needed to show that “her real voice sounds different than what we’ve all heard for a year.” I don’t think she did that, and this ad is clearly the latest, and probably last, attempt to show a different side of Clinton. The ad is one of several new spots airing in Ohio and Texas. It comes 10 days before Democrats in those states get their say in the closely-matched race between Clinton and Obama.

The ad, which the campaign calls “Resolved” uses Clinton’s final statement from the debate in Austin, Texas. She speaks about being at the opening of a veteran’s medical center in San Antonio and watching wounded military personnel come in with missing limbs, in wheelchairs and gurneys.

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February 21, 2008 4:55 PM

The spirit of cooperation, when politically convenient

Posted by David Postman

Being an environmental champion in Congress takes different approaches. When Congressman Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, talks about energy policy, he says it’s an issue that Democrats and Republicans must work on together. As it says in the book Inslee co-wrote: “Apollo’s Fire: Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy.”

“Now it is our task to scrub ideology out of the energy discussion, so we can make bipartisan progress toward investing in a shared and better future.”

But when it comes to protecting open space, non-partisanship is apparently not as important. When Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, asked Inslee to co-sponsor a bill to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area, Reichert says Inslee told him no.

“We want to beat your ass in 2008," Reichert quoted Inslee as saying. (Inslee's office declined to comment.)

"Jay, I'm not feeling the love here," Reichert responded.

UPDATE: I just talked to Inslee about this. He feels the Times story was inaccurate and treated him unfairly. Times editors are looking into his complaints, and if I hear more about this I will add it here.

Inslee doesn’t deny making the comment to Reichert, but he says it was meant as good-natured ribbing, and that he had other reasons for not signing on to the wilderness bill; specifically that he wanted to see Congressional action on another Washington state wilderness bill first, and he had concerns about the boundaries of the proposed wilderness area in Reichert’s bill.

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February 21, 2008 2:51 PM

Obama raises more than $2 million in state

Posted by David Postman

Barack Obama has raised about twice as much money from Washington state as Hillary Clinton, according to latest numbers posted by the fantabulous

As of January, Obama has raised $2.1 million from the state. Clinton has raised a bit more than $1 million.

To see how John McCain has done in Washington you need to read down to the sixth place on the list. His $394,914 comes after bigger hauls by Ron Paul, John Edwards and Mitt Romney.

You can see the data here.

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February 21, 2008 2:26 PM

Republicans try to cash in on McCain story

Posted by David Postman

The New York Times story about John McCain's relationship with a female lobbyist prompted the Republican Party and his campaign to send out fundraising solicitations, saying money was needed urgently to combat the liberal media.

An e-mail this morning from RNC Chairman Mike Duncan told supporters:

The New York Times has proven once again that the liberal mainstream media will do whatever it takes to put Senator Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in the White House.

He said “Republicans must fight back against the mainstream media's clear liberal bias -- and we need your help to do it.” He said the money would be used to get the RNC’s message “past the liberal media filter and directly to the voters.”

And at Politico, Jonathan Martin has a fundraising e-mail sent by McCain’s campagin manager, Rick Davis.

"We'll never match the reach of a front-page New York Times article, but with your immediate help today, we'll be able to respond and defend our nominee from the liberal attack machine," Davis concludes, underlining his pitch.

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February 21, 2008 1:43 PM

Poll: McCain could beat Clinton here, but not Obama

Posted by David Postman

The UW’s Washington Poll this month found that in a general election contest McCain would get 48.6 percent of the votes compared to 45.1 for Clinton with 6.3 undecided.

But if the Democratic nominee were Barack Obama, he would get 54.9 percent of the vote compared to 40.3 for McCain with 4.8 percent undecided.

Respondents were asked how they would vote if the general election were held today. You can click here to go to the Washington Poll results page and download the latest findings.

This is the same dynamic the Washington Poll found late last year when voters were asked about a hypothetical general election between Rudy Giuliani and Obama or Clinton. That poll found a statistical dead heat between Giuliani and Clinton, but that Obama would beat Giuliani.

Obama continues to show he can pull more independent voters here than Clinton. That goes to the argument the Democrats are having about which of them is more electable in November. Washington should be a safe place for any Democratic presidential candidate. Ronald Reagan is the last Republican to win a majority of the state’s votes.

The UW pollsters went back to the same voters they talked to last fall to get the update. They also polled on the governor’s race to compare November to February.

That poll shows Gov. Chris Gregoire leading Republican Dino Rossi after the rematch initially looked like it was starting as a very tight race. The November poll had Gregoire at 46.8 percent and Rossi at 42.4. But now Gregoire gets 53.7 percent of those polled compared to Rossi’s 42.1 percent.

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February 21, 2008 11:04 AM

McCain and the New York Times

Posted by David Postman

By now I’m sure you’ve read the New York Times story about John McCain and his close relationship with a female lobbyist.

I had wanted to write about the piece when I saw it this morning. I then felt compelled to do so when Josh Feit took to the Slog to criticize the story by saying, “I hate to go all Postman on you guys,” but that the story wouldn’t have met Stranger standards.

(I like the idea of making Postman a verb meaning to “oppose the sloppy use of unnamed sources,” or even "to get on your high horse about using anonymous sources. Either way, it's nicer than how I know it’s used by my bosses to mean “to never be satisfied with story play.)

Feit is right about the Times story. It’s built on a questionable foundation of unnamed sources.
There’s a link to the story on our homepage now, though in the paper this morning we put the Washington Post’s chase on the front page.

But the paragraph that jumped out at me is the one that I call the “justification graf.” This is the place where the anonymous allegations that suggest an illicit relationship are rationalized in NYT-speak and given the polish of a far-reaching Times story.

But the concerns about Mr. McCain’s relationship with Ms. Iseman underscored an enduring paradox of his post-Keating career. Even as he has vowed to hold himself to the highest ethical standards, his confidence in his own integrity has sometimes seemed to blind him to potentially embarrassing conflicts of interest.

See, it’s not about his relationship with the comely lobbyist. It’s that the relationship sums up niecly an important theme in McCain’s public career. You can imagine the newsroom argument -- and more on that in a moment -- that this isn’t about someone’s personal life but underscores an “enduring paradox” about the likely Republican presidential nominee.

That is the graf meant to move this story from a sensational gotcha to a probing piece of McCain's inner demons.

The Times timing on the story is odd, with it appearing when McCain has apparently locked up the nomination. If this was an important story about McCain it is too bad it didn’t emerge in time for McCain’s opponents and the press to ask him about it during the primary season.

That the story was in the works has been known since December when Matt Drudge posted a bit about it.

And now we learn from The New Republic that there were internal newsroom debates about the story. In fact, it looks like TNR’s decision to publish this morning may have pushed the Times into finally posting the story on line last night and putting it in this morning's papers. Writing in the New Republic, Noam Scheiber made clear -- along with documenting the internal battles at the Times -- that he doesn’t think much of the story that made it into print.

The story is filled with awkward journalistic moves -- the piece contains a collection of decade-old stories about McCain and Iseman appearing at functions together and concerns voiced by McCain's aides that the Senator shouldn't be seen in public with Iseman -- and departs from the Times' usual authoritative voice. At one point, the piece suggestively states: "In 1999 she began showing up so frequently in his offices and at campaign events that staff members took notice. One recalled asking, 'Why is she always around?'" In the absence of concrete, printable proof that McCain and Iseman were an item, the piece delicately steps around purported romance and instead reports on the debate within the McCain campaign about the alleged affair.

As you think about this chain of events -- from someone in the Times, to Drudge, to the New Republic and back to the Times finally publishing the report -- remember that a very similar series of events brought the name of Monica Lewinsky into the public domain. That all began when Drudge reported that Newsweek had spiked a story about President Clinton and the intern, pushing the newsweekly and every other news organization, into publishing a series of allegations.

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February 20, 2008 8:46 AM

Away from the blog

Posted by David Postman

I will be away from the blog today. I need some planning time and maybe a little nap time, too.

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February 19, 2008 8:27 PM

McCain supporters find something to cheer about

Posted by David Postman

The always hard-working reporter Haley Edwards is at a party for John McCain at the Sport Restaurant Bar near the Space Needle. One sign of an emerging McCain campaign in the state is the news Edwards has that King County Republican chairman Michael Young quit that post today to become the Western Washington campaign coordinator for McCain.

"The senator is looking strong. He has a lot of support here," Young said. "We're just watching the numbers and feeling good."

"The numbers are encouraging," said Chris Fidler, state campaign coordinator for McCain."I got here and was putting the balloons up and I thought, 'It's already in the bag.'"

Max Torres, who describes himself as a Democrat, said, "You know, I'm out here to support him. I may not agree with everything he does or everything he votes for, but I agree with his integrity and I think he's going to do well in Washington and Oregon for that reason."

Glenn Avery, a veteran and a Seattle consultant, said, "I'm hoping to retire one day, and I'd like to avoid higher taxes. McCain's the only one I know who won't raise them."

Josh Bill, 24, of Auburn, is a student at the University of Washington in political science:

Even though it's a sure win for him, I still think it's important to come out and join the crowd. It's primary day. Isn't that exciting? We got to come out and show our support. Plus everyone else my age is an Obama supporter.

McCain is holding a strong lead in the Republican primary. Mike Huckabee is a distant second, with former candidate Mitt Romney not far behind in third place. That tells you as much as anything how different the electorate is today compared to the turnout for the party caucus on Feb. 9.

MORE: When a cable news channel announced McCain as the winner of the Washington winner, a cheer went up and someone yelled:

And they say there is no emotion in the Republican party.

Who me?

Before there is too much cheering, though, the McCain supporters should look at the strong showing by Romney. Nearly 59,000 Republicans cast protest votes for Romney so far, about the same number that voted for Huckabee. Unlike any argument that could be made for a Huckabee or even a Ron Paul vote, it is impossible to read the Romney votes as anything other than a protest against a McCain candidacy.

The good news for McCain comes from throughout the state. He is leading in every county that has posted results so far tonight.

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February 19, 2008 8:06 PM

Washington primary results

Posted by David Postman

The very early count of today's primary has been posted at the Secretary of State's office. On the Republican side, the only side that will determine delegates, John McCain has a comfortable lead over Mike Huckabee. On the Democratic side, the popularity contest shows Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in a very close race.

McCain has more than 50 percent of the GOP vote compared to Huckabee's 23 percent.

Obama holds a slight lead with 50 percent of the Democratic vote with Clinton getting 47 percent.

The numbers are moving very quickly. Usually there is some time in between when results are posted. But these are moving like the stock market.

If the race is close on either side we may not be able to say who the winner is. You can see here that many counties are doing only one count tonight.

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February 19, 2008 6:36 PM

Battling speeches

Posted by David Postman

CNN and Fox dumped Clinton's speech just now to go to Obama's victory speech. CNN kept Clinton up a bit longer, but dumped her, too, when Obama got down to business.

Isn't there some sort of protocol where the winner waits for the loser to finish talking? Of course, in the part I heard, Clinton didn't mention her loss in Wisconsin. She's in Ohio and looking forward to that March contest. I wouldn't blame her if she just wanted to ignore all of February. Lord knows I've had months like that.

MORE: Obama used one of his favorite phrases in his speech tonight, Citing Martin Luther King, he talked about the “fierce urgency of now.”

That’s a line from King’s speech about the Vietnam War. You can read the whole thing here.

And here’s the key paragraph.

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood-it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on."

Speaking of protocols, are the cable news channels committed to showing Obama's entire speech? Again? It is not a victory speech. It is the launch of a concerted Texas campaign. But I am sure that CNN, MSNBC and Fox would not stay with the speech if Obama hadn't been delivering ratings.

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February 19, 2008 6:19 PM

NBC calls Wisconsin for Obama

Posted by David Postman

NBC didn't wait for "actual votes." The network just called Wisconsin for Obama while CNN continues to hold with their report that he leads Clinton.

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February 19, 2008 5:59 PM

CNN calls Wisconsin for McCain

Posted by David Postman

As soon as the polls closed moments ago CNN said exit polls show McCain winning, though there was no projection on the size of the victory margin.

On the Democratic side, CNN says exit polls show Barack Obama has a lead over Hillary Clinton but, imagine this, Wolf Blitzer says they're going to wait until the "actual votes" come in.

MORE: Exit polls show Obama with broad support, winning over white, female and working-class voters that have been Clinton mainstays. From AP:

Preliminary figures show Obama with a slight lead among whites, and he and Clinton splitting the women's vote. Obama's strength also was coming from men and the young.

On the Republican side, evangelicals are not yet embracing McCain.

About a quarter of the voters in the Republican primary were born-again, evangelical Christians, and they voted 2-to-1 for Huckabee over McCain. Evangelical voters have been the base of the ordained Baptist minister's support.

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February 19, 2008 5:35 PM

Holding out for a Huckabee miracle

Posted by David Postman

David Domke's UW J students are out again tonight filing for

Will Mari reports that Pastor Joe Fuiten is still holding out hope for a surprise victory tonight by Mike Huckabee. That's important to Fuiten even if it doesn't mean Huckabee will be the nominee.

“I hope for a strong showing by conservatives and evangelicals,” said Fuiten. “We had a huge problem in 2006 when only 8.4 percent of evangelicals voted,” he said. “I am hoping that our team is back on the field.”

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February 19, 2008 4:48 PM

Trade may still emerge as campaign issue

Posted by David Postman

United States trade policy is starting to get some attention the race for the Democratic presidential nomination heads into major industrial states. In Wisconsin, which holds its primary today, voters think free trade has cost their state more jobs than it’s created, according to exit polls.

Seven in 10 say U.S. trade with other countries takes more jobs from Wisconsin and fewer than one in five say it creates more jobs for the state. One in 10 say international trade has no effect on the state either way.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama do not appear to be far from each other on trade issues. Both are critical of the Bush administration's trade policy, and even key parts of the Clinton administration's policy, saying they want to renegotiate NAFTA and they oppose giving the president fast track authority to negotiate agreements. Clinton calls for a "time out" from any new agreements.

Both say they oppose pending trade agreements negotiated with Panama and South Korea. Wisconsin Free Trade, a union-backed group that opposes free trade deals, today released questionnaires it received from Clinton and Obama spelling out their opposition to the South Korea Free Trade Agreement and the Panama Free Trade Promotion Agreement.

On Panama;

Clinton said: I am opposed to the Bush administration’s free trade agreement with Panama. As long as the head of the country’s National Assembly is a fugitive from justice in America, I will not consider a trade expansion agreement with Panama.

Obama said: Miguel Gonzalez Pinzon is the President of the Panamanian National Assembly. Gonzalez is
under indictment in the U.S. for the murder of U.S. Army Sgt. Zak Hernandez Laponte and the
attempted murder of U.S. Army Sgt. Ronald Marshall on June 10, 1992. Until that situation is
resolved, we cannot support any trade agreement with Panama.

On South Korea;

Clinton said: I am opposed to the trade agreement with South Korea because it does not create a level playing field for American carmakers. South Korea has a long history of restricting access to its car market, and this agreement does little to change that. The Bush administration concluded the agreement hurriedly and produced a deal that will cost us jobs.

Obama's questionnaire includes a lengthy answer, which said in part: I opposed the South Korea FTA. The Administration negotiated the agreement without consideration for thousands of working Americans and the communities that they live in. Specifically, the participation of workers in the American auto industry in considering the outcomes of this agreement went unsolicited and their legitimate concerns unaddressed. This Administration failed them because it ignored them. That is not the government they deserve.
While the agreement would lead to a significant increase in wealth for banks, telecommunications firms, and some in corporate agriculture, it fails to ensure that all U.S. products -- especially our cars and trucks, but our rice and beef producers as well -- receive fair treatment in that market. ...

The auto industry and its unions neither trust the Korean government nor do they believe the
concessions made are adequate. They also do not trust this Administration to use the tools the
deal includes protecting the auto industry from unfair Korean practices and history is on their
side. I will not support this agreement.

As the campaigns move to Ohio and Pennsylvania I expect we'll hear more about trade. And when a Democratic nominee emerges and faces likely GOP nominee John McCain, there are the makings of a strenuous debate.

McCain's platform calls for continuing free trade agreements, but with some cautions. His Web site says:

America has proven that empowering free markets and free people is the bulwark of liberty and the surest means to prosperity. We have much to be hopeful about, but duty requires that we face the very real threats that endanger our prosperity. The United States has succeeded because we have been more willing to embrace and encourage change than our competitors.

He warns against a "global rising tide of economic isolationism" that he says threatens American entrepreneurs.

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February 19, 2008 3:55 PM

What Clinton will say tonight

Posted by David Postman

Hillary Clinton will deliver a speech tonight at 8:30 p.m. EST. That's before polls close in Wisconsin. Taegan Goddard says that’s "an indication she doesn't expect to win."

Excerpts of the speech that the campaign released this afternoon shows she's continuing her war on Obama's words:

Both Senator Obama and I would make history. But only one of us is ready on day one to be commander in chief, ready to manage our economy, and ready to defeat the Republicans. Only one of us has spent 35 years being a doer, a fighter and a champion for those who need a voice. That is what I would bring to the White House. That is the choice in this election.

…It’s about picking a president who relies not just on words - but on work, hard work, to get America back to work. Someone who’s not just in the speeches business - but will get America back in the solutions business…

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February 19, 2008 8:34 AM

It's Election Day

Posted by David Postman

Ah, Election Day, when citizens get to have their say in a free, open and meaningful process in the world’s oldest democracy. The presidential nominating process is an important step toward what we’re told every four (or eight) years is that unique and important peaceful transition of political power.

The signs of an engaged electorate are everywhere. My barista this morning sported her “I’m union and I vote” button. Though as a Democrat she should have added a Post-It note that said, “But it won’t count.”

Proud Republican Eric Earling cast his vote for John McCain. His button should read, “I voted and I feel like a self-hating, hung-over, fat-phopic, frat boy.” He says voting made him feel dirty. And not in a good way.

The problem is that after doing so, I immediately felt painfully close to the morning after that unfortunate night in college where gratuitous consumption of 40's of malt liquor led to me making out with a young lass who can most charitably be described as chubby (at least once the beer goggles were removed).

Which is to say it's not a proud feeling. I feel vaguely angry at myself.

Republican-for-a-day Darryl at was feeling much better about his vote.

At one point during my first full day as a Republican yesterday, I was overcome by doubt. I had publicly announced my support for Mike Huckabee, but I realized that I didn’t have a good reason -- as a Republican -- to support him.

But he found a reason, which you can see here.

The primary results will only make big news tonight if the results somehow contradict what the party regulars did at their caucuses Feb. 9. But we're already getting national attention. The New York Times reported yesterday:

So it appears that the primary, first approved in a 1988 referendum with the goal of giving greater voice to voters who might not be able or inclined to attend a party caucus, may have the distinction of being one of the few essentially irrelevant contests in a presidential race so fierce this year that even outposts like Idaho and Alaska have nudged their way into the national spotlight for a moment or two.

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February 17, 2008 11:14 AM

Former SnoCo sheriff may challenge Larsen in 2nd District

Posted by David Postman

MOUNT VERNON -- Former Snohomish County Sheriff Rick Bart is close to announcing he’ll run for Congress against Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens.

Bart appeared last night at the Skagit Valley Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner. He said in his brief remarks:

There needs to be a new sheriff in Congress, and it’s going to be me.

Bart told me he hasn’t made his final decision, but said, “We’ll give it a shot, more than likely.” He’s been talking to people in the 2nd Congressional District and checking to see what the money situation is. Raising campaign funds, he said, looks to be “very, very, very tough.”

He also says Larsen is a friend. Larsen was on the Snohomish County Council while Bart served as sheriff.

Bart told Skagit Republicans he was the first GOP sheriff in Snohomish County in at least 40 years. Among those urging him to run, he said, was Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn. Reichert is the former King County sheriff and the two served together on the task force that investigated the Green River serial killings.

He said that Reichert calls him once a week.

He’s begging me to run and I keep asking him why and he says he’s lonely.
Bart was sheriff from 1995 until he was term-limited last year from running again. He had planned to run against Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, but dropped out citing family and personal reasons. Last year he was also a finalist for U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Washington.

Bart didn’t talk much about Larsen last night. But he told the crowd here:

The issue is change. I don’t know if you’re hearing that from a lot of politicians, but I’m sure hearing it.

State Republican Chairman Luke Esser said it’d be tough for anyone to take on an incumbent member of Congress. But he thinks that Bart’s right to talk about change, which has emerged as the primary theme of the presidential campaign. Esser told me:

All we hear is change, change, change. That’s a real interesting dynamic. In the state of Washington, change is a good message for Republicans, and for different reasons than Barack Obama says.

In other Congressional news, Reichert will get some big-name help to start his re-election fundraising. First Lady Laura Bush will headline an event Feb. 27th for Reichert in Medina.

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February 16, 2008 4:42 PM

In Lewis County, Rossi, not McCain, is the draw

Posted by David Postman

Chehalis -- The Lewis County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner sold out Friday night. A hastily made sign hung on the door of the historic Hotel Washington telling late-comers the bad news as about 250 people mingled upstairs in the ballroom.

That’s twice the size of the crowd the party usually gets for its big dinner of the year. The pre-dinner conversation was loud and lively. My question was how excited were they about the prospect of John McCain as their presidential nominee.

To find out, I interrupted two elderly ladies talking together at a table as most people stood and mingled.

“Excited? I don’t know how excited they are,” said Billie Remund. She’s 80, lives “out in the country” and has been there for about 75 years. “I think most of them will vote for McCain,” she says of her fellow farm-country Republicans.

But it’s Rossi that gets people excited. That’s why they’re here.

Her friend Pat Dobyns agrees. She’s 75 and has lived nearly her whole life in Winlock.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi was one of the scheduled GOP speakers last night. Remund and Dobyns were excited about hearing Rossi speak and eager to watch his campaign against Gov. Chris Gregoire.

For them, McCain was a third choice at best. The two women liked that Mitt Romney had experience running the Olympics and had worked in the private sector. Remund said:

We have nobody who has any experience running a business. They’re all politicians.

Dobyns nods along and says:

It’s too bad our country can’t be run by someone other than politicians.

She has a hard time being enthusiastic about McCain. Very quietly, so I had to lean down to hear - as if it were something a lady shouldn’t even say at dinner - Dobyns says:

“If I were a Democrat, I’d vote for Obama.”

Continue reading this post ...

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February 15, 2008 11:55 AM

Road trip: What Republicans are saying about Tuesday's primary

Posted by David Postman

LACEY, Thurston County - I’m on a mini-tour to see what Republicans are thinking about Tuesday’s presidential primary. The Democrats will ignore the results on their side. But Republicans will apportion a bit more than half their delegates based on what voters say.

Tuesday night I went to the Thurston County Lincoln Day Dinner at St. Martin's College. This isn’t the same as stopping people at random as I did on trips through eastern and southwest Washington. As I hit a couple of Republican meetings over the next few days I hope to get a sense of what Republican regulars say about what’s left of the GOP fight for the nomination.

There were a few signs up for Dino Rossi and for GOP treasurer candidate Allan Martin. But I didn’t see any signs for presidential candidates. I didn’t spot any campaign buttons, even. But when I walked up to Bob and Esther Higley I noticed that Bob was sporting a small, enamel pin for Mike Huckabee.

The Higleys are big Huckabee supporters. Bob, 75, used to lobby in Olympia for one of Pastor Joe Fuiten’s groups. He’s retired from that now, as he did earlier from Boeing. The Higleys caucused for Huckabee Saturday and their primary votes are for Huckabee, too. Bob told me:

I think it’s pretty early to have a coronation and it’s good to have an alternative, and some competition.

Continue reading this post ...

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February 15, 2008 9:21 AM

Superdelegate Baird endorses Obama

Posted by David Postman

Congressman Brian Baird endorsed Barack Obama this morning. The Obama campaign released a statement from Baird. It said in part:

The Democratic nominating process began with a very strong field of candidates which has since been narrowed to two outstanding individuals. Both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton would bring new vision, strong leadership and much needed change to the Presidency. After much thought and consideration, I am announcing today that I am endorsing Senator Barack Obama to be the Democratic Candidate and the next President of the United States of America.

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February 15, 2008 7:18 AM

Concert goers riot at Evergreen College

Posted by David Postman

From The Olympian:

A hip-hop concert at The Evergreen State College ended in a riot early Friday in which a Thurston County sheriff’s patrol car was overturned and looted.

This is sure to bring a round of recriminations for the state's most liberal college. Evergreen has tried to rid itself of an image as a place that cultivates radicalism. One former student is on trial this week in Tacoma for her part in the fire-bombing of a University of Washington lab. Defendant Briana Waters was attending Evergreen at the time of the arson.

The concert was by the group Dead Prez, and some say that band members urged the crowd to confront the police. (I didn't know the group was in town or I might have ended up there. I saw group member M-1 on his 2006 solo tour.)

There are more photos of the destroyed police car here.

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February 14, 2008 2:24 PM

Reichert passed over for Appropriations seat

Posted by David Postman

Congressman Dave Reichert was just given the official word that he did not get the seat he wanted on the House Appropriations Committee, confirms his spokeswoman, Abigal Schilling. The seat went to Alabama Rep. Jo Bonner.

That was the recommendation from House Republican leaders and in a meeting that just ended, it was made official by the Republican Steering Committee, which met in the office of Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio.

Politico had the story earlier that Bonner had gotten the nod from leadership.

If the committee follows through with leadership’s recommendation, as is typical, Bonner would be something of safe selection from the field that includes an anti-earmark crusader - Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake - two potentially vulnerable lawmakers - Colorado Rep. Marilyn Musgrave and Washington Rep. Dave Reichert - and a member of the leadership - Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Reichert had pushed to be appointed in part as a way to boost his profile in a re-election year.

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February 14, 2008 10:27 AM

Our day in the sun? Or Huckabee's?

Posted by David Postman

Candidates will blanket the Northwest in search of popular support.

Washington voters can observe presidential contenders in their own communities taking a stand on defining regional issues directly impacting the State of Washington such as the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, dams, international trade, the Bonneville Power Administration, national forests, as well as the military.
Secretary of State Sam Reed writing about next Tuesday’s Washington presidential primary

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee on Wednesday defended his decision to suspend campaigning before Wisconsin's presidential primary so he can fly to the Cayman Islands to give a paid speech. … Huckabee said he would speak to a group of young professionals in the Cayman Islands on Saturday. … He said he would return to Wisconsin on Sunday for more campaigning in his bid to upset Arizona Sen. John McCain in the primary on Tuesday.

AP story about Huckabee’s decision to suspend Wisconsin campaign and apparently skip any campaigning here

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February 13, 2008 3:55 PM

Angry voters protest party oaths

Posted by David Postman

Election officials are predicting a record turnout for Tuesday’s presidential primary. Secretary of State Sam Reed says he expects about 47 percent of registered voters to turn in ballots.

But even if the half-meaningless primary hits that mark, it will happen after generating plenty of anger among voters. The presidential primary ballot requires voters to sign an oath of loyalty to the Democratic or Republican parties in order to be able to vote in that party’s primary. That’s true even though Democrats won’t use the primary results in determining presidential delegates.

Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman, a Republican, said that voters’ frustration has evolved over the short history of the primary. In 1992 and 1996, she said, “it was just brutal and voters took it out on our office.”

In 1996 and 2000, voters could choose an “unaffiliated ballot” that allowed them to vote for a presidential candidate though it would not be counted in the party’s official tally. In those years, Wyman said, there was more acceptance of the primary and voters had become somewhat philosophical about the process.

Now, though, there are no unaffiliated ballots, people are confused about the role of the caucus and the primary and which party is doing what. Some voters are balking at having to sign a loyalty oath.

“They’re angry about it,” Wyman said. And that’s particularly true, she said, for long-time state residents who are not used to party registration that is the practice most every other place in the country.

Thousands of ballots statewide will not have presidential votes counted because voters did not sign the oath, a problem King County has experienced.

Other ballots will go uncounted because voters scrawled on their ballot envelope to modify the oath or to write in their own protest. Earlier today I went to the Thurston County elections office and looked through ballots returned with hand-written protests.

Some, like this one, are brief and written in neat handwriting:

I am offended signing any oath!

No Christian should sign any oath!

Some voters just crossed out the oaths. One voter filled the bubble next to the Democratic Party oath, but wrote:

I am not a member of either party. Nor do I “consider” myself to be a member of any party. I vote with my mind mind. Not by party.

I believe it to be an injustice in this democratic “land of the free” to be told we can vote only for candidates of one party or the other. I believe we should be allowed, and encouraged, in this ‘free” country to vote for the candidate we believe to be best qualified - We are not voting for parties!.

Continue reading this post ...

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February 13, 2008 3:27 PM

Huckabee campaign silences grassroots leader

Posted by David Postman

Local volunteer organizers for Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee have been told to stop talking about the campaign. The move comes less than a week before Washington’s Republican presidential primary.

Bothell Pastor Joe Fuiten, who has headed the un-official Washington for Huckabee effort, said today that he had been told to refer all calls to Huckabee’s official campaign spokeswoman, Alice Stewart. Danille Turissini, who had been the local grassroots organizer, told us the same thing.

“The campaign is nationalizing everything,” Fuiten said.

We have not gotten any calls back from Stewart to find out what’s happening with the campaign between now and Tuesday’s primary.

Fuiten had been responsible for what organizing took place in Washington for Huckabee. That resulted in a very close second-place finish behind John McCain in last week’s caucus.

But after a controversy over GOP Chairman Luke Esser declaring McCain the winner before all the votes were counted, Fuiten and Turissini have been taken out of the loop.

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February 12, 2008 1:31 PM

Clinton supporters want primary win, even with no delegates

Posted by David Postman

Supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid are launching an effort to get their candidate to win next week’s Washington state Democratic primary election. No Democratic delegates are at stake because the state party officially ignores the primary in favor of the caucus.

But some of her backers hope a strong showing Tuesday will diffuse the bad caucus performance. Eli Sanders asked Linda Mitchell, president of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington and Clinton’s Seattle-area coordinator, if she was hearing such talk. She told Sanders:

Am I hearing it? I’m feeding it. As the president of the Women’s Political Caucus, and as a supporter of Hillary Clinton, I think that the caucuses are not very representative of the voting public and I’m hoping that the primary does show greater support for Hillary Clinton.

The campaign has officially distanced itself from the effort, according to Politico. But that doesn’t mean the campaign isn’t helping. Jim Kainber, who headed Clinton’s caucus campaign in Washington, told me there is no campaign money to help. But the campaign will use its lists of volunteers and activists to help turnout voters for Tuesday. He told me:

I would characterize it as an opportunity to keep our volunteers plugged in. Anything that keeps our folks engaged and moving forward and still excited about Senator Clinton is something we want to see.

But would a win Tuesday mean anything?

It would be psychologically nice. We would certainly welcome it. It’d be a blip on the national news.

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February 12, 2008 12:12 PM

Who says voters are confused by the caucus and the primary?

Posted by David Postman

Well, apparently at least one guy is. This was on my voice mail in reference to Sunday's story about Barack Obama's victory in Washington's Democratic caucus:

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February 12, 2008 8:45 AM

State Dem chair offers help to GOP colleague

Posted by David Postman

From: Dwight Pelz Sent: Monday, February 11, 2008 3:45 PM To: Luke Esser Subject: Dean is available

I can get Dean Logan in on short notice.

It's nice that state Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz is reaching across the aisle to help Republican Chairman Luke Esser. But it seems like Logan, the former King County elections director that Republicans loved to hate, is pretty busy these days at his new job in Los Angeles. There are some presidential primary votes that won’t be counted. From the L.A. Times:

Logan said he understood the anger and frustration that many voters have expressed over the ballot confusion.

"Any time a vote is not counted because of an administrative burden it is significant," he said.

Voter advocates challenged Logan's decision and said he should examine each nonpartisan ballot.

"Mr. Logan and the county have at their disposal the means to count the votes and ascertain voter intent in nearly all cases," said Rick Jacobs, chairman of the Courage Campaign. "Anything short of that is unacceptable disenfranchisement of L.A. County voters."

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February 10, 2008 3:12 PM

State GOP to count more today

Posted by David Postman

State Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser said the party will start counting again this afternoon. But he said he has no reason to think the outcome will be any different when ever vote is counted.

“I am confident it will hold up,” he said of his call last night that John McCain had won the Washington caucus. “I don't blame anybody for strongly supporting their guy and Governor Huckabee is a great guy. If they're mad at me, I'm sorry. But I would have done the exact same thing if Governor Huckabee had the same lead, and the same number of votes were outstanding.”

Esser said he declared McCain the winner after calculating what Huckabee would have to win in the remaining precincts in order to take the lead. And even with being generous with a forecast of Huckabee votes, and purposefully assuming McCain's support dropped significantly in the late counts, McCain still looked like the winner.

“There's no certainty in this mortal coil. But I am confident these numbers will hold up.”

Esser said he talked today with Joe Fuiten, the Bothell pastor who heads Huckabee's volunteer effort in the state. Esser said that Fuiten told him about complaints from specific precincts about votes were handled. Esser said the party will investigate those claims.

Esser said he was not lobbied last night from either McCain's or Huckabee's campaigns about whether or not to to declare a winner.

“Maybe it would have been safer if I hadn't said anything. But it was an exciting and historic day for the state and I thought if I was confident about what the outcome would be I should share that with the people who had gone out to their caucuses.”

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February 10, 2008 1:56 PM

Huckabee challenges "dubious" caucus count, sends lawyers here

Posted by David Postman

Republican Mike Huckabee's campaign is sending attorneys to Washington state to investigate what happened with the count of yesterday's Republican presidential caucus. Campaign Chairman Ed Rollins issued this statement:

“The Huckabee campaign is deeply disturbed by the obvious irregularities in the Washington State Republican precinct caucuses. It is very unfortunate that the Washington State Party Chairman, Luke Esser, chose to call the race for John McCain after only 87 percent of the vote was counted. According to CNN, the difference between Senator McCain and Governor Huckabee is a mere 242 votes, out of more than 12,000 votes counted—with another 1500 or so votes, apparently, not counted. That is an outrage.

“In other words, more than one in eight Evergreen State Republicans have been disenfranchised by the actions of their own party. This was an error in judgment by Mr. Esser. It was Mr. Esser’s duty to oversee a fair vote-count process. Washington Republicans know, from bitter experience in the 2004 gubernatorial election, the terrible results that can come from bad ballot-counting.

“Frankly, I am disappointed in the way that Mr. Esser has handled this urgent matter. So I call upon Mr. Esser and his colleagues to cooperate fully with the Huckabee campaign—and all Republicans, everywhere, who care about honest and transparent vote-counting—to make sure that every vote is counted and that all Republicans in Washington have the chance to make their votes count. Attempts by our campaign to contact Mr. Esser have been unsuccessful. Our lawyers will be on the ground in Washington State soon, and we look forward to sitting down with Mr. Esser to evaluate this process, to see why the count took so long, and why the vote-counting was stopped prematurely.

“It would be a disservice to every voter in Washington State to not pursue a full accounting of all votes cast.

“This is not about Mike Huckabee. This is not about Senator John McCain. This is about the failings of the Washington State Republican Party. All Republicans should unite to demand an honest accounting of the votes, so that Republicans can have full confidence in the results, and full confidence in the eventual Republican nominee. As I said, we are prepared to go to court, and we are also prepared to take our case all the way to the Republican National Convention in September.

“Our cause is just. We must reemphasize the sacred American principle that all ballots be counted in a free, fair, and transparent manner.”

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February 10, 2008 10:27 AM

Huckabee questions state GOP caucus count

Posted by David Postman

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says something weird happened with the count of Republican delegates in yesterday’s caucus. Huckabee was on NBC’s Meet the Press this morning. As he was talking about his strong showing in yesterday’s contests, he said about the caucus here:

Washington state, it's not quite yet over; still too close to call.

Moderator Tim Russert: Well, the party has declared it over.

Huckabee: They have, but there's some weird things. We're, we're looking at some legal issues up there, and so we're not ready to concede that one until we understand how...

That was all he said on the program and I have not been able to reach anyone at the campaign. But the campaign’s official blog also raises question about the GOP vote count:

The Washington State GOP, with 87.2 percent reporting, discontinued the counting process. We are looking into the matter. We are committed to making certain EVERY vote is counted. We will keep you posted.

As votes were tallied yesterday by the state Republican Party, Sen. John McCain led in an early count, Huckabee led briefly later in the night and then at 11:30 p.m., state party chairman Luke Esser declared McCain the winner.

But there was a razor thin margin between McCain, with 25.5 percent of delegates, and Huckabee, with 23.7 percent, and there was still about 13 percent of precincts around the state that had yet to be counted.
Huckabee supporters started to wonder what was happening last night. Lucas Roebuck with the unofficial Huckabee group, wondered why counting had stopped, and then started again.

Last night there were some people who thought the way Washington returns came down was fishy. There’s nothing factual at this point, but there certainly was some suspicion.

Others wondered about it, too. At Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall says:

Now, I think it would be borderline for a media organization to declare one candidate a winner when the margin separating first and second was 1.8% with 13% of the results still uncounted. But for the officials holding the election to declare the result on that basis is simply bizarre. But that's what they did.

MORE: You can see from comments at Huckabee’s blog that his supporters are angry and suspicious. They’ve begun campaigns to pressure Esser to count all the votes before declaring a winner. They’re publicizing e-mail addresses and phone numbers for all state Republican Party officials. Here’s one commenter’s e-mail to Esser:

I believe that with God all things are possible and it is not right to have 12.8% of the vote be disenfranchised - those people matter - those people are voters too - the count is so close it could change the outcome - for all parties involved and the creditability of Washington state on the line - please do the right thing and let all of your votes count - again we the people of the United States of America are watching and won't stop until ALL votes are counted for ALL the people 100% of them.

Thank you for your time and consideration - I pray that you will do the right thing and not cause a shadow of doubt and cloud peoples judgement on the state of Washington. God bless you.

Elizabeth Christian citizen of the USA and active VOTER

This commenter draws parallels between yesterday’s caucus count and Washington’s disputed 2004 gubernatorial election:

Everyone please email or call Luke Esser, Chairman to keep counting here in Washington. I can't imagine why they would stop. It still isn't over; we have the Primaries on the 19th. The turn out yesterday at the Caucuses was tremendous. We must keep up the momentum and not become like the Democrats. Look how our Governor was elected. Our prayers continue for this Campaign and for Mike Huckabee to WIN! Our voices MUST be heard and our votes MUST be counted. Here is his contact information. ~Lisa

And “Quilter for Huckabee” was raising the prospect of a recount:

By all means count all the votes!!

And if it's still as close as it stands right now, Count them all again!!

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February 10, 2008 9:03 AM

McCain and Huckabee get second chance to woo GOP here

Posted by David Postman

Sen. John McCain is holding on to a very slim lead in yesterday's Republican presidential caucus. The state party released numbers at 11:30 last night that had 87.2 percent of precincts reporting, showing McCain with 25.5 percent of the vote and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 23.7 percent.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul had 20.6 percent and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won 16.5 % even though he dropped out of the race last week. There were about 12.7 percent uncommitted.

State Party Chairman Luke Esser said in a statement the results were good news for Republicans.

“What a great day for Washington Republicans. They came out in full force today to support their candidates, and to make their voices heard. Congratulations to Sen. McCain for a hard-fought win, his second caucus victory in the 2008 presidential nomination process. And congratulations to Gov. Huckabee for his strong second-place finish.”

But there's clearly no consensus among state Republicans about who they want as their nominee and an obvious unhappiness with the idea of McCain at the top of the ticket.

At a Republican caucus in Kent yesterday, Times reporter Yu Nakayama talked with Chris Vance, former chairman of the state Republican Party. Vance, a McCain backer, said he was confident, despite the significant number of voters who appeared to be uncommitted, that Republicans would unite by November.

"The people here are the most committed, most conservative, most passionate, grass-roots activists. I'm absolutely certain that John McCain's going to be the Republican nominee. And I'm absolutely certain that these people will work hard for John McCain. Today, a lot of them are reluctant to get fully on-board. But it's February. By the time Fall comes around, I have no doubt that all these people will be ringing doorbells, putting up signs, standing on street corners, campaigning for John McCain, Dino Rossi and Rob McKenna."

Neither McCain or Huckabee had much of a caucus organizing effort here. Both campaigns told me in recent weeks that Romney was the best organized for today's caucus. His departure came late enough that no one could have been able to organize many of those Romney folks for the caucus.

Much of what happened yesterday on the Republican side was spontaneous, not the work of any crafty campaign.

McCain and Huckabee get a second chance to compete here. The primary Feb. 19 will apportion about half the Republican delegates. McCain has always expected to do better in the primary than the caucus. I expect we'll see some more concerted effort on the part of both campaigns in the coming week.

Last night I spoke with Pastor Joe Fuiten. He heads Huckabee’s volunteer effort here.

“I think the line that was quoted … is true. The press keeps wanting to bury Mr. Huckabee but he has had more resurrections than Jesus. They keep burying him and he just keeps rising back up.”

Fuiten said he will make a pitch to the campaign that Huckabee visit Washington before the primary. Huckabee’s wife, Janet, visited this week, doing more than 15 media appearances, Fuiten said.

“I started calling on the morning after he did so well on Super Tuesday and said, ‘Give us some help out here.’ They put no money into Washington. Zero; no staff, no advertising.”

Fuiten said Huckabee likely did well here because unlike in some other states there has been fairly wide support for the candidate among evangelical leaders. And with Romney out of the race, he said, there is no one left to attack Huckabee on the stump and call him a liberal.

“He’s no liberal in any way, unless you call liberal building roads and funding education, and I don’t.”

(This includes material I originally posted last night but has been updated with the most current numbers.)

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February 9, 2008 7:19 PM

Huckabee leads McCain in GOP caucus

Posted by David Postman

SeattlePoliticore writers Charles Cadwallader and Will Mari are still holding out at the state GOP headquarters. They sent this:

In the past the Republican Party has never offered day of reporting for the results of their caucuses. So far 37.1% of the votes have been reported, still waiting on King, Pierce and Benton counties; the former two making up a majority of the state population.

Huckabee 26.4% of the vote, McCain has 22.9%, Paul has 20.3%, Romney has 18%, uncommitted has 10.7% and other sits at 1.7% as of 7:00 pm.

Raw delegate totals from the precincts are as follows:

Huckabee : 1828

McCain: 1580

Paul: 1400

Romney: 1246

Other: 116

Uncommitted: 742

I think this means we're even more likely to see another McCain visit before the Feb. 19 primary. This race is still alive.

Neither McCain or Huckabee had much of a caucus organizing effort here. Both campaigns told me in recent weeks that Mitt Romney was the best organized for today's caucus. His departure came late enough that no one could have been able to organize many of those Romney folks by today.

I just spoke with Pastor Joe Fuiten. He heads Huckabee’s volunteer effort here.

“I think the line that was quoted … is true. The press keeps wanting to bury Mr. Huckabee but he has had more resurrections than Jesus. They keep burying him and he just keeps rising back up.”

Fuiten said he will make a pitch to the campaign that Huckabee visit Washington before the Feb. 19 primary. Huckabee’s wife, Janet, visited this week, doing more than 15 media appearances, Fuiten said.

“I started calling on the morning after he did so well on Super Tuesday and said, ‘Give us some help out here.’ They put no money into Washington. Zero; no staff, no advertising.”

Fuiten said Huckabee likely did well here because unlike in some other states there has been fairly wide support for the candidate among evangelical leaders. And with Romney out of the race, he said, there is no one left to attack Huckabee on the stump and call him a liberal.

“He’s no liberal in any way, unless you call liberal building roads and funding education, and I don’t.”

The King County Republican Party just released results of 87% of its precincts reporting. This could close the gap for McCain, though we don't yet know what else is remaining statewide.

Mike Huckabee - 640 (19.25%)

John McCain - 1,057 (31.8%)

Ron Paul - 612 (18.41%)

Mitt Romney - 484 (14.56%)

Uncommitted - 520 (15.64%)

Others - 11 (0.33%)

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February 9, 2008 5:41 PM

Gregoire says state Dems embraced message of change

Posted by David Postman

Gov. Chris Gregoire visited a few caucus sites today but was surprised to hear now how well Obama is doing. She saw lots of Clinton signs in Mukilteo and Ballard and supporters of both candidates, “So I walked out not really having a good sense of what was happening.”

But told that Obama, who she endorsed just yesterday, was winning by a wide margin, she said:

Who would have thought this? I think Washington is tired of the message of fear. That’s not the American way and we heard that message and we’ve seen that message now for how many years? Now let’s get back to how we really feel as Americans, and we’re hopeful. That’s what we’re all about.

“I do think Washingtonians are very concerned about where we are domestically and equally concerned about where we are in terms of our image abroad, to say nothing about the war. And we want someone who has the capacity to really unite folks.”

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February 9, 2008 5:12 PM

Official results show Obama winning big

Posted by David Postman

The state Democratic Party is reporting with 27 percent of precincts reporting that Barack Obama is winning nearly 66 percent of delegates compared to 33 percent for Hillary Clinton.

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February 9, 2008 4:10 PM

It's early, but Obama looking strong

Posted by David Postman

Democrats are e-mailing me results from their caucuses. Every one I've seen so far shows Obama winning easily. It's only a small number and only from a few places so far. That includes precincts in Seattle, all points in Bellevue, Mercer Island, and Port Townsend. I'll be particularly interested in seeing Pierce County results where Clinton is expected to do better.

The 34th District Democrats went big for Obama. That's Mayor Greg Nickels' district, and he made an appearance.

Put Lower Queen Anne and Belltown in Obama's column, too.

Here's one Tacoma report, from a precinct in the 27th District. Matt Kite writes:

Our precinct went for Obama, 11-6 (in delegates). The caucus next to us (a smaller group, with fewer delegates at stake) also went for Obama, although it sounded closer.

Judy West writes from Carnation:

We caucused with the downtown Carnation group. (Precinct 45-0290) 25 folks signed in; final tally 23 obama, 2 clinton. 5 delegates to the district convention for Obama; none for Clinton.

My husband and I have caucused previously..once we held a teeny caucus in our living room with about 6 people (1984, I think).

This was an amazing day. The Carnation Elem gym was full to overflowing and most precincts had more attendees than ours.

From Olympia:

I know that results are poring in; here is what I saw in olympia. At my caucus site we had probably 400 people and between what I saw in my precinct and what I heard I would suggest that Obama was pulling in 8-9 out of every ten. Clinton supporters were few and far between. Mark Bowden

From Orcas Island, Russell Lee Post writes:

On an island twice the size of Manhattan with a population of around 4,500, the caucus has ended. Hundreds crowded the school buildings and broke into separate groups. In precinct 4, a pattern that was followed in the other 3, Obama received 7 delegates, Clinton 1 and Kucinich 1. The actual votes were Obama 124 and Clinton 24.

From San Juan:

I just got back from attending the caucus here and Obama has it by at least 70% of the votes of all the precincts. Drake Diteman

A stronger showing for Clinton in Mount Vernon:

I'm in Mount Vernon, our group was almost evenly split between clinton and obama (11/13/2undecided). We ended up with 2 delegates each for clinton and obama.


We had 4 delegates for Obama, 2 for Clinton. There was some back and forth discussion, but no one persuaded anyone to change sides. Even the one undecided person, was very dead set on being undecided. In fact the only thing that was roundly agreed to by the majority was the suggestion to send a resolution up the ladder to the next caucus recommending that we replace the caucus with a primary.

Also interestingly, we had a Republican, or at least someone who usually voted Republican, show up. He said he wanted to be a delegate for Obama, because he wanted to keep Hillary out of the White House. He even said that he’d vote for McCain if Hillary was nominated, although he didn’t say who he’d vote for if Obama was. He was very open about his motives, and stepped aside when someone said she was uncomfortable with that situation. Still, I think it speaks to just how much the Republicans despise Hillary.

~Ryan in Lynnwood

Jeffrey Wagner writes from Woodinville:

The Sammamish Grange Hall was over capacity, packed. I would guess out of the 9 precincts represented there, 75% of the people were supporting Obama, to 25% for Clinton. My precinct (WOD 45-0926) which included 24 people total voted 4 delegates for Obama, to 1 for Clinton.

From Eastern Washington, Jerry Hand in Walla Walla says:

We just got back from the Democratic Party caucus. Oboma running about four to one over Hillary. Walla Walla turn out was more than double any previous caucus.

In Yakima, it's Obama:

Turnout was huge. In 2004, we had 24 precincts meeting at our location location. Today we had six and the the room was packed. Many more people than in 2004.

Clinton had no organization and only one sign. It was home-made. Obama stuff was everywhere, and they were organized down to the precinct level.

Results for my precinct: 41 for Obama, 19 for Clinton. The other precincts had similar numbers.

From Vancouver, reporter Hal Bernton says:

At the Martin Luther King Elementary in Vancouver, there weren't enough chairs to seat the hundreds of Democrats who turned out from six different precincts. Caucus organizers said it was a record turnout, with one precinct that drew 19 people in 2004 reporting 48 people on Saturday.

At this caucus site, Obama emerged victorious, gaining roughly three delegates for every one picked up by Clinton.

A Seattle reader sends this:

Our precinct in Wallingford was 7 Obama and 1 Clinton.

We checked with six other precincts in the building (Hamilton Middle School) and it ran about 80% for Obama and 20% for Clinton. Most of them were 5 or 6 Obama for 1 Clinton.

Drove over and checked at Bagley Elementary near Green Lake with the same numbers. In each precinct about 5 for Obama for 1 to Clinton.

Listening to the debates the key issue was elect ability. Many people were repeating talking points from the Republican party against Hillary.

Pat O'Hearn writes:

Here in Anacortes we had a very good turnout at our caucus location (Anacortes Sr. Center) Our precinct went 43-18 for Obama. The other precincts were mostly that lopsided as well.

A strong showing for Clinton from a Kirkland precinct, according to Bill Hays:

Our precinct, Sharon in the Kingsgate area of Kirkland, went for Clinton. The final tally was 16 votes for Clinton, 10 for Obama and two undecided. And no one would waver, even the undecideds. I had to wonder what would move someone to attend a caucus and be undecided, even at the end. Anyway, our precinct now sends two delegates for Clinton and one for Obama up to the next level.

A preponderance of the those caucusing in our precinct were women of a certain age, underlining that here, as elsewhere, this group is Hillary's core constituency. I happen to be a supporter of Obama and lobbyed hard for my candidate, but everyone was pretty entrenched and it wasn't worth an argument.

Elsewhere in the Juanita High cafeteria, where I think there were 12 precincts caucusing, I know there were majority Obama supporters, but I couldn't tell how many this was true for -- the room echoed and it was difficult to hear the people in our own precinct, much less get how others were going


Matt Fisher says from Bellingham:

Precint 208 in Bellingham: had about 128 people present. 13 delegates for Obama, 3 for Clinton.
Maggie Fimia sent out some unofficial totals from Shoreline. From eight precincts Obama 265, Clinton, 111, undecided 13, other 1.

From Eastern Washington, Rebecca Schoen writes:

If you're interested in little Millwood, which is very close to Spokane, My precinct went 4 delegates for Obama and 0 for Clinton.

And from Spokane County, just outside the Spokane city limits, - 2 Obama, 1 Clinton.

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February 9, 2008 3:58 PM

As we wait for results, some wrap-up reports

Posted by David Postman

Reports are coming in from caucus-goers. This is from Kirk Godtfredsen:

Just a word from our Bainbridge Island Democratic caucus - I live on the north end of the island and we caucused at Sakai Intermediate School. The traffic was amazing getting there (I biked, what luck) - it was backed up along all the arterials, worst than the normal backups during the morning ferry runs. The line just to enter the building took a good 20 minutes, we really didn't get started until 1:45 as people kept on coming. There was no checking of voting credentials, just name, address and preference - republicans could have stuffed the ballot box without anyone knowing...It was actually a pretty bad place to have the caucus, we were in the gym and it was packed, so it was very hard to hear what anyone was saying. I heard many folks complain about not just being able to vote in the primary, especially as they asked for funds to defer the "amazing costs of running a caucus" about 5 times (couldn't they have just used the ballot that's sitting on my kitchen counter?)

Anyway, Obama won our precinct, 6 delegates for O, 1 for Clinton, 1 undecided. Not any movement from the beginning tally. I heard from the other precincts it was pretty much Obama in a big way too -

And Jonathan J. Lee, a second year student at Seattle University School of Law, sent this from Bellevue:

The caucuses just finished up in the Lake Hills region in Bellevue. The final tally was 38 delegates to go to Obama for the 41st leg district convention. Hillary got 13. It was an unprecedented number of attendees at Lake Hills elementary. From the people I talked to, many were dumbfounded at the number of Obama supporters. A lot thought that Bellevue would be Hillary Country but proved to be otherwise. For a stereotypical white area that Bellevue is made out to be, the caucus was surprisingly diverse. There were many first time voters, some bringing along their children, some newly minted citizens. One thing was for sure though, there was a definite sense of excitement and electricity in the air. Probably due to the demographics of the area but the young voter turnout was very low (less than 1 in 10 it seemed). There were a high number of senior citizens (60+) that attended (over 50%).

And about an hour ago, the caucus in Everett was still going on, according to reporter Diane Brooks.

"Democracy is a messy process," said veteran caucus-goer Bruce Eklund, as his Northwest Everett neighborhood gathering dragged on toward 3 p.m.

Four years ago, when Ecklund was elected as a delegate for Dennis Kucinich, about 20 of his neighbors showed up. This time, 56 people, including a pair of high school students, turned out.

"It's chaotic when there's new people, " said Ecklund, who heads a non-profit affordable-housing program based in Everett. "It's not clean. It's not easy.'

Ecklund who has previously attended a half-dozen caucuses, was part of a mass of caucus goers from 120 different precincts jammed into the Everett Civic Auditorium. The groups split off into nearby locales, with 16 precincts sent to the cafeteria at Everett High School.

Ecklund's precinct eventually elected four Obama delegates, two Clinton delegates and one uncommitted.

Other NW Everett neighborhoods -- a mix of professional and middle-class families that is traditionally a Democratic stronghold -- reported similar victories for Obama.

Among the 11 precinct voters were Carly Shue, 17, and her best friend Nichole Miller. Both girls came to the caucus uncommitted, but eventually Miller, 18, switched her vote to Obama.

"My boyfriend is in the military. He's going to Iraq in five months for his second trip," Miller said. "And I don't support the war. I just want everyone to come back from Iraq."

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February 9, 2008 3:29 PM

Clinton campaign wants to lower expectations

Posted by David Postman

This is from the campaign of Hillary Clinton:

Tonight there are contests in three states that the Obama campaign has long predicted they would win by large margins. According to a spreadsheet that was obtained by Bloomberg News, the Obama campaign predicted big victories in Washington State, Nebraska and Louisiana.

The Obama campaign has dramatically outspent our campaign in these three states, saturating the airwaves with 30 and 60 second ads. The Obama campaign has spent $300,000 more in Louisiana on television ads, $190,000 more in Nebraska and $175,000 more in Washington.

Although the next several states that hold nominating contests this month are more favorable to the Obama campaign, we will continue to compete in them and hope to secure as many delegates as we can before the race turns to Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania.

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February 9, 2008 3:24 PM

Gregoire visits Seattle caucus

Posted by David Postman

Seattlepoliticore correspondent Celia Hunko caught Gov. Chris Gregoire at a Democratic caucus in Magnolia. She has a post here with this video of Gregoire taking some questions from the press.

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February 9, 2008 3:19 PM

A candidate announces at caucus

Posted by David Postman

Caucuses aren’t just about nominating presidential candidates. They are a chance for party regulars to swap rumors and for new-comers to be introduced. In Kent, where as many as 700 people attended the GOP caucus at Kentlake High School, Mark Hargrove announced to the crowd that he would be a candidate for the Legislature.

Hargrove said he will run for the 47th District seat now held by Democrat Geoff Simpson, says reporter Yu Nakayma:

Among the issues Hargrove discussed, he highlighted the fact that he and his family members are all politically active Republicans.

"If you look up 'conservative' in the dictionary, you'll find a picture of... my wife," Hargrove said, jokingly. "She's much better looking than me, so they'll put a picture of her in there. But I'm probably included in the third definition or something."

Hargrove, 51, is an instructor pilot for Boeing. Other than being the elected PCO for the Covington precinct, he hasn't held office before.

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February 9, 2008 3:00 PM

A house divided

Posted by David Postman

At the Democratic caucus at Wedgwood Elementary School, Jocelyn Cooper, 28, and her live-in boyfriend, Jesse Sankey, 29, showed that intra-party divisions happen even under the same roof.

Sankey backs Hillary Clinton, Cooper backs Barack Obama. Times reporter Haley Edwards heard them debate -- and laugh about it -- as they sat next to each other on a cafeteria bench:

Sankey: "Hillary will get more done in the short run. Obama's got good vision, but …”

Cooper: "That's all you need, though. He'll just be one of 1,000 people running the country, and the people around him will feel that energy.”

Sankey: "But Hillary's more likely to win against McCain. She’s got the corporations …“

Cooper: “Just because she accepted their money?”

Sankey: “You’ve got to accept their money.”

Cooper: “You don’t have to sell your soul.”

Sankey: “It’s not selling your soul! That’s such [B.S.]!”

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February 9, 2008 2:25 PM

Former GOP chair says party will be unified come fall

Posted by David Postman

Yu Nakayama just ran into Chris Vance, former chairman of the state Republican Party. Vance, a McCain backer, was elected a precinct delegate from Kent. Vance told him:

"There's a lot of enthusiasm; people are excited about the fall. That's the thing: People like to be a part of the process. They've seen it happen in other states, and they love being in it for real in their state."
Vance also added that he was extremely confident, despite the significant number of voters who appeared to be uncommitted, that McCain would be the Republican candidate.
"The people here are the most committed, most conservative, most passionate, grass-roots activists. m absolutely certain that John McCain's going to be the Republican nominee. And I'm absolutely certain that these people will work hard for John McCain. "Today, a lot of them are reluctant to get fully on-board. But it's February. By the time Fall comes around, I have no doubt that all these people will be ringing doorbells, putting up signs, standing on street corners, campaigning for John McCain, Dino Rossi and Rob McKenna."

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February 9, 2008 2:19 PM

Some Seattle Republicans already done

Posted by David Postman

The 37th District Republican caucuses are done. There were about 100 people from 140 different precincts. District Chairman Ross Marzolf apologized for initially barring student reporter Charles Cadwallader from the caucus.

Cadwallader said vote totals were not released, but that John McCain clearly had a lot of support. Others had advocates, too, though, he said, including Ron Paul and Alan Keyes.

Here's how the numbers broke down in the 37th. McCain got 37 delegates, Ron Paul, 29; Mike Hucabee 14; Mitt Romney 13; uncommitted six; Fred Thompson, two; and one each for Duncan Hunter and for Keyes.

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February 9, 2008 2:01 PM

New Neighbors Meet at Ballard Caucus

Posted by David Postman

This is from Philip Pirwitz, a UW student writing for us and Seattle Politicore:

Today’s caucus out here in Magnolia may have started a little shaky, but all of the doors are unlocked and our team has staked its territory in the Catherine Blaine School’s lunchroom where the bulk of the action will take place. A recording over the intercom instructs the crowd how to sign in and directs them to their correct destination.

Almost all of the tables are full in the lunchroom, with standing voters filling the perimeter, and still the line outside stretches to the nearby community center. Each table serves as a precinct meeting location with numbered balloons serving as beacons. On each table is a donation box for the Democratic Party.

Neighbors have begun to introduce themselves and discuss the issues, many of whom were strangers before today’s event and new to the caucus process.

“This is my first time,” said Clay Smith from precinct 1684, whose table had just finished a debate on the Iraq war. “None of us had met before.”

When asked over the speaker who is at their first caucus, three-quarters of the crowd raised their hand.

Smith, along with Valerie Schloredt, has come to express their preference for Barack Obama and his potential to bring the country - and a split Congress - together. Others at the table said they liked Hillary Clinton, and a friendly debate fittingly ensued about her divisive nature.

Schloredt came with her husband Brendan Manley from London. Though Manley is still a citizen of England and cannot vote in the caucus, he came to experience the excitement with his wife in her hometown.

“This is my junior high lunchroom,” Schloredt said. They both waited - unsuccessfully - for Obama outside the Key Arena yesterday.

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February 9, 2008 1:49 PM

Caucuses get underway with big crowds on both sides

Posted by David Postman

At a Democratic caucus at Foster High School in Tukwila, there are more than 300 people in attendance. The caucus began just a few minutes ago, about 40 minutes after the scheduled start to allow people to get through the lines to sign in.

The caucus began with an unofficial voice vote, according to reporter Stuart Eskenazi:

“They asked how many people are here for Hillary, and it was met with cheers. And then they said, ‘How many are here for Barack Obama,’ and it was a huge roar. It is heavily Obama here in Tukwila.”

This is from a caucus-goer who filed a report to the Seattle Times. The Madison Park Democratic caucus for Precinct 2058 "appears primarily Clinton, as am I. Discussions beginning soon."

Some Republican caucuses are overflowing, too. Reporter Jim Brunner says the GOP caucus in Lynwood was over capacity even before it began.

The indoor basketball court at Silver Creek Community Church was packed, and a crowd of at least 400 was spilling into adjoining rooms.

Among the crowd was initiative guru Tim Eyman, who was promoting a new measure for the fall ballot aimed at traffic congestion. Eyman, who has been a delegate in previous years, said he would support whomever was picked as the GOP nominee.

Longtime Republicans said the turn out was unusually large, despite John McCain being the presumptive nominee. “This is where the party faithful have a chance to say their piece,” said Stan Lake, chairman of the 21st Legislative District Republicans.

Reporter Ashley Bach is at a Bellevue elementary school, sand says it is a low-key and mostly older crowd of about 120 Republicans.

One of the few overt signs of support at the Stevenson Elementary School caucus came from Michael Loughry, a 24 year-old software engineer wearing a Ron Paul T-shirt. He said he was not going to be swayed to John McCain’s camp.

“He’s become such a neo-con, saying we should be in Iraq for another 100 years, which is absurd,” said Loughry.

In Everett, Democrats heard from Sen. Maria Cantwell, who told them:

"My mom had emergency appendectomy surgery two days, and left the hospital today at noon to go to the caucus."

The rest of her remarks were drowned out by cheers.

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February 9, 2008 1:22 PM

In Kansas caucus, Huckabee beats McCain

Posted by David Postman

You can see the unofficial tally here, but it sure looks like an easy victory for Mike Huckabee over John McCain.

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February 9, 2008 1:01 PM

Romney backer fights on

Posted by David Postman

Times reporter Yu Nakayama sends this from Kent:

The cafeteria of Kentlake High School, the site of the Republican caucus in Kent, is about three quarters full 10 minutes before the caucus begins. Many voters are attending their first caucus.

"I've not been a political person in the past," said Sue Bregel, 63, "but I feel it's time to learn what it's all about. I'm here more to observe and see how it all works."

While a good number of voters are backing McCain, most of them appear to be undecided.

And there was even one Romney supporter.

"He suspended, not dropped," said Tom Goff Sr., 65. "The chances of him getting enough delegates are pretty slim, but I'll stick with him for a while."

I guess it ain't over til it's over.

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February 9, 2008 12:57 PM

Local GOP official bars student reporter from caucus

Posted by David Postman

A Republican Party official told a University of Washington blogger he was not allowed to talk to caucus goers outside a Seattle Public Library branch and threatened to have the young man removed by a sheriff’s deputy if he did not leave.

Charles Cadwallader, 22, is a senior journalism major at UW. He is working today as part of professor David Domke’s blogging class, which has been maintaining a caucus news site. The students have also been contributing to my blog and we are planning on using their reports today.

Cadwallader said that as he was standing outside the Columbia Branch Library at Alaska Street and Rainier Avenue, he was approached by Ross Marzolf, the chairman of the 37th District Republicans. When the students were choosing their caucus sites to cover, Marzolf had told Cadwallader last week the students would not be welcome in the caucus because, “he just didn’t want anything written about the 37th.”

Cadwallader went there this morning to talk to Republicans on their way into the caucus. Marzolf approached him. Cadwallader told me:

"He said, ‘No press is going to be allowed’ and then he said he’d really like it if I left. I said I understood but that I’m going to stay. And he said they had a deputy sheriff inside and he would have him come out and ask me to leave.”

So far, no deputy has come out.

The students have had no other problems gaining access to caucus sites, either Democratic or Republican. Times reporters out today have also had no problems.

I do not know under what authority Marzolf is keeping reporters from his caucus, much less from the public area outside the library. But I’m trying to find out.

King County Republican Chairman Michael Young just told me it is not party policy to bar the press and he said, “I don’t know why Ross is making that judgment call.”

“My position is unless the press is creating a problem they are welcome to attend all of our caucuses. We're very open.”

I just spoke with Cadwallader again. He asked the branch librarian about whether the press could be barred from the building. They can’t. And the librarian told Marzlof that reporters would have to be allowed in.

Before letting that happen, Marzolf stood on a chair in the room, Cadwallader said, and warned caucus participants that the press would soon be inside with them. Marzolf still said the reporters cannot talk to anyone inside and could not take any photographs. The no photo order was overruled by the librarian who said that was outside the Republican’s authority.

Boy, you’ve got to wonder what those 37th District Republicans have planned today.

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February 9, 2008 12:41 PM

Caucus crowds showing up early

Posted by David Postman

Reporter Stuart Eskenazi is at Foster High School in Tukwila. That’s in the 11th Legislative District and will be where 10 strongly Democratic precincts meet today. In 2004 the precincts voted 65 percent for Democrat John Kerry for president. And all but one of those 10 precincts voted for Christine Gregoire over Dino Rossi in the governor’s race.

People started showing up at 11 a.m. for the 1 p.m. start time. There are now about 50 people in the lunchroom, playing cards and chatting.

One thing that first-time caucus goers may be surprised by is the party and partisan atmosphere. These are not state-run elections. There are campaign signs, buttons, solicitations for donations, etc.

Meanwhile, at the Everett Civic Auditorium in downtown Everett, reporter Diane Brooks says as of noon there there were already about 400 Democrats waiting for the doors to open. All 120 precincts in the 38th Legislative District, which includes Everett, Marysville and the Tulalip reservation, are caucusing there.

More from Brooks:

By 1 p.m., the building had surpassed it's 1,500-seat capacity.

"How many people are here for their first caucus?" asked 38th District chair Debra Wright, as the start time neared. A sea of hands shot up followed by a group cheer.

This is the first time the Democrats have staged a mass caucus for all 120 precincts in the 38th District, which includes most of Everett and Marysville as well as the Tulalip Reservation. In 2004, the district set a recent-memory record with a turnout of about 900 people, Wright said.

The 38th is considered solidly Democratic: In 2006, both state Sen. Jean Berkey and state Rep. Mike Sells ran unopposed for re-election.

"This is exciting. It's just wonderful to see this many people so engaged," said first-time caucus-goer Scott Wessel-Estes, 48, an attorney.

In White Center, Ralph Thomas is seeing big crowds, too:

At White Center Heights Elementary School, south of West Seattle, people were streaming in as the caucus starting time approached. Twelve precincts are meeting at the school, and more than 150 people had arrived by about 12:45 p.m.

"This already is way more than the last time," area caucus coordinator Elizabeth Giba said, comparing today's turnout with that of 2004.

By 1 p.m. there more than 300 people there. Extra tables and chairs are being brought in.

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February 9, 2008 12:01 PM

Early bird gets the signs up

Posted by David Postman

I will be posting reports from caucus sites around the area today. The Times has reporters at Democratic and Republican caucuses and we will also be getting reports from the UW bloggers at

Times reporter Jack Broom is at Seattle Central Community College and sent this:

More than three hours before the caucuses, volunteer Chris Maryatt arrived to put up Hillary Clinton signs outside Seattle Center Community College where Barack Obama signs already in place. Nineteen precincts are scheduled to meet at the college, but it's not clear the space will hold them.

"We expect up to 2,000 people, and we won't necessary have room for everyone who shows up," said Maryatt, the Democratic 43rd Legislative District treasurer. He said once they sign in, some precincts may move to coffee shops or other locations in the neighborhood.

"This is going to be a zoo -- times 90," said one early arriving volunteer, seeing that a single large classroom was intended to hold eight different precinct caucuses.

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February 9, 2008 11:03 AM

Confidential to Hillary, Maria, John, Cindy, Slade, Gary and the woman in Vegas

Posted by David Postman

I’m working today and won’t be caucusing for any of you or your candidates. But thanks for calling me at home and telling me how important my vote is. It’s the most robo -- except for that nice Obama volunteer from Vegas -- calls I’ve ever gotten in a two-day period. And because of my obsessive need to remain neutral, I appreciate the bipartisan effort.

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February 8, 2008 4:38 PM

Clinton says America needs a fighter, not a talker

Posted by David Postman

I had a brief interview with Sen. Hillary Clinton today following her Tacoma town hall meeting on health care. I had a chance to ask several questions over about eight minutes. Here's a complete transcript of the interview:

DP: Several questions I’d like to get in. One, I do want to ask a health care question.

HC: Good.

DP: I understand in general the distinction between your plan and Obama’s plan. Can you tell me, do you think there is a philosophical underpinning to that difference that might tell us something else about how the two of you would govern?

HC: I think there may well be. I think it may be philosophical and political. I understand the difficulty of coming forward with a universal health-care plan. Both John Edwards and I bit the bullet, decided to do exactly that and were prepared to forge ahead. And I think Senator Obama decided that it wasn’t a top issue for him, that it wasn’t worth the fight, it wasn’t something he was willing to go to the mat over. And I think that was a very unfortunate decision on his part.

DP: And do you think then, to extrapolate that to something else, is it a matter of what you’re willing to do to fight, or is more of a deeper idea of what government is supposed to do?

HC: I think it may be both, because Senator Obama’s campaign is all about bringing people together. But the question is, for what, and against whom? Because you’re not going to obliterate the differences that exist. You’re not gong to eliminate the health insurance companies and the drug companies. So you have to be prepared to put together a coalition, but be willing to fight for what you believe in.

I think the American people deserve a president who’s a fighter and a doer and champion, not a talker. And from my perspective, standing up and fighting for universal health care is a core Democratic value.

Picture the debate with Senator McCain: He’s going to stand up and say he’s going to have health savings accounts and he’s going to have tax credits and he’s going to cover a lot of people. So if you go into that already having ceded universal health care and basically using, as Barack now is, Republican and health insurance talking points -- bringing back a kind of Harry and Louise attack on health care -- then he’s going to come in and say, ‘Oh no, I’m going to cover more.’ But there’s no real distinction. We’re fighting then over differences that are not going to add up to what we need to accomplish.

I want to stand there and say, ‘No, I’m for universal health care.’ We pay more than anybody in the world. We don’t cover 47 million. We under cover tens of millions more. We don’t get the health results we should. And the only way out of this is to say we are going to have universal health care.

So yes, doctors, nurses, join my cause; hospital administrators, business and labor, you’re paying the costs; we’re going to take on the health insurance industry.

It is the right argument to make on behalf of a Democratic nominee.

Continue reading this post ...

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February 8, 2008 10:39 AM

With Clinton in Tacoma

Posted by David Postman

I’m at Hillary Clinton’s health care town hall. She has nearly filled the 6,000-seat field house at the University of Puget Sound. Last night she had about that many people at Pier 30. Not bad given that she wasn’t even planning on coming to the state until two days ago.

Here she will be introduced by Becky Patton, president of the American Nurses Association, who will announce her group’s endorsement of Clinton. This is part of Clinton’s emphasis on health care since arriving in the state yesterday.

The endorsement is also a way to react to this week’s endorsement of Barack Obama by locals of the Service Employees International Union, representing nurses and other health care workers.

Clinton will speak to the crowd, and then take questions. There are a lot of nurses in the room, but the campaign says Clinton will take questions from anyone in the audience.

From reporter Jennifer Sullivan at Key Arena, I just heard that there is a massive crowd turning out for Obama's rally. That could be one of the largest political rallies ever in Seattle.

I'm not one to spend too much time worrying about music a candidate plays. But if Clinton wants to use "I'm a Believer," why wouldn't she use the Monkees' version and not the awful cover by Smash Mouth? This is how elections are lost.

I learned something about campaigns this morning. The script for this morning's event says Clinton will be announced by "VOG." That stands for Voice of God. Wouldn't they play up that endorsement more?

If you're in Key Arena, tell us what's going on there.

ADD: Well, the "announcement" of the nurses endorsement isn't really news. That happened on Jan. 25. I guess the re-announcement is meant to counter the SEIU endorsement.

MORE: The talk here is full of subtle jabs at Obama. Congressman Jay Inslee talked about the need for universal health care and said, “When we say universal, we mean universal. … We cannot have half a plan for universal coverage. We cannot have a three-quarters plan for universal coverage. … We have to have somebody who will not surrender on universal health care on day one, but will fight.”

Sen. Maria Cantwell said that Clinton was in Tacoma to show that there are more places to campaign in Washington than just Seattle, where Obama is today.

And Clinton continued the theme of criticizing Obama’s health care plan for its lack of mandated insurance coverage.

“I believe health care is a right, not a privelege. If Democrats don’t stand for universal health care than I don’t think we stand for what we should. …My opponents’ plan would leave out 15 million people, leave them uninsured.”

Among those here supporting Clinton is Insurance Comissioner Mike Kreidler.

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February 8, 2008 7:24 AM

Gregoire endorses Obama

Posted by David Postman

Gov. Chris Gregoire announced this morning that she is backing Barack Obama for president. The endorsement comes one day before state Democrats hold nominating caucuses. But while coming late in the process, the governor’s announcement is timed for the day that Obama appears in Seattle at a Key Arena rally.

Hillary Clinton is also in the state today with appearances in Tacoma and Spokane.

Gregoire said in a statement:

We must restore hope in America. We must put an end to politics of division - by gender, race, and faith. I know Washingtonians are tired of these divisions. They want us to tackle the tough challenges we face, and get result that make their lives better.

Barack Obama has a unique ability to reach across all the artificial divides and divisions to move our nation forward. At a time of great division in our country, we need a leader who will unite us. Barack Obama is that kind of leader.

I was inspired to pursue a career in public service by John F. Kennedy. His presidency heralded the arrival of a new generation of Americans to lead our nation. Like President Kennedy, Barack Obama is inspiring a new generation of young people to get involved. If elected, I believe he will lead us all -- young and old, “blue and red” -- to create a positive change in our communities, this nation and the world.

Note to the governor's staff: The time stamp on this post shows when I wrote it, not when it was posted. It was posted at 8 a.m. the time the embargo was lifted. No one saw it here prior to 8 a.m.

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February 7, 2008 8:38 PM

Cinton supporters tonight, maybe Republicans in November

Posted by David Postman

Hillary Clinton is expected to speak soon to a capacity crowd at the Pier 30 Event Center in Seattle.
Times reporter Haley Edwards is there and ran into two Seattle men who say while Clinton is their first choice, they might vote Republican in November if Barack Obama ends up with the Democratic nomination.

Jaime Vasconcelos, 31, told Edwards:

“Hillary’s got insider’s knowledge. I think Obama is inspiring but I trust Hillary more. Between Obama and McCain I might consider McCain. I supported him in 2000, I trust him too.”

Henry Lingat, 43, said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the most important issues to him.

“With Hillary I feel faith and protected. She has strength behind her. I don’t know if Obama could handle the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq at once. If Hillary loses the candidacy then I might vote for McCain.”

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February 7, 2008 4:20 PM

Another superdelegate for Clinton

Posted by David Postman

Congressman Norm Dicks is reportedly set to endorse Hillary Clinton, according to Steven Gardner at the Kitsap Sun. Dicks has told Clinton she can make the announcement during her Tacoma appearance tomorrow.

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February 7, 2008 3:43 PM

Clinton airs health care TV ad here

Posted by David Postman

Hillary Clinton wants to stress health care in the remaining days until Washington's Democratic caucus. Her campaign just released a new television commercial saying she alone has a "plan to provide health care for every American." And tomorrow as part of her Puget Sound campaign swing, Clinton is expected to hold a health care forum in Tacoma with nurses.

Yesterday, SEIU locals in the state endorsed Barack Obama. The union represents nurses and other health-care workers, and union leaders said they believed Obama had the best chance of enacting meaningful health-care reform if elected president.

Here's the script to Clinton's ad.

Announcer: She fought for universal health care, long before it was popular.

Championed the bill that gave six million kids health insurance

…and pushed the drug companies to lower the cost of vaccinations.

Now, she’s the only candidate for President - Democrat or Republican - with a plan to provide health care for every American.

Just one reason why she's earned the support of Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.

Because health care is a moral obligation, not a privilege.

Saturday. Caucus for Hillary.

Hillary Clinton: I’m Hillary Clinton and I approved this message.

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February 7, 2008 3:14 PM

Obama to tour local business

Posted by David Postman

Sen. Barack Obama will visit the headquarters of a Seattle mechanical engineering company tomorrow morning before his Key Arena campaign rally. Obama will be at the corporate headquarters of the KcKinstry Co., according to an e-mail sent to employees of the firm today.

The e-mail said that Obama's office "identified McKinstry as a leader in sustainable practices and is in support of our efforts to advance a 'green economy'.”

Senator Obama’s presence is not an endorsement by McKinstry for his presidential bid. McKinstry respects the right of our employees to have their own personal views. If any other presidential candidate contacted McKinstry requesting the venue to advance a high performance economy we would be honored to give equal time to that candidate. I encourage each of you to exercise your constitutional right to vote. If you have any concerns, please see me.

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February 7, 2008 12:43 PM

Is Obama campaign counting on a win here?

Posted by David Postman

That's what Bloomberg News says after getting a leaked copy of a campaign spreadsheet. Via Eli Sanders, who adds his own thinking to the growing import of where our superdelegates end up.

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February 7, 2008 11:27 AM

McCain in state tomorrow

Posted by David Postman

State Republican Chairman Luke Esser just told us that John McCain will be in Seattle tomorrow.

That's surprising for a couple of reasons. McCain's campaign had said he wouldn't make it to the state before Saturday's caucus, but more likely would be here some time before the Feb. 19 primary. Also, with Mitt Romney dropping out today, there isn't much of a race left.

Of course, with Romney out, Mike Huckabee's campaign may see a chance to do better in Washington state this Saturday.

Representatives of both McCain's and Huckabee's campaigns in Washington state have told me that they thought Romney was the best organized in Washington state.

MORE: Times reporter Ralph Thomas just talked with McCain spokesman Will Nichols. Why the sudden change:

“It's the nature of things right now. It’s not a daily change, it’s an hourly change."

McCain will appear at the Westin around 5:30 p.m. There are not further details yet, but the campaign says there will be at least some event open to the public.

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February 7, 2008 10:36 AM

Romney drops out, says Democrats would "surrender to terror"

Posted by David Postman

Republican Mitt Romney said this morning he'll drop out of the race for the Republican nomination for president. This quote jumped out at me:

If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.

That is from his speech prepared for delivery at the Conservative Political Action Committee.

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February 6, 2008 12:15 PM

SEIU endorses Obama

Posted by David Postman

Washington locals of SEIU just announced it is endorsing Barack Obama for president. The union, one of the largest in the state, makes its endorsement three days before Washingotn's Democratic caucuses. State SEIU locals had been among those around the country that endorsed John Edwards. The announcement was made in a conference call by Congressman Adam Smith.

Three presidents of state locals of the Service Employees International Union were on the call with Smith and told reporters that they believe they can still have an impact on Saturday's caucus. David Rolf, of SEIU 775, said, "Between now and Saturday moring we are all not going to rest and we are going to turn every SEIU Obama suppoter out" for the caucuses.

Obama will be in Seattle Friday, though details on that are not yet available.

Diane Sosne, president of SEIU's nurse's union 1199, said Obama is "awakening the sleeping giant of the American electorate."

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February 6, 2008 11:24 AM

Is Clinton conceding Washington?

Posted by David Postman

At MSNBC, Mark Murray writes that upcoming states favor Obama, from Saturday's votes in Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington up to and including Feb. 19 votes in Hawaii and Wisconsin.

In fact, in a conference call it held with reporters on Monday, the Clinton campaign seemed like it was conceding those states when it didn’t mention those states, but said it was looking ahead toward March 4 (Ohio and Texas; don't forget Rhode Island and Vermont) after Super Tuesday.

Lowering expectations is a big part of the game at this point. Last night, the Clinton campaign was quick to send out talking points to its surrogates. After every loss the suggested line was that Clinton had not campaigned very hard in that state so it was no surprise that Obama did better. Will that be Washington's fate?

Arguing against that is the sudden influx of Clinton staffers to the state in recent days. And I'm confident the campaign will tell anyone in Washington state that it will fight hard here. But one has to wonder why that wasn't said in a conversation this morning with national reporters.

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February 6, 2008 11:04 AM

Mrs. Obama in Spokane Friday

Posted by David Postman

Barack Obama's campaign announced this morning that his wife, Michelle, will campaign in Spokane Friday. The event will be free and open to the public, but there are no more details available at this time.

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February 6, 2008 10:16 AM

Confidential to "Yikes"

Posted by David Postman

Dear Yikes: I saw your comment in reaction to my recent reporting from around Washington. You were unhappy that I didn't find more Republicans, or at least more Republicans who think like you. And you said:

You sure managed to get quite a few Democratic Party activists in there....and zero Republican activists. A newspaper reporter often leaves a trail like a slug....long & slimey.

I wish I had run into more upbeat Republicans on my trip. And I'm not done yet. In fact, I think it will be important to see what Republicans are thinking between this weekend's caucus and the Feb. 19 primary, when only Republican votes matter.

So, why don't you help out. Just like others who agreed to talk to me in far corners of the state, I hope you'll give me a little time, as well as your real name of course, and sit down with me wherever you may be to talk about the 2008 presidential elections. And if you have some friends or neighbors who'd be willing to join in, that'd be even better.

What do you say? And I promise to clean up any slimy trail I may leave behind.

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February 6, 2008 9:26 AM

More from Idaho Democratic caucus

Posted by David Postman

The UW students at have detailed coverage of Barack Obama's win in Idaho last night. Read their dispatches here. And they have video up here.

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February 5, 2008 4:11 PM

Join the conversation: Liveblogging Super Tuesday

Posted by David Postman

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February 5, 2008 7:34 AM

Let's have a virtual Super Tuesday party

Posted by David Postman

Starting at 5 p.m. I’ll be live-blogging Super Tuesday results. It’s a bit of an experiment with a new piece of software we got called Cover It Live. This is what The Stranger’s been using. In fact, Eli Sander’s is quoted on the company’s website giving this endorsement: “It’s liveblogging heaven.”

I hope he’s right. But I need your help to make it work. The great thing about this is you can add your live comments to the thread. It looks more like a live chat session than a blog post. (I will be approving comments, though.)

I hope you’ll join me as you watch returns and help me identify interesting trends, dumb things TV anchors say, give your predictions or mourn the loss of your candidate.

One special feature tonight will be reports on the Idaho caucus. University of Washington professor David Domke is in Idaho today with a team of students who will be blogging on what our northwest neighbors are doing. I will be posting reports from Idaho and, I hope, some photos.

We can also do quick polls of what commenters are thinking.

It should be fun. See you here at 5 p.m.

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February 4, 2008 2:12 PM

Excited about Clinton in Clark County

Posted by David Postman

VANCOUVER -- In talking with voters recently I’ve been struck by how few feel passionately about any candidate, save for this year’s passion candidate, Barack Obama. Fans of other candidates sound practical or strategic or just resigned to some fate out of their control. With candidates dropping out, more voters are going with their second choice, which obviously is not very exciting.

But on my last stop before heading home yesterday I had coffee with four committed and passionate supporters of Hillary Clinton. Their support came with no qualification, no apology. Sure they’ll back Obama if he wins the nomination. But Val Ogden, Norman Bank and Morris Foutch all argue that Clinton is better qualified and would be a better president. And Foutch’s wife, Jean, says she’s strongly leaning that way, too.


Clockwise from left, Morris and Jean Foutch, Norman Banks, Val Ogden.

This was not a random meeting. Morris Foutch e-mailed me while I was on my Eastern Washington trip to comment about the story about a family of wheat farmers who had grown disillusioned with President Bush and the political system at large as they faced some tough financial times.

He found that tale interesting, but, he wrote me:

"I do, however, believe their straits are grossly overstated. Yes, we do need farmers to produce the foodstuffs and fibers that we all consume but these people appear to me to complain too much."

I thought he sounded like a guy who puts a lot of thought into his politics. I suggested we meet when I came through Clark County. When we met here, Foutch had thoroughly researched commodity prices and was talking about what crop failures in China and the plains of Russia had done to the international wheat market.

But we didn’t get together to rehash that story or talk about wheat. He brought his wife and his two friends to talk about the presidential campaign. I know Ogden, 83, from her years as a state legislator from Clark County. She retired after the 2002 session and now fills her day with a lot of volunteer work, including pushing for affordable housing. She and her husband also remain involved in Democratic politics.

Foutch, 71, is excited about the campaign. Everyone around the table was clearly liberal, and Foutch said he expects a major political shift come November.

“The public in general will move to the left. This election will be a very, very, hard hit on the conservative movement.”

Foutch has three college degrees and has had two careers; first as a biochemist and then working in the semiconductor and super computer industries. He grew up in Longview, was drafted and spent his Army years in Germany guarding the border between East and West Germany. He called that experience, “being in the lead regiment for World War III.

Jean Foutch had a career at Nordstrom, where she worked in sales, management, as a buyer and a logistics expert.

Banks, 67, is a retired volcanologist who helped create a rapid response volcano program and worked around the Pacific Rim. He is the Clark County committeeman to the state Democratic Party.

The four are friends and represent well, I think, the Clinton demographic. These are old-school Democrats, not among the many who have been brought to the party by excitement over Obama or any other candidate.

Ogden, the only one among the four with elected political experience, said she has no doubt there is a generational split between backers of Clinton and Obama. She said Obama is bringing new people into the party.

“That’s what Dean did. He really reached out to the young people and got them involved. Frankly, we didn’t do a very good job keeping those people involved.”

She said the party needs to do a better job this year. And she thinks it will. The state party is asking all county organizations to hold parties the week after the caucuses -- they’re calling them The Raucous Caucus -- to keep people engaged, even if their candidate lost the week before.

Banks said Obama is a “sweet talker.”

“Obama is a wonderful guy. He just does not have the experience in Washington and he hasn’t governed. He will not have the breadth of experience she would. … He’s a great talker. But I don’t know how he’ll do getting things done.”

This brought nods around the table. Said Ogden:

“That’s what I hear: Great speech, but not a lot of specifics.”
I wondered what they thought about the theory I hear from many Democrats that Clinton is too polarizing a figure to win in November. Banks jumped at the chance to respond. He said that is just Republican spin to scare people away from Clinton. But, I said, I hear it from Democrats.

“I know,” he said. “I think Democrats are buying Karl Rove’s story.”

Morris Foutch took a more research-based approach to disprove the theory that Clinton has too many negatives. (This clearly is a guy who likes data and doesn’t feel comfortable spouting political opinions - whether about wheat prices, immigration, the national debt or a candidate’s character - without first putting in a fair amount of computer time.) He said he Googled “Clinton negatives” and found plenty to read. He printed out a list of issues which he said he printed at home and put in front of his computer.

“There’s not a single one that’s a serious thing.”

Again, nods all around. On the question of experience, though, I asked if they considered Clinton’s time as First Lady experience in governing.

“It’s not just that,” Banks said. “They have been a team since the beginning.”

And team is more than Bill and Hillary, he said.

“There’s a whole Clinton team that has done a very good job running this country. I think this country is in such serious shape we need someone who can start on day one. She knows how to move the system around.”

Clark County Democrats are expecting a large turnout for Saturday’s caucus. Banks said that in 2000, only 300 Clark County Democrats went to the presidential caucus. In 2004, that was up to 3,200. He said that Saturday the party is expecting at least 6,000.

That’s clearly a reflection of people’s interest in the presidential race. But Banks hopes it translates to wider victories for Democrats. He said more than taking back the White House needs to happen for Democrats to make the changes they want.

“We need 10 more seats in the Senate. We can’t have a fight for the next eight years. We have to be able to govern.”

There was less than complete agreement around the table about the specifics of that governing.

On government spending, Foutch said he’s very concerned about the fast growing size of the budget and the national debt. “And here’s the kicker,” he told his friends, “it doesn’t include future war expenses.”

He said that problem needs to be taken care of immediately under a Democratic president. But Banks cautioned:

“The problem is, how do you pay that off without a huge tax increase?”


“Well then, raise taxes.”

All four Clark County Democrats strongly oppose the war in Iraq would like to see a troop withdrawal as soon as possible. Banks said:

“I refuse to call it a war. We are using military assets to destroy a county. You would call it terrorism in any other situation.”

Foutch added:

“We are really protecting that black asset that resides under the sand there.”

But they differ a bit on some of the political realities of the war. Foutch remains angry at Congressman Brian Baird, D-Vancouver, for his support for the U.S. military surge in Iraq.

“He lost my vote,” Foutch said. “I object to what he did.” He sent Baird a three-page letter telling him that. Foutch said that he won’t vote for Baird either in the primary or general election.

That worried Banks.

“I would hate to lose that seat.”


“So would I, Norman. But he won’t get my vote.”

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February 3, 2008 6:17 PM

Romney backer calls himself a "weird conservative."

Posted by David Postman

VANCOUVER -- It’s nice to know that even after two weeks of driving around the state, people can still surprise me with their political views. Believe me, there are a whole lot more shades to Washington’s politics than the two primary colors generally used to describe us.

And the 60-year-old security guard I talked with earlier today had an interesting description of his politics. Glen Hilts was on a break from some outdoor duty and still had his wool watch cap pulled low on his head when I asked him what he was thinking of the 2008 presidential campaign.

“I’m a lifelong Republican. Or, I should say a life-long fiscal conservative who has been shafted by the Republicans like a lot of people have.”

Continue reading this post ...

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February 2, 2008 8:24 PM

Neighbors talk politics in Clark County

Posted by David Postman

FELIDA, Clark County -- Former Secretary of State Ralph Munro used to list off three reasons why presidential nominating caucuses would never be popular among anyone other than party activists and insiders:

“To succeed at a caucus you have to argue. You have to argue with your neighbor. You have to argue with your neighbor about politics. And people don't like to argue about politics or religion."

But next Saturday’s caucuses may be the best attended in a long time. I’ve found a high level of interest in the presidential race as I’ve driven around the state. And I don’t know about arguing, but in talking with three families here Saturday afternoon, I didn’t see any reluctance to speak candidly about politics even if it meant debate and disagreements among neighbors.

All five of the registered voters I spent two hours with plan to attend a caucus Saturday. And only one of those has ever done it before in Washington. The voters I shared coffee and donuts with are an indicator of an election that has grabbed the public’s attention. These voters are more interested, though, in change in general than in any specific candidate.

I stopped in Felida, a bit of unincorporated Clark County adjacent to Vancouver and not far from the Columbia River, at the invitation of Jon DeVore. Regular readers will know him as stilwell, a commenter on this blog as well as a blogger in his own right. He’s 43 and a stay-at-home dad with his two girls, Lauren and Emily. His wife, Diana, also 43, is a pharmacist for a large national retailer.

Jon DeVore in his living room.

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February 1, 2008 4:15 PM

A view from the left

Posted by David Postman

ABERDEEN - I stopped in Mike Gyde’s antique store to look around and stretch my legs. There was an elegant disorder to the place, with low-light and crowded aisles I found inviting. There were ornate picture frames, chandeliers, art deco jewelry, boxes of country western LPs, antique photographs and a saucy pin-up of a bathing beauty in a glass display case.

Gyde was sitting in a rocking chair surrounded by so many antiques it looked like they had grown around him. I almost missed him when I came in. I had flipped through only a few of the LPs before he asked what brought me to the Harbor and I found myself taking down what he was saying.

Gyde among his treasures.

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February 1, 2008 3:12 PM

Good riddance, she says, to the one who's name isn't spoken

Posted by David Postman

HOQUIAM -- Dotty Lynch is excited about this fall’s election even though she can’t get passionate about any of the candidates. The 71 -year-old retired office clerk told me:

“I’m so glad the one who’s in there is getting out I don’t care who wins, as long as it’s a Democrat. Either one would be OK.”

Her antipathy toward President Bush runs so deep in several references to the incumbent she doesn’t use his name, only versions of “the one who’s in there.”

Lynch had a favorite candidate, Democrat John Edwards. She thinks he would have been able to get the most done as president. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama come with natural-born challenges they may find difficult to overcome on the D.C. scene.

“I think Hillary would be treated like Dixy Lee Ray. She’s not just a woman, but a woman with a big mouth.”

As for Obama, she worries “there are so many rednecks” he wouldn’t be able to accomplish his agenda of change.

Lynch is one of the few people I’ve met in the past three days who fits the description of the traditional Grays Harbor Democrat. She’s lived here about 50 years, worked the same job for most of that time, and has no use for Republicans. She says she doesn’t know too many of them, except for some business owners.

She once worked for a man she referred to as “Mr. Republican of Grays Harbor.”

“I thought he was a wonderful man. But come election season, he’d turn into something different, something terrible.”

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February 1, 2008 2:46 PM

A voter looking for a candidate who can do more than win

Posted by David Postman

OCEAN SHORES - One of the surprising things I’ve found as I’ve made my way around the state is the level of detail people know about the presidential candidates and their policies. This would be just as big a surprise if I was in Seattle or Bellevue because we’re told most Americans know or care little about politics.

I sought out some of the people I’ve spoken to. But others, like all I’ll see today, I find during random stops. But without fail they have an impressive depth of knowledge about the candidates.

Ed Mitchell owns Beacon Pest Control right across the street from the entrance to Ocean Shores. When I came in his small roadside office, filled with sounds of his parakeets, Mitchell told me he wasn’t sure how much help he’d be in my efforts.

“Let me be real frank about my politics. My impression is all politicians lie given the chance.”

Mitchell with his electric truck.

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February 1, 2008 7:21 AM

Could McCain be first Republican since Hoover to win in the Harbor?

Posted by David Postman

ABERDEEN -- I’ve got a record of making people mad when I visit Grays Harbor County. In 1997, some economic development types were ticked off about a story I wrote that detailed rising numbers for alcoholism, suicide and domestic violence. They also didn’t like that I interviewed a young man named “Lucky,” who with his missing arm and difficulty finding a job didn’t seem to fit his name but seemed to sum up the state of the county.

The Daily World came to my defense, saying in an editorial that I shouldn’t be criticized for pointing out some difficult truths about the community. But I couldn’t always depend on help from my fellow ink-stained wretches.

In 2006 I was here to cover a visit by Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. I interviewed a woman at a nearby thrift store and called downtown “threadbare.” That brought me a good-natured reprimand in a column by editor and publisher John Hughes.

So when I arrived in Grays Harbor County this time I decided I’d check in first with Hughes to get some solid local background. (Besides, he’s the type of journalist who would have gotten a call from a source reporting on my whereabouts after I stopped to do my first interview so I might as well make an appearance.)

Hughes has been at the paper since 1966. He co-edited a Grays Harbor history book, lived through 64 years of it himself and has an odd mix of the civic enthusiasm of the Chamber of Commerce and an investigative reporter’s bent to poke through phony promotion of misguided pride.

He told me that, of course, he was only joking when he dinged me for my description of Grays Harbor. But there’s a spot not too deep down where Hughes doesn’t like to see his hometown slighted.

“In the wake of the sad and untimely demise of Kurt Cobain, … whether it was Rolling Stone or The New York Times, everyone came to town and trotted out every adjective in Roget’s Thesaurus to sum up threadbare, gritty Aberdeen. So it got a little old.”

Hughes in his office at the Daily World.

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