Saturday, December 29, 2007

Obama in Iowa

After serving only one term in the senate, Barack Obama, the proverbial rock star of the Democratic Party, has been compared to the likes of both John and Robert Kennedy. His good looks, charisma, and hope infused message have coalesced to create a force certainly worth reckoning with. But will this freshman senator from Illinois have what it takes to win in Iowa?

According to an article from the Associated Press, Obama certainly has what it takes to persuade undecided voters in the few days before the Iowa caucus. The author, Christopher Wills, attributes this to Obama’s political skills and his lack of “baggage” that his competitors, who’ve been in Washington much longer, cannot claim.

Wills also writes about Obama’s appeal for some republicans. He says that Obama’s message of inclusion and a united Washington have drawn democrats and surprisingly, many republicans who are sick of partisan politics. His winning attitude and hopeful message may be just what is needed to win in Iowa and later in the general election.

Giuliani's Strruggle for Iowa

Rudy Giuliani has made it clear that government is all about the future. It is the people that decide what the future results in; therefore it is the people that decide what role the government plays. Giuliani has not been doing well in the polls in Iowa, but that could be a direct result of the amount of time he has spent in the state. He has made roughly 20 trips to Iowa, which is far less than his competitors, not to mention some of his closest rivals in his own party. Many of his opponents have taken over 100 trips to the state. If Giuliani is so concerned about the future, he sure isn’t showing it in Iowa.

Giuliani spoke on December 29th to a group of roughly 120 people in Fort Dodge, Iowa, about his proposed health plan. He would like to privatize health insurance, which would create less government expenditures. For this plan to work, at least 60 million Americans would have to purchase their own health insurance, even if they already received benefits from employers. He said this plan would cut government health costs nearly in half and would also provide more money for research for cures of such diseases as Alzheimer’s. Along with this health plan Giuliani said he would push for a $15,000 personal income tax exemption, which would help in allowing families to purchase their own health insurance.

Rudy Giuliani has had numerous interesting ideas about new policies and solutions for boosting the economy, but in my personal opinion, he has not been showing a great deal of support for Iowa. This can directly be seen by the number of visits which he has made to the state. His rank in the polls in the nation may be good, but in Iowa – not so much. Could it be that he feels he has no hope in Iowa and therefore feels he should not waste his time there? It will be interesting to see how he comes out in Iowa.

Participating in the Caucus and What it Means

People always talk about that once in a liftime experience, but taking part in it is an entirely different story. The trip to Iowa will be well worthwhile. Participating in the Caucus, a word that originated with the Algonquin Native American tribes, is an experience that will prove to be more than valuable. It will allow my fellow students and I to take part in an historical process. One that allows us to understand democracy at the grass-roots level. One that provides the average person a chance to see just how much their vote counts, to understand campaigining at its finest, and especially the chance to advance our political knowledge.

On a personal level I see the opportunity to participate in the Iowa Caucus, in 2008, as one that will never be forgotten. It will allow me to get my hands "dirty" by focusing on a specific campaign and contributing my time and knowledge to the countries political machine. I will no longer be an idol political observer, but rather an active political contributor.

Watch out Iowa, Manchester College is bringing a group of students that are vigorous to take part in your states historical political process. The idea of meeting the future president tantalizes us all. I can not wait to become a part of

Iowa Countdown

With only one day til departure, I am excited about traveling with the other Manchester Students to the Iowa Caucus. I am not quite sure what to expect; however, I do expect that the experience will be great. I am especially excited about seeing how the Presidential campaigning on the inside. With the new intinerary, Monday is set up to be a highlight day. At 8:30, I am hoping to be able to watch Barack Obama giving his "Stand For Change" rally in Ames. I also look forward to working on Barack's campaign throughout the week. I am greatful for this experience and I was never expecting an oppertunity like this to occur while at Manchester.

Got an Issue? Here's a Tissue

When choosing the candidate I would be voting for in 2008, I went straight to the issues and who I aligned with the most.  Who's my man? Bill Richardson!  Let's get to the issues:
With the US spending more than $10 billion a month in Iraq, Richardson is ready for it to be over.  He is quoted as saying, " We must get all of our troops out quickly and safely so that a new political process can begin."  Other Democratic candidates say we should take the process a little slower, removing only a maximum of 3,000 troops a month.  Richardson and myself think this is too little, too slow.
Another issue that is facing us is energy conservation and pollution emission.  He wants to get 50 mpg cars into the marketplace by 2020.  Also, the US needs to start taking responsibility for emission levels.  His plan is to reduce 20% by 2020 and 80% by 2040.  Incentives for companies would occur through emission cap trading and selling.  I am glad that a presidential hopeful is wanting to take responsibility for US emissions unlike someone who refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol.  
The promise for a productive future starts with a firm foundation.  Bush's No Child Left Behind has created a one-size-fits-all program that aims for unrealistic goals.  Richardson wants to scrap NCLB.  He will replace it with more comprehensive and supportive program for measuring progress.  Also, in order to attract the best and brightest teachers, the starting salary would be raised to a minimum of $40,000.  This is necessary; some many talented people turn away from teaching because of the small salary.  Increasing their starting salary is one of the best ideas Richardson has in my opinion.

A Unique Experience

I’m excited about this opportunity to observe the Iowa caucuses first hand. When I first learned this class was going to be offered this January I knew I wanted to take it. I think this is going to be a unique experience and one that may not come around again. Although in my educational career I’ve studied how the caucuses work and the differences between the caucuses and primaries, this will give me the opportunity to apply what I’ve learned in the classroom and see first hand how this method is used to elect our presidential nominees.

I am also looking forward to volunteering for John Edwards campaign. This will be a good opportunity to get a sense of what a campaign is really like and not just what I have seen on the news or experienced in small town council elections in my hometown.

The 2008 presidential election has already made history with earlier than ever campaigning and I’m sure it will continue to make history as we head towards November. I am glad for this opportunity to volunteer for a candidate that I support as well as for the chance to observe the caucus process in which has a lengthy history of its own already.

Caucus experience

Ever since I have been in junior high I have followed campaigns on the news now I to see firsthand what is going on. Being from an all Democrat family it is hard to believe that when I looked at the issues for myself I found myslef liking the republican party better. In this election I am glad to be working for an established conservative ,Fred Thompson, who will keep taxes lower which keeps our economy strong. He also believes in school choice which as a student who experienced both the public and private school system, will make a great differecne for the positive in educationg the children of Amereica. Iowa may not be the state he is counting on winning but he is still campaigning hard there making calls today. South Carolina is a state he ha smore hope in but ass this is a national election he campaigns in all states. super Tuesday, February 5, wil be the day that most likly will determine who the nominee is for both parties.
I am excited about leaving tomorrow and hope to learn while in Iowa the difference between a caucus and a primary.

Examining the Iowa Caucuses

Before reading the article, "The Iowa Precinct Caucuses: The Making of a Media Event," I knew very little about the Iowa Caucuses. I found it interesting how, by using the process, both the state of Iowa and the media can benefit each other. The caucuses results are used by the media to estimate the "progress" of the race while the state of Iowa benefits from the national publicity and the funds generated from the caucuses for state businesses. But, if they do not produce reliable or predictive results, how are the Iowa Caucuses benefiting the presidential candidates or the American public? So then, what purpose do they actually serve besides giving the media too much influence in politics? And if Iowa is less representative of the national electorate than other states, why are the results of it's caucuses regarded with such prestige? Maybe the media is so hungry for some evidence to predict the primaries that it will result to using unreliable information. With the influence in politics it has, what would have been an incorrect prediction made by the media then becomes a reality. However, maybe the caucuses are so highly regarded not only because of the media's influence, but also because they have become part of a tradition, which is unique to the state of Iowa in the sense that it's caucuses precede any other.

After this experience, I hope to better understand the Iowa Caucuses, including it's process and purpose.

Thoughts on the Caucus

In the past I had never given too much thought into how the Iowa Caucuses work or even who would win them. I figured that whichever candidate held the most support throughout the nation would be able to win Caucus and get the nomination. I never realized how different and important the Caucuses and Primaries were until just this year when multiple states sacrificed their delegates to push their primaries forward and be the first. Michigan moved their primaries up from a much later date to January 15, causing both the Democratic and Republican parties to boycott the Primary and strip Michigan o all of its delegates to each convention. This gave me an idea of how important it is to have the first primary or caucus.

In the 2004 Caucuses, Howard Dean held all of polls and seemed to be unstoppable. However, at the end of the week John Kerry was in the winners circle and Howard Dean was screaming. Kerry went on to win the Democratic nomination later that year. Could this be some sort of indication for this Caucus? Does the candidate favor in preliminary polls have the same popularity in the Caucus or is it entirely unpredictable? And what happens to whoever wins the vote? Does the winner at Iowa always end up getting the nomination?

I am expecting to find these types of things out when I am in Iowa. How do underdogs end up garnering support and what effect does a win in Iowa give? Maybe there are last minute rallies or speeches that cause voters to shift their opinions. Hopefully I can gain some insight into this while in Iowa.

-Ben Scalise

Faith, Family, Freedom: Mike Huckabee in 2008

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has caught fire recently and has become the front runner in Iowa. One of the interesting things about Governor Huckabee is the fact that in comparison to his Republican counterparts; he has not spent a lot of money. In fact, Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has created a huge infrastructure and has out spent Mike Huckabee 20 to 1. Mike Huckabee has relied on the Internet, his preacher background and the support of parents who choose to home school their children. Mike Huckabee really drives home the emphasis of faith, family and freedom. He is both socially and economically conservative; but clearly much more socially conservative than economically conservative.
Mike Huckabee believes that the IRS is a discombobulated organization that is more of a headache than anything else. He makes sense; does anyone really understand the tax code? There are so many facets to the tax code, that people are required to spend hours filling out tax forms, and stuff bags full of disorganized receipts. Mike Huckabee moves to eliminate all federal income and payroll tax including: personal federal, corporate federal, gift, estate, capital gains, alternative minimum, Social Security, Medicare and self-employment. Does Mike Huckabee want to close down the federal government? Of course not. The current tax system is progressive; which penalizes Americans for working harder and becoming successful. As Huckabee put it "[As we become more successful], the government lurks on each rung, hungry for a bigger bite out of our earnings."
It is not an elitist point of view, the numbers from the Congressional Budget Office released these tax numbers from 2005: the wealthiest 1% of tax payers paid about 39% of all income taxes last year. The wealthiest 5% paid about 60% of the income tax; and the wealthiest 10% paid 70%. Meanwhile, Americans with an income below the median, half of all households, paid about 3% of the income tax. Furthermore, Americans with an adjusted gross income of more than $365,000 in 2005 paid more income tax than all of the 66 million American tax filers below the median income; ten times more. (Wall Street Journal Online, "Taxes and Income", December 18, 2007).
Mike Huckabee proposes a FairTax, which replaces the Internal Revenue Code with a consumption tax. In the FairTax, Americans will get a monthly rebate that will reimburse tax payers for taxes on purchases up to the poverty line, so that they are not taxed on necessities. This means that people below the poverty line will not be taxed at all. This is more so of a luxury tax since people we be taxed on what they decide to buy, not on what they earn. (

I have been reading and following coverage on the Iowa caucus. While this is the first caucus that is held in the United States, this year's primaries are difficult to gauge. Mike Huckabee has become the leader in Iowa, but Mitt Romney is not far behind him. However, other Republican hopefuls have thrown in the towel in Iowa and have decided to focus their time, attention and money in other states. Fred Thompson is counting on South Carolina, while Rudolph Giuliani is giving his attention to Florida. While a win in Iowa is a big win, the results may not be able to be expanded nationally. Some "political experts" have claimed that if Mitt Romney wins in Iowa, he is a lock for the Republican nomination. I have heard other political experts say that since so many candidates are focusing their attention in other states, a win in Iowa may tell very little with regards to the thinking of Republicans. As far as the Democratic party goes, Barack Obama is soaring as of late in Iowa, but is trailing Hilary Clinton in national polls. So while Iowa may not be the tell tale of the Republican and Democratic nominees, I am eager to head to Iowa and submerge myself in the political process, and see first hand a political process that will determine the 44Th President of The United States. I am excited that we will be at the grass roots level of the first caucus in the United States, and will set the stage for presidential campaigns, advertisements, and tactics in the following months.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Kucinich booted from Iowa Debate

(You can click on the post title to get to the article, or click on the following link:

Dennis Kucinich, one of the Democratic Party's minor candidates, was excluded from a debate in Iowa earlier this month (12 December); because he works from his home instead of renting office space in Iowa and having a full-time paid staff of Iowan employees, he did not meet the Des Moines Register's criteria for being allowed to participate in the debate. His campaign spoke out against this, calling the exclusion "arbitrary and unreasonable." Kucinich was also kept from appearing in public "by the Iowa Democratic Party, Iowa Public Television, and well-funded political interests."

According to his campaign, the use of "hair-splitting technicalities" in order to exclude people from the debates and other campaign activities related to something that "[has] been portrayed as having national implications" undermines the credibility of the Iowa caucuses. The exclusion of, or at least granting of less attention to, the non-frontrunners has been an issue throughout the campaign; some of them have often complained that they are asked fewer questions in debates.

"America's Mayor": The Rudy Giuliani Campaign

“America’s Mayor” has been working hard on the campaign trail. Iowa will be a difficult state for Rudy Giuliani. He only has about 6 percent of the state’s support and he has currently been spending a good portion of his time in Florida. Giuliani proved on September 11th that he is capable of remaining calm under pressure and also that he has a manner in which he can speak to people, in a way that is honest, clear, and fair. Rudy Giuliani will have a difficult battle ahead of him, which is good that he was recently released from a St. Louis hospital in good health. The caucuses should prove quite interesting for the Giuliani campaign.

September 11th:
While Giuliani was mayor of New York City, the crime rate dropped dramatically and tourism increased dramatically. Also as mayor economic prosperity came back to the city. He built a state-of-the-art Office of Emergency Management while mayor as well, however, the OEM was located in one of the most vulnerable places in the city, the World Trade Center. On September 11, Giuliani remained calm and strong in command, a trait that is vital for a leader.
“Grand Illusion” by Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins

Current Events:
Giuliani has just finished a three day campaign trip through Florida. While in Florida he gained an endorsement from the National Troopers Coalition. He met with numerous veterans throughout the state and spoke a lot about his platform on anti-terrorism.

Giuliani may have the lead in some national polls, but when it comes to Iowa he has recently ranked in fourth place, at 6 percent. As far as the lead for Republican candidates in Iowa, Huckabee holds the lead. Giuliani has been endorsed by numerous people, a few of the most notable being Kelsey Grammer, Donald Trump, and Adam Sandler. Giuliani will surely have a difficult time in Iowa and will have quite a journey ahead in other states as well.

On The Issues:
Giuliani has focused a great deal on anti-terrorism. Along with fighting terrorism, he believes that tough border patrol and homeland security must be strictly enforced in order to bring safety to Americans. Giuliani is against gay marriage, most notably from his background in Catholicism, but he has and will support civil unions between same-sex partners.

The McCain Train

Senator John McCain has created an uproar in New Hampshire, and can only hope to do the same in Iowa. His conservative nature offers a burdened U.S. political and economical system the ability to modernize and restructure. One can see that most Americans are searching for that one person who can help begin to bandage the situation in Iraq, try to erase the deficit "crisis", keep taxes low, but most of all a person that can lead this country with authority and ability. Based on McCains past government experience, his time spent in the military, and his plans for a reformed health care spending program in which people in need will get the help they deserve, he looks to be a prime candidate to anyone. Make no mistake though, John McCain will not feed people the stories they want to hear. He will be the one that speaks on the side of reality, and will create an atmosphere in which problems will be addressed and handled.

If elected, I have no doubt that his dutiful service to his country and his first election, to the US house of representatives in 1982, will be a cornertstone that enables him to lead a fractured country back from the the injuries it has sustained in the past. Make no doubt it about it that John McCain has the capability to revert the United States to an unquestioned superpower; economically, politically, and socially.

As a man with seven children Sen. McCain understands the need of the common family. He understands the worries that plague future generations. He is running for presidency because he believes in its potential and goodness. The McCain Train has taken off, the only question to ask yourself now is whether or not you will be getting on board.

Iowa's Role

In past presidential elections, I had never given much thought to Iowa's role in the process of party nominations. I listened to the news accounts of which candidates received the strongest support and the subsequent predictions about who each party would nominate. It was not until reading Winebrenner's work that I really contemplated the implications that the caucuses in Iowa have.

While Winebrenner does nothing to impugn the state of Iowa or its primary process, he brings forth a number of reasonable questions as to why Iowa remains one of the most "important" primaries. As he says, Iowa, while relatively representative of the Midwest, is certainly not the most representative of the country as a whole. The state does not have many large urban centers and is fairly homogeneous. He also points out that the caucus system itself and Iowa's multitiered process of electing delegates does not yield results as accurate as those in which primary elections occur. In those states, third parties control the tabulation of results, while in Iowa each party is in charge of determining its own results. Winebrenner goes further to say that a large part of what the nation sees on the news is based on media portrayals aimed at increasing the drama of the situation.

Upon reading Winebrenner's assigned work, I began to agree with the "Delaware Plan", discussed in Race for the Presidency, by Cook. The plan was created by a task force led by Bill Brock, RNC Chairman, and proposes that the entire primary process be revamped. The process would begin in March with small states and proceed through the larger states finally ending in June. The plan was ultimately rejected before the 2004 elections, but I think it would be a fine alternative to the present system. Not only would citizens have more time to acquaint themselves with the possible choices to represent their party in the general election, but it could reduce the frenetic front-loading system we have now.

However, I have yet to experience the process in Iowa first-hand. I may be writing a very different statement a week from now.

Richardson Caucusing in Iowa

Move over Hillary... you're not the only one with "presidential" support.  Martin Sheen has now joined the Richardson campaign after recently announcing his support.  The former West Wing president will be joining the New Mexico governor the next week as he gains local support in Iowa.  According to a CNN Opinion Research Poll released December 21st, Richardson is in 4th place with 7%  behind Clinton, Obama, and Edwards.  
The Democrats caucus differently than the Republicans.  During a caucus, Republicans approach voting as "one person, one vote".  In a Democratic caucus, local citizens split into groups for their favorite candidate.  If the group does not contain at least 15% of the attendance of the particular caucus, those group members must join their second favorite candidate's group.  This continues until all groups at the caucus contain at least 15% of the attendance.  Since Richardson is well under 15%, I am anxious to see if he gets a group.  If not, it will be even more interesting to see who Richardson supporters choose to support secondly.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Overview of John McCain's Campaign Thus Far

The Issues
John McCain has created a tax plan in which he would give tax cuts to the middle class, cut excess government spending, increase globalization by eliminating trade barriers between the U.S. and other countries.
McCain also wants to reform the health system by allowing families to choose how they are going to spend on health care and forcing U.S. health care companies to compete globally on cost and quality.
Underlying much of his campaign are his beliefs on human dignity and sanctity of life. He is pro-life and supports a reversal of the Roe v. Wade decision. Because he strongly supports thorough representation of public interest, McCain believes states should have sovereignty on such issues. He also advocates adoption and supports the definition of marriage to be a union between a man and a woman. And finally, he strongly disapproves of any scientific study that involves using human embryos
McCain is one of the only Presidential candidates who does not support any kind of immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. In fact, not only does he believe the number of U.S. troops in Iraq should increase, but he also believes troops need to be better trained and equipped in order to ensure Iraqis will be fully capable of governing themselves once troops withdraw. He fears currently withdrawing from Iraq will cause a civil war within the country.
McCain promises to secure U.S. borders from illegal immigration. He wants to improve relations with leaders in Mexico and Latin America who want to supply their own citizens with economic opportunities. He also wants our labor market to become more flexible and our educational system to provide both Americans and immigrants with skills needed to compete and pursue the opportunities available in an ever changing labor market.

The Polls
Just last summer, it was rumored McCain would be dropping out of the elections due to a lack of funds and unfavorable polls. He was receiving much criticism because of his beliefs on the Iraq war and his support for President Bush's immigration reform bill. The Presidential candidate dismissed the rumor, stating he was not overly concerned with his current standings in the polls because it was too early in the primaries and that the polls move up and down.,2933,287297,00.html

Despite Candidate Mitt Romney's lead in Iowa over the past few months, he is slipping in the polls, and now that other Republican candidates have somewhat recently gained access to the media, the race in Iowa has begun to tighten. Candidate Mike Huckabee has made considerable gains in the state and is closing the gap between him and Romney. However, it has been difficult to predict who will win Iowa because the state typically waits until the last moment before choosing a candidate. In November, about 15 percent of likely Republican caucus attendees were undecided on a candidate, and still more than half said they could still change their minds, making the race for Iowa anybody's game.,4670,RepublicansIowa,00.html

Three Tickets

David Yepsen is an esteemed political writer for the Des Moines Register. In this column, he reminds us that there are "three tickets" out of Iowa--first class, coach, and standby. Candidates who go on to win their respective party's nomination are those who finish among the top three in Iowa. Yepsen's column also handicaps the Democratic and Republican races.

Caucus FAQ

Can't tell a caucus from a cactus? This piece from the Des Moines Register should help you understand how the caucus process works.

(As a political scientist, I can't say much about a cactus. All I know is that I failed to keep one alive in my office.)