Also in our NBC/WSJ poll, a majority opposes Bush's proposal to allow illegal immigrants to earn legal status. One of the biggest detractors? African Americans. More than 60% of them oppose the plan. Will this make some of the Democratic presidential candidates re-think their support for comprehensive immigration reform, particularly when campaigning in a state like South Carolina?
CLINTON: NBC's Lauren Appelbaum says the New York senator was warmly received at yesterday's National Jewish Democratic Council Convention -- hardly surprising given her and her husband's good relationships with the organization. After giving her typical stump speech, Clinton addressed the Supreme Court's partial-birth abortion ban, using it as a segway to show her views on freedom of religion in addition to the freedom to choose. "If the court is willing to undermine an established precedent when it comes to a woman's right to choose, what are they going to do when they turn their attention to religious liberty, or the separation of church and state?" She continued, "Once we allow state-sponsored religion in our public places, then at best, we make those who are not religious feel like they are interlopers and at worst, we begin a slippery slide that will undermined basic rights of conscience and freedom of association. No one should feel that way in our country. They should not feel excluded, disrespected or marginalized."
On Israel, Clinton promised the group of Jewish Democrats that she will stand by them. "Democrats have always stood with Israel." More: "We stand with Israel because it is beacon of democracy in a neighborhood that is shadowed by radicalism, extremism, despotism, and terrorism. Its very existence is a defiant rebuke to anti-Semitism."
OBAMA: The Wall Street Journal, in its write up of the new NBC/WSJ poll, leads with Obama gaining on Clinton in the Democratic horserace. "Mr. Obama 'seems to be gathering momentum as the candidate of change,' says Neil Newhouse, the Republican pollster who helps to conduct the Journal/NBC survey. At a time when Americans want a new direction on Iraq and in Washington generally, adds his Democratic counterpart Peter Hart, 'Sen. Obama comes closest to matching what voters are looking for in the broad political environment.'"
Newhouse similarly tells First Read: "[Clinton is] on the primary highway putting along at 50 [miles per hour], and Obama is in the rearview mirror going 75. She's got a very tough race ahead, and Obama's got big Mo'."
Meanwhile, the New York Times' David Brooks continues to be impressed with Obama, even if they don't share the same worldview. "Finally, more than any other major candidate, he has a tendency to see the world in post-national terms. Whereas President Bush sees the war against radical Islam as the organizing conflict of our time, Obama sees radical extremism as one problem on a checklist of many others: global poverty, nuclear proliferation, global warming. When I asked him to articulate the central doctrine of his foreign policy, he said, 'The single objective of keeping America safe is best served when people in other nations are secure and feel invested.' That's either profound or vacuous, depending on your point of view.'"
RICHARDSON: The New Mexico governor was the last candidate to address the group of Jewish Democrats during their three-day convention that ended yesterday. He spoke immediately after Clinton, and a sizeable group of both conference delegates and journalists left in between the two speeches. Richardson caught the group off guard by immediately addressing the fact, "It is hard to follow a rock star. There's a lot of commotion, and many of you depart briefly. I'm used to that." He continued, "I think this election should not be about electing who's the best rock star or who has the most resources." During a media availability after these remarks, Richardson embellished, "This is a marathon. This is ten months away. I am fine where I am. I don't want to be at the top right now. I remember a lot of front runners today where they were years ago."