Here's the write up of the new Washington Post/ABC Iowa poll. There's some good news for Clinton: She was judged the most electable of the field among these likely Dem caucus-goers. That, Clinton supporters will tell you, is the best news they see in this poll. But Clinton rated below her two main rivals on some personal attributes include likeability and honest and trustworthy.
The Washington Post looks at the YearlyKos convention. "As the who's who of the progressive blogosphere -- the 'Net roots' -- gather in Chicago for the YearlyKos convention, which started yesterday, Clinton will be there. Her attendance underscores two seemingly contradictory realities: blogs' growing influence as powerful backroom players in Democratic circles and the fact that they don't reflect the views of most Democrats, much less the general public. ... There is no one leader, the name of the convention notwithstanding, and it's a disparate, unorganized community that's almost impossible to categorize. While the leading bloggers are in their 20s and 30s, the rank-and-file are older, in their 40s and 50s. The common assumption is that the Net roots is monolithic and full of ideologues. It is neither. It is made up of people who are mostly interested in getting Democrats elected -- and making sure Democrats stay in power."
Biden isn't attending YearlyKos – he'll be in Delaware promoting his book and said, per the AP, "Love ya, Kos. But you ain't Delaware." It looks like Clinton is already disappointing some at YearlyKos (of course, she's being held to a higher standard). Apparently, she's only attending the candidates' forum and not speaking with activists as originally planned. "While the announcement initially surprised attendees and drew boos, both Clinton and convention staff asserted it was a simple misunderstanding. On Thursday night, a source with knowledge of the Clinton Campaign's plans told me the convention was informed days ago that Clinton was not participating in the activist meeting, and a further announcement from the convention organizers was expected."
The RNC has a Web video ridiculing the YearlyKos convention.
CLINTON: The Hill reports, "The Aug. 1 deadline the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) set for presidential candidates to unveil their healthcare plans has come and gone. So the Iowa and New Hampshire state chapters of the SEIU are going to 2008 hopefuls and giving them either a clean bill of health or clocks — to remind them time is running out to offer a plan. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) was the only major Democratic candidate not to receive a completely clean bill of health because she has unveiled only part of her plan, according to Sarah Swisher, political director for SEIU's Iowa chapter."
A Pew Research poll has Clinton at 40% and Obama at 21%.
Per NBC's Eric Wexler, Clinton strategist Mark Penn made some interesting comments about Obama and Edwards to the New York Observer. On Obama: "His best attribute is inspiring, not vision… One of the failures is that he hasn't articulated any real vision." He also said the Clinton-Obama spat over the foreign leaders question demonstrated the Obama campaign's "level of desperation about not having moved in the polls. And frankly a lot of people have given them the advice 'oh, just go ahead and get her.' And so he'll see whether or not that is more successful than going forward with his policy ideas and the new politics, which is where he started."
Penn also criticized Edwards' repeated apologies for his vote to authorize the Iraq war while defending Clinton's continued unwillingness to do so: "I'm not sure that I understand the concept that if a candidate gives an apology, he is suddenly not responsible for his vote… Edwards was a co-sponsor of the resolution; if you go through Edwards' speeches he was extremely pro-war. And in many ways, after they hear him apologize, people don't ask him what he was really thinking and what he was doing. She's not hiding."
DODD: Some interesting fireworks on the O'Reilly Factor last night. Per the Hartford Courant, "Bill O'Reilly told Chris Dodd, 'I don't have any respect for you' and 'if I were Joe Lieberman I would never talk to you again.' Dodd fired back that the talk show host says 'a lot of things (that) are vile on a daily basis,' and that studies show O'Reilly says something derogatory about people or groups once every 6.8 seconds."
EDWARDS: Edwards' populist rant against Rupert Murdoch seemed to bite him back yesterday. "'John Edwards will never ask Rupert Murdoch for money -- he won't accept his money,' said a statement e-mailed to supporters. Not so fast, Murdoch's people say. His publishing unit, HarperCollins, paid Edwards a $500,000 advance -- and $300,000 in expenses -- for his 2006 book 'Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives.' 'We assume the senator is going to give back the money from his advance,' News Corp. spokesman Brian Lewis said.
More: "The Edwards demand was aimed squarely at Sen. Hillary Clinton, who has received more than $20,000 from News Corp. executives, including $2,300 from Murdoch and $4,600 from company president Peter Chernin. Sen. Barack Obama has gotten $2,100 from Chernin. Lewis noted that Chernin appeared, at Edwards's request, at a 2004 fundraiser for the Kerry-Edwards ticket." (Curious, did anyone at the Edwards campaign think to check whether the candidate had done any deals with a News Corp. division?)
Edwards sounded off on a number of topics at a press avail he held yesterday in Los Angeles, reports NBC's Kevin Corke (who was there). On his opposition to a proposed Saudi arms deal, Edwards said: "It could escalate an arms race in the Middle East- that's dangerous for America and dangerous for the world. That's why I am calling on Congress to reject it," he said adding "this could accelerate the Iranians push for a nuke weapon." On Don't Ask Don't Tell: "That will end during my presidency." And on developing nuclear power plants or liquid coal to bolster U.S. energy: "I'm not satisfied with the safety or waste disposal ... plus either could take years to develop. The last thing we need is more fossil fuel expansion or energy that doesn't solve climate warming or creates additional waste storage problems- I'd refuse either frankly."
OBAMA: The Illinois senator's comment yesterday that he would rule out a nuclear strike on Pakistan or Afghanistan in chasing down Al Qaeda gets attention by the nation's big newspapers. The New York Times: "Barack Obama found himself on the defensive again yesterday about his views on foreign policy, this time over a comment he made about the use of nuclear weapons in Afghanistan or Pakistan." Later in the day, in fact, the Obama camp sought to clarify his AP interview: "The Obama campaign later issued a statement that expressed confidence that 'conventional means' would be sufficient to take down Al Qaeda targets and surprise that 'others would disagree.'"
New York Daily News called Obama's nuke comments a "stumble." More: "His struggle with the nuclear question gave Clinton another opening to portray her rival for the Democrats' White House nod as inexperienced and naive on world affairs."
The Washington Post notes that Clinton inserted herself into the story. "Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton drew another distinction between herself and Sen. Barack Obama yesterday, refusing to rule out the use of nuclear weapons against Osama bin Laden or other terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan… Yet several foreign policy experts said Obama was essentially right: It would be unwise to target an individual or a small group with nuclear weapons that could kill civilians and worsen the United States' image around the world."
Dodd also jumped into the fray. He "said in a statement: 'Over the past several days, Senator Obama's assertions about foreign and military affairs have been, frankly, confusing and confused. He has made threats he should not make and made unwise categorical statements about military options.'"
Honest question: Is the criticism Obama getting here due to the original AP story (which didn't put Obama's nuke remarks in a proper context)? After all, does anyone really support nuking Pakistan?
The Des Moines Register does an ad watch on Obama's latest TV claiming he's not paid for by PACs or lobbyists. The ad watch notes that while technically true, Obama did have state lobbyists help him raise money. (Another honest question after reading this article: Is anyone getting more scrutiny -- from big and small media outlets alike -- than Obama is right now?)
Obama picked up an endorsement from New Hampshire's Episcopal bishop -- the first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal Church.
RICHARDSON: Slowly but surely, Richardson is trying to turn himself into a more liberal/progressive candidate than he has shown himself to be as governor of New Mexico. Previously, he's moved left on the war. Yesterday, he moved to the left on energy, calling for a 50% cut in foreign oil imports by the year 2020.