As for the Brown & Black forum tomorrow night, the Iowa Independent reports that "concerns have emerged about the way it is being organized. The forum, which is the oldest minority-focused presidential debate in the country, is one of the great traditions of the Iowa Caucuses, but local activists and campaigns have been frustrated by this year's planning and execution."
Mainly, one Obama supporter believes the current chief organizers of this event, Wayne Ford and Mary Campos, are too aligned with Clinton. Reached for comment Thursday afternoon, the two organizers denied any allegations that they were favoring one candidate over others. "I don't think that question needs an answer," Ford said. "I am a little insulted that people would even think that," continued Campos.
BIDEN: The Nashua Telegraph: "Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden warned that if the Bush administration goes to war with Iran, Congress should impeach the president. The Delaware senator said under current circumstances, the president lacks Constitutional authority to attack Iran. He also criticized Republican and Democratic presidential candidates for their 'fixation' on what he called Iran's limited nuclear weapons capabilities."
The Des Moines Register analyzes Biden's "Joe is Right" Web video. "The problem with touting all the times you are right is that others can inevitably point to the times you weren't... Biden has admitted what some anti-war Democrats view as a crucial mistake: voting for the Iraq war… Still, others in the race -- Sen. Clinton, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut -- all have admitted making the same error."
CLINTON: The Boston Globe: "With Hillary Clinton faltering in polls leading up to the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary is looming as a possible make-or-break moment for her -- in a place where she has most of the party's key endorsements and a sizable lead in the polls, but where a defeat could be devastating." Of course, this next graph explains why she should be the favorite to win the primary. "Unlike in Iowa, where the major endorsements are split among several candidates, Clinton has the support of most of the Democratic party establishment in New Hampshire. She has other important advantages here that she lacks in Iowa, including a history of campaigning for her husband and New Hampshire's recent tradition of electing female politicians."
"But Obama's campaign has also stepped up its efforts and is preparing for a showdown as well. Obama's campaign said it has kept pace with Clinton's in paid staff and its volunteers are just as busy knocking on doors, making phone calls, and writing postcards."
The Washington Post front-pages the frustration the media is feeling when it comes to attempting to cover Clinton. "Clinton aides say they try to stage a 'press avail,' or brief news conference, every five or six days, but they acknowledge the schedule often slips. (Obama is also on a weekly schedule; Edwards, third in the national polls, is more accessible.)"
Clinton's campaign has been very adept at winning the support of prominent African-Americans. The latest feather in the campaign's cap: Jacqueline Jackson, mother of Jesse Jackson Jr., who has been cutting radio ads for Obama.
Clinton got "standing ovations" from evangelicals in her event with Rick Warren, the Orange County Register reports. Although all leading presidential candidates were invited, Clinton was the only one to show up for the annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church. She delivered a bipartisan message that emphasized the role of the church in addressing AIDS. "Twenty five years ago when people – mostly young gay men – started dying of an unnamed disease, we didn't talk about it in church," she said. "We've come a long way. Not only can we talk about AIDS in church, but churches can lead the way."
"Last year, Warren welcomed Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois to the stage at Saddleback, and this year, the minister invited all the presidential candidates in both parties to address his congregation on the HIV pandemic. With just five weeks until voting begins in the presidential nominating contest, only Clinton came in person; Republicans Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Mitt Romney and Democrats Obama and John Edwards addressed the congregation through videos."
In an interview with C-SPAN, Bill Clinton talks a bit about the records issue. "'I want this stuff out there. Some of it may be misused, and some people may want it for reasons that are not entirely academic, but that's OK,' he said. 'I want the records out there.' 'The public has to know, they're not my records,' he continued. 'They belong to, and [are] under the jurisdiction of the Archives. But I have the power to keep all of them closed for 12 years. I didn't do that. We've released about a million pages already.'"
Clinton explained some of the possible reasons for delay. "'If there was a private cell phone number there, the archivist has to go through and mark that out for privacy reasons, just on the off chance that they still have the same cell phone number,' he said. 'If there were the names of Secret Service agents or a list in questionable places of how many agents were there, they mark that out so they won't be giving deployment information." More: "'Those are their rules, not mine,' he added. 'And I get why they do it. But we're not trying to hold up anything… I think we have to follow the law. They're not my records, and it's not my law."
So why didn't more folks assume the RFK Jr. endorsement of Clinton had something to do with winning favor with someone who might have some say in who replaces her in the Senate... hmmmm
EDWARDS: The candidate yesterday talked up the penalties he'll impose on Americans if they choose not to get health insurance under his plan if it's passed. "'My health-care plan requires responsibility from everybody. The government's responsible, the individual's responsible, the workers are responsible, and the employers are responsible… 'So if you don't have health-care coverage, and you go to the emergency room, you get enrolled. If you're a 5- or 6-year-old and you go to kindergarten or sign up for school, you get enrolled, if you're not on a health-care plan. If you go the library, you get picked up.'"
The Des Moines Register looks at "The Evolution of John Edwards." "John Edwards tells voters that there are still two Americas. What Iowa caucusgoers must decide is if there are two John Edwardses. Four years ago, the fresh-faced then-North Carolina senator defended his support for the Iraq war, prescribed a gradual approach to health care reform and told Iowa caucusgoers not to expect him to criticize his fellow Democrats running for president. Today, he calls his Iraq vote a mistake, embraces universal health care and regularly attacks party front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York."
OBAMA: Here's a report of Obama scheduled coffee meeting with Michael Bloomberg this morning.
It was Showtime at the Apollo last night for Obama. "The event, held in what is perhaps Harlem's most famous landmark, was symbolic not only because of the site but also because it took place in Mrs. Clinton's backyard -- and at a theater only a few blocks west on 125th Street from the offices of former President Bill Clinton."
The New York Post found one Obama quote they viewed as a shot at Clinton: "'Telling the American people what we think they want to hear instead of what they need to hear just won't do" in this election, Obama said at the historic theater, just down the street from Bill Clinton's office."
NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan was on the scene, and she says some of the most memorable lines of the evening were not delivered Obama -- but rather by Chris Rock, who introduced the candidate. Urging the audience to support Obama, Rock teased the crowd, "Progressive people want to be on the right side of history, because you'd be real embarrassed if he won and you weren't down with him… 'I can't call him now I was with that white lady what was I thinking what was I thinking?'"
Rock went on to belittle President Bush and compared the way the federal government handled its response to the wild fires in California to the emergency response in Katrina. "This is how [Bush] dealt with catastrophe. The fires in LA, he was there the next day," Rock said. "White people burning he was there. Black people drowning he don't care… He was putting out the fires with Katrina water!"
The crowd went crazy, and when Obama took the stage he joked that it wasn't always a good thing to follow the likes of not only Chris Rock, but also academic Cornell West who had previously spoken. The only other well-known VIP to attend the event was rapper Q-Tip, who never took the stage. Speaking for about half an hour, Obama stuck to a speech that he has delivered before in South Carolina on why he's running for office with a new kind of politics. He repeated lines such as "textbook" and "poll-driven" when talking about how the country needs a new direction, but largely stayed away from either contrasting his positions or attacking his fellow Democrats.
Anburajan notes, however, that the real political story may have happened a few hours before Obama's appearance at the Apollo Theater. Yesterday, Obama sat down to have dinner with Al Sharpton at Sylvia's Restaurant, a Harlem institution. The two glad-handed with diners, and Obama even carried a baby before he and the reverend sat down for some soul food. Obama had shown up at Sharpton's office just a few blocks away and had asked the reverend to come and have dinner with him at Slyvia's so they could "talk" about the importance of hate crime legislation. The Obama campaign made sure to invite the New York and the national press along to photograph the event.
"'A man who likes fried chicken and corn bread can't be all that bad,' Sharpton declared with a smile after he and the Illinois senator dined at Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem. Asked if he would endorse Obama over Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sharpton replied, 'I haven't made a decision yet.'"
The Washington Post's Solomon has another follow-up on the story about Obama's leadership PAC and the donations it's made over the last few months. "Obama's presidential campaign helped recommend several of the donations his political action committee made in recent months to politicians in key primary states as the campaign was working to secure endorsements, campaign officials said yesterday. The acknowledgment alters the campaign's original account of how donations were directed and raised questions among some legal experts about whether the presidential committee was using Obama's leadership PAC to benefit his campaign. The Obama campaign said it is confident it complied with the law."
"An Obama campaign spokesman last week said that 'there is no connection' between the PAC donations and the presidential campaign. But Bob Bauer, the private counsel for both Obama's campaign and Hopefund, said yesterday that campaign workers were involved over the summer in identifying and recommending possible recipients when Hopefund was deciding how to spend its remaining money. In particular, Bauer said, senior campaign strategist Steve Hildebrand was consulted 'multiple times' on potential donations."
Somehow, we're starting to think that Paul Krugman doesn't like Barack Obama. A couple of weeks ago, it was on Social Security. Today, it's on health care. "Obama, then, is wrong on policy. Worse yet, the words he uses to defend his position make him sound like Rudy Giuliani inveighing against 'socialized medicine': he doesn't want the government to 'force' people to have insurance, to 'penalize' people who don't participate. I recently castigated Mr. Obama for adopting right-wing talking points about a Social Security 'crisis.' Now he's echoing right-wing talking points on health care."
Meanwhile, it looks like Doug Wilder is up to his old games. After previously hinting he may endorse Obama, he issued a statement this week that he's still neutral. (Let us guess: Obama hasn't called Wilder in a while and the former Virginia governor -- and now Richmond mayor -- isn't happy about that. Or maybe Obama's campaign didn't agree to a major event in Richmond. Or maybe...)
RICHARDSON: S.R. Sidarth -- a.k.a. "Macaca," the Jim Webb volunteer who was filming George Allen when the Republican uttered that now infamous slur -- has signed up to work for Bill Richardson.