Hot potato.

Notes from the political sidelines.
Aug. 31 2007 5:57 PM

Hot Potato

Republicans can't drop Larry Craig fast enough.

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Naturally, among the 57 percent of New Hampshire voters who have no clue whom they'll vote for, the race is a toss-up. Romney is at 22 percent, McCain at 21 percent, Giuliani at 18 percent. For that subgroup, the margin of error is +/- 7.5 percent, so Fred Thompson is in the hunt with 12 percent.

But here's what makes polls so misleading: Just because voters are clueless doesn't mean they're undecided. Only 14 percent of those who have "no idea" who they'll vote for in January "don't know yet" whom they'd vote for if the primary were held today.

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That explains how Republicans could manage to have four front-runners in three weeks. Asked if the election were held today, voters are willing to take a stab at it. But as for how they'd vote if the election were held the day after tomorrow, Republicans echo the Magic-8 ball: Ask again later. Pollsters are standing by to do just that. ... 11:11 A.M. ( link)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Rabbits and Ferrets and Panda Bears – Oh, My!: Who says bipartisanship is dead? At last week's presidential debates, Rep. Tom Tancredo and former senator Mike Gravel reached across party lines to find a strange piece of common ground – agreeing that English ought to be America's official language. Gravel knows French, and Tancredo thinks Miami is a third-world country. But both men speak fringe.

Mitt Romney's tongue is a little more forked. His initial campaign strategy was to run against France. But among conservative primary voters, hating the French is yesterday's news. While Romney still decries Democrats as French socialists for old times' sake, he has learned to talk tough on immigration. He, too, believes English should be America's official language – except in his own political advertisements aimed at Hispanic voters in Florida. In Tuesday's debate, Romney said:

"I'm not anti-immigrant. I love immigrants. I love legal immigrants coming to our country. I'm happy to communicate to them, and I hope they vote for me. … I'm going to reach out to them in any language I can to have them – have them vote for me."

Memo to rival GOP campaigns: Mitt Romney has flipped again on immigration. Now he's for giving non-citizens the right to vote (for Romney).

No wonder John McCain feels lonely on this issue. He talked movingly about the Hispanic names on the Vietnam War memorial. Romney's idea of courage is being able to mislead voters in any language.

With the collapse of the immigration bill, the Republican field may discover that running against illegal immigrants is yesterday's news as well. For voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, the threat of action in Washington was more frightening than any real threat from the borders.

If, like France, Latin America begins to fade as the fall guy on the campaign trail, what foreign peril will right-wing voters chase next? Fred Thompson has already found one – China.

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