For Joe Biden, hope springs eternal.

A campaign blog.
Oct. 30 2007 10:45 AM

Joe the Optimist

For Biden, hope springs eternal.

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Biden: Race Is About Ideas, Not Money

By RANDALL CHASE
Associated Press Writer

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden said Monday that the race for the White House is more about ideas than the huge amounts of money being raised by many of the other candidates.

Posted by Christopher Beam, Oct. 30, 10:44 a.m. (link) (discuss) (tips)

Oct. 29, 2007

The Immigrant Gadfly: Tom Tancredo has announced he's quitting politics—congressional politics.

The Colorado congressman announced today that he will not seek another term after his expires in 2008. You'd think this would mean Tancredo wants to focus on his efforts to grab the Republican presidential nod. But instead, his spokesman said his decision was partly based on wanting to spend more time with his grandkids.

Last time we checked, somebody doesn't run for president to spend more time with his grandkids. If Tancredo wants out so badly, then why is he still in it?

It may have to do with his other reason for leaving Congress: He thinks he's accomplished all he can on the immigration issue inside of the Capitol. Whereas he feels he can pass the hard-line-immigration baton to other House members, he doesn't see any other presidential candidates who share his anti-immigrant vigor. Tancredo is willing to sully his political legacy to enforce America's borders.

Last week, Tancredo offered Mitt Romney a deal: If the Red Sox lost the World Series, Romney would have to bow out of the race. But if the Rockies lost, Tancredo would drop out. If only Romney had accepted, Tancredo would have said Adios to both of his campaigns today.

Posted by Chadwick Matlin, Oct. 29, 6:11 p.m. ( link) ( discuss) ( tips)

News you can't use:If you haven't had your daily dose of meta, check out the new study analyzing coverage of the 2008 presidential race, conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. (If that's not quite meta enough, read the coverage of the coverage of the coverage.) The study's general findings: Democrats have gotten more coverage than Republicans in 2007; Barack Obama hasn't been able to translate positive news stories into gains in the polls; and the media isn't reporting what the public wants to hear about. (They allegedly want substance, we give them horse-race minutiae.)

But a few interesting details seem to have passed under our navel-gazing radar:

—Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani have more negative coverage than positive. Yet they're both still front-runners. How is that? Tom Rosenstiel, director of Project for Excellence in Journalism, suggested it's the result of the frontrunners getting "scrubbed a little harder than others." He also pointed out that both candidates, being from New York, get more than the usual scrutiny from the New York Times, which tends to set the tone for networks, magazines, etc.

—Most Americans claim they want more debate coverage. I blinked when I saw this. What about all that debate fatigue I hear about?

—More coverage doesn't necessarily mean better poll numbers—see the Obama example above—but it does correlate with higher name recognition. Hillary and Obama had more stories written about them than any other candidates. Likewise, 78 percent of Americans could name Hillary as a candidate, and 62 percent could name Obama—higher name recognition than any of the GOP candidates. So, if I'm reading this right: people pay attention to the media, they just don't care what we say.

—The Democrats drive a higher proportion of stories about themselves than the Republicans do. An analysis of "triggers"—what causes a story to be written—shows that 57 percent of stories about Dems are inspired by the candidate or the campaign, as opposed to 46 percent in the case of Republicans. Perhaps the "right-wing message machine" could use some repairs.

Posted by Christopher Beam, Oct. 29, 5:31 p.m. (link) (discuss) (tips)

U.F.O. Click image to expand.
Presidential candidates seek extraterrestrial life

Space Race: Bill Richardson's a believer. So is Dennis Kucinich. Even Rudy Giuliani is willing to admit that extraterrestrials might be out there.

The 2008 presidential race is starting to look like an Alfconvention. Last week, Kucinich's alien beliefs were outed by his good friend Shirley MacLaine. Her new book details Kucinich's run-in with a UFO on her porch: "It hovered, soundless, for 10 minutes or so, and sped away with a speed he couldn't comprehend. He said he felt a connection in his heart and heard directions in his mind." One can only guess what those directions may have said.

Earlier this month, an 8-year-old kid asked Giuliani, "If you find that there is something living on another planet and it is bad and it comes over here what would you do?" Rudy, ever vigilant on national security matters, assured the boy that there won't be a repeat of Independence Day if he's in the Oval Office. "Well if we're properly prepared for all of the different things that can happen to us, we'll be prepared for that, as well," he said with a grin.

But it was Bill Richardson who spoke most explicitly on the UFO issue last weekend. Speaking to Dell employees in Texas, Richardson said that if he became president, he would continue his long fight to release top-secret files on Roswell, New Mexico's infamous "flying disc" recovery. In a foreword to Roswell Dig Diaries, a 2004 Sci Fi Channel book, the New Mexico governor wrote that he has never been satisfied with the government's explanation and that the "American people can handle the truth." Considering Richardson makes up part of the "ET Ticket," I guess it should come as no surprise.

Giuliani and Richardson have even managed to use aliens for political gain. The terrorist threat pales in comparison with an alien invasion, so if Giuliani can protect us from little green men, then Osama should be a walk in the Pakistani park. Richardson's assertion that he would release top-secret Roswell files if he became president implies that he is willing to run a transparent White House with all nonalien issues, as well.

One more thing—it shouldn't come as a shock, but Mike Gravel is a believer, too.

Posted by Chadwick Matlin, Oct. 29, 3:17 p.m. ( link) ( discuss) ( tips)

Health conscious: The politics of illness is particularly sensitive in this election, with so many candidates and their spouses battling one disease or another. Fred Thompson announced in April that he had been diagnosed with lymphoma but that the cancer was in remission. Before that, Elizabeth Edwards revealed that her cancer had returned but that her husband's campaign would continue. And now Rudy Giuliani, pushing his health-care plan in New Hampshire, is rolling out a new radio ad discussing his experience with prostate cancer, which he defeated in 2000.

"I had prostate cancer, five, six years ago," Giuliani says in the spot. "My chance of surviving prostate cancer, and thank God I was cured of it, in the United States, 82 percent. My chances of surviving prostate cancer in England, only 44 percent under socialized medicine."

It feels icky to discuss life-threatening illnesses in PR terms, but it's no accident that Rudy chose to weave his own story into his message about health care. We're used to seeing warrior Rudy, victory this and security that. We're not used to seeing vulnerable Rudy.

Of course, there's good vulnerable and there's bad vulnerable. In Thompson's case, people initially wondered if he would be able to launch his campaign. In Edwards' case, allies speculated that he would drop out. But Rudy's case is—forgive me for saying it—a good one, at least from the political angle. For one thing, he beat the cancer. (Look out, Islamofascism.) But more importantly, it softens him up. As Elizabeth Edwards might say, he has stared the worst in the face and not blinked.

This sort of human touch—candid without being cheesy—is just what Rudy needs. For him, religion is private, and the same seems to be true for other personal and emotional issues. But personal narratives matter to voters. We know he's willing to put people in a hospital. It's also good to know he's been there himself.

Posted by Christopher Beam, Oct. 29, 1:55 p.m. (link) (discuss) (tips)

Comic relief: One argument for keeping fringe candidates around is that they make the mainstream pack address difficult topics. You could say the same thing about Stephen Colbert's sudden presence in the 2008 race, only in this case he's making them funny.

After a South Carolina newspaper let readers vote on whether John Edwards or Stephen Colbert was actually the state's "favorite son," the Edwards camp issued this rebuttal:

CLAIM: Edwards abandoned South Carolina when he was one year old.

FACT: Edwards was born in South Carolina, learned to walk in South Carolina, learned to talk to in South Carolina, and will kick Stephen Colbert's New York City butt in South Carolina.

Stephen Colbert claims to represent a new kind of politics, but today we see he's participating in the slash and burn politics that has no place in American discourse. The truthiness is, as the candidate of Doritos, Colbert's hands are stained by corporate corruption and nacho cheese. John Edwards has never taken a dime from salty food lobbyists and America deserves a President who isn't in the pocket of the snack food special interests.

Not bad for a political communications team. Voters like a candidate who can make fun of himself, and Edwards hasn't always fit the bill—see his bristling response to the admittedly ubiquitous coverage of his hair. Poking fun at his anti-corporate, anti-lobby image is a smart move.

Hopefully we'll see Colbert engage the other candidates, too. Something tells me Mitt Romney is already readying the canned-joke assembly line.

Posted by Christopher Beam, Oct. 29, 12:05 p.m. (link) (discuss) (tips)

Oct. 26, 2007

Cap Fendig. Click image to expand.
Cap Fendig

The Fringe, Part 5: This is the fifth entry in "The Fringe," a periodic look at the lesser-known candidates for president. Read Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Cap Fendig is the fringe man's Mike Huckabee. The Republican presidential candidate wants to keep the troops in Iraq, supports the fair tax, and promotes pro-life policies. But while Huckabee's profile continues to rise, Cap Fendig is hoping to grab four percent of the votes in Iowa, at most. That's what happens when the highest public office you've held is county commissioner.

The 53-year-old man certainly looks presidential, and speaks in a southern drawl that would make John Edwards swoon. His high-quality Web site has pictures of him and his wife looking like the all-American couple—complete with an out-of-focus background to imply Fendig is a stark contrast to the murky America that surrounds us all.

Fendig recently sold his tour company in Georgia to fund his campaign, but it was his business that inspired him to run in the first place. He said his platform consists of policies the "American people" want. Of course, most of those Americans are his conservative tour clientele.

Fendig is not ashamed to tell you that he thinks the constitution ought to be changed. First up, the Fair Tax, which would repeal the 16th amendment that allows the government to collect an income tax. Next, he wants to solve the immigration problem by scrapping pieces of the 14th Amendment. Under the Fendig administration, babies born in the United States would no longer be automatic U.S. citizens. Their parents would have to be citizens, as well. Unclear on whether America would make it a habit of deporting children before they leave the hospital. Oh, and don't forget to tack on a gay marriage amendment while you're at it. (Fendig said homosexuality is a lifestyle choice America cannot endorse but should protect.)

Constitutional changes aside, Fendig is making one novel recommendation: He wants to impose term limits on congressmen so that the legislative branch has a "rotation of fresh ideas and energy."

Fendig, though, has more pressing concerns—like getting people to take him seriously. When Fendig delivered his official announcement speech at a county meeting, the video shows that the woman sitting behind him couldn't help but let loose a laugh.

Posted by Chadwick Matlin, Oct. 26, 6:07 p.m. ( link) ( discuss) ( tips)

All aboard: The Republican presidential candidates may have found the perfect enemy: the Law of the Sea Treaty. The treaty, a U.N. convention ratified by 150 countries in 1994 but not by the United States, sets rules for navigating international waters, governs economic activity therein, and also establishes certain environmental standards. And, if you ask the GOP candidates, it must be stopped.

Mike Huckabee toldSlate's John Dickerson that the Law of the Sea has "damaging and dangerous implications for our national sovereignty." Fred Thompson said earlier this week that the law "gives a U.N.-affiliated organization far too much authority over U.S. interests." John McCain and Duncan Hunter have spoken out against the treaty as well.

The candidates know they can get mileage out of the treaty. For one thing, it just sounds silly. Who wants to submit to something called the Law of the Sea Treaty? If you violate it, do they make you walk the plank? (Also note the acronym: LOST.)

But more to the point, it gives them an opportunity to rail against international law. Ronald Reagan rejected the treaty in 1982 because of a provision about mineral mining, but since then the United States has followed the treaty in practice (minus the mining part). President Clinton signed it, but the Republican Congress didn't pass it. President Bush currently supports it, as do the U.S. Navy and the oil industry. (It gives the United States a seat at the table on issues like the Arctic's oil resources, which has enjoyed a resurgence ever since Russia planted its flag there.) In other words, there's very little reason for a Republican not to support the treaty, except to show his general opposition to international law.

And that's just what the GOP candidates want. For them, opposing the Law of the Sea isn't a practical matter. It's ideological. It's about making clear that no one else tells us what to do. Even if they did support it, who wants to be the one guy explaining the intricacies of the 200-page Law of the Sea at the next debate? No, better to make vague noises about national sovereignty, invoke Ronald Reagan once or twice, and be done with it.

Posted by Christopher Beam, Oct. 26, 4:57 p.m. (link) (discuss) (tips)

Hopeless: In the already   much- publicized e-mail blitz yesterday by the Clinton and Obama campaigns, the Iran debate is taking a turn for the ugly.

After President Bush announced sanctions on Iran's military, Obama's camp sent out a statement insisting that "these sanctions must not be linked to any attempt to keep our troops in Iraq, or to take military action against Iran" and suggesting that the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which Hillary voted for, does this. Hillary blasted back with a memo: "Stagnant in the polls and struggling to revive his once-buoyant campaign, Senator Obama has abandoned the politics of hope and embarked on a journey in search of a campaign issue to use against Senator Clinton."

As the Iran showdown escalates—both campaigns sent out mailers on the issue this week—Obama appears to be pedaling against the wind. As many have pointed out, Clinton took pains to make sure the bill didn't include authorization of military force. And as Clinton herself notes, where was Obama during that vote?

But still, Clinton's tactics come off as downright nasty. Her word of choice to describe opposing campaigns used to be flagging. Now it's stagnant. (May we suggest flaccid?) At the same time, Hillary is still using Obama's coinage, the "politics of hope," against him. Obama originally intended the phrase to mean avoiding personal attacks. But over the past weeks, Hillary has redefined it as avoiding attacks on her policies. By conflating the two, she implies that Obama is becoming a bully and, in the process, abandoning his principles. She has turned his promise of civility into a straightjacket.

Obama should be calling her out on this. If Hillary is going to try and make all policy attacks sound personal, Obama should point out that strategy and rebuff it. Obama spokesman Bill Burton's reponse, sent to reporters yesterday evening, fails to do this: "All of the political explanations and contortions in the world aren't going to change the fact that, once again, Senator Clinton supported giving President Bush both the benefit of the doubt and a blank check on a critical foreign policy issue. Barack Obama just has a fundamentally different view." We've heard all this before. What Obama needs to say is that Hillary deliberately uses his "politics of hope" message as a shield against criticism. If Obama is going to stay in the debate, he can't let Hillary define the terms. Especially when he coined them.

Posted by Christopher Beam, Oct. 26, 11:48 a.m. (link) (discuss) (tips)

Oct. 25, 2007

The assassination primary: One of the best ways for a politician to boost his popularity is to get assassinated. It worked for Lincoln, it worked for Kennedy. (And who doesn't adore James Garfield?) Even better is an assassination attempt. That way, you get to enjoy the good press. Just ask Ronald Reagan. Best of all, though, is an assassination attempt attempt. Someone thought you were worth killing, but didn't follow through, giving you all the cred but none of the scars. Apparently that's what happened to Rudy Giuliani.

It turns out a group of New York crime bosses nearly voted to whack Giuliani back in 1986, when he was a U.S. attorney prosecuting cases against the mob. The heads of five families voted 3 to 2 to spare him, according to testimony Wednesday at the trial of an FBI agent in Brooklyn. "That was one vote I won I guess," Giuliani told radio host Mike Gallagher today.

For someone cultivating an image as the toughest candidate in the Republican pool, it doesn't hurt for voters to know some bad guys wanted you dead. (Imagine what it would do for Rudy's campaign if Osama bin Laden released a video begging the American people not to elect him.) Giuliani has also gone out of his way to act presidential, meeting with leaders from Gordon Brown to Jalal Talabani and pitching himself as a foreign-policy savant. A would-be assassination attempt—even one that took place years ago—only solidifies the image.

People say Giuliani values loyalty. Maybe he should hire the three guys who voted to spare him. Vote Giuliani: an offer you can't refuse.

Posted by Christopher Beam, Oct. 25, 5:08 p.m. (link) (discuss) (tips)

Nevada. Click image to expand.

Caucus Neglect: As states wage war over which primary or caucus will be first in the nation, Nevada is being left behind. For the first time in its history, the Silver State will host the second caucus in the country on Jan. 19. And yet, nobody seems to care.

Slate's Map the Candidates tool shows an apathetic bunch of candidates. In total, they've only made 55 campaign stops in Nevada since July 1, according to their public schedules (excluding Duncan Hunter and Mike Gravel, who don't make their schedules public). That's both parties' tallies combined. To give some context, South Carolina has had 145 stops in that time period. New Hampshire? 415. Iowa? An obscene 966 stops! The candidates have even visited Florida 78 times, despite this summer's abstinence pledge from the top Democrats.

A closer look at the 55 Nevada stops reveals a heavy Democratic bias. All six of the first- and second-tier Democrats have stopped by the Silver State, but only Ron Paul and Mitt Romney have stumped for the GOP. Yes, more GOP candidates have visited Wyoming than Nevada. For what it's worth, Nevada GOP Executive Director Zac Moyle told me he was happy with the turnout and said several other candidates are coming in November.

Why no love for Nevada? Initially, both parties booked Nevada's caucus earlier in the primary season so the state would serve as the election's gateway to the West. But then Nevada's neighbors California (90 visits since July 1), Utah, and Arizona set their primary dates to Feb. 5, which reduced Nevada's regional clout. Plus, polls for the Democrats show Hillary Clinton in command even though Bill Richardson is from nearby New Mexico and has spent the most time in the state. No excuses across the aisle, though. The GOP's numbers are much tighter than the Democrats', which makes the leading Republicans' absences even more glaring.

Some solace for Nevada residents: The Democrats are coming to town for a debate next month. Just don't expect them to stay the night.

Want more? Get a closer look at Nevada's sparse political landscape compared to Iowa's gluttonous display.

Posted by Chadwick Matlin, Oct. 25, 3:00 p.m. ( link) ( discuss) ( tips)

I'm John Edwards, and I Did Not Approve This Message: Today a major environmental group, Friends of the Earth, starts airing a new radio ad in New Hampshire praising John Edwards' stance on global warming. (The group formally endorsed him last week.) Edwards, according to the ad, is "alone among the candidates" in asking Americans to sacrifice and conserve energy. Listen here.

It's not the first independently financed spot to run in this campaign—the Log Cabin Republicans already aired a Romney attack ad in Iowa—but it is one of the first to straightforwardly endorse a candidate. FoE figured that New Hampshire, which is seeing its ski seasons shortening and its maple syrup seasons thrown off-kilter, would be a good place to deliver his message of reducing emissions and opposing nuclear power.

For Edwards especially, independent ads could make a big difference. His decision last month to take public matching funds mean that he's subject to spending limits. In New Hampshire, he can't spend more than about $800,000 on campaign expenses such as advertising and phone banking. Independently financed ads, meanwhile, have no spending limits, as long as they're not funded by corporations or unions. (They're also not allowed to coordinate with the campaign.) FoE says this ad won't be its last.

Not that Edwards is relying on outside advertising. Eric Shultz, a spokesman for the Edwards campaign, emphasized that the campaign has all the money it needs to execute its strategy. But with Hillary and Obama surging ahead in fund raising, Edwards will have to spend efficiently to compete in the early states' ad markets. And with his New Hampshire numbers lagging behind his two top rivals', a little help from his friends won't hurt.

Posted by Christopher Beam, Oct. 25, 1:44 p.m. (link) (discuss) (tips)

Oct. 24, 2007

Levin vs. Gardner: Michigan Sen. Carl Levin refuses to play nice. Acting as if he has a vendetta against the entire Granite State, Levin has once again reached out across the news wires and slapped New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner across the face. In a meeting with reporters this morning, Levin criticized New Hampshire's "cockamamie" election status and said he wants Michigan Democrats to hold a caucus on the same day as New Hampshire's primary.

This is all fallout from Michigan's effort to upend the primary process by leapfrogging New Hampshire. Michigan's move to Jan. 15 forced Gardner to delay the disclosure of New Hampshire's date so no other state would try to usurp its first-in-the-nation status. Michigan, meanwhile, saw all but three Democrats pull out of its primary because the state wasn't one of the four sanctioned early primary states. Levin seems to consider himself and his state martyrs, crucified for their principled stand against the villainous Yankees in Manchester. The Detroit News quoted him as saying, "New Hampshire has a hammerlock on the process. … We decided we were going to try to change that. We knew we would pay a price for that." How valiant!

Gardner, meanwhile, is playing Batman to Levin's Penguin. Gardner's stoic, above-the-fray demeanor makes Levin appear all the more a blowhard. By the way, the final decision is up to Michigan's governor—not Michigan's senator.

Posted by Chadwick Matlin, Oct. 24, 6:45 p.m. ( link) ( discuss) ( tips)

Boozers for Barack: Who knew that Barack Obama could find allies in college drinkers? There's a fascinating showdown in Iowa over underage bar laws that could, possibly maybe, end up affecting the presidential election.

Residents of Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa, have submitted a ballot measure that would kick anyone under 21 out of the city's bars after 10 p.m. That might sound reasonable in most cities. But currently anyone 19 and over can hang out at Iowa City bars—although they still can't (technically) drink till they're 21. Community members concerned about the neighborhood's safety and appearance are backing the ordinance. On the other side, you've got students looking to defend their right to drink cranberry juice and ginger ale in bars. The measure appears on the ballot Nov. 6.

As voting day approaches, both sides are mobilizing. A group called Citizens Against Students Ruining Downtown staged a "vomit walk" Sunday night to protest the sullying of the neighborhood. Health advocates are also pushing the ordinance since they say it would cut down on binge drinking.

Students are likewise miffed. At the University of Iowa, Republicans and Democrats alike have been conducting nonpartisan voter registration drives and setting up voting stations in the residence halls. Even students at other schools, many of whom travel to Iowa City to drink, are speaking out. The result, if the organization effort works, is that more young people than usual will be registered to vote in Iowa on Nov. 6. And that means more young people registered in time for the caucuses.

This could be good news for Obama. In the past few elections, most Iowa caucus-goers have been older than 50. But this time around, Obama's campaign is putting special emphasis on young people, organizing high school groups called "BarackStars" and urging college students to register. So far, Obama's Iowa ground organization outmatches that of his opponents. If he's able to get a boost from the Iowa City party scene, bully for him.

Posted by Christopher Beam, Oct. 24, 6:27 p.m. (link) (discuss) (tips)

The Fringe, Part 4: This is the fourth entry in "The Fringe," a periodic look at the lesser-known candidates for president. You can find previous entries here, here, and here.

Tom Koos gets it. He knows that a 41-year old facilities manager from California isn't going to win the Democratic nomination. He understands it's unlikely he'll even earn a delegate in New Hampshire, where he'll only campaign for a week before the primary. But he's not running for president to become president. He's running so he can figure out who to vote for.

Koos has wanted to become president since he was 7. He looked up at the calendar and realized that he'd be 35 by 2000, which meant that in 28 short years, he could be taking the oath of office. So, in 2000, he threw his name in the ring.  Nineteen people voted for him—one more than the Fringe's last subject, Michael Skok.

Considering Koos finished 76,881 New Hampshire votes behind Al Gore in 2000, what is there to gain by running again? Koos told me he wanted to get a better sense of what his  own opinions were on the election's major issues so he would know which candidate to endorse.

As a result, Koos' platform is essentially a composite of his opponents' stances. Like Joe Biden, he wants a soft-partitioned Iraq. Like Hillary Clinton, he supports a national-service academy. And like Dennis Kucinich, he advocates a universal, single-payer health-care system. He's the Voltron of presidential candidates.

Does this mean Koos is once again embarking on a selfish, self-indulgent pursuit? Perhaps. But he said he's also running to try and convince his friends and family to pay attention to the elections. When he tells people he's running for president, he gets to discuss current events and politics with relative strangers. Plus, he said, running for president is "an awful lot of fun." Some might call it a midlife crisis, but Koos thinks of it as a boyhood dream.

Posted by Chadwick Matlin, Oct. 24, 4:30 p.m. ( link) ( discuss) ( tips)

Rudy's Sinker: Politics is about compromise. Voters know this, and politicians know they know it. That's why they'll often bend their position to accommodate a new situation without paying a political price.

Sports, however, is not about compromise. It's not about sacrificing now so you can win later. It's about winning now, later, and always. It's starkly Manichaean—the one arena where you can say, "You're with us or against us," and no one will accuse you of being overly dramatic.

Rudy Giuliani, of all people, should understand this. But by announcing in Boston yesterday that he would be rooting for the Red Sox in the World Series, he joins Hillary Clinton in the league of athletic opportunists he so roundly criticized last month. "Don't you respect me for telling you the truth that I'm a Yankees fan?" he asked a crowd in Chicago after Clinton said that she'd "alternate" sides in a Yankees-Cubs match-up. Well, whatever respect he commanded then, he has squandered now. The New York tabs are calling him a "Red Coat" and a "Traitor" for abandoning his home team. And believe it or not, it still doesn't look like he'll be carrying Massacusetts.

Giuliani's rationalization only made the offense worse: "I'm an American League fan, and my tradition has been to root for the American League team, particularly if it's a team that beats the Yankees. And in this case, you won the division and we lost. Somehow it makes me feel better if the team that was ahead of the Yankees wins the World Series, because then I feel like, well, we're not that bad."

Et tu, Rudy?

Barack Obama, playing off Giuliani's gaffe, told a Boston crowd he was a "principled sports fan" and supported the White Sox. But candidates should really avoid talking about sports altogether. For one thing, you're not likely to win votes from the people whose teams you praise. If anything, it comes off as pandering. But also, even a hint of ambiguity—the least bit of waffling—amounts to heresy. Giuliani's situational Red Sox fandom makes Romney's abortion flip-flopping look forgivable. He might as well have said he'd ask his lawyers. Let this be a lesson: Baseball is the one issue on which you can't be moderate. Giuliani picked the wrong time to act like one.

Posted by Christopher Beam, Oct. 24, 2:44 p.m. (link) (discuss) (tips)

Taking care of business: If Mitt Romney is elected, he'll be the real MBA president. That's what you're supposed to take away from his latest ad, "Business World," in which he promises to "audit Washington top to bottom and cut spending." He did it at the 2002 Olympics, he did it as governor of Massachusetts (he doesn't mention the state by name), and he'll do it again as commander in chief. Need proof? Look, he's shaking hands with people. Now he's pointing to some charts. OK, there's the sleeve roll-up. Can you feel the synergy? Have a look:

The efficiency spiel is what fiscal conservatives want to hear, and Romney smoothly works it into his "change begins with us" theme. But it also reinforces perceptions of Romney as MR-1000, the kindly autobot whose CPU needs recharging every night. He has a knack for making warm themes sound cold. At last week's Family Research Council conference, he stressed that "family is a vital economic unit." Well, yes, but that's probably not how values voters think of their spouses and children. It's no surprise Ann Romney was the one narrating the campaign's family-themed ad "Our Home."

You also have to wonder whether a résumé built on business acumen is any match for one built on crime-fighting and security, like Rudy Giuliani's. (According to their messages, at least.) Does anyone care deeply that Romney saved the Olympics? It was a major accomplishment, by all accounts, and earned him plaudits from businessmen and politicians alike. But when you say it over and over, it starts to sound like Fred Thompson ushering John Roberts through the confirmation process—an accomplishment John Dickerson called "the legal equivalent of walking Michael Jordan onto the court." Compared to Giuliani at Ground Zero, Romney in the board room isn't the most compelling image. At the FRC conference, the day after Romney spoke, conservative leader Bill Bennett urged voters to listen to their hearts. If Romney is lucky, they'll stick with their heads.

Posted by Christopher Beam, Oct. 24, 1:04 p.m. (link) (discuss) (tips)

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.

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  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?