Monday, January 22, 2007

Political Report: Week of January 22nd, 2007

*Hillary can win, but it won’t be easy.
*State of the Union address will prove to be a chilly affair for Bush.
*More Republican lawmakers set to begin to break with Bush over Iraq.
*Gingrich wants to be “drafted” into presidential race.
*Deadly weekend in Iraq further affects “surge” public opinion.

1. On Saturday, Hillary Clinton announced her intention to run for and win the presidency. “I’m in, and I’m in to win,” said Clinton. “I’m not just starting a campaign, though. I’m beginning a conversation with you, with America. Let’s talk. Let’s chat. The conversation in Washington has been just a little one-sided lately, don’t you think?” Clinton joins the other frontrunners for the Democrats, Barack Obama and John Edwards, on the campaign trail. Most national polls have her well ahead of all Democratic challengers and now she can start to concentrate her efforts in Iowa, New Hampshire and the rest of the critical primary and caucus states. She is the favorite and the race is hers to lose, but don’t count out any of the dark horses just yet. Clinton, Obama and Edwards are not only going to attack each other but they will have to defend themselves from the rest of the Democratic field as those dark horse candidates struggle to get some ink.

2. Many are holding their breath to see what type of reception President Bush is going to receive from Congress as he makes his State of the Union address. It’s unlikely that Democrats won’t stand as Bush enters the chamber but expect to see very limited applause coming from the Democratic side of the aisle during Bush’s speech. There is likely to be strong support shown Bush from lawmakers who still back his war policy but this may be one of the iciest State of the Union addresses since Richard Nixon’s in January, 1974.

3. It’s beginning to look like Republican Senator Chuck Hagel may have some additional high-profile company in his opposition to President Bush’s troop escalation. There are reports that Virginia senator John Warner, former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, will be introducing a resolution that criticizes the President’s decision to send more troops to Iraq. Also, word is that Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina is beginning to express deep concerns over Bush’s handling of the war. These defections would further support evidence of extremely serious erosion for Bush in his Republican base. You may be looking at a situation where very soon, Senator Warner will make that trip up to the White House to tell, not ask, the President to significantly change course in his Iraq policy or prepare to deal with the most severe opposition that both houses of Congress can muster.

4. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich told “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace that he would run for President only as a “last resort.” He says he wants to be an important influence in the race to make sure that issues he feels are critical are addressed, like health care, energy, education, national security and immigration. “If, in that process, it becomes necessary to run, then I’ll run,” Gingrich said. Gingrich, like Al Gore for the Democrats, is waiting to see if there is a groundswell from the Republican base to have a staunch conservative enter the race and “save” the GOP. But, with Sam Brownback in the race and Mike Huckabee likely to enter, Gingrich may just be stroking his own ego.

5. This weekend in Iraq, the U.S. military reported that 27 American combat troops had been killed, 12 of them when a Black Hawk helicopter was shot down. Today, more than 100 Iraqi civilians were killed in increased violence in and around Baghdad. Public opinion, which has already soured significantly on the situation on the ground in Iraq, will no doubt take another negative hit as the troop surge becomes reality. Bush’s State of the Union address will further strengthen the growing national opposition to putting more American troops in harm’s way.


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