POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 8/7

Symbols of a Campaign?

Political Insider: The Straight Talk Express has an accident.

Detroit Mayor Heads to Jail

A judge ordered Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to jail, “shocking the city and plunging the leadership of the nation’s 11th-largest city into uncertainty,” the Detroit News reports.

McCain Offers Prizes for Spam Comments

Sen. John McCain’s campaign is urging supporters to spam blogs and forums with official talking points, according to the Washington Post. If you do a good job, you can even win prizes.

“That, in essence, is the McCain campaign’s pitch to supporters to join its new online effort, one that combines the features of ‘AstroTurf’ campaigning with the sort of customer-loyalty programs offered by airlines, hotel chains, restaurants and the occasional daily newspaper.”

“People who sign up for McCain’s program receive reward points each time they place a favorable comment on one of the listed Web sites (subject to verification by McCain’s webmasters). The points can be traded for prizes, such as books autographed by McCain, preferred seating at campaign events, even a ride with the candidate on his bus, known as the Straight Talk Express.”

Something to Agree On

In a set of interviews on pop culture, Entertainment Weekly asks the presidential candidates, “If you could be any superhero, which superhero would you be?”

Sen. John McCain: “Batman. He does justice sometimes against insurmountable odds. And he doesn’t make his good works known to a lot of people, so a lot of people think he’s just a rich playboy.”

Sen. Barack Obama: “I was always into the Spider-Man/Batman model. The guys who have too many powers, like Superman, that always made me think they weren’t really earning their superhero status. It’s a little too easy. Whereas Spider-Man and Batman, they have some inner turmoil. They get knocked around a little bit.”

The Perils of Polling

In a must-read piece, CQ Politics notes the voter’s pulse may be harder to take than ever, as pollsters struggle to blend the young, the mobile and the uncommitted into their survey methodologies.

SurveyUSA: Oregon Remains Very Tight

A new SurveyUSA poll in Oregon finds Sen. Barack Obama just ahead of Sen. John McCain, 485 to 45%, within the survey’s 4 point margin of sampling error.

Key findings: “Among voters younger than Obama, Obama leads by 15 points. Among voters older than McCain, Obama leads by 9. Among voters who are inbetween the ages of the two candidates, McCain leads by 9. McCain holds 82% of the GOP base. Obama holds 80% of the Democrat base. Independents split. McCain is backed by 80% of conservatives. Obama is backed by 83% of liberals. Moderates break 5:3 for Obama. McCain leads 2:1 among those who attend religious services regularly. Obama leads 2:1 among those who almost never attend religious services. Among men, McCain leads by 5 points. Among women, Obama leads by 13.”

Daschle Says Celebrity Ads Working

Sen. Tom Dashle, a senior adviser to Sen. Barack Obama, told the Financial Timesthat the recent attack advertisements “comparing the Democratic presidential hopeful to celebrities Britney Spears and Paris Hilton” are to blame for his candidate’s recent dip in the polls.

Said Daschle: “To a certain extent the ads are having some effect. But you can’t be thrown off your game plan by a momentary dip in polls.”

Quote of the Day

“I’m very sorry about it.”

— Sen. John McCain, in an interview with David Broder, on the negative turn to the presidential campaign.

McCain’s Challenge

Karl Rove: “Mr. Obama has the easier path to victory: reassure a restive electorate that he’s up to the job. Mr. McCain must both educate voters to his opponent’s weaknesses and persuade them that he has a vision for the coming four years. This will require a disciplined, focused effort. Mr. McCain has gotten this far fighting an unscripted guerrilla campaign. But it won’t get him all the way to the White House.”

Obama, Clinton Insist They’re United

With buzz that Sen. Hillary Clinton’s supporters may try to push for a convention vote, Sen. Barack Obama’s press office issued a joint statement with the Clinton campaign:

“We are working together to make sure the fall campaign and the convention are a success.   At the Democratic Convention, we will ensure that the voices of everyone who participated in this historic process are respected and our party will be fully unified heading into the November election.”

McCain Will Also Run Ads During Olympics

“A week after the Obama campaign spent $5 million on advertising during NBC’s Beijing Olympics telecasts, the McCain campaign has ponied up $6 million,” according to Hollywood Reporter.

“That sets up a battle between the likely Democratic and Republican nominees during the summer’s biggest TV event, and well before the normal after-Labor Day intensity of the campaign.”

On Experience

Roger Bloom: “Barack Obama already has more pre-presidential experience in government than three of the four guys on Mount Rushmore”

Democrats Way Ahead on Generic Congressional Ballot

The latest AP-Ipsos poll gives Democrats an 18 point lead in the generic ballot test for control of Congress. When asked who they would prefer to see win control of Congress, registered voters preferred Democrats by a whopping 53% to 35% margin.

Gingrich Threatens Government Shutdown

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich “indicates his party is seriously considering another shutdown threat to force a vote on offshore oil drilling in September,” CNNreports.

“The precise maneuvering of a shutdown threat is complicated, but it revolves around the fact that key government spending bills expire when the fiscal year ends September 30 and Congress must vote next month to keep the government operating.”

Said Gingrich: “Are [Democrats] really prepared to close the government in order to stop drilling? Because I think the country will find that to be a suicidal strategy.”

CBS Poll: Obama Stays Ahead Nationally

The new CBS News poll shows Sen. Barack Obama maintaining his national lead over Sen. John McCain, 45% to 39%.

These results are essentially unchanged since the last poll done before Obama’s widely-publicized foreign trip.

Key findings: “36 percent of registered voters cite the economy and jobs as their top concern, easily eclipsing the war in Iraq at 17 percent. Gas and oil prices were cited by 9 percent of registered voters, followed by health care at 8 percent and the environment at 5 percent. A substantial majority of those surveyed — 70 percent — say the candidates are not doing enough to address their top issue.”

Smith Maintains Edge in Oregon Senate Race

A new SurveyUSA poll in Oregon shows Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) fighting off rival Jeff Merkley’s (D) challenge, 49% to 37%.

Key findings: “Smith, considered by some to be vulnerable among the Republicans who must defend US Senate seats in 2008, leads today among both men and women, leads among the rich and poor, leads among the more educated and less uneducated, and leads in both the Portland area and the rest of the state. 9% of Republicans cross-over and vote Democrat. 3 times as many Demorats, 28%, cross-over and vote Republican. Independents split.”

CQ‘s backgrounder says the race Leans Republican.

PPP Poll: McCain Retakes Florida Lead

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Florida shows Sen. John McCain now leading Sen. Barack Obama, 475 to 44%.

Key findings: “Obama has slipped with Hispanic voters in the last month, leading among them just 48-45 after holding a 51-37 advantage in PPP’s previous Florida poll. The numbers show an unusual gender gap, with McCain leading by 11 points among women while trailing by 5 points with men.”

Is Obama Fatigue Setting In?

According to a new Pew Research poll, 48% of Americans say they have been “hearing too much” about Sen. Barack Obama lately. 

“In contrast, if anything, Pew’s respondents said they want to hear more, not less about the Republican candidate. Just 26% in the poll said they had heard too much about McCain, while a larger number (38%) reported that they had heard too little about the putative Republican candidate.”

Clinton May Push for Convention Vote

Sen. Hillary Clinton “told a gathering of supporters last week that she’s looking for a ‘strategy’ for her delegates to have their voices heard and ‘respected’ at the Democratic National Convention — and did not rule out the possibility of having her name placed into nomination at the convention alongside Sen. Barack Obama’s,” according to ABC News.

Said Clinton: “I happen to believe that we will come out stronger if people feel that their voices were heard and their views were respected. I think that is a very big part of how we actually come out unified.”

Bayh Buzz Soars

Time notes at today’s event with Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Evan Bayh “there was also a very expensive (and aggressive) high-definition TV crew shooting what appeared to be ad footage as the two worked the room.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times notes that at times, Bayh’s “responses when asked about the vice-presidency have only added to the speculation. Instead of resorting to the usual demurrals, he has openly expressed his willingness to run.”

Time: Obama Leads By Five Points

The latest Time magazine poll shows Sen. Barack Obama continuing to hold a small lead over Sen. John McCain, 46% to 41%.

Key findings: “Obama’s advantage is largest on atmospheric issues: he is seen as far more likeable and a greater force for change than McCain… But on specific issues, Obama is treading water or sinking a bit.”

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