Democratic Turnout Is Big Iowa Variable
By: Wall Street Journal
By JOHN HARWOOD
DEMOCRATIC TURNOUT LOOMS as key Iowa variable.
Despite polls showing Obama and Clinton leading Democratic race, one adviser to the former first lady says Edwards’s support with veteran caucus-goers gives him edge for now. But Des Moines Register sage David Yepsen warns Edwards would suffer if Obama and Clinton succeed in attracting college students and older women who are novices to caucus process.
“Expanding the universe…is a difficult thing to do,” notes Edwards strategist Joe Trippi, who advised Howard Dean four years ago. The 2004 caucuses set record with 124,000 participants, but an Iowa State University poll suggests Jan. 3 contest could draw as many as 175,000.
Team Clinton seeks caucus goodwill by deploying its organization for Christmas season service project.
REPUBLICAN FRONT-RUNNERS seek post-Iowa insurance policies.
Despite Huckabee’s Iowa surge, Giuliani continues to lead in Michigan’s Jan. 15 contest. “Electability and leadership seem to be carrying the day,” says one top Michigan Republican.
Romney’s Mormon faith, subject of his speech in Texas yesterday, matters less there in light of his late father’s service as governor four decades ago. Florida primary two weeks later represents critical test of Giuliani’s staying power; his standing at around 30% there exceeds his support in any contest before Feb. 5.
TRADE VIES WITH IMMIGRATION as hot-button issue in presidential race.
Democratic hopeful Richardson, who rounded up votes for the North American Free Trade Agreement as House leader during Clinton administration, emerges as critic. Current House members Phil Hare of Illinois and Michael Michaud of Maine turn up heat on White House hopefuls with legislation requiring U.S. to pull out of Nafta if concerns about job losses and other issues aren’t addressed.
After escalating their rhetoric against illegal immigration, Republican candidates face different pressures from weekend debate in Miami sponsored by Spanish-language network Univision. Three months after Republicans shunned debate moderated by African-American broadcaster Tavis Smiley, it will be the first Republican debate before a predominantly minority audience.
Tancredo of Colorado, who has helped set tough tone of the party’s immigration debate so far, won’t attend.
TOUGHER TICKET: Treasury Secretary Paulson trims guest list for next week’s economic talks in China, including just six Cabinet-level officials and not including either the Labor or Transportation secretaries. “You can have a better dialogue if you have fewer people interacting at the table,” says a senior Treasury official.
YEAR OF THE WOMAN? Emily’s List says twice as many Democratic women in favor of abortion rights will be on the ballot in 2008 as in 2006; such candidates have already won two of three special elections this year. Emily’s List, backing Clinton for president, launches online campaign in Iowa at www.yougogirl.com.
HOW LENIENT? Activists say U.S. Sentencing Commission, which creates guidelines judges use for federal defendants, appears likely to make retroactive its new, less strict guidelines for crack-cocaine crimes. Justice Department opposes the move, which could affect 19,000 inmates.
SPENDING PUSH: Despite calls in both parties for fiscal restraint, road-builders group launches campaign to build support for massive increase in infrastructure spending. Effort, designed to prevent entitlement programs from soaking up all excess cash, includes ads in Capitol Hill newspapers.
SENATE CONSIDERS COMPROMISE on surveillance legislation.
Senate Democrats next week return to White House proposal to give retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that aided the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance. That provision is included in bill to update Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Immunity would shield phone companies fighting privacy lawsuits over their role in NSA program. Moderate Republican Specter of Pennsylvania proposes compromise that would make federal government the defendant rather than telecom providers.
But Democratic opposition means tough odds for Arlen Specter’s plan, which Judiciary Committee may send directly to Senate floor.
MINOR MEMOS: Humorist Andy Borowitz, following a report that Iran suspended nuclear program years ago, reports that “Kim Jong Il kicks Iran out of Axis of Evil”….John McCain, struggling to repeat his 2000 New Hampshire primary win, warms up town-hall meeting in Hooksett with Springsteen’s “Glory Days.”
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