Saturday, October 25, 2008

Embarrassingly Small Crowd Greets McCain In Albuquerque.

Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain left Albuquerque on Saturday afternoon just after 1pm. He probably wonders if his trip to Albuquerque was even worth it. While the state's Republican party says they handed out a little more than 3,000 tickets, less than 1,000 people bothered to show up for the Road To Victory 2008 Rally at Expo New Mexico's Spanish Village earlier in the day.

McCain, who trails in public opinion polls nationwide, and by double digits in some state polls, told the crowd that's he's always been a fighter, and it was too early for Democrat Barack Obama to start measuring the curtains in the White House. McCain vowed to fight on in the 2008 national campaign, but when he sees these small crowds, he must also see the handwriting on the wall.

A day after the Dow Jones tumbled another 312 points it was not surprising when McCain once again brought up Joe the Plumber's name, criticized Obama as the most liberal senator in Washington, D.C., and said he had the experience to guide America through it current financial crisis, help homeowners with their mortgages, reduce taxes and make America energy independent.

As Alaska Governor Sarah Palin might say: "You betcha," McCain begins his speech off with those two favorite words, "My Friends."

Listen to his rally address here:

McCain was introduced by South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham and his wife Cindy.

Local pols, including Rep. Heather Wilson, CD-1 Republican Candidate Darren White and former Interior Secretary and long-time congressman Manual Lujan also attended the rally.

White, I'm told, had a great line:
Even my dog Trixie (a pitpull) has stopped working on my campaign. It used to be: Wag For White. Now it's Pitpulls for Palin.

After an afternoon rally in Southern New Mexico the McCain campaign will jet off to Iowa.

Next up, Democratic Senator Barack Obama. He flies into New Mexico from Nevada this afternoon for an evening rally at UNM's Johnson field.

More than 10,000 highly-motivated democrats, many who have already voted early, are expected at tonight's event.

Obama will spend the evening in Albuquerque, but has no local press opportunities planned. We'll post the audio from Obama's speech later this evening . Tune in here if you want to hear the speech and avoid the parking hassles near the university.

For now there's time to grab a nap and wonder if the crowds will continue to diminish for McCain in the final stretch of this election.

UPDATE - 10/26/2008

Heath Haussamen covered McCain's trip Saturday afternoon to Mesilla. He reports the crowds were larger there. McCain was joined by Sen. Pete Domenici and Republican candidates Steve Pearce and Ed Tinsley.

Look at the photos and read Heath's report here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The New American Electorate: The Growing Political Power of Immigrants and Their Children

It seems that at a time when a number of political candidates are locked in ferocious competition for the ballots of “voting blocs” that might turn the electoral tide in their favor, one large and growing bloc of voters has been consistently overlooked and politically underestimated: New Americans.

Who will be this election cycle's Soccer Mom's or Hockey Dads?

Experts at yesterday's briefing in Washington, which was sponsored in part by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute may have the answer.
Note: We interviewed CHCI Chairman, California Congressman Joe Baca, earlier this summer in Albuquerque at the opening of a Barack Obama field office in the South Valley. Listen to it here)
The American Immigration Law Foundation - Immigration Policy Center has released a report "The New American Electorate: The Growing Political Power of Immigrants and Their Children."

The report examines the growing electoral clout of not only immigrants who are naturalized U.S. citizens, but also the U.S.-born children of immigrants who were raised during the current era of immigration from Latin America and Asia that began in 1965.

On Thursday, the report's authors joined in a panel discussion moderated by Angela Kelley and broadcast on CSPAN.

The group's briefing provides insight into the ranks of New American voters, along with Latino and Asian voters, who have been growing rapidly this decade and will likely play a pivotal role in elections at all levels in the years to come—particularly in battleground states like Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and here in New Mexico.

Watch this CSPAN report on the group's briefing here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another Polly (the birdcage) Ad for Tom Udall

Congressman Tom Udall's Senate Campaign today released its second Polly ad, this one featuring Polly Bush Economics and highlighting Steve Pearces support for Bush's failed economic policies. The first Polly ad featured Polly Big Oil parroting Pearces talking points on Big Oils behalf.

McCain Still Pursuing New Mexico

The McCain-Palin presidential campaign today announced that John and Cindy McCain will participate in a Road to Victory Rally in Albuquerque on Saturday, October 25 th at the NM Expo Center.

The public is invited to obtain tickets by visiting any of the New Mexico Victory Offices listed below. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Doors open at 8:00 a.m. MDT

Program begins at 9:30 a.m.

WHERE: Expo New Mexico

Meanwhile, Barack Obama will be in Albuquerque at UNM on Saturday night. My colleague LP at NMFBIHOP has details on his visit here.

Photo Credit: MG Bralley

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

ACORN Not Telling Local Reporters the Whole Truth

On Saturday the local ACORN chapter had a news conference. I attended. When it was time for some Q&A I directly asked ACORN's Matthew Henderson if the group considered itself non-partisan? He answered it was a non-partisan group. I followed up the question with another. Had the group ever endorsed a candidate? Henderson assured me and the other reporter's in the room that they had not and would not.

Now, look what I found posted by editor by Katrina vanden Heuvel on The Nation back in February . It's an endorsement the group made of Barack Obama during the presidential primary.

So now the question is are they lying about training, background checks and the integrity of their local voter registration operation?

Perhaps its time for the state legislature to consider banning all (Democratic and Republican) third party registration groups. Why would it be so difficult to mandate all voter registrations be completed at the county clerks office or your local Motor Vehicles Office.

I imagine there will be those that insist that some in the community can't find there way there or it is an inconvenience. I say if you can't make it to the office you probably won't make it to the polls anyway.

The endorsement article posted by Katrina vanden Heuvel on 02/23/2008 @ 3:46pm

Yesterday, ACORN's political action committee endorsed Barack Obama for President. This is an important nod from a group that understands the urgent needs of Americans most hurt by this economy and how to organize for social and economic justice.

ACORN is the nation's largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families, with over 350,000 member families, organized into 800 neighborhood chapters, in 104 cities nationwide. The endorsement reflects a belief that Obama – who worked as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago – understands that change must come from the ground-up, as part of a working coalition, rather than from position papers.

As Maude Hurd, ACORN's National President, put it, "What it came down to was that Senator Obama is the candidate who best understands and can affect change on the issues ACORN cares about like stopping foreclosures, enacting fair and comprehensive immigration reform, and building stronger and safer communities across America."

In last night's debate, Obama spoke as a candidate --and a former community organizer--when he said: "The reason that this campaign has done so well is because people understand that it is not just a matter of putting forward policy positions…. If we can't inspire the American people to get involved in their government… then we will continue to see the kind of gridlock and nonperformance in Washington that is resulting in families suffering in very real ways…. I'm running for president to start doing something about that suffering, and so are the people who are behind my campaign…. It is my strong belief that the changes are only going to come about if we're able to form a working coalition for change…. The problem we have is that Washington has become a place where good ideas go to die."

When it comes to rebuilding New Orleans, the foreclosure crisis, poverty, and an economy where growth doesn't just benefit the wealthy , change is going to come through ongoing organization and mobilization at the grassroots. Obama gets that fundamental political argument. That's one of the reasons The Nation endorsed him. That's why his campaign has been so successful against a powerful, top-down, Clinton machine. And that's why yesterday he won ACORN's important endorsement.

ACLU and Bernalillo County Clerk Entangled in Fresh Accusations

Democracy for New Mexico's got the scoop on an ACLU lawsuit here.

The blog is reporting that Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse-Oliver is refuting allegations by the ACLU that her office released confidential registration information after the ACLU issued a press release announcing the organization had sent a letter to the New Mexico Attorney General calling for a criminal investigation of the Bernalillo County Clerk's Office and the GOP related to the distribution of confidential voter registration information in connection with the GOP's recent allegations of "voter fraud" by ACORN and others.

This is a developing story and Barbara at Democracy for New Mexico is all over it. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.

Photo: MG Bralley

Navajo Nation Council Endorses Obama!

On Tuesday, Yesterday, Senator Barack Obama accepted the endorsement of the Navajo Nation Council. The Council endorsed Obama and Senator Joe Biden on a vote of 59 to 21 at their fall legislative meeting. This endorsement is the latest of more than 100 tribal leaders, tribal organization and tribes that have endorsed Senators Obama and Biden. Senator Obama said, “I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Navajo Nation. I look forward to partnering with Indian tribes, including the Navajo Nation, on a government-to-government basis, to address the special challenges facing tribes today, including access to affordable healthcare, economic development, energy independence, and education. Joe Biden and I look forward to working with the Navajo Nation and all of Indian Country to bring about the change we need.” The Navajo Nation is comprised of over 250,000 members on the largest federally recognized Native American Nation, located around Southeastern Utah, Northeastern Arizona and Northwestern New Mexico.

Singer Pat Boone Praises White

Legendary entertainer Pat Boone, spokesman for a national non-partisan senior citizen group, has presented Darren White with the Association’s Honorary Guardian of Seniors’ Rights award.

Boone, a recording artist, movie and TV star second to none in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, called White a “fighter for the elderly.”

The 60 Plus Association’s Guardian Award is presented to Democrats and Republicans in Congress based on their “senior friendly” voting records. The Honorary Award is given to those running for office and is based on their views on seniors’ issues.

Boone cited White’s support for repealing the 1993 tax imposed by President Clinton on Social Security benefits, as well as White’s support to repeal the ‘Death Tax’ which hurts small businesses and farmers across New Mexico and the country. “Darren White, running for the U.S. House of Representatives for New Mexico 's 1st District, knows a bad tax when he sees one,” said Boone, “and the Death Tax is as bad as they come!

“And to those who call death tax repeal a ‘tax break for the rich,’ or akin to giving a ‘tax break for Paris Hilton,’ I say that’s nonsense, a con job of the first order. In fact, invoking her name is an insult to small businesses and farmers,” said Boone. “Why? Because the rich set up trusts and foundations to protect their assets, and who can blame them? Ever heard of the Kennedy, Heinz, Gates, Turner, Buffett, Winfrey or Rockefeller Foundations, as well as the Hilton Foundation, to name a few?”

Boone continued, “I am pleased to present this award to Darren White. He is a tax cutter, protecting the pocket books of senior citizens. 60 Plus calls on nearly 5 million seniors for support so I believe I can speak on behalf of seniors when I say that they can count on Darren White. Clearly, seniors will have no finer friend in Congress than Darren White.

Udall Endorsed by Las Vegas, NM Newspaper

The Las Vegas Optic has endorsed Tom Udall for United States Senate.

The northern New Mexico newspaper concluded: “Again and again, Udall takes positions that deserve respect. We would be proud to have him as our senator.”

The full endorsement can be read here.

In making its endorsement, the Optic cited several instances in which Udall took a principled position even if it was unpopular at the time.

“While in Congress, Udall has become known as someone who won’t necessarily vote with the herd,” the paper stated. “Back in 2001, he was one of very few who voted against the Patriot Act because it increased the federal government’s surveillance of private citizens. This law passed in the days after Sept. 11 when just about everyone in Washington was willing to support any law labeled as anti-terrorism. It now seems ironic that Pearce would call Udall an extreme liberal. After all, what’s more conservative than insisting on the protection of constitutional rights?”

The newspaper also noted Udall’s consistent opposition to the
Iraq war and his insistence that Los Alamos National Laboratory diversify its mission to meet the demands of a changing world as other principled positions that went against the grain.

At the same time, the Optic noted Steve Pearce’s steady support for President Bush: “Few people would disagree that Bush has been a disaster, and as such, Pearce, who used to brag about his support for Bush, deserves part of the blame.”

Udall has also been endorsed by the Las Cruces Sun-News, the Santa Fe New Mexican and the Los Alamos Monitor.

Freedom Watch Ads Challenged by NM Democrats

Ahead of Thursday night's debate the Democratic Party of New Mexico and Chairman Brian S. Colón, Chairman filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against the New Mexico Republican Party, Freedom's Watch and Candidate for Congress, Sheriff Darren White. They say a Republican group, Freedom's Watch, is violating Federal Election laws and is coordinating its efforts with White's campaigns to produce and buy television ads, which is prohibited.

The parties statement said released by Conchita Cruz for the parties Executive Director Josh Geise said:
The Democratic Party of New Mexico believes that the attack ads coming from Freedom's Watch and the New Mexico Republican Party share more than just similarities. Both of these ads share the same photographs of Martin Heinrich and were produced by the firm Stevens, Reed, Curcio and Potholm, the same firm that produced the 2004 Swift Boat Veterans for Truth commercials.

The actions of the New Mexico Republican Party and Darren White are illegal and reckless. Does Sheriff Darren White think he is above the law? We call on Darren White to demand that Freedom's Watch stop airing their ads and cease this illegal activity on behalf of his campaign.
This is not the first time Freedom's Watch has been implicated in this type of scandal. In April 2008, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee charged that, in a special election for Congress in Louisiana, Freedom's Watch was running a television advertisement with a script that came from the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is illegal. Freedom's Watch is run and supported by several former officials of the Bush Administration.

White Gets Another Professional Endorsement!

The day after Darren White's campaign released its fifth TV ad the the Chicano Police Officers Association (CPOA) has announced it has endorsed Darren White for Congress.

The CPOA was established in 1973, the Chicano Police Officers Association stands for “equality, opportunity, and justice for all.” The CPOA has approximately 330 members.

Today’s endorsement continues Darren White’s overwhelming support from New Mexico ’s law enforcement community. Darren has also received the official endorsements of the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association (APOA), the Bernalillo County Deputy Sheriff’s Association (BCDSA), and the New Mexico Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).

“The support that I have received from my fellow law enforcement brothers and sisters is overwhelming,” said Darren White. “Many politicians speak about their respect for the law enforcement community and solving local crime problems but nobody really gets it until they put on that uniform and actually experience it. My 20+ years of public service in Albuquerque and Santa Fe have prepared me well to face the tough challenges ahead in Washington.

“I am humbled by the Chicano Police Officers Association’s endorsement, and I look forward to serving them and our community with honor.”

The television ad, entitled "Broke the Law," attempts to highlight allegations that former city councilor Martin Heinrich admitted to breaking city law by illegally operating an unlicensed business while serving on the City Council. Heinrich also admitted to being paid by special interest groups to lobby and influence government officials, but never registered as a lobbyist. Heinrich even claimed he was not required to register as a special interest lobbyist, but his former boss has publicly disagreed, saying Heinrich should have registered as a lobbyist.

“Our ad points out that Martin Heinrich used his elected City Council office and position to help his own special interest lobbying clients, by pushing their liberal agenda on the City Council,” said Stephen Schatz. “By using his title as City Councilor, Heinrich influenced elected officials and government bureaucrats in Congress, Santa Fe , and Albuquerque on his own clients’ behalf. It is time for you to come clean, Mr. Heinrich. Who were the special interest groups that paid you to push their agenda? The voters deserve the truth.”

KOB TV will air the first CD-1 debate tonight at 7pm.

Photo: MG Bralley

Monday, October 20, 2008

McCain Criticizes Obama's Economic Plan and Claims Mickey Mouse is a Republican.

I first met Arizona Senator John McCain in 2006 during a Heather Wilson campaign rally at a local VFW post. Then, this summer I was invited to join him, along with four other local reporters, on his Straight Talk Express bus, for a 20-minute Q&A session in July as he traveled from the airport to his hotel.

In September, I ran into him again at El Pinto when he only had time to say a simple "hello." After he chose a mix of both red and green chile, and paid for Sarah and Todd Palin's first few jars, I told him to feel free to call me in the middle of October to give me an update on his campaign. John McCain agreed to do it. Boy was I surprised when he did. Actually, I'm not surprised. He's definitely a man of his word.

On Sunday afternoon, after former General Colin Powell endorsed Democrat Barack Obama, and while Sarah Palin was addressing a crowd of nearly 10,000 in Roswell, I got a call from campaign staffers that the Republican nominee wanted to talk to me and had time set aside for Monday morning, with just 15 days until the election.

As I prepared for the interview, I checked the polls, and realized he still trails Obama in New Mexico by 7-14% percentage points (depending on which poll you read), and I wondered if he had any regrets during his campaign, especially saying, "the economy is fundamentally sound," or picking an unknown, untested, but conservative, running mate. Certainly every question has been asked. I would simply try to find out what he needs to do to persuade New Mexicans to shift gears and cast a vote for him.

McCain's national press secretary Brooke Buchannan, who've you've read about on this blog here and here, called me right on time. After a few kind words with Brooke, and no mention of the brief interview with Sarah Palin, that almost got me kicked out of an earlier press pool, Mr. McCain was ready to talk.

We discussed the economy, voter registration fraud, western issues, solar and nuclear power, and a possible trip back to New Mexico before election day. This is the interview that aired on 770KKOB this morning:

McCain ends the interview promising to return to New Mexico soon. He did not give any date. Meanwhile, we've called the Obama campaign to offer them equal airtime, but have not heard back from them.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

NM Democratic Chairman Brian Colon Confident 33 County Strategy is Working!

In September the New Mexico Democrats set a goal of registering 30,000 new voters in 30 days. They registered a little more than 35,000. Part of the success is due to Democratic Party Chairman Brian Colon's 33 county strategy. With 16 days until Election 2008 Colon tells us the strategy is really a coordinated ground effort around the state. In this engaging interview, Colon says democrats are carrying the message of change to all four corners of the state.

Colon says his 33-county strategy is modeled after DNC Chairman Howard Dean's 50-state strategy and he's encouraged with the amount of young people participating in huge numbers.

Colon predicts a "clean sweep." He says he's confident the state's congressional delegation will be all-blue. He says after the election the Democrats are prepared to lead the country through this critical time in the nation's history.

He also said this year's legislative elections are important because they will determine re-districting following the 2010 census.

Earlier in the week, DNC Chairman Howard Dean made two 770 KKOB staffers honorary Vermonters. Listen to his interview with News Director Pat Allen and hear why?

Dean says this year's presidential election reminds him of the race in 1960. He says it's "Change" vs "More of the Same." Deans says he's looking forward to see how it plays out.

Dean says New Mexico is a critical swing state, and the Dems are putting an emphasis on the West and wants to win Colorado and Nevada as well as the Land of Enchantment.

Who knew 32 years after I first visited Montpelier, Vermont (during the country's Bi-centennial) with my family that I would be giving honorary "Vermonter" status. If Dean only knew that my dad parked the RV in front of the state capital so we could eat dinner on our way around all the revolutionary battlegrounds.

Thanks to LP at NMFBIHOP, who coverd Howard Dean's trip to New Mexico in August, and shot all these great photos.

Colon Photo Credit: MG Bralley