Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama "now generally agree on something" -- that Pres. Bush "should not attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in Beijing."
Obama, on 4/10: "The Olympics has always been a place where people register their concerns. China clearly has not upheld the kind of human rights that we would expect from such a major actor on the world stage." But Obama did leave some "wiggle room." More Obama: "If China is able over the next several months to take concrete steps to address some of these issues, obviously, then a president could reconsider."
McCain, meanwhile, issued a statement that "said he respects British PM Gordon Brown's decision not to attend the opening ceremonies." McCain: "President Bush should evaluate his participation in the ceremonies surrounding the Olympics and, based on Chinese actions, decide whether it is appropriate to attend. If Chinese policies and practices do not change, I would not attend the opening ceremonies." Clinton "has also called on Bush to not attend the opening ceremonies" (McCormick, Chicago Tribune, 4/10).
Making Sport Of It
Dem strategist Steve MacMahon, on boycotting the opening ceremonies of the Olympics: "We keep waiting for the behavior of the Chinese government to improve. And what's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and over again, and expecting a different result. I don't know why John McCain thinks the result will be any different. It's clear that the Chinese government has a human rights problem. It's not going to be fixed in the next year, probably in the next decade. The leaders in England and in France and in Germany have already made this decision. I know President Bush is the decider. But he ought to make a decision on this and he ought to lead" ("Situation Room," CNN, 4/10).
GOP strategist John Feehery, on what Bush should do: "It's politically correct to play politics with the Olympics now, of course. And you will have all this pressure from Gordon Brown and all the other Europeans. I think the president is not -- first of all, he is not politically correct. ... I don't think he's do the politically correct thing. If you want to have a real -- you have to engage the Chinese. You have to engage the Chinese people, not just the Chinese government. I think that the president should go to the opening ceremonies, show that he's with the Chinese people. I think Steve's right to a certain extent. They're not going to change if we go or not go. I think he should go, show that we're with the Chinese people, and try to continue to build a relationship with the Chinese people" ("The Situation Room," CNN, 4/10).
After getting cut from the 4/9 broadcast, all three WH '08ers had their taped messages played on "American Idol"'s "Idol Gives Back" special last night:
Hillary Clinton: "Hello, I'm Hillary Clinton. If we take steps to help our neighbors, whether next door or in another state or country, collectively we can make the world a better place, and we can give our children a brighter future. I've had the good fortune of working with many of the groups that will benefit from your generosity tonight, and I can tell you that each donation will make a difference. For all the hours of enjoyment that 'American Idol' has given us, I hope you can give back through 'Idol Gives Back.' Thank you very much."
John McCain: "'American Idol' is a lot like a presidential primary election, except for people who live in Michigan and Florida. Their votes will actually count. But, seriously, I hope every one of us will join in the spirit of 'Idol Gives Back.' When Americans unite as one and our generosity and compassion are unleashed, the results are nothing short of remarkable. Thank you in advance for all that I'm sure you'll do. As for me, it's back to work on my new immigration plan. Watch your back, Simon."
Barack Obama: "Hello everybody. I'd like to say a few words, not just as the father of two young girls who are big 'American Idol' fans, but as someone who believes deeply in what tonight's show is all about. Whether it's across the street or around the world, 'Idol Gives Back' is proving that when ordinary people come together, they can do extraordinary things. So, I want to commend 'American Idol' for the example they're setting and the work they're doing. I hope that everyone who is watching will make a contribution to 'Idol Gives Back' and help make this world a more just, more equal and more hopeful place to live" (Fox, 4/10).
MSNBC's Abrams: "John McCain, the funniest of the three. It was a special edition to help raise money for charity. But come on, this was also an effort to campaign. To talk to a huge audience, many of whom may not be following the campaign closely. ... Isn't this an odd way for the candidates to try to show they are best suited to run the country?" ("Verdict," 4/10).
MSNBC analyst/ex-"West Wing" EP Lawrence O'Donnell: "It's the single biggest audience you can reach in one shot. The only bigger audience watches the Super Bowl. ... Because it has a charitable context on it this week, it enabled them to do it. I think in a regular week of the show, it would be a much stranger fit for them. And the fact that all three of them did it, legitimizes each other doing it. ... The undecided voter is watching this kind of show. ... That's where to find them" ("Verdict," MSNBC, 4/10).
Will Barr Fly?
Ex-Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) appeared on "Hannity & Colmes" last night, where he was asked if he is seeking the Libertarian Party nod for POTUS.
Barr: "Well, the immediate goal is to work through our exploratory committee, talk with an awful lot of folks, listen to an awful lot of folks. Gauge whether there really is enough enthusiasm, which I think there is, for the launch of a real, viable, credible third-party effort this year. I think that will be the case."
Asked if he would feel guilty for taking votes away from John McCain: "I think John McCain and the Republican Party ought to be man enough and strong enough to stand on their own record and not go around whining that somebody else might take a few percentage points from them" (FNC, 4/10).
Ending The Obsession
Washington Post's Dionne writes, if this year's election is about "the future," the debate "cannot be about whether or not the surge 'worked.'" McCain "will have to provide a more specific and realistic definition of success" and it will fall to Obama and Clinton "to argue persuasively that ending our obsession with Iraq is in fact the first step toward restoring American power" (4/11).
Newsday's Klurfeld writes, "Looking at the short-term gains of the surge, McCain is ready and willing to make a longer-term commitment." Still, if he is the next president, McCain "will need the support of the American people to sustain what will continue to be a painful policy. We need to move beyond the immediate political agendas and start asking questions now: How much longer a commitment?" (4/11).
Finding Cash On The Street
"The banking-and-investment industry is giving nearly twice as much" to Dems as to GOPers in '08. Dems have received $15M from employees and PACs "of banks and investment companies," whereas the GOP has received $7.7M. In '04, Dems got $19.5 to $22M for GOPers. The giving to WH '08ers follows the same pattern: McCain has received about half the some $6M that Clinton and Obama have each raised. Still, "what is unclear is whether" McCain will "need Wall Street cash" for the general (Cooper, Wall Street Journal, 4/11).
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