After her huge weekend fundraiser for Barack Obama at her weekend estate outside Santa Barbara, California, Oprah Winfrey and her representatives continue discussing with Obama’s campaign how her vast media and marketing clout could benefit the Illinois senator’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. John McCain, showing some signs of a nascent comeback in New Hampshire after a strong debate performance, holds a “No Surrender Tour” with decorated vets this week backing the Iraq War – which of course takes center stage following General David Petraeus’s Monday report.
The Obama and Winfrey organizations are, according to the Washington Post, deep into discussions about the popular billionaire talk show host, the wealthiest African American, taking a very active campaign role on behalf of the Illinois senator’s presidential candidacy.
This Saturday, Winfrey, who has transformed herself into a national institution, hosted the first-ever presidential fundraiser at her estate in Montecito, California near Santa Barbara. The event raised more than $3 million for Obama, who already holds a decided financial edge over Hillary Clinton. But it is Winfrey’s credibility as a personality, and clout as a marketer that is legendary. She has turned many books into best sellers. And her biggest edge is with women aged 25 to 55, which happens to be the core of Hillary Clinton’s electoral constituency.
On the Republican side, Senator McCain is again attempting to revive his Republican presidential campaign as national attention focuses on General Petraeus’s report on Iraq by staging a “No Surrender” tour of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. The tour will last from the 11th to the 17th. The “No Surrender Tour” brings Vietnam War hero McCain together with former POWs, Medal of Honor recipients, and other distinguished veterans to rally support for US troops and their mission in Iraq.
Iraq, and to a certain extent, Iran, are the focal points in presidential politics this week, distracted only by the continuing side show of sad Senator Larry Craig, who dithers about coming or going from his Senate seat, which impacts Republicans in obvious ways. Best advice: Go.
Meanwhile, the chaos which Democratic leaders have worked to avoid in their primary calendar appears to be contagious. While the Democrats are getting the rogue states back under control – getting the major candidates to agree not to campaign in them and stripping all delegates from them – in order to maintain the agreed upon early sequence of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina – the squabbles over the calendar are now dominating a less-resolved Republican Party.
On Tuesday, Bill Clinton will invade Obama’s home base of Chicago fundraising for wife Hillary. And we have Fred Thompson entering his first full week as an official candidate. He’ll be in South Carolina and Florida, among other places.
But the Middle East is still the key. Contrary to the predictions of some, former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been elected the new chairman of the Iran’s Assembly of Experts, the body of clerics which selects and oversees the nation’s supreme leader. This represents another blow to hardliners backing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Rafsanjani has done much business with America. He also heads two other key national councils. If America is viewed as still retaining strength in Iraq, it could hasten the negotiations between the US and Iran which have been underway to settle the situation there.
There are many angles to the forthcoming Iraq report. For one thing, there will likely be more than point of view on display, with various elements of the top military brass, which are less sanguine that Petraeus and President Bush, weighing in in one form or another along with Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. Petraeus, Bush’s handpicked choice as the theater commander, will appear exclusively on Fox News for a long interview after his testimony Monday. His choice of media outlet is perhaps not the best way to make the case that his report is not politically-tinged.
It’s ironic in that Petraeus had previously befriended Hillary Clinton as well. She sang his praises at his Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. Of course, her position on Iraq is continually evolving. As are the positions of most of the serious players in the debate.
William Bradley’s Pajamas Express blog is New West Notes