CFR Presents

Campaign 2008

The Candidates and the World

Morning Update: Dodd on Iraq Spending

by campaign2008 Thursday, August 30, 2007

Democratic candidate Chris Dodd said he would refuse to support another “blank check” for supplemental spending for the Iraq war. “I’ll do whatever I can to support whatever our troops need to have a safe and secure withdrawal from Iraq ,” Dodd said. “But I don’t intend to continue to fund the war over there that I think has no end.”

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Storms and Security

by Robert McMahon, Editor CFR.org Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Today’s Hurricane Katrina anniversary offers obvious red meat for Democratic presidential candidates seeking to assert their competency in homeland security matters. John Edwards probably had the week’s best punch line, championing a policy he called “Brownie’s Law,” that would require “demonstrated qualifications” of senior political appointees, a dig at Katrina-era FEMA chief Michael Brown. This week’s Katrina-inspired speeches, including a criticism of the federal bureaucracy by Republican Mike Huckabee, range from the sincere to the politically opportunistic. But the anniversary still provides a welcome chance to discuss a neglected issue on the campaign trail. A number of candidates have been vocal on how homeland security allocates terror funds but don’t dwell too much on the nuts-and-bolts infrastructure issues that underpin a healthy homeland in both stormy and good weather. Joel Kotkin has the week’s must-read op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the issue of declining U.S. infrastructure. He notes many regional planners are fixated on sports arenas and convention centers while ignoring what he calls the “sinews of commerce and communication — bridges, tunnels, roads, rail lines, ports, sewers, and drainage systems.” If candidates want to prove their worth on storm response, they should prepare for a new round of speeches in just a few weeks to mark the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Rita, less potent than Katrina, but still able to create staggering gridlock in Houston, the country’s fourth-largest city. Or they could follow up on New York City’s emergency communications system after the city’s subway system was paralyzed by heavy rain and the transit authority had no effective way of getting information to commuters. There were pronouncements about infrastructure after the early August bridge tragedy in Minneapolis but these incidents tend to retreat into local issues after a few months. So Katrina’s anniversary offers another shot at sustaining a dialogue on the country’s preparedness for storms and other disasters. A looming hurricane season may keep the issue in the forefront.

Morning Update: Castro on Clinton-Obama

by campaign2008 Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Cuban President Fidel Castro discusses the Democratic candidates in a column in Granma. He refers to the “seemingly invincible” ticket of Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, but writes: “both of them feel the sacred duty of demanding ‘a democratic government in Cuba.’ They are not making politics: they are playing a game of cards on a Sunday afternoon.”

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Morning Update: Iraqi PM Clinton Critique

by campaign2008 Monday, August 27, 2007

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki responded sharply to resignation calls (Newsday) by Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin, saying “they should come to their senses.” Clinton also raised eyebrows (BosGlobe) over the weekend after her comments that another terrorist attack would “automatically give the Republicans an advantage” in the 2008 election. Tpmcafe lists the other Democrats’ responses to that statement.

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Troop Pullout Perils

by campaign2008 Friday, August 24, 2007

The National Intelligence Estimate cited above includes implicit criticism of proposals by leading Democratic presidential contenders to draw down troops from Iraq, notes U.S. News and World Report in its political roundup today. The estimate says withdrawals could undo the gains of the military surge and lead to chaotic conditions.

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GOP Immigration Dilemma

by Robert McMahon, Editor CFR.org Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Democratic presidential hopefuls have recently intensified efforts to prove their national security chops, ranging from how to militarily leave Iraq to entering Pakistan in pursuit of al-Qaeda. Among the Republican contenders, the sharpest barbs of late have come over immigration policy. Some analysts trace Sen. John McCain’s nosedive in the polls to his steady support for ultimately doomed reform legislation that included a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. Rudy Giuliani called the measure a “mess” and Mitt Romney decried the “amnesty” it provided illegal aliens. Sensing unrest in the party’s base, Romney and Giuliani are trying to out-tough each other on the measures they would take to combat illegal immigration. Giuliani earlier this month reiterated his call for hundreds of miles of real and technological fencing at the Mexican border as well as ID cards for all foreign nationals entering the country. Romney is now going after Giuliani for running a “sanctuary” for illegal immigrants while mayor of New York because he didn’t enforce immigration law. But the debate poses practical problems for Republicans. Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times looks at the implications of a no-holds barred approach to seeking out illegal immigrants: Read more »

Morning Update: Democrats Acknowledge Surge Progress

by campaign2008 Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Washington Post’s “The Trail” blog notes that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have both recently acknowledged progress in Iraq. Clinton said the surge is working in Al Anbar province, and Obama said that the increase in troops in Baghdad has been able to “quell some of the violence in the short term.” Both continue to insist that there is no military solution in Iraq, however.

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