Hillary on Employer Mandates

She said she doesn’t think they’re realistic, but while her plan doesn’t mandate all employers provide health insurance, it does say “large employers will be expected to provide health insurance or contribute to the cost of coverage…” That’s what she means by “shared responsibility.”

Obama vs. McCain Preview

Says the “Straight Talk lost some wheels” because McCain learned to love the Bush tax cuts. Look for Team Romney to send around that clip to argue that McCain won’t be able to credibly defend making the Bush tax cuts permanent.

Dem Lovefest

Both candidates, it seems, want to come off as presidential, and are trying to avoid the nasty tone of the last debate (Obama says he expects to be friends with Hillary when the race is over, Hillary says their differences pale in comparison to “more of the same” Republicans.) They are playing it safe so far. Could make for a boring night.

Dem Debate

Getting ready for the Democratic debate. Given that it’s down to two candidates, a tight race, and 22 states are voting on Tuesday, it has a general election vibe.

Responding To Readers

In Reader Mail today, I draw a lot of heat from readers for my column in which I argued that John McCain, and to a lesser extent Mike Huckabee, have succeeded despite strong opposition from conservative leaders and opinion makers. The complaints seem to hinge on several misunderstandings that I should clarify.

Readers objected to my use of the term “elite conservatives,” which gave the impression that I meant that rank and file conservatives didn’t have legitimate gripes with McCain or Huckabee, but I don’t think that. I just mentioned “elites” because they are the ones who used thier platforms–be it TV, radio, blogs, email lists, etc.–to blast away at these two candidates.

Also, readers concluded that I was arguing that this was a positive development, but that really wasn’t my point. I was just making the objective observation that influencial conservatives threw everything but the kitchen sink at these guys, and yet they were able to succeed anyway, so I wonder whether future Republican candidate will decide that rather than trying to curry favor with all of these conservative groups, they should just take their case to the voters. I happen to think it’s a good thing for candidates to appeal to the Club for Growth or Americans for Tax Reform, because I tend to agree with those organizations.

Nonetheless, the hostility in the repsonse to my article reinforces the fact that even if he wins the nomination with pluralities, McCain will have a lot of work to do to win over disgruntled conservatives who can’t stand him. And there are some he just will never win over.

Closing Thoughts

I don’t think there was a big enough moment to change the race, but I agree that McCain should have bit his lip and kept his personal attacks on Romney’s wealth to himself. He’s the frontrunner, totally unnecessary. This was an opportunity for him to be above the fray and convince skeptics that he could be the leader of the party, but he had a hard time containing his animosity. With that said, I don’t think Romney accomplished enough to change the dynamics of the race.

The Mac-anator

Arnold Schwarzenegger is set to endorse McCain tomorrow, CNN now confirms. Will that provide a Crist-like boost in California, or has Schwarzenegger angered so many conservatives that his endorsement comes with baggage?

Issues vs. Character

That’s the choice that Romney and McCain just outlined in their answers on why Reagan would endorse them. Romney gives a list of issues that he says Reagan would agree with him on, while McCain talks about strength of conviction. This pretty much sums up the race between the two of them so far. McCain supporters may not agree with him on everything, but believe he is a man who says what he believes rather than what people want to hear. Romney supporters like him because they think he is the candidate who lines up with them the most on the issues.