Weekend open thread with GOP debate schedule in Iowa

The Republican Party of Iowa’s move to set the Iowa caucuses for Tuesday, January 3, cleared the way for news organizations to decide when and where to hold the last few presidential debates in Iowa. Invited candidates will debate three times in nine days during mid-December. Details on dates, locations and sponsoring organizations are after the jump. Because more than two weeks of holiday season festivities will separate these debates from the Iowa caucuses, a strong performance or gaffe may not be make or break for the presidential hopefuls.

This is an open thread. What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers?

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Sarah Palin is funnier than Saturday Night Live

By now we’ve had a month to be scared by Sarah Palin’s ignorance and unpreparedness for the vice presidency. For instance, did you know that this person who could be appointing Supreme Court judges as early as next year is unable to name a single Supreme Court ruling other than Roe v Wade?

Fortunately, Palin provides some comic relief from time to time. I’m not talking about Tina Fey’s impressions on Saturday Night Live, I’m talking about the unintentional comedy that emerges when Palin goes off script.

Here’s Palin answering Katie Couric’s question about which newspapers or magazines she has read regularly in the past (hat tip to Hilzoy at the Political Animal blog):

Comedy gold. The Saturday Night Live writing team couldn’t top that.

Steve Benen, who also blogs at Political Animal, highlighted this gem. Apparently Palin got a big laugh from a Republican crowd in Ohio by saying that she’s been hearing about Joe Biden’s speeches since she was in the second grade. After the event, this exchange between Couric and Palin took place:

   Couric: You made a funny comment, you’ve said you have been listening to Joe Biden’s speeches since you were in second grade.

   Palin: It’s been since like ’72, yah.

   Couric: You have a 72-year-old running mate, is that kind of a risky thing to say, insinuating that Joe Biden’s been around awhile?

   Palin: Oh no, it’s nothing negative at all. He’s got a lot of experience and just stating the fact there, that we’ve been hearing his speeches for all these years. So he’s got a tremendous amount of experience and, you know, I’m the new energy, the new face, the new ideas and he’s got the experience based on many many years in the Senate and voters are gonna have a choice there of what it is that they want in these next four years.

Benen points out the obvious:

New energy and new ideas vs. many years in the Senate. Voters, Palin said, are going to have to choose between the two.

She is aware of the dynamic surrounding the two presidential candidates, isn’t she?

I always thought Palin was a poor choice of running mate for McCain, but she is turning out to be even worse than I expected.

By the way, Democracy for America is organizing debate-watching parties for the Palin-Biden matchup tomorrow night. Click here to find one in your area.

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ABC News/Facebook/WMUR New Hampshire Democratic Debate Winners and Losers

Winners

  • John Edwards: Stayed strong and on message.  Sided with Obama as a candidate for change, and put Clinton on the spot as the status quo candidate.  He came off as articulate, clear, and as the viable alternative to a non-confrontational unity politician like Barack Obama.
  • Bill Richardson: Didn’t do anything good, didn’t do anything bad.  His one big flop was calling Russia the Soviet Union.  But he’s tired, just like the rest of the candidates.  He’s not going to be the nominee, but he isn’t going to be left out of the race.  He’s clearly making the case as an experienced vice presidential candidate.
  • The people of New Hampshire: Compared to the Republican debate, the second half of the Democratic debate was quite engaging on the issues, on the race, and on substance.  Clearly, there is a push for new policies and ideas in the Democratic party.  We want real leaders who will talk clearly and our Democratic candidates are willing to do that.  While looking exhausted when not answering, they were engaged when the camera was on them.  New Hampshire has a tough choice ahead of them.
  • Barack Obama: He didn’t shine like he could’ve as the front-runner, but Gibson made sure he got the first and last word.  He seemed more tired and lackluster than he is on the stump, but that seems to have been the case for most of the debates he has been in.

Losers

  • Hillary Clinton: Her angry moment sure didn’t help her (though it is quite clear she has the energy and is quite committed to the race) and Edwards’ double-team with Obama against definitely portrayed her as the third wheel of a two-person race.  She’s falling fast in New Hampshire and needs to dump Mark Penn.
  • The Republicans: After watching most of their debate, I can’t see how American or folks in New Hampshire would want their old grumpy grandpa or their sleazy corporate boss as president.  Huckabee’s the only one who looked presidential but his policy offerings have largely been substance-less.  Bill Clinton had the advantage of being an intellectual and Rhodes Scholar to overcome the fact that he was really only the governor of Arkansas.  Huckabee doesn’t have that advantage.
  • Charlie Gibson (And his NH counterpart): Maybe it was just me, but his cynicism towards the Democrats in general seemed to make him look just as grumpy and frumpy as most of the Republicans in the hour and a half before the Democrats.  I’m glad they challenged the Democrats but it seemed a bit harsh and a bit more than needed.

Feel free to call me out on these and offer your own thoughts and reactions.  We all know I can be wrong from time to time.  And if you’re curious, Time’s Mark Halperin offers his grades of the candidates here.

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ABC News/Facebook/WMUR New Hampshire Democratic Debate Open Thread

Update: The liveblog and commentary is in the comments section.  Go there, participate.

I’ll be offering some of my commentary on tonight’s debate here at BH either here on the front-page or in the comments.  Feel free to drop in comments whenever  you please and share your thoughts.

Right now the Democrats and Republicans are on stage for a huge photo op.  Interesting image…

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DMR Debate Talk Clock & View into Dodd HQ

Today's Des Moines Register Democratic Presidential debate, as usual, will be clocked by the Dodd campaign. Here's the famed Talk Clock:

You can get the embed code to put the Talk Clock on your blog here.

Live from Dodd HQ (warning: no sound):

This is a view inside the Internet office – where the clocking takes place, as well as our other Dodd-related interactions in Teh Tubez.

 We're looking forward to this debate and once again expect Chris Dodd to stand out as the best candidate for the Presidency.

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Have You Read the Headlines?

Have you seen the headlines?

The squabble to be first in deciding the nation’s fate is intensifying. Early states are cleverly inching their primaries in a race to secure voting influence for their citizens. By the end of February, we’ll know who the presidential finalists are before more than half the nation gets a chance to vote, let alone meet the candidates. Sound Fair?

Check out the primary schedule.

The heavily frontloaded primary schedule does all of America a disservice. Leaving the power to decide who the next president of the America can be to a handful of people is just not right. The demographic make up of all the early primary state, even combined, does not accurately represent the American population. For instance, isn’t New Hampshire the third wealthiest state in the nation?

With less than a month left, there seems like there’s no hope. The Washington Post reports that the American people are being tempted by pessimism, and are losing faith in our political system. But, not to fear.

Register to host a caucus at www.nationalcaucus.com and get involved.

It seems like there’s no hope but to accept the circumstances. However, I came across this website, the National Presidential Caucus, that looks to give voters a fair chance to voice their opinions before the primaries kick off. It’s not a national primary or anything like that, don’t let the name mislead you.

Here’s how it works:

1) Post your caucus online

2) Meet offline with some friends, neighbors, whomever to discuss candidates and issues

3) Post your results from your discussions online

It’s as simple as that. It’s really just an effort to encourage and empower civic engagement and voter opinions. So why not…

How can we claim to go across seas to build a democracy, when our own political system at home is suffering? Get involved. sign up to host a caucus in your neighborhood today.

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