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Vilsack slipping in Iowa?

Well, ARG has a new Iowa (and New Hampshire) poll out on the 2008 presidential candidates. Remember that their December poll was not consistent with other polls on the Democratic side, presumably because of a different definition of “likely caucus goer.” With the ARG criteria, the Iowa likely caucus goers had Clinton on top in December, like the likely primary voters in other states and nationally, while other pollsters had Edwards on top for likely Iowa caucus goers. With that caveat, it is interesting to see the trends after Obama’s announcement and Clinton’s visit to Iowa. There may be further movement with Obama’s visit to Iowa next week.

ARG, phone interviews of 600 likely Iowa caucus goers, Jan 29 – Feb 1, 07 (Dec. 06), +/- 4%

Clinton 35 (31)

Edwards 18 (20)

Obama  14 (10)

Vilsack 12 (17)

Biden, Clark, and Kucinich had 2% each, and Richardson and Dodd had 1%. 13% were undecided.

There is a gender bias, with 39% of the Iowa women surveyed supporting Clinton, and 30% of the men surveyed supporting Clinton. If only previous caucus goers were counted, Clinton had 29% and Edwards had 25%.

Not a huge change from December, but Clinton and Obama did move up some, and Edwards and Vilsack dropped some. For all of his efforts, Vilsack is going in the wrong direction in his home state. It isn’t just slow recognition of the their governor as presidential material, because Richardson comes out on top with 28% among 2008 candidates in New Mexico.

Identifying likely caucus goers at this stage is a crap shoot, but the trends are interesting.

Does Vilsack have a chance of winning the Iowa caucuses?

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Grassley and Abramoff sitting in a tree

( - promoted by Drew Miller)

The Washingtonian has an interesting article written by Kim Eisler about his old friend Jack Abramoff, with a lot of interesting inside information and quotes from the convicted felon:

Of Iowa senator Charles Grassley, chair of the Senate Finance committee, who had been critical of Abramoff, Jack said: “You can say you have a good source that Grassley not only carried my water on the Bear Council issue [a fight over tribal recognition in Grassley’s state] and received a ton of contributions in return, but he also did one of the biggest asks from Abramoff ever, taking Tyco out of the tax bill… . They would have been hit with a $4-billion tax bill.”

Last year, the Sioux City Journal reported that Senator “Aw Shucks” and the rest of the Republican delegation were tied in well with Abramoff:

According to Federal Elections Commission documents, Grassley received a $1,000 campaign contribution from Abramoff in March 2003.

Abramoff also gave $5,000 to the Hawkeye PAC, which Grassley uses to raise money for other House and Senate candidates.

The Meskwaki, Choctaw and Saginaw Chippewa tribes gave $13,000. Another $3,500 came from co-workers at Abramoff’s lobbying firm.

Recipients of Hawkeye PAC funds included Reps. Nussle, Tom Latham and Steve King, who got $10,000 each in 2004.

Des Moines lawyer Stan Thompson, who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, for a second time in 2004, received $15,000 from the PAC.

Latham gave the $1000 he received directly from Abramoff to charity (whatever that means), but Grassley stubbornly refused.

Do you think the Iowa press will follow up on this story? I don’t either. But it would be nice if some embarrassment in the press and the prospect of riding out the rest of his career in the minority would encourage Grassley to hang it up in 2010. I would love to see him hop on his lawn movers and head west, back home, into the sunset.

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Talking to Hillary about her hawkish image

( - promoted by Drew Miller)

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s biggest challenge in Iowa may be the Iraq War and her reputation as a hawk. She tries to dodge the single most important issue in the 2008 race; she knows it is her Achilles heel. When asked at the IDP Central Committee meeting this morning, she almost apologized for her 2002 vote authorizing Bush to use force against Iraq. Almost. She said she takes “responsibility” for the vote and said she would not have voted that way had she’d known what she does now. But she added that there are no “do-overs” in life, and we need to discuss what to do now.

It was just dumb luck that I got to have a personal, 5-minute conversation with Hillary. I just happened to be by the coffee machine as she was exiting the building, and I struck up a conversation over her hawkish reputation as she shook my hand. To tell you the truth, I was surprised at how personable she is in conversation, unhurried and very at ease (I think JoDee Winterhof is not yet confident enough with Hillary to pull her away from worthless conversations with party activists like me).

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