THE BLOG
02/03/2007 09:52 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Live from DC, the Next President of the USA ...

Good morning from Washington DC - day 2 of the DNC winter meeting, otherwise known as opening weekend for the 2008 Presidential election. With 367 days until the February 5, 2008 projected super tuesday (and approximately 337 days until early voting in some states), most of my DNC colleagues - convention "super delegates" - are wide open, assessing the message, management, money and mobilization skills of the candidates.

NOTHING'S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS

We began the day with Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebellius, first woman head of the National Governor's Association (and, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Trinity College Alumna). She told us that in her home state of Kansas, "We have a school board back in the hands of moderates; we won a Congressional seat with Nancy Boyda; we are en route to more victories in 2008... There are 2 Republican parties - moderates and conservatives - we can bring in the moderates pushed out by extremists to our big tent of progressive ideas. My Democratic officeholders are former Republicans. Virginia Governor Tim Kaine's mom lives in Kansas, was a Republican, then an Independent and is no a registered Democrat. We invited the "What's the Matter with Kansas?" author to our inaugural to update his book." Sebellius quoted from a New York Times article "What's Right With Kansas," saying: "Kansas voters rebelled and the Kansas Democrats posted major gains." She concluded: "In the reddest of red states, we are on the way to turning blue!"

JOE BIDEN

"So .... how was your week?" Biden said he truly regretted that his words caused offense and was gratified that people were willing to "judge them by my history and my heart and for that I will be forever grateful to all of you."

Attacking the President's Iraq war conducted without an adequate plan for success or protection for our troops, Biden said: "Folks, we must stop this war!" "We need a plan ... separate the combatants and give them a way to move forward politically." Laying out his plan he concluded "draw down do not escalate American troops for that is the only way to force Iraqis leaders to make a political settlement. ... Make Iraq the world's problem not our problem. ... The President's surge ... is a tragic mistake and I will do everything in my power to stop it." Addressing Bush directly he said the opponents of the war are not emboldening the enemy: "That's the one mission you have accomplished."

Biden addressed domestic policy, stressing that Democrats emphasize with the hopes and concerns of the American people who want to be free from the "axis of oil" and stop global warming with an energy policy that will allow them to be able to afford to heat their homes and attend to their needs; the American people want health care they can afford and a future for their families.

BILL RICHARDSON

How do we succeed? 4 words: Elect a Democratic President. Every one of the candidates we have heard from will make a great Vice President. ... I am calling on all other Democratic candidates to run only a positive campaign and I further call on the DNC to pass a resolution demanding that. Most of America doesn't want to hear another political speech. They see enough politics on the evening news ... in the grim statistics of the war ... the war is mostly about politics and posturing and saving face." We need to "not just break through the voter cynicism but show that we are up to the job." The American people "need to know that we are standing up for them and that we can get the job done."

We made our prevailing wage a union wage, gave teachers a raise, cut taxes and rewarded work. Working on health care solutions. Equal access to an excellent education and equal access to health care - making great strides in New Mexico and we can do this across the country with "a Democratic mandate to lift this country up." New Mexico has a hate crimes bill extending protections to sexual orientation and health care to domestic partners. Mark Twain said everyone complains about the weather but no one does anything about it. In New Mexico we do something about it - we fight global warming: we follow Kyoto ... and promote renewable energy." We can be a clean energy country with "an Apollo program to reduce our dependency on foreign oil."

"We worked with Save Darfur Coalition for a fragile cease-fire. They wanted to know why the United States is waiting so long to do something. In the Middle East they want to know why ... we have no Middle East envoy. Iraq is not the disease; it's the symptom - arrogance is the disease." We did what we set out to do - rid the world of a brutal dictator and set up a new government. "It's time to our troops to leave with honor. A struggle where both sides hate the United States is not worth one more American life." The Congress needs to pass a resolution to overturn the authorizing resolution and "bring our troops home by the end of this year." America has a moral obligation to those Americans who have laid down their lives. These slain patriots would not want "a single additional life to be lost just to validate their own sacrifice. Instead the moral obligation is ... to end their mission."

MIKE GRAVEL

Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel who filibustered the draft and released the Pentagon Papers, appealed to "Democrats to take their message to "every nook and cranny" of America. Referencing his seniority, he said "If anyone brings up age in this campaign tell them Washington, DC need adult supervision!" Appearing with his wife and populist reformer "Granny D," he spoke to the values of "freedom fairness justice morality peace - concepts of our founders and the character of most Americans." Saying political calculations trumped morality in voting for war: "Anyone who voted for the war on October 11th based upon what President Bush said to them is not qualified to hold the office of President of the United States."

"No more politics as usual. I know how hard it is to oppose the majority of your peers - I ask you to hold the other candidates to the same standard. ... We made a grave mistake - we should have the courage to admit it - we should bring our troops home now." Calling for a "Constitutional confrontation" with George Bush, he said "Congress is our only hope to end this carnage before January 2009." Our country is "ruled by fear" which allows our political leaders to manipulate us and distort our priorities. Running through a list of concerns from health care to veterans to the environment t the US budget deficits and debt to China to the Gulf Coast poverty and "strains of racism" he said political leadership has failed.

TOM VILSAK

Iowa Governor Tom Vilsak: "I was a child left behind." Being left in a Catholic orphanage and turned over to an adoptive mom, he understands outsiders. Adopted mom was alcoholic who recovered; taught him that before hope comes courage to create change. "Running for President because we need the courage to create change in Iraq and across America." We have been "motivated by fear not by creating goodness."No family can live in fear. ...The American dream can never be revived by fear." Calling for "bold and courageous change" he proposed to "end No Child Left Behind as we know it; create not test takers but innovators in our classrooms; balance budgets and eliminate the deficit and 'birth tax,' move to an economy fueled by energy independence, and expand health care to cover more people.

On Iraq: "Real change is not withdrawal of troops someday but telling Iraqis today that they must take responsibility for their own government. Congress has a constitutional responsibility to do it now - not a cap but an end. Not in the future - now. Those who voted to go to war to fund the war can surely vote to stop the war."

Saying he had experience turning Iowa blue, he can win nationally. "We can have an economy with rights and privileges and jobs and an America that can lead the world. With the courage to change we can create an America that is no longer at war and is at peace."

AND THEY'RE OFF ....

With 10 Democratic Presidential candidates, a little more than 300 days till voting starts, and a wide open race, some of the contenders' words to take us into the campaign:

CHRIS DODD

"Frankly I am disappointed that we cannot do more than a nonbinding resolution. Last week I proposed a real bill with real teeth. Enough is enough."
"As father of a 5 year old and a 2 year old I am the only [Presidential] candidate who gets mail from AARP and diaper services

BARACK OBAMA

The "reality tv show" mentality fed by the 24-hour news cycle is "not why we are here."
Describing America as being in a "sobering place" Obama said this is "not a contest; it is a serious moment for America... Every candidate will have something serious and valuable to offer."

WES CLARK

"Years from now the Iraq War will be over and there will be a memorial to the fallen. But we must begin now building the only memorial that can match their sacrifice - a stronger, safer and more just America."

JOHN EDWARDS

Referencing Martin Luther King's 1967 Riverside Church speech opposing escalation in Vietnam with the words "silence is betrayal," Edwards said, "I believe it is a betrayal for us not to speak out against the escalation."

DENNIS KUCINICH

Saying he was the only candidate who "not only voted against the war; I voted against funding the war and have a plan to bring the troops home." He continued, "The war would not have been waged if I were President."

HILLARY CLINTON

"If I had been President in 2002 I would not have started this war" and pledged "If we do not stop this war before January 2009, then as President. I will."

JOE BIDEN

"So .... how was your week?" Biden said he truly regretted that his words caused offense and was gratified that people were willing to "judge them by my history and my heart and for that I will be forever grateful to all of you."
"Mr. President ... the opponents of the war are not emboldening the enemy ... That's the one mission you have accomplished."

BILL RICHARDSON

"I am calling on all other Democratic candidates to run only a positive campaign." Most of America doesn't want to hear another political speech. They see enough politics on the evening news ... in the grim statistics of the war ... the war is mostly about politics and posturing and saving face."

MIKE GRAVEL

"I know how hard it is to oppose the majority of your peers - I ask you to hold the other candidates to the same standard. ... We made a grave mistake - we should have the courage to admit it - we should bring our troops home now

TOM VILSAK

"I was a child left behind." "Congress has a constitutional responsibility to do it now - not a cap but an end. Not in the future - now. Those who voted to go to war to fund the war can surely vote to stop the war."

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