The following piece was produced through OffTheBus, a citizen journalism project hosted at the Huffington Post and launched in partnership with NewAssignment.Net. For more information, read Arianna Huffington's project introduction. If you'd like to join our blogging team, sign up here.
Nothing much happened this week.
The CIA admitted making a bunch of mistakes prior to 9/11, President Bush compared Iraq to Cambodia, and the latest National Intelligence Estimate was released. There was also a hurricane and some flooding.
A survey of press releases, blog entries, speeches, and videos posted on candidate websites from August 20th-24th shows what news sparked a reaction and, perhaps more importantly, what didn't (hint: the latter category is the bigger one).
It is certainly possible that candidates may have commented on breaking news stories during campaign stops. However, if they choose not to post statements on these issues on their official (or in Fred Thompson's case, absolutely NOT official) websites, observers are left wondering how much importance they place on these matters.
The news story that provoked the largest response was the release of the National Intelligence Estimate. Barack Obama put out a lengthy press release with a point by point plan for withdrawing from Iraq. Press releases from Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Chris Dodd stated that this was proof that the troop surge is not working and it's time for a change. John Edwards agreed and complained that Iraq Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki is doing a bad job. John McCain didn't comment on the NIE but did issue a statement about Clinton's statement that the surge is not working when earlier in the week she said it was working...sort of.
(Note to the Biden and Clinton camps: if you're going to issue a press statement from your Senate website, could you also post it on your campaign website? That would be very helpful. Thanks!)
The Bush speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars was the other major story that inspired reaction. Biden, Clinton, and Obama all checked in to disagree again with Bush's take on the troop escalation. Bill Richardson had issues with the Iraq-Vietnam comparison. Mike Gravel also found fault here, taking the opportunity to repost on his website a July entry discussing how the lengthy U.S. stay in Vietnam empowered a dangerous regime in Cambodia, not the troop withdrawal. Chris Dodd didn't weigh in on Bush's speech, but one of his staffers was annoyed enough by Bush's statement to Egyptian president Mubarak that they both were "dissidents" to post a blog entry about it (to sum up: Bush is no dissident! But neither is Chris Dodd. Because he brings people together).
The candidates who didn't comment on the breaking news stories of the week weren't completely quiet, though. They had other things on their mind. For instance, anything Hillary Clinton said. Like McCain, Edwards and Gravel complained that Clinton was trying to have it both ways. Dodd and Richardson disagreed with her statement that she was the best candidate to handle a terrorist attack. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney dropped in to issue a response to an Obama op-ed in which Obama stated that as president, he would be willing to meet with Fidel Castro and consider lifting sanctions on Cuba (you guessed it--Romney thinks this is a bad idea).
Sniping back and forth aside, some candidates chose to focus this week not on breaking news but on their own news. Did you know that last week was apparently, "Announce a Big Health Care Plan Week?" Clinton, Edwards, Rudolph Giuliani, and Mitt Romney all introduced their health care solutions and spent a lot of time trying to explain them while on their various tours around the country (don't worry, there's still time for you to put together your own health care plan).
Other matters of note for the candidates were the announcements of lots and lots of endorsements (Coolidge, AZ, mayor for Mitt Romney! Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim owner for Giuliani!) and the formation of committees and leadership councils in various states. In addition, Clinton, Edwards, and Obama were all really, really excited about the announcement that Local 226 Culinary Union had reached a settlement with the MGM Mirage hotel in Las Vegas (oh...they were all in Las Vegas. Perhaps there were worries about getting into a restaurant at the Mirage).
Non-candidate Fred Thompson reminisced about his time working in New York and how the gun laws there ruined the experience for him (question: if a candidate's non-official website offers downloadable official wallpaper, is it still non-official?). Mike Huckabee posted links to lots of articles about him and notes about upcoming media appearances. Ron Paul was excited about victories in straw polls in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Washington and Alabama.
(By the way, Paul and Huckabee's websites also noted their birthdays during the last week on 8/20 and 8/24, respectively. Happy birthday, candidates! Contributions,errrr, pleasant wishes are undoubtedly still welcome. John McCain's b-day is coming upon the 29th. His birthday wish list would likely include, "your support," read: "your money".)
Sam Brownback took some vacation time. Dennis Kucinich didn't make any statements (and wondered, undoubtedly, if anyone noticed).
All in all, a quiet week.
(Update: In reaction to the Gonzales resignation, as of Monday each Democratic candidate issued a statement. Not one of the Republican candidates posted a response. Not even a "Goodbye," "Best wishes," or, "It was nice working with you. Best of luck in your future ventures. It's my hope that our professional paths cross soon." That's cold.)
The above piece was produced through OffTheBus, a citizen journalism project hosted at the Huffington Post and launched in partnership with NewAssignment.Net. For more information, read Arianna Huffington's project introduction. If you'd like to join our blogging team, sign up here.