The Filter: 1.21.08

A round-up of this morning's must-read stories.

THE NEWSWEEK ROSTER

IN THE SHADOW OF BUSH (Evan Thomas)
The president has left his party in a precarious state. But the GOP candidates running in the wake of his wreckage can learn much from his failures.

FISHING FOR A WAY TO CHANGE THE WORLD (Jacob Weisberg) 
Bush thought his father lacked a grand doctrine. His greatest failures have come from trying to craft one.

HOW MY PARTY LOST ITS WAY (Michael Gerson)
What caused the unraveling of the Republican Party? The president's former speechwriter explains.

HOMEWARD BOUND (Howard Fineman)
Which candidate has the right cards to ease Las Vegas's economic jitters?

CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
Getting elected may be the easy part. A sluggish economy. An ailing health-care system. An immigration mess. The next president's got issues. 

 

 
THE BEST OF THE REST

A SPLIT DECISION ON SUPER TUESDAY?
(Michael Duffy and Rani Molla, Time)

On February 5, primaries and caucuses in 21 states will award more than 1,000 delegates to the Republican National Convention — almost half of the amount needed to secure the nomination. But a four man field, in which each candidate has roughly the same momentum and factional strength (if not the same war chest), raises the distinct possibility that several candidates will split those delegates, postponing further the emergence of a frontrunner. And that means the GOP race could go on much longer than anyone imagined. It might even result in no candidate getting a majority of delegates when the primaries are over, a prospect that Republicans are starting to take very seriously.

 

REPUBLICAN FIELD RIDES FULL FORCE INTO FLORIDA TEST
(Adam Nagourney, New York Times)

In a rare moment of political consensus, all of the campaigns see the Jan. 29 primary in Florida, the fourth most populous state in the nation, as the most important contest on the calendar to date.. .

MORE: GOP Field Readies for True Test in Florida (Dan Balz, Washington Post)

FLORIDA: WHAT DO THEY NEED TO DO TO WIN?
(Marc Caputo, Miami Herald) 

Florida's Republican vote is like the nation's: split. And with so many divided loyalties and frontrunners, this is a race for less than 40 percent of the vote. All the candidates must now chase Florida's key demographic: voters older than 55, who account for about three-quarters of the Republican primary vote. They'll have to hold their own in the crucial Tampa-Orlando I-4 corridor (home to about half the votes). All of them -- especially Rudy Giuliani ---- will have to keep a foot in South Florida (about 25 percent of the vote). Each Florida front-runner has the following keys, strategies and challenges campaigning in the fourth-most populous state in the nation.

FLORIDA DO-OR-DIE FOR GIULIANI
(Joseph Curl, Washington Times)

Rudolph W. Giuliani, once the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, has finished last in five of the first six presidential-nomination contests and tumbled from the top of the national polls, a spot he held unchallenged for months. His response so far? Sit on the bench, collecting splinters. After skipping the first half-dozen primaries and caucuses, it's finally Game Day for the former New York City mayor, and he calls the next battleground — Florida — "our home field."... Turning somber, he added: "A loss, and a bad loss, could be crippling."

THIS TIME, MCCAIN DEFUSED CONSERVATIVE ATTACKS
(Julie Eilperin and Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post)
From Rush Limbaugh to Tom DeLay, voices that once held sway over the Republican rank and file unloaded on John McCain over the last week, trying to use a conservative electorate in South Carolina to derail the Arizona senator's quest for the Republican nomination. But though McCain failed to persuade many of the old Republican power brokers, he wrapped up the Republican establishment where it counted most, South Carolina. His win Saturday underscored how different McCain's campaign has been this year compared with eight years ago, when a similar conservative assault effectively ended his campaign here and handed his party's presidential nomination to George W. Bush.

MITT ROMNEY'S ECONOMIC RECORD QUESTIONED
(Jason Szep, Reuters) 

Republican Mitt Romney is touting his revival of the Massachusetts' economy in a pitch to voters in Florida, a state that could make or break his White House bid, but some experts dispute that record... Northeastern University economist Andrew Sum, who has researched Romney's record, said the state lagged the U.S. average during that period in job creation, economic growth and wage increases. "As a strict labor market economist looking at the record, Massachusetts did very poorly during the Romney years, he said. "On every measure you've got, the state was a substantial under-performer."

DEMOCRATS TURN ATTENTION TO SOUTH CAROLINA CONTEST
(Amy Chozick, Wall Street Journal)

With the dogfight in Nevada behind them, Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama prepared to battle it out in South Carolina while spreading their efforts to the nearly two dozen states that will hold primaries on Feb. 5.

SHUT OUT BY THE GOP, INDEPENDENTS MAY TILT DEMOCRATIC
(Richard C. Paddock, Los Angeles Times)

 Some political analysts -- including some Republicans -- say the California Republican Party blundered when it decided last year that only registered Republicans could vote in its presidential primary, unlike 2004. ... Not surprisingly, the Democratic Party is delighted at the prospect of attracting hundreds of thousands of independents to vote for one of its candidates next month. Democratic strategists believe that an independent who votes Democratic in February is likely to vote for a Democratic candidate in November too.

FOR CLINTON, GOVERNMENT AS ECONOMIC PROD
(David Leonhardt, New York Times)

In one of her most extensive interviews about how she would approach the economy, Mrs. Clinton laid out a view of economic policy that differed in some ways from that of her husband, Bill Clinton. Mr. Clinton campaigned on his centrist views, and as president, he championed deficit reduction and trade agreements.
Reflecting what her aides said were very different conditions today, Mrs. Clinton put her emphasis on issues like inequality and the role of institutions like government, rather than market forces, in addressing them.

AFTER HIS LOSS IN NEVADA, EDWARDS KEEPS MARCHING
(Julie Bosman, New York Times)

With Nevada behind him, Mr. Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina, is facing the South Carolina primary on Saturday, where he is trailing far behind in the polls. Even his closest advisers are acknowledging that he no longer expects to come in higher than third place, in the state where he was born and where his campaign had anticipated a strong showing. And one thing was obvious from Mr. Edwards’s performance in Nevada: the already-murky rationale for continuing his campaign had suddenly become much less clear.

MORE: Edwards: Dems Need Him to Face McCain (Jim Davenport, Associated Press) 

ON EVE OF KING HOLIDAY, RACE DOMINATES CAMPAIGN
(Jeff Zeleny, New York Times)

For nearly a year, as the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination wound through Iowa and New Hampshire, Mr. Obama has strived to run a race-neutral campaign. Yet this week, as the campaign converges on South Carolina, a new test is at hand for Mr. Obama: Can he draw significant support from African-Americans while maintaining the appeal of a candidate who seeks to transcend race?

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