The Filter: 1.23.08

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

CANDIDATE TURN ATTENTION TO GYRATING MARKETS
(Adam Nagourney, New York Times)

The weakened economy and the turmoil in financial markets have helped to cement a gradual shift in emphasis in the presidential campaign to domestic issues from national security, giving the candidates an opportunity on Tuesday to spotlight economic proposals and try to convince voters that they could handle a crisis. Even before the stock market opened the candidates were rolling out, or reintroducing, stimulus plans, speeches, television advertisements and statements that suggested how they would handle a situation like this. There were differences in what they were proposing — the Republicans pressed more for tax cuts for individuals and business; the Democrats called for increasing government spending — but the urgency of the response reflected a common calculation that the race for president had changed in a potentially fundamental way.

CLINTON NOW LOOKING BEYOND S.C.
(Anne E. Kornblut and Shailagh Murray, Washington Post) 

The next Democratic presidential nominating contest will take place in South Carolina on Saturday, but Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has already turned her full attention to places such as this: delegate-rich pockets of states that will vote in a tidal wave of primaries two weeks from now. Clinton has been focused on California, New York, New Jersey and Arkansas since her defeat in the Iowa caucuses earlier this month, betting that she can sweep states where her name recognition and popularity are strong. The logic seems simple: She represents New York in the Senate, and New Jersey is next door; she was the first lady of Arkansas for a decade; and California will be the biggest prize when 22 states vote on Feb. 5. But in a system that awards delegates by congressional district, with some worth more than others, the calculation is far from straightforward, and Clinton backers fear that the setup could boost Sen. Barack Obama if he fares well in populous corners of key states.

HOW CLINTON WILL WIN THE NOMINATION BY LOSING S.C.
(Dick Morris, The Hill) 

If Hillary loses South Carolina and the defeat serves to demonstrate Obama's ability to attract a bloc vote among black Democrats, the message will go out loud and clear to white voters that this is a racial fight. It's one thing for polls to show, as they now do, that Obama beats Hillary among African-Americans by better than 4-to-1 and Hillary carries whites by almost 2-to-1. But most people don't read the fine print on the polls. But if blacks deliver South Carolina to Obama, everybody will know that they are bloc-voting. That will trigger a massive white backlash against Obama and will drive white voters to Hillary Clinton.

IN SOUTH, DEMOCRATS' TACTICS MAY CHANGE POLITICAL GAME
(Christopher Cooper, Valerie Bauerlein and Corey Dade, Wall Street Journal)

The contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in South Carolina this Saturday is the next big test in the tight battle for the Democratic presidential nomination. In the long term, the showdown could also upend the way politics are practiced across the South.

HUCKABEE, SHORT ON CASH, CURTAIL EFFORT IN FLORIDA
(David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times)

As the Republican front-runners crisscross Florida — the race’s biggest prize yet and a state his campaign once considered essential — Mr. Huckabee is pulling back in the state. He told reporters that he did not plan to advertise in Florida, and his only campaign stops scheduled so far this week were token events at airports. To conserve cash, Ed Rollins, his top consultant, and a few other staff members have agreed to work without pay, and his campaign has stopped arranging transportation for the traveling press. 

SUNSHINE STATE PRIMARY TO TEST MCCAIN'S APPEAL TO CORE CONSERVATIVES
(Sasha Issenberg, Boston Globe)

Next Tuesday's Republican primary will be the first of the season open to only the party's registered voters, who have preferred a candidate other than McCain in each of the three states he has fully contested... Florida will be not only the largest state yet to vote - with a demographic diversity foreshadowing the range of states voting on Feb. 5 - but also the biggest test of McCain's appeal to a Republican Party he has never fully won over. McCain's victories this year have been the result of unusual coalition building, relying on voters drawn to his personal attributes. In South Carolina, McCain performed solidly among evangelical Christians, while overwhelmingly winning both Catholic and proabortion rights voters. Yet among the party's core conservatives, McCain has yet to show strength. In all states, the bulk of McCain's support comes from self-described liberals and moderates.

GOP CAN REVIVE CURBED ENTHUSIASM
(Gerald Seib, Wall Street Journal)

In the wake of Saturday's South Carolina primary -- a high-profile contest in a presidential campaign that seems to have captured the nation's fancy overall -- a clear pattern now has emerged: Republican voters simply aren't turning out in the numbers you would expect. ... While Sen. McCain -- who now appears to be the leading Republican contender -- still engenders doubts among social and economic conservatives, those doubts are offset by the fact that he has the ability to excite and pull into the party independents and wavering Republicans. Put another way, the real need for Republicans this year may be less to excite the traditional base than to expand it in the post-Bush era, and Sen. McCain might be capable of doing just that.

NO LONGER UP FOR THE ROLE OF PRESIDENT
(Michael D. Shear, Washington Post)

It was the image of Thompson as commander in chief -- a part he played in a movie -- that seemed so promising when he contemplated running for the White House last spring and summer. Instead, the campaign became roiled in staff disputes that centered on Thompson's wife, Jeri, and was dogged by assertions that Thompson did not have the desire or energy to mount an aggressive presidential campaign. That view was affirmed soon after Thompson entered the race in early September. He ignored some of the states with the earliest contests and campaigned sporadically in others.

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