NDN Blog

Quick '08 Update

- Lots of articles are still being sifted through referencing last night's debate. Here's one article from the New York Times about how the G.O.P. candidates handled the immigration issue.

- Interesting follow: (via TPMCafé) an economic advisor to Mitt Romney's campaign, N. Gregory Mankiw, signed an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News in support of the immigration bill in the Senate. (It is also signed by Jeb Bush who recently coauthored an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal with Ken Mehlman.)

- Barack Obama gave a speech to the Annual Hampton University Ministers' Conference. More from the AP here.

- Fred Thompson's website is up at www.imwithfred.com.

- John Edwards' campaign released a very light video showing Joe Trippi and Jonathan Prince trying to bake a pecan pie, the recipe for which you receive if you contribute to Edwards' campaign before his birthday. Video is below:

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

Are we safer today?

In a story called Is U.S. Safer Since 9/11? Clinton and Rivals Spar, the Times has a good followup to what was an important discussion about our security in the Democrat debate Sunday night.

I have to admit that I am not sympathetic to Hillary's position. With DHS a mess, our military degraded, our standing in the world diminished, the Middle East in much greater turmoil than prior to 9/11, terrorism around the world on the rise, Bin Laden still on the loose, Iran moving towards nuclearization, our great ally Israel weakened, international institutions like the UN and the World Bank under assault, climate change ignored, Russia slipping back into an aggressive autocracy.....are we really safer today? Is America and the world really better off as a result of the Bush years?

This seems like a very good debate to have.

Univision proposes first-ever Spanish-language debates

This sure seems like a good idea.  We hope all the candidates, of both parties, agree. 

From the LA Times this am:

Univision proposes Spanish-language presidential debates: the network, which has more viewers than CNN or Fox News, says a mass audience of Latino voters would be a draw for candidates.

By Peter Wallsten
Times Staff Writer

June 6, 2007

WASHINGTON — Univision, the country's highest-rated Spanish-language television network and a leading draw for young adult viewers, has invited White House hopefuls from both major parties to participate in the first presidential candidate debates to be conducted entirely in Spanish.

The network has proposed two debates, one for each party, to be held on back-to-back Sundays in September — giving the candidates unprecedented exposure to a mass audience of increasingly important Latino voters.

The debates, to be held in immigrant-rich Miami, would probably focus on the battle over legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants.

The Democratic candidates tend to back legalization. But the Univision debate could exacerbate a split over the issue among the GOP contenders, further highlighting a divide that party strategists fear might alienate Latino voters, a fast-growing electorate.

On Monday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a backer of the legalization measure now before the Senate, used a speech before a mostly Latino audience in Miami to challenge one of his chief rivals, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has opposed the plan as being soft on illegal immigrants.

Moreover, the Spanish-language aspect of the debate could prove particularly awkward for the Republican field, where all candidates except McCain favor making English the official language of the United States. (On the Democratic side, longshot Mike Gravel, a former senator from Alaska, is the only candidate who supports that proposal.)

It was not clear Tuesday whether the campaigns on either side would accept Univision's proposal. Officials from several campaigns, deluged with debate proposals from interest groups and media, said they would consider the invitation.

Network officials said they thought the size and importance of the audience would make it difficult for candidates to decline.

Univision is the fifth-most viewed network in the country, behind the major broadcast networks but ahead of English-language cable-TV channels such as CNN, Fox News and MSNBC that have broadcast their own debates. It sometimes beats the broadcast networks in the coveted 18 to 34 age group.

"Many of the issues being discussed in this election season are of particular interest to the Hispanic community," Univision Chief Executive Joe Uva wrote in a letter to the candidates that was also signed by University of Miami President Donna Shalala, a former Clinton administration Cabinet official on whose campus the debates would be held. "Consequently, we have seen a sharp increase in the number of citizenship applications and voter registrations which we believe will further accelerate the growth of the Hispanic electorate."

The letter argues that Latino voters could prove decisive in key early primaries — including California's and Florida's — in addition to deciding the general election in states such as New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.

The precise format has not been decided. But simultaneous translation would be provided to the candidates and the audience. Of the 18 declared candidates on both sides, only two — both Democrats — are known to be fluent in Spanish: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd.

The candidates would take questions for 90 minutes from Univision's evening news anchors, Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas, who have devoted much of their airtime in recent months to the immigration issue. Their coverage is credited with encouraging thousands of Latinos to attend mass demonstrations protesting a push last year by congressional Republicans to make illegal immigration a felony.

For Univision, the debates would mark a rare foray into presidential politics.

NDN is moving into a new home here in DC

I am excited to share with you that over the next month NDN and our affiliates will be moving in to an exciting new headquarters here in Washington, DC.   It is located in an historic part of town, just across from the Department of Treasury, and down the street from the White House.  But most importantly it has a wonderful event space where we plan on doing the public events, discussions, dinners and gatherings you have come to expect from NDN.

In many ways this new place will be NDN’s first real home, a comfortable place that I think over time will become a true physical hub for our dynamic community, and I hope for the broader progressive movement as well.   We also got a good deal on it, so it isn't going to break the bank.

Our phone, fax, email and web site will remain the same, but please update your records and begin using immediately our new address:

NDN

729 15th St, NW - 2nd Floor

Washington, DC 20005

And I look forward to seeing you at the new NDN very soon!

Quick '08 Update

(An emphasis on quick...more to come later)

- Don't forget to watch/record tonight's debate.

- Barack Obama defended his health care plan in a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe and further defined his stance on America's security post-9/11.

- If you missed CNN's discussion on Faith and Politics, check out highlights here.

- The WSJ Blog takes a perspective on one of Al Gore's recent speeches, showing how he is keen to point out how he'd run the show.

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

Coming to terms with the Middle East of today

Two stories today reinforce our assertion that a new post-Iraq War dynamic is emerging in the Middle East, one that will require a much broader and long-term strategy than is currently being offered by our political leadership. 

The first comes from the Post, "As crises build, Lebanon fearful of a failed state."  The second is in the Times, and details Pakistan's worsening political crisis.  On a positive note, there seems to be consensus that the Taliban's "spring offensive" has panned, giving that struggling nation a little more breathing room this year.   

DVR Alert: CNN discussion on Faith and Politics

Just a reminder for those with DVRs to record tonight's CNN discussion on Faith and Politics.

Quick '08 Update

As the coverage from last night's Democratic candidate debate rolls in (check Simon's post for a quick re-cap), here are a few other articles to fill your Monday:

- Barack Obama launched a Faith-oriented section of his website entitled "People of Faith for Barack."

- The New York Times profiles Mitt Romney's business experience as well as Michael Bloomberg's reputation with gun rights advocates.

- John McCain is speaking today in Coral Gables, FL on comprehensive immigration reform. Read the speech.

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

A call to action: let's pass immigration reform this week

This is a make or break week for immigration reform in the Senate.   The Washington Post this am has a fair scene setter, Backers of Immigration Bill More Optimistic, that includes a good rundown of potential amendments - some designed of course to kill the bill. 

Both the Post and the Times have lede editorials on immigration this morning, and the Times had yet another story yesterday about how the immigration debate is ripping the GOP apart (going to be interesting to watch this part of the GOP debate tomorrow night). 

My friends, this is it.  As we wrote recently, we have a come a long way since a bill passed the House in late 2005 calling for the arrest and deportation of all undocumented immigrants in America.  A Times poll from 10 days ago show 2/3rds support for all the major elements of the bill, including offering the undocumenteds a path to citizenship.  A deep and broad coalition supports this new bill, including the Catholic Church, the Chamber of Commerce, important labor unions and many immigrant rights groups.  Leading politicians of both parties have worked hard to pass immigration reform, including the President, John McCain, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.  Fear, uncertainty, anger have been overcome.   

I hope everyone in the NDN community will take a simple action today: call your two US Senators and tell them you want them to work hard this week to pass the Kennedy-Kyl bill. 

You can mention that you believe this final bill needs to do three things: 1) crack down on the border and in the workplace; 2) deal sensibly with the flow of future workers; and 3) offer a reasonable path to legal status and citizenship to those already here.  For good measure you can add that you find the new point system for future immigrants unwise; that you are concerned that that the 200,000 workers a year in the guest worker program need a path to citizenship; that the "touchback" provision that requires those with the new "z" visa to return to their home countries to apply for a green card should go; and INS needs the financial, management and political support required to deal with what will be a massive management challenge for a less than optimal agency. 

Friends, we have spent millions of dollars, conducted hundreds of briefings, written way too many emails and blogposts, lobbied policy makers big and small, conducted detailed polling and worked this issue hard with national reporters.  Our community has played a very significant role in recognizing the importance of this issue, and helping get this close to a good deal.  We must work hard this week to make sure we do not miss this historic opportunity to fix our broken immigration system, and demonstate to the American people that with new leaders Washington can and will tackle the most important challenges facing the nation today. 

For more on NDN's work on immigration reform, click here.  

A quick reaction to the Democratic Debate

I saw about three-quarters of it (had to help put my kids to bed).  Some initial thoughts:

- Sure looked like a group of smart people trying to figure out the right path for the nation.  And it is clear that the Democrats know that actually being the next President is going to be very hard.  They are really trying to get to the heart of matter on most of the big issues, which perhaps made this debate seem less canned and political than previous ones. 

I really enjoyed the way, at times, the candidates refered to one another and talked about how they could work with them, etc.  It often felt like even though they may have disagreed on certain matters, they were all on the same team.  I thought Clinton and Obama were especially effective at this, and were very respectful of their peers.  One of the things the candidates are clearly picking up so far from voters is that after the disapointment and deceit of the Bush era they are looking for real answers and a real leader.  Folks want to have an honest and respectful discussion about their future. 

- In keeping with this last thought I thought the regular folks in the audience asked much better questions than the journalists.  It was amazing how thoughtful their questions were, how concise and understandable and germane, and how respectful the people were of the folks on the stage.   It was refreshing to watch, and the candidates seemed to really seemed to work hard to be respectful back and actually answer the questions.

- It still feels early.  It is only June, and it felt like it tonight.  

- CNN may have stumbled on to an important precedent tonight.  Their rule that the candidates had to answer the question asked, and could not talk about any other issue - or risk being cut off - helped keep the conversation more substantive.  I hope all future debates follow that rule.   All in all I thought the length - 2 hours - and novel format made this one much substantive and less scripted than usual.  CNN deserves credit for improving on the form, though the two other non-Wolf journalists seemed to be an afterthought

- Did it seem like Wolk kept cutting Richardson off? Or was that my New Mexico sympathies playing out?

- Why was Lou Dodds allowed to play a major role in the coverage tonight?  Is CNN unaware of how offensive he is to many Democrats?

All in all it was a good night for our democracy.  We desperately need more open forums like this, where there can be honest, forthright discussion of the big issues facing the nation.  CNN and the candidates did a good job.  It will be interesting to see how it contrasts with the Republicans Tuesday night. 

Be interested in hearing from you.

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