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    Success of ‘going negative’ changes campaign strategies
    [ # ] An Evening with Charlie Cook
    February 22nd, 2007 under Programs/Events


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    Local Coverage from By Steve Vockrodt - Lawrence Journal World

    It’s not often that Sen. Hillary Clinton is compared to Richard Nixon.

    Yet, Charlie Cook, publisher of The Cook Political Report, an independent, nonpartisan newsletter, and a political prognosticator, said that Clinton’s campaign for the 2008 presidency will strongly resemble Nixon’s campaign in 1972 in terms of discipline, preparedness and rigor.

    “Nothing comes out of her mouth that isn’t poll tested, focus-group tested … have a billion IQ points behind it,” Cook told a crowd of about 250 people on Wednesday evening at the Dole Institute of Politics.

    Cook, who has dozens of network media appearances to his credit, came to the Dole Institute for the first time for a question-and-answer session called “An Evening With Charlie Cook: Handicapping the 2008 Presidential Campaign.”

    What Cook’s comparison means for Clinton is that, at this point, she’s the one to beat for the Democratic nomination.

    “Her numbers have moved up, and the question is, can anyone stop her?” Cook said. “I think she’s going to be hard to beat.”

    Editor and Publisher Charlie Cook analyzes presidential elections and national political trends for the report.

    House Races - www.cookpolitical.com/races/house/default.php
    Senate Races - www.cookpolitical.com/races/senate/default.php
    Charlie Cook’s National Overview - www.cookpolitical.com/overview/default.php
    The GOP’s Troubled Brand - www.cookpolitical.com/column/default.php

    The other big-name Democrats, U.S. Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois and John Edwards of North Carolina, face difficult challenges in seeking the nomination, but are in no way out of the running, Cook said.

    Cook said he wasn’t sure Obama could handle a contentious race, given that he hasn’t faced staunch opposition in his Senate race.

    “How do you know how he’s going to do in a tough campaign if no one has ever laid a glove on him?” Cook said. “Can he win a really tough race? I don’t know.”

    Edwards, on the other hand, experienced an election wringer in 2004 as John Kerry’s running mate for president.

    What Edwards lacks is a true image as a presidential contender, Cook said.

    “He’s battle tested, but I don’t know that anyone looks at him and says, ‘Wow, there’s a president,’” Cook said.

    The picture is less clear among Republican candidates for the nomination.

    The two front-runners, in Cook’s mind, are former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

    Cook forecast issues with McCain’s age; he would be 72 by the time he was sworn in. Ronald Reagan was the oldest elected president at 69.

    Romney, Cook said, makes an interesting candidate for a nomination because he hasn’t served in Washington, D.C.

    “The question is, does he get tripped up on his faith?” Cook said of Romney, who is a Mormon.

    Cook took questions from Bill Lacy, Dole Institute director, and Steven Jacques, Dole Institute senior fellow, and then answered questions from the crowd.

    One question came from Richard League, a Lawrence resident, who wanted to know what sorts of surprises could come late in the election cycle, such as the ballot controversies that turned up in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.

    Cook said that not enough money gets spent on elections in the United States to ensure the technology and expertise will provide accurate vote counts.

    “If we’re going to expect accurate counts, we should spend the money,” Cook said.

    That answer was good enough for League, who said he enjoyed the discussion from the front row.

    “I’ve seen a lot of people come through this place, and he’s among the tops,” League said. “And he doesn’t have a vested interest.”

    After an evening of listening to Cook’s predictions, League had a couple of his own for the 2008 election.

    He thought it might be Clinton versus Romney.

    “As far as their running mates,” League said, “it’s anyone’s guess.”



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