It is funny to think that the Florida primary is finally here after tracking the state legislature's (and the governor's) activity so intensely last summer/fall. But here it is and there is no shortage of drama. The two man race between McCain and Romney on the Republican side is equaled to some degree by the intensity with which Democratic partisans within the state are participating despite the contest being essentially non-binding. Hillary Clinton is cutting it awfully close tonight; butting up against the DNC rules. When we spoke about the the DNC's decision to strip Florida of all its delegates and the rules regarding candidates campaigning there in the live discussion group, I think the consensus was that the viable Democratic candidates would start showing up there on January 30. Well, Clinton will be there as soon as the polls close for a rally. It is never too early to start thinking about the general election, I suppose.
I don't mean to give the GOP race in the Sunshine state short shrift (because the race couldn't be any tighter between Romney and McCain), but I have been and continue to be fascinated by how this Democratic race in Florida will play out (in the media and within the campaigns). Michigan was one thing: Clinton was the only "big name" on the ballot there, but the big three (or the big two and John Edwards) are all on the ballot in Florida. Clinton still maintains a comfortable lead in Florida.
While I'm passing out poll links, Real Clear Politics now has poll numbers for many of the Super Tuesday states (just click on the links on the left-hand sidebar).
I brought up the State of the Union in a post the other day and I tuned in last night to NBC's broadcast. Now, usually I'm a sucker for these things anyway, but last night I was intrigued by viewing the event through the lens of the current presidential race. Bush didn't mention the race but the coverage (both the shots panning the audience and the comments before and after the speech) were dripping with not so subliminal references.
A few things I noticed:
1) Who made the seating chart? And do the members of Congress have any say in where they sit? Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy were side by side following Kennedy's endorsement of the South Carolina primary winner. Also, with the above two questions in mind, what are we to make of Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden sitting next to each other? I'm going to have to look into this at some point. The answer may lie in committee assignments: members of certain committees sit together.
2) Who did Mitt Romney pay to get that cushy interview spot on NBC in between the speech's conclusion and Kathleen Sebelius' Democratic response?
3) Relatedly, where was John McCain? I'm sure he too was in Florida preparing for today's last minute blitz. That and the above Romney interview were curious though. And I say this knowing full well that he may have been on one of the other networks. Being somewhat cable deprived, I didn't have access to Fox News, MSNBC or CNN, but my scan of ABC and CBS found that both had already gone to commercial while the Romney interview was taking place.
4) Speaking of Democratic Kansas governor, Sebelius, I left really impressed after she delivered the Democratic response (Good if not better than the one given by Virginia governor Tim Kaine.). I was surprised by her inclusion in some of the VP speculation lists, but that talk seems warranted after last night's effort.
5) In case you missed it in the comments section yesterday, Rich Clark had some great poll data concerning state of union viewing habits. Be sure to check it out.
Now, I realize some people may be interested in the last part of the title to this post. It isn't everyday that parallels are drawn between the 40th president and the Fab Four. Hear me out though. This idea has been floating around in my head and I want to get it down on (virtual) paper. It has been argued that The Beatles affected all the popular music that came after them. Their various, eclectic phases spawned countless groups and artists who tried to emulate to some extent and expand upon any one of the musical ideas inherent in each phase. Well, how does Reagan fit into this? Is it me or is the Republican party, at least at the presidential level, not similar to this idea? Every GOP presidential candidate since Reagan left office in 1989 has tried to play up all of some of their strengths as a natural progression to the mark that Reagan left on the political world in Washington. Look at the top four candidates in the race for the Republican nomination. McCain could be viewed as the defense proponent. Romney plays the economic conservative and Huckabee the social conservative. Finally, Guiliani had ties to the Reagan administration (that he attempted to play up at last week's debate in Boca Raton). These aren't perfect matches, but it still makes for an interesting point of discussion. Is there any noticeable decay to the Reagan legacy on GOP presidential politics?
Finally, thanks to Paul Gurian (via Jill Rickershauser) for reminding me of the excellent article and multimedia map on the delegates at stake in both parties on February 5. I read that too early yesterday and illness intervened to distract me from posting it. Anyway the map is below and here is a link to the article. Good stuff.