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In the Running

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Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races




Sunday, November 4, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Sequel or new franchise? It’s still in development
It’s a political thriller, with a cliffhanger ending. And if Hollywood movie-makers embrace Campaign 2012, here are our cast picks, based solely on looks:
Top billing Stand-ins and partners

Denzel Washington (in a new film, Flight) as Barack Obama

Alec Baldwin (who’s considered running for New York mayor) as Mitt Romney

Viola Davis (of the film The Help) as Michelle Obama

Kristin Chenoweth (a Broadway and TV star) as Ann Romney

Jack Nicholson (who played a movie president) as Joe Biden

Matthew Morrison (of TV’s Glee) as Paul Ryan

The also-rans
Jerry Seinfeld (no joke) as Rick Santorum

Script advisers
Dan Aykroyd as Obama political aide David Axelrod

Chief backers, 2016 hopefuls?
John Larroquette (a boorish prosecutor on Night Court) as Bill Clinton

Josh Brolin (who played a Texan as president) as Rick Perry

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Romney political aide Eric Fehrnstrom

Christine Baranski (of The Good Wife) as Hillary Rodham Clinton

Danny Pudi (of Community) as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

Jack Black (except for the hair) as Newt Gingrich

Julie Bowen (of Modern Family) as Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter

Jim Parsons (of The Big Bang Theory) as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio

Billy Gardell (comic in Mike & Molly) as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

The Dallas Morning News



Sunday, October 28, 2012


In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Cloudy forecast for Nov. 6
Who’ll win? Astrologers have no earthly idea; 8 Ball shaky
Austin Bureau [email protected]

Since 1900, the tallest candidate has won — except for the eight times they didn’t (including Al Gore in 2000). At 6-1½, Romney stands just a half-inch taller than Obama, which could be the most important digit of his political life. But before throngs of tweeps tweet “he won by almost an inch,” the major party candidates may have some competition in the Constitution Party’s nominee, Virgil Goode, who looks pretty tall from photos. He’s also from Virginia (see “Ohio” for why this is important). 8-Ball: Signs point to Romney

cember 2006, his approval rating was at 39 percent, but that’s like comparing apples to oranges. 8-Ball: Reply hazy, try again

ven those with an eye into the future are stumped. Just as public opinion polls show the Barack Obama-Mitt Romney race too close to call, local astrologists who’ve studied the celestial charts say they aren’t making any bold predictions, either. The biggest factor: Mercury will be in retrograde, a temporary illusion that causes the planet to appear to move backward. For the first time in American history, the planet will “station retrograde” (begin a new cycle) on Nov. 6, the day of the presidential election. The last time Mercury did something similar, it “stationed direct” (ended the cycle) on the final day of the disputed 2000 presidential race — an alignment that’s “very scary” to Ennis astrologist and numerologist Sherle Stevens. When Mercury is in retrograde at the start of any new adventure, things change three months later. Her guess? “Confusion with the results. … Maybe there could be a lot of voter fraud,” Stevens said. Dallas astrologist and psychic Diane Eichenbaum prepared a chart on President Barack Obama to try to make a prediction on the election.


Dallas astrologer and psychic Diane Eichenbaum also saw confusion in the skies, a precursor to a long election night. She has done the charts and doesn’t see either candidate with a distinct advantage. “It’s very hard to predict. They both have very tenuous aspects in their charts now, so they’re under a lot of pressure,” she said. Still, the choice will be made in the polls, Eichenbaum said, SHERLE not by the stars. STEVENS “Nothing is so fated that it’s not going to change,” she said. Unlike astronomy, the scientific study of the physical universe, astrology deals with the positions of planets and suns and how they supposedly affect huDIANE man behavior. EICHENBAUM With little clarity gained, In the Running turned to the Magic 8 Ball for an interpretation of some classic predictors, but even those yielded cloudy results.

Unemployment rate
No president in modern history has been re-elected with a jobless rate higher than 7.2 percent. That might mean that the recently reported unemployment rate of 7.8 percent doesn’t bode well for the president. But he has said the country is making economic progress after a painful recession. 8-Ball: Most likely Romney

Ohio offers two presidential keys. First, the state earned its nickname “Mother of Presidents” after seven men all hailing from Ohio took their place in the Oval Office. It shares that moniker with Virginia, which claims eight presidents (President Goode, anyone?). Romney comes from Michigan, and although Obama still fends off questions about where he’s from, no one has ever suggested Ohio or Virginia. Second, no Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio. And latest polls show Obama slightly ahead in the Buckeye State. 8-Ball: Yes, Obama

Possible future predictor
Depending on how the election pans out, here’s a new one — Honey Boo Boo, the child pageant and reality show star from small-town Georgia. In a recent interview, Honey Boo Boo said if ALANA she could vote, she’d pick "HONEY “Marack Obama,” although BOO BOO" that may have been a dig at THOMPSON Romney, who has said he preferred the Jersey Shore’s Snooki to her. 8-Ball: Outlook good for Marack Obama

Job approval rating
Obama’s job’s approval rating has been like a seesaw over what pollsters consider safe ground for an incumbent seeking reelection — 50 percent. A Gallup Poll last week gave him a 53 percent approval score, but that could still drop before the election. Jimmy Carter’s rating was 34 percent at the close of his presidency, and he wasn’t rehired. When Romney left as Massachusetts governor in De-

Lara Solt/Staff Photographer

The Dallas Morning News



Sunday, October 21, 2012


In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Lingo bingo
President Barack Obama
ebate, Round 3, gets under way Monday night. And the final showdown between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is expected again to take on the look of a grueling sports match, maybe boxing or even tennis. For TV viewers, heads have been twisting endlessly back and forth, back and forth, as the presidential rivals take turns landing winners or banging into the net. So, with political games in mind, In the Running offers “lingo bingo.” Pass around the cards, grab a marker and when you hear one of the words or phrases, cross it off. First player to cross out a row of five wins.


Final debate
Time: 8-9:30 p.m. Monday TV: All major broadcast channels and cable news networks Location: Lynn University, Boca Raton, Fla. Moderator: Bob Schieffer of CBS News

Former Gov. Mitt Romney


“The 47%”

Unemployment rate

Tax cuts for wealthiest Americans

Stock market rebound

Big government

Paul Ryan’s budget


Tax loopholes


Creating opportunity

Medicare vouchers

Punishing success


Class warfare

Small business owners

Job creation

Trade with China

Benjamin Netanyahu





Bain Capital

Osama bin Laden


Mortgage deduction


Romney mentions his business experience


Working poor

Repeal of “Obamacare”


Vladimir Putin

“You didn’t build that”

Welfare work requirements

Americans seeing themselves as victims

Infrastructure/ roads and bridges

Unpaid-for tax cuts

Arab Spring


Homeowners under water

Change the tone in Washington


Romney’s lack of policy specifics

U.S. credit rating

Climate change

Young people on parents’ health plan

Nuclear weapons

Immigration reform



Sunday, October 14, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running
Consumers go to polls early by selecting products that lean left or right
Washington Bureau [email protected]

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

The unscientific winner, unmasked
rom coffee cups to cookies, Halloween masks to scented body lotion, American consumers are lining up for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney. It’s the latest blitz by businesses not only to hype the presidential election but also to sell their products. And many of these in-store polls — while highly unscientific — have a long track record of picking the winner. SMU marketing professor Raj Sethuraman said he’s not surprised at companies trying to capitalize on election season. It’s natural, he said, “to exploit whatever story is hot at the time.” Here’s a sampling:


a choice between a “Left Wing” chicken bowl and a “Right Wing” turkey bowl. Since the promotion’s launch, sales of Market Bowls are averaging almost twice as high as in the test markets, said Sara Bittorf, the company’s chief brand officer. So far, “Left Wing” chicken bowl sales have far outpaced the “Right Wing” turkey bowls. D.C.-based Mexican chain California Tortilla is offering a similar deal. As of Oct. 10, Obama’s Chicken Teriyaki Luau Bowl was beating Romney’s
Evans Caglage/Staff Photographer

Mexican Mitt-Loaf Bowl.

Chips vs. oatmeal
The Occidental Grill in Washington, just steps from the White House, also is giving diners a chance to weigh in. After their meal, they get two free cookies, based either on recipes submitted to Family Circle magazine by Michelle Obama and Ann Romney. As of Oct. 6, the Obama chocolate chip was leading the Romney M&M oatmeal cookie by about 18 percentage points.

The race is heating up: Coffee drinkers at 7-Eleven can choose a blue cup to show their support for Democrats, or a red one for Republicans.

Mask mathematics
Politics is a big treat to Spirit Halloween, which has scared up an impressive campaign record. Its sales correctly have tracked the outcome of every presidential election since 1996, when Bill Clinton masks topped Bob Dole’s by more than 40 percentage points. Spirit Halloween, one of the largest costume retailers in North America with more than 1,000 locations, is selling fullsize, rubbery, smiling masks of Obama and Romney. Company spokeswoman Lisa Barr said the results are driven largely by holiday customers buying products that “they enjoy and that also represent their beliefs and ideals.” This year, Spirit Halloween has partnered with the advocacy group Rock the Vote, seek-

ing to boost registration before the November election. In the latest national numbers, Obama masks are outselling Romney masks 65 percent to 35 percent.

the Democrat) or a red one (for Romney, the Republican). Undecideds or those who don’t want to play can fill up with a regular cup. The liquid votes have mirrored the final outcome in each presidential race since it began in 2000, when Texan George W. Bush prevailed. Margaret Chabris, a 7-Eleven spokeswoman, called the coffee poll “unabashedly unofficial and unscientific, so we can’t say definitively why it has been so accurate.” “Perhaps because our cus-

tomer base represents a mosaic of the American voter,” she said. As of the middle of last week, Obama led Romney 60 percent to 40 percent in sales nationwide.

Oct. 19, 20 & 21 - Fri.-Sat. 10a-5p, Sun. 11a-4p

‘O’ Bama vs. ‘Mint’ Romney
Not only do consumers seem to believe Obama products taste better, they also think they smell better. Online retailer Bliss Spa offered customers buying at least $50 in merchandise a choice of either “ ‘O’bama Orange body lotion” or “ ‘Mint’ Romney minty body lotion.” At the end of the promotion, the president came out ahead, with 62 percent picking the free 2-ounce bottle of ‘O’bama Orange.

Back, Hip or Leg Pain?
A local doctor has made available to the public a FREE 16 page Report and DVD that explains how a new FDA Cleared advanced medical laser can decrease pain, inflammation and heal WITHOUT burning, scarring, or side effects. Learn what many doctors believe are the best options to relieve your pain. To receive your copy of this free report published by DFW Spine & Joint Center, call toll free 1-800-514-6169 (24 hour recorded message) or visit www.DFWBackandNeckPain.com. Don’t miss out. This report is only available for the next 10 days or until stock runs out. ©drroberthansondc 2012 - drhansondc

Political cups
Romney supporters might need a caffeinated jolt in 7Eleven’s coffee cup contest. He’s fallen far behind since voting began last month. The Dallas-based convenience store chain offers different campaign cups to express political allegiances. It’s a blue one (for Obama,

Bowl games
Boston Market’s Bowl Poll gives politically inclined diners

The Dallas Morning News



Sunday, October 7, 2012


In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Candidates F declared fit to serve
Barack Obama
51 years old 6-1 181 pounds
Back: Has had periodic physical therapy to deal with some upper back pain. Neck: Has had benign skin tags removed from his neck. Smoking: Declared “tobacco free” after struggling to kick his smoking habit. At his physical in February 2010, doctors recommended he continue “smoking cessation efforts” and alter his diet to bring down a cholesterol level that was borderline high. Cholesterol: At 193, was lower than his previous exam. And his level of LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol, fell to 110, after registering 138 the last time. His doctor called the latest cholesterol measures “ideal,” with a calculated 10-year coronary heart disease risk of low (2%). Blood pressure: 107 over 71. Eyes: Has 20/20 vision in both eyes. Although “very mild myopia, astigmatism and presbyopia” were noted, correction was not needed. Knee: Has had tendinitis in his left knee area, occasionally taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug for that. Leisure: Stays at a healthy weight and “on occasion drinks alcohol,” in moderation, his doctor said. Exercises almost every day, including jogging on a treadmill and lifting weights. Also plays golf and basketball.


or the men who want to run the Oval Office, both have a clean bill of health. President Barack Obama, 51, may be sporting more than a few new gray hairs than in his last election, but he’s physically no worse for the wear, his doctor said.

“The president is in excellent health and ‘fit for duty,’ ” Dr. Jeffrey Kuhlman wrote last October after Mitt Romney’s doctor, in a report released last month, described the Republican contender as an “He has reserves of strength, energy and stamina that provide him with the ability to meet unexpect-

conducting Obama’s physical exam. “energetic, strong, physically fit” man who looks younger than his age, 65. ed demands,” said Dr. Randall Gaz, who practices at Massachusetts General Hospital. Here’s a look at their recent medical checkups:

Mitt Romney
65 years old 6-11⁄2 184 pounds
Past injuries: In 1965, he had his appendix removed, and in 1968, he suffered a concussion and broken bones in a car accident in France. Prostate: Has “minimally symptomatic” benign enlargement of his prostate gland. Is closely monitored for prostate cancer because of his family history. Cholesterol: Takes a statin drug, Lipitor, to lower his cholesterol, which is 169 with the treatment, a level considered normal, his doctor said. His triglycerides, another kind of fat, were borderline high. Diet: His high-fiber diet includes an abundance of fruits and vegetables and he avoids “concentrated sweets,” his doctor said. Blood pressure: 130 over 80. Foot: Used to run three miles daily before cutting back because of plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the thick tissue connecting the heel bone to the toes that is common in runners. Heart: Takes a low-dose aspirin daily. Has sinus bradycardia (a lower-than-average base line heart rate). His doctor attributed his slow resting heart rate — it is in the 40s — to his past intensive exercise. Medicines: Is allergic to penicillin. Leisure: Makes time for early-morning cross-training workouts while campaigning, and he enjoys swimming and biking. Does not drink or smoke in adherence to his Mormon faith.
Michael Hogue/Staff Artist

In the running
Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Which party hat fits you?
Consumer poll shows Dems love NBA, casinos while GOP favors college football, country music
emocrats and Republicans don’t just have different visions for America, they live different lifestyles. So says Scarborough Research, which polled more than 190 million registered voters over a yearlong period, ending last September. It found that if you own a hunting rifle, prefer country music, shop at Sam’s Club and tune in to Fox News at least once a week, the odds are pretty good you’re a Republican. If you buy organic food, shop at Family Dollar stores, like professional basketball and watch Comedy Central at least once a week, you’re probably a Democrat. Also, GOP dog owners outnumber their rival party pup lovers, but more Democrats than Republicans frequent casinos. A deeper look at the report’s social and consumer profile of American voters:


Percentage of registered voters in each party who: Are very interested in NASCAR GOP: 11% Dem: 7% Did yoga
In the past year

Buy organic food
On a regular basis

GOP: 14% Dem: 19% Are very interested in college football GOP: 26% Dem: 18% Shopped at Family Dollar
In the past three months

Watched Comedy Central
In the past week

GOP: 8% Dem: 10% Attended a country music event
In the past year

GOP: 11% Dem: 18% Watched Fox News
In the past week

GOP: 16% Dem: 27% Shopped at Sam’s Club
In the past three months

GOP: 11% Dem: 6%

GOP: 40% Dem: 16% Ate at a Chinese food restaurant
In the past month

GOP: 26% Dem: 20% Are very interested in the NBA GOP: 7% Dem: 14% Own a truck GOP: 37% Dem: 20% Are Twitter users
In the past three months

GOP: 38% Dem: 41% Have a dog GOP: 46% Dem: 37% Visited a casino
In the past year

GOP: 32% Dem: 40%

Visited an art museum
In past year

GOP: 3% Dem: 7% Eat at Chick-fil-A GOP: 17% Dem: 9%

GOP: 11% Dem: 16% Ate at a steakhouse
In the past 30 days

GOP: 24% Dem: 18%

SOURCES: Scarborough Research; The Washington Post


Sunday, September 23, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

In quake model, who stands tall?
Researcher applies geophysics, says rumblings favor Obama
Staff Writers

Why earthquakes?
His model takes a mathematical equation from geophysicists, measuring the stability or upheaval found in earthquake predictions and applying those to elections. Lichtman developed the model with Vladimir Keilis-Borok, a Soviet-born geophysicist he met in 1981at the California Institute of Technology. “Everything that we learned in politics, we have stolen from physicists anyway, like the stability of earth or upheavals,” Lichtman said.

The ultimate election question — who’s going to win — can be as tough to predict as the next California earthquake. But not to Allan Lichtman, history professor at American University in Washington. His multilayered earthquake model for politics has forecast the popular vote victor in every presidential campaign since 1984. Dubbed the never-wrong pundit, Lichtman focuses on 13 key factors, largely driven by the performance of the party that holds the White House. ALLAN If six or more of the 13 keys go LICHTMAN against the party in power, then the opposing party wins. He said the system has been accurate as far back as 1860. And in this year’s matchup, he said, the keys indicate that Barack Obama will beat Mitt Romney.

The New York Times

The Associated Press

Even if …
Lichtman said Romney should try to run an “unconventional, breakthrough campaign that presents a principled opposition to current policies, elevates the level of political debate, and inspires activism among voters.” But even in doing so, Romney won’t be able to overcome the other deciding factors, he said. “He can’t change the keys,” Lichtman said, “unless he turns into Ronald Reagan, which is not going to happen.”

When the vote count doesn’t count
Since the model’s inception in 1981, it has correctly identified every popular vote winner before Election Day. But it does not predict the outcome of the Electoral College, where support is based on the states the candidates captured. That’s why the model forecast Al Gore getting more votes nationally in 2000, but he fell to George W. Bush when the Texan gained a disputed victory in Florida.
[email protected]; [email protected]

Charisma vs. policy
The model relies more on political, financial, social and foreign policy trends than it does the personality of candidates. For example, Lichtman forecast a Democratic victory in February 2006, a full year before Obama announced his candidacy. This time, he said, Obama has lost some of that early charm and leadership points but not enough to derail him.

The 13 keys to keeping the White House
Six or more answers of false means an incumbent-party loss of the popular vote.

Keys 1 2 3 4 Party mandate Contest Incumbency Third party

Description After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more U.S. House seats than it did after the previous midterm elections. There is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination. The incumbent party candidate is the sitting president. There is no significant third party or independent campaign.

Conclusions for 2012 race False. The Democratic Party lost 63 seats in the 2010 midterm election, showing the lack of a mandate. True. Obama did not face a major Democratic rival for renomination. True. Obama’s nomination secures this key. True. The absence of any likely third-party challenger able to win at least 5 percent of the vote gives the Democrat the edge. The last time this key was false was in 1996, when Dallas businessman Ross Perot got 8.4 percent of the popular vote. True. Lichtman says a double-dip recession in the next month is not likely. False. The country’s lagging real gross domestic product counts against Obama. True. Stimulus programs and the overhaul of health care, perhaps the most significant social legislation since the mid-1960s, gives Obama this key. True. Even with the tea party protests and the Occupy Wall Street movement, such events “don’t come close” to the turmoil of the 1960s, Lichtman said. True. There’s been little that compares to the likes of Watergate or the Clinton impeachment. True. The attacks in Libya and recent protests against the U.S. have commanded attention but do not represent a major failure, he said. True. With the elimination of Osama bin Laden and the liberation of Libya, the administration has secured major victories in this category. False. The Obama campaign lacks the magic of his first run. True. Lichtman said Mitt Romney falls short of having the charisma of Theodore Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan.

5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Short-term economy Long-term economy Policy change Social unrest Scandal Foreign/military failure Foreign/military success Incumbent charisma Challenger charisma

The economy is not in recession during the election campaign. Real per capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms. The incumbent administration brings about major changes in national policy. There is no sustained social unrest during the term. The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal. The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs. The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs. The incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero. The challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero.


Sunday, September 16, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running
Two can agree on ‘Star Trek,’ then diverge
Staff Writer [email protected]

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Traits, tastes at the top of ticket
First car Grandfather’s Ford Granada A used 1963 Rambler Classic (His father, the former Michigan governor, had helped develop the Rambler as American Motors chief.) “Sawing through a sewer pipe that still had active sewage occasionally passing through it.” “In high school, my friends called me Bird Legs. And how did I get it? Take a guess.” Harry Truman. “He had some of the toughest decisions in the history of this country to make.” Worst job “Scooping ice cream at Baskin-Robbins and eating too much.” Barry Nickname

The conventions behind them, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney head into a seven-week sprint filled with high-minded policy debates and mudslinging TV ads. But there’s plenty more about the presidential rivals that may get overlooked — such as how Obama gorged himself on ice cream at an old job. Or how ol’ “Bird Legs” Romney is a big fan of ABC’s Modern Family. For all their disagreements, the two share a common interest in a 1960s science fiction show, starring a rugged captain, a pointy-eared sidekick and a savvy communications officer. The Dallas Morning News culled these glimpses of Obama and Romney’s personalities from a string of media interviews:

Favorite 20th century president of the opposite party Report cards

“Teddy Roosevelt, because he challenged special interests to lead a progressive movement.”

Graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law, but made a D in eighth-grade French. Started at Occidental College in Los Angeles, transferred to Columbia University in New York. He later went to law school at Harvard University.

“Fortunately, I got more A’s than F’s.”

Leaving California

Started at Stanford University, transferred to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He later went to business and law school at Harvard University.

iPad leisure Watches NBA League Pass, sports package for subscribers Watches SportsCenter with wife Michelle Watching basketball while reading briefings Had a childhood crush on Lt. Uhura (actress Nichelle Nichols) Keeps a campaign journal

Morning viewings Guilty pleasures Star Trek fandom

Reads The Drudge Report Watching Modern Family with wife Ann A big fan, but has stopped short of calling himself a Trekkie

How do you take your coffee? Favorite beverages Favorite food to cook Hated foods Snacking Black, but rarely drinks it Doesn’t drink it, has been known to have hot chocolate

Black Forest Berry Honest Tea, water Chili

Cherry Coke Zero, chocolate milk, water Hot dog

“Beets, and I always avoid eating them.” Planters Trail Mix, MET-Rx chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars

“Eggplant, in any shape or form.” “I love good pretzels and — peanut M&M’s.”

Who would play you in a movie? Alternate career choice Hidden talent Will Smith because “his ears match mine.” Gene Hackman. “He’s my favorite actor.”


Auto company chief executive

“I’m a pretty good poker player.”


The Dallas Morning News



Sunday, September 9, 2012


In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Louis DeLuca/Staff Photographer

Mladen Antonov/Agence France-Presse Kye R. Lee/Staff Photographer

Louis DeLuca/Staff Photographer

Emma Kenny of Wilmington, N.C., won’t forget the GOP convention.

Obama buttons make a statement in downtown Charlotte, N.C.

PBS production assistant Meena Ganesan uses her head to collect live video.

What so proudly he wore: a GOP delegate’s star-spangled boots.

Pair on the prowl for political trinkets that capture 2012
Staff Writer tb[email protected]


HARLOTTE, N.C. — Armed with only business cards and the prospect of immortality, Harry Rubenstein and Larry Bird trolled the convention halls in one of the more colorful — and difficult — government jobs: collecting swag for the Smithsonian Institution.
carrying a large art satchel, have been gathering the quirky artifacts that have come to define these kinds of events for nearly 30 years. “Generations later will view this material and hopefully get a wider view that way,” Rubenstein said. Even though they’re still having a blast — talking excitedly about a Washington state delegate ribbon — they wonder whether this could be their last season in search of convention kitsch. “We keep hoping that some younger person will take an active interest,” Bird said with a grin. “We’ve had a really good run.”

Buttons. Pins. Flags. Banners. Hats. Signs. And trinkets. The duo takes it all in, looking for the perfect piece of memorabilia as they try to capture not only the flavor of the event, but also the larger political process. Bartering with conventioneers, they realize they often are asking the impossible. They don’t offer any money for the personal souvenirs, instead selling the dream of being featured in American’s most famous museum. Sometimes, Bird said, “we want what they can’t give us.” Rubenstein and Bird,

Lara Solt/Staff Photographer

Harry Rubenstein (left) and Larry Bird have been gathering political artifacts for the Smithsonian for nearly 30 years.

The Dallas Morning News



Sunday, September 2, 2012


In the running
Special Contributor

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Images are never set in stone

JEFF KOTERBA Omaha World-Herald


arack Obama is the incredible shrinking president. That’s the view of some of America’s editorial cartoonists, who say they’ve had to make adjustments to the man who four years ago reached historic heights in his racial-breaking presidential campaign.
“It’s subconscious, but the way a cartoonist draws a politician does change over time as the cartoonist’s impression of that politician changes,” said Mike Smith of the Las Vegas Sun. “I found that George W. Bush became smaller in my art as his presidency matured. And I find the same thing happening with Obama.” Does familiarity breed contempt? Yes, indeed, said the Miami Herald’s Jim Morin, but that’s good for caricaturists and satirists.  “Without exception, the more a term goes on, the easier the subject is to draw because you know them better,” he said. “My beginning Obama drawings emphasized the chin, but as time went on, I found the length of his nose, from eyes to mouth, grew, and his chin grew smaller. I find that looks much more like him.” After a president has been in office for a certain period of time, said the Dayton Daily News’ Mike Peters, “he becomes more easy to draw and then certain features pop out that become your symbol for them. I could do a basketball with large ears and everyone would think it’s Obama.” David Hitch of the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram and Gazette said he’s found that the “hope and change” candidate has evolved into a brooding, cynical, and even, at times, mean-spirited presidential persona. “The wide, relaxed smile from Obama’s early presidency has become strained, and less frequent,” he KEVIN SIERS said. The Charlotte Observer “I tend lately to put the Ed Gamble, on the other hand, hasn’t seen ears lower down on his the president change much under his pen. head, emphasizing the “Obama is fun to draw and he has good feabrainy dome. The tures you can concentrate on,” said the Jackeyebrows have definitely sonville-based cartoonist, now in his 30th gotten more Nixonian. year of national syndication with King FeaHe’s definitely not tures. “The big ears, the big smiling mouth, smiling as much in my the upper cheeks — a face like an upsidemore recent cartoons.” down teardrop. Plus he is very good-looking.” 
Mike Peters is a freelance writer.

ED GAMBLE King Features Syndicate Gamble says America’s first black president can pose special challenges. “I am always careful when I draw different races. I don’t want race to interfere with the cartoon … to sidetrack the reader.”

MIKE SMITH Las Vegas Sun

DAVID HITCH Worcester (Mass.) Telegram and Gazette “I usually tire of sketching the same political character after a few years.”


JOEL PETT Lexington Herald-Leader

JIM MORIN Miami Herald Morin still enjoys drawing Obama. “His face lends well to all kinds of emotions. The hapless Obama, the hypocrite Obama, the jovial Obama. They all work. He has a smile like Jimmy Carter!”

SIZING UP ROMNEY: Political cartoonists gave their takes on Mitt Romney last week. See what they said on dallasnews.com.


Sunday, August 26, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races
MIKE PETERS Dayton Daily News

On paper, shades of Reagan
Special Contributor

Omaha World-Herald He said Romney, and even Barack Obama, are too bland. “It’s sad, really. What’s the political world coming to when cartoonists don’t have someone like McCain or [Michael] Dukakis or [Bill] Clinton or either Bush to draw?”


itt Romney may have trouble convincing the Republican faithful that he’s the second coming of Ronald Reagan, but many of the na-

tion’s political cartoonists see a lot of The Gipper in him.
Much of that comes from his square-jawed bearing and well-coiffed hair, “all the handsome good looks of a Hollywood actor,” said Jeff Koterba of the Omaha World-Herald. Still, that’s not always ideal for those in the business of using their pens to poke fun at politicians. Jimmy Margulies, editorial cartoonist for The Record in Hackensack, N.J., (and earlier for the Houston Post), said truly good-looking people can be hard to caricature vs. those with unique features. As cartoonists try to get a handle on Romney, several said their approach is far different than on the GOP’s last presidential pick. “Romney’s long and lean compared to the short and dumpy way I drew [John] McCain, but they are both fun to draw,” said Kevin Siers of The Charlotte Observer. The candidate’s reputation as a squeaky-clean Mormon from Utah also is good material, especially when he does things out of character, said Pat Bagley of The Salt Lake Tribune. “Image is everything in this culture,” Bagley wrote in a recent commentary. The Miami Herald’s Jim Morin longs for the day when the White House was run by a swaggering Texan, boots and all. “For those of us who never got to draw the Nixon administration, George W. Bush was wonderful to draw and grew more so over his time in office.”
Mike Peters is a freelance writer.


Las Vegas Sun Smith said he plays up Romney’s “meticulous hair and thick eyebrows,” and it may not be by accident. “Someone commented the other day that I have Romney hair. So maybe he’s easy to draw since I’m subconsciously drawing my own hairstyle.”

JIM MORIN Miami Herald

Lexington Herald-Leader “Everyone is eventually easy. I usually get them down right before they lose.”

ED GAMBLE King Features Syndicate

The Charlotte Observer “Most of my energy in my Romney caricature is going into the eyes, trying to capture wide-eyed, enthusiastic salesman-Babbittry and evasive beadiness at the same time.”

PAT BAGLEY Salt Lake City Tribune

See how political cartoonists size up President Barack Obama.


Sunday, August 19, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Wives offer a lady’s touch

Matt Rourke/The Associated Press

Michelle Obama has made childhood obesity her chief foe.

s Barack Obama and Mitt Romney duke it out on the presidential campaign trail, wives Michelle Obama and Ann Romney are showcasing their husbands’ softer sides. But there’s something in it for them too: the ubiquitous-yet-undefined first lady gig. Historian Robert Watson, an American studies professor at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., said the two not only possess political skills but they also have extraordinary personal appeal. “The country is very lucky no matter who wins — from a first lady perspective,” he said.

Jessica Hill/The Associated Press

Ann Romney has advocated for inner-city children’s education.

“I am more like a state prisoner than anything else. There are certain bounds set for me which I must not depart.” Martha Washington

“Ike runs the country, I turn the pork chops.” Mamie Eisenhower

Personal projects
The role is not defined in the Constitution but over the years the public has come to expect that first ladies should be “standing for something,” said Anita McBride, Laura Bush’s former chief of staff. Michelle Obama has made childhood obesity her chief foe, spearheading the “Let’s Move!” crusade for healthy eating and exercise. She also helps lead “Joining Forces,” which aims to give aid and opportunity to military families. Ann Romney, meanwhile, has been public about her battle with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative autoimmune disease that triggers bouts of inflammation in the central nervous system. She’s also advocated for inner-city children’s education and safety.

First lady firsts
Martha Washington was the first presidential spouse, but Abigail Adams, wife of the second president, John Adams, was the first spouse to reside in the White House. Lucy Hayes was the first presidential spouse to be called the “first lady.” Her husband, President Rutherford B. Hayes, coined the term in his 1877 inaugural address. Two presidents entered the White House as bachelors: James Buchanan and Grover Cleveland. Cleveland, however, married 21-yearold Frances Folsom while in office. Buchanan’s niece, Harriet Lane, filled the role during his term. Bess Truman lived the longest of the country’s former first ladies. She died in 1982 at 97. Hillary Rodham Clinton was the first and only first lady to win public office.

“I’m sorry that first ladies are being attacked. … I don’t think I ever was really, or at least if I was, George didn’t ever tell me about it.” Laura Bush

Coping with backlash Political involvement
Michelle Obama, who speaks Sept. 4 at the Democratic convention, leads the campaign’s “It Takes One” program, which asks supporters to do one thing to promote Obama — and engage others to do the same. McBride said giving the first lady her own branded political initiative is “a pretty innovative tactic.” Ann Romney, for her part, has fielded questions at the core of her husband’s campaign — the strategy behind his vice presidential search, his refusal to release more tax returns and more. She’s also a potent fundraiser. Watson, the professor, said she “could be gold” for her husband. “She’s attractive, she’s battled illness, she’s raised perfect kids and she’s articulate,” he said. “They need to get her out there more.” Being in the spotlight has taken its toll on both candidates’ wives. Michelle Obama, Watson said, has found her voice as “mom-in-chief ” after the 2008 campaign in which she fended off accusations that she carries racial grudges. Ann Romney is not new to the game, but was less visible when her husband was Massachusetts governor. She had a hard time with the national scrutiny of his 2008 presidential bid, saying she took all the attacks personally. She swore never to go through it again, but later reneged.

“We’ve been in love with the first lady since Martha Washington. … In American history, they have better discharged their duties than the presidents.” Robert Watson, Lynn University professor

Personal struggles Where they rank
Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., polled historians in 2008 to rank the first ladies: TOP 5 Eleanor Roosevelt Abigail Adams Jacqueline Kennedy Hillary Rodham Clinton Lady Bird Johnson BOTTOM 5 Margaret Taylor Letitia Tyler Mary Todd Lincoln Florence Harding Jane Pierce

Ann Romney rides horses, a childhood hobby, as therapy for her multiple sclerosis. Diagnosed in 1998, it’s been in remission since she received a year of intravenous steroid treatments. But the symptoms can flare up, sometimes causing numbness. Michelle Obama’s father, Fraser Robinson, suffered from the disease as well. Robinson — a former boxer, Democratic precinct captain and Chicago city water filtration plant employee — died in 1991. Romney was diagnosed with a noninvasive type of breast cancer in 2008, underwent a lumpectomy and has been cancer-free since.

Becoming a target
Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen set off a clamor earlier this year when she said on CNN that Ann Romney didn’t understand economic issues and had “never worked a day in her life.” Romney, the mother of five, responded in her first tweet, saying, “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.” Michelle Obama has faced parodies of her as a food-policing busybody and some GOP-generated questions about her travel costs. She’s an informal adviser to her but husband, doesn’t meddle in policy, a perception that dogged Hillary Rodham Clinton. Obama gave up her job as a vice president at the University of Chicago when her husband began his presidential run. She has said she adapted the traditional roles of a first lady to her personality. “Ultimately, the role has to be defined by the individual,” she said. “Because not every first lady or first spouse is going to be me.”

Michelle Robinson Obama
48 Young daughters, Sasha, 11, and Malia, 14 First lady, lawyer; Chicago City Hall official; founder of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program; University of Chicago administrator. Princeton University undergraduate degree in African-American studies and sociology, Harvard law degree. Combating childhood obesity, providing support and opportunities for military families. They both worked at Sidley & Austin law firm in Chicago. She rebuffed his first requests to go out, but finally relented. “On our first date, I treated her to the finest ice cream Baskin-Robbins had to offer, our dinner table doubling as the curb,” he said. Skipped the second grade Once brought baby Sasha to a job interview when she couldn’t find a babysitter — and got the job At 5-foot-11, she’s a workout enthusiast with arms so taut they once inspired their own Twitter feed. Age Children Career

Ann Davies Romney
63 Five grown sons: Tagg, Craig, Matt, Ben and Josh. Grandmother of 18. Stay-at-home mother, volunteer instructor, former Massachusetts first lady


Bachelor’s degree in French, Brigham Young University.


Education and safety for inner-city youths, multiple sclerosis advocacy. Knew each other in grade school in Michigan, and began dating when she was nearly 16. “I caught his eye, and he never let me go,” she said of the high school dance party where they met. Her high school yearbook editors included the entry “first lady” beside her 1967 photo. Won elected office before her husband in 1977 for town meeting representative in Belmont, Mass. Co-owns a horse that competed in the dressage competition in the London Olympics.

How she met her husband

Fun facts

Staff writer Tristan Hallman, McClatchy News Service and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Dallas Morning News



Sunday, August 12, 2012


In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Lefties leave their mark
Staff Writer [email protected]

Hand it to them: Southpaws are a small but powerful group
Barack Obama

Lefties have been living it up in the White George House. H.W. Bush Five of the last seven presidents have been southpaws, a trend that stands out even more because only 10 percent of the population is lefthanded. But as the world celebrates International LeftHanders Day on Monday, that run is at risk. Left-handed incumbent Barack Obama, who beat fellow left-hander John McCain four years ago, faces a right-winged foe, Mitt Romney. And their matchup renews a testy debate on whether a president’s handedness is a tell-all sign. Some people (often left-handers) say lefties possess better language and leadership skills, making it easier to connect with voters. Others (often right-handers) call that bunk, saying the recent political spike probably is because teachers and parents no longer force kids to switch. Bernard Edwin Sands of the Left Handed Liberation Society, an advocacy group based in NeFile 2003/The Associated Press vada, said the old notions that cast lefthandedness as sinister have faded away, Harry S. allowing their many admirable traits to Truman shine. They’re “a little more emotional, a little more creative,” said Sands, who — not surprisingly — is left-handed. But Rik Smits, author of The Puzzle of Left-Handedness, said the high percentage of lefties who’ve become president is a “freak accident.” He said those in the left-sided camp like to exaggerate myths they’re more imaginative and broad-minded. But they do not consistently share any other File 1949/The Associated Press features besides their handedness, he said. Gerald The lineup clearly is bipartisan, with ObaFord ma, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. Counting Harry Truman, half of the presidents since World War II have been left-handed. Smits said lefties may be benefiting from the self-reliance and stubbornness that comes from coping in a right-handed world. “After all, it’s not the gullible, the weak and File 1974/The Associated Press the meek that inherit the presidency,” he said.

The switch
Ronald Reagan, the actor turned president, was born left-handed but converted to writing with his other hand, pressured by his parents and teachers. He did so “in a very cramped style, as if it didn’t come naturally,” said a former aide, Lyn Nofziger. “Everything else, including wood chopping, he did left-handed.” Agence France-Presse And Reagan’s biographer said that in the movies he always twirled and shot pistols with his left hand. Other southpaw samplings: I What determines a person’s dominant hand is not clear, although many scientists say it’s a combination of genes, environment and culture. I Lefties generally are dominated by the right side of the brain, the side that is more associated with artistic function. But left-handedness also is closely identified with language difficulties, such as dyslexia and stuttering. I A lefty trifecta topped the presidential ballot in 1992, with George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot. I Left-handedness runs in the British royal family, including Prince William. From staff and wire reports

Agence France-Presse

Bill Clinton

Looking for Mr. Write
The hidden clues in the signatures of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, analyzed by Sylvia Tooker, a Dallas-area handwriting expert and business consultant, and Ruth Holmes, president of a Michigan-based firm that specializes in personality assessment, jury consulting and forensic handwriting examination: The garland and points in the capital M show he’s “quick to understand when he must adjust.”

The capital B, larger than the O of his last name, indicates he wants to be recognized for his personal accomplishments, instead of family connections or external influence.

The extra round shapes of those two letters means he “dreams big and is open to possibilities.” — Tooker The dotted i signals that he’s “loyal and attentive to details.” — Holmes


Sunday, August 5, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

West Winging it
File 1996/Sony Pictures

Harrison Ford
Air Force One When President James Marshall’s office-jet is hijacked, Harrison Ford pulls from his years in combat to rescue his staff and family. WHY HIM? No matter his foreign policy, Ford kicks terrorist butt, declaring, “Get off my plane!” THE CHARACTER “Peace isn’t merely the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice.” — Ford, in the movie

Kevin Kline
Dave As presidential impersonator Dave Kovic, Kevin Kline bumbles his way into the White House. He’s hired to step in after the real head of state suffers a stroke and slips into a coma. Despite his suddenly liberal agenda, no one’s the wiser. WHY HIM? Kline somehow fixes the budget and restores America’s faith in politics. THE CHARACTER “Lots of people fantasize about what it would be like if they were president. … Most think they’d be decent and wouldn’t be corrupted … which is what we hope [for] any president.” — Kline

Harrison Ford (right) takes charge as president.

Staff Writer [email protected]

Sometimes, the movies do a better job of running the country than any real-life politician. Hollywood presidents have thwarted alien attacks, fought terrorists on Air Force One and, just this summer, fended off Civil War vampires. Although it’s all make-believe, even fictional characters can influence broader trends. “Film can be a framework for viewers to think about themselves as citizens,” said Brett Boessen, a professor of media studies at Austin College in Sherman. Some pop culture analysts have said that Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact and David Palmer in the series 24 helped solidify the idea of a black president before Barack Obama’s victory in 2008. Washington remains a popular entertainment venue. USA Network recently debuted Political Animals, and NBC is airing a new comedy this fall, 1600 Penn. To commemorate this election season, here’s a rundown of memorable big-screen leaders:

Michael Douglas
The American President It’s a sly commentary on Washington’s cozy relationship with the lobbying world. Michael Douglas falls for environmental activist Annette Bening amid the perils of raising a daughter and running a country. WHY HIM? Douglas manages to bring romance to the Oval Office (and not the sordid LewinskyClinton kind). THE CHARACTER The plot showed presidents as “human beings. We have this tendency to create them as deities or saints and don’t allow them any possible wrinkles.” — Douglas

Jack Nicholson
Mars Attacks! Aliens invade but the White House thinks they’ve come in peace. It’s not until the Martians wipe out much of Congress that Jack Nicholson, as President Dale, determines their motive. Only the vocal range of country musician Slim Whitman can stop the hostiles. WHY HIM? Nicholson may not be a very capable commander in chief, but he knows how to sell disaster. THE CHARACTER “I want the people to know that they still have two out of three branches of the government working for them, and that ain’t bad.” — Nicholson, after aliens kill Congress

Josh Brolin
W Brolin drew critical praise for his portrayal of George W. Bush, especially his back-slapping charm. W details Bush’s roughhewn early years and the pressures of a family legacy. WHY HIM? Brolin studied 25 of Bush’s speeches and meticulously practiced his Texas twang. THE CHARACTER When director Oliver Stone “came to me about Bush, I couldn’t understand it. … He said, ‘There’s something Americana about you. There’s something bucolic about you.’ ” — Brolin, on casting

Morgan Freeman
Deep Impact With a comet hurtling toward earth, Freeman enlists a team of astronauts to repel it. But a missile strike fails, and Freeman is left comforting a nation as it rebuilds. WHY HIM? Freeman could win an election on his voice alone. THE CHARACTER “One interviewer asked me, ‘What’s it like to play a black president?’ And I said, ‘What on earth do you mean? It’s like playing the president!’ ” — Freeman

Bill Pullman
Independence Day As aliens threaten to destroy Earth, Bill Pullman’s rousing speech — “We will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish without a fight.” — is still quoted to this day. WHY HIM? Pullman is more superhero than president. An ex-fighter pilot, he heads to the front lines after learning his country is under attack. THE CHARACTER “It’s not a pump-up sports speech. … It’s about standing up for what’s right and appealing to a fierceness that comes from humility.” — Pullman


Sunday, July 29, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse


JULY 13, 2012

IN THE KNOW Elder statesmen
Since 1960, the GOP presidential nominee almost always has been older than the Democrats’ pick — 11 times in the last 14 elections, including this year. Republican Mitt Romney turned 65 in March. A father of five, he has thick, dark hair, gray mostly around the temples. The oldest to assume office was Ronald Reagan, two weeks shy of his 70th birthday when he was sworn in on Jan. 20, 1981. Aside from Reagan, Romney would be the oldest president at inauguration since 65-year-old James Buchanan in 1857. Like Obama, Romney has taken hits from late-night jokesters. Jay Leno said that instead of blowing out the candles at his birthday party, Romney “gave a speech and the candles just flickered and died.”

Obama is a changed man, but are birthdays or job stress to blame?

Staff Writer [email protected]

Splitting hairs
It’s tough being commander in chief. So much so that presidents age twice as fast for each of the years they spend in the White House, said Dr. Michael Roizen, a wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic, an academic medical and research center. Roizen, who has reviewed public medical records for every president since Theodore Roosevelt, told CBS News that the job not only is a source of punishing stress but also of isolation. “They really do have everything coming in to them at once,” with little relief, he said. But S. Jay Olshansky, who studies aging at the University of Illinois at Chicago, questioned that accelerated-aging theory. The average age is 55 at the start of their terms. “If you take a picture of any male at 55 and then another at 59 and another at 63, what you are going to see on every single one of them is a loss” or graying of hair, he said. When George W. Bush took office at age 54 in 2001, the Texan had salt-andpepper hair. Eight years, a terrorist attack and two wars later, it was a shock of gray, his face lined with visible wrinkles. Still, Olshansky said most presidents have beaten the longevity expectations for their time, including John Adams, Herbert Hoover, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, who all lived past 90.

It’s Granddad’s fault
In 2008, Obama, at 47, was the fifthyoungest president at inauguration. He’s blamed his changing hair color on genetics, telling ABC News that his grandfather went gray at 29. “I figured it was going to come. It just happened to coincide with the presidency.”

resident Barack Obama celebrates his 51st birthday Saturday, still among the youngest in that office. But the chatter of late has focused on his graying head of hair. Even Obama has joked about it. When a North Carolina factory worker showed him a 2008 campaign photo, Obama admitted that extra gray had crept in since then. “But I have a better plane, so it’s a fair trade,” he said. A look at the debate on whether presidents age faster:

The silver lining
Instead of trying to hide the streaks of silver, Obama and his wife, Michelle, have played off it in campaign fundraising letters. She called his birthday one of his last chances for downtime before the election stretch run. “That won’t stop me from teasing him about all those new gray hairs he has — though I think it’s fair to say he earned every one,” she wrote.

JULY 15, 2008

Parting shot
His hair has provided plenty of comic fodder. Saturday Night Live Weekend Update host Seth Meyers told Obama at an event last year that when sworn in, he looked as virile as the guy from the Old Spice TV ads — but time has taken its toll. “I’ve never said this to anyone, but maybe you should start smoking again,” Meyers said.

James Buchanan

File/The Associated Press


Sunday, July 22, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Head-to-head on easy issues I
Ted Cruz
A Houston lawyer and the state’s former solicitor general

n the loud and nasty Texas Senate race, Republicans David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz have tangled over who’ll be the more aggressive fighter against Washington spending and taxes. But with nine days before their final faceoff, a much lighter split has emerged — on movies. Dewhurst, 66, loves Patton, the rock ’em, sock ’em bio on World By ROBERT T. GARRETT Austin Bureau War II Gen. George S. Patton. [email protected] Cruz, 41, the state’s former top appeals court lawyer, is a fan of The Princess Bride, a romantic comedy with swordplay, giants, outlaws and a damsel in distress. That’s just a slice of the personal traits, tastes and backgrounds gleaned from the two rivals in their responses to a questionnaire from The Dallas Morning News:

David Dewhurst
Lieutenant governor and former state land commissioner

Illustrations by Chris Morris/ Special Contributor

French A green 1978 Ford Fairmont “Singing. Although I enjoy singing, I can’t carry a tune to save my life.” Worst subject in high school First car What are you really, embarrassingly, not very good at? Science “A beat-up white Ford Fairlane” “I’m always much better at sports in my mind than I am in reality.”

Beef enchiladas Guinness stout Avocado Favorite food indulgence Favorite brew or alcoholic beverage Vegetable you won’t eat Cheeseburgers, chocolate cake A glass of white wine or “a good, cold beer.” None

Running, lifting weights Vince Young “in college, sadly not in the pros.” Jeff Gordon The Princess Bride and Amazing Grace Calvin and Hobbes George Strait, Here for a Good Time Exercise routine Best football player ever Favorite NASCAR driver Favorite movie Favorite comic strip Last music purchase Elliptical machine, stationary bike, free weights “I always loved watching Roger Staubach.” Tony Stewart or Jimmie Johnson Patton “Headlines of The New York Times.” “Numerous songs for my 8-year-old daughter.”

“Not picking up my clothes at night.” No “For almost all of my oral arguments as solicitor general, I wore the same pair of black ostrich boots.” “No, but I do enjoy an occasional cigar. (I am Cuban after all!)” “I love games of any sort, cards, chess, backgammon.” iPhone No What does your wife get on your case about? Ever used anything to color your hair? Superstitions Are you now or have you ever been a smoker? Hidden talent What kind of smart phone? Unlimited data plan? “This is a trick question.” “Unfortunately, no.” “A few ‘lucky ties,’ but no real superstitions.” “No and never.” “Then it wouldn’t be hidden, would it?” iPhone Yes

What’s ahead

Early voting begins Monday for the July 31 Senate runoff. The Republican winner will face in the November election either former state Rep. Paul Sadler or retired educator Grady Yarbrough, who are competing in the Democratic runoff.


Sunday, July 15, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Turnout isn’t bigger in Texas
State’s youth, primary system may keep residents from moseying to polls
Staff Writer [email protected]


It’s the kids’ fault.

n the national political arena, the Lone Star State can claim four presidents, powerful leaders in Congress and just about the worst voting record around. Texas in the last eight national elections has placed no better than 45th among all states in the percentage of eligible citizens who vote. The low point: 2010, when Texas was dead last. Now, as presidential rivals Barack Obama and Mitt Romney ramp up their campaigns, this fiercely patriotic state faces the same question: Why does it fare so badly at election time?


With its diverse population, and correspondingly lower education and income levels, Texas abounds in factors that dampen turnout. Chief among them: politically apathetic youngsters. Only Utah has a lower median age than Texas, and people 18 to 29 generally vote in lower numbers than any other age group. Still, in six of the last eight national elections, Utah topped Texas’ turnout by an average of 3.75 percentage points.


The Hispanic bloc is large but politically sluggish.

Texas is a “majority-minority state” with a large, fast-growing Hispanic population. But that group tends to vote in lower percentages than non-Hispanic whites and blacks. Though other large states have somewhat similar demographic profiles, none faces the same challenges as Texas, said Rice University researcher Steve Murdock. The median age here is 33.6, lower than Florida’s 40.7 or New York’s 38. And while Texas has roughly the same Hispanic composition as California — 38.1 percent each — California’s median household income is $9,000 higher.

Party rules have backfired.


Experts say a big drawback is the state’s open political system that allows voters to cast ballots in either the Democratic or Republican primary. Intended to boost participation in the early primaries, it can sputter in November. Unless someone is “3R” or “3D” — having voted in three straight Republican or Democratic primaries — it’s tough for parties to track potential backers, said Victoria Farrar-Myers, a political scientist at the University of Texas at Arlington. “Independents, swing voters, disaffected voters get less information,” compared with states that register voters by party, she said.

AT A GLANCE Bragging rights go elsewhere
Better than Texas? Ya, you betcha! Minnesota is the anti-Texas. In the eight national elections since 1996, Minnesota led the nation in turnout percentage five times. And, it was second in 1996, third in 2000 and fifth in 2010. Over that same span, an average of 68.3 percent of eligible Minnesotans cast ballots vs. 46.5 percent of Texans. Aloha, welcome to the bottom of the barrel Texas’ rate in those national elections is lower than that of California (54 percent), Florida (53 percent) or New York (51.8 percent). It even falls short of neighbors Oklahoma (51.9 percent) and New Mexico (53.8 percent). The state’s turnout of 36.4 percent two years ago was the country’s worst. Joining Texas in the bottom tier, Hawaii had the lowest rates in each of the last four presidential elections. But because it gets greater participation in off-year elections, its overall average of 47.4 percent beats Texas’ 46.5. Falling to presidential homestead Neither Texas nor Virginia has a consistently high turnout record, but Virginians get more excited about the White House contests. Maybe it has something to do with the state’s longtime nickname, “Birthplace of Presidents.” In the four presidential elections between 1996 and 2008, an average 62.6 percent of eligible Virginians cast ballots. Texas managed just 54.7 percent. Even in the Bush runs of 2000 and 2004, Virginia beat Texas by 6 percentage points.

Not even favorite son juices the numbers So much for home state pride. In the 2000 presidential race, with former Texas Gov. George W. Bush as the Republican pick, only seven states had a lower voter turnout than Texas. The state fell even more in 2004, when Bush sought a second term, outpacing only Hawaii, Georgia and Tennessee.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Current Population Survey

The Dallas Morning News



Sunday, July 8, 2012


In the running
Staff Writer [email protected]

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

An ivy-covered ballot box
The presidential matchup between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney won’t be settled until November. But whatever the outcome, Harvard University — again — will have a banner day. Tally up another Crimson commander in chief. Both Obama and Romney are Harvard grads, a rare collegiate convergence that’s stirred up some tart political ribbing. Romney, the likely Republican nominee, has jabbed at Obama’s Ivy League roots, saying he’s out of touch. “I didn’t learn about the economy just reading about it or hearing about it at the faculty lounge at Harvard,” Romney said in April. Obama returned fire later, noting that Romney has two advanced degrees from Harvard to his one. “What a snob,” Obama said in jest. No college or university has produced as many presidents as Harvard. That list includes George W. Bush. But having a degree from that high-powered enclave in Cambridge, Mass., isn’t the only ticket to success. Eureka College in tiny Eureka, Ill., boasts Ronald Reagan as its most famous graduate. Reagan, a Republican icon and two-term president, left Eureka in 1932 with a degree in social science and economics. That launched him into radio broadcasting, acting and, eventually, politics. “Even a liberal arts education in the cornfields of the Midwest can prepare you to be a world leader,” said Eureka’s president, David Arnold. A snapshot of Obama and Romney at Harvard:

Presidents from Harvard

John Adams John Quincy Adams Theodore Roosevelt Franklin D. Roosevelt John F. Kennedy George W. Bush Barack Obama

Hitting the books
Obama studied at Occidental College in Los Angeles before transferring to Columbia University in New York. After working as a community organizer in Chicago, he entered Harvard Law School, at the age of 27, in 1988. He graduated magna cum laude in 1991. He lived all three years in the same off-campus basement apartment. Friends and teachers remember him as smart, disciplined and humble — picked at the end of his first year as one of many student editors on the Harvard Law Review, which publishes scholarly legal articles. In his second year, facing 18 other contenders, Obama was elected the law review’s first black president. He was credited with keeping the peace in a highly competitive setting.
Footnote: After leading the law review, Obama landed a book contract, which turned into his autobiography, Dreams From My Father.

Political scene
Obama drew national attention on the law review, making him a prominent minority student on a campus shaken by racial politics. A group pushing for greater faculty diversity sued the school for discrimination. And the law review struggled with partisan divisions. Obama cast himself as an eager listener and proved deft at navigating ideological conflicts, said Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor. He was “able to build upon what other students say, and see what’s valuable in their comments without belittling them,” Tribe said.
Footnote: Some students mocked the media onslaught after his law review election, posting a notice for “The Barack Obama Story, a Made for TV Movie, Starring Blair Underwood as Barack Obama.”

Campus cred
Obama, known as a pickup basketball shark, played on the team for the Black Law Students Association. He was a skinny forward, with a good, midrange jump shot. “If there was any knock against Barack, he pulled his socks up a little too high and his shorts were a little too small,” said classmate Hill Harper. From Harvard, Obama could have sought a Supreme Court clerkship or entry to a high-powered law firm. Instead, he returned to community organizing in Chicago, teaching and, eventually, politics.
Footnote: On an internship after his first year, he met his future wife, Michelle, a Harvard law school graduate who was working at the same Chicago law firm.

The early 1970s at Harvard saw political uproar over the Vietnam War, the aftershock of the civil rights movement and the rumblings of feminism. Romney, whose father George was the former Michigan governor, steered clear of that kind of activism. At age 24, he was older than many other graduate students. He and his wife, Ann, and two young sons lived off campus, in a house in the suburbs. “When study time was over, he wanted to get back to his family,” said classmate Tom Phillips, who later became chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court.
Footnote: Romney’s law school classmates included Susan Roosevelt, the greatgranddaughter of former President Theodore Roosevelt. George W. Bush was a year behind Romney in the business school.

Romney reached Harvard in 1971 after graduating from Brigham Young University and completing an overseas mission as a member of the Mormon Church. He enrolled in a joint law and business school program, allowing him to earn advanced degrees in four years rather than the usual five. Classmates described him as bright, driven and hard-working. To digest the assignments, he helped form a business study group with other top-tier students. Romney graduated in 1975, cum laude from the law school, in the top third of that class, and a Baker Scholar in the business school, in the top 5 percent of that class.
Footnote: Of the 1,350 students in Romney’s combined law and business school classes, only 15 earned the joint degree.

Joe Wrinn/Harvard University

The New York Times

Romney’s fellow students say he expressed more interest in business than practicing law or getting into politics. As a Mormon, he refrained from drinking coffee or alcohol, smoking or cursing. “We respected him for being true to what he believed in, and [he was] tolerant to everybody else,” said classmate Howard Serkin. Romney joined a Boston consulting firm after graduation. That led to a job with Bain and Co., another consulting outfit, from which he built a private-equity startup, Bain Capital, into an industry force.
Footnote: Three of Romney’s sons earned Harvard business degrees.

Barack Obama, shown at Harvard in 1990, received his law degree there.

Mitt Romney and his family attended a Harvard clambake in 1973.

Bloomberg News Services, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, NPR and The New York Times contributed to this report.


Sunday, July 1, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

A very unreal threat
Senior Political Writer [email protected]




about the speeches, policy papers and

As election creeps closer, zombies, vampires may scare up votes

swing-state polling for clues on who’ll win the White House. Think zombies and vam-

To Republicans, the fear this election is ever-growing deficits and a free-spending Washington. Like zombies, there’s a creeping, ominous line of destruction headed directly toward their home, family and way of life. So if GOP voters are sufficiently moved by their economy anxieties in November, it’s good news for Mitt Romney. For Democrats backing Barack Obama, the threat is different. It’s vampires — bankers, hedge-fund managers and executives who suck your blood, outsource your job and then disappear at dawn in their rakish suits. Public worries have long played themselves out in the movies. Most likely, plenty of Democrats are buying tickets this month to see Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. But zombie flicks were big in Ronald Reagan’s day as president.
Getty Images Agence France-Presse Gene Page/AMC

Sneaking suspicions: Republicans despise policy that they view as a line of destruction heading their way, while Democrats fear the bite of job-killing executives and firms.

The political plot thickens
Obama and his surrogates have stepped up attacks on Romney as an out-of-touch rich guy who ran the private-equity firm Bain Capital, with a history of outsourcing American jobs. In Iowa, Vice President Joe Biden mocked Romney as “a job creator — in Singapore. And China. And India.” The Obama camp launched a TV and Web-based ad blitz in three swing states, labeling Romney “Outsourcer in Chief.” The message was repeated in Web-based spots that portray Romney as being out of touch with the middle class. “It was like a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us,” former steelworker Jack Cobb says in a new ad trashing Bain’s takeover of a Kansas City steel mill that went bankrupt.

Clash of main characters
The Romney campaign fired back with its own Web video, “American Dream,” that touted an Indiana steel company that Bain invested in, helping to boost local jobs. His focus on the economy was diverted by the Supreme Court’s ruling last week on health care and the president’s immigration announcement. But fundamental to Romney’s efforts is his promise to curb the grasping, ill-dressed hordes of government that have been picking taxpayers’ pockets. Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Obama is using “distractions” to hide a “disastrous” record “because he has no idea what it takes to get our economy moving again.” That’s the narrative — fear the zombies — that Team Romney believes will pull more voters to his side.

What’s the surprise ending?
Australian statistician Marc West said there’s long been a link between politics and horror stories. He’s found a statistical correlation that shows more vampire movies come out when Democrats are elected president and more zombie movies in Republican years. Vampire flicks were frequent after 1976 when Democrat Jimmy Carter was in the White House. The Reagan era in the 1980s was a heyday for zombie films, including George Romero’s Day of the Dead. Opening in theaters in 1992, when Democrat Bill Clinton was elected, was Bram Stoker’s Dracula, from director Francis Ford Coppola. In other words, when voters have the scary image of zombies in mind, they go for the Republican. When vampires are stirring their deepest concerns, they vote for the Democrat. For the rival campaigns, it’s all about tapping into those feelings, energizing supporters and getting them to turn out. That was the case four years ago, when Obama became the nation’s 44th president. The big movie that fall? Another neckchomper: Twilight.

Republican Mitt Romney promises to turn back the hordes of government.

President Barack Obama vows to stop the bleeding in the economy.


Sunday, June 24, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Shopping for a candidate
Merchandise suppliers gamble on a political victory, but many bids end up in the dumps
Washington Bureau [email protected]

Retail matchup
So much for the clash between Mitt Romney, the savvy business entrepreneur, and Barack Obama, the cold politico. In a matchup of their online stores, the Democratic president far outpaces his GOP rival in quantity and creativity. From Obama: His re-election website offers a whopping 288 items. There are the usual T-shirts, hats and buttons, but the campaign-branded stock also includes an eight-piece glassware set, a metal spatula for grilling, iPhone covers and a beer koozie that reads “Cheers Champ,” under an image of Vice President Joe Biden. Big-name items: Designers such as Vera Wang and Diane von Furstenberg and celebrities such as Beyoncé and Sean Combs have made special products for the high-end “Runway to Win” section. Also being sold are voter-centric shirts, from “Environmentalists for Obama” to “Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders for Obama.” Babies and bling: Accessory-minded voters can buy gold cufflinks adorned with a campaign logo or silver-plated bangle bracelets engraved with “Obama-Biden.” Even toddlers can get in on the action with Obama onesies and bibs. Pets and putting: The store offers pooch apparel, including a Marc Jacobs-designed dog T-shirt that says “I bark for Obama.” For the sports-minded, there are golf balls and a divot tool emblazoned with the campaign’s rising-sun brand.

ASHINGTON — Once a highflying presidential contender, Rudy Giuliani saw his campaign fall into the dumps in early 2008. Soon after, loads of T-shirts, pins and stickers bearing the former New York mayor’s name went into the trash as well. “Bring in the Dumpsters,” said Ted Jackson, whose company produced Giuliani’s official paraphernalia. “This merchandise isn’t worth less after the election — it’s worth nothing.” Picking Giuliani was a rare misstep for the Kentucky-based Spalding Group, the official vendor for every Republican nominee from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush. But the business of political merchandising is as lucrative as it is risky. Like many voters, supply companies size up candidates early in hopes they can find a winner. There’s celebration — and a steady revenue stream — if picked to run the official online stores, especially if their candidate goes all the way. Spalding even was selling you, “Thank President Bush” bumper stickers as the Texan left the White House. The downBeing side? stuck with the useless surplus when it all goes under.


“We give them to Goodwill,” said Maura Statman of Everybody Loves Buttons, which made products for Republicans Fred Thompson and John McCain in 2008. This year’s crowded GOP field has left plenty of retail debris, from Newt Gingrich hoodies to Michele Bachmann key chains, from Herman Cain 9-9-9 mugs to Rick Santorum gimme hats. Statman’s advice for vendors: Go slow and avoid overproducing. “Be real streamlined,” she said. Gov. Rick Perry’s short-lived presidential run apparently followed that rule of inventory. Spokesman Ray Sullivan said there wasn’t much excess when the campaign folded in January. But there may not be a need to throw anything out — because Perry’s official logo and bumper stickers didn’t include the election year, as most campaigns’ do. So what didn’t sell could be recycled — if there’s a Perry for president campaign in 2016.

From Romney: His online store — run by Maryland-based GOP Shoppe — features 12 products, limited to stickers, pins, shirts and hats. Shout-out: The only demographic-specific item is a “Moms Drive the Economy” bumper sticker that says “Romney” in smaller print. Remember the R: While Obama’s paraphernalia involve bright colors and elaborate designs, the Romney wares mostly stick to a stylized, triple “R” logo on its shirts and hats. Republican red: The only trumped-up T-shirt, touted on the site as a way to “help Mitt turn blue states into red states,” features a crimson Believe in America logo on its chest and a handful of patriotic slogans on the back.

Critics’ review
David Altman, founder and CEO of MarketShare Advisors, an online retail consulting company in Dallas, praised Obama’s store, especially in its appeals to specific groups. It has “more of what I would call ‘inclusive product’ tailored to a diverse clientele, whether it be Hispanics, nurses or women,” Altman said. As for Romney, he said, “There’s not a lot to choose from. It’s one message.” Daniel Howard, a marketing professor at Southern Methodist University, said some Obama voters may be turned off by the focus on high-end products, especially those from elite designers. “Can they afford a Vera Wang? Can they afford a Diane von Furstenberg? I don’t think so,” Howard said. Obama’s highly targeted and stylized store is superior in the fundamentals of retail, Howard said, but the Romney site could get points with voters for the simplicity of its approach. “Romney is selling the steak, whereas Obama is selling the sizzle,” he said.


Sunday, June 17, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races


On Watergate’s 40th anniversary, a look back

Staff Writer [email protected]

From left: Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, who broke the Watergate story; President Richard Nixon; Nixon’s top aides, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman; and “Deep Throat,” the FBI’s W. Mark Felt.

orty years ago today, a crew of five men connected to President Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign were arrested in a bungled attempt to bug the Democratic Party headquarters in Washington. The scene of the crime: Watergate, an office-hotel complex whose name became the catchall phrase for describing the seedy inner workings of the White House and multiple investigations that toppled Nixon two years later. In a joint essay for The Washington Post this month, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein — the reporters made famous for their Watergate coverage — said Nixon lorded over a “massive campaign of political espionage, sabotage and other illegal activities against his real or perceived opponents.” “To a remarkable extent,” they wrote, Nixon had turned the White House “into a criminal enterprise.” To commemorate Watergate’s 40th anniversary, The Dallas Morning News asked three local political scientists to compile the most notorious Washington scandals, often driven by money, sex, politics and graft. Among the picks by Matthew Wilson of Southern Methodist University, Victoria Farrar-Myers of the University of Texas at Arlington and Richard Dougherty of the University of Dallas:


Watergate (1972-74)
What happened: A politically charged break-

Clinton-Lewinsky (1998)
What happened: Democratic President Bill Clinton — who had survived previous infidelity allegations — had an affair with a young intern, Monica Lewinsky. Questioned under oath, Clinton denied the accusations. He later admitted lying, and faced perjury and obstruction of justice charges in the House. The fallout: The House impeached Clinton, but the Senate did not remove him from office. He finished his term, leaving with generally high approval ratings. Lewinsky went on to design a line of handbags and study at the London School of Economics. Clinton’s dalliances became fodder for comedians and Republicans, including George W. Bush, who pledged to restore “honor and dignity” to the White House in a campaign in which he beat Clinton’s vice president, Al Gore. “As the first scandal of the Internet age, the Lewinsky affair took America’s scandal fixation to a whole new level.” — Wilson

The Iran-Contra affair (1986-87)
What happened: Congress had restricted President Ronald Reagan’s administration from aiding the anti-communist Contras in Nicaragua, much to Reagan’s displeasure. His aides and others turned around and secretly sold weapons to Iran during its war with Iraq. The administration used the profits to fund the Contras. The fallout: Lt. Col. Oliver North, a National Security Council aide, was indicted for running the operation and was fired. Chief of Staff Donald Regan and National Security Adviser John Poindexter resigned for their roles. It is widely believed that Reagan didn’t directly authorize the program, but he said his aides were overzealous. “This revealed how much latitude presidents were given to conduct matters of foreign policy, and the need for vigilance in our system of checks and balances.” — Farrar-Myers

The “Corrupt Bargain” (1824)
What happened: Gen. Andrew Jackson won the most popular and electoral votes in the four-way 1824 presidential election. But he didn’t get enough to claim victory. The election went to the House to decide. Led by Speaker Henry Clay, the fourth-place candidate, the House delivered the presidency to Secretary of State John Quincy Adams. Clay then was named secretary of state, much to the chagrin of Jackson’s supporters, who believed Adams and Clay had made a “corrupt bargain” to get their new jobs. The fallout: Adams’ presidency started on a sour note as public backlash mounted. The populist Jackson returned four years later to soundly defeat Adams, who became the second oneterm president in history at that point. The first? Adams’ father, John Adams, the second president. “Certainly, the election gave the appearance of corruption, and is very close to political bribery.” — Dougherty

in and a subsequent cover-up by the Nixon administration — revealed in part on secret Oval Office tapes. Investigations showed that the president and his allies had used illegal contributions, political “dirty tricks,” wiretaps and other criminal endeavors to stifle and embarrass political enemies. The fallout: Staring down impeachment by Congress and removal from office, Nixon, a Republican, became the first president to resign. Forty-eight people pleaded guilty or were convicted of Watergate-related crimes — a fate Nixon avoided after being pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford. Congress tightened donor rules in response to the Nixon campaign’s slush fund. And, the suffix “-gate” has been applied to many a political scandal since. “This brought down a sitting president, but more importantly has shaped the political landscape of how citizens feel about their government as well as how political actors and the media conduct themselves.” — Farrar-Myers


Sunday, June 10, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Turning the tide
Romney’s former GOP opponents endorse him despite nasty campaigns


n running for president, Rick Perry assailed Mitt Romney as a greedy Wall Street “vulture,” trashing workers in deals that enriched his investment firm. When the Texan’s campaign collapsed, he immediately endorsed Newt Gingrich, who branded Romney a liar and “timid moderate.” But now that Romney has powered ahead to claim the Republican nomination, his former rivals have decided to let bygones be bygones. All those bad things we said, well, never mind.

“We were looking for some ways to score some points, and it didn’t work,” Perry told CNN last month. Gingrich said he was outgunned. “I threw the kitchen sink at him. He threw a bigger kitchen sink at me. It wasn’t fun,” he said of Romney. Still, also-rans’ can’t hide from their earlier barbs, even as they’ve coughed up varying degrees of endorsements. Below is a sampling of their anti-Romney attacks, and the efforts at making nice afterward as he takes on President Barack Obama:

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

Getty Images

Getty Images

The former Pennsylvania senator waited a month after dropping out to back Romney, and then emailed a tepid endorsement late at night. He finally declared his support near the end of his 16-paragraph statement. THEN “He is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama,” Santorum said, referring to Romney’s push for a state health care law in Massachusetts. “If Mitt Romney’s an economic heavyweight, we’re in trouble, because he was 47th out of 50 in job creation [as Massachusetts governor]. He may have had some success at making money for himself and his partners at Bain Capital, and I give him a lot of credit for doing so, but that’s a very different thing than going out and creating an atmosphere” for creating jobs. NOW “There are many significant areas in which we agree: the need for lower taxes, smaller government and a reduction in out-of-control spending. … While I had concerns about Governor Romney … fighting against Obamacare, I have no doubt if elected he will work with a Republican Congress to repeal it and replace it.”

Gingrich, the former House speaker, didn’t formally endorse Romney when he quit but spoke well of him and later said that was close enough. THEN “Why would you want to nominate the guy who lost to the guy who lost to Obama?” “We are not going to beat Barack Obama with some guy who has Swiss bank accounts, Cayman Island accounts, owns shares of Goldman Sachs while it forecloses on Florida and … he tries to think the rest of us are too stupid to … understand what this is all about.” “A bold Reagan conservative with a very strong economic plan is a lot more likely to succeed in that campaign than a relatively timid Massachusetts moderate.” NOW “Compared to Barack Obama, Mitt Romney is a solid conservative. … What’s the choice this November? … A failed president at the economy and somebody who has a solid record on jobs and who, in fact, on basic principles, is conservative.”

The Minnesota congresswoman took four months after leaving the race to endorse Romney. She campaigned with him in Virginia but didn’t bring up health care in their appearance. THEN “He can’t beat Obama because his policy is the basis of Obamacare. … You can’t have a candidate who has given the blueprint for Obamacare….It’s not going to happen.” “He’s been very inconsistent on his positions. He’s been on both sides of the abortion issue, on both sides of the issue with same-sex marriage … he was for the TARP bill, the $700 billion bailout and the global warming initiatives.” NOW “He’s very smart. He has a very optimistic message. Women trust him because they see this is a man who started a business from scratch, for heaven’s sake.” “One thing that Mitt Romney has demonstrated, he will repeal Obamacare. … A lot of people know Mitt Romney’s positive agenda.”

The governor didn’t come around to endorsing Romney until after the Gingrich exit. At the state GOP convention last week, Perry said he “will proudly cast” his vote for Romney. THEN “You failed as the governor of Massachusetts.” “If you are a victim of Bain Capital’s downsizing, it’s the ultimate insult for Mitt Romney to … tell you he feels your pain, because he caused it.” “I have no doubt that Mitt Romney was worried about pink slips — whether he’d have enough of them to hand out.” “Companies like Bain Capital could have come in and helped these companies if they truly were venture capitalists, but they’re not — they’re vulture capitalists.” NOW Romney offers “a disciplined message of restoring America after nearly four years of failed, job-killing policies from President Obama.” Romney brings “private sector experience” that Obama doesn’t have and “understands that government is not the answer to everything.”


Sunday, June 3, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Pulling no punch lines
Hopefuls don’t take themselves too seriously as jokes fly around
Staff Writer [email protected] Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer CBS

President Barack Obama taped an appearance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon in April in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney appeared on Late Show with David Letterman in December to deliver a Top 10 list.

Jay Leno follows a simple rule in political comedy. He says it’s like dealing with the mafia. “Don’t go after the wives or the children. But as long as you just hit the candidates, anything’s fair,” he told NBC’s David Gregory in April. Welcome to the silly season. Comics again are taking aim, although some of their shots are falling short of previous chuckle-filled targets, such as Sarah “You Betcha” Palin, George W. Bush’s mangled language and Bill Clinton’s proclivities. Still, there’s plenty of fodder — hey, Secret Service — even as the presidential hopefuls hit the late-night talk shows and try to be … well, funny. In some ways, getting laughed at is a rite of passage, even a status symbol, for any serious candidate. Being mocked by Leno on The Tonight Show, David Letterman on CBS’ The Late Show or on Saturday Night Live means you’ve taken the leap into America’s consciousness. Of course, candidates who appear on those programs often are looking to boost their

image, reach new voters or even perform damage control. President Barack Obama has made several stops on late-night TV. So have all the major Republicans this cycle, including Mitt Romney. Rick Perry, after his embarrassing “oops” debate last November, took to Letterman’s show to poke fun at himself. The governor introduced a Top 10 list of reasons why he messed up. (No. 6: “Hey, listen, you try concentrating with Mitt Romney smiling at you — that is one handsome dude.”) Leno said in the NBC interview that Clinton and Bush the younger were a constant source of material, what he called the “golden age” of political humor. Now, heading into the fall election, comedians have built themes around Obama (overpromised and dull) and Romney (rich and dull). Whatever the focus, Letterman said the jokes are not written to sway an election.  He said some viewers might believe they favor certain candidates, “but it’s not driven out of anything more serious than who’s easier to make fun of,” he said last week  on CNN. “You just want to get a laugh.”

AT A GLANCE A sampling of late-night laughs
“Newt Gingrich might look for a way to get into President Romney’s Cabinet … because he heard there’s a bunch of jelly doughnuts in there.” — Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama has revealed his new re-election slogan — ‘Forward.’ That’s a good message for Obama. He’s telling voters, ‘Whatever you do, don’t look back at all those campaign promises I made.’ ” “There’s been an increasing buzz that Mitt Romney will pick a vice president who’s safe, white and duller than him. Which pretty much narrows it down to a piece of chalk.” “This John Edwards trial? … Talk about a fall from grace. I don’t know what kind of president John Edwards would have been, but I’m pretty sure he would have gotten along really well with the Secret Service.” “Bad news for CNN. They just had their lowest rating in 15 years. Their ratings are so low that today Jesse Jackson turned them down for an interview.”

“A couple of weeks ago Dick Cheney, former vice president, had a heart transplant. … His donor was a villager whose carriage broke down outside of Cheney’s castle.” “Mitt Romney and his family have a big two-day weekend planned. They’re going to hike to the top of his money.” “How about that Rick Perry? … To satisfy environmentalists, he is now using solar power. And this is brilliant thinking, this guy is a visionary — using solar power to run the Texas electric chair.” “Barack Obama supports same-sex marriage. Mitt Romney doesn’t even support same-sex car pools.”

“Texas Gov. Rick Perry endorsed Mitt Romney for president. Perry said he chose Romney because out of the one candidate left, he’s the best.” “At a conference yesterday, George W. Bush said he wishes people would stop referring to his tax policy as the ‘Bush tax cuts.’ He also wishes people would stop referring to his presidency as the ‘eight-year oopsy.’ ” “Next month a new biography is going to come out about the life of 300-pound New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The biography is called Are You Going To Finish That?” “Conservatives are now criticizing President Obama because as a child in Indonesia, he sometimes ate dog meat. But on the plus side, Obama is now polling very well among cats.”

“I used the term socialism in the year 2000, before Obama ruined it for everybody. … Apparently socialism is like cholesterol. Social Security and Medicare are the good kind. ‘Obamacare’ is the bad kind, unadulterated socialism. …” — Jon Stewart “Today Herman Cain endorsed Mitt Romney. This is possibly very important because as goes Herman Cain, so go the other two black Republicans in America.” — Jimmy Kimmel “There is an HBO movie about the 2008 presidential election. Apparently John McCain is very unhappy with the way he was portrayed. He said he came across as a clueless and angry man. No one had the heart to tell him he was watching the toaster.” — Craig Ferguson “I don’t like this new Obama who hunts Muslim extremists. I like the old Obama who WAS a Muslim extremist.” — Stephen Colbert


Sunday, May 27, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Most likely to succeed? I
Senate hopefuls showed knack for leadership early on
Ted Cruz Houston, Class of ’88
Ted Cruz, 41, a lawyer and the state’s former solicitor general, was a busy student, but his focus at Second Baptist High School in Houston didn’t revolve around politics. His senior picture, listing him as Rafael Edward Cruz, recapped activities in several organizations, including the yearbook and newspaper staffs, captain of the speech team and drama club president. Fond of theatrics, the young Cruz starred in the school’s productions of Oliver and The Sound of Music. He also played on the Eagles’ basketball and soccer teams. Cruz graduated in 1988 and attended Princeton University before earning his law degree from Harvard University. Later, he clerked at the Supreme Court, worked at a Washington law firm and served in the Bush administration.

f life really is like high school, Texas voters can choose their next senator from familiar cliques: the jocks, the theater kids and the debaters. Reflected by their senior yearbooks, the

top Republican candidates in Tuesday’s primary were an ambitious bunch, showing early signs of leadership.

Craig James Houston, Class of ’79
Craig James, 51, a former ESPN analyst, was a multi-team phenom at Stratford High School in Houston. He played football all four years in high school and was a star running back on the Spartans’ Class 4A championship team in 1978. He was a pitcher and first baseman on the baseball team throughout high school, and played basketball and ran track his freshman year. James graduated in 1979, and the Stratford yearbook includes his picture signing a scholarship offer from SMU. He went on to play for the New England Patriots before getting into sports broadcasting. Living in Celina, north of Dallas, he’s also a rancher and real estate developer.

National Honor Society National Merit semifinalist Honor Roll Basketball Soccer Key Club Yearbook staff Newspaper staff Drama Club, Drama Club president Speech team, speech team captain Cast, The Sound of Music Cast, Papa Was a Preacher, Oliver

With his yearbook picture is a quote from Douglas Adams, who wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the universe is for and why it is here it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another which states that this has already happened.”

Varsity football Varsity baseball Basketball Track team

David Dewhurst Houston, Class of ’63
In the Senate race, David Dewhurst, 66, is making his fifth bid for statewide office after winning three terms as lieutenant governor and, before that, once as land commissioner. That electioneering bug also was evident at Lamar High School in Houston, where he served on the Student Council and in a debating league. Dewhurst, at 6 feet 5 inches tall, also was on the Lamar Redskins varsity basketball team. He graduated in 1963 and attended the University of Arizona, where he studied English and played basketball. After college, he was an officer in the Air Force and later a CIA staffer in Bolivia. When he returned to Houston, he started an oil and gas company and eventually made a fortune selling cogeneration plants that converted waste heat into energy.

Tom Leppert Phoenix, Class of ’73
Tom Leppert, 57, a former Dallas mayor, was on both the debate and speech teams at Alhambra High School in Phoenix. He was a Student Council representative and active in DeMolay, a group devoted to civic and leadership training. He also was elected State Master Councilor. His senior year, Leppert lettered in golf for the Alhambra Lions. He graduated in 1973, went to Claremont McKenna College in California and later got an MBA from Harvard. He worked for several businesses before becoming CEO of Turner Corp., a commercial building company.

Debate team Speech team Student Council Golf team DeMolay

Student Council representative National Forensic League Varsity basketball Christian Student Union

Compiled by staff writer Sommer Ingram, Austin Bureau, [email protected]


Sunday, May 20, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse

“Moral certainty, clear standards, and a commitment to spiritual ideals will set you apart in a world that searches for meaning.”
Mitt Romney
At the Christian university, Romney praised God’s ability to “reawaken our hearts” in “a world that searches for meaning.” “Culture — what you believe, what you value, how you live — matters.” Alluding to tensions between Mormons like himself and evangelical Protestants, Romney said “people of different faiths” should strive to find common ground. “Surely the answer is that we can meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview.” He stressed the importance of protecting religious freedom, saying it “opens a door for Americans that is closed to too many others around the world,” even in the face of opposition. “The more you live by your beliefs, the more you will endure the censure of the world. Christianity is not the faith of the complacent, the comfortable or of the timid.” He talked of his recruitment to help the scandal-plagued 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, when he was busy and involved in other ventures. “Opportunities for you to serve in meaningful ways may come at inconvenient times, but that will make them all the more precious.” He told the graduates to avoid treating “trivial things as all-important” and losing sight of “the one thing that endures forever.” “Among the things in life that can be put off, being there when it matters most isn’t one of them.”

A few words of advice
Focus on family and faith. Embrace bold activism. Fight for your seat at the table. Relish public service, even at inconvenient times.
hat’s a slice of the advice the rivals for president offered this month to the Class of 2012, Mitt Romney at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and Barack Obama at Barnard College in New York. For the graduates, the dueling speeches reflected a dynamic far different than standard commencements. The usual real-world tips were mixed with political and religious overtones, aimed at conservatives, women and other key voting groups.
From staff and wire reports

Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse

“Don’t accept somebody else’s construction of the way things ought to be. … It’s up to you to hold the system accountable and sometimes upend it entirely.”
Barack Obama
Obama urged graduates of the all-women’s school to help rekindle America’s “can-do” spirit and actively shape the nation’s future. “Don’t just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.” He said they should reject the pop-culture fascination with beauty and fashion, instead becoming role models for future generations needed in key professions such as science, education and technology. “Never underestimate the power of your example.” He called on today’s youth to be bold activists — leaders and organizers — for causes of social justice. “It’s up to you to stand up and to be heard, to write, and to lobby, to march, to organize, to vote.” He said that America’s problems are “eminently solvable” but that people must “muster the will in our own lives, in our common institutions, in our politics” to bring about changes. “How far your leadership takes this country, how far it takes this world — well, that will be up to you. You’ve got to want it. It will not be handed to you. He stressed the importance of keeping at it, even when faced with daunting setbacks. “Persevere. Nothing worthwhile is easy. No one of achievement has avoided failure — sometimes catastrophic failures. But they keep at it. They learn from mistakes. They don’t quit.”



Sunday, May 13, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Even power players get worried
What happens to D.C.’s pundits, celebrities when ‘Jeopardy!’ comes to town?
Special Contributor

WASHINGTON — TV’s hot, glaring lights. A flurry of hostile questions. And the pressure to react quickly without stumbling. That’s what Dana Perino faced daily as press secretary for the last Texan in the White House, a routine that brought on fewer jitters than her stint on Jeopardy! at a special taping in the nation’s capital. “In my last job, I could figure out what you all were going to ask,” she said of her work for former President George W. Bush. “In this one, I have no idea.” That pre-show anxiety was shared by others on the “Power Players” edition, a lineup pulled from Washington’s oft-combustible mix of media and politics. In Dallas, the charity match will air at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday on KTVT-TV (Channel 11). Host Alex Trebek, taking the show to DAR Constitution Hall, said politicians don’t perform any better or worse than regular contestants. It all depends on the category. “Some are bright and do very well; some are bright and don’t do well,” he told reporters at last month’s taping. Backed by an Abraham Lincoln statue, white columns and a giant American flag, Trebek ran the players through rehearsals, firing questions — er, make that answers — that not surprisingly had a healthy dose of history and government.

Kris Connor/Getty Images

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dana Perino and David Faber tested their reflexes at a rehearsal before a taping of Jeopardy! Power Players Week at DAR Constitution Hall in April.

IN THE KNOW Game for debate
Despite 28 years as Jeopardy!’s quiz-meister, Alex Trebek says he’d jump at the chance to host another question-laden forum: a presidential debate. Trebek said he’d try to “bring the everyman approach in terms of questioning, rather than the intelligentsia” gotcha method used by some moderators.

The 15 contestants included New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Fox News’ Chris Wallace, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, comedian Lewis Black, NBC’s Chuck Todd, Dr. Mehmet Oz and former NBA star (and all-time leading scor-

er) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. “Probably all of us on the stage have a repository in our minds for useful and useless information,” said Robert Gibbs, President Barack Obama’s former press secretary. Friedman compared it to a “journalistic Hunger Games,” the wildly popular book and movie. “I just want to be there: a survivor at the end.” The winner in each round gets $50,000 for charity and the runners-up $10,000. In the practice sessions, Abdul-Jabbar was among the most popular, judging by audience applause as he repeatedly nailed the answers. Pitted against Perino, now a Fox News commentator, and CNBC anchor David Faber, he jumped out fast, even hitting the “Daily Double” category of “Quotations.” “Andy Warhol predicted that in the future, everyone would

be famous for this long.” He got it right — “What is 15 minutes?” — boosting his bankroll to $15,600. “Final Jeopardy,” accented by its familiar jingle, asked for the landmark that’s “277 miles long, as much as 18 miles wide, 6 million years old and at a given time, temperatures within it can vary by 25 degrees.” Perhaps influenced by the locale, Abdul-Jabbar wrote, “What is the Potomac River?” The correct response was the Grand Canyon, giving Perino the victory. Trebek later said Jeopardy! has a broader purpose than simply rewarding those who know arcane facts. “It’s a show that tries to encourage a love of learning and a curiosity about everything in life. And if we can achieve that, then we will be very happy because we will consider ourselves a success.”

$200: What was Dallas? $400: Who was Dwight Eisenhower? $600: Who is Bill Clinton? $800: Who is Ross Perot? $1000: Who is Jimmy Carter? Final Jeopardy: What is the Department of Energy?

The Dallas Morning News



Sunday, May 6, 2012


In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

From shadows to scandal
Before Colombia, Secret Service had long history of ups, downs
The Secret Service often is in the shadows, silently standing guard over public officials. But suddenly the agency finds itself mired in a scandal involving prostitutes and other misconduct overseas. Lawmakers and internal investigators are reviewing the agents’ behavior and any implications for the safety of those they protect, starting with President Barack Obama. Already, the Secret Service has forced out eight officers, disciplined three and moved to revoke the security clearance of another because of sexual misbehavior on their trip last month to Cartagena, Colombia, to set up security for an Obama visit. A dozen military personnel also have had their security clearances suspended. Whether the night of carousing in Colombia exposed an apparent laxness of culture and accountability within the agency won’t be settled for some time. Still, the fallout has roiled an organization best known for its inherent mission: the agents’ willingness to take a bullet for those they protect. Stoked in part by Hollywood myth, the public face of the service is one of steely professionals in dark sunglasses and impeccable suits, wearing earpieces and packing discreet weapons. Here’s a look at its history and operations:

File 2008/The Associated Press

The elite Secret Service agents on Air Force One have not been implicated in the sex scandal.

The latest embarrassment comes more than two years after a pair of uninvited guests, Michaele and Tareq Salahi of Virginia, talked their way past Secret Service officers at the White House to enter a state dinner and mingle with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Outcome: Three agents were disciplined, and the White House social secretary, Desiree Rogers, lost her job.

Diversity efforts
Women make up about 25 percent of the agency’s workforce, but only about 11 percent of agents and uniformed officers, a shortage some attribute to travel demands that can be especially taxing on women balancing families and careers. The Secret Service says it aggressively recruits women, targeting college programs and female-oriented career fairs.
Outcome: The percentage of women field agents and uniformed officers still is lower than the 19 percent who are special agents in the FBI. Women have been included on presidential detail assignments for years, though the agency does not provide gender breakdowns on that.

Cadillac One
The Secret Service unveiled a new presidential limo for Obama’s inaugural parade in 2009, a heavily armored, tech-savvy GM Cadillac nicknamed “The Beast.” The upgraded limo features 5-inch-thick armor plating, tires that can roll even when flat and bulletproof windows. The interior is hermetically sealed in case of a chemical attack.
Outcome: After Kennedy was shot, the Lincoln Continental convertible — in which he was a shockingly vulnerable target — was rebuilt, including a high-performance V8 engine and heavy-duty transmission. Most significantly, its bubbletop was no longer removable.

Elite squad Increased security
The Obamas have been keenly aware of the risks inherent in the job of protecting the first black president and his family. He started receiving protection in the spring of 2007, nine months before the Democratic primaries began and the earliest initiation of protection for any candidate in history.
Keeping track: When Obama took office, threats against the president were up 400 percent from when George W. Bush was in office. They have since returned to about 3,000 a year, roughly the same number as when Bush was president.

There’s a difference between the elite agents on Air Force One, who have not been implicated in the sex scandal, and those involved in Colombia, who had more peripheral duties. The protective detail sees Obama day in and day out, from the basketball court to the rope lines, from the giant auditoriums to the unannounced street walkabouts. Although presidential details get most of the attention, the service also is responsible for operating X-ray checks before allowing entry to secure areas, keeping files on thousands of people who have made even vague threats, working on sniper teams and handling bomb detection and disposal.
Historical footnote: President John F. Kennedy’s fatal shooting in 1963 in Dallas was the only assassination on the Secret Service’s watch. Since then, Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan survived highly public assassination attempts.

Internal overhaul
Mark Sullivan, the agency director since 2006, has taken swift action since the Colombia allegations. He’s ordered that supervisors will chaperone certain trips, officers will be told establishments they can’t patronize, and drinking will be more restricted. They are also barred from bringing foreigners to their rooms unless they are hotel staff or law enforcement counterparts.
Outcome: Last week, the Secret Service conducted the first of now-mandatory ethics courses for its 3,500 agents and 1,400 uniformed officers. From wire reports

Chasing counterfeiters
Though the service is widely known today for its protective duties, it was founded to catch counterfeiters after the Civil War. It still carries out that role as part of a portfolio of financial crime investigations. After President William McKinley’s 1901 assassination, Congress put it in charge of guarding presidents, then an expanding list of family members, U.S. and visiting foreign officials, and political candidates.
Historical footnote: President Abraham Lincoln discussed forming the agency under the Treasury Department on the day he was assassinated in 1865.


Sunday, April 29, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running
Top (political) teams
NBA players, owners and executives donated about $2.6 million to federal candidates and political committees from 2009 through the end of 2011, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Here’s a look at the NBA’s most politically active teams. Democrats Republicans

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Mavs not among assist leaders
Staff Writer [email protected]

1. Magic 2.





San Antonio Spurs

10% 90%



Miami Heat





Boston Celtics





Sacramento Kings





Indiana Pacers Milwaukee Bucks








Cleveland Cavaliers



$114,550 61% to Democrats

More than 60 percent — about $1.6 million — of the basketball money went to Democrats over the past two years.


Washington Wizards





Phoenix Suns



$62,300 1% Others


Dallas Mavericks

11% 89% $45,000

38% Republicans

SOURCE: Center for Responsive Politics

Michael Hogue/Staff Artist

Vince Carter — the Dallas Mavericks guard known for throwing it down — didn’t hesitate to go for a slam dunk when President Barack Obama’s campaign asked to hold a fundraiser at his Florida home. Determined to make the $30,000-a-plate dinner in February highlight-worthy, Carter brought in guests such as NBA Commissioner David Stern, Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul and retired Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson. And to get at the president’s hoops-mad heart, Carter even set up the party on his indoor basketball court. “More than anything — it doesn’t matter who, Democratic or Republican president — it’s just an honor to host a president,” Carter said after a recent game. “That was big for me.” The fete, which raised more than $2 million for Obama and the Democratic National Committee, solidified Carter as the Mavs’ political superstar. But as the defending champs enter the playoffs, Carter’s efforts may not be enough to help the Mavs break into the top tier of NBA-related donors. Dallas tallied just $45,000 in contributions to federal candidates and political committees from 2009 through the end of last year, according to research by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. That figure — part of the overall $2.6 million from players, executives and other team officials — left the Mavs in 16th place in the 30-team NBA. At the top of the list? Hated rivals, such as Orlando, San Antonio and Miami. Carter said athletes and other celebrities should have at least “some knowledge of what’s going on.” But he added that he’s not going to

U.S. Presswire

Vince Carter’s contribution off the court: a $2 million fundraiser for the president and the Democratic National Committee.

pressure his teammates, coaches or other coworkers to get more involved in elections. “It’s their preference,” he said. “Some people are comfortable with it. Some are uncomfortable with it.” Take Mavs owner Mark Cuban, who attended Carter’s Obama event but didn’t donate. Asked about the NBA and political giving, Cuban cut off the question and said he wasn’t going to talk about that. “There’s no upside and there’s no downside” to commenting, said Cuban, who last donated to a federal candidate in 2002. Carter admitted getting some flak for hosting Obama. But the high-flying guard said he’s drawn to Obama — not only for the president’s accomplishments, but also for his charisma. “With all of the wonderful things he’s done, all the pressure that he has, he still comes and makes you feel comfortable,” Carter said. “He has so much going on, he can’t really relax and have a good time. But for that night, for a couple hours, he got to be himself.”

AT A GLANCE Big givers off the court
David Stern, NBA commissioner, $311,400 to Democrats Peter Holt, San Antonio Spurs owner, $232,200 to Republicans Richard DeVos, Orlando Magic owner, $213,100 to Republicans Micky Arison, Miami Heat owner, $194,000 to Democrats Stephen Pagliuca, Boston Celtics owner, $168,800 to Democrats


Sunday, April 22, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

VP pick: Play it safe or shake it up? F
or the next few months, all eyes in the political world will be on Mitt Romney’s search for a running mate, a process that started last week when the all-but-certain GOP nominee chose a longtime aide, Beth Myers, to conduct his hunt. Romney, battered coming out of the Republican primaries, needs someone who can reassure conservatives that he’s one of them, help sway swing voters, appear ready to be president at a moment’s notice, and perhaps help compensate for his weakness in connecting with voters and giving them a candidate they can relate to. Romney’s potential picks fall into three broad categories. Here’s a look at each:
Obama ammo to argue that Romney wants to go back to ideas some voters blame for the economic collapse. BOB McDONNELL Pro: The Virginia governor is popular in his state and can talk jobs and the economy. Con: Like Romney, he’s a middle-age, white one-term governor. MITCH DANIELS Pro: Like Portman, the Indiana governor is a budget whiz. Con: He also served under Bush. JOHN THUNE Pro: The telegenic South Dakota senator is solid on the stump. Con: He’s little-known. TIM PAWLENTY Pro: The former Minnesota governor can connect with middle-class voters. Con: His flop of a presidential campaign proved his limits.

The conservatives
Mission: Shore up the GOP’s base voters and fire them up for the election. PAUL RYAN Pro: As architect of the House GOP’s budget plans, the Wisconsin congressman is adored for tackling entitlement spending and seeking deep tax cuts. Con: Barack Obama’s campaign could tag Romney as seeking to dismantle popular programs, and Ryan is a Washington insider while Romney is running as a government outsider. RICK SANTORUM Pro: As the GOP runner-up, he would excite social conservatives. Con: He could scare off swing voters, particularly independent women. CHRIS CHRISTIE Pro: Republicans love the New Jersey governor’s confrontational style. Con: He could alienate voters with his bluntness and create headaches for the campaign. MIKE HUCKABEE Pro: The former Arkansas governor is smooth on TV and on the stump and has bona fides with Christian conservatives. Con: He just started a new radio career and may have future ambitions of his own. PAT TOOMEY Pro: The Pennsylvania senator is popular with economic conservatives. Con: He doesn’t add a lot of excitement to the ticket.

KELLY AYOTTE Pro: The New Hampshire senator is well-liked by conservatives. Con: She’s from the Northeast, like Romney, and geographic balance is helpful. SUSANA MARTINEZ Pro: The New Mexico governor could reach two groups that the GOP has trouble with. Con: She’s new to office in a small state, and little is known about her background. ALSO BEING FLOATED: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint.

Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press

Mitt Romney needs a running mate who can reassure conservatives that he’s one of them.

Qualities that matter…
LOYAL: A running mate has to be able to spread the nominee’s message, not his or her own, and serve as a relentless attack dog on the opposition. CLEAN RECORD: Vice presidential vetting is intense, and problems with finances, political favors or family scandals will be heavily scrubbed. GAFFE-FREE: The rule for a running mate is first, do no harm. Mistakes will be magnified and distract from the candidate’s efforts.

The game changers
Mission: Appeal to new groups of voters, especially women and minorities. MARCO RUBIO Pro: The Florida senator could help win over Hispanic voters, who are souring on the GOP. Con: He’s untested nationally and could be much more conservative than swing voters realize. NIKKI HALEY Pro: As a woman and an Indian-American, the South Carolina governor would present a new GOP image. Con: There have been rumblings of scandal in her home state. BOBBY JINDAL Pro: He’s a veteran governor known as a problem-solver. Con: He can come across as wonky and lacking pizzazz.

Rob Portman

… And one that doesn’t:
HOME STATE: While every candidate would like to win Florida, Ohio and other key swing states, the running-mate selection is too broad for most candidates to focus so narrowly. And there’s not much evidence that a running mate can help a candidate carry a state he wouldn’t otherwise take. Consider this: Four of the last five running-mate picks have been from states the nominee was certain to win — Dick Cheney (Wyoming), Joe Lieberman (Connecticut), Sarah Palin (Alaska) and Joe Biden (Delaware). The fifth, John Edwards, came from North Carolina, a state that John Kerry couldn’t take under almost any circumstances.

The steady eddies
Mission: Project seriousness and readiness to govern. ROB PORTMAN Pro: The Ohio senator has budget experience as a former White House aide. Con: He served under George W. Bush, giving

Marco Rubio

The bottom line
Romney is known as someone who cautiously weighs pros and cons of each side and likes to avoid risk. That makes someone like Portman the early favorite, unless Romney slumps in the polls and needs to shake up the race. Then, Rubio or even Ryan is more likely.

Paul Ryan


Sunday, April 15, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Does wealth cost?
How millionaire candidates handle their status plays big role in influencing voters
THE RIVALS Size of wallet
Mitt Romney: The former Massachusetts governor and Harvard Business School grad has a net worth, estimated at the high end, of $250 million, made largely through his private equity firm Bain Capital. Barack Obama: The former law professor, civil rights lawyer, senator and current president is worth at least $5 million, mainly from book royalties. His annual salary: $400,000.

IN THE WHITE HOUSE Haves and have-nots
A sample of presidential finances compiled by 24/7 Wall St., a news and analysis website, based on their peak net worth, accumulated both in and out office, in 2010 dollars: John F. Kennedy (1961-63) Net worth: $1 billion Born into wealth built by his father, Kennedy never inherited the family estate. He was notorious for not carrying money, and friends often had to slip him some cash. He donated his $100,000 annual presidential pay to charity. George Washington (1789–97) Net worth: $525 million His family was wealthy, and his Virginia plantation, Mount Vernon, consisted of five separate farms on 8,000 acres. Andrew Jackson (1829-37) Net worth: $119 million As one of the wealthiest presidents of the 19th century, he had a fortune that stemmed from real estate deals made while he was an Army general. Lyndon B. Johnson (1963–69) Net worth: $98 million The Texan’s father lost the family’s money when LBJ was a boy. Over time, he acquired 1,500 acres in Blanco County, which included his home. Most of his wealth came from land deals and a radio and TV station in Austin. Herbert Hoover (1929–33) Net worth: $75 million He made a fortune as a mining company executive and in investments. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-45) Net worth: $60 million The Wall Street lawyer and politician’s wealth came through inheritance and marriage. He owned properties in Georgia, Maine and New York. Bill Clinton (1993–2001) Net worth: $38 million Clinton gained little net worth during his time in office. Later, he earned substantial income from speeches and received a large advance for an autobiography and other books. George W. Bush (2001-08) Net worth: $20 million Bush was born into a wealthy family. He made money in the oil business and in the profitable sale of the Texas Rangers.

Staff Writer [email protected]

The super rich generally don’t jockey to live in the White House. A few have toyed with the idea, most notably New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, ranked by Forbes as the 12th-richest American, worth $19.5 billion. A lesser billionaire, Dallas businessman Ross Perot, bankrolled his own third-party campaigns in 1992 and 1996.

As if leaping gas prices and lingering jobless claims weren’t enough, April’s looming tax day reminds many Americans about the money they don’t make. It’s the kind of chatter that’s also spilled over into the presidential race, focusing on the wealth of those who run the country — or hope to do so. Rivals have targeted Republican Mitt Romney’s vast fortune, painting him as an aloof millionaire detached from the realities of ordinary life. Romney, who ran a private equity firm, has tried to fend off that image. But he has made gaffes about it and sometimes strained to relate to bluecollar workers. Millionaire status hasn’t always deterred voters. John F. Kennedy, heir to a family fortune and quite possibly the country’s richest president, was beloved by hardscrabble families. Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose wealth stemmed largely from inheritance and marriage, managed to energize a nation. Former President George W. Bush avoided the rich guy label altogether, minimizing his Ivy League upbringing in favor of the swaggering everyman who preferred cowboy boots to cuff links. So, does wealth matter when it comes to selecting a president? Turns out, money’s only the half of it. “A lot of it has to do with personality, attitude and behavior,” said Susan Dadres, a University of North Texas senior economics lecturer who studies income inequality. Romney, for example, amassed most of his money through business while Kennedy benefited from a family trust. “You can forgive someone for inheriting wealth,” Dadres said, “unless they can’t connect with everyday people.” In other words, the Beatles might have been right: Money can’t buy love.

THE FLIP SIDE Serving in the White House doesn’t always mean a lifetime of financial security: Ulysses S. Grant (1869-77) He may be on a big bill but often lived well beyond his means. He invested in a fund that went bust and sold his swords and souvenirs to survive. He also peddled his memoirs for half a million dollars, published shortly after his death. Thomas Jefferson (1801–09) Author of the Declaration of Independence, he died virtually bankrupt. He made considerable money in political positions before becoming president but was mired in debt near the end of his life. Abraham Lincoln (1861-65) To the log cabin born, his early life and bad investments left him in financial ruin. His later career as a lawyer eventually brought him out of complete poverty. Harry Truman (1945-53) Truman was a haberdasher hurt by poor business deals. It was Truman’s sad financial state that inspired the doubling of the presidential salary. He and his wife were the first two official recipients of Medicare.

SOURCES: 247wallst.com, McClatchy News Service, Dallas Morning News research


Sunday, April 8, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Putting pedals to the metal

Just call campaign the White House 500
Staff Writer [email protected]

Mitt Romney passed the Rick Santorum-sponsored car a day before this year’s Daytona 500 race in February. He’s passed the former Pennsylvania senator in the GOP convention delegate count, too.

Eddie Gossage already is a president, of Texas Motor Speedway. So he doesn’t draw much juice from political campaigns as horse races. But NASCAR — with its bumper EDDIE grinds, constant lead GOSSAGE changes and spectacular crashes, as well as an inextricable link to politics and heartland voters — is fair game. “A typical NASCAR fan is somebody who’s hardworking. Their blood runs red, white and blue. They fight for

this country and they vote,” Gossage said. “They are what we were all taught by our mommas and dads to be.” The latest presidential contest has only reinforced the link. Republican Rick Santorum sponsored a car in the Daytona 500, Tony Raines’ Ford Fusion, featuring the campaign’s soaring eagle logo. “Hang back there until the right time, and then bolt to the front when it really counts,” Santorum said in a burst of advice that mirrors his campaign strategy. Raines, a journeyman driver, finished19th. GOP front-runner Mitt Romney visited the Speedway a day before the Feb. 27 race. He left facing questions about whether he was out of touch with hardcore fans.

Romney schmoozed with pit crews and others, telling reporters that he didn’t follow the circuit closely “but I have some great friends that are NASCAR team owners.” President Barack Obama has hosted top drivers at the White House, including Sprint Cup series champ Jimmie Johnson. Touting the sport’s importance, especially in its ties with the U.S. auto industry, Obama told ESPN: “If somebody’s excited about NASCAR, that means they’re excited about cars. And we want to make sure people know what great American cars are.” Taking up that cue, the Democratic Party is organizing a Labor Day rally for its convention delegates at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Closer to home, Friday’s O’Reilly

Political curves
NASCAR and politics have blended since at least the late 1970s: That’s when President Jimmy Carter, a former ticket collector at Atlanta Motor Speedway, invited drivers to a White House dinner. His successor, Ronald Reagan, became the first president to attend a NASCAR race, in 1984. President George W. Bush went to the 2004 Daytona 500, where Dale Earnhardt Jr. captured the checkered flag.

President Barack Obama honored 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson (right) on the White House lawn in August 2009.

File/The Associated Press

Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth includes driver Jason Bowles, sponsored by American Majority, a group that trains and supports conservative candidates. NASCAR is hardly the only sport that mixes with politics. But Gossage said it offers a unique platform: “You can’t put ‘Obama 2012’ on the back of Tony Romo’s jersey. But you can put it on the hood of a car.” Since at least 2004, savvy candidates have targeted “NASCAR dads” — generally blue-collar, middle-aged white men from the Midwest and South. Seen as a swing demographic a decade ago, they have since moved decisively to the GOP side, pollsters say. That, in turn, has stirred up internal clashes. Romney, Santorum and Newt Gingrich have contended for position among stock car-lovin’ voters. And Gov. Rick Perry sponsored Bobby Labonte’s car in a race at Texas Motor Speedway before his April 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Gossage said the appeal is woven into the American fabric. “Even in our worst days, we’re still the only sport that draws 100,000 or more at every event,” he said, ever the marketer. “Some people have said we’re seeing the death of racing and the automobile. If NASCAR is dead, then everything is dead.”

Revved-up names

Mitt Romney’s Secret Service code name is a shout-out to cars. It’s Javelin, an apparent reference to the hard-top muscle car produced in the late 1960s and early ’70s by American Motors Corp., once run by his father, George Romney. Rick Santorum’s is Petrus, partly in honor of his Italian grandfather, Pietro. The Latin word for “Peter” and for “rock” is Petrus. Those under protection usually choose from a list of suggestions. The not-so-secret names include: Renegade: Barack Obama, during his 2008 presidential campaign Tumbler/Trailblazer: George W. Bush Eagle: Bill Clinton Timberwolf: George H.W. Bush Rawhide: Ronald Reagan Deacon: Jimmy Carter Because of encrypted communication capabilities, the names have no operational security significance. They’re more about tradition and ease in radio chatter when tracking movements. Staff and wire reports


Sunday, April 1, 2012



In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Crunch time for candidates
Political probabilities

The highest unemployment rate a president has faced and still won since World War II. The latest jobless rate: 8.3 percent.

Republicans can’t subtract math’s importance from race
Staff Writer [email protected]

Republicans, riches and ’rithmetic

Former candidate Herman Cain’s chief policy, a 9 percent tax on consumer purchases, a 9 percent business tax and a 9 percent flat-rate income tax.

The amount the Dow Jones industrial average has increased since Barack Obama took office in 2009. Gains of 20 percent or more have nearly guaranteed victories for sitting presidents.


The lowest Gallup job approval score a president has held near Election Day and still won. Obama’s most recent rating: 47 percent.

Campaign calculus

$135 million
What the Obama campaign has spent so far on its re-election operation, about $3 million more than all his GOP challengers combined.

Followers Obama has on Twitter, which the campaign combines with other social media to reach supporters.

Obama’s Facebook fans.

Fuzzy math

The number of federal agencies Gov. Rick Perry said he’d scrap as president but couldn’t remember, in the “oops” debate.

The number of times Newt Gingrich has been married, including his current, third wife, with whom he was having an affair while married to his second wife.

ven in the fake world of politics, candidates can’t escape tough calculations. A classic Saturday Night Live skit still gets laughs as Chevy Chase, playing President Gerald Ford, stumbles under intense grilling by reporters. Finally, he gives up: “It was my understanding that there would be no math in the debates.” That complaint won’t fly in 2012’s digit-filled election season. From the 9-9-9 tax plan to a $10,000 spur-of-themoment debate wager, from multimillion Facebook fans to three (“oops”) federal agencies targeted for cuts, the dynamics of the race often have turned on number-crunching. For Republican presidential candidates, the most important figure is 1,144, the cache of delegates needed to clinch the party’s nomination. But a precise tally for the contenders is a moving target, blurred by a hodgepodge of state rules and scrambling by the GOP rivals to paint the results in ways that enhance their standing. Front-runner Mitt Romney’s camp says his opponents should face “the harsh logic of the math” in the delegate count and drop out. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have vowed to stay in the hunt. Whether the GOP’s nomination will be decided by math or momentum may not be known until its convention this summer. Still, Lynne Stokes, a statistical science professor at SMU, said candidates need to get comfortable explaining complicated issues and helping the public find common ground. And voters, she said, “would be much better off if they became accustomed to looking at these data themselves, without the filter of one party or the other.” In the end, all the maneuvering is focused on reaching the magic number: 1600, as in 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., the White House.

$20.9 million
Romney and his wife’s total income in 2011.

$250 million
The high end of Romney’s estimated net worth, accumulated largely as founder of the private equity firm Bain Capital.

The stakes Romney laid out in a bet in dispute with Perry over health care. Romney later had to fend off complaints that the wager made him look out of touch.

$18.7 million
Donations that Dallas industrialist Harold Simmons, his wife and his business have given to pro-Republican groups. Among super PACs, he’s the largest financial backer.

The amount Rick Santorum supporters can pay to nab one of his iconic sweater vests, made in the U.S.A.

Republican delegates at stake in Texas, one of the nation’s biggest hauls, in the May 29 primary.

Media mathematics

Percentage who identified cable news as their source for campaign news, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

37.8 million
Viewers who tuned in for Obama’s State of the Union address in January, the least-watched of the three he has delivered since 2010.

Votes that represented Mitt Romney’s Iowa victory margin. A final count later gave Rick Santorum the win, by 34 votes.

GOP candidate Ron Paul’s age in August, which would make the Texan the oldest president at inauguration.

The year Republicans last had a contested convention, in which the incumbent, Gerald Ford, eked out a first-ballot win over Ronald Reagan.

Percentage of Republicans who say they watched part of the first 15 debates. Only 33 percent reported seeing any of the 13 GOP debates last time.

Percentage of Americans who told pollsters that social media have a “negative effect” on the quality of news.

Ford is victor in presidential Final Four
Readers of The Dallas Morning News have set the record straight on Gerald Ford’s athletic prowess and sports fandom. Even though comedians skewered him as a bumbler, the ex-Michigan football star ran away with The News’ presidential Final Four as the ultimate jock-inchief. Nearly 45 percent of those voting online backed Ford, who skipped the NFL to attend law school. Barack Obama, a big basketball fan, came in second with 24 percent. Rounding out the Final Four were George H.W. Bush at 20 percent and Dwight D. Eisenhower at 12 percent. You can still check out the bracket — chock full of fun facts — at dallasnews.com/politics. And have the band fire up “The Victors” for our champion, America’s 38th president. Tom Benning


Sunday, March 25, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races


merica is the great land of second chances. Change your name. Change your location. Change your life. If you’re a politician, change your ideas, and in so doing, possibly change your prospects. It’s a deep-rooted tradition that Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has now given a colorful symbol.

Last week, Eric Fehrnstrom, a senior Romney adviser, dismissed worries that conservative policies his boss has embraced in the primary would turn off moderate voters needed in the fall general election. Fehrnstrom told CNN that the campaign will “hit a reset button” to take on President Barack Obama. “It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch — you can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again.” Opponents seized on the reference — of a lowtech toy whose last image can be erased with a simple shake — as another example of Romney as a politically motivated flip-flopper who can’t be trusted. “If they’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate for the future,” Rick Santorum said Thursday in San Antonio, waving the toy around. Newt Gingrich posted on Twitter: “Etch A Sketch is a great toy but a losing strategy.” After initially ignoring questions about the flap, Romney told reporters he wouldn’t change his “policies and positions” in a race against Obama. “Organizationally, a general election campaign takes on a different profile,” Romney said. “The issues I’m running on will be exactly the same. I’m running as a conservative Republican. I was a conservative Republican governor. I’ll be running as a conservative Republican nominee.” The clash was a not only a reminder of the verbal risks in any campaign but also of Etch A Sketch’s life lessons: No matter how badly you mess up, you can always make a fresh start. The past does not exist. Etch A Sketch offers total deniability in a neat rectangular package. André Cassagnes, a French electrician, invented Etch A Sketch in the late 1950s, and the Ohio Art Co. manufactured the first model for the U.S. market on July 12, 1960. The device is simple and ingenious: a framed plastic screen coated with aluminum dust on the

Toying with strategy
Rivals have fun with Romney camp’s talk of going back to drawing board

reverse side. Two knobs move a stylus vertically and horizontally, allowing the user to draw pictures as the tip of the stylus leaves a dark line against a light gray background. If the results fall short, the user simply shakes the screen, causing polystyrene beads to create a fresh surface by smoothing out and recoating the inside of the screen. History, with a flick of the wrist, vanishes. Over the years, the company has added color and electronic features, but the essential appeal has remained the same. No matter how bad the drawing, how distant the final product from the original intent, the clock can be turned back. Etch A Sketch experts, those who can re-create The Last Supper or fully rendered scenes from The Lord of the Rings, make their work permanent by drilling holes in the box and emptying out

the aluminum powder. Their drawings can be seen on Ohio Art’s website, ohioart.com. The company shipped a batch of Etch A Sketches to the campaigns, a thank-you gesture for the publicity that boosted sales nationwide. Its stock had nearly tripled by Thursday’s close, to $9.65 a share. “We have a left knob and a right knob, so we neutrally speak to both parties,” said the marketing director, Martin Killgallon. In the political world, the magic box may represent another symbol. For decades, the Etch A Sketch was manufactured at Ohio Art’s assembly plant in Bryan, Ohio. In 2001, because of increasing costs, the company moved production to Shenzhen in China. Shake that.
From wire reports

ON DALLASNEWS.COM Don’t fret if your March Madness bracket already is busted. Because there’s still time to participate in The Dallas Morning News’ presidential Final Four. Go online at dallasnews.com/politics for a recap of their athletic exploits and then pick a winner from the finalists:

George H.W. Bush

Gerald Dwight Eisenhower Ford

Barack Obama

We’ll announce the ultimate jock-in-chief April 1.


Sunday, March 18, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running
Staff Writer [email protected]

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Who’s the ultimate jock-in-chief?
Young Men or Young Country
President Barack Obama just jumped headlong into a fierce competition where stakes are high, passion is off the charts and everyone has an opinion. No, it wasn’t his re-election campaign, which still is waiting for a GOP nominee to emerge. Rather, the hoops-mad commander-in-chief filled out his March Madness bracket last week, picking the North Carolina Tar Heels to win it all. To top it off, Obama took British Prime Minister David Cameron to the opening round of college basketball’s postseason tournament Tuesday. Such is the presidency of a hardcore sports junkie. Obama, who still plays pickup games fierce enough to give him stitches, is the latest in a long line of presidents to indulge in America’s greatest pastimes. He even reflected on the importance of sports in the White House in a recent podcast with ESPN’s Bill Simmons. “It’s funny, the mythology of sports is just — it’s deeply embedded in us,” Obama said, before describing the overwhelming reaction troops gave him one time after he simply swished a 3-pointer. “People — for all our differences politically, regionally, economically — most folks understand sports,” Obama said. “Probably because it’s one of the few places where it’s a true meritocracy. There’s not a lot of BS. Ultimately, who’s winning, who’s losing, who’s performing, who’s not — it’s all out there.” Funny you should mention that, Mr. President. Because we also care about who’s winning and who’s losing. In the spirit of March Madness, we created a 16-president bracket to determine the ultimate jock-in-chief. Many possess exploits to claim being the nation’s most athletic president — or at least the most powerful fan in the free world. After much hemming and hawing, we narrowed the field to a Final Four of Obama, Gerald Ford, Dwight Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush. Now it’s up to The Dallas Morning News’ readers to vote on the sports-minded presidential matchups. Log onto dallasnews.com/ politics to review the bracket and pick the winner.
Barack Obama — The southpaw with a mean crossover dribble earned the nickname “Barry O’Bomber” as a high school basketball player. He’s an average golfer at best but reportedly doesn’t take presidential mulligans. Bill Clinton — This huge Razorbacks fan got a jogging track installed on the White House lawn. But he cheated so much at golf, he probably made Donald Trump blush. WINNER: Obama George Washington — The first president loved marbles and fox hunting. Legend has it that he hurled a silver dollar across the Potomac River to prove his strength. Theodore Roosevelt — Harvard boxing champ. Wrestler. Polo player. Explorer. And easily the biggest (and best) outdoorsman to ever hold the office. Seriously, check out the Smithsonian. WINNER: Roosevelt

Disco and the Dam
Gerald Ford — An All-American center on Michigan’s national champion football teams, he could’ve played in the NFL — but instead went to Yale Law. Even then, he still coached. Herbert Hoover — Served as student-manager of Stanford’s football and baseball teams. Also created a goofy sport called Hooverball. WINNER: Ford

Jimmy Carter — Big-time runner, including track and cross country for the Naval Academy. Richard Nixon — Played basketball at Whittier College but mostly rode the bench on the gridiron. Made full use of the White House’s bowling alley. WINNER: Nixon

Obama — He’s a basketball superfan who dutifully fills out his March Madness bracket. And he still hoops it up, even with NBA stars. Roosevelt — He saved football by demanding rules that improved the game’s safety, but never got into team sports. WINNER: Obama Teddy easily wins a fight or a wilderness expedition. But Obama has fully embraced being America’s First Fan. Plus, he wants a college football playoff (fingers crossed).

Young Men or Young Country
Barack Obama Bill Clinton George Washington Teddy Roosevelt Roosevelt Obama

Disco and the Dam
Gerald Ford Ford Herbert Hoover Jimmy Carter Nixon Richard Nixon

Ford — Comedians lambasted Ford as clumsy and made fun of his errant golf shots. But Ford was an avid skier and could uncork a mammoth drive. Nixon — Let’s sum up his fandom this way: He was so desperate to talk football on the 1972 campaign trail, he summoned mortal enemy Hunter S. Thompson for a chat. WINNER: Ford. He’s clearly the better athlete. And a huge fan to boot. He asked that “Hail to the Chief” be replaced by Michigan’s fight song.



Eisenhower — He played more than 800 rounds of golf as president and was the first president to score a hole-in-one. Taft — Myth has it that he started baseball’s seventh-inning stretch because it was too uncomfortable for him to last an entire game. WINNER: Eisenhower. Has a tree named for him at Augusta. That’s because he kept hitting the tree and then failed in his efforts to have the massive pine removed. But still …

Texas and the Gipper
George H.W. Bush
George W. Bush George W. Bush Lyndon Baines Johnson Ronald Reagan George H.W. Bush Dwight Eisenhower Woodrow Wilson William Howard Taft John F. Kennedy Taft Eisenhower

George W. Bush — Set an insurmountable standard for presidential first pitches by throwing a strike in New York after 9/11. George H.W. Bush — Here’s another presidential tradition unlikely to be matched: He went skydiving on his birthday well into his 80s. WINNER: George H.W. Bush. Hard to go wrong here, but the elder Bush has the more impressive overall résumé. If the younger Bush is still mountain biking when he’s 85, then we’ll talk again.

George H.W. Bush


Texas and the Gipper

Go to dallasnews.com/politics to pick the champion ROUND 1

Dwight Eisenhower — Dubbed the “Kansas Cyclone,” he held down linebacker and running back spots at West Point, back when the academy was a football powerhouse. Woodrow Wilson — Played a record 1,000-plus rounds of golf as president. Started in center field for Davidson College in North Carolina, but didn’t make the cut at Princeton. WINNER: Eisenhower

George W. Bush — A fitness fanatic, he was the first president to have run a marathon, and still loves mountain biking. He also was a co-owner of the Texas Rangers. Lyndon Baines Johnson — A cattle rancher with a passion for fishing, he also had a long drive on the links. But one account says he never broke 100. WINNER: George W. Bush

William Howard Taft — Don’t let his portly physique fool you. He was the first commander-in-chief to throw out the first pitch at a baseball game. John F. Kennedy — He was an athlete despite his injuries. A member of Harvard’s JV golf, swimming and football squads, and varsity in sailing. WINNER: Taft

Ronald Reagan — The ex-sportscaster played George Gipp in Knute Rockne, All American. In real life, he was a lifeguard and played football at tiny Eureka College. George H.W. Bush — He was a star first baseman and captain on Yale’s baseball team. Among his sports favorites: golf, boating and horseshoes. WINNER: George H.W. Bush


Sunday, March 11, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Party rockers
Candidates amplify message with signature songs
IN THE KNOW Obama playlist
Full track list for the Obama Album: 1. “Different People” — No Doubt 2. “Got to Get You in My Life” — Earth, Wind & Fire 3. “Green Onions” — Booker T. & The MG’s 4. “I Got You” — Wilco 5. “Keep on Pushing” — The Impressions 6. “Keep Reachin’ Up” — Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators 7. “Love You I Do” — Jennifer Hudson 8. “No Nostalgia” — AgesandAges 9. “Raise Up” — Ledisi 10. “Stand Up” — Sugarland 11. “This” — Darius Rucker 12. “We Used To Wait” — Arcade Fire 13. “You’ve Got the Love” — Florence and the Machine 14. “Your Smiling Face” — James Taylor 15. “Roll With the Changes” — REO Speedwagon 16. “Everyday America” — Sugarland 17. “Learn to Live” — Darius Rucker 18. “Let’s Stay Together” — Al Green 19. “Mr. Blue Sky” — Electric Light Orchestra 20. “My Town” — Montgomery Gentry 21. “The Best Thing About Me Is You” — Ricky Martin featuring Joss Stone 22. “You Are the Best Thing” — Ray Lamontagne 23. “Keep Marchin’ ” — Raphael Saadiq 24. “Tonight’s the Kind of Night” — Noah and the Whale 25. “We Take Care of Our Own” — Bruce Springsteen 26. “Keep Me In Mind” — Zac Brown Band 27. “The Weight” — Aretha Franklin 28. “Even Better Than the Real Thing” — U2 29. “Home” — Dierks Bentley

Staff Writer [email protected]

President Barack Obama channels his inner Al Green.

Dallas music experts weighed in on the playlist. Lucy Wrubel, popular local DJ: “The songs are positive, we can do it America, keep on marching, stand up. There’s more country than I would have imagined but a lot of soul. Ricky Martin is quite a leap and James Taylor is hokey, hokey, hokey. But the rest of it is very cool and Americana. … It seems like he’s trying to make everybody happy.” Pete Freedman, former Dallas Observer music editor, founder of online culture site Central Track: “It’s a pretty hip list [with] something for the working man and the SoCal punks. It reflects someone of his age and tastes but also someone who’s aware of what’s going on in the music world. But I don’t know if he’s really rocking Noah and the Whale on a regular basis.” Mario Tarradell, The Dallas Morning News’ pop music critic: “He’s not picking typical songs. They aren’t unknown, on the contrary, but they aren’t the typical kind of songs you’ve heard so many politicians use before. … If his song selection is like his leadership style, he’s all-inclusive.”

Give presidential contenders long enough and they’ll start to sing. Or they’ll have more on-key voices do it for them, often with a tactful sidestep of copyright laws. This season — already filled with legal battles, crooning candidates and an entire playlist by the Obama campaign — proves just as lyrical as ever. And in the hunt for votes, politicians have a strategic reason for embracing certain tunes — be it a patriotic soundtrack or a message-laden aria. “Music is a way of bypassing the intellectual and going straight to the emotional,” said Dan Dominick, an associate professor of music at Austin College in Sherman. “If a piece connects with you, you can connect with the candidate.” Think Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop (Thinking about Tomorrow),” now forever linked to Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign. Or take Franklin D. Roosevelt’s savvy Depressionera campaign song, “Happy Days Are Here Again.” In 1998, George H.W. Bush relied on Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” The problem, most recently for Republicans, occurs when musicians don’t want their songs turned into rallying cries. Presidential hopefuls Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have clashed with musicians who complained about their pieces being used as theme songs. So, scratch “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor and “Wavin’ Flag” by Somali-born rapper K’Naan from GOP events. (Along with “Born in the USA,” nixed by Bruce Springsteen in Ronald Reagan’s 1984 campaign, and Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” borrowed by Michele Bachmann last year.) “It bothers me when music is appropriated in the wrong way,” told K’Naan MTV News. Survivor has

Gerald Herbert/The Associated Press

Mitt Romney has latched onto Kid Rock’s “Born Free” to underscore his pro-America message.

The Associated Press

“It bothers me when music is appropriated in the wrong way,” rapper K’Naan said.

sued Gingrich, accusing him of pilfering the group’s song, but his lawyers want the case dismissed on free-speech grounds. He’s moved on to the Hulk Hogan anthem, “Real American Hero.” In his brief bid for president, Gov. Rick Perry saluted crowds with Toby Keith’s “American Ride.” The country musician

AT A GLANCE Hits, misses
Campaign hits 1932: Franklin D. Roosevelt — “Happy Days Are Here Again” 1948: Harry S. Truman — “I’m Just Wild About Harry” 1952: Dwight D. Eisenhower — “I Like Ike,” written by Irving Berlin 1960: John F. Kennedy — “High Hopes,” recorded by Frank Sinatra Musical duds 1904: Alton B. Parker — “Parker! Parker! You’re the Moses Who Will Lead Us Out of the Wilderness” 1956: Adlai Stevenson — “We’re Madly for Adlai” 1960: Richard Nixon — “Click With Dick” 2000: George W. Bush — “We the People,” written by Billy Ray Cyrus From staff and wire reports

Toby Keith gave his blessing for Gov. Rick Perry to use “American Ride” before Perry put the brakes on his presidential bid.

willingly donated his music and money to the Texan. Candidates have even started performing their own covers. Romney serenaded Florida voters in January with a deepthroated rendition of “America the Beautiful.” A week earlier, President Barack Obama broke into Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” at an Apollo Theater fundraiser. “I’m …” the president sang, to cheers from the crowd, “so … in love with you …” He gave an encore in February with a few lines of “Sweet Home Chicago” at a White House blues concert. Romney also has latched onto Kid Rock’s “Born Free” to underscore his pro-America message. That included a meeting at the rock singer’s Detroit home to ensure he would perform at a Michigan rally. The Obama camp has gone further, producing a 29-song mix, downloadable free on music service Spotify.com. And for those hoping to immortalize Obama’s Al Green impression, there’s a ring tone. Romney did the same late last week, releasing his favorite 19 tracks, including “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys, “Oh What a Night” by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons and “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash. The Obama tunes harness a wide array of tastes and solicit almost as many conjectures. They include the pop country of Sugarland (aimed at moderates?), the hipster edge of Arcade Fire (targeting younger voters?) and the reverberating soul of Aretha Franklin (tapping into the base?). Dominick called it a safe, “solidly white, middle class, 30to 40-something” collection, with a few Motown classics that “cover all bases.” Not on the list: rap.

The Dallas Morning News



Sunday, March 4, 2012


In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Delegate balance

2012 total delegates 2,286 Utah
Mont. S.D. N.J.

It’s not easy counting up who’s ahead in the GOP primaries
Staff Writer [email protected]

Mitt Romney heads into this week’s crucial Super Tuesday contests leading the GOP presidential race by pretty much every measure: states won, votes received and, most important, delegates won. But as the Republican candidates slog on to the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination, here are the real questions: Exactly how many delegates has the former Massachusetts governor won? And how far behind is his competition? The Wall Street Journal had Romney leading Rick Santorum, 167 to 87, before Saturday’s caucuses in Washington state. The website RealClearPolitics saw the race as Romney 153, Santorum 70. And The Associated Press — whose count The Dallas Morning News depends on — slotted Romney at 149 delegates, 63 ahead of the former Pennsylvania senator. Huh? presidential Republican primaries are a bit different from those run by Democrats in that states have great leeway in how they allocate delegates to the national convention. So there’s everything from winner-take-all elections to proportional primaries to nonbinding caucuses. Normally, there’s a clear GOP front-runner at this stage of the race, rendering those differences insignificant. But this year’s drawn-out slugfest between Romney, Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul has elevated the discussion — and confusion — surrounding the delegate count. “It’s not any more Byzantine than it’s been in the past,” said Josh Putnam, a political scientist at Davidson University in North Carolina who tracks the delegate race. “It’s a function of what a competitive race will do. It puts these rules under the spotlight.” Nonbinding results — such as those from caucuses in Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota and Maine — are especially tricky to divine. In those states, the news media typically report on the straw poll results. Santorum, for instance, squeaked out a victory in Iowa.

But there’s a separate series of caucuses to determine the actual delegates. And short of interviewing all the chosen delegates, it’s nearly impossible to know exactly how things stand. Most news organizations make an educated guess based on the straw poll results. The Republican National Committee doesn’t even bother trying to count those delegates until they are truly official. And the voting public is left to sort it all out. There is, however, hope on the horizon. Even if the GOP race lasts a while, most of the primary states left are pretty

straightforward in how they dole out delegates. “We’re running out of caucus states,” said Putnam, who runs an elections-focused blog, Frontloading HQ. “We’re run-

ning out of ways in which this is going to become increasingly confusing.”




A look at how delegates will be doled out in the rest of the Republican presidential race:
Ore. Ark. Ky.

Awarded so far*: 345 Mitt Romney: 149 Rick Santorum: 86 Newt Gingrich: 29 Ron Paul: 18

Neb. W.Va. Ind. N.C. Del. R.I. Conn. Pa.


March 6: 466 March 10: 67 March 13:119 March 17: 52 March 18: 23 March 20: 69 March 24: 46 April 3: 98 April 24: 231 May 8: 132 May 15: 63 May 22: 81 May 29, Texas: 155 June 5: 299 June 26: 40

In 2008, Republican contests were bunched closely together early in the year. This line represents the pace at which delegates were doled out then. This time, the GOP was successful in slowing the nominating calendar. Here’s the earliest date a candidate could have clinched four years ago.


D.C. Md. Wis.

2012: 1,144 to win

2008: 1,191 to win

Puerto Rico Am. Samoa Mo. Hawaii Miss. Ala.


3 territories Kan.

Vt. Alaska N.D. Wyo. Idaho Mass. Okla.

How the campaign shapes up in the biggest states voting Tuesday: Georgia: 76 delegates Newt Gingrich has said that he must win the state, where he spent 20 years in Congress representing Atlanta’s northern suburbs. He won neighboring South Carolina in a convincing fashion, but he’s since lost momentum. Ohio: 66 delegates Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are duking it in what could be Super Tuesday’s most competitive major contest. Santorum leads in the polls, but Romney is investing significant time and money in the state.

Super Tuesday

Va. Tenn.


Tennessee: 58 delegates Romney has the endorsement of Gov. Bill Haslam, but Santorum holds a comfortable lead in the polls. The former Pennsylvania senator’s focus on social issues could play well in the South. Virginia: 49 delegates Romney will win – and win big. Santorum and Gingrich both failed to get the necessary signatures to be on the primary ballot, so Romney and Ron Paul are the only contenders in play. Oklahoma: 43 delegates This contest might offer the best preview of what will happen in Texas’ primary later this summer. And right now, Santorum is dominating the field.

Ga. Wash. Mich. Ariz. Minn. Colo.

Nev. Me. Delegates by state PRIMARY CAUCUS S.C. N.H. Iowa Fla.







*Jon Huntsman has been awarded two delegates. He left the race in January, but delegates he won remain pledged to him so far. For individual candidates, figures do not include 43 delegates being awarded in Washington state’s caucuses late Saturday. Also, some delegates in certain states that have already voted remain unallocated based on the state parties’ systems for awarding delegates. SOURCES: The Associated Press; The New York Times; Dallas Morning News research Michael Hogue/Staff Artist


Sunday, February 26, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

The endorsement goes to …


DEMOCRATS Actor Will Ferrell DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg Film executive Harvey Weinstein Actor Danny DeVito Actor/singer Jack Black Comedian George Lopez Actor Wendell Pierce “We must keep fighting for him so he can keep fighting for us,” Katzenberg said at an Obama fundraiser, according to the Los Angeles Times.
File 2005/Getty Images

Democrats are often golden in stars’ eyes
Staff Writer [email protected]

Newt Gingrich has the roundhouse kicks of Walker, Texas Ranger backing him up. Rick Santorum can point to support from a country crooner. Ron Paul has an eclectic following of singers, rappers and film stars. And Mitt Romney’s perfect hair is hardly famous compared to the hair-like object atop one of his celebrity fans. But when it comes to star power, the GOP candidates have nothing on Barack Obama. The president could practically fill up the red carpet outside Sunday night’s Academy Awards in Los Angeles with celebrity endorsements. A Desperate Housewife, a perennial contender for world’s sexiest man and arguably Hollywood’s most bankable star are just a few of the bold-face names turning out for Obama’s re-election effort. Not that this is a surprise. Democrats — often to the derision of their conservative counterparts — have long been a favorite of the television, film and music industries. So far this election cycle, Democrats for federal office have received about $11.1 million from that bunch, compared with $4.9 million for Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, an independent research group. In 2008, Democrats held an

even bigger advantage over GOPers, $38.9 million to $10.9 million. Beyond the substantial campaign donations, it’s difficult to know how much the glitz and glamour crowd actually influences the outcome. Many celebrities are reluctant to make public endorsements, for fear of alienating fans. As basketball star Michael Jordan famously said in the early 1990s: “Republicans buy sneakers, too.” Even when stars are caught in a moment of candor, they sometimes retreat to safer ground. Cindy Crawford, for instance, appeared in a fundraising video for Romney last year before her publicist clarified that the supermodel isn’t politically aligned. Dave Mustaine of the metal band Megadeth heaped praise on Santorum before likewise backtracking. “I hope to see a Republican in the White House,” the rocker later told reporters. “I’ve seen good qualities in all the candidates but by no means have made my choice yet.” And then there’s the simple fact that celebrities are human: They get things wrong. Just ask ex-Superman actor Dean Cain, who endorsed Rick Perry. Oops.

DEMOCRATS Actor Will Smith Media host Oprah Winfrey Actor Tom Hanks Actor George Clooney Director Steven Spielberg “I’m disillusioned by the people who are disillusioned by Obama,” Clooney said. REPUBLICANS Singer Kelly Clarkson (Ron Paul) Actor Jon Voight (Mitt Romney) Actor Vince Vaughn (Paul) Singer Wayne Newton (Michele Bachmann) Supermodel Cindy Crawford (Romney?) “I love Ron Paul. I liked him a lot during the last Republican nomination and no one gave him a chance. …He’s got my vote,” Clarkson said.

“I’m a big Obama supporter, no matter what he’s been through.”
Actress Eva Longoria

REPUBLICANS Actor Chuck Norris (Newt Gingrich) Reality TV host Joe Rogan (Paul) Singer Dave Mustaine of Megadeth (lean Rick Santorum) Rapper Prodigy (Paul) “He is the best man on the battlefield who is able to outwit, outplay and outlast Obama and his billion-dollar campaign machine,” Norris said of Gingrich.

DEMOCRATS Actor Antonio Banderas Actress Melanie Griffith Actor Kalpen Modi Actress Rhea Perlman Soap opera creator Bradley Bell
The Associated Press

“He’s smart and sharp, he’s

not going to allow bad things to continue to happen to this country that we love.”
Donald Trump, on Mitt Romney

REPUBLICANS Singer Pat Boone (Santorum) Actress Juliette Lewis (Paul) Actor Stephen Baldwin (Rick Perry) Comedian Dennis Miller (Herman Cain) Comedian Ben Stein (Bachmann) Actor Dean Cain (Perry)


Sunday, February 19, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

iPhone’s Siri is called to serve
Personal assistant to many has long list of contacts and knows her facts, but she lacks political ambition
Staff Writer [email protected]

n the ego-driven culture of politics, a new star has tronic ears, those belonging to Siri, the female-voiced peremerged who repeatedly — and humbly — has sonal assistant on Apple’s latest iPhone. spurned calls to join the presiLike a PR pro, she brushes aside dential mix. any notion that she has political amShe’s got the goods to be a potenbitions. tial front-runner: personable but Asked by The Dallas Morning professional; smart but modest; and News if she wants to be president, Siri influential but not power-hungry. replied, “I have very few wants.” And thanks to a splashy TV ad Prodded a second time, she deblitz, she’s a national sensation who murred, “I have everything I need in has drawn big crowds camping out the cloud.” File/The Colbert Report overnight to meet her. While expressing no desire to aim Comedian Stephen Colbert says Siri Comedian Stephen Colbert has for the White House, Siri had plenty would be a “perfect” GOP candidate, been an early fan, saying she’d make a with a “strong conservative voice.” of other election-year thoughts. “perfect” Republican candidate, with But one thing she isn’t is opiniona “strong conservative voice.” ated. With her, it’s nothing but the facts. But the frenzy has fallen on deaf ears. Make that elecHere’s a sample, based on real questions and answers:
What is your political stance? “My name is Siri, and I was designed by Apple in California. That’s all I’m prepared to say.” Tell me a political joke. “Two iPhones walk into a bar … I forget the rest.” Do you like the president? “I’d rather not say.” Who should be the next president of the United States? “Checking my sources … No answer was forthcoming. How about a web search?” She wouldn’t say how she feels about the Texas governor’s exit from the GOP contest, dodging the subject completely. Should Rick Perry have quit the race? “Did I say something wrong? If you really want me to go away, at least say ‘goodbye.’ ” Whether by chance or communication snafu, she mishandled a few sensitive subjects. Are politics too negative? “I couldn’t find any political consultants.” Should a woman be president? “I couldn’t find any dating services.” Have you met George W. Bush? “Sorry … I can’t look for hotels in the Cayman Islands.” Although she has a quick-fire knack for assisting those in need, she refused to divulge her views on the Republican contenders. What do you think of Mitt Romney? “I’m afraid I can’t answer that.” What do you think of Newt Gingrich? “It’s nice of you to ask, but it really doesn’t matter what I think.” What do you think of Rick Santorum? “I think differently.” In the still-unsettled presidential race, Siri gave no clues about her partisan leanings but offered a polite prediction on the final outcome. Who will you vote for? May the best human win. She also put a protective hug around her inquisitive owner/reporter who wondered about campaigning. Should I run for president? Whatever you do, don’t hurt yourself.


The Dallas Morning News



Sunday, February 12, 2012


In the running
Politicians, media moguls follow hearts to younger women
Edwin and Trina Edwards
(52 YEARS)
Love notes: Trina Scott Grimes, 32, started writing letters and then visiting former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, 84, during his stint in federal prison for racketeering. They married in July, soon after his release. “Everything is cool,” the silver-haired Edwards said. For better or for worse: Edwards, a Democrat, has made a living out of being the likable bad guy, once getting elected with the slogan, “Vote for the crook: It’s important.” Now on his third marriage, he’s been urged by a lively band of followers to jump into the presidential fray, and the couple’s new Facebook page has thousands of supporters.

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Embracing the generation gap
Washington Bureau [email protected]

WASHINGTON — With Valentine’s Day peeking around the corner, card-makers often embrace a favorite line: Love conquers all. For some power couples, it rises above partisanship, like the marriage between former Democratic strategist James Carville and his GOP consultant wife, Mary Matalin. For others — including two big names in the presidential sweepstakes — love also bridges the generation gap. Spouses with more than a 20-year age difference — which both Newt

Gingrich and Donald Trump have in their marriages — may be unusual, but it seldom causes political ripples, unless the union comes with unwanted baggage. Voters tend to ignore it if they like everything else about a candidate, said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a veteran political scientist at the University of Southern California. “If they want to overlook it, they can. If they need an excuse to not like him, not vote for him, they can use this as an excuse,” she said. “The real problem is when your private life is challenged in a way that totally denigrates your own campaign theme.” Some high-profile May-December romances in politics and media:

Rush Limbaugh and Kathryn Rogers
(26 YEARS)
Love notes: Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, 61, married Kathryn Rogers, 35, two years ago after meeting at a celebrity golf tournament. It’s Limbaugh’s fourth marriage, and he’s praised her for keeping him on his diet, in which he’s shed 100 pounds. For better or for worse: Rogers, a party planner from Florida, said the age disparity helps their relationship. “I grew up so differently, traveling around the world, that I’m sometimes not able to relate to the average person my age,” she told The Palm Beach Post. “Rush has such amazing experience.”

Newt and Callista Gingrich
(23 YEARS)
Love notes: Newt Gingrich, 68, the former GOP House speaker, has admitted he began an affair in 1993 with Callista Bisek, a congressional staffer. In 2000, he divorced his second wife and married Bisek, now 45. For better or for worse: In his presidential run, Gingrich has been criticized by some religious leaders and conservatives over his infidelity. He said he’s made mistakes and asked God for forgiveness. He said Callista, as first lady, would be “a cross between Nancy Reagan and Laura Bush, with just a slight bit of Jackie Kennedy tossed in.”

Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni
(13 YEARS)
Love notes: French President Nicolas Sarkozy, 57, pulled the rare feat of divorcing and remarrying while still in office. He wed Italian model-turned-singer Carla Bruni, 44, in February 2008, about a year after divorcing his second wife. The couple had a daughter in October. For better or for worse: There’s been plenty of public relations maneuvering in the presidential coupling, including the release of nude photos from Bruni’s modeling career, racy stories on her past dalliances with rock stars Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton, and an interview in which she said “monogamy bores me.”

David and Tricia Dewhurst
(22 YEARS)
Love notes: Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, 66, a GOP Senate contender, married Houston lawyer Patricia “Tricia” Bivins, 44, in 2009. It was the second marriage for each, and the couple had to delay their honeymoon because of a special legislative session. For better or for worse: Dewhurst’s first wife, a former model, was 18 years his junior. After the Bivins engagement, Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, praised Dewhurst for marrying a “good Republican woman.” Dewhurst told the San Antonio Express-News: “Even a blind squirrel sometimes finds a beautiful acorn.”

Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich
(31 YEARS)
Love notes: Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, 65, married his third wife, British-born Elizabeth Harper, 34, in 2005. Harper, public affairs director for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, met Kucinich when visiting his Washington office while working for another organization. For better or for worse: Kucinich, a former presidential candidate, and Harper became engaged on only their second get-together. She’s dismissed talk about their ages, telling the Sunday Times: “Dennis is a very mature but young-at-heart gentleman, and we complement each other.”

Donald and Melania Trump
(24 YEARS)
Love notes: The billionaire businessman, 65, who has toyed with the idea of seeking the presidency, married his third wife, Slovenian model Melania Knauss, 41, in 2005. The couple started dating in 1999, after meeting at a fashion show. They had their first child in 2006. For better or for worse: In usual Trump style, their Palm Beach, Fla., wedding included her $100,000 dress with a 13-foot train, a 5-foot-tall Grand Marnier cake and a 36-piece orchestra. He said he had never planned to get hitched again but “she’s very exceptional.”

Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng
(37 YEARS)
Love notes: Rupert Murdoch, the 80-year-old owner of the parent company for Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, married Wendi Deng, 43, about two weeks after divorcing his second wife in 1999. At the time, she was vice president of STAR TV, which he owns. For better or for worse: Deng warded off a protester in July who threw a shaving-foam pie at Murdoch as he was testifying in the British Parliament about his company’s phone-hacking scandal. “Wendy to the rescue,” trumpeted the tabloid headlines.

The Dallas Morning News



Sunday, February 5, 2012


In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Cashing in on a hunch
Traders follow ups, downs of race in online prediction market
Staff Writer [email protected]

Gambling on political fortunes
Democrat President Barack Obama remains the favorite in the presidential race, according to the calculating minds of Intrade’s bettors. The traders have long pegged his chances at around 50 percent. Those who on Nov. 1 purchased a share at $4.94 of Obama to win would get $5.06 if the election took place now. His nearest Republican rival, Mitt Romney, has a 39 percent chance of winning, based on the Intrade market Friday.
Percentage chance of winning and cost per share
60% ($6)
Barack Obama


50% ($5)

Mitt Romney

40% ($4)

Newt Gingrich

Political opinions are more than just a dime a dozen these days. Mitt Romney to take the Nevada caucuses? That’ll cost you $9.91. Barack Obama to win re-election? Shell out $5.69. And Rick Santorum to get the GOP presidential nomination? It’s a bargain at 19 cents. All that’s according to Intrade, an online prediction market that allows political junkies to buy and sell shares of candidates in prices under $10. With the Republican presidential race passing through gambling-happy Nevada on Saturday, it’s a reminder to all those logging onto Twitter and Facebook to share their finest political analysis: “Why not make a few bucks while you’re doing it?” said Carl Wolfenden, operations manager at the Dublin-based exchange. Intrade, started a decade ago, operates under the simple principle that all contracts pay

out $10 or nothing. So a trader on Friday who bought a share at $9.91 of Romney winning Nevada earned a profit of nine cents. If the former Massachusetts governor had lost, the trader would’ve been out $9.91. There are other places, such as bovada.lv, where budding pundits can make more traditional proposition bets on the odds that Obama, Romney or someone else will win the White House. (In case you’re wondering, it’s 5/8 for Obama and 3/2 on Romney. That means a $2 bet would return $3.25 for the president and $5 for the exgovernor.) Intrade has seen about 3,000 people trade more than 1.5 million shares so far this primary season. And the site’s traders are deftly accurate, picking the winner in all but two states in the 2008 presidential election. “It’s really about using your head and not your heart,” Wolfenden said. “Because your hard-earned dollars are at stake.”

30% ($3)

20% ($2)


Ron Paul

10% ($1)


0% N
SOURCE: Intrade




Rick Santorum
Tom Setzer/Staff Artist

Vegas dreams of election bets
So what do the folks in Las Vegas think about all this campaign hubbub? They wish they could tell you. U.S. sports books aren’t allowed to take bets — in person or otherwise — on political races. But that doesn’t stop Nevada insiders from dreaming about the prospect. “If we could ever take bets on the federal elections, it’d make the Super Bowl look like a Pee Wee league game,” said Jimmy Vaccaro, operations director at Lucky’s Race and Sports Book.
Kirby Lee/U.S. Presswire

The Dallas Morning News



Sunday, January 29, 2012


In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Artist is drawn into political games
‘Dilbert’ creator running as independent finds humor in flip-flopping
Staff Writer [email protected]

Scott Adams used to care about picking a president who told the truth. The man behind the comic strip Dilbert would hem and haw over candidates’ various positions. He’d read fact checks of their statements. He’d strain to figure out who was lying — and who was just mostly lying. In the end, though, he’d only get stressed out and be nowhere closer to finding a commander in chief. “But now it’s easier,” said Adams, who’s used his comic strip to explore the business world’s similar quirks and contradictions. “They’ve dropped all pretense of even pretending to be honest or forthright.” Some see that in the politicians who trash their rivals one day and then turn around and act like best buddies the next.

In the Internet age, such reversals are no longer confined to dusty newspaper archives. YouTube videos, tweets, news releases — even extensive opposition research documents — are all available to able-fingered Googlers. Want to watch Rick Perry bash Newt Gingrich as a “Washington insider” and later endorse him as a “conservative visionary”? Easy enough. The same goes for Jon Huntsman’s rough treatment of Mitt Romney before deciding to back him. It flows the other way, too. Rick Santorum supported Romney for president in 2008, but now he’s doing his best to cast his GOP foe as anything but conservative. Is it a troubling development? Not to Adams, who’s cheekily running for president this year as an independent. “It’s a strange kind of freedom. The world is so complicated that what people say about

anything is completely irrelevant. It’s independent from our decision-making now.” It’s debatable whether voters are moved by a loser’s newfound enthusiasm for an exopponent. Adams puts a comic bent on it all. “Well, the world will be destroyed soon,” he said with a laugh. “But I think people are OK with that, too.” Besides politics, the cartoonist said, similar exaggerations lurk in business. He recalled recent stories on Apple admitting some iPhone problems. The newsworthy aspect, in his view, was having a company actually tell the truth about something. That kind of mistrust and cynicism often creeps into Adams’ strip in hilarious ways. “The entire reason the comic works is that Dilbert’s the only honest person in the world,” he said.

File 2006/The Associated Press

“It’s a strange kind of freedom. The world is so complicated that what people say about anything is completely irrelevant,” says Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert.

Jon Huntsman
On Romney in Nov. 6 interview “When you’re on too many sides of the issues of the day, when you don’t have that core … it makes you unelectable against Barack Obama.” “Gov. Romney is the candidate who will stand up for the conservative principles that we hold dear.” In 2008, endorsing Mitt Romney for president

Rick Santorum
“Romney once bragged he’s even more liberal than Ted Kennedy on social issues. Why would we ever vote for someone who is just like Obama?” A recent Santorum TV ad

Rick Perry
“Newt Gingrich has the heart of a conservative reformer, the ability to rally and captivate the conservative movement and the courage to tell the Washington interests to take a hike if it’s what is best for the country.” Perry’s speech dropping out of the race Jan. 19

“It is now time for our party to unite around the candidate best equipped to defeat Barack Obama …. I believe that candidate is Gov. Mitt Romney.” Huntsman’s exit speech Jan. 16

“If you cheat on your wife, you’ll cheat on your business partner. The issue of fidelity is important [to voters] … whether it’s in their personal lives or whether it’s picking someone that served in public office.” In a thinly veiled dig at Newt Gingrich in a debate Dec. 11
Illustrations by Chris Morris/Special Contributor


Sunday, January 22, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Sticking points
Advertising pros get up-close look at bumper stickers to see which fire on all cylinders and which stall out
Washington Bureau [email protected]


ASHINGTON — Whether it’s spawning the next viral video or keeping your Twitter feed busy, presidential camps can’t scrimp on being creative. But when designing bumper stickers, the expert advice is


clear: Keep it simple. It should “tell your neighbors you are a supporter” of the candidate but “if it tries to do anything more than that, then it’s going to wind up making a mistake,” said Stan Richards, founder of the Dallas-based advertising agency The Richards Group. He and other Dallas advertising professionals said cluttered text, busy de-



signs and ornate fonts can detract from a sticker’s impact and message. Reviewing the field for The Dallas Morning News, they were lukewarm over Mitt Romney’s “Believe in America” brand, featuring an elaborate, curvy “R.” They liked Rick Perry’s easy-to-read oval, the only non-rectangle among the Republicans. But even a top-notch design wasn’t enough to keep the Texan in the race. And they praised President Barack Obama’s “2012” sticker, which replaces the zero with his iconic logo of four years ago. The ratings by Richards, Leon Banowetz, owner of Banowetz + Company, and Tim Kim, owner of TM Media:

Newt Gingrich
Richards said the flowing star is a space-eater but using his first name was smart. “It’s friendlier than if it said Gingrich 2012. It even implies he and I are friends and that we’re on a first-name basis,” he said. Kim agreed, saying “simplicity definitely is the way to go. Newt did it pretty well.”

Ron Paul
Kim credited him with having the best tagline. “It’s stronger than Romney’s, but it’s not fighting [as in Rick Santorum’s]. No one wants fighting associated with them.” Banowetz suggested it would have worked better had the first and last names been in contrasting colors.

Rick Santorum Rick Perry
Banowetz said Perry’s embrace of a different shape — oval instead of rectangle — probably was an attempt to signal that he’s “someone who stands out from the other candidates.” He called it a “very strong design,” although Richards said the white divider line between the red and blue panels was not needed. Kim said the eagle has been overused and looks cliché. “They could have come up with something that’s more design-oriented,” he said. Banowetz said the eagle artwork “seems amateurish being used as character substitution of the ‘O’ in Santorum.” He said the tagline conveys strength but “the overall look is very weak.”

Mitt Romney
Richards said the highly stylized initial seems like a “design violation” that ends up saying “omney,” with some sort of “decorative thing preceding it.” Banowetz credited the candidate for not repeating his first-name-only logo from 2008. “His last name conveys more strength than Mitt. While the customized R is interesting, it does not clearly convey the concept behind the mark or the man.”

Barack Obama
Kim said the president benefits from a well-known brand, the rising sun. “They’re already recognized. That’s huge.” Richards said the square-serif font on the Obama-Biden sticker implies strength. And “the letters are spaced out, which implies friendliness. If you’re using a square-serif font like that and you space it tightly, it feels imposing.” Banowetz cited the layout’s bright and uncluttered feel.

Sticker shock?
Does the cost of a bumper sticker reflect a candidate’s standing in the presidential race? There may be no connection, but the online stores for Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, who have mostly lagged behind, are offering the cheapest prices. Early front-runner Mitt Romney’s are a buck more, while the underfunded Rick Santorum was giving his stickers away in Iowa. President Barack Obama’s are the most expensive but available at half-price if bought in bulk. Single sticker cost: Obama . Romney . . . . . . . . . . . $5 $4 Perry . Paul . . . . . . . . . . . . . $3 $3 Gingrich . . . . . . $3
Getty Images

A child shows support for Rick Santorum in South Carolina.


Sunday, January 15, 2012



The Dallas Morning News

In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Dressing down the hopefuls
Critics say the casual duds sported by some are just that
n the harsh glare of presidential politics, not even a candidate’s winter wardrobe can escape abuse. The latest sartorial slam: Rick Santorum’s fuzzy sweater vests. Rick Perry’s son, Griffin, took aim on Twitter, linking to pictures of Santorum and disgraced Ohio State University Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel — both clad in muted V-neck tops. “Politics aside, can voters in SC really vote for a guy whose fashion sense comes from Tressel?” Griffin Perry said. Santorum brushed aside the jab, saying supporters have embraced his form of power dressing. While not the headiest of topics, fashion gaffes can linger, such as Sarah Palin’s lavish clothing budget, Al Gore’s earth-tone suits and Richard Nixon’s walk on the beach in lace-up shoes. This season, the Republican field has taken on a far more casual look, prompting a rash of critiques from the campaign trail. It’s another way to broaden their appeal, said Hendrik Pohl, the CEO of ties-necktie.com. “They want to appear like the guy you would invite over to Thanksgiving dinner: approachable, down-to-earth, not too rigid,” he said.

Rick Perry
Esquire said the Texan’s suit lapels are “a bit Lone Star-sized,” but it praised him for “nice collar-to-tie proportion.” More casually, he’s worn a blue fleece jacket stitched with his campaign logo. His footwear has gotten more attention, notably his custom-made, 9/11-inspired, dark ostrich cowboy boots with American flags and the words “Liberty” and “Freedom.” He’s also sported Justin Roper work boots, which he said gave him “extra cushion and insulation” during Iowa snowstorms.

File 2006/Staff Photo

Mitt Romney
In his failed White House bid four years ago, Romney mostly stuck to corporate suits. This time, especially at town hall meetings, he’s ditched the tie, wearing instead window-pane shirts (he has several) and faded jeans (he switches between Tommy Bahama and The Gap). Romney, the wealthiest candidate in the race, has been mocked for his toned-down picks. On the Late Show With David Letterman, he appeared on stage in khakis and a navy blazer. “How’d you do on the back nine?” Letterman joked.
Stephan Savoia/The Associated Press

Barack Obama
As president, Obama has stuck to a traditional Washington uniform: dark suit, white shirt and solid or minimally stripped ties. In 2008, he drew compliments for his style and landed on the cover of Men’s Vogue. But he’s also gotten knocked for the high-waisted “dad jeans” he wore at the 2009 All-Star Game. His early suits — a two-button, singlebreasted jacket with center vent and singlepleated pants with inch-and-a-quarter cuffs — were customtailored by Hartmarx, a Chicago-based company. More recently, Politico reported, he’s been wearing suits with side vents — a sleeker, more modern touch, designers said.


Rick Santorum
The now-iconic sweater vest — he owns them in navy blue, gray and tan — has its own Twitter feed and a website, FearRicksVest.com. There’s also a YouTube music video, “Sleeves Slow Me Down,” loaded with slogans such as “Rick is getting ready to inVEST in you.” But it’s unclear whether going sleeveless will propel Santorum to victory. Hendrik Pohl of ties-necktie.com told ABC News the sweater vest is “more a New England preppy look that I personally wouldn’t associate with politics.”

Rick Perry’s son, Griffin, who tweeted these photos, asked if voters could trust Rick Santorum (right) when his “fashion sense” comes from former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel (left).

Newt Gingrich
He’s been rapped several times by the fashionistas. Esquire called his chinos so offensive that they should be marked Not Suitable for Work. And it slammed his “hot air balloon of a navy blazer” and the wide-open collar (with no tie) beneath it.
Eric Gay/The Associated Press

Ron Paul
His usual garb, said the men’s magazine Esquire, has been defined by odd, ill-fitting suits, along with shirts of gargantuan collars and billowy sleeves. The Washington Post, on its The Fix blog, has railed about Paul’s jacket being “at least two sizes too big” and making him “look tiny — never a good image to project when you are running for president.” From staff and wire reports

The Dallas Morning News




Sunday, January 8, 2012


In the running
Top liberal Democrat shows
Dominated by faux-news programs and comedies. 1. The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Comedy Central) 2. The Colbert Report (Comedy Central) 3. Masterpiece (PBS) 4. 30 Rock (NBC) 5. Parks and Recreation (NBC) 6. The View (ABC) 7. Glee (Fox) 8. Modern Family (ABC) 9. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX) 10. Treme (HBO) 11. Cougar Town (ABC) 12. The Late Show With David Letterman (CBS) 13. The Soup (E!) 14. The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson (CBS) 15. Aqua Teen Hunger Force (Adult Swim) 16. Outsourced (NBC) 17. Raising Hope (Fox) 18. Saturday Night Live (NBC) 19. The Office (NBC) 20. American Masters (PBS)

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

Top conservative Republican shows
Loaded with huntin,’ fishin,’ loggin,’ pawnin’ and other reality shows. 1. Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction (Speed) 2. This Old House (PBS) 3. The 700 Club (syndicated) 4. Swamp Loggers (Discovery) 5. Top Shot (History) 6. The Bachelor (ABC) 7. Castle (ABC) 8. New Yankee Workshop (PBS) 9. Mythbusters (Discovery) 10. Only in America With Larry the Cable Guy (History) 11. American Pickers (History) 12. Swamp People (History) 13. Wheel of Fortune (syndicated) 14. Top Gear (BBC America) 15. The Middle (ABC) 16. Pawn Stars (History) 17. The Tonight Show (NBC) 18. Antiques Roadshow (PBS) 19. The Biggest Loser (NBC) 20. Hawaii Five-O (CBS)

Prime-time politics
If your must-see TV lineup tickles the funny bone, with 30 Rock, Glee, Modern Family and David Letterman, you’re probably a Democrat. But if you steer more toward reality fare and game shows, such as Wheel of Fortune, Only in America With Larry the Cable Guy, Swamp Loggers and The Bachelor, then you’re probably rooting for Republicans.
Washington Bureau [email protected]

Least favorite
Swamp Loggers (Discovery); Dog the Bounty Hunter (A&E); and COPS (syndication).


Democrats flee Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Call it a prime-time political divide, a channel-switching gap driven by the partisan leanings of viewers in a yearlong survey by the Experian Simmons research group. Ranking the most popular entertainment shows for Entertainment Weekly, it said liberal Democrats mostly like “sarcastic media-savvy comedies and morally murky antiheroes.” Conservative Republicans are more attracted to workcentered shows and reality competitions. Robert Thompson, a TV and pop culture professor at Syracuse University who was not involved in the study, said a culture shift may explain some of the findings as comedies have become more liberal, even risqué, in recent years, a far cry from the 1950s Father Knows Best kind of offerings. Now, he said, such programs have more diverse story lines, often highlighting different lifestyles. “A lot of the culture conservatives I could see would have a problem with some of the comedies out there, even Modern Family, which is old-fashioned Eisenhower-era family values,” he said. “I mean these people

are a family who really love each other. But some conservatives might not like the positive portrayal of a gay couple with a child.” Elayne Rapping, a professor of American studies at State University of New York at Buffalo, said she found it significant that the most-favored lists have little overlap, another sign of the split in the nation’s politics and of the spread and specialization of pop culture. “That tells us a lot about where we are mentally and emotionally,” she said. As for late-night talkers, Letterman, Craig Ferguson and Conan O’Brien are top picks among Democrats. Rightwingers line up behind Jay Leno. In a TV ad blitz, the partisan lineups might help candidates target key blocs of voters. But Thompson said that as in any survey, it’s only as reliable as those taking part are being truthful. He cited as an example PBS’ Masterpiece. Researchers said it indexes at a huge “234,” meaning its viewer is 134 percent more likely to be a liberal Democrat than the average adult viewer. “It’s the show every smart person says they watch but probably doesn’t,” he said, while “a lot of smart people probably watch Two and a Half Men, even if they don’t admit it.”
Michael Hogue/Staff Artist

Least favorite
Weeds (Showtime); The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report (Comedy Central); and South Park (Comedy Central).


Republicans find Weeds unsightly.

The Dallas Morning News



Sunday, January 1, 2012


In the running

Footnotes and sidesteps from the political races

A few of their favorite things
he voters of Iowa kick off the 2012 presidential election Tuesday after a deluge of debates and policy clashes among the Republicans. But what of their personal habits and other private tidbits? From favorite junk food to their worst job, a behind-the-scenes look at those challenging President Barack Obama:

Michele Bachmann
TV guilty pleasure: Turner Classic Movies Food obsession: Dark chocolate Partisan reversal: Was a student volunteer for Democrat Jimmy Carter’s 1976 presidential campaign Her pick to play her in a movie: Patricia Heaton of Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle On her iPad: Handel’s Messiah.

Newt Gingrich
Worst job: Being a pinsetter, because the bowlers would try to hit him with the ball Food obsession: “Almost any ice cream,” with black cherry his favorite Personal theme song: Doesn’t have one but uses ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” from the movie Mamma Mia on his telephone Name game: Born Newton Leroy McPherson; his mom called him “Newtie.” He took the last name of Gingrich from his stepfather. Puppy love: Has talked about launching a “Pets With Newt” website. As a child, he kept jars of snakes on his bedside table and had a cocker spaniel, a Doberman pinscher and a German shepherd. He once painted light stripes on a dark leather jacket so he could resemble a zebra.

Jon Huntsman
Worst job: Dishwasher in a Japanese restaurant, where he also had to clean toilets Food obsession: Fried Oreos Personal theme song: Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Stand Down” School blues: Dropped out of high school, quitting to play keyboards in the rock band Wizard. Later, he got a GED, took classes at the University of Utah and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. Biker on board: A motorcycle enthusiast, he rode a Harley Davidson in his debut political ad.

Ron Paul
Personal theme song: “Born Free” Food obsession: Chocolate chip cookies On the field: Was a track star in high school, a champion in the 220-yard dash Musical tastes: “Alice’s Restaurant” by Arlo Guthrie is one of his favorite songs. BlackBerry or iPhone? Neither; uses instead a small cellphone

Rick Perry
Personal theme song: “Something that Beethoven wrote.”

Mitt Romney
Worst job: Baling hay on a ranch. He’s allergic to hay. TV guilty pleasure: Watching Modern Family Food obsession: Chocolate milk and anything coated in peanut butter, says his wife, Ann. Also, if he has a slice of pizza, he pulls the cheese off the top. At the bar: “Never had drinks or tobacco. It’s a religious thing [being a Mormon]. I tasted a beer and tried a cigarette once, as a wayward teenager, and never did it again.” On his iPad: The Eagles, Beatles, Roy Orbison, Randy Travis and The Killers along with the games “Scrabble” and “Angry Birds”

Rick Santorum
Worst job: Cleaning toilets and shining shoes TV guilty pleasure: Watching the Food Network with his children Food obsession: “Milkshakes, ice cream” and “the deepest chocolate you can get” BlackBerry or iPhone? BlackBerry, because it works better typing with his “fat fingers,” he says. His pick to play him in a movie: Jim Caviezel, actor in The Passion of the Christ

TV guilty pleasure: “I’m not much of a TV person.” He has called The Wizard of Oz his top movie. Food obsession: Sausage and crackers Favorite newspaper: Stars & Stripes. “I’ll always remember reading it as a boy in the Air Force.” Top band: The Who

Fried Oreo

Arlo Guthrie

Patricia Heaton

Jim Caviezel

Compiled from staff and wire reports and other media outlets, including ABC News and NPR

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