Live chat with Andrew Malcolm and Don Frederick

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Administrator2: Hello and welcome to the Politics Chat!

Administrator2: Welcome chatters, and welcome Andrew and Don!

Don Frederick: hello

Andrew Malcolm: Hi, everybody. Welcome to Top of the Ticket's chat. New Hampshire is over and that state's p[opulation is reduced by half by 6 this morning as the pols move on to the West. Anybody got any questions?

Clare: So what are we to make of New Hampshire? And Iowa! Do these states matter anymore?

Hawaii resident: Thank God for the Good Sense of New Hampshire voters. Obama may be running on a "I'm for change" platform, but here in Hawaii his background is all "the good ole boy Democrat politics" network, just look at his high school and go on from there. I say it is time for women to have a chance running things for a change. From my experience they do a great job.

Andrew Malcolm: Well, I think so, not because they're all that big or important or even representative of the broader US. But because simplky they're first. The first chance for folks to actually start voting and stop reading what we speculate on.

Madison: What do the results of the NH primary mean for Obama and Romney in the upcoming primaries?

Don Frederick: hawaii resident: that's an interesting observation about his roots in Hawaii. It's something that bears looking into, by us and others. The more intense vetting is coming, believe me. BTW, i would love for Hawaii to get into the early primary mix.

Clare: I'm kind of excited about the unsettled quality of the election. I like it that both parties have a bit of a race here this time around.

Andrew Malcolm: Well, for Obama it's something of a wakeup call, the grassfire that everybody thought was starting got stopped for the moment. And the US saw Hillary get a little success after some humility-generating days., Americans voters love that. So they're both in the game and move to Mich. For Romney it makes his home stateof Mich much more impt. He's got to win there or he's got very serious trouble pr wise, not money, but pr wise. He was supposed to win the first two and he's second.

Andrew Malcolm: For Rudy this is all great and maybe we can talk about that some more

Don Frederick: Clare: well, as a political journalist, junkie and sports fan, i'm right with ya on that point. The GOP race is especially fascinating, because it has not been a party used to such turmoil.

Clare: Do you think the new primary schedule is a good or bad thing?

Don Frederick: It's terrible. I was struck over the weekend bhy a comment Diane Sawyer made -- we have, BY FAR, the lengthiest process in the world for selecting a leader. I happened to be on the 6 a.m. flight out of Manchester this morning and it was full of Hillary's brain trust (blogged on). And they were absolutely beat. And this intense period is just starting.

Andrew Malcolm: Clare--There's good and not so good about the crammed schedule. The primaries are a testing operiod for candidates and a learning and evaluating period for voters. NH and Iowa folks see them up close. Other states less so. So I thinku need some time for more people to see more candidates react to the questions and stresses. If it all happens in 6 weeks, that seems like a very long time if you're in a campaign but it's not for public learning.

Madison: While Rudy is on solid ground when speaking about the threat of terrorism, he does seem less informed other issues of international trade and economics. How can he surpass the Republican front runners?

Andrew Malcolm: The other thing Clare is that the pre-primary campaign has gotten too long. Remember Bill Clinton announced his campaign in Oct of 91, 13 months ahead of the 92 election. This year we had announcements 10 months before that. Too long in my mind.

Don Frederick: Clare: Andy talks about 6 weeks, but its now almost been a year since Hillary and Obama announced. In a way, it seems like we now have shadow governments operating -- foreign countries are eying the various contenders, wondering who will be the two nominess, and then who will be president. That can't help but undercut what the existing administration is up to ... which doesn't sem like a good thing to me, regardless of which party is in office. Also, the roles played by New Hamp and Iowa evolved by happenstance ... but know they treat themselves as a sacred part of the process. It seems off kiltre, to me.

Administrator2: Welcome to our chat with Top of the Ticket bloggers Don Frederick and Andrew Malcolm and staff writer and D.C. Web editor Johanna Neuman. Please submit your questions and comments.

Johanna: Madison, Rudy's counting on those big-delegate states like California, New York and Florida, where the big city mayor may play better.

Don Frederick: Clare, that last line in my last post should have been "off-kilter ..." sorry, i'm tired

Clare: Don: I agree completely about the way the election process undercuts the current administration. It's hard not to lose a little respect for some of the nominees when they appear indifferent to that effect.

Don Frederick: Madison: to follow up on Johanna's comment, Rudy's strategy is REALLY interesting. The downside: he's fallen off the map of late, by not being really in play in Iowa and New Hamp. The upside for him: the confused state of the GOP race. It's so muddled, his "wait until Florida" strategy might well work.

Andrew Malcolm: Right, Don. The worst thing for Rudy would have been to have Romney win both NH and Iowa and maybe Mich. Then Rudy's got a train to stop. Now the lead is split up among several that Rudy can take on easier later. As Son says, it looked very risky but now it's looking better.

Don Frederick: Madison: Also, you are right, Rudy's likes to focus like the proverbial laser on terrorism, and he doesn't always seem that well versed on other issues. I thot Biden's debate line awhile back was one of the best of the campaign: Rudy's sentences consist of a noun, a verb and 9/11.

Andrew Malcolm: Sorry, Madison, that last line should have read, As Don say. Don is tired. :)

Clare: Well, I am very interested in seeing how Giuliani performs, because I find him very capable -- especially since he abandoned the comb-over!

Clare: That last was a joke.

Andrew Malcolm: Good one, Clare. So we don't need to worry about Rudy getting a $400 haircut. More like $12.95.

danoh: How worried do you think the two party establishments are that some states began to challenge Iowa and New Hampshire's privilaged status this year? It seems like both the Repbulican and Democratic insiders are afraid of any process that will help long-shot candidates with little money or intitial name recognition.

Don Frederick: Clare: U are right-on ... the semi-buzz cut worked wonders for him, telegenically.

pink: Do you think the results from NH will create momentum for hillary?

Madison: For Don and Andrew: Keeping in mind that it is still unclear who will emerge as Rep. and Dem. candidates, which two do you think would offer voters the clearest choice of direction for country both abroad and at home?

Don Frederick: danoh: I think many in the party establishment would LOVE to knock Iowa and New Hamp off their perch. The Dingell family tried this year in Michigan. But Iowa and New Hamp have such an economic incentive to keep the current system, that they pressure the candidates to fall in line. New Hamp, in particular, is obsessed with remainign the first primary. They might move it to Halloween next cycle, if necessay (only half joking).

Clare: I'd be curious to know what everyone thought when they saw Hillary tear up. Do you all think that really affected NH voters?

Andrew Malcolm: Clare--P.S. Those haircut deals and the shirts and spouse's clothing and hoiw high the TV camera platform is and how shiny the campaign banner backdrop is are all impt issues for campaign workers. Forinstance, advance people carry cans of hair spray to put on the big banners behind the podium so they don't shine and glare into the TV cameras and distract. Also if the TV camera platforms aren't high enuff, the waving signs blot out the candidate's face.

Clare: Actually, NH and Iowa are worth defending because it is nice to keep that sort of retail politics alive -- it could not be done in California!

Don Frederick: Pink: Well, it would seem so, but we all thought Iowa would create momentum for Obama. Hard to say if the Nevada results will make THAT much difference. But South Carolina could create a whole new wave of momentum. Then will get to Feb. 5 -- and now, by winning New Hamp, Hillary can still rely on her deep, institutional support in NY, NJ and Calif. That's a huge advantage.

danoh: As an Obama supporter who was disappointed yesterday, I though Hillary's "tear up" seemed sincere and was a good moment for her.

Clare: Andrew: Someone should have told Mrs. Huckabee to take that cough lozenge out of her mouth last evening!

Andrew Malcolm: You know, about the tears, I think that's a guy gal thing. I heard a poll that males were positively affected by it and females were turned off because it's manipulative. I don't know any guys who aren't somehow touched by a woman crying. It cud be effective. Remember, her hbusband teared up on cue on Omaha Beach. The campaigns really are stressful and it wud be understandable for anyone to become exhausted and emotional. But u gotta be careful because u don't want to imagine a president breaking down anytime. They're supposed to be super-persons.

Johanna: Andrew, I thought her coughing was a major distraction. Perhaps she could have used a cough lozenge!

Don Frederick: Clare: I could you not, when Hillary's misty-eyed moment, on TV (but at least up in New Hamp), my reaction as the day evolved was -- this could really help her. It made her seem more "real" than all the friends and relatives traipsing across Iowa, testifying to her good qualites, did (as I will note in a small piece in tomoro's print edition).

Andrew Malcolm: Clare, I missed that but you're right. Before every public event modst candidates do take breath mints. Who wants to offend anyone at the rope line shaking hands. And they have spare shirts/ties in the car if the candidate gets sweaty. But coughing is a no-no, seems like you're trying to signal something too.

Don Frederick: Clare: another typo alert --- my opening phrase should be: "I KID you not..." Again, sorry, I'm cruising on no sleep.

Don Frederick: Clare: and yet again, it should read when I SAW Hillary's misty-eyed moment ...

danoh: The idea behind maintaining retail politics by starting in a couple states and then bulding the process until a super tuesday is fine. But other states should get a chance, like starting one year in Kansas and Vermont. I wonder if this year has moved us toward another plan. There's such inertia in the process I doubt it.

Vinny: Just wondering if the connection between Iowa, New Hampshire and the Bradley effect been discussed yet.

jay: what does NH victory does to Hillary's chance in Nevada , SC

Don Frederick: Vinny: You're referring to Tom Bradly, I assume, and how his support in the '82 gov's race turned out to be exaggerated -- presumably because of HIS race. And yes, chatter is growing about that. Did Obama do better in Iowa 'cause folks had to declare their choice in public, whereas in New Hamp, they voted behind a curtain (and thus could indulge a disinclination for voting for a black man, regardless of what they told pollsters).

Andrew Malcolm: Jay, I think it gives Hillary a little boost. But you notice how virtually moments after Obama came in 2d last night, the SEIU union local of some 17,000 workers in Nevada endorsed him to give HIM a little pr boost for the Jan. 19 Nevada caucus. If SC blacks who've been hesitatring because they were afraid to believe that white Amers wud actually vote for a black now go for Obama, it cud hurt Hillary. If she keeps her folks, then it cud be close as you know half of the Dem primary voters in SC are African Amers. I'd watch for Bill Clinton to spend a lot of time for her in SC in coming days.

Andrew Malcolm: We hgad a breaking news blog item on that Obama union endorsement early this morning.

danoh: I've been reading the press in Germany and they were concerned about a "hysterical" wave toward an untested candidate before Tuesday. The NH will for HIllary will make the eventual nominee (which surely will be Clinton or Obama) more legitimate.

Don Frederick: Danoh: Danoh: I'm really wondering, as well, how seriously the parties will grapple with the primary process after the election. They tried, of course, to some degree for this cycle with the early Nevada caucus and S.C. primary. But one result -- the camoaign blew through the holidays. And they end up with weekend debates in New Hamp that have to compete with NFL playoff games (blogged on that lasy week).

Clare: Regarding Germany...the rest of Europe -- they are all very cynical. And they have a short memory.

Andrew Malcolm: To be honest, who cares what Germans think about our election process? They can't believe we elect actors president. We can't believe the French president parades around with his mistress in public. Diff cultures diff practices. We do it our way. Germans or anyone needs to learn how to handle it. Canadians watch closely too with grave concern.

danoh: Yeah, one of Barak's better lines was how he was going back and forth between watching football and the Repbulicans Saturday night.:)

jay: Any predictions for Latino voters voting for Hillary and not Obama ( that's what press is reporting)

Vinny: Yeah, Don, I've seen a poll where Obama is a point or two ahead of HIllary in SC. If polls show the same right before election day and the primary gives Clinton a solid win, I don't see any trust can be place in any polls regarding Obama. I'm not a poll expert but it seems very hard to tell when a voter is lying.

Don Frederick: danoh: yes, it's the type of comment that makes him seem like a regular guy (which never hurts).

Andrew Malcolm: We're not Karnak the magnificent. Predictions are for vapid TV discussion. We dson't get into proedictions. More interested in what YOU think? So tell us.

danoh: Anyone else see the New Republic piece on how the Hispanic vote could be Hillary's ace in the hole?

Clare: Danoh: I read abbout that in Top of the Ticket!

George G: I think that things will get very negative on the Democratic side.. So who knows who will play well there?

Dan: As a Latino voter, I don't think the Latino support for Clinton is so much

Don Frederick: Vinny: the rule of thumb I was taught, mainly because of Tom Bradley;'s exoerience, was take a poll number for a black candidate and knock at least 5 points off it (probably more if a Southern state). But some campaigns in recent years made it seem like maybe we had moved behind that. Like Harold Ford's race in Tenn: he lost, but the polling for him was accurate.

Andrew Malcolm: Dan, who not?

Andrew Malcolm: Dan, WHY not?

KP: I have to say that I was appalled that Hilary got such a big bump for having teared up. I'm a woman, and although I wasn't bothered that she got a little misty eyed, it's actually pretty embarassing that she swayed so many voters to her side that way. Shouldn't we like a candidate because s/he makes sense, rather than finally liking the woman candidate because we made her cry? On a happier note, it has been so refreshing to focus on election coverage that is not about voter disenfranchisement, unlike the 2000 and 2004 elections.

Dan: As a Latino voter, I don't think the Latino support for Clinton is as solid as polling shows. I think it reflects the lack of excitement in the primary process and the lack of excitement over Obama, who has yet to actively seek their support.

jay: Don your thoughts on Super Tuesday Primary in delegate rich California,New York ,New jersey,MASS,

Dan: Too bad he only has a month left.

Don Frederick: Clare and Danoh: Yes, I blogged on that New Republic article Monday nite, cause it struck me it would really come into play if Hillary lost New Hamp. Got a fair number of comments. here's the link:""

Dan: Typical Californians, especially my family and other Latino community members I know, seem pretty detached from the process.

danoh: Thanks for the link. I agree the most pomising sign this year is that so many more people are paying attention and voting.

Andrew Malcolm: More people involved is FANtastic. Ron Paul's thousands for instance. Many never before involved. It can only be good for our process as log as we keep it civil, which is hard if Wash is involved.

KP: I thought Obama's new campaign phrase, "Yes, we can", was aimed at Latino voters, because it will likely turn into "Si, se puede," once he hits California and the Southwest.

Dan: I think Obama's best bet in California would be to drum up support among people who don't typically participate in Primary elections. That'd be hard though considering the lack of time. This isn't Iowa.

Andrew Malcolm: And I'm especially in favor of more people being involved in reading

Don Frederick: Jay: Muy current, thots, subject to many modifications, is that Clinton has re-established her advantage in Calif. (She always was gonna have advanatges in NY and NJ). I was based in LA during the Clinton first term, and saw first-hand how strong Bill's support was there. And even during the Monica fiasco, whenever he wanted a friendly crowd, he could count on one in Calif. as I recall. So right now, I think she's positioned to winthe lion's share on delegates on 2/5. But who knows ... consider the whiplash of the last 6 days!

Clare: KP: I'm a woman, too, and I don't understand how any of my "sisters" could be attracked to Hillary. She seems so haughty and calculated. I bet an ice cold drink in her hand never melts. Plus I haven't forgotten what it was like to have that circus in the White House and the day by day parading of these people who only feel alive before a camera or audience. I don't trust her -- and I don't think she could say or do anything that will ever change that for me.

Dan: I don't like political dynasties myself.

Don Frederick: Jay: Darn, the start of my post should be "My current thots, subject to ... etc. Again sorry for the typos.

Andrew Malcolm: Hey, folks be sure to check the blog later today. We'll be using some of these comments in items and will post the transcript

Administrator2: Thanks for your time, Don, Andrew and Johanna, and thanks to everyone for joining us today. Please check later today for a complete transcript of this chat. And keep reading Top of the Ticket!

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