Saturday, January 5, 2008

Compare the Candidates: Edwards, Clinton, Obama

Any two of these candidates will make a winning Prez-VP ticket, but for those who want to chose their favorite, the NYT election guide 2008 stacks their positions side by side to make a comparison easier than before. Here are the highlights for Edwards, Clinton, and Obama. The NYT analysis includes all the candidates from both parties.

Before we get to that, here's a humorous observation from the ultra-conservative Wall Street Journal: The "major domestic ambition this campaign season is the government takeover of the healthcare industry," according to an editorial in WSJ. They neglected to point out what a lousy job the healthcare industry is doing at protecting public health. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ Subscription Required)

Health care:

  • Edwards: Would require health insurance for all. Require employers to provide insurance or contribute to cost, with subsidies for low-income people. Create regional nonprofit pools that offer private plans and at least one public plan like Medicare. Expand Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program to serve adults below the poverty line and children and parents below 250 percent of the line.
  • Obama: Would not require health insurance for all. Would provide subsidies for low-income people. Create purchasing pool with choice of competing private plans and one public plan like Medicare. Expand Medicaid, State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

  • Clinton: Would require health insurance for all. Require large employers to provide insurance or contribute to the cost. Provide tax credits to small businesses and subsidies for low-income people. Create a pool of private plans similar to the program for federal workers and one public plan similar to Medicare. Plans are portable from job to job. Expand Medicaid, State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Reproductive rights:

  • Edwards actively opposed John Roberts's nomination, partly based on his abortion views.
  • All three candidates say they support Roe v. Wade that ruled childbearing decisions including decisions to terminate pregnancy were protected from government interference unless there was a compelling state interest. All three candidates criticized Supreme Court decision that upheld ban on partial-birth abortions.

Climate Change:

  • Edwards and Obama state the U.S. must lead global efforts to reduce emission; would set targets for capping greenhouse pollution.
  • All three candidates support a mandatory cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.


  • Edwards: Supports only a limited border fence. Clinton and Obama: Voted for the boondoggle fence along Mexican border.

  • All three candidates support a path to legalization for illegal immigrants that includes learning English and paying fines; toughen penalties for hiring illegal immigrants.


  • Edwards: Engage in low-level diplomacy; tighten economic sanctions with international cooperation; military option not off the table; has said a non-aggression pact is a possibility down the road.

  • Obama: Engage in direct diplomacy; tighten economic sanctions with international cooperation; would meet with the Iranian president with no preconditions; military option not off the table.

  • Clinton: Direct diplomacy without preconditions; use economic sanctions; would not meet with the Iranian president; military option not off the table, but would not consider without congressional approval.

Iraq: [see Senate Joint Resolution 45 below]

  • Edwards: Voted in 2002 for the Resolution, now opposed; opposed troop increase; withdraw 40,000 to 50,000 combat troops immediately and all troops within nine to 10 months.

  • Clinton: Voted in 2002 for the Resolution, now opposed; opposed troop increase; start phased withdrawal within 60 days of taking office, with the goal to have most troops out by the end of 2013.

  • Obama: Not a Senator at the time, but opposed the invasion from the beginning [although did not necessarily oppose the Resolution and seemed conflicted for much of the war’s first years]; opposed troop increase; withdraw one or two brigades a month to finish within 16 months.
The Resolution states that military intervention in Iraq is authorized in certain circumstances, including if the President determines that--
(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and
(2) acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorist and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

Edwards Victory in Iowa

A round up of reasons for Edwards supporters to celebrate:

Charlotte (NC) Observer: Edwards was "heavily outspent by his top rivals... Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York are each expected to have spent more than $20 million in Iowa. Reports suggest Edwards could end up spending less than $15 million."

Money aside ... [a] candidate who comes out on top -- or even provides the biggest surprise -- gets headlines and magazine covers across the country. All that "free media" can supplement a lot of paid advertising.

Time Magazine:

John Edwards went into the Iowa caucuses last night a fighter and he emerges from them as scrappy as ever. In other words, don't assume, because he lost to Barack Obama, that Edwards is down for the count. After all, as his campaign advisers are quick to point out, by finishing second Edwards's David can claim victory over at least one Goliath.

"The person hurt in all this is Hillary Clinton," Joe Trippi, an Edwards senior advisor, told TIME minutes after his candidate claimed the silver medal in Des Moines. "The former president of the United States flew all around this state and so did she. They outspent us three-to-one at least. And we beat her."
* * * *
In Iowa he was limited to spending $1.5 million, though he benefited from spending by supportive unions and privately funded outside groups that ran television commercials on his behalf. "I have to be honest, I didn't think with a turn out of more than 200,000 that we'd be where we are in this thing," Trippi said. "We only had 42,000 hard count [i.e., committed voters], so to go from 42,000 to 65,000 or 70,000 — the message had to have been so strong that people got up out of their homes and went to a caucus without the campaign getting them there. Now the campaign that everyone thought was going to happen to or knew that was going to happen to was the Obama campaign, but it turns out that there were two of those campaigns." To be sure, Trippi was spinning the best-possible story for his andidate. But it is certainly true that a large turnout was expected, by many observers, to do more damage to Edwards' chances than to Clinton's.

Even as Edwards was speaking last night, member states of the Service Employees International Union that have endorsed Edwards were sending out a press release claiming victory out of second place and laying out their strategy to work for him in the upcoming contests. And you can be sure the same outside groups that helped Edwards in Iowa will appear in New Hampshire. Still, the tidal wave that Edwards' spoke of, at least for tonight, is not his own. It will take another tidal wave for Edwards to wrest the mantle of change — and a victory — from Obama.

JournalNow, Winston-Salem, NC: "If you would have told me a year ago that John Edwards would beat Hillary Clinton despite being outspent 3- or 4-to-1, I would have been very pleased," said Ed Turlington in a phone interview from Des Moines. Turlington, a Raleigh attorney, was the national chairman of Edwards' 2004 presidential campaign and is advising the campaign this year.

Edwards: closing the Iowa races with class, according to TIME.