Goodbye, John. Hello, Ken.

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After a disappointing finish in Florida, a race that, as Dana Milbank pointed out, wasn't supposed to matter, former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) announced that he is stepping aside.

"Today I am suspending my campaign for the Democratic nomination for the presidency," he said in New Orleans, where he began his campaign. Rudy Giuliani, who had banked on a strong showing in Florida, which he didn't get, is expected to drop out of the race for the Republican nomination soon.

With fewer candidates, there are more questions, of course. Chief among them: Which candidates will Edwards and Giuliani endorse?

In the first hour, Ken Rudin will be here, as he is every week. If you were a Sen. Edwards supporter, will you support Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) or Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL)? What did you like about his platform?

If you stood behind Giuliani, to which candidate will you pledge your allegiance? Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), former Gov. Mitt Romney (MA), former Gov. Mike Huckabee (AR), or Congressman Ron Paul? If you live a Super Tuesday state, are you volunteering for a campaign?

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Hillary is getting a bum rap.

I am sick and tired of the slanted news reports in the media about Hillary Clinton versus Barack Obama. It seems that Hillary can do nothing right, not even show genuine emotion, but anything Barack does, including being openly rude at the SOTU address or insulting during the debate with his "you're likable enough Hillary" is somehow OK or misunderstood. For too many people, including those rushing to endorse him now, this man can do no wrong and is somehow above the scrutiny and investigation we expect for people running for president.

Well I for one do not believe the hype. I have listened to his speeches, I have read his books. I have watched his interviews. Where others see "soaring oratory and inspiration" I only seem to find empty platitudes and narcissism.

For example Barack talks endlessly about uniting the parties without giving any specifics. Unite with whom? I ask. When pressed, he mentions the names of a few moderate republicans. OK, these people work well with Democrats already. Certainly, Barack will not be inviting Condolezza Rice or Dick Cheney to help map strategy for energy use or the Middle East. Even if he did, they would not participate. His promises ring hollow.

Contrast that with Hillary Clinton who as a Senator worked with Trent Lott, the man who had impeached her husband, to develop health care programs for children- and succeeded.

With Hillary Clinton we have such a gift. A person who has been there and done that and can do it again. I trust her judgement in knowing when to look for unity and compromise and when to stand on the principles that separate the Democratic party from the Republicans.

I want more than a feel good message from a beauty contestant. At a time of two wars, economic turmoil and global climate change, its time to have someone who knows what she is doing and knows how to get things done. Hillary is my candidate for President.

Sent by Ron Balassanian | 2:13 PM | 1-30-2008

I'm dismayed that Edwards has dropped out. He remained my candidate of choice from the beginning despite my excitement at having a woman, an African-American and a Latino as possible nominees. As the race tightened, I still prefered Edwards, but thought, "I would be happy with Edwards, Clinton or Obama as the nominee." Instead of the "lesser of evils" I felt we had a field of strong "best choice" candidates. Since then, Clinton and Obama have gotten increasingly negative making me rethink them as "best choice" candidates. It's more like business as usual and that's very disappointing. I had no illusions that Edwards would pull a miracle and secure the nomination given his recent showings, but I at least hoped to caucus for him next Tuesday and then support the ultimate nominee. Now I'm at a loss as to which negative, seemingly status-quo candidate I should choose - Clinton or Obama. I feel that both of them are wasting the excitement over their historic candidacies and hurting the Democratic Party. I hope this is not the last we have heard from Edwards.

Sent by Doris Mejia | 2:16 PM | 1-30-2008

Is it true that exit polling showed Obama as the second choice of people who voted for Edwards and does that favor Obama?

Sent by Keith Hood | 2:17 PM | 1-30-2008

My dream ticket is Obama for POTUS, Sebelius for VEEP with an early, pre-election announcement that they will appoint Bill Richardson as Secretary of State. Black, white, Hispanic, female, governors, ambassadors, senators...this ticket has it all!

Sent by Xavier Onassis | 2:21 PM | 1-30-2008

I doubt all of Edwards votes will go to Hilliary. I'm in SC... I'm white.... I'm 64, and I'm a strong Obama supporter. I have friends who voted absentee for Edwards and then just before the election had "voter's remorse." They wished they had voted for Obama. Trust me. A lot of us will never vote for that woman. And although I though Bill was a great president when he was in office, it's totally clear to us that he wants to be president again, and I can only imagine what an uproar that would be if "they" got in.

Sent by B Hearn, Manning, SC | 2:30 PM | 1-30-2008

The media killed Kucinich's campaign and Edwards' campaign. It's part of the 'gee I am a Democrat, better overcompensate' pattern. But with Obama--there's a wierd liberal guilt (better support him or I'll be called racist. NPR is guilty of this too. Horse race over substance. But, one thing only Carol Marin and one other reporter in Chicago has done is keep Obama accountable for Rezko. Until and unless he answers the three questions she raises in this article, smart democrats had better withhold support. Unless we want another Republican in the White House. A very sad day indeed.

Sent by ann nemo | 2:37 PM | 1-30-2008

Oops. forgot the link to Carol Marin's article:
http://www.suntimes.com/news/marin/766215,CST-EDT-carol30.article

Sent by ann nemo | 2:42 PM | 1-30-2008

I have been a strong Edwards supporter, and I intend to vote for Obama in CT's primary next week. I wish it were Edwards - he is the one who really cares about poverty, which is the most important issue to me (and I am a white, educated professional, so the 'nobody in those camps cares about poverty doesn't apply). I agree with whoever said that the problem was that the Clinton/Obama race sucked all the air out of the room. I hope Obama is ready, but I intend to back him all the way to the White House.

Sent by Melanie | 2:48 PM | 1-30-2008

Wow. I am white, I don't think that I am nieve, but I am floored by the callers admission that he would not vote for a black American for President.
I have not had the opportunity to speak with anyone hwo admits to holding that view. Do you suppose that his thinking is that a black president would somehow be 'against' white men?
or what?

Sent by laura | 2:50 PM | 1-30-2008

Last night MSNBC said their exit polls showed may/most Florida voters had voted by mail weeks before. That those who waited and voted in the past few days voted Obama. Any truth to that?

Sent by Mark Westbrook | 2:52 PM | 1-30-2008

@Ron Balassanian:

I hear this argument against Obama a lot: That he has a lot of soaring rhetoric, but very little substantive policy.

I've listened carefully, and done my research, and I urge you to do the same, if you haven't. I believe it's a nothing but a stereotype that anyone who uses higher language must be trying to mask something.

On his campaign web page, Obama has published detailed policy and position papers on every important subject in the race. Many of these are, in my opinion, virtually indistinguishable from those of Hillary Clinton.

While he may not go into specific detail in debates or on the stump (Quick - give me your resume in 30 seconds? What? No details?) he certainly gave many good examples from his time as an organizer and a state senator in his book, The Audacity of Hope. I would encourage anyone who is curious about Obama's record to read this while they decide for themselves what they think.

As well accuse William Shakespeare of writing nothing but fluffy poetry because his plays used iambic pentameter! I'm not comparing Obama's speeches to Shakespeare's plays, of course merely saying that elevated language CAN contain true, deep ideas.

Listen.

Sent by Shannon | 2:53 PM | 1-30-2008

Concerning a previous listeners comments concerning the substances of Barack Obama's campaign, I am currently on line with the Obama website and I am very impressed with the number of issues addressed and the summary comment by the Obama staff. A first rate website.
Listeners would be wise to view on this one, for there is no way a candidate could address all these issues in a substantive manner in a short address or even a town hall meeting.

Sent by Tim McDowell | 2:53 PM | 1-30-2008

TOTN,

I am very disappointed. A self described "white male southern democrat" just freely admitted that he won't vote for Obama because he's a black man.

You let him off! You let it slide! You didn't challenge him! It's one thing to accept the opinions of others, but it's quite another to accept blatant racism.

How about: "I'm sorry to hear that ignorance and racism continue to play a part in your decision."

Come on, call him on it.

Sent by Warren Call | 2:55 PM | 1-30-2008

I was a huge supporter of Bill Clinton and I was on the fence between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Because of Bill Clinton's comments like "Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in '84 and '88..." I have been moved off the fence and into Barack Obama's yard. I'm thoroughly disappointed in the Clinton's and now I will never vote for Hillary Clinton.

Sent by S. Young | 2:56 PM | 1-30-2008

Can we call something by it's real name here?

Racism.

The southern caller that (Mr. White Southern Democrat) called in and said that he can't vote for Obama. He is "eloquent" but "lacks substance". Fine.

Oh, and he's black.

He won't vote for Obama because of the color of his skin. When in God's name can we get beyond this? It makes me want to work even harder for his election. It also makes me ashamed of my fellow Democrats and fellow Americans.

Sent by brad | 3:05 PM | 1-30-2008

There are those of us that believe that as the Democratic party keeps moving to the center, The center keeps moving to the right. I feel it's not in our best interest to vote for Hillery or McCain. It's time for new blood in the White house. For the past eight years we have been looking for someone younger and more creative. I don't see that in Mrs Clinton. In my view if it's Hillary or any of the old, Republican guard I may have well get out my passport and move to South America... with my other friends.

Sent by Fish | 3:06 PM | 1-30-2008

It is my opinion that the national news organizations, including NPR, made the three-way race between Clinton, Obama, and Edwards a two-way race between Clinton and Obama. The majority of the reporting was on the battle between Clinton and Obama and a very small part of the focus was on the issues. The issues should be a much more important part of the news than the polls and pundits discussion of candidates place in the race.

Sent by Lisa Twitchell | 3:07 PM | 1-30-2008

@ laura | 2:50 PM ET | 01-30-2008

It's not only white MEN he's against. Obama is actually bi-racial (his mother is Caucasian). Yet, he turned his back on half of his ancestry by identifying himself as African American.

Sent by Anti-racist | 3:10 PM | 1-30-2008

Hi Ken,

I just talked to you on the phone. I expressed my frustration and shock about you and Neal gave that guy who said he wouldn't vote for Obama because he was black a free pass. That was simply unacceptable. I think you two should both have challenged the caller and highlighted his prejudice, and used the opportunity to engage the listeners in a "teaching moment" in which you discussed the tragedy of racism and its legacy to this day, and perhaps, even how Obama holds the promise of finally putting to rest the notion the majority of America is racist, even if a minority still is. If you could please bring this up in a future program I (and the country) would appreciate it.

Sincerely,
Jason Scorse

--
Jason Scorse, PhD
Assistant Professor

Sent by Jason Scorse | 3:11 PM | 1-30-2008

I found your while male democrat caller from Fla. to be quite interesting. As an African American female unaffiliated voter it's amazing that we've reach a point in our history where the white males feel 'disenfranchized' in the electorial process to the point where they must cross political lines to avoid voting for a black or female.

As for me, I feel the options are greater than ever, reaching across racial, gender and party lines!!!! It doesn't get any better. Sorry you feel that way WMD!!!!

By the way does that mean that either Hilliary or Barack need to pull John onto the ticket to pull the WMD????

Sent by Celeste | 3:27 PM | 1-30-2008

At what point will my fellow democrats get it??? Nominating Hillary Clinton is a nail in the coffin and ensuring another 4 years of Republican rule! I am a southern woman ??? who has been politically active my entire adult life. I voted for Bill twice (and am proud of it), but that said, I don???t know that I could vote for Hillary. Even if she was elected, can you imagine the GOP leaders doing anything but the exact opposite from what she proposed? Even if she took up their ideals, there would be no compromise nor working together.

I support Obama, because what we need is someone who is not despised by the GOP and who can genuinely try to build a coalition and move this country forward.

Sent by Jen - Savannah, GA | 3:28 PM | 1-30-2008

The media coverage of Barack Obama, during this campaign, is reminiscent of the media coverage in the lead up to the Iraq war. It is baffling to me why they don???t scrutinize his actions and statements in the same manner as the other candidates. The members of the media have admitted to doing this! I find this extremely frustrating as I try to pick a candidate based on their policy stance because Senator Obama is not being held accountable and asked to explain his policies ??? as a result I don???t know where he stands. He continues to only speak in generalities and about grand ideals rather than in specifics.

I truly hope the media will begin to hold all the candidates to the same standards and stop the editorial and nasty remarks like the ones I consistently hear relating to Bill and Hillary Clinton. I know it is hard to leave the 90s behind but give it up. The era of Clinton-hating has long since past. We are a different country facing very serious issues. It???s time to focus on each candidates??? specific policies and their solutions for moving our country in the right direction. Yes, Obama???s speeches are moving and inspirational but I need to know the specific and detailed policies he stands for before I can support him.

Sent by Jessica | 3:31 PM | 1-30-2008

Regarding the comments by Warren Call and Jason Scorse (see above) about my failure to respond to the white Floridian who won't vote for Obama because he's black: You are absolutely right. I sat there stunned, listening to his comments and not knowing if it was 1958 or 2008. I knew immediately after the conversation was over that I made a serious mistake by giving him a pass. I do appreciate your notes and being called on this.

Ken

Sent by ken rudin | 3:57 PM | 1-30-2008

I am a registered Democrat in Colorado. To my great surprise, my evangelical ultra-right-wing Republican mother (who is white) in Pennsylvania called to say she was going to change her political affiliation so she could vote for Barack Obama in the primaries--she and my father are calling all the members of the family to lobby for Obama. She also declared that she would vote for ANY candidate except Hillary Clinton, for whom she would never vote, under any circumstance. This is a perfect example of Obama's appeal beyond the Democratic base and Clinton's ability to inspire a strong backlash among Republicans and conservatives. As for me, I was a cautious Clinton supporter until the South Carolina campaign, when I switched my support to Obama, and am heartened by the Kennedy endorsements he has garnered.

Sent by Lori Perry | 5:00 PM | 1-30-2008

To Anti-racist:

It is not uncommon for those of mixed race to identify with the ethnic group with which they feel the most comfortable. It is also not uncommon for racially mixed persons to say they are only one race when, in fact, they are mixed with two or several different races. Claiming affiliation with a certain race occasionally determines the way in which a person is viewed and/or treated. As the caller from Florida demonstrated, racism is still alive and well in some parts of the country. The race that a mixed person chooses to identify with is purely based on the preference of the individual, and can be motivated by such factors as the racial demographics of the area in which they reside, and the racial overtones of the people they converse with on a day-to-day basis. Furthermore, mixed persons may often identify with the race they most resemble to avoid confusion and/or controversy.

As an American of mixed-race (I am Cherokee Indian, French, and African), I do hope that the comments made by the Florida caller will be revisited in the near future. I was very disappointed when his remarks regarding Barack Obama were not challenged. Neal Conan and his guests are people of influence. Hearing people of rank and distinction speak out against the evils of racism (and even reprimand those who are in opposition) is invaluable to the improvement and healing of this nation.

Sent by Laura Alexis | 6:25 PM | 1-30-2008

I heard your program today. I thought you handled the "Southern White Democrat" perfectly. You didn't engage him and you didn't argue with him. I certainly appreciate not having to sit through a "teaching moment."

I think the caller made a very good point. There are many, many people who feel the way he does. You can call it racism, but in fact, it is really ignorance.

I am a Northern white Republican. My vote will go to Barack Obama. I am voting for Obama *because* he is black. Perhaps I am racist also. I do feel, however, that the Republican candidates offer nothing I'm particularly interested in. I disagree with most of Obama's economic and social policies as well. Yet, Obama carries with him the opportunity for everyone to see that the color of your skin or the ethnicity of your name has nothing to do with your qualifications for president. This election, that is the issue that will win my vote, and I hope that there are many, many more like me.

Sent by Chris | 7:28 PM | 1-30-2008

You're suprised by the caller? Turns out Hilary was right--LBJ KNEW he was giving up the southern dems for 2 generations because he (wait for it Mr. Obama)--signed the civil rights act. That's history. Read up on it. . We've got 8 years to go. More hanburgers and french fries please! and then the remaining racists will either be dead or disabled--and when these guys are disabled--they turn democratic party--HARD. Obama shoulda been Edwards' veep. With Edwards--we knew there was nothing else to pop out of the closet. I hope Obama does the right thing. Ken--it's best you don't berate a racist--let 'em speak. We need to hear what we're up against.

Sent by anna nemos | 7:41 PM | 1-30-2008

Does anyone know what the answer to Ken's trivia question was? "Who are three Floridians who have run for President?" My Dad came up with two of them, and it's driving us crazy who was the third. Thanks!

Sent by Marie | 9:22 PM | 1-30-2008

As a high-school teacher in Washington, I was bewildered at the mention of race as a category of candidate selection. I have spent a significant amount of my short life trying to investigate the issue of race in America (including living in the middle of Atlanta for several years after college). I have grown to understand how central to our national identity race is, and how it continues to be a large part of the division between the two Americas. Ken, I am thankful that you admitted a mistake, but hope that something more can be done.

I had not really thought of this presidential race as a contest of races, but I am being polarized towards that opinion. Maybe the path our nation needs is for a strong, Black president to lead us out of the moral and social malaise we are in and turn a corner in our history. Nothing could be a clearer break from the past eight years then a solid president leading us in a new and better direction.

Of the three candidates, I liked Edward's heart, appreciated Hillary's political savvy, but more then anything I hope for Obama's dream.

History has shown us over 220 years of white, male leadership. It has been a mixture of good and bad, but it has mostly been one-sided. As with many one-sided things, it has had its flaws. Leadership from another race has the chance to show us a better world where both Black and Brown and White can be interwoven. I hope that 4 (8) years of Black leadership will be an indicator and catalyst of change in America.

This change may have to skip over parts of America (the backwaters of old ideals), but the rest of us can look forward to a brighter tomorrow.

Sent by Brian | 11:20 PM | 1-30-2008

1) I will like to defend NPR in regards to their treatment of the openly racist caller. I think it's helpful to listen to the segment again. The caller said he would NEVER vote for Obama because of MANY reasons. I think Neal made the right call by asking this fellow to name some of his reasons. The caller paused in surprise and attempted to think of reasons. He came up with ONE and then quickly followed up with the fact that Barack is Black. Neal jumped in and went straight to the heart of this man's main focus: so you won't vote for him because he's Black? Neal and Ken allowed this man to dig his own grave and that was perfect. It's obvious from this interaction that the caller thinks the color of a person's skin is much more important than their intelligence, accomplishments etc.

Additionally, I appreciated this caller's honesty. It opens the ears and eyes of Americans who believe that racism is behind us.

2) Hiliary Clinton has spent most of her time spreading false statements and trying to stab Barack in the back. When they cameras are on, she wants to hold his hands and let people know that she is just a friendly and harmless woman. Sorry sister, I don't think so.

I find it disturbing that there is now a trend of female supporters of Hiliary Clinton going around and trying to smear the character of Barack Obama. Attack his policies, attack his decisions but personal attacks are a sign of insecurity.

If Hiliary Clinton has some much experience (read: My CV is composed of being a 1st lady and making political friendships in the senate as I prepare to run for president) and wisdom, why does she need to bring herself down to the level of personal attacks? I would hate to tell my daughter that the Nation's 1st female president was chosen mostly because of her gender. If she were male, no one would take him seriously: "so you were the husband to a governor and to a president, those are your qualifications?"

Hiliary's past is as clean as mud, if Obama were to use even ONE of her multiple scandals to defend himself Ms. Clinton would be yesterday's news.
She should count herself lucky that Barack Obama has more class.

There are lots of smart women with much more substance and indept CV's than Hiliary Clinton. I think that it's sad that she is hiped as the "experience" candidate. Bill Richardson has experience, Hiliary Clinton does not.

Sent by Sarah | 11:21 PM | 1-30-2008

@ Shannon, @ Laura, @ Jason & Warren
Bravo, you are absolutely right. People tune into debates, read their paper, and talk to their family and friends but don't always to do the research to provide context to what they are hearing. I think had I not research Obama AND not only the other Democratic candidates but G.O.P.s then I'd find him 'too good to be true' as well.
As for the caller that said he and his friends are not ready for a 'black' president, I find that to be so sad and generally a common thought among those who see 'black people' as this one, lumped-together group. Barack Obama is just as much white as he is black anyway; although he is so much more than that as an individual if you account for his experience abroad and in civic service over the years. Furthermore, he DOES have viability in a national context because there have been numerous reports of Republicans and Independents, as well as first time voters; he is simply not as polarizing as Hillary Clinton between parties. Except in the South!

Sent by HodgesForObama | 11:06 AM | 1-31-2008

Ken,

Thanks for contributing your reaction to the white Floridian. Sometimes, we TOTN listeners feel that the moderators don't pay attention when we ask that you explain why you do or don't challenge opinions. If you have a policy of avoiding criticism so that controversial guests feel comfortable speaking on the show, please explain that to us. If, on the other hand, as you explained, you were so shocked you were at a loss for words (temporarily), let us know. I too have been shocked speechless when unexpectedly encountering hateful speech -- but we all have obligations to clearly say NO! in order to uphold standards of respect in public discourse.

Sent by Rachel N H | 11:11 AM | 1-31-2008

Re: Southern Male Caller...
I'm a white (Euro-American), Democratic, Christian male from the South and with Edwards bowing out I will absolutely vote for Obama.

While some here think Neal & Ken "should've called him on it" or "gave him a pass", this belies the real problem. That caller has the RIGHT to say and vote as he pleases. We may not like it, and certainly, more dialogue with him may have opened the door to reveal his ignorance to himself.

But that does not change the REALITY of that caller's mindset. That's the struggle we must engage: what causes us to keep creating racists?

Finally, to all AfriAmer voters, please PLEASE do not lump me -- a white, southern, Christian, Democratic man -- in with that caller. And while I'm at it, Butt out Bill Clinton; We want DEMOCRACY not DYNASTY. (I think Stephen Colbert would advise me to add: Copyright 2008 Andy in Okla.)

Sent by Andy in Oklahoma | 11:26 AM | 1-31-2008

A couple of points: Ken, you were no more stunned then I when the guy made his comment about why he was not voting for Obama. However, in defense of the show, I was at least glad that you (or maybe it was Neal) clarified his point in plain language, asking "you won't vote for Obama because he's a black man?" (I paraphrase), to which he responded yes. You could have been so stunned you left his reason murky.

Next and most important point: I have a very hard time believing that not ONE caller in to the show said s/he was voting for Hillary Clinton...not ONE. Is that possible? I can't believe no-one called in who told the screeners s/he was in favor or Clinton. Why put on only the anti-clinton, pro-obama callers?

Penultimate point: Neal mentioned an upcoming special on something about the historical aspect of having a black man as a serious contender for the presidency for the 1st time---what about the historical aspect of having a WOMAN as a serious contender for the presidency for the 1st time??

Final Point: I agree with the comments of Ron Balassanian | 2:13 PM ET | 01-30-2008. Coverage seems slanted toward Obama. I like Obama, and I think he does bring a fresh face, a different generation, and a certain excitement to the mix (partially, I might note, the kind of excitement that is also generated by life-threatening situations--he is, after all, more or less of an unknown politically), but I can see no rational reason why we should not put Hillary in office with her 40-year record of caring about issues that matter & working towards solutions that benefit society, even the least empowered among us. Put her in for 4-8 years and give obama a chance to ripen.

I love your show, BTW--I listen at work--I shouldn't, but what's another "political junkie" to do?

But PLEASE try to be a bit more objective in future Junkie shows. Thanks.

Sent by Sandra L. Chaff | 2:00 PM | 1-31-2008

After having a full day to think about the caller from Florida, I now realize how appropriately the situation was handled. I now believe that, given the nature of the comment, and the caller???s shocking admission to being racist, there was very little anyone could do or say without publicly humiliating the caller. A formal reprimand would have been ideal for many of the listeners, but when people call NPR they hope to be treated with the same dignity and respect as all other callers. After this experience I have learned that I (we) must show consideration for all people, even when it is difficult to muster.

Sent by Laura Alexis | 3:18 PM | 1-31-2008