Election 2008

Political Junkie: Update on the Presidential Campaign

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NPR's Political Junkie Ken Rudin gives an update on the presidential campaign and other political news, and political analyst Stuart Rothenberg focuses on some of the high profile races for the U.S. Senate.


This is Talk of the Nation. I'm Neal Conan. We're broadcasting today from the Knight Studio at the Newseum...

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: Washington D.C.'s newest museum devoted to journalism, and the news business. A new ad declares that John McCain stood up to the president on global warming, while both of them call for offshore oil-drilling, moveon.org goes for the gut in their new TV ad, and the author of maybe the most famous negative ad ever dies in New York. It's Wednesday, and time for another edition of the Political Junkie.

Former President RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.

Former Vice President WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad, "Where's the Beef?"

Former President RICHARD NIXON: You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore.

Senator HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (Democrat, New York): Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it!

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

President GEORGE W. BUSH: But I'm the decider.

(Soundbite of Howard Dean scream)

CONAN: NPR political editor Ken Rudin is here with us at the Newseum, as he is every week, to talk about the presidential campaign and other political news. Al Gore endorses, Clinton loyalists upset by an Obama hire, Maryland has a new congresswoman, and there may not be much of a party at the Democratic National Convention.

A bit later in the show, Stuart Rothenberg joins us to focus on some of the high-profile races for the U.S. Senate this year. Thirty-five seats are up for grabs in November. Plus, we'll talk with Alan Schwarz about his piece on the front page of the New York Times today, about an autistic swimmer, and his fight to get to the Paralympic Games. If you'd like to read this story, there's a link on our blog at npr.org/blogofthenation. But first, Political Junkie Ken Rudin is with us here at the Newseum. Hey, Ken.

KEN RUDIN: Hi, Neal.

CONAN: And as usual, we'll begin with a trivia question.

RUDIN: Well, this week we're going to talk a lot about Senate races. So, here's a trivia question on Senate races. When was the last time two folks ran against each other for the Senate who later ran against each other for president?

CONAN: So, if you think you know the last time two candidates who ran against each other for United States Senate later ran against each other for president, give us a call, 800-989-8255. You can zap us an email, talk@npr.org, and we'll take guesses from our audience here at the Newseum as well.

We're seeing, though - beginning, though, how important an issue the price of oil is playing out to be this campaigns season, as, well, the president of the United States today and Senator John McCain came out for offshore oil-drilling, and the Democrats in Congress said, nuh-uh.

RUDIN: Well, this is a reversal of a long-held John McCain position, one of the reasons he was appealing to many Independents and voters like that is because of a - views on the environment, and things like offshore drilling. But of course, with the price of gas at four dollars a gallon, and approaching five dollars, even, in some states, there's a sense that McCain really felt that he had act, but of course, that could hurt him in Florida.

Obviously, you know, if there's an oil leak off the coast that would hurt tourism, and we also saw that Charlie Crist, the governor of Florida, also an opponent of offshore drilling, came along. So, I don't know if he was just covering the Republicans' behind on an issue like this or he really believes it or he's running for vice president. Or he, too, like other people said, that the price of gas is just too high, and something must be done.

CONAN: Senator Obama's campaign said, well, even if they do start drilling today, you're not going to start seeing any of that gas, that oil, for five years. It's not going to bring down the price of oil tomorrow.

RUDIN: Right, and nothing seems to really - I mean, we talked for years about conservation, and ways to just to conserve energy, and that hasn't - that's been going on since Jimmy Carter, and that hasn't worked either. So, nothing is working quickly. All people know is that the price of gas is out of control.

CONAN: One other thing that happened this week was Senator McCain took out an ad on the environment that seems to, well, really try to establish his distance from President Bush. Let's take a listen.

(Soundbite of campaign ad)

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Narrator: John McCain stood up to the president and sounded the alarm on global warming five years ago. Today, he has a realistic plan that will curb greenhouse gas emissions, a plan that will help grow our economy, and protect our environment. Reform, prosperity, peace, John McCain.

CONAN: "Stood up to the president" seems to be the operative line in that ad.

RUDIN: Well, look, there's obviously a very complicated relationship going on between John McCain and George W. Bush. Democrats are trying to portray a McCain presidency as a third Bush term. But of course, on many issues, like the environment - of course, offshore drilling is no longer that issue.

But like the environment, John McCain has split with the Bush administration on torture, on the conduct of the war. Even though he supports the surge, he's been critical of the conduct of the war for quite some time. So, there are differences, and obviously, it would be in John McCain's best interest to highlight those differences.

CONAN: And this is also an issue that can appeal to voters in the middle, the swing voters, so to speak, the environment, a big issue for them.

RUDIN: Exactly, and it's been one of his lynchpin issues for a long time, especially ever since he first ran for president in 2000.

CONAN: And this note from Bob in Laramie, Wyoming. I've often heard it said that politically speaking, Bill Clinton is a hard dog to keep on the porch. Will President Clinton be a plus or a minus if Mrs. Clinton is the Democratic vice-presidential candidate? Well, a sign this week that maybe she won't be.

RUDIN: Well, I think, in answer to the question, will it be a plus or minus, I think the answer is definitely yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RUDIN: And I think that it was the case when Hillary Clinton was running for president, too. I mean, obviously, she got where she was because of his strong support, his massive rolodex of names, his ability to raise funds. But I think, ultimately, in the long run, I think he hurt himself and her candidacy by his comments on race and other things.

CONAN: You don't think that she on her own bat a lot for her own candidacy?

RUDIN: No, no. I'm saying the fact is if it was Hillary - just like with Edward Moore when Ted Kennedy ran for the Senate in 1962. If his name was Edward Moore, and not Edward Kennedy - if her name was Hillary Rodham, running for president in 2008, I don't think it would be the same thing had she not been a former First Lady.

CONAN: Let me ask you also, her former campaign director got hired this week by Senator Obama to be the chief of staff for the vice president, whoever he or she may be.

RUDIN: Right, and it's very interesting. Hillary Clinton gave a very magnanimous and gracious endorsement of Barack Obama two Saturdays ago. And yet, if you look at the blogosphere, the appointment, the hiring of Patti Solis Doyle to be the vice-presidential chief of staff was greeted as betrayal by many Hillary Clinton supporters.

They feel that she, Patti Solis Doyle, was responsible, if nobody else was, for the collapse of the Hillary Clinton campaign, that they were broke, that they ignored a lot of the caucus states when Barack Obama was running - winning 11 states in a row. So, a lot of them felt that Patti Solis Doyle hurt the Clinton cause, and here's further proof, she was a secret Obama supporter.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RUDIN: All along.

CONAN: Let's see if we can get a caller on the line. This is Rolf, who thinks he knows the answer to our trivia question. Hey, Rolf.

ROLF (Caller): Good afternoon. I believe the answer is Alan Keyes and Barack Obama.

RUDIN: Well, actually, they did - that's true. They did run against each other for the Senate, but if memory serves, Alan Keyes was not the Republican nominee for president in 2008.

CONAN: This year.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RUDIN: Right. So, yes, they did run against...

ROLF: Well, I certainly made the effort to make it so.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RUDIN: Well, you and three others. No, no, but I mean...

(Soundbite of laughter)

RUDIN: Clearly, they did run against each other for the Senate, and of course, if Barack - if Alan Keyes had been the Republican nomination this year, it would have been the most recent time. There was one time before this.

CONAN: Thanks very much, Rolf, calling us from Edmund, Oklahoma. And we have somebody here in the Newseum who thinks they've got the answer. Go ahead, please.

ALICE (Audience Member): I'm Alice from Laramie, Wyoming. Is it Abraham Lincoln and Douglas?

RUDIN: It is correct.

CONAN: Hey, hey!

(Soundbite of applause)

RUDIN: Very few people know this. This was actually Dan Schorr's first campaign that he covered, which was amazing.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RUDIN: It was 1858. Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln ran for the Senate in Illinois. Two years ago, they were - two years later, they ran against each other for the presidency, and of course, Neal, you know this, that Abraham Lincoln was the first Jewish president. You know that because he was shot in the temple.


RUDIN: Yeah, I've been using that joke for 150 years, but yes, that's the correct answer.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: I thought he was shot in Ford's Theater.

RUDIN: Yeah, well...

CONAN: Anyway, thanks very much, and congratulations. You win our no-prize today.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Let's go on and talk about, well, there's a new member of Congress, I think, being sworn in today?

RUDIN: Donna Edwards, the first African-American woman elected from the state of Maryland. She defeated Albert Wynn in a primary back in February. He later resigned to become a lobbyist. And so they had a special election. So she won yesterday's special election. Doesn't change the partisan makeup of the House, but again, it adds another black woman.

CONAN: And let's go to the presidential campaign, again. And this is an ad that was taken out today, or is starting to run today, I believe, by moveon.org, which is the, well, left-of-center, I think it's safe to say, group that often takes out ads that are, well, not necessarily supporting Democratic candidates, but attacking Republicans. Let's listen.

(Soundbite of MoveOn.org political ad)

(Soundbite of baby chattering)

Unidentified Woman: Hi, John McCain. This is Alex, and he's my first. So far, his talents include trying any new food and chasing after our dog. That and making my heart pound every time I look at him. So, John McCain, when you say you would stay in Iraq for 100 years, were you counting on Alex? Because if you were, you can't have him.

CONAN: That from moveon.org, and taking John McCain on directly on the issue of the war.

RUDIN: Yes, the question is whether they go too far in it. I mean, obviously, there are a lot of people who don't - look, an overwhelming majority of the country does not like the conduct of the war, the fact that the war's still going on, the decision to go to war. The question whether John McCain really said he intends to stay in the war in Iraq in 100 years has been questioned - it's questioned whether it's been taken out of context. Moveon.org does have a way of being provocative. They were very provocative with their General Betray-Us, I'm talking about General Petraeus, which is the same thing (unintelligible)...

CONAN: Same thing you just said. Mr. Articulate, over here.

RUDIN: But on paper it works better. But it's obviously a controversial ad. And the McCain people hope it will backfire. But it's a hard-hitting ad. And it's not the first hard-hitting ad we've seen in politics.

CONAN: In fact, the author of, maybe, the first and hardest-hitting negative ad ever in television dies earlier this week. That, of course, Tony Schwartz, and the ad, well, it's the famous "Daisy" ad. Ran just once on TV, nevertheless, it remains world-famous.

(Soundbite of Lyndon Johnson campaign ad)

(Soundbite of birds chirping)

Ms. BIRGITTE OLSEN: One, two, three, four, five, seven, six, six, eight, nine, nine...

Unidentified Man: Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, (unintelligible)...

(Soundbite of explosion)

Former President LYNDON B. JOHNSON: These are the stakes, to make a world in which all of Gods children can live or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die.

Mr. CHRIS SCHENKEL (Sportscaster): Vote for President Johnson on November 3rd. The stakes are too high for you to stay home.

CONAN: The voice of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Of course, the target, Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater.

RUDIN: Right. A very subtle ad, however.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RUDIN: But what you actually saw was a little girl picking off the petals of a daisy. That's why it's called the daisy ad. And as she was trying to count to ten, you had the countdown, because Barry Goldwater would get us into a nuclear war, and of course, Lyndon Johnson was the peace candidate in 1964.

CONAN: 1964, well, they hadn't mentioned Veet-nam (ph) yet. Well, anyway, stay with us, Ken, if you will. Coming up, political analyst Stuart Rothenberg will join us. We're looking at 35 open Senate seats coming up - or Senate races up this November. We're live at the Knight Studio in the Newseum. If you'd like to join the conversation and tell us what's going on about the Senate race in your state, give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. I'm Neal Conan. It's the Talk of the Nation from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is the Talk of the Nation. I'm Neal Conan. We're broadcasting today from the Knight Studio inside the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: Ken Rudin, NPR's Political Junkie, is with us, and his latest Political Junkie column is up at npr.org if you'd like to take a look at it, if you'd really like to - I...

RUDIN: Please!

CONAN: Anyway, an epic Democratic primary battle and the beginning of the general election have been taking all the attention. But the Senate races this year are pretty exciting as well, 35 seats in the United States Senate up for grabs come November. We're going to turn now for a look at some of those races to Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.

If you'd like to join the conversation and tell us what's happening in your state, if you have questions about the Senate race, and what's going on there, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org, and you can read what other listeners have to say on our blog at npr.org/blogofthenation. And Stuart Rothenberg, nice to have you with us here at the Newseum.

Mr. STUART ROTHENBERG (Editor, The Rothenberg Political Report): Pleasure to be here.

CONAN: And as you look at the - as you look at those 35 contests, how many, do you think, are really competitive at this point, five months out?

Mr. ROTHENBERG: I'd say 10 or 12 are worth watching. Some are more competitive, some might be competitive, but probably about a dozen are worth our attention.

CONAN: And Democrats are hoping to pick up - well, they currently have a very slight majority in the U.S. Senate. They'd like to get to 60 if they could.

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Right. It's now 51-49. They'd need to gain nine seats to hit the magic 60 number. That's a lot of seats. That is a really big number, particularly after winning so many seats last time. They netted six. It's a very difficult stretch to get all the way up there. But it's, you know, they still have almost five months to do it.

CONAN: And nevertheless, the great majority of those seats that are up are, well, they are Republican seats. They are held by an incumbent Republican or a Republican retired. And well, when people retire that tends to make the contest a little easier for a challenger.

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Yeah, that's right. Of the 35 Senate seats this cycle, 23 are held by Republicans and only 12 by Democrats. That means the Republicans are defending far more seats. And in an environment like this, where the poll numbers are bad for the Republicans, for the president, people seem to want change. The Democrats, at the moment, seem to be the - have the easier sell as the vehicle for change.

CONAN: And as you look at this race, where do you think the most likely opportunities for Democrats - for changes to happen, whether they're Democrats or Republicans?

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Well, I was just talking with...


Mr. ROTHENBERG: Ken about this, and I'm really worried now, because I find myself in agreement with him. So, I now have to go back to the drawing board, and totally reassess here. I think there are four seats that - four Republican-held seats that are particularly vulnerable right now. Three of them open, the Virginia Senate seat where John Warner is retiring, and I'm willing to bet my entire mortgage that Mark Warner, the Democrat, wins the seat. Two other opens in New Mexico and Colorado.

CONAN: We've had a couple of savings-and-loans call in, and they're willing to take you up on that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Two other opens in New Mexico and in Colorado. Less certain, but still, you'd have to say, all things being equal, the Democrats have the advantage. Certainly in polling in New Mexico, they're far ahead. Colorado is more competitive. And then the fourth seat is Republican incumbent John Sununu in New Hampshire is in serious trouble.

He's down, probably, double digits against the same candidate he beat six years ago, former Governor Jeanne Shaheen. The environment is worse. Sununu was raising more money this time then he has in the past. But again, the campaign is kind of slow to take off. I think he's in - he has a difficult road ahead. So, that would be four right off the bat.

CONAN: And if you look at these races, do these tend to - you know, are the dynamics, the local dynamics in the state of New Hampshire, for example - or how much - to what degree are they national issues?

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Well, I'll crawl out on a limb and say it depends.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Because it does depend on a number of things, particularly the nature of the cycle. Some election cycles, the public is relatively content. There's no great desire for change. There's no big national issue. And in that kind of cycle, it's really race-by-race. Who's the candidate? Who's raising the most money? Are there local issues? Are there personality questions? In other cycles like the last one, 2006, But also we've had others like this, 1980, '86, '94. There's been some sort of national mood, a trend that benefits one party.

So that it's hard to say. It's not all or none. It's not that all Senate races are nationalized, or all are localized. Ken and I have seen a number of cycles where all the close races have gone one way. Just like 2006, when the Democrats, all the close races went to them. Right now, this looks more like a national cycle, with the Republicans trying to localize.

CONAN: Email question from Chris in Sunnyvale, California. Why are there 35 Senate races this year, not 33 or 34?

Mr. ROTHENBERG: That's a good question. I know the answer to that. Do you want me to answer that, Ken? Or do you want to take that one?

RUDIN: No, you're the guest. I can wait.

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Well, we have basically two open seats, senators who step down, or in one case, one deceased senator and one senator who resigned his seat in order to take a lucrative job in the private sector, as they say. And so we have extra Senate races, one extra in Wyoming, and one in Mississippi. We actually have two Senate races in Wyoming this cycle, and two in Mississippi. And as Chris wisely points out, that's not normally the case. We have a third of the senators elected every two years, and it just so happens we have special elections to fill out the remainder of two of the terms.

CONAN: And it seems like all of those are going to be safe Republican seats.

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Not really. The Wyoming seat does certainly look safe. But, Mississippi is a - there's an interesting thing going on. I was down in Mississippi a couple of weeks ago, and I think our immediate reaction is, oh, Mississippi, it's conservative, it's Republican. In this case, Senator Trent Lott retired. The Republican Governor Haley Barbour appointed a member of Congress, Roger Wicker.

The Democrats are running former Governor Ronnie Musgrove. And Ronnie Musgrove is as talkative and affable and as good a schmoozer as there is on this planet. Wicker's a bit more restrained. The state certainly prefers conservatives. Musgrove is running as a conservative Democrat. It's a race, I think, worth watching.

CONAN: Now, let's get a caller on the line. And this is Steve, Steve with us from San Antonio in Texas.

STEVE (Caller): Hey. I just wanted to make the point that I think the Republicans have kind of dug their own grave this election cycle. It looks like they're tying themselves, way too much, to the neocon movement, the new right movement. And what you're seeing right now with the Republican Party is basically a turnover of power, and like it or not, it's going to happen.

I was at the Texas state convention last week, and I would say about 30 or 40 percent of the people there were Ron Paul supporters, and supporters of the freedom movement that he's kind of awakened. And so, what you're going to see in even two years, I think you could see the Texas state convention have about 50 or 60 percent of those freedom people there.

And so, you know, what you're seeing - the Republicans, I think, are just going lose this year, incredibly. They'll learn a lesson, and what they really need to learn is they need to look at the open-minded people that are inside their own party right now. A lot of people don't realize that there are two camps in the Republican Party right now. You have the, you know, the neocons, and you have the resurrection of the old right, in the form of the freedom movement started by Ron Paul.

CONAN: To which, I take it, you're a member?

STEVE: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: OK. We got that endorsement out. Does he have a point, do you think, Stuart?

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Well, he certainly has a point that, as those of us who are political analysts now have overused the phrase, the Republican brand is damaged. When you ask people which party they prefer, they seem to prefer the Democrats. They have a - their impression is the Democrats will do a better job handling almost every issue, including some longtime Republican issues, like taxes.

So, there's no doubt the Republican brand is damaged. I think it's damaged primarily because of the president, and the president's performance. And interestingly, although the caller talked about how the neocons have taken control of the Republican Party, I think you'd have to say that John McCain is not necessarily identified as all that ideological.

And when you look at a couple of the Republicans who are running for reelection, who, I think, are in decent shape to be reelected, although definitely have competitive races, Susan Collins in Maine, Gordon Smith all the way across the country in Oregon, I don't think you'd identify these people as necessarily hardcore, conservatives. So, I think it's - the situation is somewhat more - a bit subtle and complex than the caller's suggestions.

CONAN: Steve, thanks so much for the call. Let's see if we can go to - this is going to be - where is it? Five, if I can find button five? There! Andrew, Andrew calling us from Denver, Colorado.

ANDREW (Caller): Hi there. We've an interesting race going on out here for the Senate. And in Colorado, two former - well, one standing congressman, Mark Udall, and Bob Schieffer, a former Republican congressman, and both of them have really been deemphasizing their party affiliations in their television advertising.

Bob Schieffer even deemphasizing that he's running for Senate. His first ad out here, which even piqued my interest before I really knew who he was, was these adorable children saying thank you to Bob Schieffer for his support of education. And Mark Udall, in all of his ads that's he's running, and he's running a lot of them, never says that he is a Democrat. So it's interesting out here.

CONAN: Well, it's interesting. Colorado identified, in recent years, as a purple state, could go either way, and trending Democratic, don't you think, Stuart?

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Exactly. It's a good point. It's a good call. It's a good race. This is a competitive state. Schieffer, conservative, probably a bit more conservative than the state at the moment. Udall, a Democrat, more liberal than the state, comes from Boulder. I think they're each trying to appeal to these swing voters.

And remember, what's interesting about Colorado is Barack Obama has identified that as one of the states that's basically a Republican state - or has been at the presidential level - where he thinks he can compete. This is the kind of race where both Senate candidates - or neither Senate candidate wants to alienate voters by running as a pure partisan.

ANDREW: I have to make one correction there. Mark Udall made a very public move out of Boulder to El Dorado Springs.


ANDREW: So he's not a Democrat from Boulder.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: We'll take that under advisement. Thanks very much for the call.

RUDIN: Stu, I think the question everybody really wants to ask you is, where did you come up with the name the Rothenberg Political Report? But the other question I want to ask is...

(Soundbite of laughter)

RUDIN: First of all, do you- I think most people see that Mary Landrieu may be the only vulnerable Democrat. That's kind of interesting, out of 12 Democrats up, she's the only one who seems to have a competitive race, and yet, I think most people feel that she's going to win as well. And the other question I wanted to ask you is, Alaska, as - we talked about how interesting Mississippi may be competitive, Alaska may be competitive for the first time in decades.


RUDIN: Stu, now you can just...

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Two good points. Not the comment about the name the Rothenberg Political Report, which I should say as frequently as possible to get that out there, but no, you're right about Mary Landrieu. She seems to be the one Democrat who is going to face a difficult race.

As you know, she's facing a Democrat-turned-Republican named John Kennedy, who has statewide recognition, has run statewide, is a statewide officeholder. Karl Rove went down to Louisiana to recruit him over to the Republican Party at the end of the race. Mary Landrieu has had a couple of very close races in the past, even against candidates not necessarily regarded as the best of the best.

RUDIN: But we did see a big turnout of African-American voters in that special election - the Richard Baker seat for the House, and so you wonder whether the turnout for African-Americans and the declining Republican value could help her.

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Exactly. And Democrats will point out that Mary Landrieu got a lot of very good publicity after Hurricane Katrina when she was down there, fought aggressively for the state, a strong advocate, and her poll numbers moved up. So I think it's a competitive race.

I think Senator Landrieu begins with a narrow advantage. But we have it as a tossup. Now, maybe some people think that she's a little better off than that, but we're exact - we're unsure about the demographic makeup of the state, because you recall, after the hurricane, there was some significant departures out of Louisiana and some Democratic voters moving into Texas.

CONAN: Email question from Jeffrey in Chicago. This is - should Barack Obama win the presidential election, how and when would his Senate seat be filled? Ken?

RUDIN: It would be the governor, who is a Democrat, Rod Blagojevich, who can't run for president because his name could not fit on the bumper sticker...

(Soundbite of laughter)

RUDIN: Would appoint a successor. Now, it's different in Arizona. If John McCain won, I mean, the governor would still name a successor, but it has to be of the same party. So even though the governor of Arizona, who has a sense of Yuma...

(Soundbite of laughter)

RUDIN: Thank you - is a Democrat, he would have to name a Republican, because John McCain is a Republican.

CONAN: Our prickly political junkie, Ken Rudin, with us. Also Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report. We're talking about Senate races, and you're listening to Talk of the Nation from NPR News. And let's see if we can go to - ah, Stacy, Stacy with us from Boise in Idaho.

STACY (Caller): Hi. I attended the Idaho State Democratic Convention last week, and Larry LaRocco is running to replace wide-stanced Larry Craig.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STACY: At the convention we elected five African-Americans to go to the national convention where they will nominate the first African-American presidential candidate...

CONAN: Of a major party.

STACY: And - what?

CONAN: I just threw in "of a major party," because, you know, to avoid the emails coming in.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STACY: And I don't know if our Senate race will be competitive, but the feeling in Idaho is that Democrats are coming out of the woodwork for the first time in decades, and it's really an exciting time for us in Idaho.

CONAN: Stuart Rothenberg, you don't want to put down Stacy or the Democrats in Idaho...

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Oh, absolutely. I can only wish Stacy the best of luck, but I do look at the numbers, and I look at voting history, and we look at polls, and I've known Larry LaRocco for many years. He was elected to Congress, came back into Washington, worked for a couple of groups here in town. This is a very, very, very - how many is that, Ken?

RUDIN: Three.

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Three verys (ph)? I need two more verys.

RUDIN: Three verys.

Mr. ROTHENBERG: A very, very tough race for a Democrat. It's just a hard state. It's a conservative state. It's a Republican state. The Republican lieutenant governor is running, and the Republican lieutenant governor ran against Larry LaRocco for lieutenant governor just a couple of years ago, and he beat him by 19 points. So unless the voters in the state have a total mind meltdown and reversal, it's going to be difficult for LaRocco.

RUDIN: But there is a conservative independent candidate in that race, correct?


STACY: And if you can't - you know, if you can get arrested in a sex sting and still, you know, in your party elect a Republican - I mean, people did go to the polls and check R, R, R. So it's a tough race any - you know, any time here, but we're hopeful.

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Well, keep plugging away, Stacy.

STACY: Thank you.

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Just don't get your expectations too high.

RUDIN: And Stu, the last Democrat elected to the Senate from Idaho was?

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Ken Rudin!

RUDIN: No, Frank Church.

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Frank Church.

CONAN: Stacy, thanks very much for the call. You can thank heavens you're not here.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Let's see if we can get one more caller in. This is Mitch, Mitch with us from Virginia Beach.

MITCH (Caller): Yeah, I was curious how the left views a possible senator, Mark Warner. He didn't really come up through the Democratic Party. He kind of started at the top. Just wonder if they see him as, like, a real Democrat or more kind of, like, a Lieberman-type figure.

CONAN: Stuart Rothenberg, is Mark Warner a mainline Democrat, so far as you can tell?

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Well, I'm not so sure how the left views Mark Warner. I remember going to an event when Warner was running for governor the first time, and they handed out - this was at Shad Planking, it's a famous state political event, and the Warner campaign handed out these t-shirts with "Sportsmen for Warner," and they had, you know rod and reels on them, and shotguns, and it was Mark Warner as the conservative Democrat.

I think he's always run as kind of fiscally moderate, conservative or moderate on cultural issues, anti-tax. Now the Republicans will say, oh, he raised taxes and he's not the way he portrays himself. But that's the way he is positioned, and that's why a lot of people think he's going to be successful in the Senate race, and that's why some people thought he'd be a formidable presidential candidate if the Democrats could nominate him.

He started to run, he pulled out of the race, but his image is of a moderate to conservative Democrat. And at the moment - at the moment, this may change in two years - Democrats seem willing to have any Democrat of any stripe, as long as they get elected, in House and Senate races. And that may change if and when they get control of both houses of Congress and the White House, but not yet.

CONAN: A lot of Virginia Democrats had to swallow hard to take Jim Webb two years ago, and he's turned out to be one of their champions.

Mr. ROTHENBERG: They've just decided in most places the insiders want winners.


RUDIN: Yeah, exactly. I mean, you think of Tim Kaine, the governor, and Jim Webb, the other senator, they ran as moderate conservatives, or at least certainly moderates. And had George Allen not self-imploded with the macaca (ph) comment, perhaps Jim Webb would not have won. But as Vin Weber said on this program last week, the question is, is Barack Obama, of the Warner-Kaine-Webb mode, moderate enough to win the Virginia state that hasn't gone Democratic since '64?

Mr. ROTHENBERG: Well, I - maybe we'll know once Senator Obama starts talking about individual issues rather than bringing people together. But bringing people together is a very good message for Virginia.

CONAN: Stuart Rothenberg, thanks very much for being with us.

Mr. ROTHENBERG: My pleasure.

CONAN: Stuart Rothenberg, the editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, with us here at the Newseum, and Ken Rudin, as always, we appreciate your presence here, if not your jokes.

RUDIN: How did he get that Rothenberg Political Report name? I love that.

CONAN: That's - it's inventive people.

RUDIN: I love it. I love it.

CONAN: Tony Schwarz may have gotten it for him. Anyway, stay with us. Alan Schwarz of the New York Times joins us when we come back. He had a front-page story today about an autistic swimmer's fight to compete in the Paralympic Games in Beijing. I'm Neal Conan. It's the Talk of the Nation from NPR News.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

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Bill, Jim, Caroline? Readers Pick Obama VP

Could Caroline Kennedy be Barack Obama's running mate? Some readers think so. i

Could Caroline Kennedy be Barack Obama's running mate? Some readers think so. Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Could Caroline Kennedy be Barack Obama's running mate? Some readers think so.

Could Caroline Kennedy be Barack Obama's running mate? Some readers think so.

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If anyone thinks that the end of the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination will lead to a bit of a respite, a cooling down of passions, think again. Last week's "Political Junkie," listing the pros and cons of an assortment of potential running mates for Barack Obama, was our most widely viewed column since we resumed in January 2004. (We had previously been on the Washington Post Web site from 1998 thru 2001.) And the passions that came through in your e-mails — specifically those for/against Obama and for/against Hillary Clinton, as well as reflections on the entire Democratic Party struggle — showed that even though the nomination is settled, the emotions are not.

The next step is the choice of someone to fill the ticket with Obama. The list of potential running mates sent in by you range from the predictable to the far-fetched. But in fairness, given what we've seen this year, is anything really far-fetched? And so I've opened up this week's column to hear what you think.

Below are your thoughts on whom Obama should select, starting with the ones who appeared on our list:

Sen. Hillary Clinton (NY): Jaime Sanborn of Jacksonville, Fla., says she "will be furious" if Obama doesn't offer it to Clinton. "I have lived in this world for 31 years wondering why, throughout all of history, my gender has been considered less valuable than men. ... If Obama is smart, remember that old adage about hell having no fury. Hillary had better be Madame Vice President."

Gayle Owens of Orlando, Fla., is more adamant: "I will not vote for Obama unless Clinton is on the ticket. I usually support whomever is on the Democratic ticket, but I cannot in good conscience vote for Obama." Similarly, Margaaret Nichols of Cantonment, Fla., writes, "If Obama doesn't have Hillary as his running mate he might as well hang it up. I for one will not vote for him if she's not on the ticket. I have never voted for a Republican but will if he doesn't include Hillary. I know many who feel the same way."

Obama-Clinton is "more than just a dream ticket," writes Tim Correa of Denver. "It's a combination that tells the American people that voting for them is like having our cake and eating it too. Just think, an African American and a woman on the same ticket. A complete change of power!"

Then there were those who like Hillary but don't want her to be the VP. Delores Thompson of Portsmouth, Va., writes, "She has so much to offer us, and I feel that as VP it would hold her back." Pam Giangrosso of Omaha, Neb., goes further: "I wouldn't vote for Obama if Jesus Christ was his VP choice, because Jesus Christ would not run on the devil's ticket. Hillary Clinton is my choice for president. I can't see her running with this guy for any reason...."

And, to be fair, not everyone likes Hillary. Lynne Pettys-Roth of Alexandria, Ky., writes that although Clinton "seems the obvious choice, she isn't. She has too much 'baggage' from the past 15 years." Lynne, who says she prefers Colin Powell, adds, "The whole 'woman issue' is not the political force it once was. Get over it, Hillary." Keith Herrmann of Minneapolis insists Obama "can win without her. Hillary on the ticket would be a distracting presidency with her and Bill constantly usurping the spotlight." Jen Panhorst of Ann Arbor, Mich., writes, "Most candidates have no interest in picking someone who might be seen as a risky or controversial choice." Rhonda Franklin of Portland, Ore., wonders, "Am I the only Democrat that won't contribute any money to the campaign until I find out if Obama picks someone other than Clinton?" And Mary Corcoran of Laramie, Wyo., who would like Virginia Sen. Jim Webb on the ticket, says Hillary "would be a huge mistake. Too many lies and too much baggage."

Lee Barrett of Bethesda, Md., suggests offering it to Hillary as a tactic, making it "contingent on Bill first releasing his financial information, including donors to his library (which will probably be a non-starter), but the offer can be leaked to the media as 'at least we tried.' "

Peter Moo of Ottawa also likes Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana. "As a successful Democrat from a red state, he reinforces Obama's message of post-partisanship. As a former governor and two-term senator, he has the experience and gravitas required to be a heartbeat away. His major downside is that he is described as dull. But if Obama is so good on the stump, this wouldn't really matter." Similar arguments on behalf of Bayh were made by Stephen Siegforth of Baltimore.

Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware: So says Maureen Hogan of Scottsdale, Ariz., "due to his foreign policy experience and straight-shooter mentality. He pulls no punches and will be a great complement to Obama." Also singing Biden's praises is Katharine Crosson of Kansas City, Mo.: "I'm a native Delawarean and have always thought my state was as fortunate to have Biden as we were to have had John Williams many years ago."

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark: That's the choice of Scot Roberts of Reedley, Calif., who writes, "With his credentials and an honorable character and reputation, he should appeal to those who question Obama's experience in foreign and military affairs." Bobi Lore of Seattle agrees: "He knows how to campaign. He is a very good friend of the Clintons and would appeal to many of her supporters. If we are ever to get out of Iraq gracefully we will need someone with extensive experience actually running the military." It's Clark "hands down," writes Cynthia Bazinet of Holden, Mass.: "He builds a bridge to the Clinton campaign. He neutralizes McCain's military experience. He's not an elected official with typical ties to D.C. He might appeal to Hillary's blue-collar constituency. He could hit the ground running." Also on the Clark bandwagon: Brian Dahill of San Diego.

Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska: "If Obama is about change," writes Elle Jordan of Palm Beach, Fla., "then Hagel is it. He's informed, courageous, stands up for what he believes in, is not afraid or influenced by opinion polls and, oh yes, he's a war hero!" Hagel would be a "brilliant" choice, writes John Williams of Chester, Conn. "It could trump some of McCain's 'maverick' brand for Obama to reach across the aisle to embrace a fellow independent thinker. Hagel's public comments about the war have been more eloquent and intellectually lucid than many of the Democrats who don't go very deep in picking apart the illogic that marks this tragedy but who are happy to bash Bush as a matter of party opportunism." Others who would love to finagle Hagel on the ticket: Colin Owens of Atlanta and Stephen Belton of Seattle.

Andre Walker of Chicago asks me if I think a Hagel choice is realistic. I do not. Aside from the Iraq war, Hagel is a strong conservative and solidly anti-abortion. I don't think he'd take it, I don't think Obama would offer it, and I don't think Democrats would stand for it.

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine: Shawn Goddard of Burlington, Vt., sees Kaine as a "moderate who will likely play well with working class whites," the "perfect" candidate "to be groomed to be the Dems' candidate in 2016." Charles Mayer of Greensboro, N.C., goes further: "The two men are close in age, which worked well for Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Kaine has been a strong supporter of Obama's from the beginning. Note that after he went over the top with delegates, the first state Obama campaigned in was Virginia."

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano: Brooke LaFlamme currently lives in Ithaca, N.Y., but is originally from Tucson and thinks Napolitano "has done a great job as governor."

Former Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia: Jeff Becker of New Hope, Pa., sees a perfect match: "He counters McCain's advantage in foreign policy. He has electoral advantages where he at least makes Georgia competitive, and would also help in North Carolina and Virginia." "I have learned from experience," writes Kimberly Chapman of Hinesville, Ga., "that with age comes wisdom. Being 70 should have nothing to do with it. Sam Nunn is a very wise man. In all the years I've known him, I have never failed to see anything but foresight, intelligence and integrity."

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell: It makes sense to Jon Yuengling of West Norriton, Pa., who notes that Rendell was a "vocal supporter of Clinton, has strengths in the Northeast and with voters Obama needs to win over, and brings Pennsylvania to the Obama column with little expenditure of resources."

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson: Samuel Scheib of Thomasville, Ga., notes that "the Latino vote is essential, and with Richardson on the ticket it would help Obama in many Western states. His foreign policy credentials are simply perfect." Sherri Masson of Milford, Mich., sees him as "the total package: foreign policy experience, Hispanic, and from a swing state. He should be rewarded for his risk-taking endorsement of Obama." Clinton supporters, Sherri adds, "will get over it." Cynthia Johnson of Marietta, Ga., adds, "His persona/charisma makes a good match with Obama. He's stable and steady, but not so conservative or old-fashioned that he undermines Obama's call for change." His decision not to endorse Hillary despite Bill's pleas "says to me that he is strong in character and principle," writes Gloria Alee of San Rafael, Calif. Also on the Richardson bandwagon: Carl Williams of London; Paul Bocko of Bernardston, Mass.; Forrest McCollum of Dallas; Molly Frankel of Columbia, Mo.; Steve Martin of Vernon Hills, Ill; Michael Leary of Flagstaff, Ariz.; Leslie Barrett of San Francisco; Craig Christophersen of Kalispell, Mont.; and Natalie Randall of Ames, Iowa.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius: Sheldon Laskin of Baltimore writes, "She is a highly successful, two-term Democratic governor in a Republican state. She has populist credentials, in that she successfully took on Blue Cross/Blue Shield in defeating an attempted merger, which would not have been in the public interest. She has guts, in that she defied the NRA by vetoing a concealed carry law." Also: Kenny Wohl of Craig, Colo., and Ricardo Claps of Fremont, Calif..

Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia: Jim Foster of Mechanicsburg, Pa., thinks Webb would be the "obvious" and "perfect" choice: "Choosing him puts Virginia in play for the Democrats. He is a former Republican and darling of Ronald Reagan. A military hawk who nevertheless thought the war in Iraq was a bad idea. And he fills in Obama's perceived lack of foreign policy expertise and gravitas." Zachary Hardy of Prairie Village, Kan., is a registered Republican who is "excited" about the prospect of Webb. "He is a fascinating character with tons of experience that has a history of not always following the 'party line.' " Also on the Webb cast: Graham Myers of Richmond, Va.; Theodore Miller of Phoenix; Jory Langner of Delmar, N.Y.; and Liz Reese of Okotoks, Alberta, Canada.

No way, writes Suresh Chitnis of Alameda, Calif.: "His controversial views about the Civil War and the Confederate flag make him a difficult choice."

Any of several women. So says Noemi Levine of Berkeley, Calif. "I like Sens. Claire McCaskill (MO), Barbara Mikulski (MD) or Patty Murray (WA). They all have foreign affairs/intelligence/DHS-type credentials. But if you want my DREAM candidate, it's our own Rep. Barbara Lee, who is just stellar on everything."

Afya Allen of Indianapolis likes McCaskill. "She is Clintonesque. She's older, tough and was an Obama supporter right out of the gate."

Kurt Fusaris of Boston lists Sens. Murray, Mary Landrieu, (LA) Maria Cantwell (WA) and Amy Klobuchar (MN). Kurt also likes the thought of Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. "She would be an intriguing choice, and with Obama coming off as somewhat Lincolnesque, how great would it be to have a bumper sticker that proudly reads, 'Obama-Lincoln 08?'" Count Harry Toder of Springfield, Ky., for Klobuchar.

Pastor Brent Campbell of Madison, Wis., also likes Lincoln. "An excellent choice — 10 years in the Senate, five in the House, and as a Clinton supporter she is one female candidate that Obama could choose without too much backlash from Clinton supporters. She would put Arkansas in play for Obama."

Add another vote for Patty Murray. Cyndie Merten of Corvallis, Ore., likes that Murray "voted against the Iraq war when she was in the Senate, and brings more years of experience than Obama."

And Laura Viau of Orlando, Fla., notes, "I'm quite excited about the fact that as the first generation of women moves on, there will be space for the next to come in. It's possible that the 'Obama' of 2012 is a woman who is flying under the radar today and will take the nation by storm."

But Andrea Carlson of Potsdam, N.Y., says it "would not be wise" for Obama to bypass Clinton to pick another woman. "Her supporters are bruised now — this would ensure he would lose those votes."

Some more names we didn't consider:

Joan Bartos of Napa, Calif., likes former Sen. Bill Bradley (NJ). "He's smart, knows Washington, and is well-liked and respected." Jeremy Cluchey of Durham, N.C., says he "practically [gets] laughed out of the room" every time he suggests Bradley, but doesn't understand why: "He's seasoned, and was an early Obama endorser. It wouldn't help much with Hillary supporters, but honestly, what would?"

Brian Walker of Boston has this "crazy theory" that Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island should be considered: "He's a former Army Ranger and West Point graduate who voted against the war in Iraq in 2002. He may be dull, but with Obama that shouldn't matter."

Sam Moffie of Youngstown, Ohio, agrees that Obama should pick a woman, but he's thinking of Caroline Kennedy. "She is a Kennedy. It will bring back Camelot. Most importantly, it goes against conventional wisdom, which Obama has done from Day One." Don Parker of Golden, Colo., and Jerry Zeiger of Philadelphia agree.

Another Kennedyesque choice, according to Gabriel Southerland of Richland Hills, Texas, is Maria Shriver. "If anyone embodies the act of cross-party politics, Shriver does. A daughter of the Kennedy dynasty, she has been married to a Republican for more than 20 years." She is also an "accomplished journalist," a "champion of women's issues," a "devout Catholic" and one who would be "insulated from Republican attacks."

Bill Bethke of Denver fears that former Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana might be too old. "Is there a Lee Hamilton clone out there with a little less mileage?"

Allyson Olsen of Oak Park, Ill., likes Rep. Robert Wexler of Florida: "He's young, vigorous, passionate, born in New York, and has won in Florida by large margins. If he could help with Jewish voters and Florida ... what am I missing?"

Jim Hale, a former GOP county chair from Eugene, Ore., says Colin Powell is the one: "He would shore Obama up on national security, he has lots of high level executive experience, his selection would embody reaching across the aisle, he's not an ordinary Washington politician, and he's one of the country's most admired individuals. Such a ticket would be unstoppable." Jim Peck of Gayville, N.Y., thinks choosing Powell "would be dee-licious — the guy that Bush used as a good soldier and then cast aside being vindicated and given an opportunity to be a force for improvement. I know he has baggage — knowingly (or most likely, unknowingly) he lied to us and the world about WMD. But he is the ultimately qualified person." Others adding an exclamation point for Colin (sorry) include Corey Bush of San Diego, Chris Washington of Sonoma, Calif., Jeff Sweesy of San Diego and Jon Wroten, an adjunct professor of business and technology at Sierra College in Rocklin, Calif.

Brian Engel of Yokohama, Japan, the young whippersnapper who wrote last week wondering how he could get my job, also looks at the GOP with the suggestion of former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman. "I haven't heard her name at all, but look what you get: woman, executive experience, and bipartisan."

Kate McKinley of Grand Ledge, Mich., offers Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine.

Here's another you-heard-it-here-first Republican: former Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, who is now an independent. Paul Moore of Denver writes, "He's certainly much closer politically to Obama than Chuck Hagel."

Stan Daniels of Istanbul, Turkey, says Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin would be "an excellent choice."

Cristie Young of Portland, Ore., wonders why no one is mentioning Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer. "He fits Obama's 'new government' mandate and has the charisma and integrity to pass the vetting."

Nick Casey of Muscatine, Iowa, has heard all the talk about Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and agrees that "looking to Ohio makes sense. But I think Sen. Sherrod Brown is a better choice for a lot of reasons. He is young, a better campaigner, and would also make a good presidential candidate in eight years."

Herbie Taylor of Salado, Texas, votes for Rep. Maxine Waters of California: "She is the right gender, the right color, shares Obama's philosophy, and is a wonderful speaker."

Another Californian, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, has the support of Carol van Ahlers of Anaheim, Calif.

Stuart Jacobson of Fairfield, Conn., says my list of possible VPs in last week's column is "well reasoned but unimaginative." Stuart likes Sens. Barbara Boxer (CA) and Daniel Inouye (HI), or "maybe a career diplomat like Madeleine Albright." The "last thing he needs is Hillary Clinton on the ticket, and everyone knows it."

Add Allison Hart Lengyel of Shaw Island, Wash., to those fighting for Boxer: "I admire her so much for her early outspoken opposition to the Iraq war."

Rebecca Bartlett of Brattleboro, Vt., also likes Albright: "Obama needs to choose on the basis of maturity, executive experience and foreign policy chops. Not a life-long legislator."

(Note: Albright is constitutionally ineligible to become VP, having been born in the former Czechoslovakia. Similarly, California Gov. [and Austria-born] Arnold Schwarzenegger, the subject of a note from both Mike Weston of Bakersfield, Calif., and Kevin Rice of Elk Grove, Calif., would also be a nonstarter.)

Alan Olson of Carnegie, Pa., likes Ike, but not that one; he likes Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri. "I know this would never happen because of Skelton's views on abortion, gay rights, and maybe even gun control. And although Skelton was a bit of a hawk on Iraq, he asked a lot of the right questions along the way — questions the Bush administration did not answer."

Alice Powell of Cleveland thinks NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg would be "a great way of attracting independent voters."

Sheila McGuckin of Sanford, Maine, likes Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. Elaine Ashley of Bluefield, W.Va., wants another Marylander, former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

The "dream ticket" for Jason Heitman of Glens Falls, N.Y., would include former President Jimmy Carter, who is "white, experienced, couldn't be derided by Clinton supporters, and if made to assume the office of the president would be the most ready of anyone in the country."

And what about Al Gore? That choice was submitted by Daniel Kryski of Ventura, Calif., and Pat Hall of Toronto.

Herschel Ducker of Salem, Ark., senses that he would never accept it, but he likes former Gen. Anthony Zinni.

Here's an offbeat thought from Joe Deal of Cape May, N.J.: former independent Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura.

I guarantee that Bonnee Wettlaufer of Pittsburgh will be the only one to suggest journalist/former presidential aide David Gergen. "He has served presidents of both parties for many years and has great political analytical skills. If nothing else, he should be on the VP vetting committee for Obama, now that Jim Johnson has had to resign."

And here's another name out of the hat: Joe Lieberman. That's the choice of April Jaeger of Spokane, Wash.: "He certainly has experience and would balance some of Obama's 'liberalism.' It would be an interesting mix."

(Quite interesting; after all, Lieberman has endorsed McCain.)

Let's leave this conversation with the "dream ticket" choice of David Ano of Whitmore Lake, Mich. He wants Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader, and I think he's serious. David Ogden of Walnut Creek, Calif., suggests Obama and Keith Olbermann, but I'm not convinced he's serious.

The length of this column forces us to hold off on readers' questions until next week.

REST IN PEACE, TIM RUSSERT: There's nothing more that we can possibly add to what's already been said. It breaks our heart that Tim will not be able to witness the rest of this amazing presidential campaign. And we can't fathom Sunday mornings without him.

CHECK OUT NPR'S SENATE MAP: All 35 seats up in 2008 are analyzed on NPR's interactive Senate map, which can be found here.

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******* Don't Forget: If you are sending in a question to be used in this column, please don't forget to include your city and state. *********

This day in campaign history: Paul O'Dwyer, a strong Vietnam War opponent and backer of the presidential candidacy of Eugene McCarthy, wins the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Jacob Javits. O'Dwyer defeats Eugene Nickerson, a supporter of the late Robert Kennedy who had the endorsement of the party establishment, and Rep. Joseph Resnick, a Hubert Humphrey supporter who had been a harsh RFK critic until his assassination two weeks earlier.

Notable New York primary results in the House: For an open seat on Long Island, anti-war activist Allard Lowenstein (D) upsets the choice of the party establishment; in a battle between two Democratic incumbents in Brooklyn, Emanuel Celler easily defeats Edna Kelly; also in Brooklyn, the Dem nomination for an open seat goes to state Assemblywoman Shirley Chisholm, who will face civil rights activist James Farmer (R) in November; City Council member Ed Koch wins the Democratic primary for an open seat in Manhattan; and in a Republican primary for an upstate seat, Hamilton Fish Jr. defeats conservative G. Gordon Liddy (June 18, 1968).

Got a question? Ask Ken Rudin: politicaljunkie@npr.org



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