Fear and loathing on the campaign trail, June 2008

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

June in the United States 2008 presidential election rolled by as a month with many similarities to the 2004 election. The Clintons were sent to the sidelines again, old faces took new roles and some took the same. An issue was raised that once again could drive conservatives to the Republicans and attacks on a candidate's military record was prominent in the press. But what changed the election forever was the death of Tim Russert who helped to cover everything that happened and shape America's perception of the candidates on the trail.

Republicans
  • The presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain exchanged barbs with Senator John Kerry over the history of conflict in Iraq. Kerry stated that McCain "doesn't understand Iraq, or the Middle East, or the war on terrorism." This was a change of heart for Kerry who as the Democratic nominee in 2004 considered McCain as a running mate. Retired General Wesley Clark said McCain's military record lacked command experience, and endorsed Obama. In 2004, Clark was among those who questioned Kerry's military record.
  • Many in the media likened the Supreme Court ruling that granted Habeas corpus rights to detainees in the Guantánamo Bay detention center to the influx of marriage licenses granted by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2004 as a rallying point for conservatives. Pundits stated that the future of the Supreme Court could be an important issue on the minds of voters that could drive the religious right to McCain.
  • John McCain released a new platform that called for more offshore drilling of oil off the coasts of Florida and California. The plan hoped to increase supply of oil to reduce the price of gasoline for the American consumer and encourage energy independence. The plan was widely heralded by conservatives some of whom have called for drilling in ANWR despite McCain's opposition. Obama responded to the plan by stating that McCain's solution would only help in the long run.
Democrats
Hillary Clinton ended her presidential campaign in June 2008
  • The final three presidential primaries were held. Hillary Clinton won in Puerto Rico and South Dakota but Barack Obama won in Montana. Obama secured the Democratic nomination following the primaries when a stream of superdelegates came out to support Obama. Hillary conceded the race a few days later and named herself as the best choice to be Obama's running mate.
  • As the nomination was secured for Obama the media speculated about a spirited discussion on the Senate floor between Obama and Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman. Lieberman was the Democratic Vice presidential nominee in 2000 but left the party in 2006 after a senatorial primary defeat. He has endorsed John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.
  • Obama was also in the media when two of his campaign volunteers refused to allow two women wearing headscarves to sit in the front row of an Obama campaign event. The move was characterized in the media as an attempt to prevent the candidate from being associated with Muslims in light of false rumors circulating that Obama is secretly a Muslim.
  • The leader of the Congressional Black Caucus Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick of Michigan announced that former Senators Sam Nunn and John Edwards' names were forwarded by the caucus to a team on the Obama campaign dealing with selecting a vice-presidential nominee.
Third parties
  • Independent candidate Ralph Nader proclaimed in an interview that despite no coverage of his campaign, he was at 6% in Associated Press opinion polls against John McCain and Barack Obama. He actually stood at 3% in the most recent Associated Press poll. The campaign acknowledged the mistake and clarified that it was instead a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll that placed Nader at 6%.
  • With the green party national convention slated for July 10-14, Cynthia McKinney leads all candidates with 291.5 delegate votes of the 419 needed to secure the nomination. Despite not being a candidate for the Green Party nomination, Ralph Nader is in second place with 137 and Kent Mesplay is in third with 28.5 delegates.
  • Libertarian Party presidential nominee Bob Barr and Ralph Nader each received some media attention by appearing on Sunday morning talk shows at the end of June. Barr appeared on Fox News Sunday where he defended his run against criticism that he could hurt John McCain in the general election and stated that his campaign would hit full gear after the Fourth of July holiday.

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Editor's note

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail... is a monthly article about the campaign events during the past month. The title is based on the series of articles written by journalist Hunter S. Thompson and compiled into a publication entitled Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72.

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