Election 2008

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  Miscalculations Dogged Romney From The StartFebruary 08, 2008 09:40 With Mitt Romney’s campaign for president nearly in tatters, he huddled with his senior advisers on Wednesday morning, jotting notes with pen and paper, to go over his options.

By the time the meeting ended, he seemed to want to stay in the race. His campaign went ahead with voter-turnout calls in Kansas and Washington for caucuses on Saturday, and priced out what it would take to compete in primaries next week in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

His son Tagg, a senior campaign adviser, urged him to continue, but by evening, Mr. Romney had decided to pull out. He then phoned each of his sons individually to break the news.

Another son, Matt Romney, said: “I just couldn’t be anything but absolutely proud of him. I’m so proud of his fight.”

If Mr. Romney’s campaign were condensed to one of his trademark PowerPoint presentations, it would have had all the bullet points foretelling success: a multimillionaire candidate willing to relinquish his fortune to run, an unsettled Republican field and a candidate whose championing of conservative positions could motivate the party’s base.

Yet Mr. Romney’s advisers acknowledged Thursday an array of tactical missteps and miscalculations. Perhaps most significantly, they conceded that they had failed to overcome doubts about Mr. Romney’s authenticity as they sought to position him as the most electable conservative in the race, a jarring contrast to his more moderate record as governor of Massachusetts. And during the January nominating contests, as his opponents attacked his shifting on issues, polls showed his favorability ratings plummeting.

Mr. Romney spent more than $35 million of his own money trying to get himself elected, but his campaign faced challenges from the start, some from obstacles beyond his control.

Suspicions about Mr. Romney’s Mormon faith consumed his campaign early on, only to seem to fade from view. But his advisers and outside experts agree that the unease ultimately helped pave the way for Mike Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist pastor, to emerge from the backbench of the Republican field to win the Iowa caucuses, a central, costly goal of Mr. Romney’s strategy. Then Mr. Romney’s aides failed to anticipate the collapse of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s candidacy, leaving no one to halt Senator John McCain’s resurgence among moderate Republicans and independents.

“You had a Rudy Giuliani who wound up not being really competitive, and you had a candidate who emerged on the right,” said Carl Forti, the Romney campaign’s political director. “When a candidate emerged on the right and with no one to check McCain on the left, it gave him more room to grow, and we were in the middle.”

But in an election cycle in which authenticity is an overriding concern among voters, the perception of Mr. Romney remaking himself into a Reagan-like figure through his positioning on issues like abortion rights and gun control exposed him to biting, often mocking attacks from his rivals, who were almost universal in their scorn of him. His fellow Republicans used the flip-flopping accusations to reframe everything he did. Even in the final hours of Mr. Romney’s candidacy, Mr. McCain was running advertising suggesting Mr. Romney had shifted radically in his view of Ronald Reagan.
  Clinton Wins California, But Democratic Race For Nominee Is Far From OverFebruary 06, 2008 08:03 Hillary Clinton re-established herself as the candidate to beat in the Democratic presidential primary Tuesday night, winning California and a string of key states across the nation.
After taking states in the East and Midwest, early California results showed her with a double-digit lead over Barack Obama, powered by a record turnout by Latino voters, nearly 30 percent of the Democratic electorate, exit polls showed.

Obama's wins came in a dozen states, mostly in the South and upper Midwest, ensuring no early end to the race for the nomination.

The California victory for Clinton was especially sweet. She held commanding leads here for nearly a year, only for late polls to show Obama gaining in the final two weeks.

In the end, on Tuesday, Clinton and Obama both gained delegates and scored important wins that will propel the Democratic primary season at least another few weeks.

Women also came out strongly for Clinton, Associated Press exit polls in California showed. Obama won overwhelming support from the state's black voters and took the white vote by a 6 percentage-point margin over Clinton. Men also sided with him. But the surprise was the number of Latinos who voted: a record 29 percent, the exit poll found.

Clinton won female Democrats handily by a 57-39 ratio. Obama won men by a 51-39 ration.