FOR THE WEEK OF FEB. 05, 2007
Presidential campaign gets an early, crowded start
Newspapers try to help readers understand the importance behind political news and learn how developments affect them or their communities. Invite the classroom of future voters to see how well this paper does in explaining any recent news report from city hall, the state capital or Washington, D.C. Are various sides explained clearly? Is the language used easy to grasp? Are there comments from people affected by an issue?
Just because politics is serious stuff doesn’t mean all coverage is dry and dull. Challenge students to find an article, photo or cartoon about an elected official or presidential candidate that shows something about the politician’s personality, interests or casual side.
The print edition isn’t the only source for presidential campaign coverage and other politics news. See how many related features pupils can find on the paper’s website, such as blogs, polls, coverage archives and perhaps lists of current local elected officials.
The calendar says February 2007, but politicians who want to succeed President Bush act as though it’s already the 2008 election year. And plenty of them are jostling for early positions in a campaign race that’s a long marathon.
At least 20 declared and preparing-to-declare candidates from both major parties have web sites, campaign staffs, fund-raisers and are hustling for donations, endorsements, news coverage and voter interest – though most normal Americans are not focusing closely yet on a decision that’s 21 months away.
The field is jammed with nine Democrats and 11 Republicans mainly because President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney are not running, so each party’s nomination is wide open for the first time since 1928 – the last time no sitting president or vice-president sought the top job. (Bush is finishing his second term, the maximum allowed. Cheney is 66 and doesn’t want to run.) Recent weeks have brought candidacy announcements by three senators -- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the Democratic side, Sam Brownback on the Republican -- and one Governor, Democrat Bill Richardson of New Mexico.
Historic prospect: For the first time, credible contenders give voters a chance to make history by electing the first woman President (Clinton) or the first African American (Obama) or the first Latino (Richardson) or the first Mormon (Mitt Romney, a Republican ex-governor of Massachusetts.)
YouTube impact: Candidates know that any verbal slip, unwise remark or stray aside could wind up in an online video. "The margin for rhetorical errors is quite small today. Any slight misstep can be distributed in all 50 states simultaneously," says John Kerrey, a Democratic senator who ran against President Bush in 2004. "There will be less creativity in talking -- and in thinking."
What to expect: Debates over the Iraq war already dominate the campaign. Cal Thomas, a leading conservative columnist, says: “The focus should not be on gender or any other side issue, but on who is best qualified to defend the country against its many enemies, foreign and domestic. Look for the dirtiest, meanest and most costly presidential campaign in history.”
Front Page Talking Points Archive