Breaking News: Jack Murtha Dead At 77

The Huffington Post has the story.

As a top ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, and a member of Congress since 1974, Murtha was a powerful player. His past was often marked by scandal but he certainly knoew how to get things done for his Pennsylvania district. His seat, PA-12, will be tough to hold in the Midterms. Condolences to his family.

Murtha, the first Vietnam combat veteran elected to Congress, died at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, VA at 1:18 PM, according to a press release from his office. More as we hear it.

UPDATE from desmoinesdem: Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post says a special election to replace Murtha is likely to be held on May 18, which is already scheduled to be a federal primary day in Pennsylvania.

SECOND UPDATE from desmoinesdem: The Cook Report is calling the special election in PA-12 a tossup. Taniel of Campaign Diaries thinks the May 18 special election may favor the Democrat because Pennsylvania Democrats have contested primaries for senator and governor that day, while Republicans do not. Taniel also pointed out, "The now vacant PA-12 is only district in the country to have switched from Kerry to McCain. (Went for Gore by 11, Kerry by 2, McCain by 1.)"

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Are Super-Delegates Abandoning Clinton?

Hillary Clinton's campaign has struggled recently to present a credible way that she could win the Democratic presidential nomination, considering that Barack Obama leads her in the earned delegate count, the popular vote, and has pulled nearly even with her in the number of super-delegates who have committed themselves to his nomination.  Most observers say that only a miracle could bring her even to Barack Obama in the popular vote.

Now, Hillary Clinton's closest surrogates seem to be abandoning her efforts, effectively telling the news media that there is virtually now way that she can win.

(CNN) -- Two prominent supporters of Hillary Clinton suggested Thursday the New York senator needs to best rival Barack Obama in the total popular vote to have any chance at winning her party's presidential nomination.

In separate media interviews, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine and Pennsylvania Rep. Jack Murtha both indicated they believed Clinton will be unable to convince enough superdelegates to support her if she finishes second to Obama in both the pledged delegate count and the popular vote.

Speaking on CNBC, Corzine suggested it won't be enough for Clinton to argue she deserves the nomination because she has won more crucial swing states than Obama -- a talking point the senator's campaign has long argued.

"I think it would be a very hard argument to make," Corzine said of that position. "I'm a very aggressive supporter of Senator Clinton, but I think you need at least a popular vote."

Corzine also suggested he himself may cast his superdelegate vote for Obama should Clinton fail to win the popular vote, though the New Jersey governor insisted he thought Clinton would come out on top in that count if the Florida and Michigan contests were counted.

Murtha echoed Corzine's sentiments in an interview later Thursday, saying, "Clinton has to win Pennsylvania...She has to be ahead in the popular vote to have any chance at all of getting this nomination." CNN

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BREAKING: Murtha Endorses Hillary!

Both sides lobbied hard for this endorsement. Hill got it!

LANCASTER, Pa. -- Rep. John P. Murtha has announced his endorsement of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, bringing his clout as a 17-term member of the House and a prominent anti-war Democrat to bear with more than a month until the primary here in his home state.

"Sen. Clinton is the candidate that will forge a consensus on health care, education, the economy, and the war in Iraq," Murtha wrote in a statement about his decision.

Murtha, who represents the 12th district of Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, was an early and sometimes inflammatory critic of the Iraq war. As a retired Marine Corps colonel and the first combat veteran of Vietnam elected to serve in Congress, Murtha's voice on Clinton's behalf could prove especially valuable in both inoculating her from anti-war criticism and bolstering her claim that she is the most qualified to serve as commander-in-chief. That message is the backbone of Clinton's appearances this week.

"Her experience and careful consideration of these issues convinced me that she is best qualified to lead our nation and to bring credibility back to the White House," Murtha said. He said he "whole-heartedly" recommends Clinton to all voters in his state.

Ann Kornblutt, Washington Post

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/03/18/john_murtha_endorses_hillary_c_1.html

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Superdelegate Jack Murtha Endorses Hillary

On a day that was supposed have Barack Obama front and center, we get news that Pennsylvania Rep. and superdelegate Jack Murtha has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President.

Murtha, who represents the 12th district of Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, was an early and sometimes inflammatory critic of the Iraq war. As a retired Marine Corps colonel and the first combat veteran of Vietnam elected to serve in Congress, Murtha's voice on Clinton's behalf could prove especially valuable in both inoculating her from anti-war criticism and bolstering her claim that she is the most qualified to serve as commander-in-chief. That message is the backbone of Clinton's appearances this week.

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Where HAVE all the Leaders Gone?

I just finished Lee Iacocca's new book, Where Have all the Leaders Gone?.  While some of his views are off the mark, likely a product of his long association with the corporatocracy, most of what he writes is dead on.  

To illustrate his main point, one must look no further than the recent capitulation by Congress on the Iraq war funding bill.  The followers in Congress effectively snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory on this one.  After demonstrating the fact that Bush would get no more money to support his epic failure, they proved that a stubborn fool could prevail over more thoughtful individuals who lack the courage of their convictions.  While it is understandable that, considering the considerable effort in time and money that they risked to get to Congress, members of Congress would desire to be re-elected, I believe that many of them are misguided in their means of accomplishing this goal.

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