Over the weekend I noted that the Obama campaign was not allowing itself to get pushed around when it came to ensuring that voters' voices are heard on election day -- not even by the Department of Justice. To be specific, on Friday campaign counsel Bob Bauer fired off a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Special Prosecutor Nora Dannehy requesting an investigation into the apparent "misconduct" within the DOJ on behalf of John McCain, the likes of which were previously seen during the prosecutor purge scandal that brought down Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Today Bauer has penned another even stronger letter to Mukasey that reads in part as follows:
In the light of an emerging pattern of apparent unlawful coordination between the McCain campaign and the Department of Justice and state law enforcement agencies controlled by Republican officials, the most recent and outrageous example of which is noted below, other steps beyond those urged in the October 17 letter are urgently needed. While an investigation by Special Prosecutor Dannehy is necessary, it is not sufficient. Her jurisdiction extends only to violations of federal criminal law. She has no power either to investigate and remedy past violations of Department policies, or to proect against misuse of the Department for partisan political "attack" purposes between now and Election Day.
Accordingly, I am writing now to ask (a) that the Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility investigate what appear to be substantial violations of Department of Justice policy in connection with the so-called "election fraud" investigations and (b) that you personally take steps to ensure that all relevant Department of Justice policies are followed and that the Department is not misused for partisan purposes.
These actions, and nothing less, are required to restore public confidence that the Department of Justice will honor its traditions and avoid further embroilment in this unethical and illegal misuse of law enforcement authority to serve partisan political ends.
You can read the whole letter here in .pdf format. To get a little more background on the broader effort, check out Bauer (who, for disclosure purposes, I worked for last summer) on Countdown Friday night:
Along with the news that the Obama campaign has assembled what has been dubbed "the largest law firm in the country, albeit for one day" to ensure that all the votes are counted -- in effect guarding against the type of manipulation of the legal process seen during the Florida recount in 2000 -- we can see that the campaign is indeed taking affirmative steps to protect the integrity of this year's election.
There seems to be a real desire among some in the establishment media to hastily proclaim a comeback by John McCain, but I'm just not seeing it. In fact, Barack Obama's 52 percent to 41 percent lead among registered voters in Gallup polling ties for his largest lead in the survey this year. Indeed, the race for the nationwide popular vote looks largely the same as it has for several weeks -- Obama leading by 6 percentage points, give or take a point or two.
In the day's other polling, the Battleground tracker (.pdf) has Obama up 49 percent to 45 percent among likely voters, and a new CNN survey gives Obama a 51 percent to 45 percent edge among likely voters.
And for those looking for a little bit of inspiration on this Monday two weeks out from election day, look no further than state legislative candidate Sean Tevis, the XKCD-inspired grassroots-driven Democrat who has a real chance to bring change to Kansas. Last week, Tevis was endorsed by The Kansas City Star, which called him an "impressive candidate" in backing him over his longtime incumbent Republican opponent, and last month HDNet did a really interesting story on the meteoric rise of his campaign.
John McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis is holding a conference call at present to attack Barack Obama's grassroots contributors -- you and me, and a whole lot of others like us -- in the hopes of smearing Obama. Forget, of course, that McCain said on Fox News in 2004, "We Want Average Citizens To Contribute Small Amounts of Money... I'm For That. I Think It's A Great Thing." In their relentless efforts to try to delegitimize a potential Obama win, the McCain campaign is willing to say anything.
If you're wondering about this effort, if you have some questions, why not call into the campaign conference call now? The number is 888-994-8791, with "McCain-Palin" as the code to get on the call. Given that the stated purpose of the call is "transparency", I'm sure they'd love to have you on the line.
The man the Republican Party wanted to be its standard-bearer in 1996 has endorsed the man the Democratic Party chose as its standard-bearer in 2008.
There is an interesting debate among some on this side of the aisle as to whether it's worth fully embracing Colin Powell's endorsement today of Barack Obama, particularly in light of the role the former Secretary of State played in the run up to the Iraq War. But to me, the more interesting angle to the story is the one in my lede above.
In 1996, the Republican Party's best and probably only shot at retaking the White House was with Powell at their helm. Indeed, exit polling showed Powell beating Bill Clinton and Ross Perot in a three-way match up that year -- with 50 percent of the vote, I might add. Even before the 1994 midterm elections, a significant Draft Powell movement had emerged within the GOP. In August 1996, Powell was one of the key featured speakers at the Republican National Convention. Just today, Powell made clear that he's still a member of the Republican Party.
So the fact that Powell, a Republican who very well might have been a Republican President in 1997, came out this morning and endorsed Obama for President in no uncertain terms is a remarkable repudiation of the GOP, one that has to sting. It would be like Mario Cuomo endorsing George W. Bush in 2004, except bigger because by 2004 Cuomo was less prominent on the national stage than Powell is today. The closest comparison in my mind might be 1940 Republican Presidential nominee Wendell Willkie accepting a prominent role in the FDR administration (or Arthur Arnie Vinick joining the nascent Matt Santos administration, as it were).
The Republicans may try to play the race card in an attempt to discount the importance of today's news, but it just doesn't ring true to me -- and I have a feeling it won't to a whole lot of voters, either.
Today's polling is the first in which all respondents were interviewed following the final presidential debate, so it gives us an opportunity to get an even better feel of voters' sentiments following the debate season. In short, the debates were good for Barack Obama, who now enjoys a fairly solid lead (it's back up to 10 points in Gallup's polling of registered voters, about as big as it has been in the last month) both in the national polling and in the electoral college count. Throw in Obama's $150 million fundraising month, and it's not a bad place for the Democrats to be right now -- even if much more work is left to be done and all of us need to hit the pavement as much as possible in the next two weeks.