How far ahead is Clinton, really?

Posted on 15 Oct 2007 at 6:52pm
By Lisa Keen Contributing Writer

National polls give the former first lady a 20-plus point lead, but polls in key states of Iowa, New Hampshire show a much closer race

EVALUATING LEADS: To watch or read most national discussions of the presidential horse race, Hillary Clinton is so many lengths ahead of the rest of her field, nobody can possibly catch her. But keep in mind that, in December 2003, some polls showed Howard Dean with a 32-point lead in New Hampshire over the eventual nominee John Kerry.

With that in mind, the latest national poll of Democrats, conducted by Associated Press Nov. 5-7, shows 45 percent support Clinton, 22 percent for Barack Obama, 12 percent for John Edwards, and low single digits for everybody else.

Typically, the hype over who wins the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary has always contributed to field conditions, too.

Polls in those states show a closer race: Clinton leads Obama by only six points in Iowa, with Edwards just four points behind Obama. In New Hampshire, Clinton has a 14-point edge.

OBAMA SNUBS? The Barack Obama campaign has not responded to requests from this reporter and several large gay newspapers around the country for a sit-down interview on a wide range of LGBT-related topics.

Campaign spokesperson Ben LaBolt pointed to a recent interview with The Advocate as evidence that the campaign is responsive to such requests, but he stopped short of saying whether a more comprehensive Q-and-A might be scheduled with any gay news publication in the future.

Last week, the campaign did reach out to the National Gay Newspaper Guild, a coalition of the 12 largest gay newspapers in the country. It sent the papers an essay it said the senator wrote “addressing many of the issues that have come up over the past several weeks.” In it, Obama reiterates his position on a number of issues that he would repeal the entire federal Defense of Marriage Act (Clinton would repeal only part), repeal the military’s “Don’t ask/don’t tell policy,” and “use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws.”

But he also reiterated that he believes “full equality” can be achieved without marriage licenses. And, while he says his administration would support a “fully inclusive” Employment Non-Discrimination Act, he does not specify how he would vote if a sexual orientation-only version comes before him in the Senate next year.

(Dallas Voice is a member of the National Gay Newspaper Guild and did receive the essay from the Obama campaign. The Voice chose not to publish the essay because the newspaper does not publish campaign statements as opinion articles.)

OBAMA BOLDNESS: Obama granted a sit-down Q-&-A on Nov. 11 with David Brody of CBN News, an affiliate of television evangelical Pat Robertson. Brody asked him about his positions on abortion and gay marriage. Obama called the issues “profoundly difficult” and said they are “ones I grapple with.”

On gay marriage, he said “My belief is that, as a public official, my role is to make sure that everybody is treated fairly, and everybody has equal rights. And I know that, sometimes in this debate, there’s talk about, “‘Well, we don’t mind giving gays and lesbians equal rights, but not special rights.’ Well, the fact is, right now, many gay couples, for example, can’t visit each other in the hospital. And, when I sit down and read scripture, and I think, “‘How would Jesus feel about somebody not being able to visit somebody they love when they’re sick,’ I conclude that that is something that is important. And certainly as a public official, it’s important for me to make sure that those basic rights, that basic equality is available.”

To gauge the boldness of the delivery, go to www.cbn.com/CBNnews/266144.aspx.

OBAMA CONFRONTED: Media attention to the controversy over Obama’s gospel concert tour has died down, but audience members confronted him in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, last week.

According to the Politico Web site, Obama was asked about the matter during an MTV-MySpace event that was broadcast live and, later, at a different event.

At that latter event, the mother of a gay man who hopes to get married asked the candidate what he could do to help.

Politico said that, in response, Obama said: “You want the word marriage and I believe that the issue of marriage has become so entangled the word marriage has become so entangled with religion that it makes more sense for me as president, with that authority, to talk about the civil rights that are conferred” with civil unions.

The question came up again during Obama’s appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press Nov. 12.

Moderator Tim Russert noted that U.S. Rep. John Lewis, whom Obama has referred to as a saint, said this about opposition to same-sex marriage: “I’ve heard reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distortions and they stink of the same fear, hatred and intolerance I’ve known in racism and in bigotry. Some say let’s choose another route and give gay folks some legal rights, but call it something other than marriage. We’ve been down that road before in this country. Separate is not equal. The rights of liberty and happiness belong to each of us and on the same terms without regard to either skin color or sexual orientation.”

Knowing full well that Obama is one of those who has argued for that separate but equal position on same-sex marriage, Russert asked him whether he agrees with Lewis. Obama reiterated his position: “I have not said that I was a supporter of gay marriage, but I am a strong supporter of civil unions, and I would, as president, make absolutely certain that all federal laws pertaining to married couples benefits pertaining to married couples are conferred to people who same sex couples who have civil unions as well.”

The question one might like to ask in follow-up is what, exactly, a president can do to make that “absolutely certain.”

GO CRIMSON! A student at Concord High School in Concord, New Hampshire, nailed Republican nominee Mike Huckabee with a tough question this month.

Saying he understood the candidate is against gay marriage, he asked what Huckabee would do if the majority of Americans disagreed with him. Huckabee, citing a time in this country when slavery was permissible, said the majority doesn’t always make the right decision.

“Politicians need to express what they believe is right, take a stand, and pay the consequences … . I’m going to take a stand that I believe is not only the right one but I believe is in the best interests of the country … . If I get beat, then I get beat.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 16, 2007

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