2008 Trois Présidentiels

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has gotten an early jump on the 2008 election by launching an aggressive communications campaign to discredit potential GOP presidential candidates, an effort that has not yet been matched by the Republican National Committee (RNC).

Since the elections, the DNC has aimed a public-relations onslaught at potential Republican candidates, pointing out what it claims are specific inconsistencies in their policy positions.

The DNC has dubbed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney “a smooth talker who only tells voters what he thinks they want to hear rather than admit the inconsistencies in his record.”

It has similarly targeted Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), highlighting his recent moves that “pander to the far right.”

The DNC lambasted McCain when he hired Jill Hazelbaker to be his New Hampshire communications director despite suspicions that Hazelbaker intentionally misled reporters with blog posts under fake aliases while working on New Jersey Senate candidate Tom Kean Jr.’s recent campaign. Hazelbaker called the allegations “nonsense” and the McCain camp has not commented on the blog posts.

“Sen. McCain is taking the ‘Double Talk Express’ to a new low,” DNC spokesman Damien LaVera said in a release.

While the DNC’s rhetoric on 2008 has intensified recently, its first presidential salvo was issued a couple weeks before the 2006 election.

A Nov. 14 DNC release went after former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani: “It’s unclear whether or not Rudy Giuliani will be able to just ‘explain away’ the fact that he’s consistently taken positions that are completely opposite to the conservative Republican base on issues they hold near and dear.”

The DNC has also criticized nascent 2008 presidential contenders Mike Huckabee — for being a “fan of Bush’s stubborn Iraq policy” — and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, for not providing a more detailed policy on Iraq.

RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said it has been producing oppositional research on potential Democratic candidates but that those releases are distributed from its research department. The RNC has put out only one release on Democratic presidential hopefuls since the new year, focusing on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and her stance on the Iraq war.

In 2006, the RNC released eight “research briefings” on Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), four on Clinton, one on Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and one on Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), according to its online archive.

The RNC is going through a transitional phase as Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) takes over for Ken Mehlman as chairman.

Stacie Paxton, the DNC’s press secretary, says the PR campaign reflects the DNC’s primary objective of electing the next president. Part of that objective, according to Paxton, is providing accurate research on potential Republican opponents.

“A large part of the DNC’s job is electing a president. Holding Republican candidates accountable to the public is a major aspect of that,” Paxton said.

Paxton also noted that the DNC is still committed to working with Democratic governors and congressional Democrats on their 2008 races.

During the 2006 cycle, DNC Chairman Howard Dean and then-Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) clashed constantly. The DNC and new DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) are vowing to work together over the next couple of years.

Every American should have health care coverage within six years, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama said Thursday as he set an ambitious goal soon after jumping into the 2008 presidential race.

“I am absolutely determined that by the end of the first term of the next president, we should have universal health care in this country,” Obama told a conference of Families USA, a health care advocacy group.

The Illinois senator did not provide specifics on his plan for coverage.

Obama was previewing what is shaping up to be a theme of the 2008 Democratic primary. His chief rivals, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards, also are strong proponents of universal health care and have promised to offer their plans.

Obama said while plans are offered in every campaign season with “much fanfare and promise,” they collapse under the weight of Washington politics, leaving citizens to struggle with the skyrocketing costs.

He said it’s wrong that 46 million in this country are uninsured when the country spends more than any one else on health care. He said Americans pay $15 billion in taxes to help care for the uninsured.

“We can’t afford another disappointing charade in 2008, 2009 and 2010,” Obama said. “It’s not only tiresome, it’s wrong.”

Obama’s call was an echo of a speech he made last April when he said Democrats “need to cling to the core values that make us Democrats, the belief in universal health care, the belief in universal education, and then we should be agnostic in terms of how to achieve those values.”

His argument Thursday not only will be considered through the prism of the presidential campaign, but weighed against rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s ill-fated plan to overhaul the health care insurance system when she was first lady.

Even after leading that calamitous attempt in 1993, Clinton remains in favor of universal health care and has made it a central theme of her presidential bid.

“One of the goals that I will be presenting … is health insurance for every child and universal health care for every American,” she said at a community health clinic in New York Sunday, the day after entering the 2008 Democratic field. “That’s a very major part of my campaign and I want to hear people’s ideas about how we can achieve that goal.”

Stop talking and start doing.  As of Today Sen. Obama has not introduced  a Universial Health Care bill in teh 110th Congress.  He needs to stop talking and get it done.